What about women holding public office?

Christian women are admonished to be subject to their husbands. How would this affect a Christian woman holding political office?

This is a bit problematic, isn’t it? Scripture and experience both teach us that God has created our very nature and relations as human beings with the need for a hierarchical order.

This need is evident in the three basic institutions by which God has been pleased to organize society:  the family, the church, and the State. There must be leaders who are held responsible by God for the accomplishment of his purpose in each of these institutions and who are consequently entrusted by God with authority to govern them.

The Scriptures are equally clear that God has ordained men to be the head of each of these institutions. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians with respect to the home, “The head of a wife is her husband” (1 Cor. 11:3; cf. Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; 1 Pet. 3:1-6).

And with respect to the church, he instructs Timothy and Titus to appoint men as elders and deacons and to lead in prayer and preaching (1 Tim. 2:12; 3:1f.; Tit. 1:5f.).

With respect to civil government, we read in the book of Deuteronomy that Moses instructed Israel, “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads” (Deut. 1:13).

On the other hand, God has ordained that a woman’s primary calling is to be a helper to her husband (Gen. 2:18). Paul refers to this when he says that the woman was made for the man, and not the man for the woman (1 Cor. 11:9). Her helping role consists largely in her tending to the needs of the family by “bearing children and managing the household” (1 Tim. 5:14). This does not mean, however, that she cannot be active in economic pursuits. Proverbs 31 speaks of the virtuous wife who makes garments and sells them and buys a field from the fruit of her earnings (Prov. 31:16, 24). Nor does it mean that she cannot engage in some forms of ministry, such as ministries of mercy (Acts 9:36-39) and teaching other women in the church (Tit. 2:3-4).

Now, I should add that because God has ordained the roles of the sexes, he has created men and women to be different. He has created them with natures suited to their respective callings. This is something we all know, but are reluctant to say because we are afraid of being politically incorrect. Men and women are different—not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, too. These differences do not mean that men are better than women in general, or that women are better than men in general. But it does mean that men are better at some things than women, and women are better at other things than men. This is how God created us.

It’s important that we keep these things in mind because all kinds of problems arise when we ignore the order that God has created.

All things being equal, we should prefer male candidates for public office over female ones. This is the biblical norm. But not all things are equal, because not all candidates are equal. What I have described is the ideal. But we live in a fallen world, and things are highly disordered. Circumstances are such now that we may well find ourselves in a position that the views of a female candidate for public office are far better than the views of a male candidate. If you’re faced with a choice between a female candidate, who holds a biblical view of the issues, pitted against a male candidate who doesn’t…it’s a no brainer. You vote for the female candidate.

If she should be elected, it will present some unique challenges for her and her husband, and how they relate to one another, because in the home he is her head, but in the civil sphere she is his head. Presumably she sought public office with his approval and blessing and he is willing to live with the demands on her time and energy that her office will necessarily impose upon her. By permitting her to run for office he has already tacitly agreed to these things. But in the home she must still honor him as her head.

In the meantime, however, we ought to labor for a reformation of our homes, our churches, and our civil government that we might return to a more biblical view of the sexes and recover the order which God originally intended.

Comments

Eric Bronson said…
It seems that this topic comes up for discussion in my classes every year when we are discussing government and leaders. I don't offer my opinion until the kids ask for it, but they always ask. I can tell that it is shocking to their senses when I explain why I would rather not have a woman president or other political leader. Mostly, I think the shock comes from the realization that someone is trying to make appropriate application of the scriptures in the political sphere. Many sincere Christians have not even thought about whether women should or shouldn't be involved in political leadership.

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