I was asked this week: “If you were Sarah Palin, would you have said yes to John McCain?”
I would have hesitated, certainly. I never think about any position without considering my family. And with two pastors in the family, there is a lot to consider. Will my child have the best care possible? Is there enough flexibility in the job so that I can be a mom? How would the church respond to a mom? Would they freak out when she breast feeds in public? Do they like women? Will my child be exposed to a sexist environment, where she constantly hears unfair complaints about her mom? How will that affect her spiritually and emotionally? Does the church expect children to be perfect? Will they look after her and care for her when I can’t, or when there’s no way to hire a babysitter? Are there job opportunities for my husband? Will we have enough income to avoid marital stress?
I could go on and on… but you get the picture. Being a mother does not keep me from working, but it does make things more complicated. There are times when there may not be the perfect answer to all of these questions. And I have often looked at the messiness of our lives, and wondered if I should stay at home. But I know I would be devastated and frustrated, and I have to think about myself as well. As they say in South, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Having a working mom might be difficult, but living with a depressed mother certainly is no picnic….
Anyways, we’re not talking here about a pastorate of a 200-member church. We are talking about Vice President and, chances are, maybe even President. And we’re not talking about one child (as is my case), we’re talking about five. One who is five months old with Down’s Syndrome. And one who is five-months pregnant.
I still think I would have taken the opportunity. Perhaps I’m too driven (as may people have said about Palin), but you know why I would have taken it? Because if I was a Republican (I’m not), I would realize that my acceptance would not just affect my family, but it would affect every single family in the United States—even the most conservative ones. Our country has a deep and dark history of social oppression against women, which is largely rooted in conservative Christianity. The acceptance would change all the rules.
According to the rules of many religious conservatives in our country, women should not be in leadership positions outside or even inside of the home. Parents (and especially moms) are responsible for the indiscretions of their children. Abstinence—not birth control—is the only key that will keep young women from pregnancy and (sadly) the poverty that often results.
And in just these short days, we are beginning to see some pliability in the rules. As a woman, I’m delighted to see them changing, especially on the religious front. I love seeing Dr. Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention, say that a woman can run this country, even though he once signed the dreaded document:
A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect and to lead his family. A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being “in the image of God” as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his “helper” in managing their household and nurturing the next generation.
Hhmmm… now… if a woman can run the country, can she run a church?
I’m delighted that we have a VP candidate who breast-feeds during briefings. Palin’s young daughter is pregnant, and she does not deserve the scrutiny. But idealistic abstinence policies, like the ones that Palin promotes, do deserve serious examination. As do childcare issues, support for women and infants, and family leave policies.
There are things that I don’t like seeing. I don’t like when people assume that Palin’s dumb, because she’s young and pretty (like the quick spin that compared her to Dan Quayle). I don’t like the assumption that she got the job because she’s pretty either.
Most of all, I don’t like her policies and her inexperience. Actually, I don’t know many of her policies, because of her inexperience (and no, I don’t buy the argument that her experience matches Obama’s. I can’t even find much legislation that she’s voted on, and I would certainly never belittle the work of community organizing).
But a couple things are certain: Palin expects that the US can drill our way out of our petroleum dependence. And we don’t know what she thinks on matters of foreign policy, but she promises to be tough. And, as a mom who would love to see my daughter grow up in a cleaner, safer world, I know that I can’t support her. Lipstick or not, I just can’t stomach another pit bull.
Photo’s by Luis Alves