Friday, September 5, 2008

Conservative politics; Women in politics

I don't want my blog to become a political blog, but some attention has to be paid to developments in this election campaign because they are so unusual and unexpected. Sarah Palin is about as unexpected as you can get, a strong self-possessed articulate likeable woman, a REAL Christian who obeys the Lord -- instead of the usual Christian-in-name-only -- with all the right conservative ideals and political savvy to boot. Conservatives are amazed at this gift to their cause out of the blue. A friend believes she is answer to prayer. This may be. I posted a while back on the weekly prayer for revival in the nation various evangelical groups have been engaged in, that's planned to go at least through the election and perhaps through Christmas. I wouldn't discount the idea that God has heard and provided help for the conservative cause.

Why would He hear particularly for the cause of just one political party? Well, it does seem to me that the cause is a good cause and the prayers are for the increase of the good in it. The focus is on returning America to its pre-Marxist condition, to homely values and strengths, as opposed to the sin-promoting values of the other party, abortion in particular, gay marriage in particular, and above all socialism, which is a form of theft and bondage, stealing from some of the people to provide for others and taking personal choice and responsibility out of our hands.

Oh it's not that the Republican party is so pure, by a long shot. Plenty of Republicans rationalize murder of the unborn, and gay marriage too, and even support some socialist causes, just fewer of them than in the other party. There's also sometimes a macho tone to the Republican party and conservatives in general, that emphasizes, perhaps overemphasizes, armed defense of the nation and a sort of chest-thumping vengeance against the nation's enemies. Since American causes generally really are good causes, to help and defend others, and not the theft of foreign land or national power over others, we can support a strong military readiness up to a point, but I've heard a little too much "nuke 'em" from the Right as the solution to everything. I suppose it's an understandable natural reaction when the country has been attacked, but even then it certainly can't be the shout of a Christian. We aren't to have natural reactions, we're to learn the power of spiritual actions in obedience to Christ that contradict our natural impulses. Die to self, hate your own life, turn the other cheek, resist not evil, remember? Vengeance is the Lord's, not ours.

A Christian has to remember that our enemies are human beings who need the gospel of Christ above all, and sometimes that is hard to reconcile with any armed defense for any reason. We should even consider whether Jesus is really for the life of a soldier among His own. It can be argued both ways, and I've usually argued in favor of the soldier, but in the last year or so have been seeing more of a conflict with the Kingdom of God in any armed defense.

We take it for granted these days that there is no conflict, and American soldiers are often true Christians. Emails go around all the time showing them in prayer and there's no doubt in my mind it's all quite genuine. The question is exactly where and how to apply Jesus' commands to turn the other cheek and not resist evil. Surely they are not addressed to nations; Jesus didn't talk to nations, who are part of the fallen world. He talked to individuals, those who seek to obey Him. It's individuals who serve as soldiers, and if they are living for Christ how can they kill anyone?

It's not that we simply don't kill, but we have different weapons against our enemies, AND we are to understand who our enemies are in a different way than the world does. The weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual. We fight not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in heavenly places. And in His strength we DO win our battles. Enemies convert into friends or are rendered unable to fight.

Anyway, it's something I've been thinking about for some time. There is a caricature of the argument against war that is sheer foolishness, it seems to me, that comes from the left: that the nation should simply abandon all military attempts to bring justice to foreign situations because it's inherently unjust or none of our business and so on. It certainly IS our business if foreign powers hate us and are gaining the means to do us harm, apart from the fact that our motives really ARE good motives. Beyond that, unbelievers have nothing with which to fight EXCEPT physical means, so to pull back leaves the nation completely vulnerable to enemies. But Christians do have other weapons. If we are living by His Spirit, we can count on protection from God.

In any case it appears to me that there's no doubt that there are more true Christians on the conservative side of the political arguments because there are more issues a Christian can support on the conservative side. Certainly not all, and I strongly considered not voting at all this time until Sarah Palin came along.

So maybe Sarah Palin is answer to prayer. She certainly strengthens the Republican ticket, to put it mildly.

But I've also been thinking about the rightness of a woman in office in general, and in specific the rightness of a woman in office with young children. Of course she's been in the Governor's office in Alaska for a couple of years and before that the Mayor's office in a small town in Alaska. I don't think we have a clear picture exactly how that was worked out, except that her husband took a year off to help.

How different will the Vice Presidency be? The campaign is sure to be intense and time-consuming but that's only for two months. Seems to me I remember seeing something she said a while back when she was one of many being considered for the office, that she wasn't sure the Vice Presidency would give her enough work to do and she needs to have plenty to do. That may mean she can handle a lot of work on top of dealing with family life or it may mean that she is sacrificing her family. It's probably both to some extent and I'm not clear what proportion of both it may be.

One answer I have to my own questions is that Sarah Palin is unique. She's simply the best out there right now. We don't have to judge all family situations by hers, and what she has done for the conservative cause in a few short days simply by her speech-making ability and attractive presence and ability to connect with people is truly phenomenal.

The Bible shows that, although women have the ability to rule, God put men in that role, yet it also shows that sometimes He puts women in that role nevertheless. When the men aren't rising to the occasion. When the prophets were weak in Israel, there would be a woman prophet. When the kings were weak, there would be a strong woman ruling -- for good or ill.

Beyond that there is the practical matter of a woman's having the job of taking care of children. It's not that men can't do it, it's that women were given that role, and in most situations in history the men are needed elsewhere. How can anyone argue with this? Yet we have lots of women in office today. This is supposed to be "progress" for the nation. It's certainly a victory for feminism. But unfortunately it's no doubt also a sign of the general weakening of the nation that women are taking those roles. Certainly the righteous alternative is NOT the macho attitude that is so likely to surface in reaction against such a situation. It was the macho attitude in the first place that provoked women into the feminist reaction. Victory over THAT is fine with me, but in a perfect world there would not be such conflict and such extremes on either side of it.

P.S. I checked Dr. Laura's site today, not having followed her for a few years now, just wanting to see what she had to say about Sarah Palin, and found her denouncing her as a mother of five children for taking on such a demanding job. I've often found Dr. Laura's opinions congenial with my own, and I agree with her general concern in this case too, but only her GENERAL concern. I think she errs in not seeing the uniqueness of this situation, the uniqueness of the need for a powerful boost to the conservative cause and the lack of anyone else who could have done what Sarah Palin has done, the uniqueness of Sarah Palin herself, perhaps even the uniqueness of her family situation in which the children have many caretakers and will most likely be a great deal with their mother in this endeavor anyway. And Sarah herself isn't going to be completely swallowed up by the kind of job the Vice Presidency is.