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Good Saint Sarah

For sheer entertainment value, I think American politics in general, and Presidential campaigns in particular, are about the best bang for my buck, even as a non-American. For little more than the cost of an internet connection I can spend endless hours being amused. This 2008 campaign may be the most entertaining yet. While I rarely use this blog to discuss politics (and especially when I’m as ignorant of a topic as I am with U.S. politics), today I’ll make the rare exception. Over the past few days I’ve bookmarked a whole lot of links and today will try to tie a few of them together.

Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most electrifying and polarizing figure we’ve seen in U.S. politics for a long, long time. She has completely changed the face of election. A week ago the media could not break away from Barack Obama. Today Sarah Palin is dominating the discussion. She was the perfect foil; if anyone doubts McCain’s smarts, I’d say he has proven himself the wily veteran with this pick. This has become an Obama vs. Palin election. At least for now, McCain is taking a back seat in his own Presidential election campaign. It’s all about Sarah. Chuck Colson’s article on clashing worldviews is interesting reading. “In the life of Sarah Palin, we see the clash of worldviews playing out before our own eyes. Consider every major controversial issue in American politics and culture right now … and somehow, they touch her personally.” Everyone can either love or hate Palin; few are ambivalent.

It’s little wonder that many evangelicals are quickly learning to love her. The little boy Piper Palin spit-shined in front of the nation is living, breathing proof of Palin’s commitment to life—probably the single most important issue to a vast number of Christians. In an age when 90 or 95 out of every 100 children with Down Syndrome are destroyed, Trig is, well, alive. That, in and of itself, is almost miraculous today. Asked about her brother’s Syndrome, Palin’s daughter Willow said, “I don’t care - he’s my brother and I love him.” Trig is exactly who God made him to be and he is a gift to that family.

But the greatest source of Palin’s appeal must be her sheer normalcy. She is exactly the kind of pit bull hockey mom you’d meet anywhere in Alaska (or Canada). She’s so unlike the majority of the politicians who strive for the White House. It seems almost a mistake that she is up on that platform.

People on the Loony Left know they hate Palin but they are struggling with how to hate her. They turned first on her children, insisting that her infant son could not possibly be her own. They smeared her for having a baby in her “old age” (as if they all had their families in their prime child-bearing years) and determined that the baby must be her daughters’. The stupendous stupidity of leveling and believing such a charge showed just how far people would stoop to attempt to discredit her. Of course the controversy was quickly resolved when the McCain campaign announced that Palin’s daughter was pregnant with a child of her own. Perhaps worst of all, she was going to keep the baby and will marry the father. While I read many articles assuring the American public that Palin was lying about being the mother of Trig, I don’t recall reading nearly so many retractions or apologies.

Things got even weirder than this. Liberal feminists (is that redundant?) began to turn on Palin. You would think women would be thrilled to see a woman who is poised to rise higher in government than any woman before her, but this was not the case. While these feminists would have cheered Hillary Clinton as President or Vice President, Palin was not exactly the woman they had in mind. Not the hockey mom, church-going mother of five who is undoubtedly a better shot than Dick Cheney! And not the woman who is a powerful figure while remaining feminine and attractive. Stand to Reason says “One of the things that bugs me about the Feminist movement is it seems to tell women that they have to act like men to be equal to them. And in the process women are no longer feminine and instead take on some of the worst aspects of masculine nature… Gov. Palin seems to have a feminine appeal while displaying her capability and strength.”

And so feminists wondered if she could possibly take care of her family while dealing with her responsibilities as Vice President. The feminists said this! Eventually there was something of a backlash and prominent feminists were forced to speak out. But the damage had already been done—we had seen another example of how far the left is willing to go to discredit this McCain/Palin ticket. They’ll gladly violate their own principles to keep McCain out of the White House. It truly was a shameful week for the press.

Interestingly, while feminists have been asking whether Palin can care for her nation and her family, Christians have been wondering the same. Is it right for a woman to take on a position of such responsibility? Is it right for her to assume a position of leadership? No sooner had Palin been announced than Voddie Baucham wrote a much-publicized article in which he said this: “My point is simple. The job of a wife and mother is to be a wife and mother. Anything in addition to that must also be subservient to it. There is no higher calling. Moreover, I believe Paul’s admonition [in Titus 2] should lead us to reject any notion of a wife and mother taking on the level of responsibility that Mrs. Palin is seeking.” Baucham believes that the pro-life party is using Palin as a pawn in a move that is distinctly anti-family. Those who know of Baucham will know that he is very conservative when it comes to the role of women (going so far in The Return of the Daughters to suggest that women should probably not go to college).

Other more moderate conservative Christians spoke up. Writing for the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, David Kotter asked, “Does Sarah Palin Present a Dilemma for Complementarians?” He answered very well, saying, “From the outset we must remember that on November 4 the voters will not elect a national minister or pastor in chief. A president is not held to the same moral standards as an elder of a church. While it is a blessing from God to have ethical or even Christian political leaders, the Bible places no such requirements on secular governments. Even though the Bible reserves final authority in the church for men, this does not apply in the kingdom of this world.” Al Mohler agrees, saying “The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility. I believe that women as CEOs in the business world and as officials in government are no affront to Scripture. Then again, that presupposes that women — and men — have first fulfilled their responsibilities within the little commonwealth of the family.”

One blog I appreciated was Amy’s (which has 173 comments and counting). Amy takes issue with the automatic assumption that a woman’s highest calling is to be a wife and mother. “Being a wife and mother is a good and noble thing, but it is not the highest thing.”

And I firmly agree with Amy and Mohler and Kotter. While Christians do want to maintain the focus on the family we have to be careful about stating categorically that a woman has no business running for Vice President. Palin’s decision is one to be made with her family and with counsel from her local church. Beyond that we, as Christians, have to trust her judgment in this kind of disputable matter. Far be it from us to declare that she cannot do both and that she cannot do both with excellence.

The timing of this campaign is interesting since we are likely to be facing an election here in Canada in the weeks to come. Palin is an unique figure and for so many reasons. Her husband is a snowmobile racer, for goodness sake. I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets a few write-in votes in our election.