Monday, September 15, 2008

Palin causes a Gender Bender

Over at USA Today, David Gushe writes about the implicit tension in conservative evangelical endorsement of Palin. Many of these conservative evangelicals hold a complementarian position on prohibiting women from pastoral ministry, the deaconate, and from preaching and teaching in the preence of men, and yet these same evangelicals also resonate with Palin who largely represents their religious values on family and faith. How can they endorse a female President he asks? Now this raises issue about church-state relationships and do different rules hold out for different domains of authority, i.e. the secular state and the Christian Church. I do not presuppose the perspective of Gushe, but I do have to ask how do you endorse Palin if: (1) You believe that a women's primary responsibility is in the home and women should not work outside the home (as Dorothy Patterson stated in an interview here). (2) If you believe that it is wicked for a woman to be the leader of a nation? (Paige Patterson is reported to have said this during his examination as a witness in the Sheri Klouda case. A transcript is available here, see the last question where he answered, "The Bible does say in the Book of Isaiah, that it is something of an indication of a wicked society when women rule over them" - if this is incorrect someone please tell me and I'll remove the apparent quote). Can Mr. and Mrs. Patterson vote for Sarah Palin as a consistent expression of their views on the place of women (of course it could be worse, she could be a Calvinist)?

For a response to Gushe see Denny Burke's short post, David Kotter offers comments on this subject at CBWM, and let me say that my wife is essentially a stay at home mother who works in a craftshop on Saturdays!


Tony Siew said...

Dear Mike, interesting post. Though I am essentially a complementarian I have no problems with women being leaders of a country or career women because I do not see Scripture prohibiting women from taking on such roles. I was a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher and am a fan of Hillary Clinton before the Obama phenomenon came along and now the Palin whirlwind. I will reserve my comments on Palin until I have more time to make some "objective" judgement. BTW, I agree with your comments on the GOP's taxation policies. Wealth does not just trickle down to the poor unless there is some regulation or taxation to ensure equitable distribution of the country's wealth.

dopderbeck said...

Tony -- I'm not sure the "not explicitly prohibited in scripture" punt works here. Complementarians base their normative intepretation of 1 Timothy 2 on the reference there to the order of creation. The prohibition on women holding authority in the church, if it is normative, isn't just an isolated law, it's rooted in the "way things are." So it seems to me that Gushee is right to point out a disjunction here.

John C. Poirier said...


I'm not sure where Mike referred to "trickle down" economics, so I might be speaking out of turn (not knowing exactly what he said), but I'm afraid that your understanding (and perhaps also his) of how the theory works is way off base. First of all, it's not fair to call it "trickle down" economics--George Bush II used that unfortunate term on occasion, and the Democrats picked up on it, but the better term is simply "supply-side economics"--the "trickle down" effect that this theory has is real, but it's secondary in an understanding of how it works.

I say this because your remark that there needs to be "some regulation or taxation to ensure equitable distribution of the country's wealth" represents a grave misunderstanding of the theory, and seems to represent the old liberal style of economic thinking in which the idea of the creation of new wealth is completely ignored, leaving us to think that economic justice can only be achieved through the redistribution of existing wealth. (I challenge you, or anyone, to find a single liberal who even acknowledges the creation of new wealth in his/her economic theory.) The notion of supply-side economics is that a capitalist economy will be healthiest when the tax schedule allows the capital base of that economy to continue growing, thereby ensuring that growth of jobs, research, expansion into new markets, etc.--all the sorts of things that benefit *everyone* in the economy. When the tax schedule ensures the continued growth of the economy's capital base, then everyone benefits, and the trickle-down effect is that joblessness goes down, inflation goes down, and earnings (for all classes) go up. By the same token, tax schedules that tax the rich at unfairly high levels are economically disastrous--they do nothing but pull down the capital base of the economy, which in turn causes jobs, research, and markets to dry up, and inflation to go up.

It's most unfortunate that liberals characterize this theory in such unfair terms. I mentioned above that liberals don't like even to admit that there's such a thing as the creation of new wealth. For the average Joe, who knows nothing about the liberals' unrealistic view of the world of industry, the mere mention of the fact that "the rich got richer" during a given period causes him to infer (wrongly) that the poor got poorer. Here in the States, liberals use that line all the time--they're always talking about the widening gap between the upper and lower classes, carefully omitting to mention that that *doesn't* mean that the lower classes are getting poorer. (If everyone suddenly gets 20% richer, then the gap between the classes would, mathematically speaking, be widening!)

Liberals in this country (the USA) will do or say anything to make the people think that supply-side economics makes the middle and lower classes poorer. (This is part of the Democratic strategy of trying to make people think that the Republicans work for the wealthy, while the Democrats work for everyone.) In a 1992 debate between Bill Clinton and George Bush II, Clinton said that the average American family's earnings went *down* during the Reagan years. Bush had no response, because, based on everything he knew about the economy during the Reagan years, a remark like this didn't make any sense. It wasn't until the next day that the Republicans had figured out the basis of Clinton's claim: what Clinton said was strictly speaking true, but it was due to the *divorce rate* in America during the Reagan years--because of a high divorce rate, enough two-income families became one-income families during the Reagan years that that the average family income level actually went down, in spite of the fact that the *per capita* earnings went up dramatically during that period.

Please excuse me for ranting, but I find that very few non-Americans ever really understand Republican policies, and I can't let things like this go by.

Michael F. Bird said...


Thanks for that detailed explanation. I understand that taxing the rich at disproportionate rates can he harmful to the economy and discourage economic betterment of one's circumstances. What I do find hard to believe is that giving tax breaks to the top 2% of persons in an economy is going to benefit those who are less well off. I also fail to understand why tolerating endemic government debt and huge deficits is always a better option than raising taxes (esp. in times of war when taxes are normally raised).

Tony Siew said...

Dear John, thanks very much for your response and I find your comments fair and I would agree with most of them. As it will take too much space in Mike's blog to make a full reply, I will attempt to respond briefly. I agree with the creation of new wealth (I am no liberal in this matter) and this will trickle down and benefit the poor. On the other hand, I would disagree that over-generous tax breaks should be given to the very wealthy. I also think that there could be over-regulation and high taxation on the wealthy that is counter-productive as it discourages entrepreneurship and new business ventures and hence the lack of wealth creation. Like what we have in New Zealand under the present Labour government. I hope to write a fuller reply in my own blog. My apologies to Mike for using so much space here.