Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baptists, Women,and Vice Presidents

In a recent AP article by Mike Baker, the issue of the place of women as viewed by the Southern Baptist Convention is addressed. It seems that, being good Biblical literalists, the SBC holds to the notion of women as occupying a "secondary role" to men when it comes to authority in the church and family.

Women of the SBC (the nation's largest Protestant denomination) are denied positions of leadership, such as that of ordained minister, in Baptist churches. It seems that God has designed it so that women are not gifted for such work. They are not to be in a position of authority over men. (Never mind that this displays a rather authoritarian position of church leadership in general.) In fact, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology, has put in place an academic program in homemaking-- things like hosting, cooking, sewing, etc-- specifically for wives of seminary students (and others as well, I would suppose).

This brings up a second area of concern. Members of the SBC (or maybe leaders) see women's place in the home as being one of submission to male leadership. Women's roles are to be more of a domestic nature. Men are to be "in charge."

How has all of this played out for Sarah Palin, the darling of the Religious Right? According to Richard Land of the SBC Ethics and Religios Liberty Commission, having Sarah, as VP or even as president is alright, as long as it's okay with her husband.

This position appears rather hyprocritical to me. It is also problematic. What if McCain/Palin are elected and in a year or two, Sarah's husband decides he has had enough, and he wants Sarah back to baking cookies? Further, does it really make any sense to view the scripture passage that forbids a woman to "teach or exercise authority over a man" as allowing a woman to be the possible chief executive of our nation (or Alaska, for that matter)?

All in all, it seems that even fundamentalists are pretty selective in what they take as "gospel truth." Maybe, someday, fundamentalists will just agree that the strictures the Bible places on women are just plain silly, and there is no logical reason why they should stand. But, then again, maybe they won't.

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