My wonderful friend Joy asked in a comment what I thought about women staying home with their children. Apparently during the course of the past election, John Piper made this statement in a video regarding Sarah Palin's candidacy for Vice President:
I personally think that it would have been better for her to stay at home with her disabled child, both for the good of the family and as a model for moms... I don't think, Biblically, that a woman should be commander in chief.
First off I need to tell you that I don't agree with all of his views on gender and the Bible. He teaches that there are some vocations outside of the church that women should not have, period. Based on his above qoute, the President of the United States is one of them. I strongly disagree. God raised up women in the Bible as leaders (Deborah and Esther come to mind) who had great strength and influence over men. Anyway, we have to realize that John Piper holds a very conservative view on womanhood and gender roles, that extends beyond the church. Personally, I find some of his teachings in this area to be demeaning towards women. (He has a book he wrote with Wayne Grudem called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.)
(I also take issue with his need to qualify that Palin's baby is disabled. I'm not sure why that bothers me, but it does.)
ANYway, in thinking about womanhood and motherhood, I love Psalm 127:3-5:
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
I do believe that God's general desire is for us women to raise our children. Some argue that women can do it all, but SHOULD they do it all? I do have many friends who work outside the home and they are FANTASTIC mothers. How can I judge what is God's specific will for their life in this area? I think it is first and foremost a heart-issue: are we believing that motherhood is a gift? Do we treat our children like burdens? Or blessings? Do we engage with them? Are we being good stewards of these blessings from God (when it comes to nutrition, training them, shaping their minds)? Do we care more about prestige or the pursuit of the American dream than we do about the role God has given us? I'm sure there are at-home moms who don't hold to these values, and many "working moms" who do.
I know without a doubt that I am called to be home with my children. I believe this is honoring to the Lord. I CAN'T decisively say what anyone else is called to do. As for a woman with children, working in government, again, I think it goes back to those heart issues. There are pictures all over the web of Palin going to meetings wearing (or nursing) her baby. Her husband's supposedly home a lot. According to them they have a huge support network of family who help out too. I don't know these people personally, but I DO think it is POSSIBLE for God to call a mother to public service. Of course, this whole discussion doesn't really speak to John Piper's criticisms because the root belief there is that women should not be in these governmental positions at all.
As for Piper's idea that Sarah Palin, in running for office, was not a good model for moms, I find her to be, in many ways, a refreshing model for women in general: unapologetically prolife, and living that out by giving birth to a child with Downs Syndrome at age 44, when roughly 80% of the population would have terminated the pregnancy. No matter what you think of her or her ability to lead, the lady is living out her beliefs. I would much prefer to point to her as a role model for my daughters than to, say, Hannah Montana. If we, as John Piper seems to be suggesting, keep women out of most visible leadership positions, I think we'll be missing out on some of the depth and perspective of God's creation. Men AND women are made in God's image, not just men. And we women ought to see other women pursuing their passions and living out their convictions.
Lastly, in reference to that Piper video (and what he said about voting as if you're NOT voting), I would argue that while certainly we shouldn't be in utter despair over an election, God DOES want us doing justice here on Earth, bringing about His kingdom. Brian McLaren has, in my opinion, done a good job of making the case that we need to be concerned with justice and peace and mercy in the here and now. While embracing an eternal perspective, we need to make sure we're not neglecting the state of the world today. (The hungry, the poor, the lost, the unborn, etc.) If we as believers throw up our hands and do not speak out for these groups, who will? If we cease to passionately pursue justice in the name of Christ, who will? To me, that means caring about the election--no matter which way you vote. We should be concerned about who leads our nation and the ideologies they espouse. Just look around the world at various leaders and how they negatively/positively impact their citizens. At any rate, I hope whether you voted for Barack Obama or John McCain, whether you even liked either of them, that you felt passionately about an issue or two that you believe is near to God's heart.
Okay Joy, there is my long, sure-to-invite-controversy answer. The can is open. What do YOU think???? :)