real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

Sarah Palin’s candidacy shines light on hypocrisy among patriocentrists in the homeschooling camp

It is probably no coincidence that I first heard that presidential candidate John McCain chose Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate while I was at the zoo, surrounded by 7 grandbabies, doting over the newest one who was only a few days old. Alexander was so small that afternoon, too tiny to enjoy the elephants or to climb on the monkey bars. He was safely cuddled by his mama, nursing and oblivious to the irony of my moment.

I have to admit that my first response to the announcement was “Oh, her children are still so young!” And it is true. Sarah’s youngest is only a few months old, a nursing infant she sometimes takes to the office with her, wrapped tightly to her breast as she multi tasks through the day. His Down’s syndrome guarantees that he will need extra attention in the days to come, as will the Palin’s oldest daughter, herself a soon-to-be teenage mom. At the same time, the naming of an evangelical Christian who is unashamedly pro-life being chosen to run with McCain was an answer to prayer.

I have tried to sort through my own feelings and responses to all of this. As a full time homemaker and mom, I naturally have my own prejudices. I could not do what Sarah has done, working full time and raising a large family. I have way too much mom guilt to pull it off. I can remember doing some substitute teaching a couple days a week while my pre-schoolers spent the day with grandparents and I look back on those days with some regret, so I know myself too well to think I could ever do even what Sarah has already done.

But I am not the standard of measure for Sarah Palin, nor are any of the other moms I know.

Sarah is a professing Christian, a sister in Christ, who believes God has called her to this place, this time in history. I do not see a woman who has sought out the role of vice-president. While other Christians, all men and fathers, Mike Huckabee, Alan Keyes, and Ron Paul, to name a few, have spent millions of dollars and sacrificed time with their families to attempt to get into the oval office, Sarah has been hand-selected and brought out of obscurity. (I had never heard of her before last Friday. Had you?) She has been given an opportunity to speak to the most crucial issue of the day, abortion, in ways no man can credibly do, because she has already spoken with her life. While 80 to 90% of women faced with carrying a Down’s syndrome child choose abortion, Sarah and her husband joyfully welcomed their son into their lives. And while many parents, even professing pro-life Christian parents, drive their daughters to the abortion clinic to save face or to “give their daughters a second chance at life,” the Palins have committed themselves to supporting their daughter, obviously having shown her, by their own actions, that human life is precious and worthy of protecting.

So, I am committed to not only voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin in what, prior to Sarah’s choosing, looked like a dismal election year. I believe that Sarah Palin has been called, as Esther was, “for such a time as this.” I have long thought that pro-life rhetoric has ignored the fact that abortion is bad for women, too, not just babies and that by not caring about the needs of women in crisis pregnancies but only talking about the babies, as some homeschooling leaders have demonstrated, we are missing one of the greatest opportunities we have of covenantally reaching out to families.

Sarah’s membership in Feminists for Life tells me that she understands that message and is willing to proclaim it far and wide, as should be done. Those who condemn Sarah for her involvement in this fine pro-life group either don’t understand their mission or can’t get past the fact that that mission has its roots in the hard work of women reformers who not only saw abortion as an evil perpetrated against women but as part of the whole agenda that included the injustices of slavery, alcohol and spousal abuse by fathers and husbands, the forced relocation of Native Americans, and women being denied the right to vote.

I also believe that, as Deborah, she is also a mother who has been chosen to bring light to where there was previously darkness. I can support her with every confidence because I believe that, while the calling of motherhood is to be highly revered, it is not the only calling that God places on the lives of women, any more so than the calling of fatherhood is the only calling given to men. I know that, as with all believers, there is only one purpose in life, that of glorifying God, and that Sarah Palin has already done that.

But, herein lies the one thing that really bothers me about all the discussion on Sarah Palin within the homeschooling circles, whether it is on blogs, in support groups, or in the endless pontifications of the self-appointed homeschooling leadership. Sarah Palin is being held to standards that are not required in Scripture, are not the same standards required of their favorite “older women,” and that many women within this same homeschooling leadership will not even follow themselves.

Jennie Chancey, co-author of the book Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God along with Stacy McDonald, has ridiculously referred to Sarah as “McCain’s helpmeet” and has waxed eloquent that women who work outside the home are sinning by “blaspheming God’s name.” But how is Sarah any different than Jennie who has, as a mom, traveled to Hollywood to provide her expertise on costume design or has traveled, along with Stacy, to promote their book? Does that make them blasphemers or “helpmeets’” to Doug Phillips since their book sales obviously help to build his kingdom? (Consistency on his part would require all his authors to be men and would never condone any book published by Vision Forum to be promoted by women who find their feet not abiding in their own homes in order to do so. In fact, consistency would also require everyone who sells his book, even as phone operators, to go back to their homes as well. )

And what of the other feminine icons they so readily embrace, women like Phyllis Schaftly who remarkably appears in the Monstrous Regiment of Women film blasting feminism all the while having lived out a more feminist lifestyle than even Sarah Palin? Or what about their other favored role model, Elisabeth Elliott who endangered the life of her young daughter to preach the Gospel on the mission field and who has spent decades preaching in pulpits across America? Their claims that Sarah isn’t a positive role model for daughters makes no sense unless they are willing to also hold Schaftly, Elliott, and even themselves to these same standards.

I will be watching to learn more about Sarah Palin and I will be listening to hear if she understands the role of government in the lives of real people like me. My hunch is that she does. And I will sit back and munch some popcorn and see what the self-proclaimed protectors of motherhood do with their own. Perhaps they will clean out their own closets. My hunch is that they won’t.



  TulipGirl wrote @

Very well said.

  thatmom wrote @

Just to remind everyone, with documentation, of the position Stacy and Jennie have taken regarding the roles of women, here is an excerpt from a past blog entry:

“Throughout the Passionate Housewives book, these phrases and similar ones are used repeatedly: “God-ordained womanhood” (page 126), “biblical directives to women to be wives, mothers, and keepers of the home” (page 122), “our respective roles given to us by God” (page 104), “Homemakers? God has created women to fulfill this unique role. That’s all we need to know to rest in our callings.” (page 98), “God has given women a sphere that is naturally and wonderfully their own to manage and wisely govern.” (page 93), “Why is God’s role for women so important? Because God says when we reject it, we blaspheme His Word.” (page 97), “we can walk confidently in the role God ordained for us since the beginning of time” (page 36). Some of these quotes are from Stacy and some are from Jennie.”

  Kim wrote @

Hey Karen, Where can I get my Homeschool Moms for Sarah t shirt! I think we should start something!

Go Sarah!

  Kathleen wrote @

Karen, as I was reading your post, it occured to me that Sarah Palin, if the McCain/Palin ticket is elected President/V.P., will have even more opportunities even AFTER her time as V.P. to promote the pro-life values she holds. What a time of opportunity for the message, as well as her real-life role model, to come shining through to the public. She certainly wouldn’t be “hiding it under a bushel.”

  debrabaker wrote @

She is consistantly pro life.

Consistanatly pro-child.

She has demonstrated twice within the course of a year that she walks her talk.

She did not kill her down’s child and she didn’t not have her grandchild killed.

She is a tough, no nonsense woman thaat has turned the political machine in Alaska on its ear.

In other words, she knows when to nurture and protect and knows when to kick ass. She has demonstrated true leadership qualities that those Patrocentrists only wish they had but seem to need to settle on qualifying based on the presence of their Y chromosomes instead.

  sarah: Egalitarian Feminist wrote @

I am also surprised by some of the comments on TV about whether or not she can do all this and be a mom. The news is sounding like a Vision Forum Conference. Who ever thought Paul Begala and Voddie Baucham would be of one mind?

  thatmom wrote @

Here is another testimonial about Sarah someone sent me from her home state:

“How about the fact that in March she invited every person at the Alaska State Convention to stand if they wanted to see the corrupt State Party Chairman replaced? Considering that he was the one running the convention….that took gutspa!”

  thatmom wrote @

You all must go to Carol’s blog for great pictures and commentary on Sarah as a mom.

  thatmom wrote @

We watched Sarah’s speech last night and both Clay and I were amazed at this family. They were so genuine and Sarah certainly came across as a normal mom. I really don’t think her detractors know WHAT to do with them.

Sarah, you are correct, it is really funny when Paul Begala and Voddie Baucham are both agreeing with each other about her! It’s actually quite entertaining, isn’t it?

And one more thing this morning….can I just say that her husband looks like he is really enjoying himself and ought to be recognized every bit as much as Michelle Obama and Patty McCain. Those of us who are married all know that in normal marriages couples discuss politics etc across the breakfast table every day. You can be sure that that man is no dummy and he and Sarah hash through issues with him giving every bit as much input to her decisions as governor as anyone would expect a spouse to do. I say three cheers for a man who looks to be an awesome dad.

  thatmom wrote @

“In other words, she knows when to nurture and protect and knows when to kick ass. She has demonstrated true leadership qualities that those Patrocentrists only wish they had but seem to need to settle on qualifying based on the presence of their Y chromosomes instead.”

Debra, brilliant insight there.

  thatmom wrote @

Kathleen, you are correct that this gives her an amazing opportunity and forum that will only be larger after she is VP.

I love how open they have been about not being a perfect family. I only wish that others could model this behavior and learn from Sarah in this regard. On many levels this woman has a good message for moms.

  thatmom wrote @

Here is the transcript of last night’s speech:

  thatmom wrote @

Here is a great article by Ann Coulter regarding the Palin nomination: (September 8, 2008)

The best line in the entire article:

“The bien-pensant criticized Palin, saying it’s irresponsible for a woman with five children to run for vice president. Liberals’ new talking point: Sarah Palin: Only five abortions away from the presidency. “

  Kim wrote @

Karen, I loved the video of Piper holding her baby brother during the speech, and licking her hand to smooth down his hair. Baby brothers in a big family get a lot of love and attention. I really enjoyed the speech, too!

  Jack Brooks wrote @

This is a question of Christians ethics (“Does the Bible say anything about women serving in public office?”), and should be treated as a Christian ethics issue.

There is a fallacy I’ve heard called the Fallacy of the Implied Negative. “If this, then not that.” If submitted to husbandly oversight, then may not be in charge of men in the secular realm. But is that so? E.g., what about widows or divorced Christian moms who have college-age sons at home? Are they in authority over the older-teen son?

I consider the question of Christian women in elected office to be a more complicated subject than feminists or traditionalists treat it. Feminist Christians just wave their hands and go “pfffhh!” , and traditionalists quote verses from Ephesians 5.

  thatmom wrote @

Pastor Jack,

You bring up an interesting question. In many of the patriocentric circles that I am talking about, women cannot teach their own teenage sons at home or any young men in church settings or Bible study. In fact, look at the SBC’s recent firing of a woman seminary professor. These ought to be considered in light of their teachings that a woman teaching is placing herself in authority over others, thus equating authority to teaching in general.

In these camps, widows are supposed to be placed under the authority of church elders until they remarry (if they are young) or indefinitely if they are “widows indeed.”

There is also a teaching floating around that a woman under the authority of any man makes her his “helpmeet.”

These are the nutty extremes within patriocentrist circles, especially the homeschooling ones.

I would be interested in hearing you elaborate on your last paragraph if you have time.


  Jack Brooks wrote @

Working on it. Examples of where it’s starting to go (these are just hypotheses; I approach theological questions like House diagnoses patients, though without the villainy):

1. The Bible teaches generalizations, but authorizes exceptions. Examples: Marriage is forever, unless there’s sexual sin or the unbeliever wants a divorce. Young widows ought to re-marry (1 Timothy), but singleness is preferable as long as they can control their desires (1 Corinthians). Killing is forbidden (10 commandments), except in self-defense, defense of another, a just war, or as a punishment for a capital crime. The Bible always portrays debt as n undesirable thing (esp. in the book of Proverbs), but doesn’t absolutely forbid it. The Bible also teaches absolutes. E.g., adultery is never permissible. Idol worship is never permissible. Thievery is never permissible. No ex ceptions allowed. So under which category should we place the teaching that Christian women should marry, bear children, and focus on running their homes? Is it an ethical generalization to which the Bible allows exceptions, or is it an absolute law?

2. Does a woman working outside the home automatically mean that she will not manage her home well? Is it more correct to say that a woman working outside the home runs a greater risk of mismanaging her family responsibilities than a SAHM, but that it is possible that she might not? Is it better to use home responsibilities (and the woman’s success or failure to keep up with them) as warning-lights, and that family responsibilities always trump secular work if the warning lights go off

3. Does the Bible teach that all women are supposed to be submitted to all men everywhere, meaning, no woman can at any time for any reason exercise any authority over a male? Or is it that a woman is supposed to be respectful and submissive to specific men (a husband, if she has one; a pastor and/or elders at church), but not necessarily all men?

4. Pragmatically speaking, what would happen to society if no woman was allowed to exercise decision-making authority over any man, in any venue? And I don’t ask this question with the idea of turning it into a reductio ad absurdum. I mean, even in realistic, every-day situations. No woman could ever tell any male what to do or how to do it. What would happen if that was a universal rule of law?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: