Palin, Procreation Politics, and Motherhood

Politically, I think Sarah Palin was a shrewd choice by McCain. However, since John McCain chose her for his running mate, everyone has been excited about her "pro-life" stance. It seems that everyone believes that giving birth to a son with Down Syndrome shows her to be a super-pro-lifer. Are there really pro-lifers who believe one can morally abort a child who has a genetic defect? If not, why do they fawn over this fact?

What's more, now that it's public knowledge that her teenage daughter is pregnant and intends to keep the child, Palin's familial pro-life position is perceived to be even more solid.

I'll admit that this is all in stark contrast to Obama's "babies as punishment" stance, but have we really reduced our collective conscience as a nation to seeing the hallmark of morality on the issue of procreation as simply that one doesn't kill babies? How about being willing to stay home and raise them?

This seems a good time to introduce the following quote from Luther's commentary on Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 7:26. "And I found more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets and whose hands are fetters; he who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her."

"Among the things I have noticed about fools is this one, which has to do with women. For when he was writing a catalog of vanities, it would not do to pass over this. What happens to fools who try to keep hands off and to do nothing and to be free of everything is that they fall into the hands of women and are obliged to serve women. He is speaking about a woman who administers things and arrogates wisdom and ruling power to herself. He is not speaking about the wrath of women, although it is true that a woman has a more tempestuous nature than a man. This is not a condemnation of the female sex, which is a creation of God. For the sex must be kept distinct from its weaknesses, just as earlier he made a distinction between the works of God and the counsels of men. A human being is a work of God, but beyond this work he wants to follow also his own counsels and not to be controlled solely by God, by whom he has nevertheless been created and made. In the same way the sex must be kept distinct from its weaknesses. As a creature of God, a woman is to be looked upon with reverence. For she was created to be around the man, to care for children and to bring them up in an honest and godly way, and to be subject to the man. Men, on the other hand, are commanded to govern and have the rule over women and the rest of the household. But if a woman forsakes her office and assumes authority over her husband, she is no longer doing her own work, for which she was created, but a work that comes from her own fault and from evil. For God did not create this sex for ruling, and therefore they never rule successfully.

"In opposition to this one could cite the histories about the Amazons, celebrated by Greek writers. They are said to have exercised authority and to have waged war. For my part, however, I believe that what is said of them is a fable. The Ethiopians select women as both kings and princes, as is their custom; thus Candace, the queen of Ethiopia, is mentioned in the Book of Acts (Acts 8:27). But this is a foolish thing to do, as foolish princes are often put in charge of a kingdom. Never has there been divine permission for a woman to rule. Of course, it can happen that she is put into the place of the king and of the kingdom; but then she always has a senate of leading men, by whose counsel everything should be administered. Therefore even though a woman may occupy the king’s place, this does not confirm the right of women to rule. For the text is clear (Gen. 3:16): “You shall be under the power of your husband, and he shall rule over you.” The woman was created for her special purpose, namely, to use prudence and reason in the rearing of children. For everyone functions most efficiently in that for which he was created. A woman can handle a child better with her little finger than a man can with both fists. Therefore let everyone remain in that work to which he has been called and ordained by God."

Luther's Works (15:130)

It doesn't sound to me like Luther would be in favor of Palin's candidacy, regardless of her record or abilities. The fact that one
can do something doesn't mean one should. Isaiah 3:12 also speaks negatively about the rule of women:

O My people! Their oppressors are children,
And women rule over them.
O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray
And confuse the direction of your paths.


GL said...


Excellent post. Palin does stand in stark contrast to Obama, but allowing her own disabled child to live is not heroism. As a father of a special needs child, I believe I have the right and experience to say that loving a special needs child is not heroic, it is what any Christian parent would do -- that is, any parent in whose heart dwells the Spirit of the Most High, Who is Love. Nor is her daughter's decision to keep her baby and marry his father heroic; it is simply what was always done in such circumstances until our own perverted time. So, while we are seeing in Palin and her family something different than is seen in the world, the glory does not belong to Palin or her daughter; the glory belongs to One who changed their hearts. Soli Deo Gloria!

You might be interested in a thread on Mere Comments in which th3 issue of a potential female president has been raised. While I am thrilled to have a staunchly pro-life vice presidential nominee, I posted the following on Mere Comments:

Well, it does bother me that a woman may lead the nation, not because I have anything against a female leader, but because of what it reveals about the sorry state of male leadership in our time. Stuart is correct in noting that there is nothing new about it in history and in pointing out that there have been many effective female rulers, including national leaders in our own time. However, when I read the account of Deborah in the book of Judges, I sense her disdain for the weakness of the men around her:

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. . . . She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.

Judges 4:4, 6-9 (ESV) (emphasis supplied).

You can almost hear the disdain Deborah had for Barak and his need to have her by his side during the battle. Prophesying that a woman would get the glory from the victory over Sisera seems to be Barak's ignominy for his weakness.

See http://merecomments.typepad.com/merecomments/2008/08/susan-b-anthony.html

Joy said...

Oh, dear....

I agree that it's not heroism to bear a child--normal or abnormal-- at 17 or 43, but even in the days of Jesus and before, abortion existed. Potions and poisons, mainly. Often the woman died too. Sometimes abortion could be induced by a severe beating to the abdomen. This still occurs today.

If you're going to say that Palin shouldn't rule because of what is or isn't between her legs, then you must also say that she should not teach at high school or college level, because any male over 18 is a man, and she'd have authority over him. Sound sexist? You're damn right, it's sexist.

I could pull examples from scripture (Esther and Deborah are two) where God uses women and the gifts He has given them to shape history and further His kingdom. "It is not good for man to be alone" was spoken in reference to marriage, but remember that marriage is the building block of society. Kings and queens have ruled side-by-side for millenia. The ancient Egyptians also had female Pharaohs. "Women, submit" does NOT equal "Men, put women into submission."

(No, I'm not for women's ordination. But neither am I for circumcision.)

In a country where men have provided a market for the objectification of women and where women have unwittingly allowed it (to the point where I have to think about where I'm welcome to feed my baby), I urge you, gentlemen, to adopt a more well-rounded world view. Very few women have the nerve to use their talents and intellect to the fullest potential. (Count your blessings.)

Obama is consistent, I'll give him that. If you're going to kill babies in utero, let's not ban infanticide. But then you also need to make rape legal, because although it's clearly heinous and violent, who are we to tell men what they can and can't do with their own bodies?

Christopher said...

Good post Erich, I have been wondering the same question about Palin, who really is raising her children?

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...


Your comment is a bit of a tangent from my main point, though certainly pertinent. The point which is most applicable to the subject of this blog is that women are the ones called to bear children, which includes being the primary caregiver, at least in the early years.

Gov. Palin has five children, including a special needs child who is only 4 months old. I do not believe she can properly devote herself to being the mother of these children and be Vice President of the United States at the same time.

I fully realize I've been posting some very unpopular and politically incorrect questions over the past few days. But this blog never pretended to be politically correct. Scripture tells us: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." [Romans 12:2]

So, this post is primarily attempting to address the question of what the good and acceptable will of God is for mothers.

Now, with that clarification, as for your comment, Joy, I believe we agree somewhat on this. One thing I've never understood is how people can oppose women's ordination on the grounds of 1 Timothy 2:12, and yet have no problem with women having authority over men in the secular aspects of life on this earth, such as the classroom or civil government.

The reasons given in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 are the order of creation and the fall. If these are factors that mean women should not have authority over men, why do we insert a separation of church and state with regard to the application of these reasons? Do the attributes instilled by God and corrupted by the fall somehow disappear when one exits the church sanctuary? Are we no longer men and women when it comes to matters of school and state?

Again, read the applicable verses:

"And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."

Why do some believe this applies to the divine service, but not to government and classrooms?

This is not a rhetorical question. I'm genuinely interested in hearing the argument(s) for this selective application of Scripture. It is understandable coming from those who do not believe in women's ordination. But I'm not sure how those who are against women's ordination explain the selective application of 1 Timothy 2:12-14.

Joy said...

"Why do some believe this applies to the divine service, but not to government and classrooms?"<<

Probably because Paul was instructing Timothy before he became a pastor. In my NIV Concordia Self-Study, the heading for 1 Tim chapter 2 is "Intructions on Worship". I believe that you have grossly removed these select verses from their proper context. [My husband won't chime in because he believes I need no rescuing. But if my word isn't enough, he will be happy to tell you the same thing. He taught at Ft. Wayne last summer, and he'll do it again next summer. He's taught at the St. Louis sem too.]

I didn't mean to digress from Palin's vocational calling to motherhood, but I can see that I didn't properly address it either. While having a 4-mo-old with DS is a full time job in itself, I don't think it automatically disqualifies her. DS babies are typically too weak to nurse; hence, Trig can be bottle-fed by anyone. Also, 3 of her children are older and in school.

I don't know the specifics of Palin's family dynamics, but what an awful, mediocre world it would be if every woman--no matter how gifted or able to serve her neighbor--forfeited the privilege to share her God-given abilities in the name of Martyrdom Motherhood. Am I a crappy mom because I teach piano lessons and blog when I could be baking cookies or ironing or reciting the catechism with my girls? I don't think so. God doesn't bless men with talents and intellect to see them go unused, and He doesn't do it to women either.

Perhaps you'll think this too is tangential, but I believe it's helpful to contemplate Christ's view of women. We have the story of Mary and Martha, and Jesus invites Mary to study at His feet. This was uheard of, as sitting at someone's feet made you his disciple and women were not allowed to learn as students. But Jesus wasn't interested in social norms, much less the gender of His pupil. Thanks to baptism replacing circumcision, there is neither male nor female.

And then there's Creation itself. Only in Christianity do we find women made of exactly the same substance as man. She is not made from some bodily-function fluid as some religions claim; she is taken from his side, close to his heart and equal in every way. Different, but equal. He is incomplete without her and vice versa.

Back up once more and consider the Trinity. God is first and foremost Creator. And it is women to whom He ultimately extends that partnership. Women are God's partners in creation; men are God's partners in salvation. Of course, by His great design we all need each other. Without men there is no procreation, and without women there is no one in need of the gospel.

Hope this is food for thought. I've got a busy day tomorrow, but perhaps I can read again in the evening. Good discussion.

Jon said...

Don't forget verse 15 of I Timothy 2 - "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." I'd say she meets the criteria is some small way.

I would suggest that I Timothy 3 addresses the Office of Holy Ministry in a more concise manner than I Timothy 2.

Modern politics is symbolic in nature. As a symbolic gesture Sarah Palin as the choice for VP is beyond shrewd.

I hope this move encourages women in America to embrace pro-life as pro-woman. I really have to go with a Left Kingdom approach to this one

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...


I'm not questioning Palin's salvation.

Neither you nor Joy have answered WHY these principles of creation order and the fall are selectively applied only to the divine service. If women are not supposed to have authority over men because of these two reasons, why would it be proper for them to have authority in one situation but not in another. The reasons given by Paul for this prohibition were not situational - rather the reasons he gives are indelible marks of the feminine gender.

As Luther wrote (above): "This is not a condemnation of the female sex, which is a creation of God. For the sex must be kept distinct from its weaknesses..."

I agree with Joy that these words were said in the context of Paul's advice to Timothy in his calling as a pastor. But when we get to this particular prohibition for women, the reasons given are universal - that is, they are not limited to the context. Paul may have only been applying them to the church in this instance - I don't know. But, if they are universal truths, they are applicable in all environments as I see it.

In what way are we to understand that Paul means a woman is not to have authority over a man in the church, while at home, the workplace, city hall, or the White House it's just fine?

The following biblical reasons for a woman not to teach or have authority over a man stand regardless of where the woman is standing:

"For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression."

This reasoning reads quite clear to me. First, we have to prelapsarian hierarchy of the order of creation. Then, we have the fall being an example of the woman being more prone to deception and falling into transgression.

I believe it is our egalitarian culture that causes us to have such a hard time reading this Scripture with the same eyes as our fathers in the faith.

It's not as if a woman has no place in the White House. But her place is beside her husband if chosen as a leader. Behind every truly successful and godly man is a loving and submissive wife who is his perfect helper.

Jon said...

I didn't think you were questioning her salvation, I was just throwing verse 15 out there to tie in with her bearing 5 children.

I can't refute your order of creation argument. I was never trying to.

I said it was "beyond shrewd" - meaning it is a winning idea, not a scriptural one.

If I look at her ideas, I like her. She is unabashedly pro-life. She has a sense of humor.

I would not have chosen her though - but I always liked Thatcher.

In the Kingdom of the Left, I find myself prone to a pragmatism that is informed by a Christian worldview and natural law.

I will vote for this ticket on the life issue - as the best chance to weaken Roe v. Wade.

I am not saying that I am in a scripturally defenseable stance. I think I am supporting the best chance for my #1 cause - life.

You have keen eye for law, my friend. It is good. I know your position and concern is right, I cannot oppose you on scripture, but my political instincts like the choice.

Joy said...

Erich, the very fact that you use the word "heirarchy" says volumes. Headship is not about heirarchy. The Trinity is not about heirarchy. (Athanasian creed, anyone?) Submission isn't about heirarchy, or Christ would not be equal to the Father and Spirit in power and majesty.

Headship in home, church, and government is about responsibility and provision.

Since you bring up Adam and Eve again (which I also believe you've misapplied--just because we CAN quote scripture doesn't mean we should), you may or may not be aware that while Eve sinned first, the Hebrew word for her sentence is the same as Adam's. Both should be translated as "hard work" or "burdensome labor".

The Church used to burn women at the stake who attempted to escape their Biblically-ordained sentence of suffering by using opiates or alcohol during labor. The babies and midwives were often executed with her. But when man succeeded in easing his burden by employing livestock and tools and later machinery, he was patted on the back.

I think you are setting a very sexist double standard. Palin is a gifted leader, and it would be poor stewadship for her not to use her gifts. Where scripture is silent, we should be silent.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...


We both agree that Palin is a relatively faithful conservative and adds a lot to the Republican ticket that is missing in McCain. I will be voting for the McCain/Palin ticket. But it will be a vote, as usual, for the lesser evil.

This is a broken world we live in. Voting against Palin because I believe she should be a full-time mom would accomplish nothing. If the Republicans lose, Palin will continue on as the Governor of Alaska. A vote against Palin will not help return her home to her children.


As for the word "hierarchy," I don't mean it in the sense that you think. I am simply using it in the classical sense of the word (sacred rule) in line with the order of creation and the results of the fall. It was said to the woman: "...and he shall rule over you." [Genesis 3:16]

I believe I'm on solid biblical ground here in everything I've said. You have not refuted what I have said biblically. You have only thrown out pejoratives like "sexist double standard" to describe my position, and equated it with burning women at the stake.

You wrote: "Submission isn't about hierarchy, or Christ would not be equal to the Father and Spirit in power and majesty."

You've only got half of the picture there. Christ is "equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood." [Athanasian Creed, line 33]

Not all biblical submission is related to hierarchy, but much is.

While interesting, this part of the discussion is really quite tangential to the pertinent point of my post that is related to procreation. I'd rather get back to the mission of this blog.

In an attempt to bring the discussion back in line with the mission of the blog, let me quote Luther on the point Jon is making with regard to 1 Timothy 2:15.

“But women will be saved through bearing children—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

“That subjection of women and domination of men have not been taken away, have they? No. The penalty remains. The blame passed over. The pain and tribulation of childbearing continue. Those penalties will continue until judgment. So also the dominion of men and the subjection of women continue. You must endure them. You will also be saved if you have also subjected yourselves and bear your children with pain. 'THROUGH BEARING CHILDREN.' It is a very great comfort that a woman can be saved by bearing children, etc. That is, she has an honorable and salutary status in life if she keeps busy having children. We ought to recommend this passage to them, etc. She is described as 'saved' not for freedom, for license, but for bearing and rearing children. Is she not saved by faith? He goes on and explains himself: bearing children is a wholesome responsibility, but for believers. To bear children is acceptable to God. He does not merely say that bearing children saves: he adds: if the bearing takes place in faith and love, it is a Christian work, for to the pure all things are pure (Titus 1 :15). Also: 'All things work together,' Rom. 8:28. This is the comfort for married people in trouble: hardship and all things are salutary, for through them they are moved forward toward salvation and against adultery.... 'IN FAITH.' Paul had to add this, lest women think that they are good in the fact that they bear children. Simple childbearing does nothing, since the heathen also do this. But for Christian women their whole responsibility is salutary. So much the more salutary, then is bearing children. I add this, therefore, that they may not feel secure when they have no faith." [Luther's Works, Vol. 28, p. 279, emphasis mine]

My point here is that a woman who holds the office of Governor and is now seeking the second highest political office in the world cannot be devoting herself properly to the rearing of her children. When parents send their children off to daycare and public school for the majority of their life, the mother is NOT the one rearing them. She has abdicated the majority of her responsibilities as mother.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

And, with regard to the main point of my post, here's an example of the type of coverage Palin's "pro-life" examples is getting.

My problem I have with the national reaction to Palin's family life is that talking about Palin and her daughter keeping their babies as good "decisions" implies there is another option from which to choose. It's like saying "I decided not to kill my wife the last time we weren't getting along." Well, good for you!

Pro-life people don't "decide" to keep an unexpected child - they welcome every child without question.

Anonymous said...

I would venture to say your post and quotes are borderline sexist.

I am glad you will still vote for McCain.

Joy said...

Since I'm full of nothing but tangents (for the third time), I'll simply ask a question or three.

What is "proper" devotion to one's children? Where is the balance between embracing one's role as mother and using the talents and intellect God has given her? And how can a one-size-fits-all approach possibly be feasible??

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

The Washington Post reports:

Palin has carefully portrayed herself throughout her career as someone committed to both family and profession -- and tough enough to handle both. She made a show of dismissing the chef at the governor's mansion saying she wanted to do her own cooking, and that the kids were old enough to make their own sandwiches. And no one can recall her ever having a full-time babysitter.

"You walk into her office and Piper is sitting there, the baby is in the crib -- that's just the way it is. This is how she lives her life. Someone who was in a meeting with her recently said she was discreetly nursing Trig," said Palin's biographer Kaylene Johnson.

From interviews with those closest to Palin emerges a description of a hectic lifestyle, but one in which the hominess and rural community of Alaska have enabled her to have her kids around her while she works and have offered a deep bench of family and friends for child-care support. She has shown up to meetings and news conferences carrying Trig in a baby pouch.

This description of Palin's devotion to her children is certainly admirable compared to the parenting of most working mothers I know. Even so, there is no way her additional vocation as Governor doesn't cause her primary vocation of motherhood to suffer. I doubt that the job of Vice President will allow her the same level of freedom she has somehow managed to maintain as Governor of Alaska. What if a presumed President McCain dies in office? Will a President Palin then be able to carry out ALL the duties of being the most powerful woman in the world and still be a "devoted" mom?

I speak from the experience of being a father of seven children (from 17 years down to 2 months) none of which have any special needs. There is absolutely no way my wife could take on the vocation of Governor, Vice President, or President without her first calling as mother suffering severely. She ends every day repenting of not having enough time to fulfill this primary vocation, let alone take on a second!

And, sorry, but a father can't fill the job of mother no matter how much he tries. As a matter of fact, there is also no way I could take on the job of Vice President of the United States without my primary vocation of father suffering severely. No sexist double standard there! ;-)

I believe the tremendous responsibilities of the highest office in the land should be reserved for those men who no longer have children under 12 to parent. Fathers should be present at home much more than most modern vocations allow, and mothers should be available for their children 24/7.


You ask: "What is 'proper' devotion to one's children?"

Answer: Motherhood is a full-time job - 24/7 - leaving no room for additional vocations. A woman with children in her home is called to be a full-time mother.

GL said...

>>>Pro-life people don't "decide" to keep an unexpected child - they welcome every child without question.<<<

You mean children aren't a choice?

It is sad to see how deeply the language of the pro-"choice" movement has infected the thinking (or at least the language, but language usually reflects thinking) of those who oppose abortion. We see even in the pro-life community this idea that not killing a baby is a decision to be made and that the person who decides not to kill her child is lauded as if she has gone beyond any reasonable expectation.

Compare this to the words of our Lord:

"Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"

Luke 17:7-10 (ESV)

I am very happy that Sarah Palin and her daughter both decided not to abort their babies, but they have only done what is their duty.

The larger question is why would so many pro-life Christians see this as a laudable decision instead of merely doing what one ought. Is it because they too see having children as a choice? Is this mindset the fruit of their own use of contraception so that they may choose when and whether to have children?

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Well said, Greg. You have explained the thrust of the first point I intended to convey when I decided to post on this issue.

1. Why do people see the Palins' "decisions" as being so laudable? Children are not choices.

I agree that this is the fruit of our culture's contraceptive mindset. Virtually everyone sees children as choices.

I wish I had limited this post to that point and made separate posts for the tangents I myself am guilty of creating. This first point is so rich for discussion.

All three main issues contained in this discussion are connected via Sarah Palin, but they are separate issues. Here are the other two major questions separated out:

2. Mothers have a high (perhaps the highest) calling that is all-consuming. Doesn't this make it inadvisable to take on other major vocations while children are still in the home?

3. How does Scripture look at the issue of women having authority over men (specifically outside the church in this case)?

I think that covers the main points which came up in this discussion.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Oh... wait. Perhaps I should clearly state my beliefs with regard to these three main points so as to avoid confusion.

1. Children are not choices. We don't "decide" not to abort them any more than we should "decide" to conceive them.

2. Mothers should be stay-at-home moms. Rarely is working outside the home the lesser evil.

3. I lean toward the belief that women should not have authority over men (both inside and outside the church). But my mind is not 100% made up on this.

In any case, the discussion of #3 does not really belong on this blog as it does not directly relate to procreation.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

I wrote: "Motherhood is a full-time job - 24/7 - leaving no room for additional vocations. A woman with children in her home is called to be a full-time mother."

Let me clarify. What I meant to say here is not that there are no additional vocations a woman could be involved in while caring for her children. Cottage industry is commendable if it does not detract from the rearing of children.

GL said...

As a father of a special needs child, I have to say that I find it very disturbing that so many "pro-life" commentators consider it remarkable that Sarah Palin did not abort Trig. What else should she have done? Are special needs children less worth of life than children without those challenges? Are the burdens of rearing them so great that it is understandable that a parent would want to kill them? Is murder ever understandable? What of taking up our crosses and following Him?

My little girl is special in many ways and there are many burdens in rearing her that we do not have in rearing our other children, but I love her no less (nor no more) than any of my other children. They are all God's gifts to us and they are all made in His image and entitled to my love, both as fellow human beings and as my children.

I understand the enthusiasm for a pro-life candidate, but I am deeply disturbed by some of the underlying assumptions related to Governor Palin's actions.

GL said...

Let me add a few more words to my last post:

I would note that the lauding of her "decision" to not kill Trig has not come from her or her husband's lips, but by those in the pro-life movement. I would feel much more comfortable if the commentators treated her actions (or lack thereof) as the natural, ordinary course which any parent should take. What is remarkable is not that Sarah Palin and her husband "chose" not to kill Trig, but that 90% of parents who discover that their unborn baby has Down Syndrome do kill their own child.

AltWorlder said...

I'm sorry, but why are we Lutherans obliged to hold each of Luther's views in the same esteem? Luther is using the Scripture to support his views here, but that does not mean he is using them correctly. It is, at best, a debatable issue, and not all Christians, or Lutherans, are obliged to abide by his conclusions. Luther is infinitely falliable, as all human beings. The Jewish community of his time can attest to that.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

It is true that as Lutherans we do not have to subscribe to every view Luther ever held. Nonetheless, you admit that Luther is basing his conclusions on Scripture. You personally disagree with his interpretation of Scripture. Why do you think that you are less fallible on this point than Luther? If anything, we in this modern world are more subject to the false egalitarian worldview of our day that I believe clouds most minds on this issue. We shouldn't be so quick to dismiss Luther (and our other fathers in the faith) without good reason.

So, why don't we want to agree with Luther on this issue? What do we find so objectionable in his exegesis? Is it his method? Do we see a glaring mistake in his logic? Or, perhaps, is it that his words offend our modern egalitarian worldview? I would suggest the latter.

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

More to chew on, this time from the Christian Dogmatics of Francis Pieper...

On the other hand, Scripture teaches that woman in her relation to man occupied a position of subordination even before the Fall. This fact is expressed in the term used in Gen. 2:18: “an helpmeet for him.” The same thought is voiced in the New Testament. 1 Cor. 11:9: “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” Hence woman is forbidden to exercise dominion over man. 1 Tim. 2:12: “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man.” There are two reasons for this: a) Adam was created first, then Eve (v. 13), and b) the woman introduced a disastrous innovation—sin (v. 14: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression”). It is the plain teaching of Scripture that in relation to the man, the woman is in a position of subordination. Both the order of creation and the order established after the Fall assign her that position.
People in our day are becoming more and more oblivious to this divine order, and this for two reasons. In spite of its wide circulation the Bible exerts less influence on human society than formerly, and good common sense, in spite of all advances in technical science, is rapidly diminishing among men. We find in Luther two different sets of statements on the position of woman in human society. On the one hand, he says:
“God did not set up womankind to rule, neither in the Church nor in secular offices” (St. L. II:687). Again: “The Holy Ghost has excluded women from the government of the Church” (St. L. XVI:2280). On the other hand, Luther requires men to show special reverence (reverentia) to woman, because the woman is the mother and educator of the human race. “Muller ut est creatura Dei, cure reverentia spectanda est; ad hoc enim, est creata, ut circa virum sit, ut filios nutriat et educet honeste et pie” (Opp. ex., Erl. XXI:170; St. L. V:1516). (“Since woman is a creature of God, she is to be regarded with reverence; for this purpose, indeed, she was created that she should be with man, that she should nurture and train children in honesty and piety.”) Luther maintains consistently that God’s creation of man and woman with a different sex appoints and fits them for a separate sphere of activity. He says: “Each one functions best as he has been created. ‘A woman with her little finger does better by a child than a man with both his fists.’ Let everyone stick to that work to which God has called and appointed him.” (St. L. V:1517.) This is the Scriptural position. Scripture makes the home the sphere of the woman; it distinguishes sharply between the forbidden public and the permitted and commanded domestic activity of woman.

[Pieper, F., Christian Dogmatics (1:524-525) - emphasis mine]

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

I'm glad to find out that I'm not the only one in the Lutheran blogosphere who had a negative reaction to Palin's nomination.

Here are the comments of Rev. Rick Stuckwisch, and Rev. Paul Beisel's wife.

AltWorlder said...

Well, for a start, what about the examples of women in Scripture who ruled over temporal, secular governments? The Queen of Sheba, for instance. Or Esther. Or Deborah. Surely they are not condemned?

Anonymous said...


First, the Bible also describes David's polygamy, adultery and murder and Jacob's and Laban's duplicity. Just because something is described in the Bible doesn't mean it is approved. The Bible tells it like it was, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Second, the Queen of Sheba was not one of the chosen people. That she ruled proves nothing on the issues of whether it was appropriate for her to do so. Esther was not a sovereign. She was wife of the king.

Third, read Judges 4 carefully. What is obvious is that she was surrounded by weak men, with Barak as the example. Was she put in her position by God? Well, perhaps. But even she shamed Barak by prophesying that a woman, not he would get the glory of defeating Sisera after Barak refused to go to battle unless Deborah was by his side.

Whatever the proper view of this issue, the examples you cite do not prove your argument.