Pondering Palin: Beware of Icy Jesus!

The pastor of the church where I came of age used to tell a story about his days in seminary. He was madly taking notes as a fresh pup in an entry-level seminary theology class... and he heard his professor give a stern warning. Not knowing one of the terms he used, but knowing it was very important, he wrote down, "Beware of Icy Jesus!" It took him a few class sessions to realize that Icy Jesus was actually eisegesis, and means "reading into the text".

Essentially, it refers to taking your pre-conceived notions to the Scriptures and looking for proof texts for whatever it is you're trying to say.

Which, over the last few days, is what I've seen a lot of articles do that are debating about whether or not Sarah Palin's nomination as VP is biblical.
  • Articles that point to worship rules in the NT as a reason why her candidacy is unbiblical
  • Those who point to Jethro's (a pagan high priest of Midian) advice to Moses about how to get everything done as God's advice on governmental service, and offer it as an example of why men only can serve in civil capacities
  • Some who point to scriptural texts about marriage, extending the idea of a wife submitting to her own husband as a reason why she can't ever have authority in any capacity outside of the home
I am also very aware that my degree (in political science), my pre-kids line of work (government relations), and my very upbringing in a post-feminism society may be skewing my view on Scripture. As best I can, I want to read what God says about this through the Scriptures.

I have a lot of questions, and a lot of things I'm considering. I have a lot of thoughts scrambling around in my head, and I see some around me who seem to have come to some very hard and fast conclusions (admittedly, many of them have considered these things and come to their conclusions long before this last weekend). I am not there. Even aside from this Palin nomination, I need to get this sort of thing clear in my head. I have half a dozen real life situations where this same issue is at play, and I want to hear from God on this.

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps his mouth shut. So, that's where I'm at... hoping that I'll keep my mouth shut and not say something that is either overly legalistic or overly relativistic, and instead will just stick. to. the. Bible. No more, no less. I don't have enough coherent and firm thoughts about this to write with any degree of certainty... and I'm about to do some traveling, so I won't have time to write more about this for a while. But since many of you have asked, that's where I'm at on this.

All I know is, I'm wary of "Icy Jesus"!


Sunny said...

I've been pondering the same thing about Palin. The thing that is hard for me to swallow is that most of the articles I have read were from bloggers who start with the assumption that women should be homemakers only and then judge the nomination from there.

Last night I told DH, "What could prepare you better for presiding over Senate than being a mom of 5, she should already be used to dealing with a bunch of whiney, unreasonable babies. (J/K)

Emily said...

Jess, I soooo agree with you! I have one friend who is adamant that a woman should not lead in government because God put her as caretaker of the home and children. But I am not sure....I work outside of the home...even though most of the time I wish I didn't, there are times when I feel called to be in my office, sharing God and showing my children that we do what we must to contribute to our home...another reason I take my daughter grocery shopping with me...but that is off the subject. Anywhoooo....I agree with you. I must wrap my head around the calling of Sara Palin in this role, and I can only imagine the witness she will have to non-believers over the next few months. I have missed your blog and am sooo glad you are back!


MInTheGap said...

I'm having much the same issue, Jess.

I mean, I believe there's principles in there for how to choose good leaders (i.e. look at their family, and how they act), I don't think I can totally apply Pastoral or Deacon roles to Sarah Palin.

I do wonder how the whole thing works with her husband, and I'm just waiting for the networks to find him and ask.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't have a problem with a woman being VP or Prez... I may not vote their way - but it wouldn't be because she's a woman. I don't see anything wrong with a woman doing those roles - from what I've read, there's nothing wrong in the Bible about a woman being prez... there were women that were leaders in the Bible, so why not. But then again, I know we don't see eye to eye on other things because I think it's perfectly fine for a woman to teach a man and I think that you read your culture into those scriptures that say women shouldn't teach... so maybe you should beward of "Icy Jesus" when you look at everything =) Practice what you preach =)

Kerry Alexander

Laura said...

I really respect your caution in "choosing a side" on this -- I don't know that it's especially clear from the Bible what our standard should be for our government. Certainly in Biblical times, no one had the opportunity to cast a vote for who would be the next King or the next Caesar, so the Bible naturally does not speak directly to this kind of dilemma. All I can say is that if she is on the ticket that is elected, then that authority will have been given to her by God, not by voters. I believe her authority in Alaska was given to her by God, and I believe the same for other female politicians and leaders.

Whether it pleases God for a woman to pursue that position or for a Christian to vote for a woman to have that position, I don't know. I would suggest that perhaps the one who has objections -- even doubts -- should not vote for her, but the one who is convinced that it's okay in God's eyes should do so without any guilt -- and I believe God will accept them both (a la Romans 14). Just my 2 cents.

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

I'm right with you,Jess...afraid to voice an opinion...praying....

Al Mohler (sp?) has an interesting article about this incase you're interested...

Anne said...

I've pondering Palin too the last few days, and, being under my father's authority still, I have come to Daddy's conclusion: The McCain-Palin candidacy is the lesser of two evils. However, reasonable men may differ, and I, personally, cannot say I try to read things Daddy disagrees with. I would note that even James Dobson has praised her candidacy. Thanks, Anne~

Evers said...

Hi Jess,

Your "slowness to speak" is admirable. My wife and I have thought long and hard over the past weekend about it. I posted some of our thoughts on Palin that intersect with your ponderings at our blog, may you find it edifying.


I tried to avoid eisegesis (please note the proper spelling =-) ).


Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

My husband & I decided who we were voting for long ago (last year!!) and my husband has already cast his absentee ballot for our chosen person from the Sandy Place before this news ever broke, but even still I am a bit intrigued by all of these interesting developments and have been enjoying the discussion taking place online and off on this very issue. Reading your .02 has been interesting, along with so many other bloggers whose opinions I respect. :o)

Terry, Ornament of His Grace said...

You know, though my intial reaction to the whole Palin issue has been largely colored by my disdain for the idea of an Obama presidency, after further reflection and study I still believe that there is no biblical basis for the idea that a woman can't hold this civil office.

Now whether a woman with a four year old special needs baby and a teen daughter in crisis should be taking this on is another matter. I am still unprepared to say that she is in sin and am equally loathe to say that anyone who votes for her is sinning. Smacks of Icy Jesus to me!

Anonymous said...

Wow, please educate me. What happens if a woman is a young widow with kids? From whom should she take direction?

I guess I'm asking because I've seen a couple of women in this situation. They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and faith. They used their own best judgment, and they are so highly respected by their communities.

What better way to exhibit leadership? What better qualities would we want in a leader? Not that Palin is a widow. But to disqualify her for a leadership role for no other reason than that she is a reason doesn't seem like either loving or wise.

Jessica said...

I need to commit that verse from Proverbs to memory.
I wish many times I would have kept my mouth shut on many topics... including the VP pick.

LLMajer said...

I was hoping you would weigh in on this issue. I have really been turning this over in my mind for the last few days, just as you say you have been. Who knew it would be such a thought-provoking selection? Glad you are back!

The Suels said...

I know I should have something intelligent to say but I just wanted to thank you for the Icy Jesus story. I laughed so hard. I won't soon forget that & the principle it represents. I so appreciate your wisdom in waiting. Love your heart.

Grafted Branch@Restoring the Years said...

We serve an extraordinary God Who is working well within His character to call people to an extra-ordinary purpose. Even Sarah Palin--a woman, a wife and a mother.

Who are any of us to talk back to God? He's clearly put her there for one reason or another. We just don't know what that reason is yet: to win? to lose? to judge us? to save us?

I, meanwhile, am humbled and happy to serve Him in my very ordinary position as wife, mother and home educator to 3 of the most incredibly exciting girls I've ever met.

Jess said...

It's really an interesting question, and I personally have had to separate the question of biblicality from Palin's nomination. Whether or not *PALIN* (or Hillary or any other woman) can or should do it ought not to color my interpretation of Scripture.

ExACTly. She's not running for Assistant Pastor. And just because she's running doesn't mean she's not submitting to her own husband. I can envision many husbands who would encourage their wife to use her gifts in a way that would benefit the country they live in. It definitely raises questions though... and, oddly enough, not just for conservative evangelicals either... but for liberals as well. Even THEY find themselves asking if she can "do it all". So we're all asking a lot of the same questions.

Just because you "think it's perfectly fine" doesn't make Scripture say that. Surely even you can see how this situation is different from the women teaching in church issue. 1 Timothy 2 explicitly says "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. There is no "I do not permit a woman to hold political office or authority in the civil realm" verse. This situation is different than the one you raise.

I think your admonition to read and consider this in light of Romans 14 is right on. Everyone should be convinced in their own minds. As for now, that means I have more scripture to read. I've had a lot of people send me articles, and, I've read tons of them. While helpful sometimes... it can make it so that you have too many "voices" in your head talking so loudly that you don't "hear" Scripture. All that to say, Laura, I agree with what you've written.

I read Mohler's article and thought it was good. The fact that godly people that I respect are on both sides of this issue speaks (to me) that it's not an easy issue, and that I need to evaluate it carefully and as faithfully as I am able.

I thought about it being eisegesis before I went to bed last night and forgot to change it. Thanks for the reminder/correction. I knew that it didn't look right but couldn't bring the correct spelling to mind.

Your thoughts mirror my own.

Biblically, how a widow is cared for is decided by the church. This isn't carried out in most churches in America today, because we see these things too much through culture and not through the Word. But I'm not sure Palin's situation has much to do with that question.

I rushed to say a lot of things too, to people in person. I need to heed that verse far more often than I do.

I'm glad you liked it. That story has always cracked me up too.

Grafted Branch,
Reminds me of the Potter's Freedom, outlined in Isaiah and Romans. He crafts pots for whatever purposes He sees fit. Really, when we look at our own sin and inability to please and obey God, we are all a bunch of cracked pots anyway, huh? :)

Thanks for all the added thoughts and comments! I love discussing these things with all of you.

Suz said...

Hi Jess, I love your blog! I relate to so much you've shared ... I will be back tomorrow when I can hold my eyes open to read a bit he-he!(it's a little late) I am a newbie to blogging and came upon your blog .. and am surely glad I did :)
Blessings for now! more later...
Suz <><

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

As I have been thinking through this issue, the conflict for me is this: I believe that if any way possible a Christian mom can be "a keeper at home" and make her home, husband and children her first priority, she should do that. I know that there are some cases where women "have" to work outside the home, and some have had to do both. I do not condemn them. Personally, we have committed to that even though my husband has always been in a ministry position that has not paid much and we live in one of the most expensive areas in the country. Our choice for me to stay home has meant that we live simply and do not have a lavish home...but God has blessed and met every need. We have never gone without. All that to say, I question how a woman with five children (one being a special needs child!) can take on such a role as Vice president and be an effective wife and mother. To vote for her would go against personal convictions.

BUT, to have someone like her in the white house, with her stands and her capablities would be huge. It's almost too good to be true to think that someone like her would be vice president. Objectively speaking, I like her!

So...do you vote and go against what you believe to be best and biblical, or do you vote because it would be best for your country. It's something to really be prayed over, isn't it!

DRP said...

I have been following your blog for a while and thought it was time to comment. First let me start by saying that I love your thoughts and views about being all that God has called us to be as the women of our homes. I am a christian houswife to a wonderful man and three little ones. (I guess they aren't so little anymore... 10, 6, and 2) I am a born and raised Wasilla, Alaskan and not only know Sarah and Todd personally but have watched her amazing career and benifitted greatly from her service both as mayor and Governor. My husband and I have discussed this matter about whether or not she is neglecting her family, not only by the world's standards but also Gods. We came to the conclusion that nobody but God could have placed her where she is. Think about the probability of a woman from a small town (not as small as the media is making it either...at least 20,000 people including the outside of city limits) such as Wasilla, especially in Alaska flourish the way she has in politics. Going from a PTA mother to VP candidate in a matter of years!!! Every candidate she has ever taken on has been a long running political favorite and she has not only beaten them but crushed them at election time. The only election she lost was when she ran for Lieutenant governor. When she lost the election she was appointed to a position within the republican party and while in that position she uncovered a dishonest member who then resigned. I believe that then paved her way to become elected Governor and now VP candidate. I know Sarah and Todd both and they are great parents as well as spouses to each other. I think that the testiment she shows by nursing each of her babies through elections and while in office shows that she puts her role as mother on top. I babysat for her fourth child while she was mayor, she came every two hours to nurse her between meetings and such. She is also nursing Trig now. I know how importantant it is to nurse but also know what a task it is to do while needing to get other things done. It is something that could easily be put off for the sake of ease but she does not. I wholeheartedly am behind her, not only as a politician but as a wife and a mother also.

Courtney said...

This is such a difficult thing. Sarah seems like a fabulous woman, and being a one issue voter, I will vote for them. However, I really believe that women should not hold positions of leadership over men, be it in the home, the church or government. That's not a popular place to stand these days with feminism being all the rage, but I've seen firsthand how women being put over men has ruined countless families and churches. I think it's safe to assume that the same model that God put in place for church and home should be modeled in every area, government included. Titus 2 is very clear that women are to, "train the young WOMEN to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, WORKING AT HOME, kind, and submissive to their own husbands." Don't get me wrong, some women HAVE to work outside the home for one reason or another, I had to for a couple years for financial reasons, but as wives and moms, I don't believe it's our God-given place to be. This woman chose to have a large family, in my opinion, she needs to keep her responsibility to them and be their caregiver.
It's my prayer that Todd and Sarah have spent a great deal of time in prayer and are not sacrificing their precious family's well-being for the country.

Polly said...

Love the 'icy Jesus' story. A hoot!

I'm still pondering this as well. Politically, strategically, I think it was a great move for McCain. But I'm still thinking about the repercussions of a mother of 5 'young-ish' children as VP. That's tough stuff. I am an attorney and there's no WAY I could practice law full-time and be the wife and mother I feel called and directed to be, and practicing law 60+ hours a week is a far cry from being the VP candidate in a campaign.

Mel said...

Hi. I just came across your blog from a friend's. I don't have too much of an opinion that I am ready to express about Sarah Palin because I don't know that much about her yet. In this situation, though, I've been thinking about Deborah in the OT. She somehow was married, was a prophet, and a judge in Israel. That's got to be a balance and a calling in the days where there was no king in Israel for anyone to go to. She was it.
Just food for thought.

Saralyn said...

We're chewing on this one at our house, too. My husband's point on the articles you referenced was that everyone has an agenda they want Scripture to verify and mine was that everyone also has presuppositions that lead them to their conclusions. Time to read Gordon Fee's book again and let Scripture speak for itself!

~Tami said...

Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love this site and I mean no disrespect but I would like your opinion on this question...
What kind of message is this giving to not only our young people and women who are beating themselves up trying to "do it all" but to the husbands of the women who would want to stay home? Isn't this a lie? I would assume she has tons of help, however, not all do and then something has to give in one or more areas of life.
We should go to the Bible as our first source, yes. We should also look at History to not repeat mistakes. There have been good women rulers and bad women rulers, but some dedicated themselves soley to their country and had no family.(Good queen Elizabeth, I believe).
I don't mean to contradict anything said here too strongly. I myself am having a hard time wrapping my head around it all. I'm just a little worried that she will be seen as the perfect working woman role model that we all SHOULD strive to be like. It makes me tired just thinking about it:(

Mamma J

Jaimie said...

I'm don't believe I've ever commented before, but I have been reading your blog for quite a while and find that many of your opinions mirror my own. Even more than that, though, I find your writing to be consistently in line with the Word of God.

After reading many verbose and nearly hateful articles and comments on this topic (on the Ladies Against Feminism site), your post was a breath of fresh air. Personally, I wouldn't support a woman teaching a mixed adult Sunday School class, yet I find myself liking the idea of Palin for VP, especially after her speech at the RNC Wednesday night. There's a difference between church and family government and civil government. I think God could use her in a big way, if she stays on the track she's on (and it seems to me that, as a woman, she would be in a great position to influence others with her pro-life position).

Thanks again for this post!

Christine said...

This is such a humble and well-thought out post! There is so much to mentally "chew" in all of these issues. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

It's funny.

I guess the ideals of feminism are now okay so long as it is a candidate that you support.

-A passerby.

Anonymous said...

I also think you misunderstood what I was saying about 1 Tim 2 when Paul says that “I do not permit…”

I was actually saying that in the Epistles (and the whole New Testament), you have to distinguish between things that are seen as inherently moral and what things are not. The items that are inherently moral are absolute and abide for every culture. The ones that aren’t inherently moral are cultural expressions and may change from culture to culture.

An example of this are Paul’s “sin lists”. These never contain cultural items (like sexual immorality, adultery, idolatry, drunkenness, homosexuality, greed, etc.). There are other things that are cultural and not inherently moral maters (like exchanging the holy kiss, foot washing, women having a head covering, etc.) Some of these things are Paul’s PERSONAL PREFERENCE – Like Celibacy, or woman’s teaching in the church – those aren’t inherently moral matters.

I think we need to read the New Testament and look for uniformity and consistent witness and I think you also have to read the “spirit” of the verses.
Anyway, a good book to read about this is: “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth – by: Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart.

Kerry Alexander

Amy said...

Since it's a done deal, I'm not really sure why it matters what we think. We are not choosing this role for ourselves and God does not obligate us to have an opinion. If we choose to vote for McCain/Palin, it does not mean we are saying that women running for public office is the absolute best choice for a mother with children still at home. We are just voting for who we think are the best candidates in this election. Will her family have less than the full attention of their mother? Of course!!! Does this make it evil and wrong for her to run? Of course not!!! She is the candidate for the VP of the United States of America. She loves God to boot. Let's vote for McCain and Palin.

Greg's Wife said...

Hi Jess,

I really enjoy your blog.

I believe it is absolutely wrong, Biblically speaking, for Palin to seek political office. Where she stands on the issues, what kind of person she is, what sort of experience she has... all these are irrelevant in light of the clear teaching of scripture that she is DISqualified based on her gender alone.

Deborah's role was a) not normative and b) not technically that of a "judge" as we think of them today. Please read this article by William Einwechter for a thorough, Biblical examination of the subject of women as civil magistrates. (And note that it was written in 2004 before Palin was ever on anyone's radar.)

And don't miss Voddie Baucham's four most recent blog posts on the subject:

Did McCain Make a Pro-Family Pick?
The Evangelical Two-Step
Framing the Abortion Debate
Waking Up the Sheeple

I love that you discuss a lot of "gray areas" on your blog. I think it's a wonderful thing to discuss various viewpoints on matters that aren't clearly addressed in Scripture (like co-sleeping, how long to breastfeed, etc...) in an effort to try and find wise answers that are as Christ-honoring as they can be. But when it comes to the Palin nomination the Lord has spoken. Believe me, I wish it were not so, as I don't relish the thought of our nation being under God's judgment. Reading Isaiah 3 brings a lump to my throat these days.

mary grace said...

Jess, I just wanted to say that I KNEW there was a reason why I feel such a kinship with you. My degrees are also in Poli. Sci. and I, too, worked in gov't relations. Spin doctor, to be exact. :-) Funny world.

Chelsey said...

Some food for thought. Ephesians 5:24 tells wives to be subject to their husbands "in everything." Yet Romans 13 tells everyone to be subject to civil rulers. In this case that we are talking about , since Sarah Palin's husband is subject to her governorship in Alaska (Rom. 13), she is obviously not subject to him in that sphere (Eph. 5) and it would ring true if she were to become the VP too.