Sarah Palin and her job as mother

Gov. Sarah Palin's job performance as mother is being scrutinized.
Gov. Sarah Palin's job performance as a mother has come under scrutiny.

Albert Mohler weighs in on the uncomfortable announcement that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant:

The Palin family asked to be left to deal with this privately, an understandable impulse for any family.  But this isn’t just any family at the present.  The moment Sen. John McCain announced Gov. Palin as his running mate, the entire Palin family became a public issue.  This was amplified by the fact that the entire Palin family (except for the oldest son, Track, soon headed for deployment in Iraq) stood there before the public.

One central feature of the public introduction to the Palins was the presence of Trig, the 4-month-old baby boy who is the couple’s fifth child.  Trig was diagnosed with Down syndrome prior to his birth, and the Palins translated their pro-life beliefs into a beautiful portrait of human dignity.  As the couple said, they never even considered aborting the baby, but considered him a gift from God.

Now there is another gift — this time in the form of a pregnant daughter and a child conceived outside of marriage.  The Palins spoke of their pride in the fact that their daughter would keep her baby and marry the father.  Once again, the Palin family chooses life over death, birth over abortion, when aborting the baby would be justified by many and considered the easy way out of an embarrassing situation.  Yes, that baby is a gift, as is every single living human being, born and unborn.

But the entire nation felt the awkwardness of the situation, and even part of the embarrassment.  Yes, as Steve Schmidt said, “Life happens,” but not always like this.  And Mark Salter is certainly correct in describing the situation as “an American family.”  Still, this is not the script many families would choose — especially evangelical families who had been most encouraged by Gov. Palin’s choice as Sen. McCain’s running mate.

And, as Gov. Palin is scrutinized far and wide following this announcement, Mohler raises a concern that many of us have:

A more interesting angle on this story has to do with the question of motherhood.  In this case it is the Governor as mother that is the issue, rather than the daughter.  As Jodi Kantor and Rachel L. Swarns of The New York Times frame the issue:

When Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska was introduced as a vice-presidential pick, she was presented as a magnet for female voters, the epitome of everymom appeal.

But since then, as mothers across the country supervise the season’s final water fights and pack book bags, some have voiced the kind of doubts that few male pundits have dared raise on television. With five children, including an infant with Down syndrome and, as the country learned Monday, a pregnant 17-year-old, Ms. Palin has set off a fierce argument among women about whether there are enough hours in the day for her to take on the vice presidency, and whether she is right to try.

It’s the Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition. But this time the battle lines are drawn inside out, with social conservatives, usually staunch advocates for stay-at-home motherhood, mostly defending her, while some others, including plenty of working mothers, worry that she is taking on too much.

I was asked about this on Friday in an interview with Stephanie Simon of The Wall Street Journal.  As that paper reported:

So Ms. Palin’s decision to accept the nomination for vice president just four months after the birth of her disabled son gave pause to a few conservatives. But just for a moment.

“If I were her pastor, I’d be very concerned for her and her family,” Mr. Mohler said. “But it looks as though she’s found a way to integrate it all in a way that works.”

Well, I would be even more concerned now.  Do I believe that a woman can serve well in the office of Vice President of the United States?  Yes.  As a matter of fact, I believe that a woman could serve well as President — and one day will.  Portraits of significant men of history hang on the walls of my library –but so do portraits of Queen Elizabeth I of England and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The New Testament clearly speaks to the complementary roles of men and women in the home and in the church, but not in roles of public responsibility.  I believe that women as CEOs in the business world and as officials in government are no affront to Scripture.  Then again, that presupposes that women — and men — have first fulfilled their responsibilities within the little commonwealth of the family.

Mohler encourages us to think hard about this situation. It is definitely a knotty issue, but one we should all think about and address in our own families.

One thought on “Sarah Palin and her job as mother

  1. Just ran across your blog and noticed that you and I are posting on a number of the same topics, and link to several of the same websites.

    I was glad to see this post. I’ve been wrestling with this issue and blogging about it quite a bit, and hope it causes a lot of people to think through some very important issues.

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