Hey Ladies, Rock the Vote—by Not Voting

When I was sixteen, I was at a camp located in the fusion between “biblical” Christianity and capitalist patriotism. There was a man there with his children, and he was vetting me as a potential bride for one of his five strapping lads. Oh, this wasn’t explicit—but in retrospect it was pretty obvious. Anyway, one question he asked me was what I thought about whether I thought women should vote. He explained that his wife did not. I think this may have been how I disqualified myself from being worthy of his sons (thank goodness!); rather than simply asking his opinion or giving my father’s opinion, I proceeded to debate the point with him. My position was pragmatic—I agreed that in an ideal world women would not vote, but argued that good Christians should not halve their vote.  He argued that what mattered was principle, and God would take care of the rest.

Anyway, it was this incident that came to mind when I was sent a link to a blog post by a quiverfull blogger. This isn’t the first time I’ve written on this issue or the first time I’ve come upon conservative Christian blog posts against women voting. This idea is actually surprisingly widespread in conservative Christian—mainly quiverfull—homeschool circles, and is promoted by organizations like Vision Forum. But I wanted to take the time to go over a few things in her post (in which she explains why she does not vote), as I think it’s fairly representative of the basic arguments.

1Timothy 2:12  – But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

Based on the Bible, it is wrong for women to exercise authority over men. However, women voting can lead to a passing of laws that the majority of men would oppose. One example of this is abortion – more than 50% of men are against it, but more than 50% of women are for it, which is why it is legal.

Most anyone would agree that in a democratic republic such as the US, the voting citizens are the final authority, not some monarch or ruling class (at least in theory). Hence, I do not wish to be part of the voting pool, because I do not believe it is right for women to be in charge.

Isaiah 3:12  – As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

How true this verse is in today’s world. Seems that so many parents live in fear of their children, who dictate their lives. And yes, having women rulers/politicians is mentioned as a curse in the Bible. I DO NOT support any women politicians. They are way outside the natural role that God intended for them, and as such, are not qualified.

The Bible, most especially the Old Testament, is indeed very patriarchal. There are some passages that point toward gender equality, but if you’re going to take Israelite society as it functioned in the Old Testament as your guide for life, yes, women shouldn’t vote. And honestly, I’m not completely sure there should even be elections if you’re taking that as your guide.

It is not because women are inferior or less intelligent. They simply fulfill a different role. Man was created by God for a certain purpose, and so was woman. If each fulfilled his God-given role, they would be happier in life, and our society would greatly benefit. I wonder if Sarah Palin would have chosen to stay at home and rear her own children rather than run for political office if it would have saved her daughter from being a single teen mom.

1Timothy 5:14 – I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

Squares are not better than circles, but good luck trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I mean, maybe you could hammer it in there somehow, but it is not the way it was intended, offers no benefits, and will likely cause some sort of damage.

Yes, this again. The argument, over and over, is that men and women are totally equal, they’re just different. Different in a way that means that men get to do all of the decision-making while women get to do all the childcare and food preparation. Different in a way that means that men are supposed to lead while women submit. This is not equal. And unless she wants to argue that slaves weren’t inferior to their masters, her whole this doesn’t mean women are inferior trope is getting old.

Also? All that talk about squares and round holes—what of women who hate homemaking and have strong inclinations toward leadership? See, this whole pegs and holes thing assumes that women should play their role because that’s what they’re best at and what they thrive at. But if that’s true, why would she need to be saying this in the first place? Wouldn’t women naturally tend to the childcare and cooking and men naturally tend toward decision making and leadership without all of the pushing and preaching? Sounds to me like this blogger is the one trying to shove square pegs into round holes.

Saying that I think women should not vote (for whatever reason) is considered near insanity these days. However, that thinking was the norm not even a century ago. The Founding Fathers quite obviously believed differently than we do today. Not that society or our forefathers were automatically right on everything, but obviously my position is not just some absurdity – it used to be as natural as air for most of human history.

Yes, the founding fathers did believe quite differently from today. For instance, most of them were a-okay with slavery (and the ones who weren’t were willing to make political compromises that allowed it to continue). Look, before pointing to early American history to legitimize something it might be worth remembering both slavery and the genocide of the native population.

So now maybe we women are “liberated” and “get” to vote, but at what cost? Is our society so much better now that women act and are treated like men? Divorce, adultery, fornication, abortion, wayward children, being forced to work outside the home, etc. are at all-time highs. Some people would have us believe that before “women’s liberation”, women were just mistreated and abused by their selfish husbands who were more beast than man. Yet I am certain that there are many times more acts of violence committed against women and children now than back then.

Really? She seems to be unaware that until the end of the nineteenth century it was legal in the U.S. and Britain for a husband to beat his wife—and that in Roman times it was legal for a husband to murder his wife. And while I’m not sure that we have good statistics (it’s hard to get statistics on crimes that were not considered crimes at the time), we know that these things happened. And besides that, in spite of her “I am certain,” she offers no evidence of this supposed escalation of male-on-female violence whatsoever.

But let’s really think about what she’s suggesting here. That men were so threatened by women’s demands for equality that their response is to commit acts of violence on women? And these are the men who women should just let run the country? Really? Men who are so selfish and bereft of empathy that their response to female demands for equality is violence? And this is why women should resist feminism—because if women just go back to submitting to men the violence will end?

Finally, as for fornication, abortion, “wayward” children, and working outside of the home, these things have always been around. I don’t know what statistics say about frequency, but I would point out that the author offers no stats of her own, she simply levels an assertion. As for divorce, well, it is true that the rate is far higher than in the past—and it is also true that in the past many women found themselves stuck in loveless or even abusive marriages without even the recourse of divorce. I prefer now.

Did you know that  statistically, the most likely cause of death for expectant ladies, and those newly postpartum, is homicide at the hands of the baby’s dad? You are never more likely to be murdered  by today’s modern man who is so secure in his manhood that he doesn’t mind sharing his authority with women than if you are pregnant or just had a baby.

Actually, the pregnancy-related homicide rate (not necessarily by the baby’s dad) is 2.9 per 100,000 live births while the the maternal mortality rate—i.e. from health risks—is 15 per 100,000 live births. As for the rest of this, I’m not even sure what it’s trying to say. Is the suggestion, again, that men react to having to share power with women by exercising violence against them?

Let’s see how else we can apply that idea. Would the correct response to the civil rights movement have been: “Look how violent and hateful white people are being to you black people now! Can’t you see it’s your own fault? How about you stop demanding equality, because you are better off when you accept that it’s white people who should run the country!” Um, I don’t think so. And yet, this is the same logic being used here.

Why wouldn’t ladies rather be honored and exalted, instead of being expected to wear pants and shovel dirt all day? How come whenever kings and other monarchical rulers want to bring glory to themselves, they want to be elevated above their fellow citizens, not be just like them? Because they know that having a certain level of honor is something special. What is wrong with a husband thinking that his beloved wife is much too honorable to be out in the work force taking orders from other men, or that his children are much too precious to simply be left in the care of hirelings?

Believe it or not, kings or rulers are elevated above their fellow citizens by virtue of being the ones with political power. They don’t just have honor—they also have power. I’m pretty sure that bearing that in mind matters. Also, this may be just me, but I do not want to be elevated above men. I thought I’d just point that out.

Also, ugh, there’s so much wrong here.

Note that the guy in the example has a problem with his wife taking orders from other men—rather than from him, of course, because his wife is absolutely supposed to be taking orders from him. That’s her role and position in life.

Also, don’t mention the fact that some people have female bosses too, that might just blow her mind. In fact, at my work I have a managerial position, and meaning that, yes, I assign work to and ask for progress reports from . . . men. Shocking, I know!

Finally, what’s with this bit about not leaving children to the care of hirelings?  There was a time when that argument made sense to me, but I’ve now had my kids in daycare for three years and our experience has been nothing but good. In fact, my husband told me the other day that the benefits he’s seen daycare provide the children are such that even if one of us was working from home and we technically could keep a child out of daycare, he wouldn’t want to. And the workers at our daycare are great—the children love them and look up to them, and they serve as positive role models. So yeah, while I’m not against families going the stay-at-home parent route if that’s what works for them (and I have friends doing just that), I call bullshit on the whole “children are too precious to be cared for by anyone but their mom” bit.

Voting is not in my area of responsibility, because as a woman, I am commanded to follow God and my husband. There should be one vote per household, and it should be the husband who casts it. Men are responsible for running the affairs outside the home, women are responsible for those inside the home.

How very Victorian. I’m increasingly convinced that the ideals that undergird Christian patriarchy come not from the Bible so much as from Victorian cultural prescriptions.

Invariably, Christians who are inflamed by a position such as mine bring up Deborah, one of the judges of Israel. As if the fact that a woman was a judge automatically means it must have been right. The Bible also tells us about people who had multiple wives, committed adultery, were murderers or thieves, etc.

Thing is, the Bible praises Deborah soundly for what she did. If you ask me, that makes a difference.

After she posted this piece, the blogger got a lot of feedback in her comments section. Most comments said what I would have, and indeed did—that not voting wasn’t practical because it would halve our vote. So, the author of the post added a postscript at the end of the post:

Several readers commented saying that since women do have a right to vote, Christian conservative ladies should likewise vote (in some cases simply for the same candidates their husband voted for) in order to balance the scales.

While I can understand their logic, I believe in absolutes. I believe it is wrong for women to vote based on principle, and my principles do not change based on the condition of our society. God is the one who ultimately controls who runs our country. Any time He wants, He could cause our entire government to collapse, and put whomever He wants in charge.

This is basically what the man I argued with at age 16 was saying. And somewhere inside me, I did feel he was right. If God could do anything, voting didn’t matter one whit. God could maneuver the elections however he liked. I think that I was just unwilling to accept the idea of not voting. It was too much—a step too far.

We have wicked politicians because we, as a society, are wicked, and are reaping the curse of God for that. I for one do not believe that we as Christians will be able to earn favor with God and turn our country around by further disobeying his word, whatever our logical reasons might be. For every lady who decides to obey God and refuse to vote because the Bible says that women have no right to vote, even if humanly speaking that may seem counterproductive, God can bless such faith and obedience by providentially hindering one or more liberal feminists who are trying to go vote.

Now this is just mean. God’s blessing to the faithful is to hinder me from voting? Really? Should I be extra careful in making my way to the poles, in case God is out to prevent me in order to honor some poor woman for not voting?

Besides that, feminists who are aborting their children do much less to influence the next generation’s voting pool than me, who will have contributed three men of voting age in about one more decade, and hope to add many more if God continues to bless us with children (who I hope will likewise do the same).

How many times do I have to say this? Seriously? I have spent way too many posts on this. Lady, you have no guarantee your sons will vote for conservative candidates. You are not raising robot soldiers. You are raising people. People who make their own decisions, for better or worse. I would rather influence the political process by my vote and by promoting my political ideals to those around me in the hopes that I may change minds (such as through this blog) than by raising even half a dozen sons and crossing my fingers in hopes that they will all grow up to vote like I would (if I actually voted).

Wow, this post has ended up covering a lot. The basic idea, of course, is that women aren’t supposed to exercise any form of leadership at all, including political leadership or even exercising a political voice. It’s the menfolk who are supposed to be doing those things, and if women allow them to do so God will rain down blessings. Women are just safer under men’s protection and authority in general, rather than out in the scary world doing silly things like working. Women’s role is that of wife and mother. Period. No exceptions. No stepping out of line.

And can I just say again how glad I am that my deigning to actually have an opinion on whether women should work disqualified me from being proper marriage material at that summer camp all those years ago, when I was only 16? I was so eager to marry early and get started on birthing children (remember, my worth as a person was tied to how many children I would have) that I shudder to think what might have happened had I actually had a marriage proposal before I turned 18.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.