What does the Bible say about a woman president?


With Hilary Clinton's second attempt at a presidential nomination and Carly Fiorina's surge to second in the polls after the September 16th Republican primary debate, both Democrats and Republicans have female candidates with good chances at winning their respective party's nominations. Many Christians take for granted that it is perfectly acceptable to vote for female candidates running for any office. But some, including certain well-known theologians such as John Piper, consider voting a woman into office — especially the presidency — a matter for serious theological consideration. Due to my involvement in both politics and theology, I have put a lot of thought to whether it is appropriate to vote for a woman president, and have come to the conclusion that it is, without a doubt, Biblically acceptable.

Having read and heard numerous arguments against voting for a female presidential candidate, I found that the position can be honed down to two main arguments. First, and mainly, that because men are to hold primacy in leading the home and church environments, it can be concluded that men are inherently built for leadership in general, and women for following that leadership. Second, that Isaiah 3:12 indicates that God does not bless a nation led by a woman.

Many Christians strongly object to the idea that only men are allowed to lead in either or both the home and church, in which case the argument is obviously moot. But if you do agree with that stance, it is still a big leap from there to assuming women's at least lesser, if not non-existent, opportunity to lead. In fact, I find such a leap highly implausible, due to the women God chose to record in the Bible. Two women in particular acted under their own direction: the Proverbs 31 woman, and Deborah, the prophetess and Judge of Israel.

Proverbs 31 describes the "excellent wife" (Proverbs 31:10) holding a number of different qualities and responsibilities, but four times lauds her for conducting her own business transactions. Proverbs 31:16 says "She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard." In Proverbs 31:18 and Proverbs 31:24, she "perceives that her merchandise is profitable..." and "she makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant." The final verse of the poem requires that we "give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." The Proverbs 31 woman is planning and executing her own financial advancements while her husband trusts her (Proverbs 31:11), benefits from her (Proverbs 31:12), praises her (Proverbs 31:28), and quite separately conducts his own affairs (Proverbs 31:23).

Deborah's story is recorded in Judges 4:4-5:31, where we are told that she was married, a prophetess, and judged Israel from the simply named "palm of Deborah." At that time in Israel's history, Israel was essentially ruled by a series of "judges" who spoke God's will to the people. Apparently Barak, whom God had tapped as General of Israel's troops, was refusing to attack an enemy of Israel. Deborah "sent and summoned" (Judges 4:6) Barak, and proceeded to remind him of his orders. Barak refused to go unless Deborah accompanied him and his troops, which Deborah agreed to. After a number of intervening events, Israel's enemies were soundly defeated and Deborah and Barak celebrate with a song, recorded in Judges chapter five. This was a woman leading her country, including its military exploits. She not only did well, she was following — and instructing her male general to follow — God's direction while prophesying Him to her fellow Israelites.

While there are many instances of wonderful, strong women in the Bible, Deborah and the Proverbs 31 woman are both specially lauded for their leadership, business savvy, and their devotion to God (Proverbs 31:30).

Say what you will about women's place in marriage or the church, the Bible clearly gives us examples of women not only succeeding but being blessed in their exploits of leadership.

Finally, there is the issue of Isaiah 3:2. The verse reads, "My people — infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths." Some hold that this verse denies blessing to those who are ruled by women. It should first be noted that this was obviously not the case with Deborah. But even without that consideration, the context of the verse includes a number of symbolic references that are indicative of the culture's lowly overtaking the culture's leaders. For instance, verse four reads, "and I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them," while Isaiah 3:14 says that "the LORD will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people." Except when God directly put a woman in a place of fame (be it Esther, Ruth, Deborah, the Proverbs 31 woman, or others), women were considered second-class persons in the Old Testament culture. This section of Isaiah is about decrying the inability of the current leaders and how they will be supplanted by people usually considered weak, not about declaring women to be unfit for leadership.

God's support of the prophetess Deborah and the value placed on the Proverbs 31 woman — these are not to be ignored as we look at the high calling God has given women. That calling extends beyond family and church to include the worlds of business and politics, and we are unnecessarily limiting the Kingdom of God when we disallow half our number from effecting change in the world through the abilities of our talented female leaders.

For more, see the GotQuestions article.

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | Current-Issues  | Political-Issues  | Theological-Beliefs

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Published 9-22-15