Christian Wives and Female Suffrage

In her 2008 Boundless article Boats or VotesHeather Koerner writes (my emphases):

That dichotomy–either choose protection or choose equality–is a difficult one. On one hand, I want it to be known and acknowledged that I am not inferior, that I am absolutely of equal worth as a man. On the other, I know deep down that I am more vulnerable to harm in this life, and I long for safety and security.

Thankfully, it’s a choice that Christianity does not demand I make. Certainly, the world will tell me that accepting protection from godly men is the same as affirming my inferiority to them. But the Word tells me different. It acknowledges both truths–my worth and my vulnerability–without making me choose between them.

[…]

Boats or Votes? Equal Worth or Protection? I’m very thankful God gives me both.

Having read this on a Christian website that promotes and encourages young Christians to prepare for marriage, I got to looking at the intersection of politics and marriage from a biblical perspective. I’ve come to the conclusion that, at least as far as married Christian women are concerned, Koernerer is dead wrong. She frames the question as a dichotomy between protection or equality. I think she has missed the boat (couldn’t resist); it seems to me this boils down to a question of obedience. I’ve put my argument in bullet form to keep it uncluttered:

  • Premise 1: God created man to be the leader/head of his family.
  • Premise 2: Among the responsibilities of a leader is to serve as the official representative of his group [e.g. family] and their interests/concerns/intentions to those outside of the group.*
  • Premise 3:  The ballot is the chief means by which an individual expresses his political interests/concerns/intentions to the country/society/culture in which he resides.

Question 1:  In the voting booth, whom does a married man represent – himself only or his family?

Question 1a:  If he represents only himself as an individual, so must it be regarding his wife. Then who (if anybody) represents the family?

Question 1b: If he represents his family, is his vote as head of his family not their ‘officially sanctioned’ position on the issue or candidate on the ballot?

  • If we answer 1a in the affirmative, children have no real advocate in the political arena. Nor does the family unit, which would be strange since the family is the basic unit of any society.
  • If we answer Question 1b in the affirmative, what is his wife doing in the voting booth?
    • If she votes as he does, she merely affirms his ‘executive decision’ as to what is in the best interests of the family relative to whatever candidate or issue is on the ballot.
    • If she votes contrary to her husband is she not in effect countermanding the decision of her leader? Worse, voting in opposition to her husband cancels his vote and thereby nullifies his leadership decision. Is this not rebellion and insubordination? It would be in any other hierarchical organization that I’m aware of. And we know what the Lord thinks of rebellion.

As to how this would apply today, shouldn’t a Christian wife have a duty to vote as her husband does (as choosing to abstain would diminish the impact of his vote since women at large do have the vote)? This does not have to do with her capacity to cast an informed vote; this is an issue of obedience, not one of competence. Will she defer to her leader or rebel? Here, I think Heather is trying to have her cake and eat it too when she asserts that she doesn’t have to decide between votes and boats, she gets both!

All of that said, a man would be a fool not to discuss such issues at length with his wife and take her input seriously before he casts his vote. As such, she would not be deprived of representation; it would merely be filtered through her husband (just as our political views are filtered through the agency of our senators and representatives).

Unless there is a fundamental flaw in one of my premises or have left a fundamental one unstated, I don’t know how to escape the above conclusions.

*For example, your senators/representatives are the officially sanctioned representatives of your state/congressional district to the rest of the country in congress. In those cases where the leader in question in indisposed, he will send an officially sanctioned substitute who will faithfully represent his views.

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