There has been lots of talk in the mom-blogosphere about Sarah Palin. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about her, but I'm most fascinated by the strange contradiction her candidacy has brought up. While most social conservatives agree with her values-- pro-life and marriage for her pregnant teen daughter-- they also balk at the fact that she is ready to take on one of the most high-profile, time-consuming jobs in the country with a young family that includes a new baby with Down's syndrome and a pregnant teen. At the same time, many of those who are cheering her on as the next champion of equality of the sexes are squeemish about her evangelical Christian, gun-toting, pro-life background. The question is, should you vote Palin into office, just to advance a woman, even if you don't agree with her politics, or should you vote against her to declare that she's making the wrong choice? Your thoughts? (I'd say no to the second question since she's clearly not going to drop out of high-profile politics any time soon, no matter how this election plays out.)
Personally, I find myself somewhere in the middle (as usual). I'm certainly against abortion, and I agree that children should have a married mom and dad. Clearly, I feel it's important for a mother to be at home raising and teaching her children, and thankfully, I have a husband who feels the same way and is willing to be the sole financial provider for our family. However, I agree that whether a mother works is a decision to be made within each family, and there is no one right solution. Hopefully, the Palin family made the decision to have Sarah run as VP together, and with prayer. As women's rights go, I'm in the parity camp. Men and women have equal value and worth, but generally have different strengths and responsibilities. See the latest NY Times articles (here and here) on differences between the sexes.
The debate about these issues is not a new one and it seems, as Michelle Lamar, a blogger, said in this NPR piece about the Palin dilemma, "There is no good answer" to whether or not a mom should work. However, I feel I have a clearer understanding of the issue because of my faith. In 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley read a new statement entitled "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" at the General Relief Society Meeting, the annual meeting of the world's oldest and largest women's organization. It outlined the centrality of the family to God's plan for His children, the role of mothers and fathers, and how to have a unified and successful family. This is not a suggestion from a wise man, but rather Heavenly Father's message to His children delivered through His chosen Prophet.
It explains that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose."
This helps explain our Church's stance against same-sex marriage. According to the statement, "The Divine Institution of Marriage," "The Church does not object to rights... regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights..." for same-sex couples. The Church also holds the same standards of morality for any person, gay or straight, which is no sexual relations outside lawful marriage. So their purpose in opposing same-sex marriage is not to discriminate, but rather to uphold an eternal standard for all people. My sister Karen and friend Jocelyn both have excellent blog posts on this subject.
But I digress...back to mothers and their role in the family.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World states "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children.... Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live....
"...Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed."
This is the model that Sam and I are trying to emulate in our own family. I know several families where either both parents work, or the mother is the sole financial provider where parents are clearly fulfilling these "sacred responsibilities." So while Sarah Palin is making a different choice than I would, I think it's possible for her to still have a successful family if it is established on the principles outlined above.
I want to finish by saying that I know God's plan for His children is to live eternally with Him with our families. I can't explain why there are so many who find abuse and neglect in their families, or why some people are attracted to members of the same sex, or why some women can't have children. But I do know that God loves His Children. He loves you. He cares for you. He knows you and is aware of your concerns, your struggles, and your joys. He loves me. He is aware of me and my family. And He has blessed us so greatly. My daily prayers are not enough to thank Him for the abundance of spiritual and physical blessings I have been given. So many times while I am laughing with Sam or rocking Anna to sleep, I feel His love and know that He is pleased with our family.
I hope you feel that too, in your own life.