Voices: sufferin’ suffrage

Most Christians, impressed with the gravity of human sacrifice in war, conclude that since people have died for democracy, they must exercise the right to vote.  This logic, quite simply, is not logical.  First:  voting for the next executor or lawmaker-in-district has a tenuous relationship with the prospect of improving “our” chances in the next war.  Moreover, the right to vote is completely a secular notion — one that may safely and thoughtfully, if unpopularly, be passed over by those whose hope is in God’s next world.  I do not advocate apathy about this world, but I do place voting in the category of democratic rights, not that of Christian responsibilities.

Having laid that foundation, let’s think with a denominational historian for a few moments about voting, women, and the home.  This “voice from the past” is not likely to fall on hordes of receptive ears.

One cause of deterioration?

“When Tennessee faced the precedent-setting vote on the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in 1920, J.C. McQuiddy led the opposition to the extension of women’s voting rights,” notes Robert Hooper in A Distinct People:  A History of the Churches of Christ in the 20th Century.  Hooper then quotes McQuiddy:

“God pity the child (sic), when they have a motherless home, when they have a mother who is in politics, campaigning over the states and neglecting the purifying, refining, and ennobling influences which she should be exercising in her home!”

“I do not believe that the good women of Tennessee want the ballot; but even if they did, the question which man must determine is not affected by what women WANT, but what they ought to have.”

– JC McQuiddy, Gospel Advocate, 1919 p. 1073 and 1920, p. 715, quoted in Robert Hooper, op. cit.

Could the seemingly backward-thinking conservative McQuiddy have been right?  I hope that those who know me well and/or have read much of my blog would not suspect that I am devaluing women here, but I do want to counter that possible inference:  I am in no way advocating condescending chauvinism in the political sphere.  I am in no way attempting to reserve the “right” to vote for men.  The voting enterprise is not my concern here.

I am, however, suggesting that women’s traditional roles in the home are more important than voting, and that the effects of any (women’s or men’s) work in the home has more ultimate purpose than any political activity.  Societally speaking, it would seem that the deterioration of morals is related, in part, to a lack of solid families.  While this degradation has many causes, and while absent fathers are even more to blame, upholding “traditional” women’s roles is probably not a bad idea, either.

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