OK, Anonymous from way back when who asked about women's suffrage. If you're even still reading, you'll have to forgive me. It takes me a REALLY LONG TIME to think about something. And to talk to everyone I want to talk to about it. And to decide how I'd put it. And then to type it up. And then to let it sit in my drafts while I think about it some more. And then revise and revise and revise. And then run it by my idiocy checker. And then let it sit in my drafts for a few more months. And then . . . . . . . . . . post.
Now, the Voters' Assembly as we have it in the LCMS today is a made up thing and Americanish and mostly silly. And that's why I've never been too clear on how to respond to the suffrage question because the Bible doesn't say, "Women shouldn't go to (or speak at or vote at) voter's meetings every first Monday of every other month at seven of the clock post meridiem." Suffrage is simply not in Scripture. All I could say was, I don't go and I wouldn't.
But now that I've done the thinking and the talking I'm doing the typing (and maybe even the posting). Here's what I turned up that was helpful. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is about congregational order. To keep order, we do things the Christian ordered way, that is, with men heading families as icons of Christ our Head. At home, the buck stops with Dad. He catechizes and calls the shots because God told him to, which means it's on his head if those things are done poorly.
Family is a microcosm of the local parish. The congregation is a family. So when the family units gather as a greater congregational family, the heads do the heading. They listen, they discuss, they decide what would be best not for themselves individually but for their family. If Mom is concerned about something, she can talk to Dad about it in the mutual love and patience of their own relationship, and he will weigh her concern like he always does, and make the best decision he can see. Mom trusts Dad to represent and care for their family wisely and selflessly at church just as he does at home.
Might I ask why the heck this post so long?
OK, but the hard cases: the moms without dadly care back at our control group, the microcosm, the family. Sometimes families get messed up. They don't have Dad at the head. Mom has to step up. It's not OK, but it happens. Although she is Acting Head, she is not a true Head. We can also factor in at this point the virgins and the widows.
Well, at church we're not so micro. There are numerous heads because there are numerous families, which means: that woman who has to step up at home doesn't have to step up at church. At home she doesn't have anyone to provide for her and protect her and in whom she can put her earthly trust. But at church she does. She has every other Dad looking out for her. She can take a load off and not worry about this world's cares for once in her life (just like the virgins and the widows and the abandoned did in Luther's day and Walther's day and every other day until 1969). If she's concerned about something at the parish, she can do what she can't do at home: take her concern to a man whom she trusts, and trust him to weigh her concern regarding the parish and make the best decision he can see. A woman whose husband or father has failed her is not as a result also failed by her parish family. At church she has the comfort only a woman has the benefit of enjoying, even when she has been robbed of that comfort at home.
Will the men of her church family fail her sometimes? Yup. In some parishes, it might be pretty often or pretty serious. But just as in a family, this is not license for Mom to push back and commandeer. In those hard, terrible cases of unfaithfulness, abuse, or abandonment, it is license for her to leave.
Why are we consummate Americans asking this Voters' Assembly question? Is it because we are concerned about our rights and having our voices heard? Because that's not how Christians think. The way Christians think is, in charity and humility, "My fathers and brothers have my best interests in mind. I know I can trust them because they kneel with me at our Lord's altar every week." It means that sometimes we live with the mistakes of others, even as they live with our mistakes. It also means that sometimes we learn that someone else really did know better, or that something didn't matter as much as we felt it did.
Here's the real money line I got from my favorite consultant: women voting in the Voters' Assembly is as disordered as mothers working outside the home. It's got a lot of problems. There are costs built into it, including a greater danger of slippery slopism into other disorders than in homes where it doesn't happen. But it's pretty far from the worst thing in the world. Every sane person understands that, and Christian charity guides us to put the best construction on any particular case of it happening.
But if it doesn't have to happen--why make it happen? And in the church, it just doesn't have to happen. So I don't go, and I wouldn't, even if I weren't the pastor's wife, even at a parish that "allowed" it. Not because it's wrong for me to go, but because I think it gives a better testimony to God's ordering of human life if I don't. I think it communicates trust and humility and the otherness of the family of God if I say of my parish family, "The dads/husbands will take care of us," even as I am blessed to be able to say that at home.
I don't think women who participate in Voters' Assemblies are bad people. I do think this is a very muddled topic for the American mind, which is steeped in the language of rights, individualism, populism, and feminism, and for the legalistic Protestant mind which thinks in terms of strict chapter and verse permission or prohibition rather than Christian prudence. I am not on a campaign to end women's suffrage by Synodical resolution, that most powerful catholic force, any more than I'm on a campaign to get people to eat more spinach. But I do think in my own private mind that eating spinach is good for most people, and I eat it myself, and if someone asked for my opinion on spinach I'd say I'm for it.