Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Biblical Patriarchy: Introduction

In Defense of Patriarchy

I have a confession to make. Make sure you are sitting down.

I am an unabashed, unapologetic and frankly enthusiastic advocate for patriarchy.
That admission is one that is frowned upon in many Christian circles, especially in those I find myself running in more these days. Patriarchy, while a perfectly good word, has been hijacked to become a pejorative term to describe some sort of perversion of the doctrine, a sort of religious Archie Bunker that is an ogre and tyrant who abuses his wife and family while sitting around the house in a stained undershirt watching the ballgame. Even many of those who would hold to a patriarchal position avoid the term because it has been hijacked by those who oppose the position. For purposes of this brief blog series I will use patriarchy, male headship and complementarianism as synonymous although I will tend to use patriarchy more often if for no other reason than it annoys people.

At the outset, there are a few things I need to say. My position on this topic is not one that I seek to use to break fellowship with other believers over. I recognize that not everyone is convinced as I am regarding this position and that while I advocate for this stance, I try not to disparage those who differ. There are grades and shades to this issue and I have yet to meet the person who embodies a perfect relationship between the genders so I have no interest in slandering brothers and sisters who come down on this position differently than I do. Unfortunately I find that is not always reciprocated. While some people, like Bobby Auner, are honestly and humbly thinking through their position in a helpful way, there are a troubling number of voices that not only don't hold to this position, they actively seek to undermine patriarchy and in doing so go beyond making their case from Scripture and instead make spurious claims and personal attacks. You don't have to look very far to find people who make dubious links between male headship and spousal/child abuse, whether of spiritual nature or more disturbing physical and or sexual abuse. I also find that there aren’t many voices that advocate for patriarchy among the simple church crowd, so I am merely putting forth my position as an alternate voice. A monopoly view on a position is every bit as myopic in the simple church as it is in the institutional church and I have written before about my concerns with throwing the baby out with the institutional bathwater.

A lot of people who come across my blog are those who are seeking a simpler, more Biblically based model of the church gathering whether you call that house church, organic church, simple church or some other manifestation of that idea. Within this movement, full of wonderful people that I love there are many who hold to a non-complementarian/patriarchal view of gender and some do so with a great deal of vigor. My intent is to provide a counter-view, one that says that there is nothing whatsoever incompatible with a simple/organic/house church model that also embraces Biblical male headship and gender roles. I am going to try to keep my tone positive and focus on why I hold to this position without slandering or attacking those who don't and I would ask you to keep that in mind when you comment.

Another important clarification. Issues of gender and their relative relations in the home and church need to be understood as functional, not positional. What that means is that positionally all Christians are in Christ, all saved the same way and all equally children of God by adoption. By functionally what I mean is that we do not all function the same way. Case in point, I don't bear children. That doesn't mean that I am getting the short end of the stick because believe me I don't want to bear children but it does mean that we function differently and we do so purposefully. God made men and women wonderfully and intentionally different and complementary and that makes life a lot more interesting!

My plan is to post a series including an attempt to define the issue at hand and then start with a post looking at gender and patriarchy in the Old Testament, one looking at the same topic in the New Testament, a response to common objections, and a summary of what I believe the Bible teaches. I of course reserve the right to add to that list depending on the direction my thoughts progress and the comments take us.

Note on commenting:

If you want to jump into the conversation, I would certainly encourage you to do so! I would however ask a couple of things from you. I am very interested in what you have to say on this topic but I am not terrible interested in a giant “cut and paste” of something someone else wrote or just pasting hyperlinks to something someone else wrote. As I work through this topic, I would encourage you to do so as well. Certainly there is an abundance of useful material on the web that runs the gamut of positions on this topic but I am more interested in interacting with you and not with what someone else wrote that you are quoting. I am taking the unusual step of saying up front that comments that consist primarily of something you copied and pasted from elsewhere or just a hyperlink will be rejected in moderation. If you happen to read this and have published a book on the topic, that is great but saying “I addressed this in my book” is likewise not adding to the conversation. Dueling hyperlinks, “buy my book” or “cutting and pasting” is not permitted. Period. Otherwise the floor here will be open as always.


Brian said...

I like that you stand your ground. I do disagree with a lot of it, but given that this subject is not a "first order" priority, then we are ok to disagree and still be in unity. I would say this is a "second order" type subject where there can be multiple answers that we all can grow from, but one thing we cannot disagree on is the "first order" of Christ Himself.


Arthur Sido said...


Thanks, that is exactly the response I am hoping for. I am takinhg great pains to point out that this is not a "first order" or a fellowship breaking issue. of course I do think it is important, that is why I am writing about it! Looking forward to your interaction as the series progresses.

Misplaced Honor said...

I was going to wait for the series to finish but my ideas for commenting are beginning to pile up too hig. So, let me begin here by saying first, thanks for the shout out. I'm reading alot about this and my understanding is broadening as I go. I appreciate you taking the time to form such thoughtful responses.