So after all of those lengthy posts, what exactly is my point? It is pretty simple. God created men and women differently and likewise has called them to function differently. As it relates to gender the Scriptural evidence is crystal clear and overwhelming. God has called men to sacrificial and loving leadership as the head of the home and as servants in the church. God has not called men to abuse their headship or even to focus on authority or making their wives submit. The submission of a wife to her husband is an act of obedience on the part of the woman and the sacrificial love of a husband for his wife is not predicated on her submission to her. Likewise a woman’s submission to her husband is not based on how much her husband loves her but rather how much she loves Christ.
I am a big boy. I know that there is not a single man who has ever loved his wife the way that Christ loves the church. In our sinful, finite existence it is by definition impossible. I also recognize that I especially fall far short of the mark here, both in loving my wife and in leading the family. Here’s the rub. Our perceived failures don’t give us license to rewrite the Word. We are called to roles by God and in spite of our failings the calling remains the same. The problem is not in the Scriptures, it is with us.
Taking this a step further. The failures of male headship in the church are caused by the weakness and failings of men, not with the underlying principles that are so clearly laid out for us in Scripture. The failure of Biblical male servant leadership in the church and in the home shouldn't lead us to teach our daughters to assume the roles reserved for men, it should cause us to redouble our efforts to raise our sons to be godly, humble and loving leaders in the church and home. In other words we as parents need to raise our sons to embrace loving, sacrificial Biblical headship in the home and male servant leadership the church and we need likewise to raise our daughters to seek husbands who understand, embrace and seek out their God ordained role in the church and family.
As the church we likewise need to mentor young men to be the men they should be in the home and family and provide examples for them to follow. Instead of age based segregation in the church, putting "young adults" in one class and "senior saints" in another, we should encourage the different generations to mingle and form friendships. A 65 year old brother may not be up to speed on the latest smartphones or who the coolest contemporary Christian music groups are but he has knowledge that is timeless and precious and all too often ignored and lost with each passing generation. How often are couples who have been married 40 or 50 years encouraged to form bonds with newly married couples? We don’t need to recreate the gender wheel with every couple, we have already been given timeless wisdom in the Word and invaluable experience in the older generations of Christians. Anyhoo, off my soapbox….
Have we culturally outgrown the old fashioned gender roles we see in the Bible or have we abandoned those important doctrines in favor of modern sensibilities? It strikes me that when we have a disparity between what we see in Scripture and our current cultural norms, the Bible should win out. This is true in places like sexual immorality and propitiation as well as in gender roles. Our culture today is hardly superior to that of the first century. Men and women have not fundamentally changed and the world is still in the grips of sin. Every effort to conform the Scriptures to the whims of the culture has ended disastrously.
Male headship, patriarchy, whatever you want to call it, is not merely a social construct of the ancient world that we have outgrown. It is deeply tied into the entirety of Biblical revelation from Genesis up to the image of the church as the Bride of Christ. While the term and the idea have been hijacked by some in the so-called "patriarchy movement" that doesn't mean that the underlying idea of male headship in the home and church, demonstrated by humble and loving servant leadership, should be discarded in favor of a more socially acceptable egalitarianism. Our standard is always the Word of God and the consistent theme throughout Scripture is of different and complementary roles for men and women that are established in Genesis, demonstrated in the Old Testament and reinforced strongly in the New Testament. What is acceptable to the culture, what is pragmatic, what is equitable is irrelevant to those who follow Christ.
A quick word regarding the so-called “Biblical Patriarchy movement”. I am not a part of this movement, nor do I seek to be part of any other “movement” whether it be homeschooling, Reformed theology, house church, headcovering, etc. The danger of so any “movements” in the church is that they often elevate secondary doctrines to positions of preeminence and likewise divide the church. I experienced and participated in that with Reformed theology and in doing so likely alienated many fellow believers. While I believe that Reformed theology, i.e. the Five Points and the Five Solas, is an accurate summarization of the soteriological message of the Bible, it is not the Gospel no matter what Charles Spurgeon said.
I hold to a patriarchal position because I think the Scriptures clearly present this as God’s plan and intent in the design of human beings, the family and the church but I do not impose it as a barrier to fellowship or cooperation. I think that the various types of gender egalitarianism are in error but I also think that infant baptism is an error (you can replace infant baptism with dispensationalism, arminianism, etc.). That doesn’t mean that I reject fellowship with those who differ from me. I find it disingenuous to acknowledge someone as a fellow believer in Christ in words but to reject their fellowship and cooperation in Kingdom work in deeds. Nor do I seek to be an evangelist for patriarchy (or believers baptism or Calvinism or….). My intent in this series was and always has been to present a counter-voice to those who push for egalitarianism and the blurring of Biblical gender roles, a movement that is prevalent in the simple church crowd and a position that I say unapologetically is an error. I am not at all interested in using secondary, important to be sure but secondary, issues as a wedge between believers. I have tried very hard to avoid bashing or slandering those who disagree with me on this issue even as I recognize that some who are advocates of patriarchy have not done the same. Of course as I mentioned there is undeniably plenty of vitriol, slander, ugliness and half-truths on the other side of this position as well. Wherever that sort of unpleasantness crops up, whether from people I agree with or disagree with, it is unscriptural and damaging to the unity and witness of the Body of Christ. There is plenty of work to be done for the Kingdom without expending so much of it tearing into those we should be laboring alongside of. Patriarchy, complementarianism, male servant headship, whatever you call it, is important and needs to be given a fair hearing in the church but it is also not the Gospel and never will be. I hope if nothing else that this series has given you cause to think or rethink your position and that it spurs you onto greater love, greater sacrifice and greater service in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.