Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Patriarchy has great appeal. It appeals to pastors, to many men and women who profess to be Christians, to counselors and others. Obviously it does have this appeal because so many churches embrace it.
Patriarchy is the teaching/philosophy that men are superior to women by nature. That God has created men and women with the intent that men are to rule over women. Men are in charge. In marriages. In local churches. And if you are a theonomist type, in government and society. It necessarily needs to be so because women are inferior to men in their very essence. More prone to temptation. Weaker. And with an evil bent of being a Jezebel to tempt righteous men to sin. Women are constructed to bear children, be mothers, workers at home, and for the most part leave the real stuff to their hubby.
Now, as in most any kind of false teaching, there are elements of truth in all this, right? Men and women ARE different. Women, generally speaking, are smaller and physically weaker than men. Women are the mothers of our children. And, like men, women are born into this world as sinners. Many erroneous false teachings we see today try to get around all these things by insisting that men and women really are not different at all. Yeah, right.
But what IS the appeal of patriarchy? I can tell you. Patriarchy is EASY. Patriarchy removes the “messes” we face in life. For instance, let’s say a husband and wife come to a pastor for counseling. They are butting heads over some issue. Solution? Well, if the pastor adheres to patriarchy, eazee peezee. “Wife, do what your husband says. The problem here only exists, wife, because you are not obeying your husband. You need to repent and submit.” Understand?
Patriarchy even protects pastors and church members from having to get their hands all dirty by getting mixed up in some nasty, abusive marriage. No need to stand for the victim against a wicked spouse. No need to pay a price for standing against evil. Nope. All that needs to happen to solve the problem is for the wife to submit. Stay in the abuse like a good suffering Christian saint, and submit. In fact, her failure to submit is regarded as a root cause of the abuse. Pushing his buttons, you know.
Patriarchy is easy and therefore it is alluring. As a pastor, I have had many husbands and wives come to me for advice in regard to some conflict they are having. It is particularly difficult when you pastor a small church because these “counselees” are also most likely your good friends. Over the years I have lived with the fear of losing my friends over things like this. I don’t like it. I sometimes envy the professional counselor who doesn’t even know his/her clients, gives them 50 minutes and when the timer rings, session over, invoice send in the mail. But then, I am digressing.
Patriarchy makes counseling a no-brainer. And believe me, there are a lot of men standing in pulpits who are eminently qualified for such mindless “ministry.” Wive, it’s on you. Submit. Obey. Let your husband lead. Problem solved.
But we know the problem isn’t solved, is it? Life is far more complicated than that. Many times the answer to a conflict is for the husband to let the wife lead. Why? Because she happens to be, for instance, the one who is most gifted to maintain the finances. Or in another case the husband is the most qualified, because of his particular makeup, to deal with a child-rearing issue. And then, of course, there is the whole evil abuser scenario. Sides must be taken. The evildoer must be confronted and put out. Enemies are made. Separation, divorce, and the courtroom come into play. Why, a church might even have to support the victim and her children financially.
And then there is the whole matter of having to re-examine our long-standing traditions that just may turn out to be the word of man instead of the Word of God. Take those two passages quoted at the top of this article for instance. How do we interpret and apply both of them in light of the other? Wives submit, and yet there is this equality business in Christ that seems to fog up the supposed clarity of patriarchy, you see. Hmmmm.
No, can’t have all that. Just give me that good old- time patriarchy. Now where is my bowl of hand-washing water?