Patriarchy: now there is a word that gets people wound up. Quite a few people get unreasonably worked up just hearing the word (but sorry, no trigger warnings here). But what if, and hear me out here….the patriarchy isn’t something to rail against but is actually….good?I know I probably just offended three-quarters of the people reading this but I’m past the point of caring who I offend. I care about being Scripturally faithful. So let’s have a look at what Scripture says about the roles of men and women.
1 Peter 3:5-6 says ” For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” Note the use of the word “lord”. The Greek word is “Kurious” which means master. It implies ownership. The same word is used for the Lordship of Christ. Sara literally called Abraham her master and she is supposed to be the example for the Christian wife in this passage. That passage alone argues strongly for a patriarchal, not complementarian, or worse egalitarian view of the interactions of men and women.
However, this theme extends beyond one passage. It is present in almost every interaction between men and women in Scripture. Repeatedly the wife is told to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ. How does the church submit to Christ? Ideally in complete, total obedience. If that is the model for the Christian wife, then it is patriarchal, not complementarian. You can see these patriarchal themes throughout Scripture, from God condemning Adam because he listened to his wife in Genesis 3, in Deborah chiding Barak for relying on her presence to win the battle rather than playing the man and going himself, in Jacob asking Laban for permission to marry his daughter, in Absalom (yes Absalom), defending his sister’s honor when David would not, and so on.
Perhaps an excellent example comes from the birth of Christ. Joseph thought Mary had been unfaithful. He had every right under Jewish law to have her stoned. She was his betrothed. They were basically married without living together and all that entails. He didn’t. When the angel came to him and explained, what was Joseph doing? He was trying to figure out how to protect her and still not marry her. The perception of the patriarchy is that it is abusive to women and children. Yet, as we can see from the story of Joseph, that’s not always the case. Joseph had every right to make a public example of Mary. He didn’t. In fact, he was doing everything in his power to AVOID that outcome (the text says he “was minded to put her away privily” Matt 1:19). Why? Because the point of the patriarchy is not to abuse women and children, it is to protect them.
Why does a man ask a woman’s father to marry her? So the father, who should love and care for his daughter, may evaluate the suitor and decide if he will make a good husband for the father’s little girl. Why do men go to war? To protect their families in an ultimate sense. Why are men the head of the house? Because God made and decreed it that way (1 Tim 2:11-14).
The attached image comes from Afghanistan. It is taken from the linked twitter post. A female writer for the Daily Wire captioned it: “Patriarchy, done right, is a blessing to shield to the weak.”. She’s right. Men have a burning desire to stand up for the weak, to fight for women and children, and protect what is dear to them. It’s why you see men at ball games sticking their hands out to protect their wives/girlfriends/children from flying baseballs/bats. It’s why we see those hilarious videos of dads diving across the room to prevent their toddler child from falling off the furniture. It’s why a few years ago when a Texas father caught a man abusing his daughter, he beat the man to death. It’s why men on the battlefield go back into enemy fire to drag out their wounded comrade. Men have a patriarchal desire to protect built into them. In an ideal world, this desire is directed towards their wives and children.
As a man, the natural tendency is to protect women and children, and rage when someone hurts them. Conversely, women have a built-in desire to nurture. This is why there are more women teachers, nurses, and social workers than men. This is why many women want to be stay-at-home parents. It’s why more women enjoy cleaning than men. It’s why women tend to continue mothering their adult children. They have an inborn desire to help people. That desire in an ideal world would be directed toward her husband and children. To be clear, we ought to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). If a father/husband directs a woman to do something that contradicts Scripture, she is under no obligation to do so. The patriarchal nature of Scripture makes it clear that God is supreme and no man has a right to defy Him, or compel anyone else to do so. Obviously, we do not live in an ideal world. Man is sinful and this has the potential to corrupt the patriarchal tendencies of men. When twisted to protect evil men, or to empower manipulative women, it is wrong.
However, just because a system is abused does not mean the system itself is the problem. Sinful hearts are the problem. I say this as a man who lost out on a potential marriage because the patriarchal father was controlling and wanted his daughter to remain within easy reach, not leave the state. However, I think Scripture and the natural tendencies of man are clear, that God ordained a patriarchal system in the beginning. I know this post will make people angry. Patriarchy is a dirty word to many people. However, I see no way around the clear pattern and statements of Scripture. And for the record, I suspect a lot of the Afghani women who already have been made sex slaves of the Taliban, and the thousands more who will be would kill to have Biblical patriarchy in their nation right now to protect them from that kind of abuse.
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