Monday, November 30, 2015

Why Patriarchy is Bad for Your Marriage, Your Family and Your Church

The Christian culture of the west generally embraces patriarchy as God's best, as true Biblical teaching and as the expected for our families.

I disagree. I feel that patriarchy is bad for you, bad for your family and bad for your church. I'll tell you why.

Patriarchy goes against God's ideal. I've heard the argument that because God said to Eve after she sinned, "Your desire will be toward your husband," (Genesis 3:6) therefore, God wants women to be focused on their husband, indicating that marriage is an ideal for a woman and good women get married.

This is not God's ideal. God's ideal was the garden before sin. 

It's interesting to note that a woman's desire toward her husband is a punishment. Eve's desire was toward God before the fall and the desire toward a husband is a prediction of what will be, (i.e. her desire will be away from God) not God's ideal of what should be. God puts this husband-ward desire in the same category as increased pain in childbirth. As a person who has given birth to eight people, I can tell you first hand, it isn't pleasant.

This is not a command; it's a prediction. It should not be taught as something to strive for because it was a result of sin and part of the curse. Christ undid the curse through His death, burial and resurrection. The price for Eve's sin has been paid, as it has for Adam's and as it has for yours. We women are free to have our desire to be totally toward God, not our husbands. We no longer have sin in the way of our relationship with God, therefore we no longer have any human interference with our relationship with God. We no longer have to war with a desire toward a husband competing with a desire toward God. We can be all about God all the time now because that punishment has been paid.

Do not teach a young wife that having a "desire toward her husband" is what God wants for her. Quite the contrary, God wants her to love the Lord her God with all her heart, soul and mind and to love her neighbor as herself. 

Patriarchy goes against Paul's teachings and practices. Every time a man talks with me about this subject and we turn to Ephesians 5:22 & 23, his voice nearly booms when he says a wife is to submit to her own husband, but his voice quiets when he says the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.

Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Wives are never given this command outside of loving our neighbors as ourselves, a command given to every Christian and every Jew. Yet, the emphasis taught to our young women is sacrifice to their husband. This is not to say that women shouldn't have a sacrificial love for their husbands, it's just that it's not a specific command for women in that way. For the man, this is commanded, specifically.

What I've seen is men being taught this with a condition. The condition is given first in these teachings. "Wives, submit; husbands, love." It's taught as though his responsibility and even his ability to obey the command hinges on his wife's submission. The command for husbands to love is not conditional on the wife's submission or lack thereof. It is a command. It is not optional. No matter what she does, no matter what she says, no matter how she feels, he is only in compliance with the Biblical command if he loves her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. He does not get to claim that he can't love her as Christ loves the church because she won't submit. If that were true of Christ, we would all be hopeless.

What does that look like in our western culture? How does Christ love the church? The church does nothing for Him. He created her, purified her, died for her, rose from the dead for her and lives so that she can live, grow and thrive. So, that's what husbands are to do. While a man cannot create a wife, he can convince a woman to become his wife.  He can give up his desires for her (die to himself for her), make sure her needs are met and forgive her all her weaknesses. He is commanded to sacrifice his all for her. The remote. The football. The toys. The golf. The night out with the boys. The sports car. Everything. That's how Christ loves the church. He gave up everything because He is all about her all the time. 

Patriarchy does not support this.

Patriarchy created false roles for men and women and teach that those roles are God's plan. This one baffles me every time I hear it. I personally know some men who believe that all women who work outside the home are out of God's will for their lives. I know some women who feel the same way. I know a couple of men, preachers, who claim they only preach to the men in their church. How bizarre is that?  I wonder how Jesus would have told Mary, as she sat at His feet learning from Him, that His Words are only for the men. He, of course, did not and would not do that because Jesus is an equal opportunity Savior. He doesn't care if you're a man or a woman, boy or girl, He will talk with you, teach you, save you.

If I was ever in a church where the pastor said he only preaches to the men, I would leave that church. I was in a church once where the pastor only communicated with women through their husbands. I left that church.

Men and women were not given roles by God. There is no Scriptural support for such an idea. Biology does dictate a few roles. Women's bodies are designed to grow babies and give birth, then feed a baby, so there's a designated role. However, motherhood does not exclude women from other roles. If it did, the Proverbs 31 woman was completely out of God's will, as was Deborah, Hildah, Lydia, Priscilla, Esther, Ruth, Naomi, Sapphira, Junia, Abigail, Anna, Dorcas and a host of other women whose lives were highlighted in the Bible.

I've also heard men teach that the only reason God ever used a woman was because a man was not available. Are you telling me that the God of all creation, the God who made people out of dust, the God who made dust out of nothing, was not able to raise up a male person to do a job so He, even He, the Creator of all things living and non-living, had to resort to using a woman? Anyone who teaches this should not be teaching at all because they do not know a thing about God. That is messed up theology.

Galatians 3:28 clearly teaches that gender has no place in our walk with Christ. "For there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Those who treat women differently are out of the will of God. Many who do this like to say women are "different, but equal" but that does not work. The "but" in that sentence minimizes women by its very use. Also, that phrase assumes that men are prominent. A much better way to avoid the minimization of women is to say "women and men are equal while different."

Patriarchy creates false pride in men. Many men I've  talked to about this subject get very upset with me, raise their voice, take Scripture out of context and exaggerate my position. Pride. Apparently, my ability to articulate a Biblical position that differs from theirs is great cause for concern on their part. Do I bruise their ego? (If so, I don't care; it's not my job to protect anyone's ego.)

The bottom line on this is patriarchy creates false pride. Pride has no place in marriage, the home or the church. The false pride created by patriarchy is damaging to the home. It leads to abuse every single time. Because it's not God's ideal, men find themselves pushing for patriarchy without God. This push is usually met with push back and disrespect. In turn, the woman pushing back is made to feel guilty as though she's doing something wrong, the man reinforces that idea because his ego is bruised and a cycle of abuse results. Instead of him sacrificing for her as he's commanded, he pushes her to submit to his abuse, claiming it's her "role."

A wife's submission is really none of her husband's business. It is between her and God and no one else. By it's very definition, submission is voluntary, so if it only comes through demand, it's not real submission, it's only compliance. Women will temporarily appear to submit to keep the peace and sometimes this is necessary for safety. But, while a woman might submit for a time just to keep peace, it won't last. She will rebel against this over time, and she should. No woman should submit due to a demand by another person. A woman who is all about God all the time needs no prompting to submit.

Patriarchy limits a woman's relationship and access to God. Some who hold to patriarchal teachings believe and promote that a husband is the "family priest," thus limiting a woman's access to God, Himself. This is prominently taught in many Christian circles, much to my dismay. Even a quick look at Scripture reveals the ignorance of such a notion. I Timothy 2:5 clearly tells us about this, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus."

Women do not need their husbands to be a priest in their lives. Not only do women not need this, to teach that a husband is a priest to her is poor theology and contradicts God, Himself. It's wrong to teach that anyone needs a priest other than Christ. We all, as believers in Christ's death, burial and resurrection, have direct access to Him at all times. We are told to come boldly to the throne of grace. We are not told to go to our husbands so that they can access the gates of Heaven; we are to approach it ourselves. (Hebrews 4:6)

Ladies, the Bible is talking to you. Directly to you. Not through a husband. To YOU.

Real men want a wife who is grounded in her theology.
Real men want a wife who approaches God Almighty with boldness and frequency.
Real men want a wife who loves the Lord her God with all her heart, all her mind and all her soul.
Real men reject patriarchy.


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