Friday, April 18, 2014

Patriarchy in the Church: Misuse leads to Abuse


Patriarchy is a word which has varied meanings depending on the one defining it.  The word is being misused and redefined to suit those in the Patriarch movement.  Though the biblical use of the word refers to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the use of the word today has much broader connotations. This distorted use of the word is wrong and changes God's word and his intentions for his church, the Bride of Christ.  

This abusive movement of Patriarchy teaches that women must always be under and obey male authority or headship.  It instructs that a woman is never to be apart from male headship or authority.   If she is a widow then her son or her father would then become her head. If this is not possible then another male relative or her pastor would become her head. Some very popular leaders in this movement even espouse "wife spanking"! Since she is to obey just as children are instructed in Ephesians 6:1 so they say, she should be disciplined as well. Does this mean a brother should spank his adult sister? Though only some in the movement would espouse this, the principle holds: Once we depart from Scripture we can come up will all kinds of distortions, misuses and abuses. 

The main verse used to teach this false doctrine is 1 Corinthians 11:3 which says "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." (ESV)  KJV and NASB say "the head of every woman is the man".  Does this mean that any random man is head of every other woman?  Of course not.  The relationship here is clearly marriage, not a son being a head of a mother or a brother being the head of his sister.  Or, God forbid, a married pastor being the head of his wife and other women in the church who are single or widows. 

Why is this verse written at this particular point in 1 Corinthians?  The immediate context is doing all to the Glory of God.  There is no disputing that there is a created order and differing roles for male and female, husband and wife within the church and in the relationship of marriage. This view is called complementarianism.  The word means to complete.  What 1Corinthians 11:3 does teach is a hierarchy of godly leadership and godly submission.  It illustrates for us that our roles rightly understood and lived will bring glory to God.  Just as the role of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were defined by God to begin a nation and a bloodline that would bring forth the Messiah, so, we in the Church of Jesus Christ have been given roles to fulfill that would bring Glory to God.

Ephesians 5:22-28 and Colossians 3:18-23 teach this same principle to the same people. These verses are not teaching that a woman should place herself under a brother, or son but that a wife should place herself under her husband.  Not to be strong-armed, or abused but to be cared for and to reveal the created order and intention by God for his creation.  God, Christ, men, wives, children and employers/employees all have a role to play in this.  By godly submission, each of us lives out his/her role to the glory and praise of God.