JOY magazine, South Africa, published an article, Gender Hierarchy in the home, in their January 2012 issue. It was also published in their Afrikaans sister, JUIG. That was in response to a letter I wrote to them. I plan to soon respond to the article on my blog, but meanwhile, here is the letter they recieved. Black normal font is for the words in both my letter and the magazine, black bold for the words they left out. Red is for words they inserted.
What I add this time round, but which were not in my original letter, are footnotes and the numbers to reference them. (Because the Christian Patriarchy movement – which include Quiverfull – sounds absolutely unbelievable to those who don’t know it, and my remarks about them may sound like sensasionalism to JOY/ JUIG readers if not backed up.)
There is a lot to appreciate about JOY and JUIG magazine, but lately I noticed a disturbing trend creeping into both Joy and Christian society in general.
There are doctrines in America known as “Christian Patriarchy” and “Complementarianism” which promotes gender hierarchy in the church and home.(1)(2) For example, patriarchy teach wives and children should answer to husbands who, in turn, answer to God for them(3) (despite the clear Biblical teaching that Christ is the only mediator between humans and God.) Some patriarchists even teach a wife should obey her husband when he asks her to sin.(4)(5) They believe women belong only at home (6)(7)and should not vote, (8)nor teach men.(9)
Even some churches that do not overtly accept patriarchy (yet?), are tacitly accepting it through “Biblical manhood and womanhood,” the idea that men have the role of doing A, B, and C for the Lord, but women should do D, E, and F. Such gender roles restrict women from using their A, B and C gifts, and men from developing the D, E and F virtues. Scripture never says some gifts are for men and some are for women.
I am afraid that, in a lot of small ways, these ideas are trickling into JOY. To mention a few examples:
* An article against feminism (Sept 2010), wrongly blames feminism for (among other things) abortion. Gender inequality is the main reason for abortion in India and China where abortion is most prevalent. Complementarians write against feminism because they promote the opposite.
*Advertising the otherwise admirable film ‘Courageous’ (November 2011). The study materials promoted with that film encourage men to take responsibility for their wives and children and to be the “spiritual leader” of the home (something the Bible never tells men to be.) This is opposed to sharing the responsibility for the family with the wife, as God intended when He made Eve a “help-meet” to Adam. The female resolutions start with a resolution to be content, and go on to a resolution to champion “biblical femininity,” a term that has no scriptural basis and little clear scriptural pointers. The “biblical femininity” mentioned in the study materials would seek to guide women toward the D, E, and F traits only, and not the leadership traits that they associate with men.
I suggest you could help readers against this false doctrine by being aware of it and perhaps avoiding material on gender or marriage that distorts the Scriptural teachings on the subject.
I also suggest that Joy take an opportunity to research and present some of the excellent Biblical scholarship that is available today on these topics. For example, an article on the meaning of the Greek word “kephale” (head) and how it has been misunderstood and misused as a metaphor for leadership. I would also love to see Joy publish an article dealing with how the passages we get “wives, submit” from, actually promoted greater equality [in context.] in a very unequal 1st century society.
I literally cried when seeing the JOY article once again pushes Christians closer to accepting patriarchy’s father idolatry and family disfunction. The key to why the JOY/ JUIG article is sincere, but misguided, is in that long bolded sentence – the meaning of the Greek word (remember, the New Testament was written in 1st century Greek] kephale, which is translated as head in the “the man is head of the woman” verses. I’ll give you a clue: It is very unlikely to mean leader. But my blog entry on this is coming up.
Notes (“Christian” patriarchy quotes)
1) Man was made to manifest God’s authority. Woman was made to manifest man’s authority. The woman is a vice-regent, if you will, who rules in the place of man, as it were, or carries out man’s will as man rules in the place of God and carries out God’s will. Man, in a sense, shines with the direct light of God, while woman shines with the derived light from man. – John MacArthur http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/90-228.htm (Unlike most of these quotes, this is from a complementarian and not even a Christian patriarchy supporter.)
2) Beyond being an X-chromosome donor, may we think of the “-‘s” in “Daddy’s” in the possessive sense, and affirm with legitimacy that Daddy is my owner? That “my heart belongs to Daddy” is certainly true. But do daughters, per se, belong to their Daddies?… Daughters are Daddy’s girls in the objective sense, and this particular daughter rejoices in that truth. I am owned by my father. If someone is interested in me, he should see him… As strange as it may sound, in the peculiar relationship of the father and daughter, God, as it were, takes a back seat. God has created a hierarchy such that the daughter is directly answerable to her father, and her father then answers to God. – Sarah Faith Schlissel, daughter of Christian Patriarchist Steve Schlissel, in Daddy’s Girl: Courtship and a Father’s Rights
3) Daddy answers to God for all of us. Believe it or not, it doesn’t make me feel less of a person when my four-year-old goes around saying, ”God’s the boss of Daddy and Daddy’s the boss of Mommy.” ” – Pearl Barrett in “Why not submit”, Above Rubies magazine
4) Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Scriptures say a woman ought to obey her husband! … If you are intellectually honest, you will have to admit that it is impossible to find a single loophole, a single exception, an “if” or “unless.” The Scriptures say, without qualification, to the openminded reader, that a woman ought to obey her husband.
…She Is to Obey Regardless of His Spiritual Condition …She Obeys Without Reference to Her Feelings About the Will of God. The Scriptures say a woman must ignore her “feelings” about the will of God, and do what her husband says. She is to obey her husband as if he were God Himself. She can be as certain of God’s will, when her husband speaks, as if God had spoken audibly from Heaven! (Emphasis added)
What If a Husband Expressly Commands Something Explicitly Wrong?
When women ask me this question, I counter with two of my own:
1) “Have you been living in daily obedience to your husband as part of your wholehearted, loving submission to God?” … If a woman has not been submissive, God has no responsibility for her situation and cannot be blamed if her husband requires something wrong.)
2) “Has your husband ever actually commanded you to do something wrong?” In the hundreds of times I have asked these questions, not once, if my memory is right, has a woman answered, “Yes, I am always obedient, and yet my husband has required me to break one of God’s laws.” … when a woman takes God at His word, submits to her husband without reservation, fears God and loves Him, then God takes upon Himself the responsibility to see that a woman does not have to sin! – From the book “Me, obey him?” by Elizabeth Rice Handford
5) I had no right to expect decent treatment for myself and our children. My husband owned me and was perfectly within his rights to demand that I comply with his every whim. If his desires seemed selfish, petty, or abusive, who was I to protest? If I would have rebelled against his wishes, then I would be guilty of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23) and subject to demonic control. I was told that either God was in control of my life (in the guise of my husband), or else Satan was in control of my life. The only power I had was to choose which one would control me. – Vyckie Garrison, describing how living within Christian Patriarchy/ Quiverfull led to her not protecting her children from an abusive husband.
6) “What truly amazes me is that Rev. Sandlin can state so confidently that the Bible does not call a woman leaving her God-given, home-based occupation for work outside the home “sin.”…
How does a woman blaspheme the Word of God? …St. Paul evidently believed it would be obvious enough to his readers that he didn’t need to say, “Leaving the home and going out into the workforce is sin,” … blaspheming God’s Word involves doing the opposite of …[being] homemakers, … A woman cannot both “keep at home” (or “guard the house”) and “keep” in a separate workplace. She cannot both “obey her own husband” (emphasis mine) and obey another boss (even if it is one for whom her husband has asked her to work). “- Jennie Chancey, co-author of the book “Passionate Housewives Desperate for God” and owner of the Ladies Against Feminism website, as written in an article for the Christian Patriarchy organization Vision Forum on December 10, 2003.
7) “And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?” – Brian Abshire http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/family/biblical_patriarchy_and
8) God never gives women the “right” to vote (cf. 1 Tim 2:11ff). …In regards to a woman’s right to vote; if husband and wife are truly “one flesh” and the husband is doing his duty to represent the family to the wider community, then what PRACTICAL benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote. Thus, the immediate consequence is to enshrine the will of the individual OVER the good of the family thus creating divisions WITHIN the family.
9) I simply could not approve of women teaching the Bible in a mixed-gender Sunday School class or teaching the Bible to men at a conference.
I am concerned about a “slippery slope” on this issue in evangelical churches. If churches allow women to teach an adult Bible class, or even preach a sermon “under the authority of the pastor and elders,” then I think it will soon be very difficult to say in what way that is different from preaching fairly often on a Sunday morning to the whole church. – Wayne Grudem, on the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood web site, on whether a woman could teach a mixed gender Bible study group (Grudem is complementarian)
10) Anne Graham Lotz… writes:
“What legitimate, Biblical role do women have within the church? That question demanded an answer early in my ministry when I accepted an invitation to address a large convention of pastors.
‘When I stood in the lectern at the convention center, many of the 800 church leaders present turned their chairs around and put their backs to me. When I concluded my message, I was shaking. I was hurt and surprised that godly men would find what I was doing so offensive that they would stage such a demonstration, especially when I was an invited guest. And I was confused. Had I stepped out of the Biblical role for a woman?”
This same thing also happened to Jill Briscoe. During a sermon, in which I was present, Pete Briscoe commented on this incident. He started to cry as he related that his Godly and intelligent mother could run rings around many of those who turned their backs on her. He spoke movingly of Jill’s life and her acts of service all over the world. Everyone around me was crying as well. In my never to be humble opinion, these acts were shameful! – Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch on how complementarian men – large groups of them – have treated female speakers.