Are “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” Biblical? Part 3

Part 3

This is the third in a three-part critique of The Biblical Tenets Of Patriarchy. If you haven’t read Part One and Part Two already, please do so before reading this article.

After posting Part One in this series, I came to recognize the centrality of Patriarchy to some homeschoolers’ entire “vision,” referring to Patriarchy as a “Gospel centered doctrine,” when it is nothing of the sort. Much of Patriarchy is just extra-biblical legalism, and legalism is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Christ is about grace, not legalism.

Why then do patriarchists claim that Patriarchy is “Gospel centered”? Certainly, Patriarchy is “centered” to something, but not to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Did Jesus or any of the Apostles ever teach Patriarchy? Did they ever command Patriarchy? No, in fact, the Apostle Paul explicitly warned the Corinthians that they should beware of anyone who came and preached “another Gospel.”

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! (2 Cor. 11:3-4)

Paul likewise gave a similar warning to the Galatians:

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-9)

Some claims that Patriarchy is “Gospel centered” when, in point of fact, it is not. Patriarchists, just like the Judaizers that Paul proclaimed to be “accursed,” have added to and perverted the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what, then, is Patriarchy “centered” to? Patriarchy is “centered” around the family and, more specifically, around the “patriarch.”

Several years ago Rev. Pete Hurst of Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) preached a series of sermons on Patriarchy. Rev. Hurst had good reason to preach on Patriarchy, but that’s another story for another day:

Patriarchy: A New Legalism?
Patriarchy And Education
Patriarchy and the Family
Patriarchy and the Church

I don’t necessarily agree with everything that Rev. Hurst has to say, but as a pastor who almost had his church split over Patriarchy, he does have some good insights about how divisive Patriarchy can be.

Education & training of children

16. Education is not a neutral enterprise. Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world. Christians should not send their children to public schools since education is not a God-ordained function of civil government and since these schools are sub-Christian at best and anti-Christian at worst. (Deut. 4:9; 6:6-9; Rom. 13:3-5; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15)

Deut. 4:9 – Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,

Deut. 6:6-9 – And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The favorite verses that support home education. While I agree that it is difficult to teach our children these things when they are not with us, I wonder if they fulfill the rest of this verse as well: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Or maybe they just pick and choose the parts that they like.

Rom. 13:3-5 – For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.

I’m trying to see “public school” in these verses. I think that is why they use these verses. It’s mighty hard to see it, though.

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

II Tim 3:15 – and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Since Timothy learned the Scriptures from his mother and his grandmother, this is an odd verse for the Patriarchy camp to use. I am sure that any child, no matter what form of education he has, can know Scripture from childhood. This verse doesn’t prove their point.

While I personally agree with this tenet, I find this biblical support to be very weak.

17. Fathers are sovereign over the training of their children and, with their wives, are the children’s chief teachers. Christian parents are bound to obey the command personally to walk beside and train their children. Any approach to Christian education ought to recognize and facilitate the role of fathers and mothers as the primary teachers of their children. (Deut. 4:9; 6:6ff.; Ps. 78:3-8; Prov. 1:8; Eph. 6:4; )

Deut. 4:9 – Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,

Deut. 6:6-9 – And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

I agree that this is a command to walk alongside children, but this command was given to Israel. We cannot confuse a command to Israel with a command to us as believers under the New Covenant. And if we are to follow this command, then we must fulfill the whole command: “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

Ps. 78:3-8 – Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Again, this verse tells us that this law applied to Israel. We must be careful not to take Scripture out of context.

Prov. 1:8 – My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

It is the father’s responsibility to bring the children up in the training and admonition of the Lord, and as his helper, the wife does as well. While this tenet is certainly my personal preference, I do not see enough biblical support here to justify saying that parents are the primary/chief teachers of the children.

18. Educational methodology is not neutral. The Christian should build his educational methodology from the word of God and reject methodologies derived from humanism, evolutionism, and other unbiblical systems of thought. Biblical education is discipleship, a process designed to reach the heart. The aim is a transformed person who exhibits godly character and a trained mind, both of which arise from faith. The parents are crucial and ordinarily irreplaceable in this heart-level, relational process. (Deut. 6:5-7; Lk. 6:40; 1 Thess. 2:7-12; 2 Tim. 1:5; 2 Pet. 1:5-8)

Deut. 6:5-7 – You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

Relationship.

Lk. 6:40 – A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

If a student becomes like his teacher, this verse is clear support for only using teachers that the parents would want their children to emulate.

I Thess. 2:7-12 – But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy treated the church at Thessalonica as a father does his own children. This is a good example, but not a command.

II Tim. 1:5 – when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

Timothy also had a good example growing up, but this is not a command.

II Pet. 1:5-8 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These are good things to teach and I can see that this verse is saying that knowledge should be built upon faith and virtue, but it does not say that there is no knowledge outside of faith and virtue.

I agree that we should be very careful what we teach our children. One thing we should definitely teach them is not to take Scripture out of context. A favorite mantra of some patriarchists is that education and its methodology is not neutral. If it doesn’t fit their description of the biblical form of education, they reject it. I just don’t see that in Scripture. There are definitely some methods that are more effective than others, but this premise is not supported by these verses.

Their Conversion

19. Since the educational mandate belongs to parents and they are commanded personally to walk beside and train their children, they ought not to transfer responsibility for the educational process to others. However, they have the liberty to delegate components of that process. While they should exercise great caution and reserve in doing this, and the more so the less mature the child, it is prudent to take advantage of the diversity of gifts within the body of Christ and enjoy the help and support that comes with being part of a larger community with a common purpose. (1 Cor. 12:14ff.; Gal. 4:1,2; 6:2; Eph. 4:16)

I Cor. 12:14 – For in fact the body is not one member but many. …

Since this verse is talking about the body of Christ, the Patriarchists are saying that if we are going to have others help us teach our children, it should come from the body of Christ.

Gal. 4:1,2 – Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

This passage has a double meaning. It is talking about the oldest son who is going to inherit his father’s estate when the father deems he is ready. It is also talking about our relationship with the Lord and how we were under the Law before we came to Christ. This passage gives an example of a father using a tutor. So much for home education only!

Gal. 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

This passage is talking about how to treat a brother who is in sin. This is not about helping teach someone else’s children.

Eph. 4:16 – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Yes, we can help each other out.

Since they used the words “it is prudent,” I will give them leeway on this one. I do not see any Scriptures here that say that parents ought not to transfer responsibility for the educational process to others. In fact, one of the verses in this section talks about a father appointing guardians and stewards. I am pleased that this section at least gives parents a little liberty to delegate.

20. The age-integrated communities of family and church are the God-ordained institutions for training and socialization and as such provide the preferred pattern for social life and educational endeavors. The modern preference for grouping children exclusively with their age mates for educational and social purposes is contrary to scriptural wisdom and example. (Deut. 29:10-11; 2 Chron. 20:13; Prov. 22:15 with 13:20; Joel 2:16; 1 Cor. 15:33)

Deut. 29:10-11 – All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water—

A good example, but not a mandate for us.

II Chron. 20:13 – Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD.

Another good example.

Prov. 22:15; 13:20 – Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. … He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

This was preached to us a lot. We were told not to let fools hang out together unless we wanted them to become more foolish. Since foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, children are fools, and therefore should not hang out together. I always wondered why they didn’t separate the brothers and sisters in large families then.

Joel 2:16 – Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.

Another example.

I Cor. 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

I guess the Patriarchists are using this verse to say that all children are evil and shouldn’t be with each other.

Since this is based on Scriptural wisdom and example, I am willing to give them this point. I just don’t know if it is strong enough to be called a “tenet,” though.

21. The Bible presents a long-term, multi-generational vision of the progress of God’s kingdom in the world. Christians parents need to adopt this perspective and be motivated by the generational promises of Scripture, and church shepherds need to promote this outlook within their flocks. By the grace of God, as fathers faithfully turn their hearts toward their sons and daughters and the youths respond in kind, the next generation will build upon the faith and improve upon the faithfulness of their parents. (Ps. 78:1-8; Is. 59:21; Mal. 4:6; Lk. 1:17; Gal. 6:9)

Ps. 78:1-8 – Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

This passage could be used to support telling our own children about the Lord.

Is. 59:21 – “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”

This is the Lord’s covenant and what He will do. God has a multi-generational vision!

Mal. 4:6 – And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

Lk. 1:17 – He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

These are both talking about John the Baptist.

Gal. 6:9 – And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

While this is a good verse for perseverance, this is also proof-texting for trying to show support for multi-generational vision.

The problem here seems to be that patriarchists desperately want this vision, as this is foundational to many of their businesses. Look at that last part of this Tenet: “the next generation will build upon the faith and improve upon the faithfulness of their parents.” Anyone see any problems here? As parents, we are responsible to bring our children up in the training and admonition of the Lord, but that is where our authority stops. I am grateful for godly grandparents who care for and love their grandchildren, but this Patriarchy movement is really a power trip at this point.

Let’s think this one through logically. Dad and Mom get married and have ten children. They have this kind of vision. For argument’s sake, all descendants are half boys, half girls. So Dad passes his vision on to his ten children. These five girls, though, marry five boys who also had their father’s vision passed on to them, so the girls give up their fathers’ vision and go with their husbands’. So these five boys all have ten children each, five of which are boys, who now carry on Granddad’s vision. Five boys from the first generation and twenty-five from the next generation. Multiplying this, we would have another 125 boys in the third generation, and another 625 boys by the fourth generation, for a total of 780 boys in just four generations, all carrying on the vision of that first “Patriarch.” And if the Patriarch is the one with the vision, what does that make those 780 other boys? Are they still Patriarchs, too? Do you see why patriarchy is so important to these first generation Patriarchs? Wow! 780 men just following in your footsteps, following your vision. I know one patriarchist who has a 200-year visionary plan for his descendants. He has it all laid out in detail. And 200 years is much longer than four generations.

How does this practically play out when two families marry off their children to one another, but there are significant theological differences between the two families? For example, let’s take one Patriarch who is adamantly opposed to infant baptism (paedobaptism) and another Patriarch who is opposed to believer’s baptism (credobaptism) and anabaptism (re-baptizing paedobaptists as adults by profession of faith). The second Patriarch is a paedobaptist and his children have (presumably) all been baptized. Yet, his oldest daughter has been arranged to marry the first Patriarch’s eldest son. Will Patriarch II’s eldest daughter be required to be re-baptized before she can marry Patriarch I’s eldest son and renounce the paedobaptist beliefs of her father? Will their children not be baptized as infants? Presumably so. But won’t that likely cause serious theological differences between them? How can Patriarch II carry forward his “covenantal” and “dominionist” views generationally when his infant grandchildren aren’t baptized?

A father and his older children

22. Both sons and daughters are under the command of their fathers as long as they are under his roof or otherwise the recipients of his provision and protection. Fathers release sons from their jurisdiction to undertake a vocation, prepare a home, and take a wife. Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection. Even after leaving their father’s house, children should honor their parents by seeking their counsel and blessing throughout their lives. (Gen. 28:1-2; Num. 30:3ff.; Deut. 22:21; Gal. 4:1,2; Eph. 6:2-3)

Gen. 28:1,2 – Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.

Here is an example of both a father blessing his son and giving him counsel about finding a wife. Should we use this as an example that men should marry their cousins?

Num. 30:3-5 – Or if a woman makes a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the LORD will release her, because her father overruled her.

This is a command that Moses gave to the tribes of Israel regarding vows.

Deut. 22:21 – then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

This passage has some alarming implications for how we are to apply it today. Are the patriarchists recommending stoning immoral young women here? Why else would he quote the passage unless he intends that we are to exercise it?

Gal. 4:1,2 – Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

This passage is talking about the firstborn son getting his inheritance, and how we are no longer under the Law when it comes to Christ.

Eph. 6:2,3 – “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

While I am not at all advocating that young people disobey their fathers (or their mothers), I’m not sure that these verses support Patriarchy’s viewpoint that daughters are to remain under their father’s full authority and control, living in their father’s homes, until they are married. If a family decides in favor of such an arrangement, that is not necessarily a bad thing in all cases, but neither is there a biblical mandate to do that. I’m especially concerned, though, with the implications of Patriarchy’s opposition to daughters receiving a college education, especially if it means that in order to pursue that education she must move away from home. Some patriarchists may not necessarily be opposed to distance learning for daughters. However, they still seem to view higher education for daughters as a waste of time, since in their view a wife and mother doesn’t need a degree. Patriarchists are especially opposed to a daughter moving out of the home to go study on a college campus.

In the same way that I haven’t seen the biblical mandate that daughters must live in their father’s home until they are married, I haven’t seen the passages that tell us that fathers are free to release sons from their jurisdiction to undertake a vocation, and prepare a home to take a wife either. Where does Scripture teach that a father is free to release his sons, but not release his daughters? This tenet seems to be more about control and less about what God’s Word instructs us to do. Also, to be consistent with all of God’s Word, this tenet needs to include mothers as well, since wives are to be their husband’s helper.

23. Fathers should oversee the process of a son or daughter seeking a spouse. While a father may find a wife for his son, sons are free to take initiative to seek and “take a wife.” A wise son will desire his parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process. Since daughters are “given in marriage” by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her. (Gen. 24:1ff.; 25:20; 28:2; Ex. 2:21; Josh. 15:17; Jdg. 12:9; 1 Sam. 18:27; Jer. 29:6; 1 Cor. 7:38; Gen. 24:58)

Gen. 24:1 – Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” …

Gen. 25:20 – Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.

Gen. 28:2 – Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.

Ex. 2:21 – Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.

Josh. 15:17 – So Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife.

Judg. 12:9 – He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years.

I Sam. 18:27 – therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full count to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him Michal his daughter as a wife.

Jer. 29:6 – Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.

I Cor. 7:38 – So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

Gen. 24:58 – Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.

This Tenet is about “betrothal,” a system that is far more about a cultural system that was commonplace two thousand years ago, than it is about any biblical mandates. Patriarchists are seeking to reestablish a system whereby the father becomes the ultimate authority and arbiter on making the most important decision that his children will ever enter into — their marriage partners. Two thousand years ago this may have made a lot more sense culturally than it does today. Two thousand years ago sons generally took wives right from within their own communities. Sons also often took wives from among their own cousins. Today we know that such “inbreeding” often produces disastrous results. They also frequently took wives that were in their early teens (e.g. 14 year olds). Betrothals were also often arranged for a young man to take more than one wife. Today we know better than to encourage that. Not everything recorded in Scripture (polygamy, marrying cousins, etc.) can or should be interpreted as a biblical mandate for us today. God gave us an intellect and He expects us to use it.

Under Patriarchy’s system, the objective is not for a son to seek a wife that will please him, but for the prospective daughter-in-law to please and impress her prospective father-in-law so that she might obtain his favor. The father is in charge and the expectation is that he must be pleased with the choice of a spouse and that the spouse lives up to his expectations. If this is the objective before the marriage, why would it change after the marriage? In such a Patriarchal system, isn’t it likely that the father-in-law will continue to exercise control? One of the most common problems in new marriage is that in-laws meddle and interfere in their children’s lives. Patriarchists need to really add Genesis 2:24 to this section as an admonishment to fathers (and mothers) that when a young man does take a wife, he “leaves” his parents and “cleaves” to his wife. This is a reminder to parents that their married children are no longer under their control.

Although there is no clear mandate here of sons taking and daughters being given in marriage, there is a pattern. However, it is a great leap from giving and taking to fathers “overseeing” the process of their children seeking a spouse. If they happen to have a wise father and mother, then certainly they should seek the counsel of their parents. This tenet also attempts to describe what wise sons and daughters will do, although there is no biblical support listed for wise sons desiring their parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process; or that obedient daughters will desire their father to guide the process of finding a husband (but not their mother). This is clearly adding to Scripture.

The sufficiency & application of Scripture

24. Scripture is the believer’s sufficient guide for all of faith and practice, and Christians must believe and obey whatever it teaches and commands. The Bible provides the Christian — through precept, pattern and principle — all that is necessary to make wise decisions concerning the many ethically complex issues of life. (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3)

II Tim. 3:16-17 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

II Pet. 1:3 – as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

When Scripture gives us a clear mandate for how we should live our lives, we ought to obey. We can also gain much wisdom and understand principles from God’s Word as well. What we should not do, though, is take examples from Scripture and put them on the same level as being commands. That is the pattern that is described here. Showing a pattern in Scripture does not make it a command for us.

25. Fathers need to exercise discernment in the choices they make for their families and not simply drift with the cultural tide. Egalitarian feminism is an enemy of God and of biblical truth, but the need for care goes beyond this threat. The values of modern society are often at odds with those that accompany a biblical worldview. For example, fathers need self-consciously to resist the values of individualism at the expense of community, efficiency at the expense of relationships, and material well-being at the expense of spiritual progress. The world and the worldly church will cheer many choices that are detrimental to family sanctification. (Rom. 12:2; 1 Jn. 2:15)

Rom. 12:2 -And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I John 2:15 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

While this is an important biblical concept, I don’t understand what this has to do with fathers. Wouldn’t these same principles apply to mothers and children and all Christians? This is one of the problems of patriarchy — elevating the father above everyone else. This is simply adding to Scripture. And where is the Scripture that tells us not to be individualistic? I heard that so much when I was into Patriarchy when I had a thought that was different than the norm.

26. While God’s truth is unchanging, the specific application of that truth may vary depending on facts and circumstances unique to each believer. Also, those who are further along in sanctification will see some issues more clearly than those who are less mature. For these reasons great charity must be maintained between believers who have differences of application, and liberty of application must be respected. However, an appeal to the doctrine of Christian liberty must never be used in an effort simply to avoid submitting to what Scripture plainly teaches. Believers should also bear in mind that things which are lawful may not be expedient if the goal is personal and family holiness. The biblical rule in judging behavior is charity toward others, strictness toward oneself. (Gal. 5:2-3 with Acts 16:3; Phil. 3:15; Rom. 12:10; 1 Cor. 1:10; 6:12; 9:27; 10:23; Gal. 5:13)

Gal. 5:2-3 – Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

Acts 16:3 – Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

This is Doug’s support that specific application of God’s truth may vary depending on facts and circumstances. It appears that he is trying to say that while one verse tells us that becoming circumcised requires one to keep the whole law, that there are also appropriate times to be circumcised as well.

Phil. 3:15 – Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Rom. 12:10 – Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

I Cor. 1:10 – Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

I Cor. 6:12 – All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I Cor. 9:27 – But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

I can’t quite figure out what this verse is intended to support — strictness toward oneself?

I Cor. 10:23 – All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

Gal. 5:13 – For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

I’m not sure what following the Second Greatest Commandment has to do with Patriarchy exclusively, but this is important to remember.

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Are “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” Biblical? Part 2

Part Two

This is the second in a three-part critique of The Biblical Tenets Of Patriarchy. If you haven’t read Part One already, please do so before reading this article.

Critiquing The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy has been anything but a pleasurable experience for me. In fact, it’s brought me much sorrow. The reason why is because I’ve been such a strong proponent of Patriarchy. It’s not an easy thing to have to come to grips with the fact that I can no longer subscribe to a belief system that I had long held so dear. This isn’t to say that I now completely reject all aspects of Patriarchy. I still believe that certain elements of it may in fact be useful and even helpful to many families. Perhaps some of it is even biblical. However, I’ve also come to see that many elements of Patriarchy are, at the very least, extra-biblical, and perhaps even errant theology, if not heretical. As Bible teachers, patriarchists should be far more careful in “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim 2:15)

Patriarchy leaders have pawned off Patriarchy as not merely being “biblical,” which even that is very debatable, but they have pawned off Patriarchy as being a “Gospel centered doctrine.” For a long time, I treated Patriarchy as though it was “Gospel centered” — that it was an essential and indispensable aspect of my walk with Christ. Now I recognize that it’s not “Gospel centered” and may even in some ways be contrary to the Gospel message, especially when it comes to the Gospel message of grace. I’m starting to see that many elements of Patriarchy are legalistic and, therefore, contrary to grace. Elevating any doctrine to a level of being “Gospel centered,” when the doctrine may, in fact, just be legalism, is Pharisaical.

Once again I would ask that any comments you post here only address “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy.” The authors have invited feedback on these tenets and I would like feedback on these verses as well. What do you think? Do these verses support these tenets as being biblical? Does the Bible teach these tenets? Which of these verses are on point and actually support a Tenet? Which of these verses are off point? Which of these verses are prooftexting?

When you leave a comment, to help us follow your thoughts, please address the Tenet number and the Scripture reference as well. If you have additional Scripture you would like to add to help Doug support these tenets, please do so. This is NOT a debate about personal beliefs, but only how these tenets can be supported biblically.

Family, Church, and State

8. Family, church, and state are parallel institutions, each with real but limited authority in its ordained sphere. As the keeper of the keys of Christ’s kingdom, the church is the central and defining institution of history. As the primary social group, the family is the foundational institution of society. (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Acts 4:19; 5:29; 25:11; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.; Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Tim. 3:15)

Matt. 16:19 – “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matt. 18:18 – “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And this is why it is vital that we take church discipline seriously. I reject the thought that elders have any authority over the status of another believer’s soul to unilaterally and unjustly pronounce them to be worthy of being a “heathen and a publican,” as sometimes happens. However, I do acknowledge that the true church of Jesus Christ is given authority here on earth to exercise the “keys of the Kingdom.” However, the keys of the Kingdom must always be used in such a way as to honor Christ. They must never be used or abused to seek personal vengeance.

Acts 4:19 – But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

Acts 5:29 – But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

This defines the state. I wonder if it could be used to define when we should obey God rather than an abusive elder or an abusive husband who ask people to sin as well, or who pronounce unjust judgments? I believe it does.

Acts 25:11 –“For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

Here is an example of Paul using his rights as a citizen of Rome, but it is nothing more than an example.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Again, this is presumably referring to elders and how they are to lead and guide those in their care.

I Pet. 2:13 – Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

Eph. 1:22-23 – And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

I agree that Christ is the head of the church, but I don’t see how this supports this “tenet” of Patriarchy.

I Tim. 3:15 – I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

It’s important that we conduct ourselves right in the house of God, but again, what does this have to do with the church, state, and family being parallel institutions?

Let’s see what’s missing here. Did we find any verses on family? If one of Patriarchy’s biblical tenets is that the family is the foundational institution of society, I would hope to see some verses to support this. And if family, church, and state are parallel institutions, I would think we could find that in Scripture as well. And what do they mean by “the church is the central and defining institution of history”? I thought history was HIS-story, not the church’s. Maybe history that doesn’t include the church is irrelevant. I think this point needs a lot of work.

9. Every Christian father and family ought to be a submitted and committed part of a local church, subject to the authority and discipline of the church through its elders. (Heb. 10:24-25; 13:17)

Heb. 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

One another. Not father. Not family. Just one another here.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

They sure do like this verse, these three elders who wrote this!

Why do these Patriarchs put words in here like “father” and “family,” when that is not what the Bible says? Is it just to bolster their claims of Patriarchy? I also notice that the discipline of the church is to be done through a plurality of elders, not just one.

10. The church is defined by its orthodox confession and faithful teaching of God’s word; by the presence of the Holy Spirit; by the rule of qualified elders; by the biblical administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; by regular meetings for worship, instruction, breaking bread, and fellowship; and by the exercise of discipleship and discipline. (Gal. 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:1ff.; Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:20ff.; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 5)

Gal. 1:8 – But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Would that include the “Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy”?

I Tim. 3:15 – I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Cor. 12:13 – For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

I Tim. 3:1 – This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.

There are actually verses that tell us about the role and qualification of elders in the church, but this isn’t one of them!

Matt. 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

I Cor. 11:20 – Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.

I don’t think I would have picked this one!

Acts 20:7 – Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

I Cor. 5:7-8 (These verses are not listed, but I heard them every week, so I know they are the ones they are referring to here.) Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

This is the verse that some elders use to use to say that we should have communion.

This section is very disappointing. I would probably agree with this particular tenet, but it is sorely lacking in Scriptural support. These are supposed to be “biblical” tenets.

11. Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres as an application of and support for God’s order in the formative institutions of family and church.(1 Tim. 3:5)

I Tim. 3:5 – (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

The wording of this tenet is quite misleading. Based upon this verse, the first part of the tenet should read something like “An elder must rule his own house well.” This verse is not telling us that if a man leads his family, he will carry that leadership over into the church. This is kind of a weak verse to use to say that only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church, but I will give it to them. I would like to see much more Scripture on this point, however.

Now, here is where Patriarchy gets itself into trouble. Where does the Bible say anything about preferring male leadership outside of church or that such a thing makes a God-honoring society? Or where does it say that by having only men being in positions of leadership (in all of life apparently) supports God’s order in the formative institutions of family and church? Proof, men?

Men & Women: Spheres of Dominion

12. While men are called to public spheres of dominion beyond the home, their dominion begins within the home, and a man’s qualification to lead and ability to lead well in the public square is based upon his prior success in ruling his household. (Mal. 4:6; Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 3:5)

Mal. 4:6 – And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

What does this have to do with men working outside the home, or dominion, or ruling his household?

I Tim. 3:5 – (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

Do you see the heavy pattern of ruling in this document? i am not even going to give them credit for “ruling his household” on this one because this verse is referring only to an elder’s qualification and has absolutely nothing to do with leading in the public square.

What verse tells us that men are called to public squares? To dominion? Beyond the home? That their dominion begins within the home? That prior success in ruling his household will qualify him to lead? That prior success in ruling his household will give him an ability to lead well? This one’s looking real weak.

13. Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, the bearer of children, and a “keeper at home,” the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home, although her domestic calling, as a representative of and helper to her husband, may well involve activity in the marketplace and larger community. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Prov. 31:10-31; Tit. 2:4-5)

Gen. 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Prov. 31:10-31

Tit. 2:4-5 – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Notice that this verse seems to be directed at young women.

Although I didn’t list everything in Proverbs 31, isn’t it interesting that in that whole passage and this partial Titus 2 passage, that the only word the Patriarchs choose to use to define a wife’s role is “homemakers” or “keeper at home.” It sure seems that the Proverbs 31 woman is out of the house a lot!

Which verse tells us that the woman is the bearer of children? I know that is true, but these are biblical tenets nonetheless. Which verse states that the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home? Which Proverbs 31 verse tells us that a woman’s activity in the marketplace and larger community is as a representative of and helper to her husband?

14. While unmarried women may have more flexibility in applying the principle that women were created for a domestic calling, it is not the ordinary and fitting role of women to work alongside men as their functional equals in public spheres of dominion (industry, commerce, civil government, the military, etc.). The exceptional circumstance (singleness) ought not redefine the ordinary, God-ordained social roles of men and women as created. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Josh. 1:14; Jdg. 4; Acts 16:14)

Gen. 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

While I agree that most women will get married, this verse does not support that. Patriarchy would have us believe that women were created only for the purpose of “helping” men.

Josh. 1:14 – Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them,

This verse is about the Israelites going to war, not about single women.

Judg. 4 – the story of Deborah

Some patriarchists’ favorite term for Deborah is “non-normative.” And in their book, anything that is non-normative is not biblically supported. It is a word that, to them, means that it goes against the normative pattern of Scripture. Therefore, patriarchists would not support what Deborah did.

Acts 16:14 – Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Was Lydia single or married? She had a household; does that mean anything? And what does this verse have to do with the role of unmarried women?
Notice which passage regarding a young unmarried woman’s duties in life is clearly missing from this list.

Which verse tells us that women should not work alongside men? Which verse tells us that single women were created for a domestic calling? This tenet needs a whole lot of work!

Procreation

15. God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples, and He “seeks godly offspring.” He is sovereign over the opening and closing of the womb. Children are a gift of God and it is a blessing to have many of them, if He so ordains. Christian parents are bound to look to Scripture as their authoritative guide concerning issues of procreation. They should welcome with thanksgiving the children God gives them. The failure of believers to reject the anti-life mindset of the age has resulted in the murder of possibly millions of unborn babies through the use of abortifacient birth control. (Gen. 1:28; 9:1; 29:31; 30:22; Ex. 20:13: 21:22-25; Ps. 127:3; 128:3-4; Is. 8:18; Mal. 2:15)

Gen. 1:28 – Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen. 9:1 – So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

God told Adam and Eve, and Noah and his sons (and their wives, presumably) to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. It looks like He also told Abraham. If I were a Patriarchist, I think I would have used the command to Abraham for this one. But I just don’t see that God gave this command to everyone. There are three distinct circumstances here, three distinct beginnings of a people, three distinct times when it was necessary to “multiply.” I think we should be careful when we claim that a command to someone in the Old Testament applies across the board to all Christians.

Gen. 29:31 – When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

Gen. 30:22 – Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.

Ex. 20:13 – You shall not murder.

Some Christians are unaware that some forms of birth control actually cause abortions within hours of conception. This is murder.

Ex. 21:22-25 – If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

This verse shows the value God places on the life of unborn child.

Ps. 127:3 – Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

I don’t deny that children are a gift and a blessing, but that is not what this passage says. Biblical tenets require biblical words.

Ps. 128:3-4 – Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.

The man who fears the Lord will be blessed with a wife and children. Let’s not read too much into this.

Is. 8:18 – Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the LORD of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.

Children. Plural. More than one. Isaiah had more than one child. Is this referring to literal children or the children of Israel? Does this verse tell us to have lots of children?

Mal. 2:15 – But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

In the Patriarchy movement, there is a heavy emphasis on having lots of children. I just don’t see the Scriptural support for it here. I wonder why they will say that it is the Lord who opens and closes the womb, yet we should have as many children as the Lord allows, and be fruitful and multiply? Which one is it?

Are “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” Biblical?

Part One

In recent months, I’ve found myself re-examining a number of doctrines and beliefs that I’ve held closely for years. I’ve learned many valuable things recently, including the need to critically examine what we believe and why we believe it, as well as to ensure that what we believe lines up with Scripture.

One of the things that I’ve long believed in is Patriarchy. I’m embarrassed now to have to admit it, but I came to believe that Patriarchy was biblical without ever first having done a critical examination on my own of the supposed “biblical” support for Patriarchy. I just took the word of certain Patriarchy leaders that Patriarchy is biblical. Recently, I started doing an examination and found that the biblical support for Patriarchy is actually quite weak, or at least the biblical support that is used in the official “Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” is weak.

This isn’t to say that I believe that Patriarchy is necessarily un-biblical or anti-biblical. However, I am starting to wonder if much of it isn’t extra-biblical. I’m starting to think that Patriarchy probably falls more into the category of a personal lifestyle decision, rather than something that’s biblically mandated as many patriarchists would have us believe. Patriarchy is a personal lifestyle decision which may work well for some Christian families, but I no longer believe that Patriarchy is something that’s biblically mandated. Those who believe that Patriarchy is biblically mandated I would refer to as “hyper-patriarchs.”

Unfortunately, many of the hyper-Patriarchy leaders have attempted to make Patriarchy a necessary component of the Gospel message itself:

Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers. In conscious opposition to feminism, egalitarianism, and the humanistic philosophies of the present time, the church should proclaim the Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy as an essential element of God’s ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions.

In other words, for the hyper-Patriarchist, Patriarchy is a “Gospel centered doctrine.” To not embrace Patriarchy is to reject the Gospel. I believe this is errant teaching, if not heretical. In some Patriarchy circles, those who don’t go along with their agenda are consigned to the status of a “carnal” or non-normative Christian. In many hyper-Patriarchy circles, to reject Patriarchy is to be “feminist” or “egalitarian.” For them it’s an either/or. Either you embrace Patriarchy or you’re an egalitarian feminist. However, I can no longer view this as an either/or position.

Even if Patriarchy can be supported biblically, does that make it mandatory for all Christians? I don’t believe that Patriarchy can be mandatory unless the Bible specifically mandates it. But from my read of the Scriptures, I see no such mandate.

In this article, what I’d like to do is examine a document prepared by Doug Phillips, Phil Lancaster and R.C. Sproul, Jr. entitled The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy. In the Editor’s Note to The Tenets it states, “We view this as an accurate working document, and invite feedback from anyone as we attempt to improve this statement over time.” I’m grateful that they have extended the offer to provide feedback. Apparently this offer is open to anyone. My goal is help them sharpen their iron here.

The Editor’s Note in The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy also states:

Central to the crisis of this era is the systematic attack on the timeless truths of biblical patriarchy. This attack includes the movement to subvert the biblical model of the family, and redefine the very meaning of fatherhood and motherhood, masculinity, femininity, and the parent and child relationship. We emphasize the importance of biblical patriarchy, not because it is greater than other doctrines, but because it is being actively attacked by unbelievers and professing Christians alike. Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.

Egalitarianism and feminism are clearly humanistic philosophies, and humanists would not deny it. In my personal view, humanism often becomes an attack on biblical Christianity. There’s nothing new about that, nor is that a “crisis” that’s unique to “this era.” Humanism has been with us for many centuries, and we should always be prepared to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). Patriarchists have attempted to “give an answer” to a number of important issues, including the cultural influence of humanism. However, as I’ve come to see, this is a reactionary position, and reactionaries often tend to become extremists. Rather than seeking balance, it is all too easy to take things to the opposite extreme. I believe that these views of Patriarchy are an example of this reactionism, and these views are extremist, rather than biblically balanced.

In principle, I agree that radical feminism and egalitarianism have done much to undermine the family, the church, and society on the whole. The easy thing to do would be to blame women, and I know from personal experience that’s exactly what some patriarchists do. But in my view, radical feminism and egalitarianism cannot be blamed entirely on rebellious women (“Jezebels”), and their penchant for doing so only further harms families and churches, rather than restoring them to biblical balance. Rather than being Patriarchal, this is just misogyny.

Feminism and egalitarianism cannot be laid entirely at the feet of women. Much of the blame must also go to men, men who are either abusive and tyrannical, or on the other end of the scale, men who abdicate their duties and responsibilities to be godly servant-leaders in their homes and churches. Egalitarianism and feminism are often a reaction to abusive or derelict men. The solution isn’t in more extremism — reaction to egalitarian feminism. The solution will come by restoring biblical balance. I believe that rather than being part of the solution, Patriarchy is part of the problem.

“The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy” make numerous bold claims about Patriarchy, including that Patriarchy is “Biblical.” The Tenets purport to be biblical because, supposedly, each of its doctrinal points is supported by multiple specific scriptural references. But as we shall see, quite often the scriptural references don’t make the case that patriarchists attempt to portray that they do. Many of the verses cited simply do not belong under the category that they were placed in because they have little or nothing to do with that particular issue. This may have been done in order to give the false impression that there is strong biblical support for the point being made, when in fact the biblical support may be quite weak, if nonexistent. Needless to say this practice of throwing Bible references like so much spaghetti against the wall to see what might stick, when many of those verses may have little or nothing to do with the “tenet,” is dishonest. Another problem that I discovered is that there has been quite a bit of prooftexting done in order to achieve the desired outcome. This, too, is just more dishonesty.

When I started going through the verses referenced in “The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy,” and I discovered these discrepancies, I found myself becoming very offended. I cherish God’s Word as holy and sacred, but these tenets do not seem to take God’s Word as seriously as I do. This is not a situation where Christians are conforming their lives to God’s Word, but rather they are conforming and contorting God’s Word to their personal preferences.

If patriarchists wish to continue calling Patriarchy “biblical,” then it seems to me that they need to work harder on finding Bible references that actually do support Patriarchy. If they’re then unable to identify specific biblical support for any of their “tenets,” then they need to withdraw those particular tenets entirely. Either that or they need to change their title to just The Tenets Of Patriarchy (my personal preference would be The Tenets Of Hyper-Patriarchy). It’s not for me to say that these aren’t the Tenets Of Patriarchy. I’m sure they are. I do think, however, that they haven’t made a very good case for saying that all these Tenets are biblical.

God as Masculine

1. God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine. God is the eternal Father and the eternal Son, the Holy Spirit is also addressed as “He,” and Jesus Christ is a male. (Matt. 1:25; 28:19; Jn. 5:19; 16:13)

Matt. 1:25 – and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Matt. 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

John 5:19 – Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

John 16:13 – However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

So far, so good.

The Image of God and Gender Roles

2. Both man and woman are made in God’s image (their human characteristics enable them to reflect His character) and they are both called to exercise dominion over the earth. They share an equal worth as persons before God in creation and redemption. The man is also the image and glory of God in terms of authority, while the woman is the glory of man. (Gen. 1:27-28; 1 Cor. 11:3,7; Eph. 5:28; 1 Pet. 3:7)

Gen 1:27-28 – So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

I Cor. 11:3 – But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

I agree that God created man and woman in His own image. This isn’t said of any of God’s other creatures. Mankind also is unique in that we are the only of God’s creations with a soul. Mankind therefore has a special obligation to bring glory to God. I can only assume that these verses are included to show that the man is the image and glory of God in terms of authority. I’m not sure I understand the need to talk about authority structure in the section on being created in the image of God.

I Cor. 11:7 – For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.

Eph. 5:28 – So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

This is a good verse, but I don’t see how it relates to being created in the image of God. To me, this seems confusing to speak of mankind being created in God’s image, while at the same time talking about “gender roles.” Are we trying to say that since a man was created in the image of God, that he should love his own body, and therefore he should love his own wife? If so, this should be stated as such. This verse probably belongs in a different category.

I Pet. 3:7 – Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

This verse seems to support the statement that they share an equal worth as persons before God in redemption, not that women are subordinate or in any way inferior to men.

So, in this category, we find clear biblical support for nearly everything except the clause (their human characteristics enable them to reflect His character), which is meant to be a logical inference of what it means to be created in the image of God, although I find no clear Scripture listed for this. Since these are “biblical tenets,” I would like to see some Scriptural support for this as well.

3. God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of the created order. Adam’s headship over Eve was established at the beginning, before sin entered the world. (Gen. 2:18ff.; 3:9; 1 Cor. 11:3,7; 1 Tim. 2:12-13)

Gen 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

I think this verse is clear that God intended for wives to help their husbands. I like this translation; wives are comparable to their husbands. Interesting. I wonder how difficult it is for an undereducated wife to help a highly educated man?

Gen. 3:9 – Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

This was right after they both ate the fruit. Does this determine headship? Or is it just inferred here?

I Cor. 11:3, 7 – But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. … For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.

I Tim. 2:12-13 – And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

If we put these Scriptures together, I think it is clear that the husband is the head of his wife, and that the wife is to help her husband. I’ve been taught to look at things in light of all of Scripture, so remember this point later on.

4. Although sin has distorted their relationship, God’s order of authority for husbands and wives has not changed, and redemption enables them to make substantial progress in achieving God’s ideal for their relationship. (Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:22ff.)

Gen 3:16 – To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Eph. 5:22, 25 – Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. … Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

This is basically sound, but this interpretation sounds almost defeatist to me that we can only make substantial progress in the marital relationship. What of those who aren’t called to marry? What hope do they have of their personal sanctification? In the world of hyper-Patriarchy, daughters must remain under the “headship” of their fathers in perpetuity.

The Authority of Fathers

5. A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector, with the authority and mandate to direct his household in paths of obedience to God. (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:4)

Gen 18:19 – For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

In context, God says here that He knew Abraham in order that Abraham should become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth would be blessed in him. This is a promise given specifically to Abraham. Is Patriarchy claiming Abraham’s promises for themselves? Is that why they call it Patriarchy? They want to be like Abraham? Abraham is certainly seen as the Patriarch in Scripture. Are all men commanded biblically to be patriarchs as well? If they are, then it seems to me that, in order to be biblically consistent, all men would have to do everything that Abraham did, including taking multiple wives (polygamy), have servants (slaves), etc.

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

This one applies to at least one aspect of this point. In light of all of Scripture, since a wife is to help her husband, I think it would include helping to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord as well.

It seems that Scriptural support is missing for a great deal of this particular point. Is the father really the head of his household? Is he the family leader? Is he told to be the provider? Is he to be the protector? I’m not saying that I necessarily disagree with this. I’d just like to see the verses for these since these are called “Biblical” Tenets.

This section is about the authority of fathers. Why is the husband part included here? Surely they don’t mean that a husband is to exercise the same authority over his wife as a father would over his children, do they?

6. A man’s authority in the home should be exercised with gentleness, grace, and love as a servant-leader, following the example of Jesus Christ. Leadership is a stewardship from God. (Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 11:29-30; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7)

Ps. 103:13 – As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.

This verse speaks of the natural pity a father feels for his children, a prime example of prooftexting. Mothers, too, obviously pity their children.

Mal. 3:17 – “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.”

These are not “tenets.” These verses are simply stating how things are. In fact, these verses are really about God’s attitude toward us.

Matt. 11:29-30 – “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus is gentle. This verse does not tell a man to be gentle. This verse does not even specifically tell us to be like Jesus, although certainly Jesus is our example. More prooftexting.

Col. 3:21 – Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

I Pet. 3:7 – Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

Finally, we get to two verses that are direct commands to men. While I agree with this principle of men being a servant-leader, the Scriptural support here is very weak. I would think this section could be bolstered quite a bit with appropriate verses.

7. The authority of fathers is limited by the law of God and the lawful authority of church and state. Christian fathers cannot escape the jurisdiction of church and state and must be subject to both. (Rom. 13:1ff.; Eph. 5:21; 6:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.)

Rom. 13:1 – Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

This verse says “every soul.” I wonder why in Patriarchy only the fathers are to be subject to the jurisdiction of church and state?

Eph. 5:21 – submitting to one another in the fear of God.

In context, this is a “one anothering” passage written to believers on how they are to treat one another. This has nothing to do with being subject to authorities of any kind.

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

If this is the passage that limits a father’s authority, then it is greatly limited indeed. I wonder why they don’t follow these limits.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

The word “rule” is this verse actually means “to lead or guide.” “Those” is probably referring to elders, hence this verse is talking about the church part.

I Pet. 2:13 – Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

And the government.

I agree that fathers should be subject to governing authorities. I just wonder if the mothers and children and all men and women everywhere ought to be as well. Are you seeing the pattern here of the heavy emphasis on verses that seem to elevate men to a degree higher than God intended?

(The other tenets will follow later in a later article.)

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This is an interesting hermeneutic. Some patriarchists teach that if we see a “pattern” in Scripture, we are to follow the pattern. They teach that patterns in Scripture are as binding as direct commands, unless those patterns are what they would call “non-normative.” What I didn’t perceive while I was in patriarchy is the glaring weakness in this hermeneutic — there are so many “non-normatives.” They can’t clearly explain why there are so many “patterns” in Scripture that, in a patriarchist’s view, are non-normative. They can’t clearly explain why some “patterns” are “normative” and other “patterns” are “non-normative.” It just seems to come down to a matter of personal preferences, and twisting Scripture to comply with those preferences.

Just a few months ago, I probably would have looked at these verses and said that they did fully support these “Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy,” and largely because I had unwittingly adopted this hermeneutic. However, because I’ve become involved in an intensive Bible study group, I’ve learned how to study Scripture more accurately and to more rightly divide the Word of Truth. I still believe that we must base our lives upon Scripture, but I no longer believe that we are commanded to live our lives according to all “patterns” that we find in Scripture.

We also need to differentiate between commands that are for us as believers today and those that were given specifically to others. Furthermore, just because God may have permitted the Patriarchs to engage in certain kinds of behavior four thousand years ago doesn’t mean that we too are permitted, let alone commanded, to do as they did. Just because God gave certain commands to Abraham does not mean that all Christian men suddenly become patriarchs as well. In fact, I find it quite arrogant that some men have decided that God is speaking directly to them when He commanded Abraham to do certain things in order to establish a new nation.

I do not see that God is suddenly establishing multitudes of new nations, all stemming from the new group of “patriarchs” today. In fact, even the definition of “patriarch” is quite arrogant to apply to a Christian father today. I like to quote from Webster’s 1828 dictionary to define terms because this is a favorite dictionary of patriarchists:

Patriarch:

1. The father and ruler of a family; one who governs by paternal right. Usually applied to the progenitors of the Israelites, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob, or to the heads of families before the flood.
2. A learned and distinguished character among the Jews.
3. In the Christian church, a dignitary superior to the order of archbishops. (Webster’s 1828 dictionary)

I wonder which of these three definitions applies to the “Patriarchs” of today?

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For this article only, I would like to request that comments here only address “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy.” The authors have invited feedback on their tenets and I would like feedback on these verses as well. What do you think? Do these verses support these tenets as being biblical? Does the Bible teach these tenets? When you leave a comment, to help us follow your thoughts, please address the tenet number and the Scripture reference as well. If you have additional Scripture you would like to add to help patriarchists support these tenets, please do so. This is NOT a debate about personal beliefs, but only how these tenets can be supported biblically.