Preliminary Thoughts On Patriarchy

Our 10th annivesery, August 24, 2012

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I’m absolutely not a feminist. I reject egalitarian marriage as well as egalitarian church leadership. The Lord gave men positions of authority in family and church. No Christian should argue against that fact.

That said, I’ve recently begun reading about the Patriarchy Movement, and so far I don’t like what I see.

From what I understand, patriarchy stems from the conviction that feminism has hurt our culture. To a large extent, I would agree with that premise. It would be better if mothers stayed at home and homeschooled their children while their husbands worked outside the home.

But patriarchy doesn’t seem to allow for any variation to that model. Drawing from Titus 2:5, they insist that women not work outside the home. Some I’ve read have gone so far as to teach that girls should not go to college, but should instead concentrate on learning domestic arts in preparation for marriage.

I could be wrong, but I don’t believe Scripture prohibits women from working outside the home. Let me show you two obvious examples, beginning with the Proverbs 31 woman:

13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong. ~~Proverbs 31:13-17 (NASB)

Excuse me, but isn’t this lady working outside the home to provide for her household? Am I reading something into the text? As I understand it, this model of a godly wife indeed does earn money of her own, which she invests in additional profitable enterprises.

Turning to the New Testament, we encounter Lydia:

14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. ~~Acts 16:14-15 (NASB)

Maybe Lydia repented of selling purple fabrics after her conversion to Christ, but nothing in the text indicates that her career was at all problematic. Luke simply describes her as a woman of means who therefore possessed the ability to provide Paul and his company with a base of operations.

Those who promote patriarchy appear to neglect women in the Bible who provide for themselves financially. Could it be that such women just don’t fit their narrative?

Again, I absolutely do not endorse feminism. But neither do I endorse a knee-jerk reaction against it that consigns women to a narrow understanding of how to be godly wives and mothers. Husbands who love their wives will generally encourage their wives to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory.

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