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  • Josephine Hirschfeld

3 • THE PATRIARCHY

Updated: Sep 23, 2021


Most feminists will see submission and patriarchy as synonymous terms, and although they closely relate to one another, I think it’s worth it to take some time to talk about the latter. I say that because regardless of what Christians believe about submission, the vast majority have taken the default report that the patriarchy is evil, terrible, awful, and in no way good or redeemable. This is uninformed at best, so here I am to save the day.


If you were to watch main stream media for any length of time, you would probably conclude that the definition of patriarchy is a system of power in which men oppress women. Women have little to no rights, they’re not taken seriously, and they certainly won’t get paid as much as men, if they are allowed to have a job at all. If you know anything about the Handmaid’s Tale, you probably have a good notion of what I’m talking about. This definition, however, couldn’t be further from reality.


Patriarchy simply means male-ruled. This could be applied to a government where most high ranking officials are men, or it could be applied to a family where the members look to their dad to be in charge. Wives deferring to their husbands’ authority on big decisions, and fathers teachings their kids to respect Grandpa are both good examples of this. Of course there are good men and bad men (more on that later), but I believe whole-heartedly that patriarchy generally is a good thing. Patriarchy as defined here is not only very much needed in families, churches, and government; It’s something that God designed.


We see throughout scripture that God blesses the patriarchal structure. Only men are called to be pastors (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:5-6), and the Bible is filled with men being the primary leader and provider (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Hosea, etc). This is true in military pursuits, spiritual matters, and the family unit. Men are generally stronger, have louder voices, and are taller, among other traits. These characteristics weren’t an accident; men were created to rule. No amount of shrieking will change this fact.


All that to say the patriarchal structure does not excuse abuse, neglect, or anything else evil. The way God has orchestrated this way of life does not allow for wicked behavior. Those that take scripture out of context to justify tyranny on the part of the husband (or any other male in authority) are just as much in sin as those who swing to the other side of the pendulum (feminists who drink the tears of men).


But we need to be very clear when defining abusive or oppressive conduct. A husband who won’t let his wife leave the house in leggings would be burned at the social justice stake if possible, but he is not sinning by God’s standard (1 Timothy 2:9). Requiring a wife to check in if she’s going to be home later than normal is also hailed as another example of the “evils of men.” But if the roles were reversed, we wouldn’t hear a peep on the subject. The reality is that too often we are presented with the narrative that anything a husband requests or requires of his wife must be terrible simply because he is a man. It doesn’t matter how reasonable or Godly his rule in the household is; feminists will not be appeased.


This is not only true in individual homes, but can be applied to church, government, and society at large. Tyrannical kings, dictators, and presidents are all in rebellion against God and his law because they are oppressing people. To say that this proves patriarchies are evil is to assume that women are less prone to wickedness. A quick perusal of scripture tells us that this is nonsensical (Romans 3:23). The fact that men in charge of churches and companies are of the male gender does not preclude them to sin more so than a female either.


But hold on, doesn’t it seem as though if a government or company leadership was primarily made up of men, that they have taken these opportunities away from qualified women? At a glance, this may appear to be a reasonable assumption. After all, a woman is just as capable as becoming the president as a man, right? Perhaps. The reality is though that most women tend to have significantly different priorities and life goals than men and would rather not work the 60-80+ hour work week that is often required to rise to high levels of leadership. Not to mention that if wives are submitting faithfully to their husbands, they are going to be much more caught up in the day-to-day duties of running a home and raising children anyways. This is not evidence of patriarchal sin. This is nature at work.


A wife submitting to her husband and teaching her children to do so as well is helping to create a small patriarchy in their family. If this is done faithfully across many homes in a community, it eventually will affect the makeup of local government, school boards, and businesses as well. A good patriarchy is defined by wives joyfully trusting their husbands to make good decisions for the household, and good decisions outside the home as well. Patriarchy in this way is natural, not forced, and enjoyed by all.


I proudly live in a patriarchy of my own choosing where my husband leads the home faithfully and I submit to him out of respect. This is God’s design, and I am convinced that those who reject it are not living their best life. But perhaps their miserable husbands have already clued them in to this reality (Proverbs 21:9).

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