I’m a Reformed Baptist, conservative, complementarian, homeschooling mother of nine children. I believe in the sufficiency, inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. I believe in the headship of man in the church and in the family. I believe that men are, overall, better leaders in the government and business than women, not due to superior intellect but to the way God has created men and women. That said, my mother was an excellent business woman and Margaret Thacher was an excellent Prime Minister. I am not a supporter of patriarchy or of the patriarchal movement and believe when it is compared to Scripture it shows itself to be a dangerous, legalistic warping of Scripture that encourages abusive behavior towards wives and children. That doesn’t mean all families who tend towards patriarchy are abusive; most aren’t. But when you put someone in a position of authority that they aren’t meant to have, abuse can and does happen. It’s not my point or purpose to engage in a full-blown examination of patriarchy; that’s been done before. I do, however, wish to throw out a few tidbits for thought:
Patriarchy teaches that women are naturally rebellious and need their man to keep them in line. Don’t believe it? Look it up. It teaches that women have no say-so, unless their husband grants it, in their homes, over the raising of their children or even over themselves. It has given rise to such heinous books as Me? Obey Him? by by Elizabeth Rice Handford (daughter of John R. Rice) and Created To Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl.
Me? Obey Him? teaches “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!” The book goes on to say that if a husband commands a wife to do something contrary to the Word of God, she must obey him as if he were speaking for God while trusting in God to protect her from evil.
Created To Be His Helpmeet teaches that “You (a woman) are created to make him complete, not to seek personal fulfillment parallel to him.” “You can freely call your husband “lord” when you know that you are addressing the one who put him in charge and asked you to suffer at your husbands hands just as the Lord suffered at the hands of unjust authorities.” “The chain of authority must never be broken, even if it means allowing some abuse (of the husband’s role).”
When we search the Scriptures as the Bereans did, we will realize that those are false teachings. Sadly, many who read them don’t have a full or deep understanding of Scripture and will be taken in by them and hurt because of it.
Should the husband lead his family and his wife? Absolutely. But when we exalt him to a level he isn’t meant to have, we are making an idol, a false god, out of him. The Patriarchal movement has, over the last few months and years, seen some of its leaders fall. That saddens me. What saddens me more is that so many Christians were so shaken by their fall. Our faith must be in God and His Word and never in any man.
Men are meant to lead their families. The complementarian position is, I fully believe, the one supported by Scripture. But complementarianism and the patriarchal movement aren’t the same thing. The patriarchal movement as it has been laid out over the last couple of decades isn’t biblical, it’s dangerous. May God provide us with leaders who love Him and His Word enough to discern, and teach, the difference.