I (Jeff) was trained in conservative evangelical churches. The seminary I went to was conservative in its theology. Ultimately I embraced reformed theology and still hold to the reformed confessions of faith (I am a reformed baptist). Over the years in our present church (we have been here nearly 24 years now) most of the families chose to home school their children and most all of them have done a fantastic job.
But in the midst of this church culture, unknown to me, “certain persons” as Scripture warns us of “crept in among us.” They were disguised as devoted, eminent, holy Christians. They were at every church gathering. They served. It all looked great because the rest of us really were in earnest about wanting to serve the Lord in truth. We wanted nothing to do with the widespread compromise of the faith seen in so many churches then and today. That zeal for the Lord is commendable, but it must be guided by truth or it easily goes wrong.
The ones who “crept in” among us brought baggage with them. Not only personal, emotional, and spiritual baggage, but theological baggage that was a distortion of God’s truth in Christ. It was legalistic. It was used to control others and to bring praise to the ones proclaiming it. Our church is free of that now, though we must always watch and be on guard. Satan really is prowling around you know.
But my point here in this post is to share with you just a few of the indicators that, specifically, are signs that an unbiblical doctrine which I would call “patriarchy” is being promoted by someone. I look at them now and think, “Jeff, how could you have not seen these errors earlier?” There are a wide variety of reasons for our blindness to such things — the deceptive nature of the “creeps” who creep in, the erroneous teaching we have received in school, from pulpits, in the “Must have” books we read — all of which lead us into a mindset that wrongly functions on the assumption that certain basic tenets we hold to really are God’s truth, when in fact they are deceptions. I suppose a fish that lives in the ocean may well not have any idea of “saltiness” if you could talk to him about it. “Saltwater? What’s that?” The things we have been immersed in are usually not questioned. And that is dangerous.
Side note by Barb. Here is an example I found recently that illustrates how books can influence us without us even realising it. It comes from the ESV translation of Numbers 5:19-20, which is in the passage known as ‘the ordeal of bitter water’ — the law Moses gave as a way to test whether a wife had committed adultery:
Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband’s authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you …
Notice that the phrase ‘under your husband’s authority’ occurs twice in that ESV translation? Now let’s look at the KJV:
And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse: But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband…
Check it in the Blue Letter Bible. The KJV’s instead of your husband is quite a valid translation. The Hebrew text can have the sense ‘under’ but it doesn’t have a word for ‘authority’ in those verses. Possibly the ESV translators used the word ‘authority’ because of the concentration of male-authority salt in their ocean.
Here are some statements that I (Jeff) have heard these patriarchists make which I hope you will be able to identify as serious error if you every hear them. Patriarchy, by the way, is the philosophy/theology that, to state it simply, men are superior to women. Husbands are superior to wives. The husband/father of the family is not only to lead his wife and children in the worship of God, but their worship of God is essentially mediated by the husband/father. God is particularly concerned with the commission He has given to the man, and the other family members are to support the man in that mission. These kinds of things to one degree or another define this false and enslaving beast we are calling patriarchy.
Listen then to these statements:
- “I told my wife that she must obey me.”
- “As the father and husband, I am the priest of my home.”
- “Women do not function well in the workplace because they should never be in the workplace. They are to be workers at home.”
- “Well, you know what women are like.”
- “You say that you are worried about a guy flirting with your wife? Well, you need to fight for your marriage. Fight for your wife. She is YOUR wife.” [Note: that sounds good, and I suppose if stated by the right person it would be. But what a patrarchist means by “she is YOUR wife” is that she is YOUR property].
- “When a guy’s wife works at a job and makes a salary, he has to watch out because she will start getting pretty independent.”
I am sure there were more of these kinds of statements made over the years, but these are some of the more typical ones. No doubt you all can provide some more examples in the comments here.
A wife, you see, in such a warped and twisted system (all “supported” by the warping and twisting of Scripture of course) really is no different than a child when it comes to her relationship to her husband. This is one of the errors you will find in the Puritan writings on marriage and family (though there is MUCH sound doctrine and practice to be gleaned from the Puritans as well). The wife is one of the children you see.
Now, all of this created an inner conflict in me and in others in the church, though it was sometime before we realized it was there. A conflict I say because I did not relate to my own wife in this manner. I would never have told her “you must obey me,” or claim some kind of exalted priesthood for myself. My wife has worked outside the home most of our marriage and I am very glad that she now has some great job skills that are benefiting us, all the while ministering in the music ministry of our church faithfully all these years on top of that. I have never viewed her as “my property.” And yet — here is the catch — I suppose for some years until the lights really came on for me about all this, I felt guilty to an extent for not being “the kind of man God calls me to be.” Or rather, the kind of tyrant the patriarchist creeps insist that God calls me to be. I hated going to men’s conferences (still do) because I could not relate to what was being taught in most all of them.
Turns out I hated them because they so often promote some aspect at least of “men are superior to women.”
Well, here is my point. Watch out for those kinds of statements such as I have listed here and recognize them for what they are. They are clues that a perversion of the good Word of God has come in among you. And be sure of it, if it is not opposed and rejected, it WILL spread among you. It will create an oppressive, legalistic, bondage-making culture in your church.
Ultimately we did see it. We did confront it. And as a result our church is much smaller now numerically. But if I could do it all over again, I would have openly and firmly exposed and confronted it right on the spot. “Hold it! Stop right there! Hey everyone, let’s sit down and talk about what this fellow just said. He commanded his wife that she must obey him. He claims to have a Scripture verse for that. Let’s search Scripture and see why he is wrong and why he is distorting God’s Word.”
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is:
True: revealing truth, exposing lies, false doctrine, and hypocrisy
Honorable: staying the course, not backing down, not being swayed through intimidation. Not by abusers, not by their enablers. Protecting the innocent and vulnerable. Standing up to bullies. Choosing not to remain naive. Choosing instead to bear the reproach of the oppressed, and all of its discomfort.
Just: recognizing what is just and what is unjust, and crying out for justice.
Pure: seeing those who have been abused and manipulated as God sees them. Through the pure lens of empathy and compassion, not the muddled lens of tradition and bias.
Lovely: creating a safe place for victims, and sharing the burdens of hurting souls.
Commendable: giving the downtrodden a voice, shouting it from the rooftops.
Excellent: Biblical studies (in context).
Worthy of Praise: things which are done with the heart of Christ are worthy of praise. I believe all of the above fits that.
…thing about these things.
[by Randy Stephenson, a commenter on ACFJ]
from our GEMS — Great Quotes page
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
(1 John 5:21)
I have known the family members — wives and children — of patriarchal men. Men who parade as eminent Christians. Men who have been taught and who believe that they are the “priests” of their home. And I have experienced the frustration and grief of being rejected by these wives and children “because daddy said….”. These kinds of men have set themselves up as idols. They are much like Nebuchadnezzar:
And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:4-6)
Bow down, or else.
The little verse quoted above from 1 John is profound truth. It is the very last line in John’s first epistle, put where it is intentionally for emphasis. Keep yourselves from idols. Watch out. Be on guard. Don’t end up worshiping a false god. I find it interesting that John once more addresses us in this warning as “little children.”
Patrarichalism sets up the husband/father of the home as an idol. A false god. He is the one who distributes “God’s Word” to the family. It is his prayers that really count. He is the one to be served and praised. His word is the word that is infallible. A little papacy is established. And whoever does not fall down and worship him. . .
As children grow up in such deception, and particularly as long as the wife/mother still embraces that deception herself, all of the Bible, all input regarding just about any subject including the very nature of God himself, is going to be perceived through the idolatrous grid entrenched in their minds. That is to say, through the idol called husband/father. Daddy says. . .
When such a man perceives that anyone — whether it be the pastor, an author, a church member, a friend of his wife — that anyone is starting to see through his idolatrous false kingdom, he goes on the offensive to squelch any and all opposition. He will slander that person speaking truth. He will accuse them. And if all else fails, he will isolate his family from them.
And his family believes him. Try to reason with them. Try to warn them. It will be to no avail. Daddy says…. Translated? God says….
And THAT, little children, is idolatry.
I saw a news documentary once on North Korea and the cruel dictatorship that reigns there. The reporters found that certain questions would be met with blank stares on the faces of the people. “Have you ever thought that perhaps your leader could be wrong sometimes?” It wasn’t that the people got angry at this question. No. Worse than that, they lacked the ability to even process the possibility, so thoroughly had they been brainwashed. “Our glorious and beloved Leader, wrong? What does that mean?” They had no mental paradigm or apparatus to take in such words. You may as well have said something like “How do you like the taste of yellow?”
And so it is with the children of the kind of idol father I am speaking of here. “Daddy, wrong?” Show them hard, concrete evidence to the contrary of what their father said, it will not get through. He has become their surrogate Christ. Really, an anti-christ. And such a god can do whatever he wants.
Little children, little children, please…keep yourselves from idols.
“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”
One reason people remain enslaved to domestic abuse is fear. With every reason to fear, we remain at the mercy of an abuser. Or so we think. For those in Christ, this is a tremendous deception. We are no longer at anyone’s mercy, but God’s. When I began listening to the song, “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, from which the opening phrase of this post is taken, I began to see more of what it means to be free in Christ in my life. I am on the road now of finding out more about what that means and putting it into practice.
In the journey of their exodus from Egypt, the people of God were beset with fear. We all know the story, but victims of abuse know it very well. The fear that affected the Israelites fleeing Egypt is similar the fear we have when it comes to exiting abusive relationships. Just as Pharaoh and his forces came after God’s people, so all too often we are sought after by the abuser when we attempt to exit. The abuser and the abuser’s allies make innumerable attempts to retrieve us and put us back under bondage. The flags are flying sky high as we come out of the fog and begin to see how sick our lives have been. Some abusers will stop at nothing in an attempt to completely destroy their victims and this comes in a myriad of ways. Courts are inundated with attempting to unravel the truth. Judges are trying to uphold the law while their confusion abounds. And the law often is weak, providing many loopholes for abusers to manipulate it to their wicked agenda.
Abusers are believable people, just as Satan is. If the lie were not mixed with an element of truth, no one would ever believe an abuser. It is sufficient to say that gaining our exodus from the abuser is a long tortuous journey. I know of no one who left an abuser who was able to leave quietly or with their lives and finances still intact. The job of our enemy is to incite others to do us harm in an attempt to destroy our faith, or at least give it a good shaking. Can any of us truly say, “Boy, I am sure glad that I rested and trusted God through all of that without any fear”? No, because abuse erodes our faith and trust, even in God and brings us to a life filled with fear. Unless one has survived this type of fear from abuse, they cannot know it. Comparing fear of going to the dentist to the fear we have had of our abuser, just does not cut it.
One point that stood out to me in particular about the story of the Exodus, was the crossing of the Red Sea. The song states it this way:
“You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears are drowned in perfect love.
You rescued me and I will stand and sing, ‘I am a child of God’.”
While our abusers chase after us in an attempt to bring us back into bondage, God opens the sea to freedom and allows us to walk right through it, on dry ground. This is a symbolic picture of our deliverance in Christ, from all bondage! Our strength lies only in our God and His ability to do what we simply cannot, which is to gain our freedom. We fight this battle on a spiritual level, just as God’s people did then. We do not fight in the flesh. Our war is in the spirit. We stand and say, I am a child of God and all that entails! We focus on what we know and the truths of God. We put on our fighting gloves (Eph. 6) and make our way through, with Christ before us. The fight looks like this. Always choosing to obey God and allow Him to fight on our behalf. It is recognizing that our enemy, with the abuser’s cooperation, is at work through someone we believed we could trust and who would love us. We become confused and foggy in this, because it is hard to wrap our brains around the fact that we are dealing with someone we married in good faith, not knowing what lay ahead for us.
While it is all too often true that the courts, churches and others, including family, do not deliver justice to victims or their children, we can know and trust that deliverance and freedom that God gives us from living with the abuser is the end goal for us. We can only look to Him for that and ignore sources that would ever advise us to live in bondage to abuse. We may lose everything material on the way and even emotional and physical things in this agonizing process, but our end is deliverance. Our end is knowing we are His and He will perfect that which concerns us.
Exodus 14 speaks of the terror facing God’s people and His direction for how to go through and get away from Pharaoh and his armies.
Fear not. Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord,
which He will work for you today.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:13-14)
As we know, this does not mean that we just sit and wait. We must take action and the necessary steps to freedom from abuse. Remember, God’s people here in this story moved. Their deliverance and freedom from Pharaoh and his armies came that day. But they had lived through a long, long battle in attempting to gain their freedom, prior to this day. They did not sit in their homes and wait, saying “God has put me here, so I must just sit, suffer and stay”. They moved at God’s direction, and there is more than enough biblical evidence for us to know that God wants us to move when living in abuse. They had to move forward and walk through the sea. That was their only hope of being delivered and free. But God set it up. He did the work behind the scenes and as we know, annihilated His and His people’s enemies.
In Exodus 14:14b — you need only to be still — the word rendered ‘still’ can be rendered ‘silent’ or ‘holding your peace’. It can also mean to be deaf or mute. In the context of exiting life with an abuser, it can mean to make yourself deaf to all the noise and turmoil the abuser is hurling at you, or to be silent and not retaliatory. It can also mean to “plow under”. It appears to me the best interpretation for this passage would be to hold your peace in God and to deafen yourself from all the abuser’s attempts to make you think he holds all the power. In reality as a Christian, God holds all power over us as His people. We do not believe in dualism. God and Satan are not equally powerful deities in battle against each other. God has already won. We learn what He has for us in deepening our relationship with Him, when we have to go through the battle (working out our salvation in fear and trembling). God is able to use this evil for our good, to build our faith and trust in Him and to know Him more intimately. Wait for Him to come in like a rushing wind with deliverance on His wings, while you act in faith and remain pursuing your freedom from abuse.
God led me to these passages at the beginning of my departure, now many years ago. At first, I was so afraid that I could only fret. But as time went on, nearing the end when my final exit would come, I knew I could trust Him. Did everything go smoothly? Of course not. When we are dealing with the devil, there will always be turbulence.
the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt. (Isaiah 57:20)
Satan comes in like a flood, inciting abusers — with their permission — to never give up tormenting us. But, we are God’s people. We are His chosen. He will deliver us.
In closing, let me just share that I am still in the thick of many things and suffering repercussions from the fallout of decades of abuse. But I know who my God is and I know who I am in Him. I have taken my place in Him and I know that I am no longer a slave to fear. He is true and faithful to His promises and performs all that which He has declared to me to be His nature. I have chosen to trust and remain calm, knowing that He is always good, even when things look incredibly bad. If you can, let that be an encouragement to you, coming from one who has pounded down the path before you.
So, why or how did I come to make this choice? What equipped me?
Because I came to believe and understand – I am a child of God.
This post is written by “IamMyBeloved’s”. Many thanks to her for these words!