It’s not complementarianism; it’s patriarchy

It’s not complementarianism; it’s patriarchy.

Woman in church
(photo from Christianity today)

They say context is everything. Well they also say to beware of sayings including extreme language, including "everything", "nothing", "always", "never", and so on.

Bearing the caution in mind, I would say that context has a lot to say about the roles of men and women in the church. Patriarchy in biblical times did not simply mean that the husband was the head of the household. In fact, in a 'traditional' household of the day, extended family often lived together — grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, children. The "head" would have been the eldest of the family. Not all husbands were declared heads, nor were wives necessarily subject to their immediate husbands will, but rather the will of the patriarch. In a Greco-Roman home (Gentile), the "head" meant that wives and children and slaves had to submit – polygamy was still practiced, often accepted as a husband's right, and the structure of the "the family" has changed over the ages.

The picture of the nuclear family of "father/mother/2.45 children" is not biblical. It can be godly, for certain, but not necessarily Scriptural. It is one form of "family" that has emerged over time. But it is not the only one, and to continue to press for women to subordinate is to call into question God's creation of who we are and who we are to be in the world.

Rachel brings up good and just questions in her article (see link above). As a single woman in the evangelical world, I have been told that I most certainly have a place in ministry… as a children's leader (some churches are okay using the word pastor, whereas others are certainly not), family leader, music, leader, or overseas missionary to a lost tribe of heathens. The triple standards becoming wearisome… and destructive to relationships where there needn't be any.

Yet I look at my relationship with God, at look at the my mother's relationship with God, and at the many, many women throughout history God has called to leadership both in the home, in the church, and in the world. Either millions of women are disobedient daughters, or God is a freakin' liar.

These past months, I've struggled with the argument of "the plain reading of Scripture". What one person declares is his or her's "plain reading" of the Bible is not what the next person ends up with. Put 20 Bible readers in a room, and we'll end up with 40 different interpretations. Who's reading plainly then? Truth wars begin, and rifts open up. Each person claims intimacy with the Holy Spirit, a love of the bible, and a relationship with Christ. Accepting that each persons' claims are just that, then perhaps we need to accept that context also has truths we need to understand, and that Truth Himself, is bigger than the Bible.

I'm finding it difficult to reconcile dogmas that continue to insist that men are the leaders of home and church, yet the more traditional forms of evangelicalism are the loudest voices crying out that Christianity is dying in North America. Could it be that many of us, especially women, are simply hurt and tired of being "put in our places", when there is no reason for it? Are women still being told to be silent so much that yes, we are losing ground because we are kicking to curb God's chosen? Are we demanding TOO MUCH from men because we are neatly excluding an entire half of God's "very good" epitome of creation?

Call it: wrestling with tangible kingdom issues that will most certainly affect reaching out to exploited youth. It's not wrong to ask the questions or challenge the status quo. In fact, we need it else we end up claiming theologies developed in 1950s suburbia rather than God.

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