Patriarchy in Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism

For the Lambs of Hephzibah House
those imprisoned in other wretched places
in the name of Jesus.
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Jesus:  Modern Patriarchy in
Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism.
Copyright © 2014 by Jeri Massi. All rights reserved. No part of this book may
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Table of Contents


Chapter One:
On a "Masculine" Christianity. 4
Two: The Evidence of God’s Condemnation of False Religious Leaders  4
Three: Fallacies in Place of Scripture Used to Support Modern Patriarchy  7
Four: The Manhood Cult and Hyper-Masculinity  10
Five: A Tragedy in Two Parts, Played on the Stage of Hyper-Masculinity. 12
Six: Arguments from Scripture Against a Perpetual Patriarchy. 15
Seven: The Necessity of Religious Education for Women   17
Eight:  Men, Women, Eldership,
Authority, and Power  19
Nine:  Authority and Power, Men and
Women   20
Ten: Powerful Women Under Authority. 22
Eleven: Powerful Women in the New Testament Church   24
Twelve:  Women, Church Office, Form, and
Substance  27
Thirteen: The Rise of Women to Power. 28
Fourteen: The Duty of Women, Even Under Patriarchy  31
Summary. 34


Chapter One: On a "Masculine" Christianity
God revealed
Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother. Second
person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father
and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man, the name
of the male.
God appoints
all the priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the
world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed
that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they
taught that the husband should be the head.
Now, from all of that I conclude that God
has given Christianity a masculine feel. And being God, a God of love, He has
done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female.
-- John Piper
I am not a feminist. That’s
not to say that I don’t agree with some of the points of feminism. I do. I
believe in equal pay for equal work, in voting rights for women, employment
rights, etc. But I’ve never felt a need to join together with others to make myself
strong. I already am strong. Just me.
And, in terms of patriarchal
rule in Christianity, I waffle a lot on the subject. But if you weighed out all
of my thoughts on the matter and opinions and theological beliefs, the total
points in favor of patriarchy would surpass the total points against
patriarchy. Barely. So I call myself a weak patriarchist. I think the arguments
that prove that patriarchy is established in the New Testament outweigh the
arguments against. And while I think that patriarchy as it is practiced now in
American Christianity is thoroughly bad, I am not convinced that patriarchy
itself must fail or is a bad choice.
I am suited to write this
book precisely because I do slightly favor patriarchal rule in Christendom.
Consider me a patriarchal insider who sees the problems of the
uber-patriarchists. I also see the problems created by hyper-masculinity in
both Christian Evangelical and Christian Fundamentalist churches.  I am not going to rant against patriarchal
miscreants because I want to get rid of patriarchal rule any way I can. No,
indeed. I would save patriarchal rule if I could. But since I can’t, I will
point out the reasons for its downfall.
A few years ago, just after
Bob Jones University started to stream its annual Bible Conference online, the
Fundamentalist Cult of Manhood and the decline it has caused in thinking,
justice, and integrity, became all too apparent. Online access to the BJU Bible
Conference gave listeners an accurate play-by-play depiction of incredibly bad
sermons: some preached with no Scripture text at all, a preacher who moo’d in
the pulpit, a man who made sideways references to indicate that their wives
were their whores, and two entire sermons on faith that never addressed Christ.
Of course, the elephant in
the room during that particular Bible Conference was the Tina Anderson case.
For Pastor Chuck Phelps, a BJU graduate, had blamed a 15-year old rape victim,
Tina Anderson, for her own rape and exiled her from her Christian school, her
home, and the church.
The entire issue of a
pastor’s duty to the most helpless and vulnerable and impoverished members of
his church was begging to be preached. The issue of proper church discipline
begged for exegesis.
Bible Conference was ready
for a sermon that would make sense of it all, rebuke those who had sinned,
correct those who had erred, and console those who had suffered. But nobody
among these allegedly fierce and fightin’ Fundamentalists, standing in that
allegedly “hot” pulpit at BJU, dared touch these topics.
No, it was business as usual,
with lip service paid to BJU, and grand statements of praise given to
Fundamentalism. There then followed an array of mostly lackluster sermons with
one or two spectacularly bad blunders.
There is a lot that can be
said and pointed out about the blindness of Christian Fundamentalism.
Certainly, in its rampant and grossly perverted sexual sins, committed by its
preachers and covered up by a conspiracy of silence, it has indicted itself.
But the failure of these men in that pulpit at that particular time also
pointed to another excess of Christian Fundamentalism, and one that has
increasingly gained attention, thanks in good measure to John Piper, a
Christian Evangelical who has “kissin’ cousin” status with Fundamentalism.
In spite of the public record
of the gross sins committed and protected by Christian Fundamentalist
preachers, Piper has insisted on treating them with deference. At one point,
I’d assumed that he was merely misled, and that he was cut from a very
different cloth. However, around the time of the Tina Anderson case, Piper
issued a public statement that should serve as a warning to all believers that
nobody gets away with disobedience without some tarnish.
Piper has declared, "God
revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother.
Second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the
Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name
man, the name of the male.
"God appoints all the
priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the world to
be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the
overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that
the husband should be the head."
And all of that is true. But
from that, Piper has concluded that Christianity should have a "masculine
feel".  He also concluded that based
on this “masculine feel” ideal, that God inclines “ men to humble Christ-exalting
initiatives,” and God inclines “women to come alongside those men with joyful
support, intelligent helpfulness, and fruitful partnership in the work."
In other words, men are called by God to do stuff, and women are called by God
to help men.
Piper’s first observations
are correct. We cannot argue with the facts about the Patriarchs, and I
wouldn’t want to do so. Of course, neither would I leave out those women here
and there in Scripture that are just present enough in the text to unbalance
Piper’s all-male construct. For we also have Deborah for authority, Jael for
military victory, and Abigail for integrity. But it’s Piper’s conclusions that
are mind boggling.
If we take Christianity, that
is, the Universal Church, as a single entity, then if we want to agree with
Scripture, we can only, ever recognize that the Church Universal is only,
utterly feminine in relationship to God. Always. If we say the Church is
masculine, we actually commit blasphemy. The Bible never refers to the Church
as anything other than feminine. The Church is the Bride. Based on one of
John’s visions in Revelation, you might get away with calling her a Mother. But
she is not a bridegroom, and she is not a son.
In terms of the history that
Piper reels off, it would be more accurate to conclude that we should recognize
that God is masculine, at least in
relationship to us, and represents Himself as masculine through traditionally
male roles.  But God is not male. That is
another point of confusion for Piper. Apparently, John Piper doesn’t understand
what gender is or how it is expressed through the Creation.
What is Gender? How is Gender Expressed?
Gender is defined in its most
primitive use simply as “kind.” It has to do with essence, or innate distinctions.
For most of Western history, gender was used mostly in a grammatical sense: the
masculine form (or kind) of a word vs its feminine counterpart. There have
always been at least two genders: masculine and feminine. Sometimes a third is
given: neutral, or no-gender.
Gender is often defined by
relationship: a chair in some languages is feminine to a table, which is
masculine. And this distinction is crucial, for some things can have no gender
in and of themselves, but by relationship they have gender. This is important
to understand because gender is part of the Creation, and is multi-faceted.
Next, there is a difference
between gender and sex, between masculine and male, and between feminine and
Masculine is
that gender that initiates action or takes action upon a recipient. Male is the expression of masculinity in
living, material creatures. So Christ is the 
Son of God, taking on masculine expression (male) in human form (as
opposed to female), in order to express the masculine role of God (the One Who
takes action).
But God is neither male nor
female. God is Light. From our perspective, He has a permanent masculine role
as the progenitor and Creator. He initiates all that ever occurs. By
definition, that's what masculine is. But God Himself simply Is. He is not a
part of the Creation. So we cannot reduce the definition of His nature to being
masculine. We can only recognize that in His cardinal actions, that is, those
actions that bestow life or direct His will to be acted upon the Creation, His
role is masculine in relationship to the Creation.
So the conclusion that we
must reach, and that the Bible itself states clearly, is that the Church is
feminine in relationship to God. God is Creator/Progenitor and we the Church
are receiver/bearer. Thus, God is masculine to the feminine creation. In the
same way, the sky is masculine to the feminine earth because the sky sends rain
and sun, and the earth receives these and produces grain and grass and food for
animals. Hence we say Father Sky and Mother Earth. The English language is not
extremely gender articulate, but other languages are. Older languages are.  And these gender definitions are as old as
Therefore, in terms of the
Bible and our theology, Christianity can only be feminine by role to God's
masculine role. We are the Bride, remember? When our relationship to God is
expressed in material terms, the Church is expressed in female roles. Did John
Piper miss that in the New Testament?
The Church reflects the glory
of our Savior and Redeemer, and such a role is feminine. If we assert that the
church is masculine, we are asserting that the Church is the creator/progenitor
of the faith. And that is blasphemy, for that is saying that the Church is God.
In all matters of the faith, salvation, and creation, everything is feminine to
God, who is masculine in relationship to everything else. And this is because
salvation is entirely the work of God upon mankind.
But again, God is not male.
By nature He is not male. By role, He is masculine in relationship to a
feminine Creation. As the salvation of His People, He is masculine in terms of
a feminine people that He has redeemed: His bride. The Redeemer is expressed on
earth in the male Person of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man. But that's
it. That's where the gender stuff ends. Piper is trapped in a hybrid of badly
understood Aristotelian cosmology and Republican Americana.
Christianity, if we have to assign
a gender to it (and that is a bad idea except in very limited ways), is
feminine, because we receive the salvation that God as progenitor and Hero
bestows upon us. We are entirely receptive to God's actions upon us. That is
feminine: the receiver who then produces offspring. That's us -- Christianity.
The Church. The Bride.
We have noted that Father Sky
acts upon Mother Earth who brings forth fruit. In the same sense, God acts upon
the Church, which brings forth righteousness.
The Church is consistently
referred to as the Bride of Christ in Scripture, a feminine entity that can be
only feminine in relationship to God the Hero and Savior.
At a personal level, God the
Holy Spirit acts upon each of us to produce in us the good works that glorify
Him. That also makes Him masculine in relationship to the Church, in the sense
of each individual, which is corporately feminine in relationship to Him. But
as God's agent upon the earth, the Church cannot be quantified as either
masculine or feminine in nature because the Church has so many roles. The
patriarchs are given to us, not to point to our
masculinity but to point to God as
the masculine (by role) giver of both law and grace.  The Patriarchs are His representatives to the
church, and they point back to Him.
As a matter of fact, John
Piper is male in nature, an earthly manifestation of masculine gender. But in
relationship to God, John Piper is feminine by role. That doesn’t mean he
becomes a girl or is emasculated. It simply means that John Piper cannot act
upon God. God acts upon him.
So what does Piper’s huge
gaff have to do with BJU Bible Conferences? 
Well, both of them illustrate the extent that these men will go, to
protect patriarchy for its own sake.  In my opinion, Piper has been driven to this
point of gender-protective hysteria because of the abuses that exist in Baptist
churches, including the Tina Anderson case. Women, increasingly, are coming
forward to allege and prove gross abuses from Evangelical and Fundamentalist
leaders. And as they do, other women, increasingly, are coming forward in the
public arena to demonstrate a better grasp of Scripture and Christian purity of
life than Evangelical and Fundamentalist leaders are demonstrating.
Women today, including women
victims of abuse in the Church, are upsetting the apple cart, because modern
Christian Patriarchists argue that their model of church government is
Scriptural. Well, no it isn’t, not as church government is practiced today. Not
by a long shot. I agree that the New Testament Church was patriarchal, but
everything else was also different from Christianity today. I would love to go
back to the patriarchy of the New Testament Church, but only if we could go
back to the entire governmental model of the New Testament Church.
A return to patriarchy alone is not a return to the
New Testament Church:
1. The New Testament Church was all one Church.
Paul is as clear about the
necessity  of our union in Christ as he
is about not allowing a woman to teach. He is clear that the Church is one body,
with one Lord, one faith one baptism.  He
is also clear that there must be one doctrine that defines Christendom. And he
permits dissent and latitude given for conscience, but he also requires that
all members of the church be subject to the rule of the one Church that is
So Piper’s church, the
churches of Fundamentalism, all the Baptists, everybody in any church today,
exist in violation of a key point of Scripture regarding the Church, whether or
not they are patriarchal. What is the point of fighting for patriarchy but
disregarding the necessity of unity? In the end, even if you succeed, you still
get a very different church from the New Testament Church. Paul says it is
wrong to say “I am of Paul” or “I am of Apollos.” But now we have Lutherans,
Baptists, Calvinists, etc. Paul commanded against this. Patriarchists accept
it, and yet argue for patriarchy as a necessary return to the authority of
Scripture in church government.
2. The New Testament Church was governed by a central
council of elders.
The New Testament Church, we
know, was governed by a board of elders at Jerusalem. They heard disputes,
debated doctrinal questions, and issued writs against sinning and fallen
elders. If you don’t think this is true, read Acts chapter 15. You will find
the Council at Jerusalem settling matters and sending out messages to the
churches about how to handle their controversies. Paul had authority to rebuke
Peter. John had authority to remove Diotrephes. Paul had authority to over ride
the elders at Corinth (twice).  The New
Testament Church was not a federation of independent churches, such as the
Baptists love to teach. It was one church under representative rule, where
authority was held by a well educated Council. If you read the epistles to Timothy
and to Titus, you will see that Paul has charge over these men, and they each
had charge over multiple churches and elders.
If today’s Patriarchists want
to go back to a New Testament model of church government (which I favor), then
they must submit to representative rule, not independence or even
denominational rule.
3. The New Testament Church included women in
positions of financial administration.
In the Greek outlook on the
home, men controlled investments and had charge of family money. The men conducted
business out and about in the town or village. But women were given the
rulership over the “pantry.” This would also be called “the housekeeping.” Paul
grew up in an era where looking after the food and the clothing of the
household was considered “women’s work.” If we look at the Old Testament, we
see much the same thing from a reading of Proverbs 31, except Solomon remarks
that a truly wise woman can make the housekeeping funds multiply by earning a
profit from them and reinvesting the money.
Aristotle, the main mover and
shaker of the Greek culture where Paul lived much of his life, regarded the
charge of the pantry and housekeeping as the women’s natural domain. We see in
Paul’s recommendation of Phebe in Romans 16 that Paul has transposed this role
into the entire church at Corinth (“Cenchrea” in the KJV).
Phebe was not a minor errand
runner. Paul calls her diakonos, a
deacon. He refers to her as “a succourer of many, and of myself also.” The word
Paul used for “succourer” is prostatis, a word that implies an authority
to care for others. It is used for women guardians or women protectors. Paul
writes that she has been a guardian of him as well, i.e., his governess, or
Phebe traveled to Rome on
behalf of the Church at Corinth and also delivered Paul’s letter to the Church
at Rome. This was a weighty responsibility, and Paul’s directions to equip her
with whatever she needed showed that she held a weighty trust.
In our century, Patriarchists
tend to look at men as being in control of everything. But Paul himself
regarded propriety to be more important than male control of all offices. Women
looked after the distribution of funds for food and clothing. We will see more
of this later, as the Church took up its residency under the aegis of wealthy
women who could manage funds and goods for the poor.
I think Patriarchy would be
great if it meant that men were elders and pastors but women controlled the
funds to feed and clothe them, as Phebe provided for Paul.  If the men, like Paul, considered financial
concerns to be beneath the notice of the elders (which the elders at Jerusalem
openly declared, in Acts chapter six), I think modern Patriarchy might be less
obnoxious than it is now. Later in the book, we will look further at some of
the pivotal roles performed by women in the New Testament Church.
4. The New Testament Church had no church buildings or
financial holdings.
The Church met in people’s
houses. This simple method served to keep elders and pastors from becoming too
powerful. Paul didn’t even have a house, as far as we know. Neither did Peter.
When they traveled and preached and built churches, they had to live on the
generosity of the believers.
In our era, churches are financial
entities. The campus and buildings of a church can be valued into the millions
of dollars. The pastor and the elders/deacons have control over the campus and
buildings. They often capriciously expel people over nothing other than
disagreeing with the pastor.
In the New Testament, people
accommodated the Church by opening their homes. That kept a certain amount of
power invested at the grass roots level. 
The pastor cannot expel me from John’s house, where we all meet to worship.
And he cannot expel John from John’s own house. Disagreements now have to be
adjudicated. We all meet at John’s house to hash things out. Nothing is hidden.
The pastor is not the center of a church like this. He may be an important cog,
but there are checks and balances on his power.
5. Pastors, elders, and other church officers in the
New Testament Church lived among their flock.
Paul specifically orders that
a man can become an elder only if he opens his house to the saints.  His lifestyle must be moderate, and he must possess
self control, all the time vigilantly seeking to imitate Christ. These are
requirements laid down in Scripture. No gated communities there! Everything the
pastor had was shared out with his flock. The local church supported him, but
it is clear that he also was surrounded by his own church members, with the
poorest of them probably eating at his table.
The unity of the Church
prevented the rich-church/poor-church syndrome. All were one. There were no
black churches and white churches. Everybody met in small local groups, but
they also all came together for larger convocations. The elders served all of
the members.  We see from Paul’s rebuke
concerning communion in I Corinthians and from the rebuke of James, that the
leaders of the New Testament Church regarded class distinctions among local
assemblies to be scandalous and wicked.
6. The New Testament Church shared Communion every
time the brethren met together.
This simple service removed
power from being centralized in a single pastor. For Jesus Christ is present at
His table.  The service of Communion
reinforced the individual believer’s union with and reliance upon Jesus Christ,
at least for a few minutes. It also helped solidify interpersonal relationships
within the local churches.  
7. The New Testament Church publicly expelled grossly
sinning members and elders.
From the moment in Acts
chapter six when the apostles and elders hear the grievances of the Greek Jews
and make provision for them, to John’s promise that he is going to come and
attend to Diotrephes personally, we see from the New Testament that miscreants,
sexual offenders and bullies were rebuked by the elders, in public. Matters
were transparent. Even Peter came under rebuke for his treatment of the Gentile
Christians. When did John Piper defend Tina Anderson, or censure Chuck Phelps?
Or Dave Hyles? What’s that? Not his problem? But in the New Testament Church,
it would have been his problem!  What’s
the matter with the Patriarchists? I thought they wanted to get back to the New
Testament model. The Bible spells it out: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and
you elders are to hear grievances in the presence of witnesses. When are the
Patriarchists going to do that?
The New Testament Church was
centrally governed by a Council at Jerusalem that settled doctrine, heard
disputes, and adjudicated grievances. It expelled grossly sinning and
unrepentant members, including other elders. It lived in poverty, without
earthly possessions, giving all that it had to feed and clothe the poor.
And don’t dismiss all of that
as having nothing to do with patriarchy. It has everything to do with why
patriarchy was more successful in that culture than it is in ours. The Church
in the New Testament was a community that stretched across national boundaries
and language boundaries and cultural boundaries, and it was in peril, and it
was poor. Women actually did play significant roles in funding and
housing.  They suffered persecution
alongside the men. The New Testament Church was not consumed by issues of gender
and power. It was trying to find its way under a new law of Love.
Let’s look again at Piper’s
ridiculous assertions about a masculine church. In trying to lift masculinity
from its proper role, John Piper is endangering himself and his church. If we look
at the behavior of the men in the pulpits of the BJU Bible Conference: men who
utterly failed, first, to preach the text of Scripture for what it says, some
of them not even referring to the Bible after the opening verse; men who shamed
women and thought it funny; men who kept the focus of every sermon on masculine
action--that is, your Christian life hangs on what YOU do, rather than on what
Christ does. (Even the most coherent sermons only came down to this.) Then we
see what happens when masculinity runs amok and becomes its own god.
So when women become a danger
to men who have to "protect their turf,"  the men get more protective.  Piper's incredibly wrong and foolish
conclusion about trying to assign a gender to all of Christendom, and then
assigning the least accurate one, has its foundations in the disgrace of
current Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism.
All cultures that isolate
masculinity as superior in and of itself descend to gross, perverted, imbecilic
sins of men having sex with children, especially little boys, to exult in their
power of dominance. These sins prevailed in Nazism and among the samurai
classes under the Tokugawa period. We saw these sins most recently in the
hyper-masculine culture that surrounded Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State
football culture.  When women are viewed
merely as the vehicles to serve men and bear children, then masculinity became
its own ideal. And that is the creature worshiping the Creation.
Masculinity is great, in its
place. Just like femininity.  But it makes
a poor god: an imbecilic, savage, and over-sexed tyrant who will ultimately try
to obliterate God from the scene. Every idol does. And Piper is putting himself
closer to worshiping that false god.
For Christian Fundamentalism
does worship masculinity. The plethora of preachers and church workers
molesting children, especially little boys, and getting away with it, is
evidence of  how out of control the
culture and mindset of Christian Fundamentalism is.
Next, we will look at God’s
condemnation of men given religious authority, who refuse to execute justice on
behalf of women and children.

Chapter Two: The Evidence of God’s Condemnation of False
Religious Leaders
chapter has been removed from the excerpt. Please advance to Chapter Four.

Chapter Three: Fallacies in Place of Scripture Used to Support
Modern Patriarchy
chapter has been removed from the excerpt. Please advance to Chapter Four.

Chapter Four: The Manhood Cult and
"A shout out to all the
Men in the world... Boys play house. Men build homes!!! Boys shack up. Men get
married!!! Boys make babies. Men raise children!!! A boy won't raise his own
children. A man will raise his and someone elses'!!! Boys invent excuses for
failure. Men produce strategies for success!!! Boys look for somebody to take
care of them. Men look for someone to take care of!!! Boys seek popularity. Men
demand respect and know how to give it!!! Re-post in HONOR of all the men who
DO the right thing!!!"-- Facebook Meme
When I was first shepherded
into a Fundamental Baptist church, way back in the early 1970's, there was talk
about modesty, and men and women, boys and girls, dressed conservatively for
church. But church was not about that. Over 80 percent of our congregation was
former Roman Catholic. We had a keen interest in doctrine and in the practice
of Christianity as Jesus Christ taught it.
But the big gender fad that
was ushered in by Jack Hyles and others like him came a few years later.  The culture of my church changed. As more and
more people adopted extremist views, we all started inspecting each other, and
rating each other in terms of our spirituality. I still recall my duped older
sister rising from her bed at 11:30 one night to "challenge" me to
give up my slacks and jeans. The Fundamentalist version of gender hysteria is
pretty ruthless: barring women even from ushering in church services or pouring
the grape juice for communion. It spills over to restrictions even on mundane
The late Pastor Jack Hyles
once claimed that washing dishes was for women, and yard work was for men. Jeff
Owens, while vice president of Hyles-Anderson college, roundly condemned boys
who take piano lessons. Of course, King David was a musician of great fame in
Israel. But the slayer of Goliath failed to pass Jeff Owens' test for
appropriate manliness. Everything became gender-ID'd in the Fundamentalist
gender hysteria. The sphere of women's work included anything involving needle
and thread. Never mind that, in the Bible itself, in the book of Exodus, weaving,
embroidery, and sewing were specifically appointed to the male students of
Bezaleel of the tribe of Judah and the male students of Aholiab of the tribe of
Dan. Even the Bible approaches gender with more flexibility than Fundamentalism
allows. Jael was praised for driving a stake through the head of an enemy
general, and Deborah judged all of Israel.
Now the result of any
hyper-gender aware cult is always the same: hyper masculinity sets in and
becomes a cultural distinctive. Hyper masculinity includes the following
to pity and mercy, or perceptions that these are feminine traits, and thus
should be excluded from male behavior.
in inter-personal relationships, instead of cooperation.
and a broad spectrum outlook on others as "rivals."
sexual appetite, increased sexual activity, and yet increased sexual
Suck-Ups and Bullies
One of the most obvious and first-line behaviors
in such a culture is the bullying produced by the innate rivalry that exists.
Suck-ups cling to leaders and start pushing out those who do not conform to the
leaders. Whether it’s the Roadway Gang from the early days of Hyles-Anderson
college, kidnaping fellow students and dumping them out in the countryside, or
the fanatical campaigns to quell dissent from Mark Driscoll’s devotees at Mars
Hill, men overcome by a hyper masculine culture (or those who are willing
participants) behave with indifference and cruelty to their rivals. And they
see most people as rivals.
Sexual Perversions
Hyper masculinity, once it is
a part of a culture, always leads to sexual perversions. Women are the
first-line victims, but ultimately, hyper masculine cultures adopt, or at least
permit, homosexual pedophilia among the males. Preying on male children becomes
part of initiating little boys and part of being initiated as an adult male.
The samurai class did it. The Nazis did it. Recent studies have asserted that
the hyper masculine football culture under Joe Paterno at Penn State paved the
way for and also protected the sexual crimes of Jerry Sandusky against young
boys. As some protestors declared, everybody knew about it. But nobody would do
anything about it, because Sandusky performed well as a coach. Trading sports
success for mercy and compassion towards impoverished little boys is
unthinkable in a hyper masculine culture. 

And sure, enough, the ruling
classes of Christian Fundamentalists and Evangelicals prey on little boys. Like
Jerry Sandusky, and like the Nazis, and the samurai, they also get married,
raise kids, build houses, all that is expected of men in conventional society.
But they prey on little boys as well. Their extreme manhood is a curse upon
them because they worship it more than they worship God, and they glorify it, and
now they have been given over to it.
Definitely, having documented
these child molesting cases for the last 13 years in Fundamentalism, I realize
that Fundamentalism's hyper masculine culture is rough, coarse, racist, and
criminal even apart from pedophilia.
The Evangelical Cult of Manhood
In terms of appearance, a
kinder, gentler Cult of Manhood seeped into Evangelicalism. Far less harsh than
its counterpart in Fundamentalism, it advocated that better fathering, more
faithfulness to the role of husband, a general manliness in conduct, would
improve Christendom. Purified manhood seemed to be, some theorized, what the
world, or at least Christianity, needed to be cured of its worldliness,
silliness, materialism, and shallowness.
The Evangelical Cult of Manhood
is not nearly as openly harsh as the Fundamentalist Cult of Manhood, but it's
built, still, on a worship of the creature rather than the Creator.  And it has not improved a thing in
Christianity, nor in Evangelicalism itself. Pedophilia may be less common in
Evangelicalism (so far) than  in
Fundamentalism, but predatory sexual behavior is rampant in both groups. And
neither one seems inclined to acknowledge it, confront it, and remove offenders
from church office and church membership.
The failed Evangelical remedy
to the decline of the family is another case of cart before the horse. When we
worship Christ and live by faith in Him, He acts through us. And His love
becomes manifest through the "accidental" or "mundane"
aspects of our lives. That is, according to our own genders and personalities,
we will demonstrate His love. So yes, the men might go out and raise a barn for
somebody who has lost everything, while the women might cook or sew up new
curtains or help with children. But it would not be a hard and fast gender
split. A few women might paint or use a nail gun with a better eye and steadier
hand on the barn than the men, and a few men might deep fry a turkey outside
for the community or even measure out and tailor new shirts for everybody.
Our Reality is not Gender Reality
I well recall, in my early
days at Bob Jones University, when I was one of the few necessary women who
worked in the Security Department, that every single year, girls who had never
held a gun before out-performed all of the men in the shooting requirements at
the gun range. This is a fact of life in shooting. Women are innately better at
target shooting than men.
A very pretty, very petite
girl named Darla listened to the instructions with huge eyes, and then silently
picked up the handgun when told to do so and shot a steady and perfect score of
100 percent of the bullets into the coke-bottle shaped target on the paper
silhouette. One other girl shot 100 percent on most of the targets, and two of
us shot 98 percent. Some of the guys were as low as 80 percent, and one or two
of them failed. One young man, a seasoned shooter, also scored 100 percent.
This exercise didn't effect our gender one iota. We were the exact same after
shooting the guns as before.
Transcending Gender
The entire book of Galatians
is about the manifestation of Christ through us by our faith in Him, and none
of that manifestation is gender stamped: 
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness,
temperance. That's because the breath of God plays according to the pipe
itself. When the love of Christ works through me, you get funny stories and all
the money in my pocket and explanations of theology and the cosmos. When the
love of God works through my friend Joe, you get your checkbook balanced and a
budget written, and a nice lunch and Joe will cry over your grief even more
readily than I will. My friend Terri will have you play with her dogs and take
your kids on pony rides and let you use her hay truck. In all of that, gender
is in there somewhere, setting the tone for the tune that God is playing: each
of us manifests His glory in a unique way as He works in us. But lets not
confuse the manifestation of that glory for God Himself and how much we need
Gender matters in terms of
earthly things: men get prostate cancer, and women don't. Women breast feed
children and men don't. Part of our training for life must be, and should be,
gender based. As I said at the outset, I believe in the necessity of the
distinction of the genders. But in terms of the work of Christ, it's not the
gender that matters. It's the Love of Christ. This whole detour into wailing
about gender is just that: a detour. It is just one more way of looking at the
creature and finding something in the creature that will save the creation. And
that means it is idolatry.
We are never told in
Scripture to pray for proper gender boundaries to fix this mess. We pray for
love, and we pray for wisdom, and we pray for understanding of the Scripture,
but the focus and the reliance and the first love has to be Christ. And then
gender issues will fall into place.
When I hear pastors in the
pulpit start yearning for manly men, I wonder why the men in the congregation
are not offended. For I assume that he's saying that he has arrived but not
enough of the church men have arrived. Yes, there is something rude and
prideful in a preacher or religious leader moaning about how much he needs to
see more manly men in the church.
And the reality, I think, is
that the whole Longing for Manhood movement (or fad) is really just a yearning
for a better time from the past that never actually existed: a mix of
sentimentality, 1960's television programming, nostalgia, and an inadequate
grasp of history and reality. Some of us remember the old Daniel Boone show and Fess Parker splitting that tree with an ax,
and some of us think that's real. It's not real. The manly men of the past had
mistresses and some had illegitimate kids that they abandoned, and some of them
did some despicable things. But the socially acceptable side of the family
wrote the socially acceptable history.
We're sinners: utterly
depraved children become utterly depraved adults. True back then; true now.
There never was a time when men did all the great things that Evangelicals list
because they were MEN. They did those things because they were SAINTS, the
elect of God, or because SAINTS were influencing society to put pressure on men
to do those things. And that's because of CHRIST.
I know that in our very
immoral society, gender lines are being blurred, and that's very bad. But at
the same time, gender itself conveys no spiritual action whatsoever. None. Even
in Romans Chapter One, when Paul talks about gender being trampled under foot,
the erasing of gender occurs because of apostasy of heart against God, not
because a man ran a loom or a woman chiseled stone. So gender purity is not
going to be restored by trying to prop up gender roles for their own sake. The
human heart must humbly turn back to God, and then gender will fall naturally
into its place.
Gender is a part of who each
person is, but not the sum total. It's one of several factors inherent in being
a creature made of flesh, and it will effect point of view, mindset, cycle of
life, but it's a part of the creature that has to be transformed by Christ. It
doesn't aid or further the transformation.
If you get a bunch of home
building, money making, child rearing men you get Pharisees. That was their
culture: very proper, very stable, and very wicked. Christ was arrested,
tortured, and executed by men who were married to one wife each, who supported
conservative religious doctrine, who conscientiously lived debt-free lives and
were diligent at their profession, and who raised their own children
responsibly. And they put the Son of God to death.
What this old world needs,
and what evangelicals need, and what Fundamentalists need (if they can still
find Him) is Christ. Seek Him first, and all the rest will be added to you.

Chapter Five: A Tragedy in Two Parts, Played on the Stage of
I entered Bob Jones
University in 1978 with one stern warning from my older brother, a Baptist: do
not become a Calvinist. I had no intention of doing so. The triumvirate of evil
in those days in Independent Baptist Fundamentalism was Gays, Communists, and
Change came for me when I
became deeply interested in prayer. During my second year at BJU, I observed
those women in my dormitory who seemed to have peace about their prayer lives
and at times seemed to live in communion with God.
In martial arts, there is an
expression: “moving Zen,” or “walking Zen,” in which a combatant fights
serenely, calmly, with no thought of death, of fear, or of anger. Probably the
greatest example of “moving Zen” was the legendary founder of aikido, Morihei
Ueshiba. He would invite students, sometimes one at a time, but often in groups
of three, four, or even a half dozen, to come at him, full speed. And then,
almost gently, he would send them flying across the tatami mats, or, as several
reported, he simply seemed to set them down on their backs, even when he did so
by first flourishing them through the air.
As a young man, Ueshiba was
as full of martial zeal and rowdy toughness as his peers. But as he aged and
began to develop the foundations of aikido, he became far more gentle and less
aggressive in bearing. He lived during Japan’s abbreviated period of imitating
Western imperialism, but he was so revered that by 1942, when he openly
condemned war, he was allowed to continue living as a free man, uncensored by
his government.
Ueshiba’s tranquility and his
skills were legendary and were intertwined with each other. But he was the
stuff of legends.
So I was amazed to meet,
among the struggling personal issues, fears, jealousies, ambitions, of college
dorm life, saints among us: women of prayer whose kindness, tranquility, joy,
and consistent habit of godliness showed a “walking prayerfulness” that I
Over time, I discovered that
most of these women were more or less Calvinistic. Eventually, I joined a few
of them at a prayer meeting at Faith Free Presbyterian Church, and I was
introduced to prayer as I had always wanted to pray: prayer grounded in a
steadfast hope that rested on Christ and not on me, prayer freed from my frail
estate but anchored in His unchanging estate.
Over the next several years,
I made a slow transition to Calvinism, and I remained a Calvinist until I was
in my late forties.
But the longer I attended the
Free Presbyterian Church, the more I saw a huge difference between the quiet,
prayerful Calvinism of the few Reformed women in the dorms at Bob Jones
University, and the strutting, vindictive, aggressive Calvinism as it was
brandished by the “Preacher Boys” of BJU who attended Faith Free Presbyterian.
The preacher boys ran a
small, tight clique of both men and some faculty women from BJU. They singled
out people, including students at BJ, bullied them, argued with them, harangued
them, manipulated them, and when all else failed, isolated them. Eventually, I
fell into that last category, but by then I was studying martial arts again,
off campus from Bob Jones University. My social life was so much more
interesting than anything at Faith Free Presbyterian Church that I would have
been horrified and inconvenienced to be invited to be a part of any activities
But I learned, as I watched
the “Calvinist Wars,” as I called them, that macho Calvinism is as revolting as
macho Dispensationalism. There definitely have been humble Calvinist men and
women I have met and admired, even after I recognized the flaws in Calvin’s
approach to theology. My own favorite and, sadly, former pastor, Bryan Wright,
a five-point Calvinist, has always been a model of Christian kindness.
But there is a new, macho
Calvinism, and it is perpetually at war with macho Dispensationalism.
The two-part tragedy begins
just after 9/11, when (allegedly) converted Moslem Ergun Caner entered the
corporate world of Christian higher education and publishing, with his entrepreneurial
savvy and elastic view of facts.
Ergun Caner claimed that he
had been born a Moslem, raised in a Moslem culture, trained for terrorism, and
converted to Christianity as a young adult. Caner’s premier book, which he
wrote with his brother, was Unveiling Islam. It won the Gold Medallion
Book award from the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association in 2003.
America was still reeling from terrorist attacks, and the pop-culture story of
a Moslem terrorist coming to Christ was a shot in the arm to America’s
emotionally juvenile and entertainment-oriented Evangelical Christian culture.
Caner rode the rocket of
success all the way to Liberty University, where Jerry Falwell boastfully
appointed him as Dean of the seminary, showing the world how far a converted
Moslem could go in the Christian faith. Caner met the challenge and
reinvigorated Liberty’s enrollment. He was popular as a dean and sought after
as a speaker.
During Caner’s rise and brief
reign at Liberty, he also went to war against Calvinism. The battle lines were
drawn early.
But within a few years, real
Moslems and real scholars began to critique Caner’s books and his speeches
about the Moslem faith. Allegations that his assessment of history was entirely
incorrect, that the details of his personal life were simply not true, and that
Caner spoke jibberish and told audiences that it was Arabic prayer, were found
by most  who followed the controversy on
social media to be valid and proved.
Under duress, Liberty
launched an investigation. But this entire drama unfolded in the secretive
world of radically independent Christian Fundamentalism. Liberty University and
only Liberty University would handle the matter. Ergun Caner by this time was a
preacher, a man with duties to Christendom. But he never faced any type of
church discipline for having printed lies.
In the culture of aggressive,
ambitious, and political Christian Fundamentalism, the administrators of
Liberty University conceded to the realities. They could not let Caner continue
as though he had done nothing wrong. But a culture like that will not recognize
its own errors and gullibility. Liberty decreed that Caner’s books included
"discrepancies related to the matters such as dates, names and places of
residence." He was not fired. He was not even confronted with his fraud.
He was simply removed from being the dean and was allowed to remain on faculty.
Liberty’s verdict would have been suitable if Caner’s research process had been
faulty. But in light of the evidence, it was not at all a statement of the
truth of what Caner had done.
Nobody he had wronged was
allowed to speak before the review committee about the consequences of Caner’s
lies. Indeed, Caner went on to blame the bloggers who had worked to unmask him,
hinting that the evidence they had posted online was edited to make him look
bad. He continued, entirely unrebuked and unrestrained, to blame his critics,
dismiss them, and get on with his career as a public speaker.
This is how modern Patriarchy
plays out. In the New Testament era, it was a system to assure that everybody
had representation. The Greek widows were represented by local Greek leaders
who spoke on their behalf and went on to become the first deacons of
Christianity, and then within a few years were martyred. People at Corinth,
shocked at the open fornication that was tolerated in the church, went to Paul
to entreat him about the matter. Paul responded, representing their shock and
also acting on their behalf as a ruling elder. And Paul was later martyred.
Reports of Diotrephes had
reached John, and John took up action on behalf of the expelled Christians
bullied by Diotrephes. Later identified as a patriarch of the Christian
religion, John was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil, which he survived. He
was then exiled. Of all the apostles, he was the only one to reach old age.
So we see that a patriarch in
the NT Church did have a lot of authority. He also could expect beatings,
torture, imprisonment, and execution.
Ancient patriarchy considered
representation as a given responsibility, for ancient patriarchy was about
maintaining a civil peace, a happy harmony for a tranquil society. And that
representative role included being made to suffer as the representative of the
whole. The leaders would be punished to send a message to the group.
Even the unjust judge, in the
account given by Jesus, has no real power to send away the person seeking him
to represent her. She pesters him because she has a right to pester him, and he
can not forbid it.
But modern Evangelical
patriarchy is about the success of the enterprise at hand: the book sales, the
university enrollment, the personal prestige, etc. The fact that people had
been wronged, defrauded, misrepresented, vilified, was given no air time. Ergun
Caner took no responsibility for anything that he did, and neither did Liberty
University. This religious patriarchy, which prevents accountability and bars
appeal and entreaty, is not the patriarchal culture of the New Testament
Church. It’s a bad culture, with far more in common with Robber Barons and the
Gilded Age than the Early Church. The work that I do is dedicated to
identifying child molesters in church office in Christian Fundamentalism. And
the reason that I do it is that the leaders in Christian Fundamentalism refuse
to represent the young people who have been harmed by Christian Fundamentalist
elders, preachers, and church officers.
When the Caner controversy
first broke, I documented it on my blog and moved on. I believe that Caner’s
testimony of being converted from terrorist training to Christ is false. I
think he is a huckster, and I think he was protected from accountability by the
system of Christian Fundamentalism/the SBC. But I have only so much time and
energy. Once I had documented the case at the beginning, I moved on.
But the story of a sordid
patriarchy in power gets darker.
In 2005-2006, Caner’s
opposition to Calvinism (which he calls Hyper-Calvinism, although that is an
incorrect use of the term) became more public. After Caner published an article
and preached a sermon entitled “Why I'm Predestined Not To Be A
Hyper-Calvinist,” Dr. James White, a prominent Calvinist, offered to debate
Caner. The war between them could not be contained (and neither man seemed to
want it contained), and the usual spate of emails made public, blog comments,
public statements, all followed.
Eventually, they agreed to a
debate, but over time, as haggling continued and the debate seemed less likely,
James White pulled out of the arrangement. But he was not finished with Caner.
The Founders movement in the
SBC is a Calvinist enclave. While they do hammer away at purifying doctrine,
they have been no more interested or successful in confronting the real time
sexual sins of pedophile ministers in the SBC than their non-Calvinist
counterparts. The struggle for power in the SBC has a lot more to do with
prestige and power than any actual real works of righteousness and justice.
Members of the Founders Movement were willing to battle Caner.
The fury of blog posts,
tweets, and open letters subsided to a continual sort of theological trench
warfare by 2007. The Calvinists attacked Caner across the broad front he had
provided them: his printed falsehoods about his own life, and the theological
weakness he displayed, particularly regarding Calvinism.
One emerging warrior in this
battle on paper and online was JD Hall. In the model of the current patriarchy
in the SBC, Hall sports a trimmed beard and moustache, dresses at times in a
manner reminiscent of cowboys, and relies upon an aggressive approach in
matters of doctrine. His claim to fame, apart from founding Reformation
Montana, is a children’s book called Help,
There are Arminians Hiding Under My Bed, which has been roundly panned by
readers, often satirically.
JD Hall possessed the brash,
often humorous stridency that is popular among the 21st Century
Calvinists. He has become a popular part of the Founders Movement. 
Hall took on Ergun Caner,
using Twitter and his blog, Pulpit and
Pen, to critique Caner’s scholarship, sermons, and scandalous background.
Caner’s career appears, at
least to me, to have been slowly and inexorably declining.  Liberty reduced him to being mere faculty,
and then he was let go. From Liberty, Caner took the job of Vice President of
Academic Affairs at Arlington Baptist College. After a short stint there, he
moved over to Brewton–Parker College
in Georgia. Though still called upon to speak here and there, it seems to me
that only Caner’s extraordinary gifts as an entertaining speaker were propping
up his career.
On July 2, 2014, JD Hall
opened a new phase of his war with Caner by sending a shot across the bow. He
publicly harassed Caner’s son, Braxton. Fifteen-year old Braxton relied on a
false name for his own Twitter account. He used a photo of himself kissing his
girlfriend as his avatar.
Hall tweeted, “"Why is
@ErgunCaner's son, @braxtoncaner89 posting make-out pics and profanity on his
Twitter? The immorality surrounding Caner is astounding,"
Hall’s tweet was hyperbolic,
to say the least, and cowardly. Picking on a man’s teenage son in order to
carry out a war would be revolting to men of healthy conscience and ethics. To
a hyper-masculine pastor intent on driving home a point to destroy his enemy,
Braxton would just be fair game.
Braxton, offended and upset,
tweeted back, “First off, that is called a kiss, not “making out” it’s a sign
of love that couples do nowa day. Second, if you have nothing better to do then
go through a 15 year olds twitter then you need to get a life.”
Having gained an opening by humiliating
and upsetting a fifteen year old boy, Hall shifted the attack and tweeted, “Do
you/your siblings and your dad speak Arabic as a first language at home as he's
publicly said?”
It was a jab at the senior Caner,
but it also shamed the son, in public before a large audience on Twitter, for
the sins of the boy’s father. Again, in the merciless, egocentric world of
hyper-masculinity, this was acceptable behavior.
Braxton again made it clear
that Hall’s behavior was not acceptable to him, tweeting “That's kinda creepy
for a 'grown' man”.
Hall then condescendingly
invited Braxton to contact him at any time if he felt a need to talk about his
father. But Hall wasn’t finished with the public whipping of a boy. On the same
day, he took up the matter on his blog, Pulpit
and Pen, titling the entry “On Caner’s Son.” This is a blog tied to the
Founder’s movement, read by Southern Baptist ministers, of whom Ergun Caner is
a member. So Hall was ridiculing a 15 year old boy in front of his father’s
Hall got negative feedback
over what he was doing. Several people protested his treatment of a teenage
boy. Hall wrote several crass defenses of his behavior, including the plea that
he could not find his actions prohibited in Scripture. (Remember,
hyper-masculinity does not recognize mercy or give it credence, nor does
hyper-masculinity adhere to the most basic rules of respect.) Probably the most
obnoxious defense that Hall posted was “Braxton Caner needs to hear the truth
about his father. Ergun Caner needs to model, first of all, repentance so that
his son can see it. “ In a similar vein, he also wrote, “This is yet
another indication that there is something seriously wrong with Ergun’s
leadership – the same leadership that he now has over hundreds of young
Southern Baptists.”
The attack on Braxton Caner
was rebuked by many people, including pastors. Sadly, the attack on this boy
was defended and applauded by cronies of JD Hall. On July 16, Dustin Germain
wrote, “Who says this is bullying? You also still haven’t answered the question
I’ve asked several times. What age is it acceptable? 18? 21?”
“Rhology” wrote “It is
amazingly sad to see the son is like his father.”
But JD Hall was still not
finished with the schooling of Braxton Caner. On July 4, on his podcast, JD
Hall went on a tirade at the microphone, a sad and disgusting mix of continuing
to blame Braxton for being Braxton, a 15 year old boy, and defending himself
for having attacked Braxton. Hall’s defense is summarized in his statement,
“I’m using his son’s public behavior to demonstrate the immorality that
surrounds Ergun Caner and the lack of holiness that he’s spreading to his
On July 26, 15-year old
Braxton Caner committed suicide. Hall’s post about him was still up, until the
women of the blog called The Wartburg
Watch called upon him to take it down.
So, the target of JD Hall’s
bullying was dead. And even then, Hall defended himself. He wasn’t quite as
brash as he had been. He said that he had apologized.
The story was picked up on
several blogs, most notably The Wartburg
Watch, a blog run by two women, Dee Parsons and Deb Martin. As he had
demanded “chapter and verse” on what he had done wrong, people replied by the
bucketful. And even then, Hall’s followers (all men) defended him.
I addressed the issue on
Twitter, and was harangued in my turn by Hall’s followers. But when I asked the
question, “Do you agree that Hall’s actions were wrong?” I got only silence, at
least for 24 hours.  They wanted me to
acknowledge that he had offered an apology (a very poor one), but when I
pointed out that his apology indicated that he had done wrong, they could not
consent to that. In a hyper-masculine culture, the top dog is never questioned.
Acknowledging him to be wrong about something would amount to a challenge in a
culture of such raw hubris. And underdogs don’t challenge top dogs.
But my participation was only
a drop in the bucket. The floodgates had opened on The Wartburg Watch. As far as I know, Deb and Dee’s post on the
matter, written with their usual meticulous attention to detail, became the
center point of the debate.
SBC Pastor Wade Burlseon
stepped in on behalf of the thoroughly cowed JD Hall. He persuaded Deb and Dee
to give him a hearing. They agreed. On August 12, 2014, at JD Hall’s request, The Wartburg Watch posted JD Hall’s
statement of repentance. I regard it as being flawed, but I think he was as
sincere as a man overtaken by the fault of hyper-masculinity can be.
This tragic story, end to
end, displays the burden and the sadness and the tragedy of the Church under
hyper-masculinity. From Caner’s success at grasping prestige by deceit, the
refusal of Liberty University to require open and full repentance from him, the
willingness of a Fundamentalist college and then a Southern Baptist college to
retain him in spite of his unrepentant sin and the harm it caused, all point to
the bad ethics of hyper-masculinity.
And there are no good guys in
this story. For Caner should have been subjected to a Scriptural discipline
that would have disciplined him or ejected him if he had refused to repent.
What he got instead was a long, nagging, furious war where the men hunted him
and hounded him.  Whoever could successfully
bag him like a deer would win a prize of greater prestige among the SBC
Calvinists. Nobody in the corporate-based structure of the SBC had the
authority to stop JD Hall. Braxton Caner had no effective protection
whatsoever. The loss of his father’s prestige made Braxton a target, and JD
Hall and his cronies were free to shoot at him.
And by the end, a 15 year old
boy was dead. Both Caner and Hall are still in the ministry, as are all their
sycophantic follower pastors.
That’s modern patriarchy. I
favor patriarchy, but I don’t favor this.
And this is why I have title
the book, Losing Jesus. There are no
followers of Jesus Christ in this story. Yet they all think they are followers
of Christ. Just ask them. Each man will tell you what a good Christian he is,
and why he and his side had every right to do what they did. Where the Lord
Jesus is, you will find the virtues He has praised: humility, meekness, grief
over sin, purity, peace making, etc. Those virtues don’t exist in a
hyper-masculine culture.

Chapter Six: Arguments from Scripture Against a Perpetual
Admittedly,  I tend to favor patriarchal rule, but I don’t
favor all types of patriarchal rule. I don’t think a government is good simply
because it is made up of men. In both the Old and the New Testaments, we see power
delegated outward from the center so that anybody with a grievance could be
heard. Yet we also see the Lord Jesus in the Gospels blame the Sanhedrin and
condemn them.  So it is obvious that
patriarchal systems can become corrupt.
Today, we can lay out the
wisdom of Solomon and the depravity of the Nazis, side by side,  and recognize that both systems were
patriarchal. One was good and one was incredibly bad.
So the first argument
from Scripture is this:
Scripture itself has
condemned patriarchal governments in the past.
The Bible gives us a clear
picture of what it is to lose the Lord. We see in three of  the major prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel,
Jeremiah) and most of the minor prophets (particularly Amos, Malachi, Micah, and
Zephaniah), that the grossest of sins are committed in the most enlightened of
societies and cultures.
Israel and Judah had the Law
and were given prophets. They had a documented history of God’s righteousness
and His personal concern for them, His people.
Yet we see that in these
cultures, enslavement of the poor, adultery, all kinds of drunkenness and
fornication, and a prideful, pathetic grasping after social prestige and wealth
among the men appointed for spiritual leadership, all became common place and
accepted. The culture of celebrity was certainly not invented in the twentieth
century. It existed very successfully in Isaiah’s day.
These were religious societies. They were societies
that had the revelation of God given to them. Isaiah interacted a lot with the
court of the king. He cried against them, “None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in
vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity” (59:4).
He wasn’t talking about pagan culture here, but a society that professed to
follow Jehovah. Religion was every where in his day. Religion was big business.

Isaiah knew that the
religious leaders of his day had lost the Lord. He listed the sins that
demonstrated their estrangement from God. Many of the people assumed that, once
returned to the promised land after captivity, that they could continue as
before, and remain in God’s good graces. They were wrong and were too blinded
to know they were wrong.
We see similar ideas
presented by Micah and Amos. The topic of social justice figures as a subject
among all the prophets, but Amos hits it particularly hard.  Amos’ audience was waiting with great
anticipation and suppressed glee for “the Day of the Lord,” the time when the
Lord would come and vindicate His righteousness. So like our own
rapture-obsessed Christianity, the people assumed that they were God’s own
special delight. They had no sense whatsoever that they themselves were the
objects of His wrath.
Amos’s terrifying
prophecy begins with the words that his listeners expected: words of
condemnation for Damascus, the wicked kingdom that wanted to subjugate Israel.
And Amos takes on the pagan kingdoms one at a time with dire warnings of
destruction, no doubt pleasing his listeners.
And then he turns to
Judah (2:4-5) and Israel (2:6-8). Amos sums up the wrath of God against His
chosen people in the next chapter: “For they know not to do right, saith the
LORD, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces” (3:10).
Amos enumerates the sins
of the people: oppressing the poor, ignoring the calamities that God has
already sent as warnings, perverting legal and social justice, forcing the poor
to work exclusively for the benefit of the wealthy (i.e., depriving the poor of
their rights), trusting in military might and fortifications for protection,
living for wealth and prestige.
But Amos’ audience did
not think that they were alienated from God. They were a religious nation. Amos
himself remarks upon their sacrifices in chapter four. The people loved to
practice their religion, and yet their very religious practice infuriated God
because of their sin.
The Lord Jesus brought
the matter down to even more concrete specifics: denying food from the poor,
depriving widows of their houses, enforcing an unbearable legalism that kept
the “spiritual elite” in power and prestige. Remember, it was the religious
elite, specifically the conservatives as the driving force, who killed Christ.
And Paul, enumerating the
sins common to those cultures that are estranged from God and spiritually
blind,  first identifies them as those
“who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Paul makes no
concessions:  he specifically says that
those who are the most utterly depraved in their actions are religious people.
Indeed, they are religious people who have the Truth in their religious
heritage: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness
and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that
which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them” (vv. 18-19).
Paul condemns such people
for having received the revelation of God, but they used that revelation simply
to feed their own pride (v.21).
Paul then makes these
claims against the false religious elite:
They teach nonsense, and disguise it as wisdom.
They bring spiritual truth down to carnal interactions.
They worship mankind (the creature) and other created things.
They commit fornication (all manner of sexual sin).
Many Fundamentalists and
Evangelicals stop right there, but Paul does not. Paul also remarks that these
people, this culture, acts without natural affection, and is unmerciful. He
labels all their sins as “worthy of death,” and yet he also observes that these
people are boastful.  They take pleasure
in their own evil and also in others who commit the same sins.
There is a fellowship of
evil here that Paul is describing. And the sins they commit are those sins of
utter depravity (v.31),  sins “without
natural affection” that break the most solemn and universal covenants of life.
Paul has already described homosexual promiscuity (v. 27), but now he has gone
beyond that. In the Greek, his word choice here is about the affections we
tender towards our own family members or those whose conditions are lodged deep
in the heart of every human being. Paul is describing people out of their minds
with pride and entitlement, and the horrible things they do to others, for whom
natural human affection would stop a normal person.
I don’t think Paul is
talking solely about child molesting here, but I think it is part of what he is
describing. In his day and in his culture, you could buy a child slave and do
whatever you liked with him or her, even though the normal human drives of
protectiveness and self respect would stop most people from using a small child
for sex.
We quake at the sound of
a baby’s crying. We are revolted by cruelty against an inoffensive child,
especially a frightened child. Human beings have built-in resistance to harming
children. Even wayward parents feel remorse after the fact of harming their
children. But not these people. The people Paul is describing take pleasure in
these sins and find fellowship among those who do the same thing.
As we consider the gross,
unrebuked sins of the Patriarchists among Christian Fundamentalism and
Evangelicalism today, we have to conclude that their sins indict them under
Romans chapter one. For they will not bring their fallen minister to justice.
They will not put child molesters, adulterers, wife beaters, and pornographers
out of the pulpit. No, indeed, they claim they want to return to the New
Testament model, and then they scurry behind their local church walls rather
than defend God’s elect from abuse. Worse, we see Pastor Bob Gray of Longview
Texas, granting restoration to the brutal serial adulterer, Dave Hyles, all
without benefit of any inquiry or testimony from witnesses. These men fulfill
what Paul describes: enlightened with the revelation of God, but joined
together in a conspiracy of evil. Even those who do not commit the evil will
still protect it
If we look at how the New
Testament patriarchy quickly and transparently responded to the plight of
widows in Acts chapter six, we see a huge difference from the modern American
patriarchist movement. They are certainly not the same thing.
Yes, I tend to favor
patriarchal rule, but I don’t favor the current type of patriarchal rule, and I
think  I have shown that God has
condemned it and condemned the men who continue to pilot it and lead under it.
Argument #2: Paul never expected his mandates to be
perpetual, lasting for centuries.
Before we even look at Paul,
let’s turn to the Lord Jesus Himself.  The
Old Testament permitted a man to divorce his wife by means of a simple writ
(Deuteronomy 24:1).  Divorce was already
in practice by the time that Moses gave the Law, for the Law itself refers to
divorced women (Leviticus 21:14). The stipulation from Moses that there must be
a cause, followed by documentation, formalized the process somewhat and even
suggests that divorce might, perhaps, under Moses, been open protest before the
judges. That is, a wife could contest divorce proceedings.
The Lord Jesus Christ flatly rejected a man’s right to
divorce his wife, except in matters of adultery. As Christ frequently asserted
that He had come to fulfill the Law and not to change it a single jot, this is
an interesting departure. The Pharisees thought they could trap Him if they
could get Him to claim some sort of sovereign right to rewrite Moses. They
questioned Him, and Christ asserted the Adamic marriage covenant as the higher
authority. When they further questioned him, notice His response: “Moses because of the hardness of your
hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not
so” (Matthew 19:8).
Christ asserts that Moses had
to restrict a practice that was then common because the hearts of the people
were so hardened that nothing else could be done. So Moses, in effect, made an
allowance. But he made it difficult, for the husband had to cite a just cause
and had to document the divorce. Historians suggest that this paved the way for
a judicial process to be put in place, so that a woman who had done no wrong to
her husband could sue against the bill of divorce.
Christ’s defense here was one
that His critics had to allow, for the Law did edit practices common in the day
of Moses and made them much harder to put into action, even though they are not
forbidden outright. For example, under the Law, a father could not kill a son
for disobedience, but both father and mother had to take a disobedient son
before the judges and levy their claims. But in many pagan city-states, fathers
could kill their children. The practice, in fact, was not unknown in the Roman
empire, even during the time of Christ.
The Jewish scholars of
Christ’s day knew perfectly well that Moses had placed restrictions on barbaric
practices, rather than forbidding them outright, to use the Law as an education
process that would slowly transform Israel from its early barbarity to an
educated and domestically peaceful culture.
So there is a recognition by
both Christ and the Jews, that the Law could stipulate certain things until a
culture had outgrown its primitive customs.
This is what Christ is saying
in Matthew chapter 19. He asserts that by the current time there should be no
divorce. In other words, it is time to grow up. The old days of Israel being a
nomadic Bedouin tribe are over. So Christ amends Moses with Adam: there shall
be one man and one wife, and the only just reason to abrogate that union is if
one of the partners unjustly abrogates it, betraying the other by adultery.
But Christ has asserted that
the Law, or parts of it, are meant to help us grow up, as a society, and are
not meant to be perpetual. That could be applied to the rules of governing in
the New Testament: Paul was writing to pagan cultures that still needed to
“grow up.”
It is interesting to see in I
Corinthians 11:14, that Paul appeals to nature, not to the revelation of God in
Scripture, in telling women to keep their heads covered when they pray or
prophecy in public. He is answering the outrage caused by women speaking bare
headed in the church convocation. As I pointed out before, Paul never calls
this a sin. He wants to end the public shock at the practice, for it was
considered immodest in that culture, a spectacle. In verse 16, Paul refers to a
woman’s head covering as a custom, not a law. The Greek word indicates that it
was a habit, something done because that’s the way it has always been done.
As I pointed out previously,
Paul’s hierarchy of prominence in 11:3 no more removed the equality of women
with men than it removes the equality of Christ from God. But also, note that
in the course of events decreed by God, that God exalts Christ and gives the
entire Creation over to Him. So the prominence of God over Christ ceases,
I think it is foolishness to
try to prove that the New Testament never puts women in subordinate roles to
men. It clearly does, though not all roles at all times. A better argument,
though, is that this was done only until society “grew up” and would not be
outraged by the sight of a woman walking bareheaded down the street.
Argument #3: Commands restricting women were directed
only at specific locales where there were culturally endemic problems.
Related to the above point,
some argue that Paul was writing letters to members of other nations, other
cultures, and Paul had to handle their matters as their cultures expected.
It is certainly true that the
Church at Rome was reproved most extensively for wayward doctrine and legalism,
and the women at the Church at Rome were conducting some pretty high level
business for the Church.  The Book of
Romans is all very cerebral and courteous. 
Then you get to the First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, down
in happy Greece, and there are problems of factions, in-fighting, drunkenness
at communion, and gross fornication. Quite a change.
Across the Aegean Sea, where
heresies were intruding and the worship of Artemis was profitable, the Church
at Ephesus had to contend with constantly offending the pagan Greeks, who
earned their money from the sale of statues of the goddess. The Greeks would
have been offended at women holding church office. Neither Corinth nor Ephesus,
where Timothy was put in charge, had a culture like the culture of the Church
at Rome, where there were educated and devout cosmopolitan women who could work
in an official capacity for the church without creating controversy.
Paul faced a daunting task of
curbing early Christianity from becoming merely another revolutionary cult. He
prevented slave revolts by ordering that slaves be subject to their masters.
Paul knew, as we certainly know, that slave revolts always end badly for the
slaves. And Christian doctrine is heady stuff: for it is dangerous in a
slave-holding society that worships an emperor, to declare that we are all
equally fallen before God, and Christ lifts up His people to sit in the heavens
with Him. Rather than curb the preaching, Paul curbed the people.
And yet we also know that the
long-term goal was to rid the world of the curse of slavery. The religion that
teaches that we are brothers and sisters in Christ eventually would bring
slavery to an end where the Gospel was preached.
Similarly, it is possible that Paul was seeking to
stabilize the church in societies where open equality would have led to arrests
and trials for heresies or public disorder. And so his orders to restrict women
from church office were orders given only in those countries or societies where
women in church office would have been a civil problem.
We should note that in I Timothy, Paul reverts to
himself in citing the authority by which he orders that women cannot be elders.
He writes, “Let
the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to  usurp authority over the man, but to be in
silence. “ And he then launches into a defense, based on the created order. But
he never declares this as a command from God. Instead, he uses the same
reasoning he used for the Corinthians, that Adam had prominence over Eve, and
so Paul gives the prominent role to men.
Indeed, in I Corinthians
14:34, Paul does say that the women must be silent in church, “as also the law saith”. Yet, as a matter
of fact, the Jewish Law does not say that. Yes, the Jewish priesthood was male
by command. But there were women prophets under the Law. Miriam is called a prophetess
directly in the book of Exodus, and Deborah was a prophetess as well. The aged
Anna uttered a public and prophetic prayer right at the Temple itself when she
saw the baby Jesus. Mary made a public proclamation of the coming Savior.
There is no command in
the Torah for women to be silent in public. The easy familiarity with which
Paul makes this allusion to the law, not bothering to explain it, but simply
alluding to it, indicates that he knew that his immediate audience understood  what he meant. And yet his audience was
mostly Gentile believers, Greeks. They wouldn’t comprehend a reference to the
Torah. So what law was Paul referring to?
A look at the context
shows that Paul has been talking about when people could speak in church, how
public speaking in the church must be carried out (in orderly fashion), and the
importance of avoiding disorder in public conduct.
There may have been a
civil law in Corinth that forbad women from speaking in public. That is one
possibility. In the Aristotelian model of a moral society, men preside over the
family unit and represent the family to the outside world. What Paul is
instructing here fits that model. The wife asks her questions in her domain,
the home, and the husband answers her or represents her questions to the
Paul does not say it is a
sin for her to speak in the church, but rather, a shame. This is another indication that the law he refers to is not
the Torah. The women who are talking in church are not committing a moral
transgression; they are making spectacles of themselves in public, behaving
without that highly prized Aristotelian virtue of decorum.
Paul has already
permitted women to prophesy in the church, provided they keep their head
covered. It’s impossible that he is now imposing total silence on them, only
three chapters later. But he is mandating that in the conversational style of
sermons given in public, only men could carry out the dialog, which was
consistent with the expectations of their culture.
In a culture where men were
considered to have a natural right to social prominence, this argument of
prominence is valid. In other cultures, it is not.
Argument #4: There are two ecclesiastical
patriarchies, not one.
I think that all of the above
arguments have at least some merit. They deserve to be considered and should
provoke people to study the Scripture diligently. But the best argument against
Patriarchy, in my opinion, is the argument that formed this book. The type of
Christian Church/Church government we have today is nothing like what existed
in the New Testament. And if we keep it patriarchal, it’s still nothing like
what existed in the New Testament. The current model of patriarchy in churches
is nothing like the model Paul mandated to Timothy.
If we take the New Testament
model of the Church as the only acceptable model, then much, much more must be
done to restore the old system. Unity is the first thing that must be achieved.
Christianity must be returned to that one Body of Christ where, if one member
suffers, we all suffer. And the role of authority must be returned to being a
means to assure the safety, well-being, and dignity of the least members of
Christianity, rather than being used to protect the leaders from accountability
or serving as a reward for building a mega-church.
Because Christianity in this
country has become self-serving, money-making, and celebrity-oriented, making
it patriarchal increases its corruption. In the modern patriarchy, women have
been denied a means of appealing pastoral abuses.
In Paul’s day, Christianity
was patriarchal and still raised women in status from where Plato and Aristotle
had put them. In our day, the patriarchal system of modern Christianity
humiliates Christian women, rewards them for remaining uneducated and for sealing
themselves inside their homes, punishes them from doing honest work, and forces
them, on the one hand,  to wear clothing
that makes them look like clowns, or on the other hand to expect that their
value/power lies exclusively in their sex appeal to men. It also permits and
hides abuses against women and children.
There are really two
patriarchies: one that existed in the New Testament Church, in which church
leaders could expect martyrdom, lived in poverty, shared what they had with
their congregations, and often labored at secular jobs while holding church
office. And then there is today’s patriarchy, which models itself after the
corporate world of business, and encourages empire building. It abdicates
Christian responsibility to purify Christendom and protect the vulnerable, and
it has removed women from having any voice because they are obstacles.
I agree that there are two
patriarchies, so you may wonder why, with all this, I still lean slightly
towards patriarchy. But I do. Please read on so that I can explain my point of

Chapter Seven: The Necessity of Religious Education for Women
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Chapter Eight:  Men,
Women, Eldership, Authority, and Power
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Chapter Nine:  Authority
and Power, Men and Women
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Chapter Ten: Powerful Women Under Authority
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Chapter Eleven: Powerful Women in the New Testament Church
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Chapter Twelve:  Women,
Church Office, Form, and Substance
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Chapter Thirteen: The Rise of Women to Power

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Chapter Fourteen: The Duty of Women, Even Under Patriarchy
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I am a “weak” patriarchist. Though I would prefer a return to the form of
church government practiced in the New Testament, I am not adamantly opposed to
women in church office. Patriarchy itself, as established by Paul, is--after
all--only a vehicle of social propriety, a structure designed to accommodate
the moral expectations of the world that then existed.
a day when child molesting and gross sexual sin have enslaved the visible
church at the highest levels, I recognize that propriety has already been
destroyed or at least severely damaged in visible Christianity. The natural
course of events may sweep women into church office, without them taking any
extraordinary means to grasp for power.
is becoming more and more clear that patriarchy in Western Christendom has
become so corrupted that it is marked with the most abominable of sins. My
caution to the reader is that if women take church office merely in imitation
of men, then the corruption will continue unchecked.
believers, including women, have an obligation to confront evil in the church,
to ably defend the faith against attack, to explain the faith to newcomers, to
testify of the great things the Lord has done for us, to express the Love of
God to each other and to all mankind. To fulfill our commitment to growth in
the faith, we need as much education as we can get in ancient languages,
theology, and church history.
we also have to learn that authority itself has to be put in its place.
Authority is given to the church to serve and enhance the power that God
bequeaths to His people. The Church does not exist to serve authority.
Authority exists to serve the Church and to enable her members to exercise
their faith with power and grace.
women are needed to restore the damaged souls of those wounded under the
corruption that is widespread in the church, I do not object. But if they come
in with the same mindset, goals, and methods as the corrupt patriarchy that
they condemn, then they only extend it and worsen the condition of the Church,
and bring upon themselves the chastisement of God.
hope that we all chose aright, not to satisfy pride or ambition, but to do
good, to learn the mind of Christ, and to repair the world with His goodness
and love.