HSLDA Responds to “Biblical Patriarchy” Movement
Confessional Reformed and Presbyterian Churches like the OPC promote a biblically-complementarian view of gender roles in both the family and the church. Against the ideology of radical feminism, we believe that, although men and women are indeed created equally in the image of God and are thus of equal value and worth, nonetheless God has created them with different roles and responsibilities in the home and the church.
In terms of the home: When husband and wife fulfill their respective roles in mutual submission to Christ’s Lordship, the husband selflessly and sacrificially loving his wife as Christ loved the church, and the wife respecting and submitting to her husband in love as the church does to Christ, then the beauty of God-created diversity, complementarity and harmony in such distinctive gender roles is displayed within such a faithful Christian marriage.
Likewise, when it comes to ministry within the church, we believe that the ordained ministry is to be restricted to qualified men only, not because the church is sexist nor because women are somehow inherently less spiritual or less gifted than men, but because Holy Scripture clearly limits the ordained offices to men (1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:33-34); and also (I would add) because the ordained Ministry of the Word officially, symbolically represents Christ as Head and Husband of His Bride, the Church — and female clergy by definition are incapable of representing Christ as Husband to His Church, and thus cannot validly serve in this official-representative capacity.
So we are not afraid to take an unpopular stand for the biblical-complementarian position on gender roles against radical feminism and against so-called “progressive” efforts of our culture to deny the diversity of created gender roles and to re-define gender. But, regrettably, there is a movement within some Christian circles – including some Christian homeschooling circles – which, in its zeal to combat feminism, goes to the opposite extreme and advocates what appears to be a legalistic form of patriarchalism. Enter the so-called “Biblical Patriarchy” movement.
Recently this movement has gotten some negative publicity due to the scandalous moral failings of two prominent leaders whose names and organizations are associated with the movement. In addition, individuals and families who have been harmed by the patriarchal movement have started to speak out against it. I believe it is sad but inevitable that some will mistakenly associate the patriarchal movement with Christian homeschooling as a whole, and with “traditional” churches like the OPC, thus giving both homeschooling and confessional churches a bad reputation which neither deserves. That is why I felt it was important to address this matter.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) in its recent edition of “The Home School Court Report” has a Special Feature article on the patriarchy movement, entitled “A line in the Sand.” I would recommend that anyone who is concerned about the patriarchy movement and its influence within confessional Reformed and Christian homeschooling circles, read this article. In it HSLDA Board Chairman Michael Farris expresses his concerns about the patriarchy movement, and I tend to agree with his assessment.
You can access the article here: http://www.hslda.org/courtreport/V30N2/V30N202.asp
Here are a few helpful quotes from the article:
“It is not sinful to hold a very conservative view of gender roles or child rearing. If people believe such ideas are wise, then our legal system should protect their choices, provided those choices do not result in abuse. My own views, while certainly moderate within the Christian homeschooling movement, might be considered too conservative by some on the extreme cultural left.
“What I should not do is claim that my personal views are universal commands of God. Those more conservative or more liberal than I am should not claim that their personal views are universal commands of God. God speaks for Himself, and He does it in the Bible.
“People are misled when human ideas are wrapped in false claims of being God’s directives. Different forms of critical analysis are necessary when one is examining God’s words versus man’s words. Innocent people follow teachers in good faith thinking they are following God. And when the directives turn out to be only man’s ideas, the followers often find that someone in their family has been damaged in the process. Only God’s ideas are infallible. Man’s ideas will always fall short.”
Here are some of Mr. Farris’s conclusions:
“If public policy makers understand that there are only a few homeschooling families who mistreat their children, our freedom is not likely to suffer. Officials will reasonably conclude that the punishment should be meted out only to the few guilty parents. But if officials believe that the homeschooling movement promotes teachers and ideas that inherently treat women as second-class citizens or result in physical or sexual abuse of children, then we can expect that homeschooling freedom will be negatively impacted.
“And far too many families, children, and parents have already been harmed. This must change.
“Much of the spread of these philosophies has been done through homeschool conferences and conventions. Teachers who claim that they speak for God on matters of personal opinion should be suspect. Conference planners need to be very careful about whom they promote as speakers. And I believe it’s wise to carefully evaluate the messages we hear from any speaker.
“Many well-meaning families have been misled by these teachers. I understand the appeal. Formulas promising great success are very attractive. Good, loving parents make mistakes. I know. I have made and will continue to make mistakes. For a long time I have been convinced that the measure of spiritual maturity is not whether you stumble, but what you do in response. Seeking forgiveness from those you have wronged is always the right first step. God will heal and restore.”
I believe the Christian Church and the Christian homeschooling community would do well to take Mr. Farris’s concerns to heart.