March 4, 2006 Posted by Roger Overton
This week Albert Mohler published an article on the “Return of Patriarchy.” He points to an article by Phillip Longman that argues patriarchy will inevitably return due to declining birthrates in Western countries. Needless to say, some people aren’t going to be too happy about that.
Bell Hooks is said to have defined Feminism as the struggle to end patriarchy. From her perspective, and many like her, patriarchy is sexist oppression- a power play to limit the rights of women. Following this line of thought, the return of patriarchy is an awful thing.
Is patriarchy oppression? Certainly most of us can point to horrible men who have mistreated their wives and children, and perhaps much worse, based on the idea that they have authority over them. But is this the norm of patriarchy? Not really. This is the image 43 years of radical feminism has left us with. They tell us that when men are in control bad things happen.
Contrary to popular feminist belief, patriarchy is not necessarily abusive. Patriarchy simply means that men are the standardized leaders. Having leaders does not necessitate mistreatment. Sure we can think of bad bosses or supervisors we’ve had, but most of us have had plenty of fine experiences under the leadership of another person.
Christian patriarchy teaches that men (generally) have been gifted by God to be leaders in their families. It also teaches that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the Church (Eph 5:25). So on this view, those men who abuse their wives abuse their callings as men of God. Patriarchy as oppression is an abuse of patriarchy, not the defining picture of it.
We should hope that if Longman’s claim turns out to be true, what comes to pass would be Christian patriarchy and not Islamic patriarchy.