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Counterfeit Patriarchy

Is patriarchy God's plan for believers?

I received the following message yesterday and the author, Rachel Ramer, gave me permission to share it. She writes,
T hought you might like this quote. In rereading some of the material from the Ministries of Pastoral Care, written by Leanne Payne, I came across this quote that describes one of the problems of patriarchy. When she refers to the "bent position" she connects that with [C.S.] Lewis' reference to earth as the "bent" planet in his space trilogy as a metaphor for sin.

She refers to the verse in Gen. 3:16 "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing...your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." She sees this as part of the curse, of being bent towards another person in an unhealthy way. She states:
    "Woman is bent toward man by reason of the Fall, and wants to find her identity
in him. I saw also that while the secular world pushes woman towards finding her identity in herself as sex object, the popular teachings in the Church, equally mistaken, encourage woman to find her identity in her roles as wife and mother rather than in her status as a person in Christ, a daughter complete in Him...I also saw that in woman's redemption there is healing of this bent position. 
"Women often have difficulty coming into the freedom of the vertical position in  Christ because they've either been miss-taught the Scriptures on submission of
women or have misunderstood them. The gender drive in women, that of the strong natural need and desire to respond to the male, can lead her into the bondage of the 'bent' position toward him. She may be expecting the man she loves to tell her who she is, to give to her a sense of wholeness and identity. This, of course, he cannot do." (from The Healing Presence pp. 64-66)
The main problem of the type of patriarchy we have been discussing is that it does the very thing it should not do. It reinforces the "bent" destructive tendency and attempts to replace God with man. Instead men should model for women how to not be bent towards others, to hear direct from God, and to have a strong sense of self. Instead of promoting a "biblical" view, patriarchy reinforces the curse for women and hinders freedom in Christ and healthy relationships.
end message

But what is patriarchy?

Traditional marriage vows proclaim, "What God has joined together..." This implies a coupling, a side by side serving of God and sharing of life. "Yoke" means to "couple or join together." Many apply Paul's words in 2 Corinthians ("do not be unequally yoked") to marriage between believers and unbelievers. Yet to use this analogy further, consider the basis for this illustration which is the yoking of oxen: to have two separate beings working in unity, side by side for one purpose, with combined strength for greater effectiveness. If one were to pull ahead or lag behind consistently they would be unequally yoked and their work hampered.

When Christians are unequally yoked in marriage through hierarchal relationships we see the fruits of the Fall as shown in Genesis 3 and  the inevitable establishment of what I call a "counterfeit patriarchy."

patriarchy Date: 1632 1 : social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power
2 : a society or institution organized according to the principles or practices of patriarchy
This "large share of power" is what Jesus decried in Matthew 23: "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." John the Baptist wrote, "He must increase, but I must decrease." And this attitude of exalting God and pursuing humility is diametrically opposed to modern biblical patriarchy, which is a growing movement within reformed Christianity that looks and sounds biblically correct but induces serious ramifications. It is a system that can't help but to "biblically" sanction the behaviors of those prone to authoritarian tendencies. It protects those who would abuse their authority while leaving those under care defenseless, stripping them even of biblical appeal.

True Biblical Patriarchy

This doesn't mean that there isn't an actual, truly bible-based patriarchy. While we can make a case for others, only these are specifically listed as patriarchs in the Bible: Abraham, the twelve sons of Jacob, and  David. Genesis 17 suggests what a patriarch is, and Who grants this privilege:
“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you." Genesis 17:4-6
These words are from God to Abraham ~ not a promise for every man for all of time. But we do have a clear word that applies to all of us! In a beautiful fulfilling of Almighty's word, the last patriarch mentioned in Scripture, King David, became the forefather of another King who said,

Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 
With this, Jesus proclaims the One who is our Patriarch! He is our Source, our Head; furthermore, after this saying, there are no new patriarchs in the Bible. On the contrary, we see Jesus' call to abandon titles and to take up the cross! We are called to be humble servants. And called to be like children. Jesus proclaimed that unless one becomes “converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven...Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, Jesus preached...
...but counterfeit patriarchy seeks to establish kingdoms of the earth.


Other than the Fathership of God, I believe that modern biblical patriarchy is not God's plan for believers and is a worldly institution. It is came as a result of the Fall, and yet, instead of reaching through Christ's redemption for what God originally designed, this neo-patriarchy works very hard to sew up the veil ripped by God on the day Jesus was crucified. Remember ~ the biblical patriarchs of old were made so by God for His purposes. What happens when individuals seek to be patriarchs on their own?
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3 (emphasis added)
The fruits of neo-patriarchy have left scars on the hearts of many seeking to know God, to hear His voice,  to walk in obedience to His calling. Yet there is healing both for those who endure the sin and for those who commit the sins of partiality and lack of mercy and authoritarianism! Micah reminds us,

      He has shown you, O man, what is good;
      And what does the LORD require of you
      But to do justly,
      To love mercy,
      And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

If true biblical patriarchy is found in the Fathership of God, what does that make those who seek it for themselves?


  1. "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, Jesus preached...
    ...but counterfeit patriarchy seeks to establish kingdoms of the earth."

    Very powerful stuff, Hillary.

    I hope your readers will seriously consider the final question you posed. It's a biggie and an important one.

  2. Great post. I really appreciate all that you have pointed out. It makes so much sense to me.

    What does that make them? It looks to me as if they are placing themselves in the place of G-d. Idols...in a sense.

  3. I wonder how many women who preach that the curse is "God's way" go out and get an epidural every time they have a baby? Or how many men and women let weeds and thorns take over their gardens? Not very consistent, are they?? According to their logic, we shouldn't fight against or seek to fix pain in childbirth or fight the thorns and thistles. Because that's "God's plan for humanity" too....:/

  4. Thank you for posting this. Similar thoughts have been swimming around in my mind, but this really puts them in understandable words! When I got married, I fully expected to find my purpose and identity in my husband. But guess what? He had no intention of creating a purpose for me, telling me what to do and think, and opposing any meaningful activities outside our marriage and home. He *wanted* me to be an individual and have my own thoughts and interests and "life" separate from, though intertwined with, our relationship. I spend several *years* learning to understand that concept. This article is very strengthening and healing to my often confused soul! :-)

  5. Wow, for sharing with people who don't know much about patriarchy or who are involved in it and can't see the problems, I think this might be the single BEST article I have seen. Really good!


  6. Great post. I'd never thought of the "unequally yoked" issue that way.

  7. Loved this! I can't type right now but I would say more if I could. =)

  8. I appreciate the well-reasoned post! Too often, we substitute man's guidance and authority for God's will and eminence. To force this on others is doubly wrong. I whole-heartedly repeat what you said: Women who have suffered in this neo-patriarch movement and the men who have complied with its architects need the mercy Jesus Christ offers to them freely. God's mercy triumphs over judgment!

  9. You are all most gracious...Miriam, I'm so glad this brought encouragement to you. :-)

  10. this was wonderful, as always I came away encouraged and refreshed. Thank you.

  11. This article has put what I have been struggling to communicate to my husband, in a beautiful and clear as crystal way. Thankyou!

  12. I loved this article and am keeping it to look at it in more depth. I understand what you are saying about a female having a "bent" towards a man. How do women that are lesbians fit into this explaination?

  13. Even reading about this from your perspective still makes me cringe..because it makes me so sad to see families over run by that abisuve lifestyle. It puts more weight on the husband than should be there and oppression on women who are geared to be leaders. ((shudder)) I applaud your courage to speak out about it. And even if they don't agree with you..speaking up will eventually hold them accountable for their teaching..As we all take a stand about what grace really is, they'll have to face Grace sooner or later themselves as well.

  14. Thank you so much for this comprehensive, well-written post. I have struggled to put just this point into words so many times. Growing up under this belief system and attending churches who actively support this belief system leave me constantly straining with chains of bondage and "labels" that the Lord came to free us from. But unfortunately so many want to make that label as heretic or unbeliever when that couldn't be further from the truth. Thank you!

  15. Wow. Amazing, Hillary! I do believe that there are "patriarchs" and "matriarchs" of families today, but not that they should practice the hierarchy we've seen so often.

  16. "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing...your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

    WAsn't this curse covered (negated) under the blood of Jesus-or was it given special exemption to remain to keep woman under man's thumb??


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