Amy linked to an interesting article on the Patriarchy Movement, and when my comment in response went into its fourth paragraph, I decided to just post it here. I think there is a great deal of danger in discussing these topics without first defining your terms, because clearly what the other author means by Patriarchy, and what I mean by it, are two completely different things. But I would have answered (if anyone had asked) that I do believe in biblical patriarchal headship in the family...so now I'm curious as to whether the entire movement is really as atrocious as she claims. I guess that means I have some more things to add to my reading list.
Here are my thoughts:
Maybe I just haven't read enough literature from the "Patriarchy Movement" but I've never understood that they teach that women are to be doormats who never ever speak up and give their thoughts in any way, shape, or form, and who allow their husbands to continue in sin without saying anything. That is completely unbiblical.
My understanding of patriarchy is a simple acknowledgment that, on a team, only one person can be the official leader. Only one person can make the final decision. Only one person is in charge of directing the efforts of the rest of the team. Anything else is chaos at worst, and confusion at best. It appeared to me, as I began to look into it, simply to be saying that husbands are designated by scripture to be the team leader, the one who is ultimately responsible. And wives are to support them in that role.
Now, a wife can certainly offer her opinion, and even assume some of the responsibilities of leadership - indeed must, if the family is to run smoothly. A wife can't sit around just waiting to be told what to do all day. She has to think for herself and take some initiative. But this can be done in a way that still respects her husband, and his role as the ultimate leader of the home, just as on a team, one member may be in charge of reading the map, and directing everyone's footsteps, even though they are not the official leader. The leader delegates the responsibility of map-reading to one he knows is capable of doing that well, and the map-reader does not try to convince the whole team that the leader is unfit, simply because he isn't the best map-reader.
It is not supportive to a team leader to allow him to continue, without ever sharing your concern, on a road that will lead to destruction. But you can do that in ways that are respectful of his position of authority. Too many women treat their husbands like rather stupid extra appendages. That condescending attitude is rampant in the culture; one sees it everywhere. Beyond not respecting a husband's role of authority, it is essentially disrespectful to him as a human being. No one suggests that women should tolerate being patted on the head and treated like dimwits. (I have never read any patriarchal material that, as far as I understood it, implied this in any way). But the culture does this to men all the time.
Is it asking too much that women could treat their husbands with respect, and not sabotage them in the difficult role of leader? This doesn't mean being a doormat. It doesn't mean catering to every tyrannical whim. It just means building up, rather than tearing down. Offering support and encouragement, rather than belittling. Sometimes going out of your way to offer some type of recognition (in the same way that you might appreciate flowers, or the chance to have an evening out with friends), that the role of leader is often difficult and tiring. Teaching your children to appreciate the effort their father puts into supporting the family, rather than encouraging them to see him as an impediment or a bumbling fool. My understanding of patriarchy, recognizing the man as head of the household, is that both husband and wife respect each other in the roles to which they are called. One has been assigned as team leader. One has been assigned an equally vital role. (How do you label the team member who is responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes? Is there an official title for that?)
I'd love to hear others' thoughts, but please, keep it polite. I will not publish comments that are simple rants, rather than making a thoughtful, politely stated point.