Thursday, August 28, 2014

Godzilla on Patriarchy

Well HSLDA just threw a bunch of people, myself included, under the bus of public opinion.

Smooth move, Batman.

Before I start, I want to say something about the term "patriarchy," which is... a rather loaded word.  I insist on using the term because I'm tired of letting the world confiscate, misconstrue, chew up and spit out terms that represent well, sometimes explicitly, the teachings of Scripture- patriarchy and dominion among the rest.

Now, in response to HSLDA.  I genuinely appreciate their statement that they will continue to represent folks like me who disagree with them.  I do not so genuinely appreciate the unilateral slash-and-burn treatment given to the patriarchal heretics, especially since I would apparently be one of them.

Which isn't to say that I would adhere to HSLDA's representation of what patriarchy stands for.  In this article, the author topples arguments like skyscrapers in a Godzilla movie, and I'm happy to help Godzilla out by kicking down a few bricks, because I never liked the skyscrapers anyway.  But HSLDA not only destroys the skyscrapers- it blames all the wrong architects for their existence.

Just a few things that stood out from the article: "Treating children well and treating women well is intrinsically the right thing to do."

Remind me again what the battle cry of patriarchy, "Women and children first!", was talking about?  'Cuz I kinda forgot.

Here's another really good one: "Patriarchial teaching: Higher education is not important for women."

This is not only a gross (i.e. either ill-informed or intentionally dishonest) misinterpretation of the passage they cited, but it's also vigorously not true.  No advocate of patriarchy that I know would ever advocate, or has ever advocated, "keeping girls dumb." The validity of the college model for higher education is indeed questioned by many in my circles... and not just for girls.

This: "In sum, patriarchy teaches that women in general should be subject to men in general."

Is rather humorous, because that summary actually doesn't sum up the previous points listed (the ones that actually had citations, however misinterpreted they were); it makes a huge leap and a new claim which is indeed contrary to Scripture... and to patriarchy, which is about patriarchal headship- that would be fathers and husbands, men placed in a relational leadership role by Scripture, not unilateral male headship, AKA "hey random lady, make me a sandwich!"

There is also an element of gender roles that is a more general teaching of "patriarchy" (and of Scripture)- for instance, in the civil sphere, we would advocate gender distinctions in positions of leadership (Is. 3:12).  We also aren't a fan of putting women on the front lines.

This is all, I would assume, similar to the traditional complimentarianism that the author himself adheres to.

This: "Women are not to be the de facto slaves of men. Women are created with dignity equal to that of men. Women have direct and unmediated access to God."





That's a straw man par excellence, a powerful, vigorous, bold refutation of an argument no one ever made.

Like, ever.  Well, OK, I think Islam teaches something like that.

This: "Daughters should not be taught that their only and ultimate purpose in life is to be the “helpmeet” of a man."

I am glad that he said this.  In every critique, we would be wise to search out the seed of truth, however big or small, that we could learn from.  This is something I myself have had to wrestle through in the past, and we in "the patriarchy movement" need to be careful to distinguish between a very true Scriptural proposition- that woman was created for man, and that she was "created to be his help-meet" (Gen. 2:18)- with a false and dangerous application thereof- that the only purpose in a woman's life (or a man's life, for that matter) is marriage.  We treasure marriage, and so we should, but we mustn't idolize it.

This: "We have a really easy way to know God’s universal commands. They are written in the Bible."

I'm pretty sure we all agree.  Condemnations of extra-Scriptural legalism need to be had, but it might be good to stick to specific legalisms instead of taking a carpet-bomb approach to a large subculture of American Christianity.

This: "When it is claimed, for example, that God never wants any daughter to leave home until she is married, the patriarchy movement goes too far."

Again, good for us to hear; the Botkin sisters have done a great job addressing concerns like this in a few of their recent talks, one of which is entitled "It's Not About Staying at Home."

Yet critiques like these could perhaps be postulated better thusly:

"Hey, sometimes it seems like y'all are teaching this.  Are you sure about that?  Because I don't see that in the Bible."

As opposed to:

"Hey, y'all obviously all believe this as an inherent part of your system, so I brought my flamethrower."

This: "It is from their stories that I have learned that these men’s teachings are being applied in ways that are clearly unwise..."

Hold the phone.  Sounds like the problem is with the applier, not the teaching.  I seem to recall some of Martin Luther's teachings being applied rather, um, erroneously, yet struggle to justify a Burn Luther's Bones Facebook campaign.

This: "The personal failure of Doug Phillips in the area of marriage and his mistreatment of a young woman bears directly on the legitimacy of his teaching."

BURN THE PSALMS.  Because David gots issues, y'all.

(And before you build the straw-man that I am comparing the teachings of Doug Phillips with the Divinely-inspired writings of David- I'm not.)

Yes, "you will know them by their fruits."  Mr. Phillips' downfall is a worthy catalyst for a season of close examination, and indeed is reason for his stepping down from a leadership position (which he did).  But I don't follow Doug Phillips.  I follow Jesus Christ.  My family follows Jesus Christ.  My church follows Jesus Christ.  We were greatly blessed by the ministry of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum.  But insofar as we followed what they taught, we did so because what they taught was Biblical.  Even if they were the blind hog that stumbled across the acre of corn, the blindness of the hog doesn't change the sweetness of the corn.

This: "Teachers who claim that they speak for God on matters of personal opinion should be suspect."

Is always true, of course.

This: "Treating one’s wife with love and respect is the best antidote to patriarchy that I know of."

Is, by implication, an enormously slanderous and blatantly false representation of the teachings of patriarchy.

This: "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."

If officials come to the conclusion that the homeschooling movement promotes these things, I fear that it will be largely because of articles like this.


ttpog said...

"If officials come to the conclusion that the homeschooling movement promotes these things, I fear that it will be largely because of articles like this." Exactly!! And coming from the man who is suppose to be defending educational freedoms...who needs enemies when we have him!! Our family is DONE with HSLDA.

Marjo B said...

It is good to hear you say that you follow the teaching of Jesus Christ. Surprisingly, although most Christians and homeschoolers say the same...we don't completely follow Him! We so easily follow a homeschool leader or other big name and try to fit what they teach with the Bible. The time following the exposing of Doug Phillips was an important time for my family and me. We realized much of what was taught by that man was welcomed too enthusiastically by conservative homeschoolers like my family. We realized that although there are Biblical foundations to many of the things taught, most of the things WENT TOO FAR. It's true that homeschoolers are not exempt from the danger of becoming 'cultish'. We take certain beliefs and turn them into the final say on the matter. When really I know a lot of Christian school kids who are following the Lord and probably doing a whole lot more for him than some homeschoolers! I know a lot of girls who are pleasing God more by going to college, etc. than I did by...staying home. Just saying. I am rejoicing that God showed us before we went TOO far with the teachings of Vision Forum.

Kelsianne said...

It's always so frustrating when problems arise and those on the sidelines are so quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater...

We, as humans, want a role model to follow and rally behind- But that model should be CHRIST and His Word!
However, I think the whole Doug Phillips ordeal was a good wake-up call for some. No-matter how much we like what someone has to say- they, like ourselves, are sinners... Mr. Phillips had some solid stuff to say regarding various topics and issues! His sin does not suddenly omit all the scriptural truths he spoke on.
Certainly disappointing to see the Patriarchal movement as a whole taking a beating for this, though I'll admit, not unexpected.


Deborah said...

I appreciate what you've written and linked to your blog on mine. I hope you don't mind. You can find what I've written at the following link.


Lydia said...

I've heard a lot of folks in this discussion say that "women aren't 2nd class citizens" which I agree with. But I also know some men who treat their daughters/wives as such.
Some men who won't let their daughters go to college (just because some big kahuna has said not to). I can see how some fathers wouldn't want to send their daughters out there because they wouldn't have father/brother protection, but there are ways to fix that. One of my sisters went to college the same years as my brother, so they could go/come home together. another two of my sisters are going to college together. I've also had friends that went through their college program with a friend.
Or, They think that only "heads of households" should vote. Now, my sisters aren't into the "political arena" because, well... that's just not their thing. So they ask my dad who to vote for, because after all, he's done the research. But if he told them to "vote for so and so, because they support such and such" but my sisters didn't agree with that, they *would* evaluate it themselves and pick their "own" candidate.

Anonymous said...

As a former board member of a state home schooling organization, I clearly remember HSLDA, during their national conference for home schooling leaders that was held just 4 years ago in Chicago giving a lifetime home schooling achievement award to none other than Bill Gothard. HSLDA gives this award annually to those that they judge to have made significant contributions to the home schooling movement. This award has gone to men like Greg Harris and the now deceased and former HSLDA attorney, Chris Klicka. HSLDA even had Gothard conduct a Sat afternoon session at their conference that was geared toward fathers and sons...just 4 years ago!

Six years ago when we were in New Mexico for the HSLDA annual conference, at HSLDA's invitation, none other than Doug Phillips was in attendance also. I know because I was there.

One has to wonder about Farris' motivation, and do I dare say "honesty", in feeding us this line about "...uncomfortable with the teaching coming from each of these men for several years". Well, Mr. Farris, your actions during that time frame are not consistent with your stated position now. What have you to say about evidence to the contrary of what you allege about your supposed "concerns"?

RE Parker said...

"In sum, patriarchy teaches that women in general should be subject to men in general."

Er...not. However, there are folks out there like that. I fall into the "Patriarchal camp" with my belief of my, as a woman, being under submission to my dad, and some day (Lord willing) my husband; and also, to an extent to my elders...but men are also to be in submission to their elders as well, so that's hardly worth mentioning in this situation. (Note: All use of "under submission" means "submissive to in so far as it is in accord with the Word of God".) However, just any guy hollering, "Hey random lady, fix me a sandwich!" is going to get ignored thoroughly. :) Men, as men, are not superior creatures to women, but neither are women superior to men in anyway either. Before God, each individual, regardless of gender, is equal, but here on earth we have separate and distinct roles.

Amanda said...

I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on his article. I am praying for truth to be revealed to all about the patriarch movement, because it is biblical and it is God's design. A you so well put it, it is the person who applies the teaching wrongly, not the teaching. I am praying for Mr. Farris as well, because he is setting himself up for the same harsh criticism and judgement that he just bestowed.

Lord, Please help and forgive the body of Christ for walking out of love and not in love....

SP said...

Well, just hopped over from HSLD's facebook page and wanted to say "THANK YOU"! You have very wisely defended the Word of God and for that I am very thankful.
A fellow follower of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Wealthy Man said...

Great article. I appreciate you breaking down the Mr. Farris' errors logically and scripturally. Articles like your will help this stay a healthy discussion.

Anonymous said...

Having perused your blog and the effort you have put forth in defending patriarchy, I am not going to comment on the body of your post. I appreciate the amount of work you have done on behalf of your beliefs - if only other Christians were as educated and confident as you are on what they believe!

"If officials come to the conclusion that the homeschooling movement promotes these things, I fear that it will be largely because of articles like this."

I do, however, want to comment on this statement. I think we would agree that the state of freedom is tenuous, dependent on our vigilance to protect it. The right of parents to choose how to educate their children is relatively new and there are those who would simply love to curtail that freedom (e.g., signing the UN treaties on disabilities or children's rights). That said, homeschooling freedom needs to be guarded and officials will use any excuse they can get to pass legislation treading on that freedom. I do not think Michael Farris' article is going to be the clarion that delivers such an idea to those looking for an excuse to clamp down. The news of Phillips' fall precedes Farris' article by several months. It's been all over the internet for some time. If, however, the danger of putting such an idea in people's heads actually existed, then Farris would not publish his article in a national magazine. Give him a bit of credit. After all, he has lived just a little longer than you have. ;) Disagree with him all you like (I am all for healthy discussion), but you can still respect him as an elder (I Peter 5:5) and someone who has done way more than you could imagine to give your family the opportunity to homeschool you.

- K

grammernine said...

Thank you! I came over from the link on the buildingafamilythatwillstand blog.
Thank you for your clear, unemotional,logical discussion.

I would like to comment on the post by anonymous on 9/9: "If, however, the danger of putting such an idea in people's heads actually existed, then Farris would not publish his article in a national magazine. Give him a bit of credit." We would all like to assume this to be true; however, I have lived (and homeschooled) nearly as long as Mr. Ferris, and I know that people make mistakes- sometimes because of their own misconceptions or sometimes because of wrong or faulty advice. Disagreeing with Mr. Ferris, especially in the manner written here, is not the same as disrespecting him. He says he approves of healthy discussion, but Mr. Anonymous thinks that you are disrespecting Mr. Ferris' age and contributions to the homeschool community by inferring that he actually made a mistake by publishing this article. Shame on you, Mr. Anonymous.