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.