Smashing Patriarchy and Their Twisted Translations of the Bible

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“Smash Patriarchy” by Designs by Tori

This blog post is going to require some active participation.  The other day, some blogger friends and I were e-mailing back and forth on the topic of Patriarchy.   I jokingly said I wondered if there was a Patriarchal version of the Bible that we weren’t aware of.  It must exist – – well, we know it does exist in at least some people’s minds.

So, as I was writing this blog article, I reached out to some other friends who shall remain nameless (for obvious reasons) to discuss this article.   We were mulling over that Patriarchal Bible translation, trying to come up with the perfect translation title.  My idea was Men’s Patriarchal Version (MPV) and my friends came up with some others, too.   I thought it would be cool to vote on the best sounding Patriarchal translation so that from here on out, whenever we quote certain self-proclaimed Patriarchs, we can be sure to identify that they use their own Patriarchal Bible translation.

Would you mind helping us out by voting for the best sounding Patriarchal Bible translation name?   This is all in good fun.  I want you to know that in some Patriarchal families, the men don’t allow their wives to vote (true story).  But here, ladies, you get to vote.  Your vote counts and I’ll even let you vote for your kids, too, and any future kids you might have (being sympathetic to any full-quiver mamas in the audience, see-ins how I am a quasi full-quiver mama if you bend some rules here and there).

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Spiritual abusers often twist scripture to abuse.  So, A Cry for JusticeThe Wartburg Watch, and I Will Stand, all which deal with abusive in churches, are participating in this “syncrhoblog” in an effort to bring light to spiritual abuse and Patriarchy.

Jeff Crippen from A Cry for Justice blog wrote up a great description for us:

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The term “patriarch” is a valid, historic word with a simple, non-philosophical meaning. A patriarch is a “first father” and it refers to the “fathers” or founders of some movement, institution, or political entity. George Washington was a “founding father” of the U.S.A. and thus, a patriarch. In this sense, “patriarch” can be a broad term that theoretically could include a woman who was one of the founders of something.

But when we use the word “patriarch” and add various suffixes to it, the thing morphs into something else entirely. Patriarchal, patriarchy, patriarchalism, and so on. These words describe a society of some kind (a family, a nation, a local church, etc) in which father not only knows best, but is best. And, more properly, where men are best. in contrast to women. Patriarchy in a family, for instance, exalts the husband to a innately (by virtue of being male) superior status above his wife (by virtue of her being female). In a patriarchal society then, men are seen as entitled to power and control over women. It is the man, the husband, the father whose mission in life truly matters to God, and therefore the woman, the wife, the mother, the children exist to further that mission. Their personhood, in other words, does not exist independently, nor even symbiotically, but rather as an “attachment” to the main program.

This is all in contrast to the biblical teaching that both men and women are created in the image of God. Neither is it an accurate application of the scripture’s doctrine of a husband being the head of his wife which, in contrast, emphasizes that headship as working itself out in loving, sacrificial service apart from a lording it over. Patriarchy denies the reality of the Apostle Paul’s words:

Gal 3:28-29  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (29)  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

This text is distorted frequently of course. There ARE differences between men and women! But Paul reminds us here that there is no “—archy” of any kind in Christ. There is no “power over.” In fact, other scriptures tell us that the “archy-ites” (the ones who are first now) will be last in the kingdom. Men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children, all who are truly in Christ are full heirs of every blessing in the heavenly places, and in the new creation which is on its way.  ~Jeff Crippen

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I’d like to give you a few glimpses of how certain Patriarchal men think about their roles, showing the diminished role of their wives in a Patriarchal home.  I don’t know if anyone has bothered to ask wives what they think of these rules.   Maybe the wives’ opinion don’t matter. Below is an excerpt from an article written by Doug Wilson who endorses Patriarchy.  The article is entitled, “Not Where She Should Be.”   (:::::JA momentarily shivered typing those words:::::)

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The first time the dishes are not done, he must sit down with his wife immediately, and gently remind her that this is something which has to be done. At no time may he lose his temper, badger her, call her names, etc. He must constantly remember and confess that she is not the problem, he is. By bringing this gently to her attention, he is not to be primarily pointing to her need to repent; rather, he is exhibiting the fruit of his repentance.

He does this, without rancour and without an accusative spirit, until she complies or rebels. If she complies, he must move up one step, now requiring that another of her duties be done. If she rebels, he must call the elders of the church and ask them for a pastoral visit. When the government of the home has failed to such an extent, and a godly and consistent attempt by the husband to restore the situation has broken down, then the involvement of the elders is fully appropriate.

(Doug Wilson, Not Where She Should Be)

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Patriarchy extends beyond the marriage and into the whole family.  Even younger brothers are elevated and their sisters (including older sisters) are taught to revere them, setting the framework for the young boys’ minds and what they should expect for the next patriarchal generation in which they will rule.

The Botkin sisters, Anna Sophia and Elizabeth are daughters in a very public Patriarchal family. They are single, still under their father’s roof, and are 30 and 28 years old. They spoke at a father/daughter retreat in 2007. Their father raised them to be a showcase for Patriarchy, they have their own blog, speak at conferences/retreats, and write books on how they serve their father/men. The retreat reportedly came at a cost of nearly $500 per father/daughter. On stage, the sisters taught about the role of daughters in a family:

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They should teach their younger sisters in the Titus 2 spirit and should honor and defer to their brothers—older and younger—in recognition that even young boys need to be treated as wise leaders by their older sisters in order to gain the confidence to be leaders of their future families. They should wear feminine clothes to prove to their fathers that they are virtuous women worthy of protection. They should not learn career skills as emergency “backups” to support themselves, as “learning to ‘survive’ can teach girls attitudes of independence, hardness.” They should understand that singleness is a very rare calling from God, and so they must prepare to marry and conduct war on “the home front”: in other words, they must understand there is no opting out of this revolution without turning their backs on the faith. But most of all, the Botkins explain, a virtuous daughter should “turn her heart to her father” in the spirit of Malachi 4:6: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  ( Kathryn Joyce from Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.)

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Ok, with Jeff’s defiscription (definition/description combined) above and the examples shown of Patriarchy within a marriage and a family, can you think of other verses a Patriarch might twist in order to elevate and/or abuse his self-appointed authority?

Here is one example I thought of:

1 Peter 3:6 – like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord.You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 

This verse could be twisted to insist that wives are to always call their husbands names like “lord, “sir,” which elevate them to a position over them.

Please be sure to visit the other blogs/groups:  The Wartburg Watch, A Cry for Justice and I Will Stand, and join in the conversation.  It will be great to compile a long list of twisted verses.

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Special thanks to Tori of Designs by Tori who graciously allowed us to use her compelling “Smash Patriarchy” design for these articles.  Please check out Tori’s t-shirts, car magnets, buttons, etc.

181 comments on “Smashing Patriarchy and Their Twisted Translations of the Bible

  1. Since this conversation is about imaginary Bible versions, what are your preferences as to real Bible Versions?

    My first choice is the NASB, I like a literal translation most often. I’ve come to enjoy the Common English Bible, too. Easy to read, and strikes a good balance between dynamic and formal equivalence.


  2. christianpundit,

    By quoting me only in part, you completely misrepresented what I actually said. I was not speaking against men and women being friends with opposite sex persons who are not their spouses. My FULL statement, with emphasis now added, was, “I’ve heard it said that emotionally adulterous relationships, as in the ONGOING exchange of INTIMATELY PERSONAL information between a married man and a women to whom he is not married, will ultimately and inevitably lead to physical intimacy.” While my example was from the man’s point of view, it works the other way round. Intimacy of every sort belongs only to one’s spouse. Being friends is different than being intimate. You are certainly at liberty to make the points you just made, but please don’t twist my words into something that was not said, and which nobody else seems to have perceived. I will grant you this much, the use of the word “inevitably” may be too strong.


  3. Barnabas – I know. It is probably one of the funniest threads yet and so distracting that I can’t even get a new one going. 🙂

    Actually, Craig had a guest post that was hilarious, too. Can you imagine being in his church? LOL I want to be a bug on a wall there sometime, but he’d recognize me.


  4. christianpundit,

    Just wanted you to know that I’ve taken a VERY quick look at your blog, and insofar as I can tell from such a cursory perusal, I’m O.K. with where you’re coming from. It appears we may share a certain cynicism, er, ahh, I mean cold, hard, objectively realistic view regarding what has come to be represented as Christian. So much of it clearly is not at all Christian. But Jesus is still Jesus, and I am convinced that it is on the other side of the questions being asked by you and others like us that He is to be found.


  5. Gary,

    Check out Mark Strauss’ humorous yet scholarly response to the ESV as a “literal” translation:

    Here are a few snippets of how humorous “literal” can be:

    Rock badgers are people too!
    Prov. 30:26 ESV “the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; rock badgers
    are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs;”
    Comment: In addition to the tortured word order, the ESV’s use of “people” is very strange. We sometimes
    joke that animals are people too, but surely ants and rock badgers are “creatures” or “species,” not people.

    Nice legs!
    Ps. 147:10 ESV “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,”
    Comment: Taking pleasure in a man’s legs will surely leave readers chuckling. TNIV reads “in the power
    of human legs”; NET has “by the warrior’s strong legs.”

    Such clean teeth!
    Amos 4:6
    ESV “I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities”
    Comment: It sounds like God is distributing toothbrushes to the Israelites. The Hebrew idiom means they
    had nothing to eat. The TNIV reads “I gave you empty stomachs,”; HCSB: “I gave you absolutely nothing
    to eat.” NET: “I gave you no food to eat.”


  6. Oops, Gary, the link I gave you is not the full paper. I read it a while back from links on Better Bibles Blog (a translators blog).


  7. JA, Henry nailed it! The never ending ESV propaganda (I have a very nice one, btw) only made me curious about the TNIV. Not sure they understand about reverse advertising. :o)


  8. Lydia,

    I think it was the full paper I was able to download. At least what I saved is 32 letter size pages of, maybe, 11 point type. Off to start reading. Thanks.


  9. Craigvick, your 3:32 comment was too funny – stopping to laugh in between sentences funny.

    Need some quick shekels? Now, what you need to do is contact Crossway pronto and work out a book deal. Let them know you have the sequel to Carolyn Mahaney’s Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother book.

    Now you just need a title…..


  10. Lydia,

    Yes, the ESV… The most Biblical Bible out there.

    According to Crossway’s “about, history of Crossway” webpage:

    “A significant new step of faith for Crossway was the publication of The Holy Bible, English Standard Version in the fall of 2001. The vision for the ESV Bible first began to develop in the early 1990s as many evangelical Christian leaders saw a need for a new “word-for-word” Bible translation—one that would be characterized by literal accuracy and literary excellence, in the classic stream of the Tyndale New Testament and the King James Version Bible.”


  11. Crossway said, “The vision for the ESV Bible first began to develop in the early 1990s as many evangelical Christian leaders saw a need for a new “word-for-word” Bible translation…”

    The “many evangelical Christian leaders who saw a need for a new Bible translation”….. Could they be the same “hard core Patriarchal legalists” Lydia mentions in her 3:33 comment?

    Hmmmm. This is getting very interesting.


  12. “Yes, the ESV… The most Biblical Bible out there.”

    Hee Hee. The ESV propaganda got so bad in my neck of the world that I became suspicious and did a bit of research on the players. It did not help that around this time the TNIV was banned from Lifeway……. although they never seem to run out of those plastic fish one can attach to their car. 😮

    Is this the translation that Grudem worked on (as General Editor…now is that scary or what?) with a years leave from his job that SGM/Mahaney paid for?


  13. The vision for the ESV Bible first began to develop in the early 1990s as many evangelical Christian leaders saw a need for a new “word-for-word” Bible translation

    And yet it’s considered less word-for-word than the NASB and the Amplified…I wonder what words in those two versions needed changing?


  14. A Mom, the murky world of Bible translations is not pretty. Once you start researching you become very disillusioned. It used to be a translation came about for such things as political expediency (church/state like the KJV) now it is indoctrination/business.

    The SBC wanted their own translation because of NIV’s climbing royalties. (Think pew bibles) So they come out with the Holman which is not too bad, actually.. However, the most famous SBC leader, Al Mohler, promotes the ESV and tons of his admiring young seminarians and fans go out in the world to promote the “literal” ESV in churches all over while trashing the TNIV.

    Talk about a captive market niche! Madison Ave is jealous.

    It killed the TNIV in no time. And it was planned.


  15. Crossway publishes books by Carolyn Mahaney? The same Carolyn Mahaney who is married to CJ Mahaney, as I understand to be the case? Sheesh!

    Poor woman. She’s under husbandly “authority” and ecclesiastical “authority” of elders all wrapped up into one person.

    HUMBLY, of course.


  16. When it comes to comp bibles, biblical bibles, and gospelly gospels, how about the version popular with that end-of-the-world cult I got mixed up in back in the Seventies?

    DAKE’S ANNOTATED BIBLE. Four-column page format, with the center two being KJV and the outer two psychotically-fine-print annotations by a guy named Dake. (Who according to an agnostic friend “might have started out sane, but sure didn’ty end up that way.”)

    Including long annotations on how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all MALE, embodied in bodies of “spirit matter” on a planet called Heaven in the northern sky. About how all the Angels and “spirit animals” (such as the horses pulling the chariot that carried Elijah away) were all MALE. And how the female was a special creation for physical life-forms, for purposes of reproduction only. (I don’t remember if he claimed women would be resurrected in MALE bodies, but it would be very much in-character with the other annotations.)


  17. Besides the delightful funness (is that a word) of this thread, I do have one question: What’s this with the ESV? My family’s church (thus the one I was raised in) takes a VERY strong KJV only stance, going so far as to say that the KJV, or AV, is the only Word of God in English. God apparently inspired the translators that King James hired, and thus every word in it is accurate, correct, and the absolute intent of God in every syllable.

    That quote form Doug Wilson made me angry. The stupid man may as well wash the dishes himself! How petty! Yeah, I’m angry.

    HUG @ 10:04 AM
    “Even in an unhealthy male-supremacist marriage, there’s a way for the woman to not only “teach” her lord-and-master, but control him. She just has to be sneaky, underhanded, manipulative, and covert-aggressive. (None of which makes for a healthy relationship in general.)”

    Unfortunately I saw this first-hand. My mother was a very vocal proponent of “Created to Be His Help Meet”* by Debi Pearl… which basically says the the wife’s whole job is to make the husband happy. Yet I am convinced that she ran the home and only made it look like she was submissive. She would say that it was a “struggle” and she tried to be submissive, but there are so many woman who control their men and then make a show of submission.

    *I hate the term “Help Meet”. It’s use reeks of patriarchy.


  18. I’m coming into the discussion late. But I assume you saw the press release that Crossway and the Gospel Coalition are joining forces. I’m sure Crossway hopes to pick up some of the better authors in the group. For example, Tim Keller doesn’t publish with them…yet. Watch them turn on the pressure.

    Also, I find it laughable that they will be publishing books on women and faith and work when they don’t believe women should work outside the home. And they live in a pretend world where women don’t really like to work and are simply taking men’s jobs away (while getting too independent).


  19. Gary W, July 30 @ 2:47,

    I can’t say if the sexual abuse of women is the norm in patriarchal religious structures, but research has shown that children in religious authoritarian environments, which patriarchy is, are more at risk of abuse. Janet Heimlich, author of “Breaking Their Will,” has documented this:

    I think many people might be surprised to learn that the Amish, an admittedly extreme patriarchal sect, has a real problem with sexual abuse.
    “No statistics are available, but according to one Amish counselor who works with troubled church members across the Midwest, sexual abuse of children is ‘almost a plague in some communities.'”

    My own experience in a patriarchal church is that the sexual abuse of girls, who are raised to submit to their fathers, brothers, and men in general, can and does happen. Not every family will necessarily be predisposed to this behavior, but there is more risk of it taking place. The stories from SGM follow this pattern as well. I’m alarmed that these teachings are creeping in to mainstream Christian denominations. I’m thankful for all of you who are exposing how scriptures have been twisted to support a hierarchy that places women and children at risk of abuse.


  20. Hi, Sean Allen,

    Help Meet is a very misused term by patriarchalists and fundamentalists. In the late Middle English of the original KJV “meet” meant “suitable or suitable for”. It’s a misuse of English to make Help Meet one word, or to use it as a stand-alone noun. The real problem lies in the fact that this is not at all what is implied by the Hebrew. Help comes from the word ezer which comes from two roots, one root for ‘to rescue’, ‘to save’, and one for ‘to be strong’. Gradually these meanings came to be combined. Ezer occurs 21 times in the OT and is translated as ‘savior’ in eight of those uses, and in others it is translated ‘strength’, as in God is an ezer to man. To weaken the term into just a ‘helper’ does not give us a sense in English of what was originally meant.

    The second Hebrew word translated as ‘Help Meet’ is k’enegdo which is from the root neged which means ‘against’ or ‘opposite’. Since it occurs only once in the OT, it’s a bit more difficult to draw out the meaning without going to other literature to find that in the sense of ‘opposite’ it is used as meaning like a ‘mirror image’ or as the left hand relates to the right, a corresponding opposite.

    So, to use ezer k’enegdo in the sense of ‘suitable helper’ is a gross weakening and limitation of a term that in a fuller sense means ‘saving strength corresponding to’. Women are not an extra set of hands to help the man do what he wants, women are our strength, existing as our opposite in order to complete us. There’s nothing subordinate or submissive in that, they are our equals, one full half of the whole ‘One Flesh’. For a man to demand submission of a woman is equal to treating a part of his own body as something lower and less worthy. I have grave reservations as to that being what God wants for us.

    Like you, I can’t stand the way ‘Help Meet’ is misused against women by men who refuse to properly use the real term which gives us a vastly different understanding of women


  21. Anonymous, Thanks for that link.

    TGC said, “Crossway will continue to publish TGC resources dedicated to the centrality of the gospel and the Scripture-based reformation of ministry. …TGC and Crossway will work closely together to develop a series of books written specifically by women addressing cultural issues, as well as other unique resources focused on faith and work.”

    Hmmm. Teaming for the purpose of publishing a series of books by women addressing cultural issues (about the woman’s role, no doubt). Is this a “centrality of the gospel” issue? Do women still need to be “reformed” by “Scripture-based” Calvinism?

    I’ve seen many beliefs taught with the precursor of “centrality of the gospel” statements. Is the gospel being (or has it already been) re-defined into all things “Scripture-based reformation”?


  22. Julie Anne,
    Has anyone mentioned “Good News for Modern MAN”?
    How about “Good Muse for Postmodern MAN”?
    How about “The Bible Club -for men”. (See inside jacket for endorsements.)
    “This version will dissolve all basic youth conflicts.” -Bill Gothard
    “As we look at the distinct passages mentioned in this book we see the God of Moses striking out against the women of the congregation…” -Chuck Smith
    “This is the version that lets me be ME!” -Sammy Davis JR
    “Check out the margin notes. The, uh, marginization notes” -C I Scofield
    “Aw jeez. This is duh voision God hisself deports.” -Archie Bunker
    “This is a man’s book.” -James Brown
    “I like the cut of your jib. Smashing leather bound volume.” -Sir Walter Scott
    “This puts Miss Odginy in her place.” -Alfalfa
    “I did not fondle those pages.” -Bill Clinton

    More coffee than brains today. 😉


  23. My take on men using, abusing, and marginalizing women is that it’s at their core and it oozes out in whatever they say. You see it in all walks of life. From the White House to the out house.


  24. Sure. Wry not! I saw ‘help meet’ and I thought some guy wants a woman to help meet his felt needs.

    “Felt needs” as in “URRRRRGES IN MY AAAAAREAS”?


  25. Is this a “centrality of the gospel” issue? Do women still need to be “reformed” by “Scripture-based” Calvinism?

    The problem with Calvinism is the same as Islam. Both Calvin and Mohammed resolved the paradox of evil by making God beyond Good and Evil. God Wills what God Wills, and who are we to call it Evil? God’s Sovereignty, God’s Omnipotence, God’s Infinite POWER firewalled at the expense of everything else. You end up with a God who is nothing but Absolute Infinite Arbitrary POWER, and end up worshipping POWER. The Gospel According to Voldemort:

    “There is no Right, there is no Wrong. There is only POWER.”
    — Lord Voldemort

    And if God is nothing but Absolute Arbitrary POWER, how do you then become Godly/Gospelly but by seizing POWER and throwing your weight around?

    “The only goal of Power is POWER. And POWER consists of inflicting maximum suffering upon the Powerless.”
    — Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, Nineteen Eighty-Four


  26. HUG, Calvin & Islam helps one put the blindfold on. Some people have a hard time wrapping their head around it though. No matter what, it feels safe. There is some kind of safety in it (friends, what they know, grew up on, they’re planted, etc.) I was also deceived, so I can understand. But once you hear or know the truth, well, then an informed choice is being made from then on.


  27. Pingback: Why people in patriarchal societies and Abrahamic religions despise weakness and are addicted to power and success | The Mystery of Christ

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