The errant Patriarchy Movement is getting some well-deserved attention by voices in Reformed Christianity
Vyckie Garrison wrote an article which has been spread around quite a bit. If you haven’t read, it please be sure to do so. In the article, How Playing Good Christian Housewife Almost Killed Me, she discusses her life in the Patriarchy Movement as a mother of 7 and later discovered through counseling that she had been living a life of oppression under this movement.
Vyckie Garrison was once a minor celebrity in the Quiverfull Movement, made famous by TV’s Duggar family. As a devout, Bible-believing Christian and the mother of seven homeschooled children, Garrison spent 16 years, with her husband, publishing a newspaper for families on a similar path. Today, via a website called No Longer Quivering, she publishes resources for women leaving the movement. (Source)
I posted this article on my Facebook wall and it created quite a ruckus, and sadly, I’m realizing that when some people read a story like this, they often don’t understand the ramifications of years and years of oppression by spiritual or emotional abuse. They also don’t understand what happens when someone lives day after day, year after year, under false doctrine or in a cult-life environment in their own home. If they have never felt what it is like to be “owned” or used as an object by male authority, many times they just won’t get it. It seems they tend to filter this story through their simplistic personal spiritual paradigm, disregarding compassion, disregarding the emotional toll on one’s life. It becomes law over love. It was disheartening to see this kind of response.
It’s easy for someone on the outside to judge and say: “she shouldn’t have left Christ, she never should have divorced her husband because Jesus allows divorce for 2 reasons only, she should have gone to someone else for help.” It’s also easy to be an armchair judge when sitting in a cozy home with a husband who loves you and treats you as his beloved wife, as he should.
But I am happy to report that there are some in the Reformed camp who are seeing the carnage as carnage and calling out the errant doctrine in the Patriarchy Movement, and finally, we are hearing voices say that this Patriarchy stuff is bad juju.
Since Vyckie Garrison’s article, Rachel Miller from A Daughter of the Reformation blog also addressed Garrison’s article in her own article entitled, The Soul-numbing Dangers of Patriarchy. I think one of the most disturbing things for me when interacting with my friends was the blame put on Vyckie Garrison, rather than the errant teachings. I completely concur with Miller’s response:
In her article, Vyckie discusses each type of abuse she experienced in the patriarchy movement. I would like to go through her points and address each of those points. My argument is not that it isn’t abuse, but rather that what she experienced was not Christianity. I understand why she equates patriarchy with Christianity, but I would urge others who read her post to consider that what she was taught was a twisting of Scripture. Most of all, I would like to encourage those interact with anyone who has experienced abuse and rejected Christianity to treat the abuse survivor with gentleness and much mercy. May God show them His love.
The way that I look at it, Garrison had to divorce herself from this wrong view of Christianity and Christ. I wouldn’t want any “Christian” to be held to a false view of Christ, especially when it means that their own personhood is denied. Garrison was right to leave that behind. And her article has done a good thing in bringing attention to the false doctrine.
Umm, hello!!! shouldn’t it be godly Christians pointing out errant doctrine, not atheists?
Am I comfortable with Vyckie’s new life as an atheist? Of course not. But it makes sense why she abandoned her faith and that horrible brand of false Christianity. But I do not lose hope. I pray that the true Christ will reveal Himself to her.
Carl Trueman seems to be pretty well-respected in Reformed circles and I think it’s important to give kudos when we see positive movement. He is the Departmental Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and has worked as editor of IFES journal, Themelios (Source), and is contributor at Reformation 21 blog, an online magazine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals.
In his article, The Problem for Complementarians Will Come from the Right , he discusses radical ideological movements and includes Patriarchy as one such radical movement. I greatly appreciated Trueman’s comment below as he gives the radical Patriarchy movement some much-needed push back. We need many more voices like Trueman to speak out in order to make a difference:
. . . it seems increasingly clear that the real challenge which patriarchy poses is going to be for the complementarians. I have little personal interest in complementarianism beyond the issue of office bearing in the church. As long as the women concerned can shoot straight, balance a budget or (as in the case of Mrs Thatcher) stop trade unions overthrowing democratically elected British governments, I am not worried about whether they fight for their country, run a bank, or hold elected office. But it does seem to me as something of a bystander in the debate that the complementarian movement’s ability to distinguish itself from positions such as that represented by Quiverfull is going to be critical in the near future. Given the language about sex, relationships and women which some high profile figures in the YRR movement have used, most notably Mark Driscoll, the time may well be right for the leadership to start focusing on problems on the right and not simply on the left of the issue. The Problem for Complementarians Will Come from the Right
Women in the Workforce
It was bold for Trueman to make that kind of statement regarding woman in the workforce, and also to specifically call out the YRR movement in how they have wrongly contributed to the problem. While Trueman specifically named Driscoll, there are so many more Young Restless and Reformed who have been promoting this agenda. Folks at Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood have spoken out about women working outside the home. Here are a couple of “say what?” comments from John Piper:
With regard to women in military, Piper said:
The issue is that they are leading men. Men aren’t hard-wired to follow women, period. (Source)
Now take a look at how complicated Piper makes it seem for women and men in the workplace at a hypothetical law firm with both men and women working:
If, in the course of the day, a woman in the law firm calls a meeting of the attorneys, and thus takes that kind of initiative, there are still ways that a man, coming to that meeting, can express his manhood through culturally appropriate courtesies shown to the women in the firm. He may open the door; he may offer his chair; he may speak in a voice that is gentler.
It is true that this becomes increasingly difficult where a unisex mentality converts such gentlemanly courtesies into offenses and thus attempts to shut out every mean of expressing the realities of manhood and womanhood. It will be a strain for mature Christian men and women to work in that atmosphere. But it may be that through intelligent discussion and courteous, caring behaviors they may have a redeeming effect even on what their colleagues think and feel about manhood and womanhood. (Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism, pg 38)
What in the world is that man talking about? It’s like he’s on another planet when it comes to how men and women interacting in the work force. I highly doubt most men who work for female surgeons, scientists, engineers or managers are stirring in their seats wondering if she is robbing them of their manhood by calling them to submit to her on the job.
Podcast Discussing Patriarchy Movement, Duggars, Wife Spanking and More
Finally, I’d like to recommend the following 30-minute podcast, Bully Pulpit XL: Sinister Headship, with Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt and Aimee Byrd in which they tackle the Patriarchy Movement within the Reformed ranks.
Here is their summary of the podcast:
Join a provocative conversation with Rachel Miller, News Editor for The Aquila Report and blogger, as she enlightens us about the patriarchy movement, its driving forces, and its many dangers that have gone under the radar in reformed circles. It’s all talk about headship, gender roles, and the Duggars. Listen to the team tackle sinister elements of the movement and how to approach it from a pastoral perspective. They laugh, they pry, they get serious.
I’m glad to see Reformed folks taking on this abusive doctrine. In the podcast, they also address wife spanking. Those who follow me on Twitter may recall a tweet in which I said I was saddened by the light-hearted laughing referring that topic. I later found out that the laughing segment was removed. I was grateful to hear that wife spanking is no laughing matter.
I find it interesting that Carl Trueman says Patriarchy is only new to him – only finding out about it within the last few weeks. Well, if he’s speaking up about it after having only heard about it recently, this is great news. Let’s hope the public disdain for patriarchy spreads quickly.
I am passionate about the abuse we see in Christianity. I know what it does to one’s core. I know how it can shipwreck one’s faith. I used to cry a lot about spiritual abuse in churches. Spiritual abuse is horrid. But one thing about spiritual abuse in a church is that you can leave the church. Of course the recovery is very, very difficult, as many SSB readers can attest, but think about a woman held hostage in her own home spiritually and emotionally.
Now I find myself crying a lot more about the spiritual abuse in homes where women are isolated and cannot get help from their husbands or even frequently, their pastors. I believe Patriarchy is one of the most dangerous ideologies a woman can face. It is dehumanizing, demoralizing and it must stop.