Patriarchal Society

by Josiah Audette


I am honored that providence has it for me to speak on Father’s day. I am also humbled because I am a young man who is not yet a father, but nonetheless finds himself speaking to father’s now.

In recognition of this day which honors fathers, the subject of this lecture will be on the Biblical tenants, principles, and theology of Patriarchy. We will begin by defining Biblical Patriarchy according what the Scripture’s say. From there we will review the Biblical authority, spheres of jurisdiction, and dominion mandates of Patriarchs. Furthermore we will review the historical and modern positions on Patriarchy, both those which hold the Biblical thesis and those which are in direct antithesis to the Scripture’s order. And finally we will analyze how these positions have risen and fallen in God’s ordained providence throughout Western Civilization.


It is essential to affirm the first chapters of Genesis to be an authoritative, infallible, and clear record of how God created the universe in order to understand what defines us as men and women. If this first and imperative tenet is not upheld, our foundation of knowledge is compromised and our judgment prescribed for egregious error. Not only the understanding of men and women is at stake, but moreover the integrity of Scripture and the effectualness of Christ’s redemption on the cross is jeopardized.


In Genesis we see that man and women were created in what theologians refer to as the doctrine of “Imago Dei”, that is “The image of God.” Genesis 1:26 states, “God said, Let us make man in our image according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the beasts, and over all the earth, and over everything that creepeth and moveth on the earth. Thus God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him: he created them male and female.” The image of God defines us, and is an inescapable character of all the human race through all generations. This image is what distinguishes us from every other created being, both living and extinct. The term “image” denotes an object which is engraved, impressed, reflects, and mirrors. In declaring that mankind was made in the image of God, it concludes that we are the engraved impression of God, that we resemble, reflect, and mirror the one true God. We reflect the image of God in our knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. “And put on the new man, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness and of the truth.” Ephesians 4:24. Men and women were created with the sufficient knowledge of God, created in an upright standing with God and his law, and created wholly set apart to God alone. The doctrine of Imago Dei affirms that men and women are of equal worth as beings in the image of God.


This is a doctrinal statement which has historically been attributed to the Holy Trinity. Stating, that the three Persons of the Godhead are equal beings in worth and glory, but have different offices and roles in subordination to one another. This puritanical statement is remarkably concise as well to the relation of men and women. Adam and Eve were both created equal in the image of God and both given mandate of exercising Godly dominion over the earth. In fulfilling the dominion mandate, God ordained men and women with different roles as part of His creation order.


First, Adam was the sole person to exercise the dominion mandate. But God, in his glorious will, determined that it was not wholly perfect and good for Adam to be alone. Therefore he created woman from Adam, for Adam, and with Adam. Both were created for a purpose, both were created by divine activity, both were created for each other, and both define each other. With the creation of Eve, Adam was given the economic role of headship in the execution of the dominion mandate. “But I will that ye know, that Christ is the head of every man: and the man is the woman’s head: and God is Christ’s head.” 1 Corinthians 11:3.


Genesis establishes man as head by the end of the second chapter. Headship was given to man first by God’s order of creating Adam before Eve (Gen 2:7), by God commissioning Adam with dominion over all the earth before Eve (Gen 2:16-17), by God giving the role of Adam’s help-meet to Eve (Gen 2:18), by Eve being named by and after Adam (Gen 2:23), by Adam having charge for establishing marriage (Gen 2:24), and by the human race being designated after Adam’s name (Gen 5:2). Furthermore, man’s headship resides in several spheres by God’s authority and design as revealed to us in Scripture. Moreover, these roles were established before sin entered the world. They were the perfect will of God and the perfect expression of manhood and womanhood, masculinity and femininity. Although sin eventually did enter the world, yet the relationship of men and women did not change. Sin had distorted the perfection of their union, but redemption in Christ enabled the attaining more and more of God’s original creation order.


The union of Adam and Eve was that of two becoming one flesh. It was created by God and here He established the institution of marriage. “Therefore shall man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24. In marriage the husband is to be head of his wife just as Christ is head over his bride, the church. “For the husband is the wife’s head, even as Christ is the head of the Church.” Ephesians 5:23. Man’s headship over the wife reflects to the world something of Christ’s perfect headship over his glorious bride, the Church. Furthermore Man’s headship in the marriage union is necessary in advancing the Lordship of Christ on the earth. With Adam and Eve, God established the marriage order and man’s headship therein. Marriage is a dominion union to reflect God’s image and exercise God’s purpose on earth.


From marriage, patriarchy begins in the home and it is from here that man’s headship is confirmed and advanced. Husbands and fathers are to be the patriarchs of their households in raising them up with the fear and instruction of the Lord. Man is called to be the primary family leader, “One that ruleth his own house honestly, having children under obedience with all honesty.” 1 Timothy 3:4. He is called to be the primary family provider, “If there be any that provideth not for his own, and namely for them of his household, he denieth the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Timothy 5:8. He is called to be the primary family protector, “Holding fast the faithful word according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort with wholesome doctrine, and convince them that say against it… Whose mouths must be stopped, which subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” Titus 1:9-11. He is called to be the primary family teacher, “And ye, fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in instruction and information of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4.


Male headship in the home furthermore carries over into the Church, where only men given the authority by Scripture to hold offices. “This is a true saying, If any man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth a worthy work.” 1 Timothy 3:1. “Let the Deacons be the husband of one wife, and such as can rule their children well, and their households.” 1 Timothy 3:12. And negatively, “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. I permit not a woman to teach, neither to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Men are given the authority to faithfully teach the Word of God, “Preach the word: be instant, in season, and out of season, improve, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” 2 Timothy 4:2. Men are given the authority in the Church to rule as qualified elders, deacons, and leaders. Again, “This is a true saying, If any man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth a worthy work.” 1 Timothy 3:1. Men are given the authority to exercise Church discipline. “Wherefore convince them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” Titus 1:13. Men are given the authority to administer the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. “For I have received of the Lord that which I also have delivered unto you, to wit, That the Lord Jesus in the night when he was betrayed, took bread. And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of me.”


Within society there are three coexisting institutions. The Family, the Church, and the State. Scripture teaches that man’s headship exists in all three spheres. Although man’s eligibility to lead in the latter two jurisdictions are dependent upon his prior record of headship within the sphere of the home. As the keeper of the sword, the State is upholder of a nation’s law, punishment, and peace. Having the keys of the Christ’s Kingdom,  the Church is the central and defining institution in society. Finally, being the basic social unit, the family is the foundational society. Scripture being sufficient for all of life, reveals to us God’s design and will for the state with its selection of civil magistrates. “Moreover, provide thou among all the people men of courage, fearing God, men dealing truly, hating covetousness: and appoint such over them.. And let them judge the people at all seasons.” Exodus 18:21. Men such as Moses appointed, “Bring you men of wisdom and of understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.” Deuteronomy 1:13. Next to these specific examples is the resounding testimony of Scripture  speaking throughout in story, principle, and example of Kings and of men as civil leaders of the state. Scripture’s clear and repeated testimony reveals the order of headship applies to the three spheres of government. Family, Church, and State.


We learn then from Scripture that God’s creation order is a patriarchal society. God has established a hierarchical order between the man and the woman in family, church, and state. God has given men authority to exercise headship and dominion in the home “For the husband is the wife’s head.” Eph 5:23, in the Church, “I permit not a woman to teach, neither to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” and in society, “Bring you men of wisdom and of understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.” Deuteronomy 1:13. Men having headship as patriarchs in these three spheres of government are to exercise godly dominion within them for the advancement of the Lordship of Christ on earth.


Due to our limitation in time I will be reviewing only one other commonly held antithesis position regarding the created order in between man and women. While on the extreme there is Social Darwinism, Feminism, and Egalitarianism, the most commonly held position in the evangelical Church is Complementarianism. Complementarianism is a nice, friendly word to most Christian couples. In this doctrinal concept God has indeed granted man authority or headship over the woman, and furthermore men and women do have distinct roles in the Gospel work. In so fulfilling these roles, men and women complement each other. Complementarianism would be much the same as the Hierarchical  or Patriarchal view, but for the fact that it denies male headship in the third sphere of government, namely, the state. For the complementarian when it comes to the third sphere of social and civil government they deny the headship of man and embrace egalitarianism as the divine order. The logical inconsistency of gaining a women prime minister, but heaven forbidding a female paster is rooted in the simple denial of the creation order. As stated in the beginning of this lecture, the first chapters of Genesis are crucial. The creation order is the comprehensive idea of everything being both determined by and subject to the will of God. Therefore if man is to believe and live in accordance to God’s will he must first embrace the creation order God has placed him within. We are not at liberty to establish our own order, but only to submit to God’s. The successful fulfillment of God’s dominion mandate is based on the full acceptance of the creation order. And if the creation order has indeed established man’s headship, than it is man’s headship which must exist in family, church, and state. Complementarianism in denying the third sphere of headship is wrong by Scripture, but a full complementarianism, a three-sphere complementarianism/hierarchical/patriarchal concept of the creation order is the one which actually complements Scripture.


As stated earlier, while sin did not change the creation order it did bring distortion. “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly increase thy sorrows, and thy conceptions. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thy desire shall be subject to thine husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Genesis 3:16. Instead of being content with the Creation Order the woman will seek to emancipate and usurp the man’s authority, and in response the man will harshly rule over her rather than in love. This distortion has been dramatically active in the last two centuries. In the beginning of the nineteenth and even twentieth century men were Christian patriarchs in the home, church, and state. Men and women saw their place in the Creation Order and lived in accordance with it. Men were patriarchs of the home. Patriarchs which saw children as gift of God and looked to Scripture as their authoritative guide on issues of procreation. Patriarchs were the primary educators of their households, establishing in their children a Biblical wordview with Biblical methodology. Christians parents did not send their children to the state education system since education was not a God-ordained function of government. Patriarchs built a an age-integrated Family, Church, Social base for the training and socialization of their children. Patriarchs lead their sons and daughters in building godly marriages. Patriarchs had a multi-generational, hierarchical vision for their families and the advancement of the Lordship of Christ. Patriarchs were active as civil magistrates in building a godly society.

Then came May 5 of 1912 in New York City. Two marches were taking place at the same time just four blocks apart. One was the funeral procession of the famed John Jacob Astor, the richest man to perish on the Titanic and the very one who gave his seat on the life boat to a third class washer woman. The other march, was one of the first universal suffragette marches led by Margaret Sanger (Founder of Planned Parenthood) along with John Dewey (Founder of the modern state education system). May 5, 1912 highlighted the contrast between the new suffragette, feminist, egalitarian social vision versus the Christian chivalric ethic the Patriarchal creation order. Egalitarianism began to eclipse Patriarchy. The contrast of the two creation orders couldn’t be more opposing. One newspaper wrote the following poem based on the May 5 marches.

“Votes for women!” was the cry,

Reaching upward to the sky,

Crashing glass and flashing eye,

“Votes for women!” was the cry.

“Boats for women!” was the cry,

When the brave were come to die,

When the end was drawing nigh,

“Boats for women!” was the cry.

By 1912 the Patriarchal society was setting and by 1914 with the commencement of the first World War, the Patriarchs left the home. In the Second World War the women left the home, and after the War the children left the home. But they are starting to return. Patriarchs of the modern day are raising up the next generation of patriarchs and help-meets for the glory of God. This father’s day is to remember them. How each of them came to embrace God’s creation order for themselves, and how each of them cry “Boats for Women!” each and every day. My prayer for them, is that they may exercise godly headship as Godward patriarchs in their family, church, and state.