Is the Bible “Patriarchal”? Yes and No – An Excerpt from Gender Roles and the People of God
Patriarchy—literally, “the rule of the father,” from the Greek patriarkhēs—is any systemic structure in which men or the eldest male hold the power, particularly over women, typically within a household but also in broader society. It has been with us almost since the dawn of humanity.
But is it biblical?
Alice Mathews asks this question and more of this important topic in her new book Gender Roles and the People of God:
How are we to think about the role or place of a woman in a patriarchal system? What is this woman, created as the man’s helper, according to Genesis 2:18? Is she…merely “a loyal and suitable assistant” to a man? Is this what God intended us to learn from that text?…
The Message of Circumcision: From Patriarchy to New Man — An Excerpt from “Malestrom”
In her new book Malestrom, Carolyn Custis James’s contends the principal expression of the problem of manhood is historic patriarchy. Though it’s the cultural background of much of the Bible, “God reveals the newness of his kingdom breaking through as he over turns cultural norms that issues from the fall of Adam and Eve.” (69)
One way he overturned this norm was through the practice of circumcision. And yet James asks an important question:
Why would God choose this explicitly male rite to remind his sons of his covenant with them?
Though it seems to smack of patriarchy, it does the opposite: “Circumcision strips the malestrom and human culture of its power to define a man’s identity and purpose.” (71)
Patriarchy, the Gospel, and the Meaning of Manhood
Men are in serious trouble. They have been for some time.
One could argue the problem of manhood has been with us from the beginning; of course it has been. Recently, however, the problem has mushroom-clouded thanks to a series of events, beginning with the Women’s Movement and accelerating post-Great Recession. In it’s wake are so-called Single Young Men, who are increasingly adrift without a life script, exemplifying the problem of manhood.
Enter Carolyn Custis James. She has made it her urgent task to do for men in her new book Malestrom what she did for women with Half the Church: help us recapture God’s global vision for his sons. She frames the problem thusly:
The malestrom is the particular ways in which the fall impacts the male of the human species—causing a man…