In his article A Line in the Sand Michael Farris briefly quoted from two articles originally published on Vision Forum’s website. Two days ago I read through both articles and I am even more appalled than I was at first that Mr. Farris would take these few statements and use them as proof of the theology and dangers of those who hold to patriarchy as taught by Vision Forum.
The articles that Mr. Farris quoted actually provide a balanced view of patriarchy when read as a whole, in context. Both articles are full of statements that would lay the accusations that Mr. Farris made to rest and I would encourage anyone concerned with this issue to read them in their entirety.
First he quoted from this article by Brian Abshire, written in 2005 and published on Vision Forum’s website:
>> Patriarchial teaching: Women should not vote.
Example of this teaching: “ … God does not allow women to vote (cf. 1 Tim 2:11ff). But by ignoring God’s law, American Christians both destroyed their own credibility … and the integrity of [their] own families … .
[W]hat practical benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women’s voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote.”
>> Patriarchial teaching: Higher education is not important for women.
Example: “[D]oes it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will not use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?”
I would also like to point out that these statements from the article above were made in passing about a broader application of patriarchy and were never an official stance of Vision Forum.
Why did Mr. Farris not also quote the following statements from the exact same article by Mr. Abshire ? (Emphasis added):
“Until the twentieth century, Americans almost universally held to this doctrine of representation in some form or the other. The reason why women were not allowed to vote had nothing to do with women being considered “inferior” or “too emotional” (these values arose during the Victorian era and were themselves theologically and socially deviant) but rather because the husband and father was ASSUMED to represent the family to the broader community.”…
…”The doctrine of representation provides a necessary theological presupposition that encourages genuine reformation in the family, and the establishment of a stable social order. The model for the Christian family is NOT the post-war “Father Knows Best” or “Leave it to Beaver” where an “all-wise” father governs a “ditzie” wife who vacuums in a cocktail dress. Instead, we must rediscover the father’s role in governing the family wisely and justly according to Divine Law as he represents the family to the outside world. We must also understand and accept that with authority comes responsibility; the family belongs to God, not the father. The father cannot govern any way he pleases but only as a wise steward of God’s people; and like unjust, tyrannical kings, God CAN and WILL depose us if we do not fulfill our responsibilities according to His law.
Mr. Farris makes this statement in his article:
While people are entitled to personal opinions within a broad range, there are some views within the patriarchy movement that go too far. 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. Daughters should not be taught that their only and ultimate purpose in life is to be the “helpmeet” of a man. While being a godly wife is a worthy ideal, the only statement that is universally true forevery woman is that she should love and serve God as her highest priority. My wife and I raised our own daughters to believe that being a wife and mother was a very high calling but did so in a way that would not crush them if God’s leading had been different.
And Mr. Abshire says the following in his article (this is still the exact article that Mr. Farris pulled his quotes on voting from):
For example, biblical patriarchy never excuses, justifies or motivates godly men to devalue, denigrate or relegate godly women to “second-class” status in the home. Women are NOT inferior to men even if they are subordinate in their roles. Husband and wife are to be “one flesh;” which is more than a quaint euphemism for marital intimacy but rather a spiritual union of two individuals (1 Cor 6:16-17). Granted the wife is to respect her husband and submit to him (1 Ptr 3:1) but the husband is also required to treat her with grace, kindness and respect granting her honor as a joint-heir of the Kingdom, lest God refuse to hear his prayers (1 Ptr 3:7). In pagan patriarchy, the wife was often little more than a domestic servant and child-bearer (as in ancient Greece, the “cradle” of “democracy”) but in the biblical view, God praises the godly woman for her industriousness, creativity, aesthetics and business acumen (Pvbs 31:10ff). A wise man, understanding his duty as representative, will therefore lawfully utilize all the assets of the family, including his wife’s wisdom, gifts and concerns, for the common good of the family.”
“Some have criticized the “patriarchs” for having the view that “the mother’s role is to bear children, cook food and keep her mouth shut.” If this accusation were true, then it would be a serious blow against “patriarchy;” however, one searches in vain for those “patriarchs” who espouse such a view. The godly “patriarch” lives with his wife in an understanding manner (cf 1 Ptr 3:7ff) and represents HER views to the world as a part of his greater duty as her federal head. Yes, undoubtedly, many ungodly men tyrannize their wives; but the problem is their own personal sin- NOT the theology of “patriarchy.””
“Different men will of course work out these basic principles in different ways; for example, finding an alternative to post-industrial economics, some men might establish a family business that employs his wife and children in profitable enterprises; others may have to work outside the home to provide for their households. Some men may decide that certain activities are counter-productive to the spiritual welfare of his family while other men decide differently; e.g., whether a wife may work outside the home or not until God blesses them with children. The basic principle is that God’s law is sufficient and we must not make rules where God Himself has granted liberty.”
“Since we are now three generations into the modern humanist interpretation of the family, rediscovering biblical patriarchy is fraught with danger. Since so many modern Christian men are too lax in leading their families, failing to teach and protect them, they risk losing them to humanist culture. In response, other men will be too strict with their families and hence risk “vexing” their children. There is also the danger that some men will over-react against the common emasculated concept of the modern “father” and will overcompensate by denying any authority other than their own; including lawful authority in the church and State. The simple fact is that ALL Men will sin; they will sin against God and they will sin against their families. However, the divinely required methodology of dealing with that sin is by meditating and applying the unchanging standards of God’s law, being humble before Him, recognizing and confessing that sin, and then through repentance, taking the appropriate course of action.
Thus, we ought to expect that in the process of trying to rediscover biblical patriarchy, some men will struggle with finding the proper balance. Some will confuse their own personal values with Scriptural ones-attempting to bind other’s consciences without lawful warrant. Some men will no doubt err by being too protective of their children. Yet the solution is NOT to undermine the concept that the father is the federal representative of his family, both to God and to the world, but rather instruct him in his duties before God and encourage him in fulfilling his divine mandate.”
” Finally, some criticize the “patriarchs” for not wanting to invest in an expensive college education for their daughters because we “we need more young ladies in law, school, medicine, the arts and so on.” Again, this criticism assumes a modern cultural value and established it as the norm despite the fact that it has no biblical warrant and constitutes social suicide. Even the radical feminists today admit that women cannot adequately function as both a “career” woman and mother. A simple examination of the birth rates for professional women shows that the more highly educated a women becomes, the LESS likely she is to get married and the LESS likely to have children. Thus, this writer is actually encouraging brilliant Christian women to take a course of action that will mean cutting off their genetic inheritance for future generations! We do not need MORE female Christian lawyers, doctors or artists, but MORE godly women raising MORE godly children who will fill the earth and subdue it to the glory of God. And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother? Thus, this “reformer” is actually encouraging a sociological system that impoverishes the family and reduces its ability to exercise godly dominion.”
Please note that Mr. Abshire is not saying that women should never be highly educated. There are many cost and time efficient ways other than an expensive college education for women and men to accomplish higher learning. The context here is of women who are planning to be wives and mothers pursuing a college education with a career in mind.
Mr. Farris also briefly quotes from the Vision Forum article The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy:
Example: “Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection.”
This particular example is a good way to demonstrate a common error in both men’s theologies. Phillips has stated that daughters should remain in their fathers’ homes until married. His principal biblical citation for this argument is the story of Rachel and Leah in the home of their father, Laban.” [Emphasis added.]
It is a fundamental error of scriptural interpretation to assume that one narrative passage reveals a normative rule that we should all follow. In this same story, we see Laban embracing bigamy, selling his daughter in exchange for labor, and even resorting to sexual trickery. If we believe that one fact in this story reveals a universal rule from God, then all of the facts in this story should create such rules as well. Obviously, it is nonsense to use Laban’s treatment of his daughters to create universal norms. While the story may have lessons for us, the decisions of Laban are not universal commands from God.
Mr. Farris here states things that are not stated in the original article. As Mr. Kevin Subra points out in his excellent response (which I also highly recommend be read in full) to the statements made by Mr. Farris:
Wanting to be as informed as possible, and thinking I was slightly more informed about what Phillips taught than what Farris was presenting Phillips view to be, I followed the citation after “Laban” to actually look at the Vision Forum article that Farris cited. The Vision Forum article did not, as Farris suggest, present the account of Laban as the “principal citation.” It was listed as the first of five Bible references listed in Biblical order. The nature of the article was supportive, not explanatory. It listed all relevant references at the end of a summarizing statement, and didn’t explain how the references related to that statement. This is just plain shoddy research, or dishonest representation, both of which are wrong anytime, and especially when making such accusations.
To properly use the Vision Forum article, one would have to know what the verses were and how they would tie into the statement. It really was not a good document to try to convey the viewpoint of Vision Forum or Phillips. Farris grabs the first reference in the list, assumes it is the “principal biblical citation” and then proceeds to attack it “primary citation” with an argument all the while not knowing that the claim he makes about the reference is invalid.
As with the article by Mr. Abshire, Mr. Farris did not include quotes that would clarify the position Vision Forum held to. The following quotes are also from The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy and are in direct opposition to the accusations Mr. Farris made (Emphasis added).
2. Both man and woman are made in God’s image (their human characteristics enable them to reflect His character) and they are both called to exercise dominion over the earth. They share an equal worth as persons before God in creation and redemption. The man is also the image and glory of God in terms of authority, while the woman is the glory of man. (Gen. 1:27-28; 1 Cor. 11:3,7; Eph. 5:28; 1 Pet. 3:7)
5. A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector, with the authority and mandate to direct his household in paths of obedience to God. (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:4)
6. A man’s authority in the home should be exercised with gentleness, grace, and love as a servant-leader, following the example of Jesus Christ. Leadership is a stewardship from God. (Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 11:29-30; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7)
7. The authority of fathers is limited by the law of God and the lawful authority of church and state. Christian fathers cannot escape the jurisdiction of church and state and must be subject to both. (Rom. 13:1ff.; Eph. 5:21; 6:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.)
13. Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a “keeper at home,” the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home, although her domestic calling, as a representative of and helper to her husband, may well involve activity in the marketplace and larger community. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Prov. 31:10-31; Tit. 2:4-5)
Again, I would encourage any one concerned with this to read both articles in full. The fact that Mr. Farris ignored large portions of these articles and only pulled out a few snippets (one of which he applied his own commentary to as fact) from the same articles to prove his points on the dangers of patriarchy is extremely troubling.
Read my earlier response to Mr. Farris here.