Garcia’s “After Patriarchy” Seems Like a Liberal Screed To Me

First off, for those of you who don’t know me, the one thing that bothers me most in Christian circles is when a man preaches or teaches in such a way that sounds lofty and erudite, but is nothing more than a liberal screed (think N.T. Wright). I believe the loftier, the more dangerous a man’s speech. Jesus, Paul, Peter, and Stephen would not have fit in the erudite circles of the church today.

Secondly, I’ve been told that I’m very blunt when I preach and teach. To me, there is no greater compliment. Show me from scripture one sermon that was not in someone’s face, drawing a line in the sand, or calling out sinners to repentance, as opposed to what is set forth today in many circles, lofty words that tickle our intellectual fancies.

The point is that, when I read Mark A. Garcia’s post After Patriarchy, Part 1, I couldn’t help but think he was trying to bamboozle us with his lofty words. For the first two paragraphs, he was obviously writing for the inner circle, no, more like the inner sanctum of the high priestly elites of Christendom. He was much like Dennis Miller, dropping names and references to things that only six people in the country really know anything about, and laughing endlessly because only they get the inside joke. So needless to say, I wasn’t impressed with Garcia from the beginning. I didn’t know where he was going and it didn’t look like he did either. But that is because I don’t know the inside joke, and he does.

But he did finally meander his way to a point. He is making the poorly supported case for a more broad understanding of a woman’s role in marriage, with the usual calls to be broader in our thinking, and more claims that scholarship supports this gradual and more enlightened movement from a more conservative approach to a woman’s role in the family. He is working his way to saying that patriarchal complimentarianism is dead, and the ones who don’t know that are foolish.

But before we go deeper, let’s try to clarify. Granted, when it comes to the patriarchy/complimentarianism debate, I’m hardly an expert. But neither is anyone else as far as I can tell. Everyone seems to be talking past each other and if you are not careful, you will be called a member of one side or the other in a way that really is meant as an insult.

On the patriarchy side of things, there are people like Douglas Wilson who hold that a man is the head of his household and that the woman is there to serve her husband. Since he clearly states what he means by this, I will quote him:

Patriarchy simply means “father rule,” and so it follows that every biblical Christian holds to patriarchy. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23), and fathers have the central responsibility to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Children are required to obey their parents (both of them), and since the wife is to follow the lead of her husband in all things (Eph. 5:24), this means that the father is responsible to provide for and protect his family. Father rule. That’s the good part.

This seems reasonable enough. The problem (which Wilson also identifies) is that fallen men are called to marriages and often abuse this position of authority. They tend to think it means “little dictator” and end up becoming…well, I can’t say where that thought ended up.

This is why strong elders are needed in the church. When someone is abusing their position given to them by God, they need to be confronted. Because there is this lack of confrontation, those who hold to patriarchy tend to be metaphorically tarred and feathered by the more “enlightened” corner of Christianity.

Now, as for complimentarians…It is really hard to pinpoint what they actually believe. I read in the New Geneva Study Bible the footnote for Genesis 2:20 that uses the phrase “comparable to him,” the following: “this expression assumes a complementary relationship; what he lacked she supplied and vice versa.” I can live with that. My wife certainly compliments me in this way, and I’m truly grateful.

But after that, it becomes much more fuzzy and I get the impression that many complimentarians are nothing more the feminist in disguise. Well, I shouldn’t say that. I should say that Garcia is nothing more than a feminist in disguise.

Allow me to define what a feminist is: a feminist is a woman or a man, that want to erase the male/female distinctions in the family, workplace and all of society. On some level, they also want to tear men down and subjugate men. There are really varying degrees of feminism, but I think the best way to understand it is in light of the curse in Genesis.  Feminists are women living out the curse: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). The desire here is not sexual desire, but a desire to rule and control their husbands.  That is not a good thing.

With that background, let’s move forward with Garcia’s post. What he starts out doing is calling us to go back to all the theologians of the past and re-read them with the intent of finding out what they actually believed about women and their roles in marriage. He asks us if we have read Gregory of Nyssa on the Trinity. And if we have, then we should go back and read Gregory on women. He is making the assumption that Gregory was as confused about the role of women in marriage as he is.

Realize that when you look throughout church history, you don’t find a lot of women leading their husbands or women’s ministries because they understood their role in the family. Yes, the struggle of the curse was always there, but for the most part, men understood their role in the family and women understood their role. After all, it was quite obvious. With women giving birth to children, the most noble of all callings, they didn’t have time for worldly pursuits, or making a name for themselves.

Feminism has so saturated the church today, that we cannot see these clear distinctions in calling. We raise our daughters with the idea that they can be anything they want to be and if pregnancy gets in the way, that’s OK, we can kill the child in her womb. In fact, even in Christian homes, girls are raised with the idea that they need to go to college, get a career, and then after they have been satisfied in all the worldly pleasures, then settle down and have one baby, maybe two. I have heard from women raised in the church, while in college, tell me quite simply that they didn’t want the “burden” of children. I pointed out that this was a feminist view of the world, and was shortly thereafter “unfriended” by them. Never mind the directive: be fruitful and multiply.

The confusion in our day has become so pronounced that in the next few years, our daughters and wives can also go off to war. I believe this is because the church has clearly abdicated its place in reminding the women of our day that their greatest calling is giving birth to the next generation. Their calling is not to be all they can be. It is not to climb the corporate ladder. It is not to serve in any role just to prove their worthiness. As long as we continue with the charade, the importance of children will continue to be overlooked, and our society will see them only as the political footballs that they are now.

So when I read the liberal diatribe by Mr. Garcia, you can see that it gets my blood boiling. He is most erudite, and wordy. He says a lot, without actually saying a thing. He defends, not a biblical position, but being more biblical without actually referring to the Bible. He makes allusions to the fact that there have been abuses in patriarchy, and then makes the false assumption, that since there have been abuses in patriarchy, then all those who hold to the patriarchal position must be wrong.

We see this when he writes:

To avoid the dangers of reactionary error, the most responsible and well-informed voices need to be clear that, for example, our rediscovered sensitivity to the dark reality of spousal abuse does not mean we do not need to be very careful in identifying spousal misconduct as “abuse.”

Just look at his language: “the most responsible and well-informed voices…” that is code speak for, “those who agree with me are the most responsible and well-informed voices. Everyone else is daft.” Mr. Garcia, please just say what you believe: that everyone who disagrees with you is a backwards rube. And thank you for your nod in the direction that you, have discovered, that spousal abuse actually exists. We have known this for quite some time. Glad you are with the program.

He goes on to give a nod toward “submission” which is the closest to Scripture he actually comes and writes:

Our most responsible reading of what “submission” does and does not mean should not somehow entail, for our thinking or our rhetoric, that Scripture does not in fact teach that wives should “submit” to their husbands in the Lord. The fact of nuances and richness in biblical teaching on the grounds for a valid divorce does not mean divorce has limitless grounds (it does not), that divorce is no longer a significant problem in our day (it is), or that divorce ever takes place without the serious sin of at least one, though maybe only one, spouse (it only ever does). In these examples and many others, we must be painstakingly careful not to confuse our rejection of a bad idea or framework with the acceptance of every possible opposing one.

In other words, unless we see “submission” as Garcia & Company say it is, then clearly we are not being reasonable and fair minded in our approach to Scripture. Whenever scholars start throwing around the phrases like “nuances and richness in biblical teaching” you can count that not much biblical teaching will follow. And it doesn’t. In fact, the word “submission” is about the only Bible verse, nay word, that Garcia quotes.

Garcia is referencing Ephesians 5:22 to try and show us he understands the biblical teaching, but then quickly changes the subject and moves on to divorce to tell us what a problem it is. Notice the glaring non-sequitur in his argumentation. He brings up divorce because he has already said far too much about submission for  his own comfort. This is because he cannot hold to his position and give us an honest reflection on what the verse actually says. Liberals never can. We know the word of God doesn’t change, and the biblical idea of submission will not change even with “a vast amount of solid biblical and theological scholarship over the last several decades.” Garcia is trying to lead us to believe that new discoveries have been made, which mean that submission, doesn’t really mean submission.

So allow me to do what Garcia won’t do: actually look at the verse.

Ephesians 5:22 reads Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the LORD. The idea of submission is a military term that was used of those in the lower ranks, submitting, aligning under, placing themselves under their commanding officers so that the command could be successful in warfare. It is a voluntary act of the woman. It is not something that man can command. Yet, for a woman not to submit to her husband is to be in rebellion against the LORD. She is to submit to him, and serve him, as she would the LORD.

Peter, in his treatment on wives submitting to their husbands, even unbelieving ones, gives us an example of what this submission looks like:

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Peter 3:3-6).

Notice the example we are given. It is Sarah, who obeyed her husband, even when he told her to lie about their marriage (twice), and she is commended for obeying him. She didn’t argue with him, usurp his authority, tell him how wrong he was, but obeyed him.What she did was right and glorifying to the LORD, which is in stark contrast to the people of our day who will jump through all kinds of rationalizations in order to not obey God’s word.

Yet, if our families are to function as God intended, we cannot continue on in this disobedience. The family is the most sacred institution that we have in society, and our LORD guided the apostles on how we should live in this institution. Christ does so because it is honoring to Him for us to do so. This is actually an act of kindness on part of the LORD. William Hendriksen writes in the New Testament Commentary on Ephesians:

Now in his kindness toward womanhood, the Lord, fully realizing that within the family much of the care of children will rest on the wife, has been pleased not to overburden her. Hence, he placed ultimate responsibility with respect to the household upon the shoulders of her husband, in keeping with the latter’s creational endowment. So here, through his servant, the apostle Paul, the Lord assigns to the wife the duty of obeying her husband. This obedience must be a voluntary submission on her part, and that only to her own husband, not to every man. What will make this obedience easier, moreover, is that she is asked to render it ‘as to the Lord,’ that is, as part of her obedience to him, the very One who died for her (p. 248).

I wonder if Garcia would agree to Hendriksen’s scholarship.

But you get the idea. This is what it means for women to submit to their husbands. All the modern scholarship in the world is not going to change it and, since this is so, patriarchal complementarianism will continue, just like there are those of us who will never ordain women as deacons or elders in spite of increased pressure from denominational progressives to do so. The Bible doesn’t change, even when the culture around us changes.

I must give Garcia credit. He finally does get around to saying what he means. In his closing paragraph, he writes the following:

Next in this series, we will look at what has happened to the idea of marital and societal “patriarchy” in biblical and historical scholarship, its origins and elusive meaning, and why patriarchal complementarians are apparently the last to realize that this social-scientific convention has been abandoned (and rightly) by just about everyone else.

What absolute arrogance on Garcia’s part. He is so caught up in his progressive mindset that he cannot see that what scripture commands us to do, God actually expects us to do. The God who never changes, is not changing His word for men like Garcia, or any other progressive to come along, even with their erudite scholarship.

There is a lot more to comment upon, but I think we have given Garcia enough attention. One final point, as I was reading his article, I kept thinking that the way in which he wrote it, could have been used to make the argument for gay marriage. The same tactics were used by proponents of ordaining women in the ministry, ordaining gay men in the ministry, and accepting the oxymoronic gay marriage. Just use lofty words, an appeal to broader scholarship, and you can make the Bible say anything you want it to say…except, of course, what it actually says.


35 thoughts on “Garcia’s “After Patriarchy” Seems Like a Liberal Screed To Me

  1. Hi Timothy,
    Very informative. You’ve provided yet more evidence (as if we needed any) of the apostasy all around us.

    Could you explain this in a bit more detail:

    “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). The desire here is not sexual desire, but a desire to rule and control their husbands.

    Your explanation makes sense, but goes further than I’ve heard before.



    1. Hi Alec,
      Yes, glad to help. The word we translate “desire” is the same word used in Genesis 4:7 where the LORD is warning Cain about sin “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” The desire here is also to rule over. The LORD’s warning was about how sin operates in our lives, it wants to rule us. So too with our wives. Their fallen nature is such that they want to rule us. We want to take the back seat and let them rule us, just as Adam did in the garden, or go to the other extreme and “dominate” them. So feminism is actually a depiction of the curse and we see why so many are willing to adopt the position. It is natural to our fallen nature. It takes God’s word showing us again how we should live with our wives. As for the domination, we were given the command to take dominion over the earth, not each other. But our fallen nature takes the creation mandate and messes that up as well.

      Hope this helps.


  2. Whose definition of feminism are you using? Wikipedia says: “Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, personal, and social rights for women.”
    Feminism, has, among other things, called for the abolition of slavery, passed the prohibition act in an attempt to resolve the affects of alcoholism (such as abuse), secured voting rights, asked for equal pay, secured safer work environments, abolished the requirement that women had male counter-signatures in order to take out a loan, and strive for equality. It has given single women greater ability to live on their own.
    The thing I find odd about the ‘curse’ being the explanation for feminism is that for the last six thousand years feminism didn’t really exist. When the Bible shows us how the patriarchs collected wives like trading cards, had concubines, and tricked and manipulated people in order to get women (such as the wives of Benjamin, the story of David’s daughter Tamar, what happened to Esther.) Feminism hadn’t been thought up back then. It was pure patriarchy that kept all the power in the hands of fallen men who put themselves first and ‘trickled down’ any kindness or consideration to women through them. It makes for an odd curse to not really have any affect until long after Jesus’ death payed the price to reverse that curse – maybe his blood missed it and had no effect.


    1. Hi Jamie, I know many can appeal to Wikipedia, but I felt it was best to define feminism as I see it from a biblical worldview. You have the freedom to say that I am wrong. I do agree with you that many wonderful things have happened for women over the last 150 years. The problem is that feminism goes to far in our society today, to the point that women reject their god-given roles in the homes, and in bearing children, in order to compete in the world of commerce, etc.

      As for your attack on the patriarchs, they are the ones that God chose to raise up His people. Please be careful in how you treat the narrative. Remember, that when we come to God’s word, we are to let it sit in judgment of us, not the other way around. Yes, the patriarchs were sinners, and in need of a redeemer. But in the bringing about of the families, the LORD, in His goodness, gave us instructions on how we were to live within the family. He is a God of order, and has so ordered the primary institution: the family.

      Thanks for your view point. You brought up some things worthy of thinking about and I appreciate it.


      1. Since you’re redefining feminism, then you’re not actually speaking against the common definition of feminism, but one of your own making. You’ve conquered your own definition well enough, but since it’s not the same thing as the common definition of feminism, you haven’t really said anything to advance your perspective or to take it down a notch. Some would call that a straw man argument.
        The patriarchs were men of their culture and of their time, speaking as if they were worthy of particular reverence would be putting them on the same pedestal as Jesus which I will not do. Jesus never once spoke about the primary calling of believers to create families and have as many children as possible, he never once affirmed that women can only exist in their ‘roles’ – notably in the story of Mary and Martha, he allowed Mary to sit at his feet among the disciples and learn from him as the disciples did while her sister stuck to her role of preparing a meal for them.
        Take the story of when Sarah called Abraham “lord” in her tongue, that word was ba’al; the same word used of the false god Ba’al. It was the cultural equivalent of our word “mister” which originates from the word “master”. It’s not about the fact that she called him “lord” but that she treated him far more respectfully than he did her. Yet God was wise when He told Abraham to “listen to your wife.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Jamie,
        Writers redefine terms all the time. There is no “set definition” for a word, a word takes on meaning in how it is used. You are right, I was defining it for my purposes but doing so in light of the struggle men and women have in marriage, showing why the struggle exists in the first place.

        As for Jesus not speaking, you and I have a different view of Christ. He is the Second Person of the Trinity, the one who spoke creation into existence, all things were created BY Him and For Him. So to say He has said nothing on the topic, He was the One who spoke in the garden to Adam, and in the giving of family. He is very concerned about families, however, I will allow that His primary concern is His family, those that seek to follow His commands, and His word.


      3. Yet there is no verse in any of the gospels that show him speaking to family in that way.
        Luke 9:57-62 talks about the cost of following Jesus which includes leaving behind one’s family and familial obligations.
        Luke 12:49-53 talks about the division of the family.
        The promise of Scripture is that anyone who leaves behind their family in Jesus’ name will become a part of the family of God, made up of brothers and sisters; not husbands and wives.


      4. The instructions in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter, are in effect, Christ speaking to the issues of the family. The apostles’ words were and are His words. Remember in John 17, He told the disciples that there was more He wanted to say, but that they could not handle it at that point. This is why He raised up Paul to say what He wanted to say. All of scripture is God-breathed, including the epistles.


      5. Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter were responses to Aristotle’s teaching on household management, as there wasn’t a separation between family and state (family was seen as the smallest unit of the state, so husbands were functionaries of the state under specific rules.) Peter and Paul were answering questions about how to live as Christians according to Roman rules about how families ought to be ordered; not laying down a principle about how all families the world over ought to be organized until the end of time. We live in an egalitarian society where there is far less state regulation on the family unit, so we cannot live by rules that do not speak to our culture.


      6. I completely disagree with your view on why the epistles were written. They were not letters bound by culture or time, but God’s timeless truths for who we are as believers, and how He wanted us to live in view of that reality.


      7. It’s undeniable to see the fingerprints of culture and time in the epistles, Paul’s request for churches to put back an offering to be used for other churches in their time of need, his request for Philemon to accept Onesimus, referring to the Isthmian Games to draw a parallel with Christianity, using tricliniums to talk about favoritism – to me it’s foolish to decide that culture and history have no meaning or bearing on Scripture – it’s foolish to divorce culture from Scripture as if one were free of the other.


      8. Jamie,

        Scripture is not defined by culture nor is it bound to it. Culture is judged by scripture.

        Also, feminism was FIRST defined by God in Genesis 3:16:
        “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
        Any definition to the contrary, then, is REdefinition.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Heidi,

        It just doesn’t fit the timeline. When God cursed the ground, we saw scripture refer to various famines throughout history, time and time again. We saw references to pain in childbirth. What was not seen was feminism until around the time of the French Revolution in 1789. This is, of course, secular dictionary-definition feminism. The interpretation you reference of Genesis 3:16 was posited by Susan Foh in the 1970s; it was not the historical understanding of that verse which is why John Calvin put it this way: “The second punishment which he exacts is subjection. For this form of speech, “Thy desire shall be unto thy husband,” is of the same force as if he had said that she should not be free and at her own command, but subject to the authority of her husband and dependent upon his will; or as if he had said, Thou shalt desire nothing but what thy husband wishes.’ As it is declared afterwards, Unto thee shall be his desire, (Genesis 4:7.) Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude.”

        It’s strange then, to think that Gen 3:16 always defined feminism, when Calvin here says that it’s the reason women are to be subject to their husbands; the opposite of feminism’s aims. But now we exist where it’s true interpretation is understood and preached; and therefore, Calvin must have been wrong or perhaps, in Calvin’s timeline Genesis 3:16 didn’t have that meaning back then.

        Like it or not, culture is connected to Scripture. You are a modern person reading scripture through a modern understanding of the world you live in. You’re not an ancient woman whose second-class nature is your default, you are not uneducated or under-educated because you’re a woman. You’re not being bartered in an arranged marriage to strengthen your father’s household; but you have the freedom to marry for love. Our culture is the lens through which we read Scripture, which originated in another culture and operated with it’s own lens through which it viewed the world and interacted with the divine.


      10. Jamie,

        Eve was the first feminist. She defied her God and ventured beyond the protection of her husband. God put her back in her place with the curse, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” I don’t know who Foh is nor do I care what her interpretation of this passage is. The scripture speaks for itself. Calvin is not wrong; Eve was subject to Adam when Adam was untainted by sin. Eve ESCHEWED the covering of her husband, disobeyed God, Adam followed her in sin, and the two now strive to fulfill the roles God GAVE THEM FROM THE BEGINNING as fallen, sinful beings. Harmony became discord, work became toil. Sinful wife is now subject to fallen husband who must, in turn, lead a sinful wife. Thanks be to God that those of us whose marriages are in the LORD have His word to guide, His Spirit to convict, His Son to provide forgiveness.

        Scripture did not “interact” with the divine (and I’m not even certain what that is supposed to mean). Scripture IS divine. “All Scripture is breathed out by God…(2 Timothy 3:16),” and “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20, 21).” God is not influenced by culture. He judges culture. Since scripture is God’s word, it follows that even though it addresses culture, it is neither shaped by culture nor does it change with the culture.

        If you choose to respond to what I have written here, I will allow you to have the last word.


      11. Heidi,

        I’m a devil’s advocate, getting the last word is like reading the last chapter of a book or watching the last episode of the series – it always leaves you wanting more and wishing it wasn’t over. I don’t learn anything if I always agree with people on everything. Feel free to continue interacting with me on my blog if you feel that the conversation would be best served by a relocation.

        Susan Foh is one of the premier complementarian thinkers – a founder as it were of the teaching (it only hails from the 1970s and 1980s.) She interpreted Genesis 3:16 as “These words mark the beginning of the battle of the sexes. As a result of the fall, man no longer rules easily; he must fight for his headship. Sin has corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband. The woman’s desire is to control her husband (to usurp his divinely appointed headship, and he must master her, if he can. So the rule of love founded in paradise is replaced by struggle, tyranny and domination.” in: “What is the Woman’s Desire?” written in 1974; before that ‘desire’ was thought to have a different connotation. This is really the only interpretation to be written after secular feminist ideology had begun to take root in society. Complementarianism was founded, in part, as a response to feminism and egalitarianism. That’s why you see sermons by the reformers or the great awakening preachers on the subject – it wasn’t even on their radar.

        I was referring to the interaction of the other culture with Scripture. What we understand as God’s word isn’t just the standalone text, we also have commentaries and debates going back hundreds and thousands of years, what the church fathers read and taught and understood, what the rabbis before them read and taught and understood. How we arrived at trinitarian teaching was the result of the Council of Nicaea, how the Bible cannon was closed was the result of another council. We have the benefit of interpretation, re-interpretation, debate, re-definition, refining, and studying of millennia of thinkers. The Bible is the product of one culture, it tells us about their traditions (such as Purim), their history, their songs, their wisdom. It is the seed of another culture, the early church, the sub-culture of Christianity. As such, things that aren’t always said aren’t easily transmitted from one culture to another. Scripture is not devoid of cultural influences, we simply lack the understanding of the ones that are that. Such as the rule in 1 Corinthians 11 that women ought to wear head coverings. Most Christian women today recognize there is a cultural reasoning behind that and accept that their hair serves the purpose of covering their heads and don’t think anything of it.


  3. Where do Christians get the idea that we are to follow what “everyone else” is doing? Also, have you ever looked at the word respect, as in wives respect your husbands? I think an Englishman’s concordance shows that word being translated to “fear” in most, if not all, translations. I’m not sure why most translators translate it into “respect” in this particular passage.


  4. Brian

    This sounds like a screed of your own, only on the Patriarchal side of things. Pariarchy has done great harm to complementarianism as so many now equate the two. I believe in male-only officers in the church and the headship of the home, though not as extreme as many. I’m my wife’s head and protector, not her king or CEO. I have no problem, though, with women in the civil sphere serving and having authority of men. Those who do confuse the two kingdoms. All men do NOT have authority over all women as many patriarchy adherents claim.

    As far as Feminism is concerned, we must remember that it arose as a reaction, albeit an overreaction, to male oppression and abuse. Now we have the overreaction of Patriarchy to feminism. Hard to understand why so many want to stake out a position on one edge or the other.

    I am thankful for those who speak out against the Patriarchy movement, especially within the Reformed community. (I’m in the PCA) I believe the folly of it is coming home to roost (Doug Philips, Vision Forum, Doug Wilson, Josh Duggar) This particular application of complentarianism as well as some others are causing harm to the church. There must be nuance (even though you seem to think it’s a bad word) and charity as we go forward. I’ve observed some abusive attitudes on the part of some men who state the words with rigidity that this is the way it is and if you dare raise an objection, you’re an out-of-submission feminist.

    I used to be an inflexible dogmatic on this and many other issues. My only dogmatism now are the 5 solas!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you can call it a screed if you like. However, allow me to point out, that I went back to what scripture said on the issue, and didn’t just allude to the Bible in order to suggest that somehow, things have suddenly changed with new scholarship. Again, as far as the abuse is concerned, this is where elders are to step in. Dominion over our wives is not what Christ ever intended. I fully agree that patriarchy has been abused, but so has complementarianism. My suggestion is that we look to the scripture to find out what roles we have been given, and then proceed from there.

      And no, I don’t think you are an out-of-submission feminist. We may disagree to the degree that these roles are played out, but I think we do agree that we do have these roles in marriage. BTW, I think I like the idea of combining to two terms as Mr. Garcia did. Patriarchal-complimentarian seems to describe what I believe is the best way to view it. No, I don’t believe in the view that a women doesn’t do squat without her husband’s approval, or that she must call me LORD as Sarah did, but we are to work together for the benefit of our home, and I am the head of my home.

      Thanks for your comments, I do appreciate them.


  5. Brian

    Thanks, Timothy, for your response. We still have our disagreements on Patriarchy. I regard it as unbiblical rather than an abuse to be corrected. I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Garcia about no longer using the term complementarian because of what it has come to denote in recent years, though I’ll persevere for the time being. The corrective voices of those like Carl Trueman Aimee Byrd (from Mortification of Spin), articles on the Aquila Report and others have been encouraging.
    Thank you, again. Blessings to you and your family,
    Brian Davilla

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I like listening to Trueman on MoS as well. I’m not stuck on the positions yet, which I guess I needed to clarify. I’m trying to clarify my positions and MoS has been helpful.

      I really just didn’t like the tenor of Garcia’s post.
      Thanks for stopping by.


  6. These have been interesting ‘back-and-forth’ comments here.

    One thing did bother me, as a never-married middle-aged woman. It’s this:

    “….the church has clearly abdicated its place in reminding the women of our day that their greatest calling is giving birth to the next generation. Their calling is not to be all they can be. It is not to climb the corporate ladder. It is not to serve in any role just to prove their worthiness.”

    I’ve never been married, nor have I ‘given birth to the next generation’. Does this mean I’ve ‘missed my calling’? Or that I am unworthy, because I’ve never been married, or had a child? For one thing, I didn’t want children–because I knew I would have been an awful mother.

    What else is an older single Christian woman to do? Granted, I didn’t want to ‘climb the corporate ladder’, or subscribe to most of the nonsense under the heading of ‘feminism’. For one thing: I don’t hate men. They just never looked at me as spouse-material.

    Not trying to start an argument here. It’s just my two cents.


    1. Patricia,
      Unworthy? Heavens no! Our worth comes from Christ, not our ability to fulfill a particular calling.

      One of the points I’m trying to make is that the most noble calling a woman can have is bringing children into the world, because they are image bearers. I’m trying to remind those in the culture of the importance and the blessing of children. If that door did not open to you, then that was God’s calling on your life. Be faithful where He has called you. You are precious in His sight because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Rejoice that you are His, part of the royal priesthood, and chosen generation. We strive to fulfill our callings, but if we cannot because those callings are providentially hindered, then we trust Him with that as well.

      I speak as one who is providentially hindered from my calling right now as a pastor. What is being done to me ecclesiastically would make your blood boil. But by God’s grace, I’m not bitter nor angry, trusting Him that He is glorified in my life, through it all. (I plan to write about it eventually, but have to keep silent on it all for now). We are to be faithful where we can be and trust HIM with the rest.

      I hope this helps.


    2. Patricia,
      I can’t just leave it there. I hope and pray for your comfort and this weighs heavy on my heart. Remember how precious it was that day and night that Anna prayed in the temple to the LORD. Your prayers are just as precious. Also remember, Paul said it was better if you could remain single so that you may serve Him. You do serve Him, rejoice. You are precious in His sight. I write to encourage you and I hope I do. Heidi and I rejoice knowing that you are our sister in the LORD and we are praying for you.


      1. Thank you, Timothy, for your encouraging comments.

        While it is true that the church (as a whole) doesn’t speak much about singleness, I try not to become bitter about it. It is what it is, as they say. I’ve pretty much given up on any thought of marriage. And who would want me as a wife???

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When I first realized that Christianity’s over-emphasis on marriage over-shadowed Jesus’ love, I had to make a change. I quit the denomination that told me that my only worth in God’s eyes was as a spouse and parent. I found a branch of Christianity that emphasized Jesus’ love over the requirement to marry and I’ve been a lot better off since. I’ve started to gain more self-confidence. It might be time for you to make a similar change.


      3. No one on my site, or denomination is overemphasizing marriage to singleness. We do celebrate marriage, and talk about marriage, but that is not our/my primary focus for the Christian life. If you peruse my blog posts, you would see that I write very little on marriage or singleness. I was single for 42 years before I married, so I know and understand what it means to be single. But I try not to highlight that, or being marriage, above the need for the gospel in the lives of sinners.

        The only reason I’m writing on the topic this week is because there has been quite a bit of discussion about it since some have tried to tie the marriage union to the Trinity, thereby distorting the Trinity. I’m to the point of not doing that and saying what Scripture says about it. Post to follow.


      4. Eternal Relation of Authority and Submission or Eternal Submission of the Son (ERAS and ESS, respectively) is another name for it. I’ve read a number of articles from both sides. It seems to me that it all comes down to your point of view and your interpretation – if God’s authority and Jesus’ submission is all there is to know about the trinity, or whether or not Jesus’ submission was limited to his earthly incarnation and isn’t a part of who He is as the son, to be in eternal, unending submission to his Father as wives are to be to their husbands. Were it not for the question on men and women as parallels of the relationships within the trinity, I’m not sure that the idea would have taken off.

        Maybe I’m from a different branch of Christianity, there are so many of them that anything anyone can believe in has to have been believed in at some point and time.


    3. Greetings Patricia. If it’s any consolation, I’m also invisible for that reason. As a single Christian, I’m often left-out from our family-oriented (and obsessed) Christianity. I found myself awed by the older single women in my church who helped me to question the teachings of my pastor. Turns out that 1 Corinthians 7 affirms singleness; so much so that Paul was worried that married couples might divorce each other so that they could live the higher, holier life that single men and women did. They showed me that Paul referred to Timothy as his son, their rabbi/disciple relationship mirrored that of fathers/sons in his culture. In Paul’s day, singleness was a rarity and most didn’t have a choice about whether or not to get married, it was expected as an arrangement to strengthen two families and not necessarily the result of love. The church often fails to recognize that today, single individuals outnumber married couples. Half the world, you and me included, are marginalized in our Christianity that refuses to accept singleness and teach upon it. (I’ve never heard one pro-singleness sermon, ever.) If Paul/Timothy are any example, then it must mean that single women are leaders in the church, mentors to the younger generation not by blood by the spiritual ties of being in God’s family.


      1. First of all, Jamie. You continue to rail against arranged marriages. I might remind you that if you are in Christ, as His bride, it is because the Father has given you to Christ (arranged marriage).
        John 6:37 (Jesus speaking) All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

        Secondly, women are NOT to be leaders in the church. They are to keep silent in church.
        As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church (1 Corinthians 14:33-35).
        Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (1 Timothy 2:11-14).

        How can Paul/Timothy (men) be held up as examples for single women unless you intentionally blur male/female distinctions CLEARLY defined in scripture?


      2. Arranged marriages just isn’t a cultural thing. It’s as strange to me as marrying for love would be in an arranged marriage society. Though I wouldn’t say that I ‘continue to rail against arranged marriage’ … if I were, I’d be much more adamant and I wouldn’t hold back.

        Who do single women get to ask questions to? Their fathers? What if their father isn’t into these teachings and doesn’t know anything that she doesn’t already know? Even in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul talks how he wishes everyone could prophesy in turn, it defines prophesy as speaking, and in 1 Corinthians 11 it gives proper instruction for prophesying women, it doesn’t call for silence. Women have a speaking part in Christianity.

        Do you know about Junia the apostle? Phoebe the deacon? Lydia who hosted a church in her house? Hostesses had a particular duty to the custom; it involved speaking. Furthermore, even Paul recognized Euodia and Syntche as two sisters who contended at his side for the gospel, he refers to them as co-workers same as Clement who would later become one of the early bishops of the church. Paul lived in a gender-segregated world, even Herod’s temple recognized this by creating a Court of the Women beyond which ladies were not permitted. The early church met in Solomon’s Collonade – located in the Court of the Women, seeing to it that both men and women had equal access to their place of worship. There were some places where Paul couldn’t go to preach, he’d elicit a scandal, offend a husband, and break social bounds. It’s not that different from our ‘Billy Graham Rule’ today, except for they took it very, very seriously. It’s also why the early church ordained deaconess to assist in the baptismal of women. The early church brought a new-found respect for women and helped to decrease the practice of exposure, early Christians rescued abandoned daughters and saved them from being sold into slavery. Historians once complained that Christianity was the religions of “Women, children, and slaves” the three least powerful classes of people in society. Another historian complained that Christianity was “over run by these hags called widows” – they had a thriving ministry that evolved into The Order of the Widows, they were responsible for an intercession ministry and were seated among the leadership of the early church. One of the early letters included the instruction to make a copy for Grapte so that she may exhort the widows and the orphans while the very same Clement was to teach the rest of the church. So when I read Scripture, I see the seeds that Paul planted to ensure that women’s leadership would grow and bloom into a radiant flower, one that the early church understood and acted upon in a very real way. How can you say it isn’t there when they clearly did?


  7. Wow. Lots of comments. Didn’t expect to see so many as I scrolled down to post mine. My comment is just a bit off topic, but I’ll begin by saying that I was quite impressed with your post and response to Garcia’s words. The reason I intended to comment was in reference to this one bit:

    “Whenever scholars start throwing around the phrases like “nuances and richness in biblical teaching” you can count that not much biblical teaching will follow.”

    I used to hear “layers of meaning” with regard to verses and passages, as if the author had more than one in mind when he wrote what he wrote. And as with your conclusion, I also found that it was no more than a means by which to inject meaning one preferred to infer, regardless of what was intended by the author. It’s no more than a cheap way to reject what is actually intended. This is not to say that true debates regarding meaning cannot be legitimate, but rather that “nuances” and “layers of meaning” presume a liberty to believe what one wants to believe in the face of arguments for a meaning that is more likely accurate.

    As to the post itself, I don’t where the problem is with a patriarchal perspective, conceding I may be biased due to the fact that I’m a man and husband. In discussions about roles, particularly where one side bristles at the notion of “submit” or “obey”, I often refer to the encouragement that as husbands, we’re to love our wives and Christ loved His church, which was so great that He submitted to torture and crucifixion. Who truly has the greater or more burdensome call to submit? There are times when I feel switching roles might be easier (until I consider childbirth and menstruation). But we are not given that choice and Scripture is pretty clear what our roles are. Scripture hasn’t been wrong so far.


    1. Good point. It’s so more difficult to lay one’s life down than it is just to be served. I am posting on this again tomorrow, in which I’m willing to punt the categories we have been arguing about (at least in certain circles) and stick with the phrase “biblical headship” since that is rooted in what Paul tells us in Ephesians 5. That way, the goal is to have the conversation start and end in what Scripture says, instead of relying on “modern scholarship.”


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