Friday, March 8, 2013

Patriarchy and International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. International Women's Day started out as a socialist political event but has since morphed into an event that celebrates the achievements of women and that speaks out against violence committed against women and pornography. All of these are good things. However, whenever I turn on the radio and hear one of the promoters of International Women's Day they always seem to be saying that patriarchy is the underlying cause of violence against women and so we must do away with patriarchy.

The terms patriarchy and patriarchalism are used in such a way that they are assumed to be evil and that anything that we simply must figure out what can be classified as patriarchy and then get rid of it. I've noticed this in a number of books that have been published in the past ten years or so. They don't so much argue against a patriarchal as assume it is bad and then try to show how whatever they are arguing against is a form of patriarchalism.

However, just casual observation shows that this is not the case. Many Muslim countries are very patriarchal and allow horrible crimes to be committed against women, but also have very strict laws against pornography. In more egalitarian societies, men are willing to let women do the work so that they don't have to but then strike out against women and the porn industry thrives.

The fact is that people are sinners and they will find ways to mistreat one another regardless of the societal system. The Scriptures support a certain form of patriarchy but turns the patriarchal system on its head. There is a subordination of woman to man but the man's goal in leadership is to lay down his life for the wife as Christ did for the church. The problem both within and outside of the church is that leadership is understood to be for the gaining of power for self. Pastors have become CEOs and women want the same power that men have. But Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. People generally don't fight over who gets to wash feet.

Christianity exalts motherhood and Mary was given the role of being the Mother of God which was not given to any man. The solution is not egalitarianism but a well-ordered society when where men lead and lay down their lives for women rather than abdicating their responsibilities to them and treating them as property.  If everyone is equally engaged in a struggle for power, abuse will continue. The abortion industry thrives on women who use their power to destroy the rights of those younger than them and the men who pressure women to use that power to avoid their own responsibilities. We should do what we can in the legislative process to stop the abuse of women and stop the killing of babies but none of that will stop completely until Christ returns. There is no utopian societal model that can save us.


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Anonymous said...

“There was no end to the servitude and pain and affliction of women. But when the archangel said to the holy Virgin, ‘the Lord is with you,’ all the debts of afflictions were erased. . . . There is no longer the lordship of man over you...The holy mother of Christ was the model and leader of every good activity for men and for women through the grace and support of her glorious king and son. . . . She was a leader and a teacher to the holy apostles.”

-Maximus the Confessor