What Is Patriarchy?
The Oxford English Dictionary describes patriarchy as a system of society of government in which the father or eldest male is the head of the family, and descent is traced through the male line. That makes sense. I’ve also heard that there is a system where the male or father figure holds control. Due to this control that he yields, he can make the rules that the woman and the children obey. “This is a dictatorship, not a democracy,” my father used to say.
So, what exactly is the problem with this way? The Bible does seem pretty clear that God established the role of man and woman. If not at the creation of humanity, then perhaps sometime later? “The home the vehicle God chooses to reveal himself to us?” says Dorothy Paterson. All that sounds good, and many scriptures back that up (1 Cor 14, 1 Tim 2, Eph 5).
God Made Humans Equally
The surface problem with this view of house and church patriarchy is that, on the surface, it isn’t how God established humanity.
So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
So if God created humans as equals, bearing His image, when perhaps the difference is in their first instructions?
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
Nope. Their first instruction was to see them both as equals. But wait, are men and women equal? We live in a society that screams that at the top of its lungs. What does equal mean? Back to the Oxford English Dictionary: Equal means being the same in quantity, size, degree, or value. The question then becomes, are men and women the same?
No. I mean, yes. Wait. There were created with equal value, but are they the same? No. They are not the same physically at all. The woman seems more nurturing and compassionate than a man in their nature at their core. Men often appear more aggressive than women. It doesn’t seem like they are the same.
Bring The Earth Into Submission, Together
God told the men at the same time he said to the women that they are to multiply with each other creating more bearers of His image and that both of them are to subdue (bring into bondage) the earth. It is all theirs!
3 When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, 4 what is a human being (mankind) that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him? 5 You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler (have dominion) over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all the sheep and oxen, as well as the animals in the wild, 8 the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea that pass through the currents of the seas.
If I may be so bold, it seems that God had in mind that humans were to have dominion and rule over His creation together. Both of them: Men and Women. So then, another question may surface: when did men begin to rule over women, or did women decide they should rule over men?
We see it both ways through history—kings and Queens, Husbands and Wives, Bosses and Employees, Owners and enslaved people, etc. Perhaps you are a man or a woman who has not been ruled over in some capacity. Then you are indeed blessed. But for the rest of us, what have we seen, how have we been treated, have we treated others this way, and where did this come from?
Men Need A Helper
It’s true: men need help. Equally valid, women need help. Fair to say both ways. But they were talking to the men here for a moment. It’s okay to admit we need help. Even God notices that.
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.”
Could it be that this scripture is the beginning glance of the thought that women are created for men? Men are lonely; therefore, a woman is designed to help them with their loneliness. Sweet Moses, have we thought of this? This verse was spoken in jest at my marriage: “God looked down and saw it was not good for me to be alone anymore and chose a bride to help me.”
Could this be the first of many scriptures we use to justify marriage roles? Let’s break this verse down and try to get to the heart before we go on.
The word Ezer is used 21 times in the Bible and mainly refers to how God is our help in times of trouble. You can find many of them in Psalms. So let’s, for a moment, use the same logic referring to how this word could relate to a woman being a submissive partner because she was created to be a helper.
Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help (ezer) and shield.
Do you see? Would anyone consider that the Lord should submit to Israel because he is their help? Nobody would assume that. Perhaps it’s best not to think that with Genesis 2:18 as well. And a better way may be to consider that the woman helper God created for Adam is an equal image-bearing partner meant to assist him in championing over and ruling the earth. How glorious that would be.
No struggle for control. Neither wants to do their own thing and receive the glory apart from the other. So two very different and yet equal people were ruling creation with each other and God. Doesn’t sound that bad.