The responsibilities of Patriarchal Headship are not a walk in the park as we might like to believe.
Theme: Masculine Authority and Responsibility
Author’s Note: This post is based on a conversation between Jack, Oscar, Red Pill Apostle, et al. Links to the original comments are contained in the initial words.
Length: 1,500 words
Reading Time: 6 minutes
A Vacuum of Understanding about Patriarchy
Western men have been without real patriarchal authority for so long, that most people don’t even know what it is or what it looks like.
But whatever it is, the NPC commoners are grandstanding that it’s baaad, simply because MGM, trend setters, and culture shapers say so.
Regular readers already know the popular narrative’s concept of “The Patriarchy” is a putridly biased caricature that hardly resembles the real thing. But the Manosphere’s idealizations of Male Headship are also rather naïve and half baked.
In lieu of this vacuum of understanding, most people will buy into the Feminist concept of “The Patriarchy”, which is limited to a set of things they dislike about men, male authority, and traditional gender roles. You see, Feminism is not a rebellion against patriarchy per se, but against authority (and ultimately against God). Feminists need to affix blame on a scapegoat to gain social traction, and they can’t blame authority, because that would reveal their hand. So “The Patriarchy” has become the abstracted straw man.
To further our understanding of how Patriarchy works in practice, this post delves into five theoretical case studies and raises several questions surrounding Patriarchy that have been scantly addressed.
Case Study 1 – Tennant and Foster’s Hypothetical Example of a Lawless Wife
One post in the series on Faux-Masculinity, The Responsible Figurehead / Sock Puppet (2022-5-4) reviewed trimmings of a newsletter from Bnonn Tennant and Michael Foster and described how Complementarians renounce their masculine authority by philosophically handcuffing their consciences to a broken system.
In this newsletter Tennant and Foster illustrated a hypothetical example of a naughty wife who breaks the law, and ratiocinated that if the husband interceded for his wife in this matter, then that would be “hyper-patriarchy”, which was insinuated to be a bad thing. Their implied conclusion is that the husband shouldn’t try to interfere in matters like this, and if he does, then this would be “toxic patriarchy”.
They offered a counterargument to illustrate what Doug Wilson might call a “nicely balanced patriarchy”, whereby stating that a wife who breaks the law must answer to the law for her crime, not to her husband, and that it is the responsibility of the law to hold her accountable, not her husband. “Nicely balanced” means that the sock puppet husband can still be a little bit lazy, and the headstrong wife can still be a little bit dominant, and they can still have an inverted codependent relationship while also having the psychological satisfaction of thinking that they have a Christian relationship. Tennant and Foster assumed that this is Biblical, or “theologically correct”, or whatever, and that this is how things should work.
In Tennant and Foster’s example, we aren’t given the exact nature of the law the wife broke. One’s initial thought is that the wife has committed a crime worthy of jail time, which muddies the waters of the point some, since while the husband does still have authority, she’s going to be subject to incarceration to pay her debt.
But what if the example of the wife breaking the law was in the form of a simple traffic violation? Say she’s caught speeding a few times, or better yet, violating “texting and driving” laws because those minivan selfies with all the car seats in the back elicit all sorts of “What a great mom!” comments that women love on social media. In such a case, now the civil penalty is monetary. Here the application of patriarchal authority is much clearer. It’s up to her husband to reign in her behavior to prevent her from further violations. He gets to do this any way he sees fit without violating the guidelines God gives husbands in the bible.
Basically, Tennant and Foster have either not thought scripture well, which is bad enough, or have thought through scripture, know what it says, and are intentionally misguiding people, which is evil. Either way, they shouldn’t be teaching on the topic of marriage.
In reality, Tennant and Foster don’t know what patriarchy is any more than Feminists do, or most men for that matter.
Applying Biblical Patriarchy
“What do you think is the theologically correct way to handle that?”
I think the theologically correct way to handle this is to simply state that, yes, this is how it is in the current day, but it’s not necessarily Biblically based Patriarchy, as Tennant and Foster claim.
In contrast to Tennant and Foster’s claims, when we consider the Christ : Church :: Husband : Wife analogy (based on Ephesians 5:22-33) in light of John 10:10-18 and Galatians 2:19-21, we reach the conclusion that a husband should intercede for his wife in such cases, just as Christ interceded for the believer’s sins through His work at Calvary.
So how should this be done?
The NT recognizes the authority of governments (Romans 13:1), but Jesus said it is better to work out your problems with others so that you don’t have to turn to those authorities (Matthew 5:24-26), which is a hat tip to how things were done in the OT. Again, this goes back to the authority of the husband, as the wife would not be in a position or a state of mind to successfully negotiate her own transgression.
Based on accounts in the OT, the patriarch of the offending party should meet with the patriarch of the offended party and hash out some way to handle the situation together, whether that be tribute, or an indemnity, or punishment, or whatever.
The Modern Application
In a modern context, this would mean the husband should handle the situation and work out the solution. But this has problems in the modern day application.
- The modern nuclear family doesn’t have this kind of social and financial power.
- This assumes that the wife and family are more or less obedient to the husband’s decisions.
- It opens the door to a multitude of methods for enforcing punishment. A man could be punished for the transgressions of his wife.
- This suggests that if the husband continues to fail to restrain his irresponsible wife, then the government should also punish him for his failure to do so.
- All of the above implications would certainly be an incentive to men to execute their authority, but I’m not sure if it would be an incentive to women to submit — not as long as women are predominantly favored over men by the social and legal system.
- It would be an incentive for ill willed wives to misbehave even more, just to enjoy the schadenfreud of seeing their husbands punished.
So you see, Tennant and Foster aren’t the only ones who haven’t thought through the Biblical foundations and the logical conclusions of their positions. Most men have no clue what they’re asking for when they demand Patriarchal authority and responsibility.
Of course, Tennant and Foster won’t say any of this, because not only would they offend wives by asking them to submit, they would also offend husbands by asking them to assume the authority necessary to clean up the wife’s messes. Their ethics won’t allow them to offend anyone’s postmodern sensibilities. So instead, they’re urging husbands to open the door to let the gynogroveling church and state do whatever they like (per Romans 13:1), and then mediate the mess with limited authority.
And, they’re saying this is theologically correct Headship!
Case Study 2 – Being a Hapless Accomplice
Here’s another thought experiment that might shed some more light in the discussion.
Suppose you just met a guy and you were hanging out. He seems kind of shifty, but he’s got a lot of charisma and is rather likeable. You overlook this for the time being because you just met and you’re still getting to know him. The second time you go to hang out with him, you’re driving the car. You stop at a convenience store to grab some drinks. While you’re in the convenience store, this guy pulls out a gun and robs the storeowner. You look on in shock and dismay. After the robbery, he tells you to drive. You look at him in disbelief, and he waves his gun at you. You feel like you have no choice but to be the get-away driver.
Later on, the law catches up to you. You tell them you didn’t know he was going to rob the store, and that he forced you to be an unwitting accomplice, but all the evidence is stacked against you, including his testimony.
The typical Protestant’s response is to assume God is working something great and mysterious in your life and pray for God’s will to be done in this situation. If that means going to jail (taken to be an unjust form of “persecution”), then so be it.
How would a true patriarch handle this situation?
Case Study 3 – Being a Hapless Husband
Now, let’s suppose a similar scenario happens, except the perpetrator is your wife who’s been embezzling money from her employer ever since before you got married. (Let’s assume you’ve been married for one year.)
Tennant and Foster’s response is to turn your wife into the authorities, play dumb, and pray for the best.
How would a true patriarch handle it?
Case Study 4 – A true example of Patriarchy: Chinese Filial Piety
I am rather familiar with patriarchy in Chinese culture, also known as Filial Piety in the West. Most men are hardworking, successful, and respectable. The women are feminine, respectful, and content. Families are a source of security and financial stability. People know what’s wrong and what’s right. Society is well ordered. Social capital is high. Sure, there are some problems, but overall, it’s quite nice. This is partly why the Chinese stay within small enclave communities in the West — because the outside culture is a gynocentric mess!
Case Study 5 — A true example of Patriarchy: The Godfather
Most readers are familiar with The Godfather. Although the Italian mob is certainly not Christian, it is a real life, working example of a patriarchal social structure.