Saturday, December 22, 2007

Perception: A Major Problem for Patriarchy

(painting ~ "Escaping Criticism"
by Pere Borrell del Caso)

Patriarchy seems to be an outgrowth of Christian Reconstruction which is largely spearheaded by Calvinistic and Reformed groups. Patriarchy is not monolithic by any stretch of the imagination and crosses many denominational bounds however, patriarchy is not limited to Reformed Theology. Because so many different groups and ideologies have contributed to what is now understood to be so-called “Biblical patriarchy,” it can be difficult to sort through.

The tension that exists as a consequence of religious freedom in the United States contributes to this problem. I believe that our nation was founded upon Christian principles and by men who held a Christian worldview. Our founding father’s faith in Christianity provided the US with religious freedom, and freedom for all religions. Here’s the rub: most religions want to reform culture and make new disciples or converts. The system works well when there is a reasonable balance between the protection of and provision for religious liberty and free exercise of religion. We run into trouble when groups or individuals seek to proselytize rather than evangelize, or when these efforts encroach upon the religious liberty of others. (And then we have groups like the “Freedom from Religion Foundation” that seek to eradicate Biblical Christianity specifically without much concern for religions). Patriarchy presents an additional challenge because it mitigates or fails to make the distinction between and among those things which are Christian, American and cultural (related to family).

Patriarchy presents quite a potpourri of these influences -- some are very innocent and some are basically authoritarian and aggressively coercive (spiritually abusive/cultic IMO). Patriarchy represents a number of discrete groups and ideologies, although these separate groups inconsistently associate with one another. It makes for great confusion and associations may be true on a smaller scale but not characteristic of patriarchy in the general sense. Christian Reconstruction and Dominionism get slammed in the process, although those who represent them are much related to the confusion and some of the abuses within the patriarchy movement.

Let me elaborate a bit. Dominionism, distinct from Dominion Theology gives rise to Theonomy (the Bible as the sufficient source for human ethics) which gives rise to Christian Reconstruction (seeking to establish Christianity as a potent influence if not the most significant influence in civil government. Dispensationalists and other non-Dominionist, Evangelical groups support Christian Reconstruction, though they are not based in Theonomy. Victorian social ethics (apart but frequently viewed as synonymous with Christian ethics and values contribute as well. Throw in patriotism. Throw in agrarianism, homeschooling interests and then things like kinism. This makes for very strange bedfellows. I’ve identified the following schools of thought that are associated with patriarchy but may or may not be related to one another. I've tried to be as inclusive as I can, but this is not an exhaustive list.
  • Agrarianism
  • Biblical Christianity
  • Calvinism
  • Christian Fundamentalism
  • Christian Patriotism
  • Christian Reconstruction
  • Complementarians (gender related issues)
  • Creation Science
  • Dispensationalism
  • Dominionism
  • Dominion Theology
  • Family Integrated Church Movement
  • Family Oriented Interests
  • Family Oriented Religion (mixture of Christianity, US Patriotism and Victorian/Antebellum Idealism)
  • Fundamentalist Authoritarianism (mild authoritarian/fundamentalist ideals such as the Constitution Party)
  • Fundamentalist Libertarianism
  • Homeschooling
  • Kinism
  • Neo-Confederate Ideology
  • Political Theocentrism (that which seeks Theocracy)
  • Pro-Life Movement
  • Reformed Theology
  • Right Wing Populism
  • Submission Theology
  • Theonomy
The modern patriarchy movement (that which has emerged from within Evangelical Christian circles from within the homeschooling movement) presents some confusing associations because these discrete groups relate to one another without consistency. For instance, Vision Forum publicly denounces specific Kinists, but both groups rely heavily on the writings of the Confederate Presbyterian RL Dabney. Patriarchalists like Doug Wilson embrace the concept of slavery (hopefully as a form of Christian philanthropy and as a solution to the Welfare State). The modern homeschooling movement was pioneered in many ways by Theonomists and Dominionists such as Rousas Rushdoony. The League of the South which supports Agrarianism, at its inception, avoided race-related positions, but later discussed and favored Kinism (though that documentation is no longer available and is now supported only by my personal claims based on my memory of the documentation online). The League of the South supported the Constitution Party candidate for the US Presidency in 2004, and the founder of the party is the father of the founder of Vision Forum who hails RL Dabney as a prophet. The Family Integrated Church (FIC) Movement draws from the ideology of Confederate Presbyterian writings like those of RL Dabney and BM Palmer, but individual FICs may or may not be kinist or pro-slavery (though many are). And on and on it goes.
There are many associations made and some quite rightfully noted, and each individual must decide what degree of association they are comfortable with in regards to support and participation in each ministry. As I’ve recently delineated in posts here, my convictions prohibit me from rightfully participating in some of these groups and have withdrawn support from those groups which validate and contribute to others on the list. One must be careful (as I may or may not have been in prior posts here) in making these associations, careful to not absolutely associate one group with another unfairly. Sometimes that proves quite difficult.
Is there guilt by association? Certainly. [Late entry/addendum PM: This post concerns perception. There is perceived guilt. Stacy McDonald mentions something like this in that online Gunn Brothers video (time mark 2:10). If a woman wears provocative clothing, should she be surprised if she is perceived to be of ill character? Stacy says that this is a foregone conclusion and that woman should not be surprised.] 

Is such an association valid? For public ministries and teachers of Christian doctrine, I believe that it is very valid, especially concerning matters that require a distinction between that which is Christian and that which is political or related to the civil government. [Late entry/addendum PM: But how is guilt or implied guilt resolved? It's really quite simple. The supposedly guilty person can clarify, give a ready defense of their actions or their association, or they can repent. If the person has a stable and solid testimony historically, then the guilt is quite easily remedied.]

Teachers are held to a higher standard. Ministers are held to a higher standard, and Christians are certainly held to a higher standard than unbelievers. Should these associations be public knowledge? I would hope so. Paul called Christians to be an open book -- living epistles to be known and read of all men.

simplegifts3 said...
"The modern patriarchy movement (that which has emerged from within Evangelical Christian circles from within the homeschooling movement) presents some confusing associations because these discrete groups relate to one another without consistency."This is an excellent summary of what I've just posted about on my blog w/respect to Matt Chancey's behavior. We both know how a while back he tried to publicly disparage people by giving a very weak association between them and a kinist, yet he allowed his wife to co-author a book with a woman who has one of this kinist's associates, a fellow kinist, at her church."Is there guilt by association?"Hoo-eee, what a question! If the association is close and one is working with another toward the same goal, then the common ground of that goal would be the area of "guilt." I would not automatically say that two distinct groups that work together on one project are then to be seen as alike in all respects. If I work with Roman Catholics on some local pro-life project, I am only "guilty" of being pro-life.I guess I try to avoid using that term (guilt by assoc.), on account of how I was taught to use it, but I think I understand what you mean.Now, if pastors and leaders of ministries keep failing to publicly clarify where they stand, when asked, or when something is pointed out, that is a problem. I find myself wondering what their exact views are on certain issues, and I confess I start to wonder if they are hiding something.It is best, if you want to be an elder, or a leader, to let people know where you stand and where you want to go, and why.I most definitely agree with you on the consistency call.
December 22, 2007 2:09 PM

Cindy said...
Is there guilt by association?It is certainly perceived that way, and it is more significant depending on the activity and the degree of intimacy in the association. What is the nature of the association? That's significant.There's an easy way out of the association -- make a definitive public declaration of your specific beliefs. How do Christians deal with guilt? They either give a ready defense or they repent. (I might add this thought to the main post as a late entry.)You offer a positive analogy here, comparing two Christian groups working together towards a positive end. Your blog article concerns Christians, one of whom works toward an end that is far less desirable to a great number of Christians.
December 22, 2007 8:51 PM

thatmompodcast said...
Cindy, this is such an insightful article. Your discussion of "guilt by association" is quite good. One of the issues I have had with this movement has been how deceitful some of these people have been. They will attempt to distance themselves from a particular teaching, only to turn around and heartily endorse a book where those teachings are taught or will welcome the teachers of those things to their pulpits. Trying to claim that "guilt by association" is unfair is ludicrous. As you pointed out, even Stacy affirms that people shouldn't be surprised if this happens! Great reference to that clip from the "monstrous" film; I am glad you added it!
December 23, 2007 5:57 AM

Corrie said...
Cindy,Thank you for putting this together! The GBA section is excellent and you drew a very good analogy using a well-known patriarchal proponent's own example. I have been wondering where the public statements are for a long while? I am not sure why public explanations, answers and clarifications are not forthcoming?
December 23, 2007 7:44 AM

simplegifts3 said...
"For public ministries and teachers of Christian doctrine, I believe that it is very valid, especially concerning matters that require a distinction between that which is Christian and that which is political or related to the civil government."I noted this yesterday, but didn't have time to comment. We know that theonomists would not make this distinction, would they?The presupposition you are working from is different from the one they are working from, and the twain shall never meet.
December 23, 2007 10:39 AM

Cindy said...
simplegifts3,Mark Noll, Janet Fishburn and others believe that the merging of that which is expressly Christian and that which is social or political are the source of many of our modern problems within the church. As the different and seperate factors of Victorianism, American Patriotism, and Christianity differentiate or in situations where they do present discrete and separate issues, much tension is created. These authors and others argue that we will never advance past this point until we make some of these distinctions.I've discussed this at some length here: here: theonomists argue that all their beliefs are a matter of Biblical Authority or that the government must capitulate to their religious beliefs. But our founding fathers provided for religious freedom for all religions and for all people. That will create tension.Actually, had the South (which argued for a theocracy) had been permitted to secede, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion. But our history did not unfold that way. In many ways, we are still fighting this same war for many of the same reasons, and the answers aren't any more palatable then than they are now.Again, it gets back to the tension and balance between religious freedom for all people and the evangelism/reform of culture. Our Constitution provides for this, but it must be balanced.The Kingdom of God will prevail. What I don't seem to get is that if people are left to freedom of religion, that provides Christianity with the opportunity to minsister. Theonomy advocates personal reformation first, then reformation of the civil government. If the hearts of men change first (that which is the work of the Holy Spirit), the civil government will follow. What we see demonstrated by many of those in Theonomy is not what men like Rushdoony and Bahnsen taught or advocated. They were not authoritarians or legalists.
December 23, 2007 12:00 PM

Cindy said...
Ooopps.I wrote: What I don't seem to get is that if people are left to freedom of religion, that provides Christianity with the opportunity to minsister.I didn't quite get that out exactly right while the cat was fighting to lay on top of my keyboard... I don't understand why Christians and many of this new breed of theonomist does not realize that free exercise of beliefs will enhance and foster Christian Reformation. That's what makes America so blessed and so unique.I notices that I wrote "minsister" I don't know what that might be (ha, ha, ha)I believe that more freedom will bring more opportunity for evangelism. This is what I understood to be the opinions of the previous generation of Christian Reconstructionists. It is not largely true of them today, and I think that many people don't correctly interpret and apply theonomy like their predecessors. I don't entirely agree with all of the writings of Rushdoony, but I don't believe that he and others like him advocate things like kinism. If they did, we would have kinism quite clearly and openly included in the copious Theonomic literature.
December 23, 2007 12:10 PM