Saturday, December 22, 2007

Perception: A Major Problem for Patriarchy

"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. 

 he 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 is 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. 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. 

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.