Quoting Quiverfull: That Dirty ‘P’ Word – Patriarchy

Quoting Quiverfull: That Dirty ‘P’ Word – Patriarchy April 3, 2014

by James McDonald from Ladies Against Feminism and Every Thought Captive Magazine from Highlands Ministries

In our day, there is a great battle over how words are defined. This happens often in the political arena where the words “liberal” and “conservative” seem to take on a different meaning depending on who is using them.

And it’s not just politics; many moral and theological terms have either been morphed or hijacked. With or without an agenda, many words are twisted by the behavior of the one embracing a term, making things even more confusing.

Words like “gay,” “partner,” and “tolerance,” communicate something very different than they did even 50 years ago. Even words like “dominion” or “kingdom” are pejoratives to some, used and defined only by the critic tossing them around.

Words can be so badly twisted that they become “trigger words” that no one wants to mention, and certainly no one wants to be associated with it.

And, so it is with the “P” word; the word we know as patriarchy. In our day, patriarchy is quickly becoming a pejorative. It has come to mean, “selfish, overbearing tyrant who seeks to dominate and suppress women and children.” And, let’s be clear, there are those who embrace that term and fit the bill. They have behaved as if the world revolves around them and that women and children exist only to serve them.

However, the true definition of the term patriarchy does not refer to a position of dominance, rather it refers to a position of servanthood. The word comes from two Greek words: patria, which means father, and arche, which means to rule. In other words, patriarchy refers to a government where the father is responsible before God for the nurture and care of those placed under his charge. Serious stuff.

Comments open below

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull and Spiritual Abuse honestly and thoughtfully

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 


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  • However, the true definition of the term patriarchy does not refer to a position of dominance, rather it refers to a position of servanthood. The word comes from two Greek words: patria, which means father, and arche, which means to rule. In other words, patriarchy refers to a government where the father is responsible before God for the nurture and care of those placed under his charge.

    No, it means a system under which fathers rule. That’s what you actually just said, and then went on to pretend you said something else that you just made up.

  • Irina Alisa Bee

    Loooong time lurker here! Hello everyone!

    You are quite right, Coleslaw, in your assessment that the author is saying one thing and then claiming to say another. It is quite sad really. I find myself thinking that “if only these people would actually follow along the ideal that they seem to espouse with the milder version of what they claim to say, things would be lovely!” I am invariably drawn to imagining my lovely boyfriend being put in the position that the patriarchal crowd espouses for men to take up, and i realize what an absolute joy it would be for me to serve him in the most patriarchy-y sense that these same people could wish. But this is only true because Steven is seriously Gods’ gift to human kind, and the most caring, kind, and attentive man anyone could imagine. However, the reality has to be faced that not all men by far are anywhere near as wondrous as Steven is. So this system is very dangerous, and i think that couples should ideally build their relationships on the principle of teamwork. In closing, i would like to say that i enjoy reading the comments to the articles nearly as much as the articles themselves. Good job everyone! 🙂

  • Trollface McGee

    There is a reason that we call languages like Latin “dead,” on the other hand, English is very much alive and is constantly changing. We don’t speak like we do in Shakespearean times. And the reason words like “patriarchy” get a bad reputation is because of the way they have been used. Patriarchy has been used to support a whole host of things that are bad for society, so yeah, it doesn’t have a positive meaning. “Kingdom?” Well, we don’t think monarchy is all that great thank you. “Dominion?” They’re the ones that came up with the whole theocratic dystopian model and we’re supposed to praise it?
    And really – this coming from people who constantly butcher the language to have it suit their own needs? I cringe every time I hear a fundie say “defraud,” because instead of what I expect – a chance of a particularly interesting contract dispute – I get slut shaming.

  • Trollface McGee

    Exactly. Patriarchy has nothing “servant” about it. It was a term from Rome I believe – where fathers had absolute right to do whatever they wanted to their families – including kill their wives and children for any reason. There’s no benevolence or servanthood in the definition or the usage.

  • Joy

    Hello! Thanks for coming out of “lurkdom” and adding your viewpoint!

    (Does Steven have a single brother? Enquiring minds want to know! 😉 )

  • Irina Alisa Bee

    Hello Joy!
    Yes, Steven does in fact have a single brother! He is the youngest, and his name is Tony. The only problem is that both of them reside in the UK. (yeah i have a weird but utterly lovely long distance relationship situation.)

  • Brennan

    Hoo, boy. No, actually, “patriarchy” does not mean the father is “responsible” before God or anyone else. The Greeks who invented the term and the Romans who borrowed it were not talking about a system of checks and balances or systems of accountability. The king stay king, to quote the late, great D’Angelo Barksdale. That’s actually what these fundie feudal lords want, too; they preach a good game, but they’d actually be horrified at the thought of someday losing their power and truly being held accountable before God (or anyone). They’re just hoping their “flocks” won’t notice.

  • Brennan

    I would argue that the truly insidious thing is that the system is not just dangerous but corrupting. It’s not good on any level for ordinary people to be told “you are a stand-in for God” or “you are the arbiter of the will of God for this person” or (God-forbid) “you have the power of God.” And all these are implied in the CP doctrine. People aren’t raised in a vacuum; we’re a product of our experiences. Your Steven probably didn’t become God’s gift to the world by being taught that the sun, moon, and stars revolve around his whims. In the patriarchy movement, otherwise well-meaning men are corrupted by power, otherwise competent women learn helplessness, and kids born into it come of age with incredibly warped expectations for their lives.

  • Irina Alisa Bee

    You are really quite right on all fronts. Steven actually had to go through a lion’s share of awfulness before he met me. In fact, one could say that he fully embraces all the patriarchal doctrines except about-face 180 degrees. Sometimes, it’s all i can do to get him to say anything beyond that things ought to be done exactly the way that *I* want them to be done and to actually express his opinion.

  • lodrelhai

    I actually think it’s worse. They look forward to being “held accountable” before God because they believe they are doing it right. A bad ruler is still, to their mind, doing his job of ruling. No matter how heinously he may abuse those under him, it is still God’s will that he rule; the rebellion of a wife or children who do not submit is a far, far worse sin.

  • Astrin Ymris

    The nice thing about being “accountable to God” is that the bill never comes due during your lifetime, so your victims never get actual redress in this world.

  • lodrelhai

    “And it’s not just politics; many moral and theological terms have either been morphed or hijacked. With or without an agenda, many words are twisted by the behavior of the one embracing a term, making things even more confusing.”

    I actually agree with this point. The behavior of those loudly professing to be “Christians” is the primary reason I stopped calling myself one, long before I gave up the idea of an all-powerful god.

  • persephone

    Nah, I think we’re right about patriarchy and evil.

  • Joy

    Aww shucks! The UK is a little too far away for me. (Thanks for indulging my question. :))

  • For a good word “hijacking”, I recommend the books by Michael Pearl.

  • quietglow

    Well, he did write “in other words,” which is sort of true, because they’re other words than the words that appeared.

  • Jesus actually preached against the patriarchy of his times when he said, “Call no one ‘Father,’ for you have one Father in Heaven,” and when he said that contrary to the systems around them, for Christians “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” That didn’t mean that the person ruling got to pretend he was a servant! It meant that the person who was a ruler in the greater society (such as the pater familias) was supposed to stop ruling in Christian relationships. Jesus never meant the movement he started to be all about who got to be in charge of whom. Just the opposite, in fact.

  • guest

    Yes, they are other words, but they don’t convey the same message, so the expression “in other words” doesn’t appy.

  • guest

    And the church just keeps getting it wrong. Pastors are forever trying to climb a bit higher, be “in authority” over more and more people. Just get rid of the whole idea of some people having more say than others, and you will do away with the whole conundrum of who is allowed to exercise authority over whom. Easy! But… no. of course. We must keep hierarchy in the church or there will be no order!

  • quietglow

    Yes, that’s why I think it’s funny.

  • Jewel

    So much this! Great points!

  • Jewel

    Exactly! I was just thinking when I read this, “In what universe does ‘rule’ mean the save as ‘serve'”? It makes absolutely no sense.

  • Jewel

    Wow, great point, Astrin!

  • Jewel

    So, so true. Seen it played out over and over including in my own life. And you could add “makes a man with somewhat abusive, selfish tendencies into a full-blown narcissistic monster”.

  • Allison the Great

    Patriarchy is an extremely dirty word to me. It means so many horrible things. It means that women don’t get a say. It means that women are property, that we don’t get to make any choices of our own because somehow we are weaker, or not intelligent enough. It means that our minds and our personalities don’t matter, that all we’re meant to do is pop out babies and do as we’re told. It means that women and daughters are servants. It means that we don’t get a future (barefoot and pregnant is not a future). It means “women, know your place”.

  • Rebecca Horne

    No, it’s not that patriarchy refers just to tyrannical rule by overbearing men. It’s that people have realized that having one sex rule, just because, regardless of ability, is a bad thing.

  • Sara Lin Wilde

    Pretty well every time I’ve heard somebody say “I’m ruling from a position of servanthood”, the servanthood has been overshadowed by the ruling.

  • B.E. Miller

    I’m only here for the comments….

  • If patriarchy is about men serving families, does that mean wives and children should not serve as they are not the patriarch? If they should serve without ruling, ruling evidentially has another meaning.

  • In our day, there is a great battle over how words are defined… Even words like “dominion” … [is] used and defined only by the critic tossing them around.

    Like in Vision Forum’s “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy”:

    In those tenets “dominion”, when referring to a man’s dominion, meant his rule. (By their dominionism, they would have wanted Christian™ men to rule everything on earth.)

    “Dominion”. where it refered to a woman’s dominion, meant the home she is limited to, and where she is second in command to her husband.

  • ArmyChick

    Exactly. I have a friend who subscribes to that. It makes me sick. She is 30 and has 6 kids already. Daddy doesn’t spend time with the kids much. It is HER job apparently. She posted a picture of her oldest on Instagram (her oldest daughter is 11) holding her month old sister saying she is training to be a mommy already. I wanted to vomit.

    These patriarch movements do nothing but limit women’s opportunities, talents, hopes and dreams.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    So…can he please explain to me how “rule”=”servanthood?” Please? I think I missed something. Maybe after, he can explain to me how “up” means “down.” I’m having a hard time with that one too.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    lol, yeah, he could have just as easily have said “In other words, pineapple refrigerator hippopotamus trombone.” I mean, those are other words too, after all, and there is clearly no requirement that those other words have anything at all to do with the original words.

    We could play this game all day!