A few more thoughts on the patriarchy thread:

First, this comment by friend of Mere-O Brant is well put: “I know there are some egalitarians who simply cannot believe that any sort of leadership can be exercised without power and domination and that any form of roles is an attempt to destroy human flourishing. But I think the large number of good hearted egalitarians are simply longing for a system that truly treats both as equals, and perhaps they would find that in a real patriarchy (as I believe God intended).” The italics are mine–I think that’s spot on. The difficulty is how this “patriarchal egalitarianism” is actually patriarchal and egalitarian.

On a similar line of thought, Amy at the A-Team offers this helpful reflection. I think the orchestra analogy particularly fitting. The concept of leadership, though, is ambiguous: if as the husband it is my role to lead (i.e. I have the objective authority), then I may hand the reigns to my wife and follow her when I see fit. Am I not still leading? Maybe this is what troubles egalitarians: they can’t conceive of a world where patriarchs could excercise their authority not exercising it or giving it away. But then it seems they would have a tough time with the crucifixion of Jesus.

Finally, before church I was perusing this article by Ian McFarland. The only reason I mention it is because I found it to be a textbook example of allowing a previous interpretation govern his reading of the text (which is McFarland’s intent, kind of). The money quote: “If the preceding analysis is at all on target, God’s word is not active in Ephesians 5 in presenting theologically sound advice on the proper form of the relationship between husbands and wives.33 But its activity is quite palpable in the writer’s struggle to give concrete form to the command that Christians be subordinate to one another. In the attempt to ground a particular view of human relationships in the lordship of Christ, the writer forces us to reflect on the character of that lordship. Insofar as this lordship is depicted in the wider canonical context as profoundly non-hierarchical, such reflection undermines hierarchy in relationships between human beings. A canonical reading thus discloses the writer’s inability to bend God’s word to the demands of the prevailing social order.”

That seems the equivalent of saying that Paul failed to apply the non-hierarchical Lordship of Jesus to the created order. A bold claim if I ever heard one!

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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