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An examination of Vision Forum’s “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” by analyzing the actual verses used to support each tenet. By Jen of Jen’s Gems. Originally published here. Republished with permission. Please remember that while the contributors to this website are united in our belief that there are problems with the teachings of Vision Forum, we come from a variety of diverse perspectives.
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Part Two
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This is the second in a three-part critique of The Biblical Tenets Of Patriarchy. If you haven’t read Part One already, please do so before reading this article.

Critiquing The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy has been anything but a pleasurable experience for me. In fact, it’s brought me much sorrow. The reason why is because I’ve been such a strong proponent of Patriarchy. It’s not an easy thing to have to come to grips with the fact that I can no longer subscribe to a belief system that I had long held so dear. This isn’t to say that I now completely reject all aspects of Patriarchy. I still believe that certain elements of it may in fact be useful and even helpful to many families. Perhaps some of it is even biblical. However, I’ve also come to see that many elements of Patriarchy are, at the very least, extra-biblical, and perhaps even errant theology, if not heretical. As Bible teachers, patriarchists should be far more careful in “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim 2:15)

Patriarchy leaders have pawned off Patriarchy as not merely being “biblical,” which even that is very debatable, but they have pawned off Patriarchy as being a “Gospel centered doctrine.” For a long time, I treated Patriarchy as though it was “Gospel centered” — that it was an essential and indispensable aspect of my walk with Christ. Now I recognize that it’s not “Gospel centered” and may even in some ways be contrary to the Gospel message, especially when it comes to the Gospel message of grace. I’m starting to see that many elements of Patriarchy are legalistic and, therefore, contrary to grace. Elevating any doctrine to a level of being “Gospel centered,” when the doctrine may, in fact, just be legalism, is Pharisaical.

Once again I would ask that any comments you post here only address “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy.” The authors have invited feedback on these tenets and I would like feedback on these verses as well. What do you think? Do these verses support these tenets as being biblical? Does the Bible teach these tenets? Which of these verses are on point and actually support a Tenet? Which of these verses are off point? Which of these verses are prooftexting?

When you leave a comment, to help us follow your thoughts, please address the Tenet number and the Scripture reference as well. If you have additional Scripture you would like to add to help Doug support these tenets, please do so. This is NOT a debate about personal beliefs, but only how these tenets can be supported biblically.

Family, Church, and State

8. Family, church, and state are parallel institutions, each with real but limited authority in its ordained sphere. As the keeper of the keys of Christ’s kingdom, the church is the central and defining institution of history. As the primary social group, the family is the foundational institution of society. (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Acts 4:19; 5:29; 25:11; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.; Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Tim. 3:15)

Matt. 16:19 – “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matt. 18:18 – “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And this is why it is vital that we take church discipline seriously. I reject the thought that elders have any authority over the status of another believer’s soul to unilaterally and unjustly pronounce them to be worthy of being a “heathen and a publican,” as sometimes happens. However, I do acknowledge that the true church of Jesus Christ is given authority here on earth to exercise the “keys of the Kingdom.” However, the keys of the Kingdom must always be used in such a way as to honor Christ. They must never be used or abused to seek personal vengeance.

Acts 4:19 – But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

Acts 5:29 – But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

This defines the state. I wonder if it could be used to define when we should obey God rather than an abusive elder or an abusive husband who ask people to sin as well, or who pronounce unjust judgments? I believe it does.

Acts 25:11 -“For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

Here is an example of Paul using his rights as a citizen of Rome, but it is nothing more than an example.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Again, this is presumably referring to elders and how they are to lead and guide those in their care.

I Pet. 2:13 – Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

Eph. 1:22-23 – And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

I agree that Christ is the head of the church, but I don’t see how this supports this “tenet” of Patriarchy.

I Tim. 3:15 – I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

It’s important that we conduct ourselves right in the house of God, but again, what does this have to do with the church, state, and family being parallel institutions?

Let’s see what’s missing here. Did we find any verses on family? If one of Patriarchy’s biblical tenets is that the family is the foundational institution of society, I would hope to see some verses to support this. And if family, church, and state are parallel institutions, I would think we could find that in Scripture as well. And what do they mean by “the church is the central and defining institution of history”? I thought history was HIS-story, not the church’s. Maybe history that doesn’t include the church is irrelevant. I think this point needs a lot of work.

9. Every Christian father and family ought to be a submitted and committed part of a local church, subject to the authority and discipline of the church through its elders. (Heb. 10:24-25; 13:17)

Heb. 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

One another. Not father. Not family. Just one another here.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

They sure do like this verse, these three elders who wrote this!

Why do these Patriarchs put words in here like “father” and “family,” when that is not what the Bible says? Is it just to bolster their claims of Patriarchy? I also notice that the discipline of the church is to be done through a plurality of elders, not just one.

10. The church is defined by its orthodox confession and faithful teaching of God’s word; by the presence of the Holy Spirit; by the rule of qualified elders; by the biblical administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; by regular meetings for worship, instruction, breaking bread, and fellowship; and by the exercise of discipleship and discipline. (Gal. 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:1ff.; Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:20ff.; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 5)

Gal. 1:8 – But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Would that include the “Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy”?

I Tim. 3:15 – I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Cor. 12:13 – For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

I Tim. 3:1 – This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.

There are actually verses that tell us about the role and qualification of elders in the church, but this isn’t one of them!

Matt. 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

I Cor. 11:20 – Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.

I don’t think I would have picked this one!

Acts 20:7 – Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

I Cor. 5:7-8 (These verses are not listed, but I heard them every week, so I know they are the ones they are referring to here.) Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

This is the verse that some elders use to use to say that we should have communion.
This section is very disappointing. I would probably agree with this particular tenet, but it is sorely lacking in Scriptural support. These are supposed to be “biblical” tenets.

11. Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres as an application of and support for God’s order in the formative institutions of family and church.(1 Tim. 3:5)

I Tim. 3:5 – (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

The wording of this tenet is quite misleading. Based upon this verse, the first part of the tenet should read something like “An elder must rule his own house well.” This verse is not telling us that if a man leads his family, he will carry that leadership over into the church. This is kind of a weak verse to use to say that only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church, but I will give it to them. I would like to see much more Scripture on this point, however.

Now, here is where Patriarchy gets itself into trouble. Where does the Bible say anything about preferring male leadership outside of church or that such a thing makes a God-honoring society? Or where does it say that by having only men being in positions of leadership (in all of life apparently) supports God’s order in the formative institutions of family and church? Proof, men?

Men & Women: Spheres of Dominion

12. While men are called to public spheres of dominion beyond the home, their dominion begins within the home, and a man’s qualification to lead and ability to lead well in the public square is based upon his prior success in ruling his household. (Mal. 4:6; Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 3:5)

Mal. 4:6 – And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.
What does this have to do with men working outside the home, or dominion, or ruling his household?

I Tim. 3:5 – (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

Do you see the heavy pattern of ruling in this document? i am not even going to give them credit for “ruling his household” on this one because this verse is referring only to an elder’s qualification and has absolutely nothing to do with leading in the public square.
What verse tells us that men are called to public squares? To dominion? Beyond the home? That their dominion begins within the home? That prior success in ruling his household will qualify him to lead? That prior success in ruling his household will give him an ability to lead well? This one’s looking real weak.

13. Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, the bearer of children, and a “keeper at home,” the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home, although her domestic calling, as a representative of and helper to her husband, may well involve activity in the marketplace and larger community. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Prov. 31:10-31; Tit. 2:4-5)

Gen. 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Prov. 31:10-31

Tit. 2:4-5 – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste,homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Notice that this verse seems to be directed at young women.

Although I didn’t list everything in Proverbs 31, isn’t it interesting that in that whole passage and this partial Titus 2 passage, that the only word the Patriarchs choose to use to define a wife’s role is “homemakers” or “keeper at home.” It sure seems that the Proverbs 31 woman is out of the house a lot!

Which verse tells us that the woman is the bearer of children? I know that is true, but these are biblical tenets nonetheless. Which verse states that the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home? Which Proverbs 31 verse tells us that a woman’s activity in the marketplace and larger community is as a representative of and helper to her husband?

14. While unmarried women may have more flexibility in applying the principle that women were created for a domestic calling, it is not the ordinary and fitting role of women to work alongside men as their functional equals in public spheres of dominion (industry, commerce, civil government, the military, etc.). The exceptional circumstance (singleness) ought not redefine the ordinary, God-ordained social roles of men and women as created. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Josh. 1:14; Jdg. 4; Acts 16:14)

Gen. 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

While I agree that most women will get married, this verse does not support that. Patriarchy would have us believe that women were created only for the purpose of “helping” men.

Josh. 1:14 – Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them,

This verse is about the Israelites going to war, not about single women.

Judg. 4 – the story of Deborah

Some patriarchists’ favorite term for Deborah is “non-normative.” And in their book, anything that is non-normative is not biblically supported. It is a word that, to them, means that it goes against the normative pattern of Scripture. Therefore, patriarchists would not support what Deborah did.

Acts 16:14 – Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Was Lydia single or married? She had a household; does that mean anything? And what does this verse have to do with the role of unmarried women?

Notice which passage regarding a young unmarried woman’s duties in life is clearly missing from this list.

Which verse tells us that women should not work alongside men? Which verse tells us that single women were created for a domestic calling? This tenet needs a whole lot of work!

Procreation

15. God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples, and He “seeks godly offspring.” He is sovereign over the opening and closing of the womb. Children are a gift of God and it is a blessing to have many of them, if He so ordains. Christian parents are bound to look to Scripture as their authoritative guide concerning issues of procreation. They should welcome with thanksgiving the children God gives them. The failure of believers to reject the anti-life mindset of the age has resulted in the murder of possibly millions of unborn babies through the use of abortifacient birth control. (Gen. 1:28; 9:1; 29:31; 30:22; Ex. 20:13: 21:22-25; Ps. 127:3; 128:3-4; Is. 8:18; Mal. 2:15)

Gen. 1:28 – Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen. 9:1 – So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

God told Adam and Eve, and Noah and his sons (and their wives, presumably) to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. It looks like He also told Abraham. If I were a Patriarchist, I think I would have used the command to Abraham for this one. But I just don’t see that God gave this command to everyone. There are three distinct circumstances here, three distinct beginnings of a people, three distinct times when it was necessary to “multiply.” I think we should be careful when we claim that a command to someone in the Old Testament applies across the board to all Christians.

Gen. 29:31 – When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

Gen. 30:22 – Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.

Ex. 20:13 – You shall not murder.

Some Christians are unaware that some forms of birth control actually cause abortions within hours of conception. This is murder.

Ex. 21:22-25 – If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judgesdetermine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

This verse shows the value God places on the life of unborn child.

Ps. 127:3 – Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

I don’t deny that children are a gift and a blessing, but that is not what this passage says. Biblical tenets require biblical words.

Ps. 128:3-4 – Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.

The man who fears the Lord will be blessed with a wife and children. Let’s not read too much into this.

Is. 8:18 – Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the LORD of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.

Children. Plural. More than one. Isaiah had more than one child. Is this referring to literal children or the children of Israel? Does this verse tell us to have lots of children?

Mal. 2:15 – But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring.Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

In the Patriarchy movement, there is a heavy emphasis on having lots of children. I just don’t see the Scriptural support for it here. I wonder why they will say that it is the Lord who opens and closes the womb, yet we should have as many children as the Lord allows, and be fruitful and multiply? Which one is it?

<<<Part 1                                                                                                                          Part 3>>>
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