July 29, 2007 by Stacy McDonald

Patriarchs, Feminists, Complementarians, Oh My!

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Last week, when I used the word “white-washed feminism,” I was referring to the growing movement of “evangelical feminism” in our country. It may be cleaned up a tad for the Christian palate, but it is feminism all the same. Specifically, I take issue with teachings which I believe twist Scripture and succeed in blurring the lines of the biblical creative order, and which change the essential meaning of a biblical father-ruled (“patriarchy”) family.

According to Paul Felix, a Faculty Associate at The Master’s Seminary of the Los Angeles Bible Training School and Assistant Pastor of the Baldwin Hills Baptist Church,

“An evangelical feminist has a high view of Scripture and is ‘one who believes that the Bible teaches the full equality of men and women without role distinctions based on gender.'” He goes on to say, “Their principles for interpreting Scripture differ markedly from those of the advocates of role differences for men and women.”

Mr. Felix compares evangelical feminists’ principles with the grammatico-historical method of interpretation here.

I used Elisabeth Elliot’s quotes in my earlier post because she did a fantastic job of articulating what I was trying to say. I am in agreement with her assessment of what feminism is (cleaned up or not) and why it is dangerous. (She has also been very instrumental in my life for the past 20 years.) While I believe there are Christian feminists, I do not believe that feminism is a Christian concept. I believe that Christian women who ascribe to feministic teachings are confused or deceived.

Like I said in my earlier post, one of the reasons we have been so alarmed over the direction of evangelical feminism is because we believe http://www.herchurch.org/ is the logical end to these teachings – to me, that’s scary!


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17 Responses to “Patriarchs, Feminists, Complementarians, Oh My!”

  1. Ron and Ginny says:

    Amen! That seems simple enough for me to understand. Thanks. :-D

  2. Janet says:

    Stacy, I am in complete agreement with your list. The key point, I believe, is that we are all to be servants. That is not easy – not for a man, who must serve his wife and family by going out in the world and providing for them, by forgoing that game of golf or that video in order to teach and pray with his kids, by unclogging the sink or hanging that mirror just where SHE wants it…nor is it easy for a woman, who must wash his socks and make his favourite chocolate cake, AGAIN!! It’s not easy, but it is a blessing. The way is hard, but didn’t our Master say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light?

    As we learn to serve each other, we learn to be more like Jesus.

    And isn’t that the point?

    In Christ,
    and glad to be in a patriarchal family,

  3. Keri says:

    Wow; what a creepy website (the herchurch, not yours!). I didn’t even watch the video, so as not to muddle my head with more of what they had printed on their site. What folly!

    There are a lot of recovering feminists like me out there that have found JOY in Jesus and will continue to quietly and peaceably live a life of service to our families and our God, despite the fearful quests these people are on to lead people over the cliffsides. We are praying, Stacy, even in our kitchens with our wooden spoons raised to the Lord! Mostly I pray that the joy and contentment I have as I help my husband and lovingly raise and enjoy my children will be a serious stumblingblock to those who believe I am in bondage. Truly, I am free, and my hope is that other women who are trapped by this sort of thinking will ponder in truth why there is such a great divide in light between us, and will wholeheartedly return to their heavenly Father. Let us remember to lift these women to Christ as we meet and converse with them, that their eyes might be opened and that their hearts might be eternally secured in Jesus.

    In Him,

  4. Jennifer Ross says:

    Dear Stacy,

    Our beliefs most assuredly fall in line with what you’ve posted. As “restricted” as my view may be, I am fully content and so very thankful for a husband that acts like a man. And for his ruling in our home.

    When will women realize that they will only be truly happy when they take on their created role and act like women the way God made them?

    I peeked at that website for “her church”. “Re-imaging God”??? It’s been a while since I’ve heard a more blasphemes statement!

    I can’t imagine how one could believe they are following God and yet want to “re-image” Him at the same time.

    A verse comes to mind when viewing that website: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

    Althoug we may not be tempted to follow suit, do be careful when visiting sites such as herchurch.org


  5. Anonymous says:

    Ironically enough, I found your blog through True Womanhood, in the comments you made recently in their contributors section.
    I am working through all of this “stuff” and am mostly in your camp. I believe in all your points above. I am curious about one point you didn’t mention-do you believe the Bible teaches that a daughter is to be her dad’s helpmeet (for lack of a better word) until she marries? Helping him carry out his vision? I do not see that in scripture.
    Also, something I’ve been wrestling with for a long time-what about women who are gifted by God for things such as being a lawyer or a doctor? There are some brilliant women out there-they have gifts from God…what do they do? I’m having trouble reconciling women staying home (which I believe but then again I’ve never been career-minded so it’s easy for me to think that way) with women who are so interested in, say, becoming a lawyer and knowing they would make a fantastic one. Can I truly be against that desire in them based on God’s word?
    I hope you can help me clarify all these issues. They are really making me confused.

  6. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Anonymous,

    You wrote: “I am curious about one point you didn’t mention-do you believe the Bible teaches that a daughter is to be her dad’s helpmeet (for lack of a better word) until she marries? Helping him carry out his vision? I do not see that in scripture.”

    Nowhere in Scripture does the Bible call a daughter her father’s helpmeet. At Creation, “The LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18, KJV)

    The wife was to be her husband’s helper and he would not be complete without her. They would need one another, but she would follow his lead as they both glorified God and took dominion together. (Genesis 1:28) The fact that she “completed” her husband refers to their oneness – a beautiful and unique relationship.

    That being said, our unmarried daughters are indeed helpers in our household (as are our young sons). Since our unmarried daughters stay under the protection and guidance of their father until they are married, we are all serving God together as a family with common goals that are led and orchestrated by the head of our home – my husband. So yes, in that sense, our whole family (including our adult, unmarried daughters) is helping him carry out his vision/ministry.

    You also wrote: “Also, something I’ve been wrestling with for a long time-what about women who are gifted by God for things such as being a lawyer or a doctor? There are some brilliant women out there-they have gifts from God…what do they do?”

    God has gifted women in various ways for His own purpose and glory, not ours. So, we must evaluate all of our gifts by examining God’s Word. I have known numerous women who have used their talents to glorify God by assisting their husband in their calling. Just because God gifts a woman with certain talents it is not an indication that He intends for her to use those gifts in a career outside her home.

    A boy who is gifted in drama/acting may be convinced he is being called to the stage, when in fact God winds up using him as a powerful orator. Or perhaps he will be a pastor or evangelist. Just because a gifting “seems” it should be used in a certain way, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look a little harder.

  7. Anonymous says:

    One more question-where in the Bible does it talk about men having a calling? I actually don’t know a single man who has a calling. They all have jobs and families, but no calling. They just live their lives.

  8. Margaret in VA says:

    Mrs. McDonald,
    The whole problem with our detractors…the ones who have specifically targeted the “Patriarchy Movement” is that they are the ones who are guilty of their core accusations.
    They are the ones who are legalists, not letting those with convictions different from theirs to live them out. They are the ones who are offended because we see that Bible teaches the very things in your list. They are the ones who are divisive and unloving.

    It is funny, but when we finally left an egalitarian church to join a church that teaches Father servant-leadership and wifely submission. Some of the people who most fit our accusers description of a “Hedgemonic Patriarch” stayed behind. They could not stand the idea that the leadership would call the father on the carpet if he was not treating his wife with love and care, etc.
    Don’t even give them the time of day, my dear!
    BTW, your list is right on. I love it when “they” say that we don’t want our daughters educated! LOL! The ones who stay home and continue to learn are the most well-rounded, well-read, well-spoken, in my experience.
    Sorry this is so long!

  9. Kim C. says:

    What a great post on a hot-button topic. This is something I’ve been meaning to write about and you’ve done it so much better than I could have!
    Isn’t it funny how we try to use the shortcomings of others to excuse us from our own duties? Even Christians sometimes argue against patriarchy because men are imperfect and somebody’s husband might act like a jerk.
    But they miss the larger picture: this submission isn’t just for fun; it is a beautiful reflection of the Church’s submission to Christ.
    Or maybe they don’t miss it. I have heard more than one person state that if God is sovereign and allows bad things to happen when He could have stopped them, they wouldn’t serve a God like that.
    I guess it comes down to understanding authority, because naysayers also have a very hard time grasping the servant aspect of leadership. Christ didn’t exactly have a free ride and an easy life here on earth, and He doesn’t sit in an easy chair for all eternity sipping iced tea.

  10. ladyofvirtue says:

    Thank you for stating things so well. We also have many friends that we love dearly that are not “up to speed” on certain topics, such as patriarchy, but then, they are far ahead of us in other areas! The one thing we know is that they love the Lord Jesus, and are being yielded as possible for where they are. It sometimes seems lonely, but then we have the Lord Jesus, and wonderful friends on the internet!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jennifer Ross asks: When will women realize that they will only be truly happy when they take on their created role and act like women the way God made them?

    I have to (gently) take issue with this statement. I don’t think any of us is in a position to say what will make everyone in an enormous group of people “truly happy.” Women comprise more than half the human race and we come in a lot of variations! Some women, like Jennifer Ross, may relish a particular role that would be horrifying to many other women. There are plenty of “truly happy” women who do not follow the helpmeet role. I know because I am one of them.

    I would also note that happiness, or lack thereof, is not really the issue. It is a matter of making life choices that allow one to serve in the manner best suited to one’s temperament and abilities and predilections. I simply cannot imagine that all women are best suited for a homemaker/helpmeet role, or that all men need someone to fulfill such a role. Such a thing is simply at odds with the reality I see all around me.

    Paul, brilliant and inspired as he was, was also a fallible human being and very much a creature of the first century. I don’t hear Jesus or God himself saying anything about wifely submission.

    And finally, I am not sure I understand why the herchurch is “scary” and “creepy.” If we accept that women, like men, were made in the image of God, why is it so hard or wrong to conceive a feminine aspect of God? Isn’t God big enough and powerful enough to encompass many different qualities, including many that we associate with femininity? Can God really be limited to a masculine gender association and, if so, where is that in the Bible?

  12. Anonymous says:

    To Annoymous,

    Yes, God is genderless, but for reasons beyond our understanding, he has chosen to reveal himself to us mainly in the masculine form. Why? I honestly don’t know. But considering that he understands the human mind far better then we do, I would guess that it is somehow for our benefit. We have to respect his desire to be refered to as male, even if we don’t fully comprehend his reasonings.

    God refers to himself as a he over and over in the bible. He compares his relationship with the church to a groom-God- uniting with his bride-the church. In the Old Testament he speaks of his marriage to Israel-his bride.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A woman should never have to submit to another person purely based on the grounds that she is a woman. Nor should a man be expected to take the lead purely based on the grounds that he is a man. That is absolutely ludicrous not to mention horribly sexist. It should be up to the individual. If the woman feels like submitting to another person then she should free to do so. However if she doesn’t feel comfortable with that concept, then under no circumstances should she. The same is applicable with males.


  14. Donna L. Carlaw says:

    If the woman feels like submitting to another person then she should free to do so. However if she doesn’t feel comfortable with that concept, then under no circumstances should she. The same is applicable with males.>>>>

    Hello, Clair,
    How are you doing?

    I hope that you read what I say if you will. It is a pleasure to meet you, and please give me the opportunit to talk to you just for a moment. I hope that you will consider what I say.

    I was wondering what your religion is. Do you know Jesus Christ, Clair?

    That is the starting point in being able to understand how God would have a wife submit to her husband. Any idea of submission begins with our submission to God first and foremost.

    Here is a Scripture that you may wish to think about. Jesus commands us to come to Him in order to have rest for our souls. Have you come to Jesus, Clair? Do you know His easy yoke and light load?

    Matthew 11
    28″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    A yoke is the bow of wood by which two draft animals – like oxen or horses – are tied together to pull a load, according to the dictionary. When we take on Christ’s yoke, we are submitting to His loving control of our lives.

    We come to Him in obedience and submission, but we find rest. How amazing is that! Instead of a heavy, burdensome drudgery in following Christ, we find rest for our souls.

    Imagine that, Clair. Rest in submission. We cease striving. We cease grabbing for control. We cease fighting against God’s will for us.

    We come to Christ, take on His yoke of submission, and find rest!

    Won’t you come to Him if you haven’t yet? Please come to Him and find that rest He speaks of.

    He gave His life for His people. He died and came to life in order that those who believe in Him might have rest for their souls.

    Anyway, forgive me for going a bit long on this, but if we don’t understand our submission to God, we will never understand why God would have wives submit to their husbands, as the Bible teaches.

    God bless, Clair, and please take care,
    Mrs. Donna L. Carlaw

  15. Donna L. Carlaw says:

    I’ll keep it short. :-) I was told all kinds of things about those evil patriarchalists who mistreat their wives.

    When I got to know some, it dawned on me that I had been lied to; I had been had! I AM easily deceived, and I had believed all that had been told me by the feminists!

    I would like to say that the lies are unintentional; they are things people really believe to be true; but sometimes I wonder…

  16. Mark says:

    “Their focus should be to train and prepare for their calling as a wife, mother, and keeper at home.”

    What of women who are called to singlehood? Paul makes it clear that some are; so what, then, would their preparation look like?

    And knowing that some of the Church’s sons and daughters will be called to singlehood, how should that alter the way we raise our children?

    These are not questions for which I have developed answers, but I do find them compelling and oft-ignored in the Christian community…

  17. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Mark,

    I was browsing this thread looking for something for someone else and noticed that nobody addressed your question. I thought you might be interested in reading this excellent article:


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