Patriarchy As An Evil That God Tolerated: Analysis And Implications For The Authority Of Scripture -- By: Guenther Haas

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 38:3 (Sep 1995)
Article: Patriarchy As An Evil That God Tolerated: Analysis And Implications For The Authority Of Scripture
Author: Guenther Haas


Patriarchy As An Evil That God Tolerated:
Analysis And Implications For The Authority Of Scripture

Guenther Haas*

It is generally accepted by Christians of a wide range of theological and Biblical positions that the culture established in the OT prescribes a pattern of relations between men and women that is patriarchal. But there are different evaluations of this pattern—that is, different moral judgments made about the pattern and its place in the broader scheme of the history of redemption. The conclusions drawn are related to one’s view of the Bible and of the Biblical teaching on the role of women.

My interest in this article is in analyzing the assumption that the patriarchal culture instituted in the OT is a moral evil, an evil that the coming of the fullness of redemption in Christ has abolished. While this view is held by the whole range of feminists, my paper focuses on evangelical feminism. 1 The reason for this is my desire to understand the implications of embracing this assumption for the authority of the Bible as the infallible Word of God. The key question: Does adopting this assumption undermine Scriptural authority, or can one adopt it and still retain an evangelical view of the infallibility of Scripture? The three specific areas where this question is dealt with are the impact of the assumption upon one’s view of Scripture, the nature of God’s revelation, and the unity of a Christian ethic.

Before we look at the Bible we need to understand the meaning of the term “patriarchy.” Patriarchy can be defined in morally neutral terms as simply the rule of fathers: men over women, and husbands over wives

*Gene Haas is assistant professor of religion and theology at Redeemer College, 777 Highway 53 East, Ancaster, Ontario L9K 1J4.

and children. But feminists do not see patriarchy as neutral, and their definitions reflect this. Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty equate patriarchy with sexism, “the systematic oppression of women,” which they consider “one of the oldest expressions of original sin.” 2 Mary Van Leeuwen and associates state:

Patriarchy as a male pyramid of graded subordination and exploitations speci-fies women’s oppression in terms of the class, race, country, or religion of the men to whom they belong… It points to the sociopolitical mechanisms creating and sustaining the oppression of women.

Intrinsic to patriarchy is androcentrism, male-centeredness, which “sees men as the bearers of authority, power and value to the relative or complete exclusion of wom...

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