Monday, January 23, 2012

What is Biblical Patriarchy?

As we have decided to look at Biblical patriarchy, we might do well to look at what we mean by using this terminology. Since the phrase is not used in the Bible, and also the phrase is not used widely in society, we will share how some major proponents of Biblical patriarchy define it. See the links below for full articles that we suggest you consider.

The Tenets of Biblical patriarchy - Wikipedia
Biblical Patriarchy - Vision Forum Ministries
Patriarchy - Wikipedia

From these sources, you will see that there are many different interpretations of Biblical patriarchy. Some look primarily to the Old Testament, others to the Bible in its entirety. To be sure, there are not many references to how a family functions in the New Testament outside of those referencing the OT. We do have a very diverse history to consider in God's Word, including some good and not-so-good examples. What we don't have is a definition of terms to some extent, and so we will be focusing on profiling men in the Bible along with their families.

For our consideration here, we wish to state up front that our understanding is that God created man, and is often referred to as "Father" in the Bible. This patriarchal picture of God Himself is going to be the richest example we will find of the positive aspects of manhood. We get a picture from some of the names of God. Use the links below for an associated study from Blue Letter Bible online. One should be very careful not to add God's characteristics to man, but we would do well to consider the character of God the Father when we consider God's perfect plan for the family and how we ought to see the father role in families.
  • Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)- Men are called to lead, protect, and care for their family. 
  • Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)- A man is called to integrity, to lead with consistency. 
  • Qanna (Jealous)- As God is jealous when His beloved ones seek after another, so should man be jealous. This is no petty human emotion, but the result of dedication and responsibility. 
  • Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)- Men are commanded to provide for the family. If a man does not work, then he should not eat, and so we ought to be providers for our families. 
A study of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ will also yield great results in the role of the husband. With the picture from God's Word of Christ as the Bridegroom and the church as the bride of Christ, we will learn much more about the role of men as husbands. Some examples we find at first glance:
  • Taking the name of the Bridegroom. The church is the bride of Christ, having its identity through Him.
  • Christ is the Savior and provider for His bride
  • We are commanded to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her. 
  • We are called in James 4 :4-5 says that Christians who love the world are adulteresses. 
The term "Biblical patriarchy" is not a Biblical term, but is based on principles understood from God's Word. In my opinion any word such as "religion" can not be redefined without extreme caution, as it is used in the English Bible translations. With the regular use of terms in the Bible, we must be careful to define them as dictated by context and principles of Biblical translation.

To conclude our look at what Biblical patriarchy is, we consider this to be a good working definition: 
"social organization, as exemplified in Biblical writings, that is marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line" We will add to this thought as we progress and see examples of men who led their families throughout Biblical history. 

In our next article, we plan to profile Adam. We hope you will join us as we explore Biblical patriarchy.