Give the Guy a Break

4:58 AM

One of the things that disturbs me most about the patriarchy movement is its tendency to incite women against men. The ladies read the books on how to be a great father, the ladies download the sermons on what it means to be a man, the ladies subscribe to every feed regarding "what he must be" in order to marry him and bear his children for the kingdom glory of Christ Jesus. Since the men failed to notice the Gospel According to Vision Forum in the appendix to the ESV Study Bible, they went on doing their own thing -- trying to love their wives and kids, hold down the fort, keep a job, read their Bible every evening. Meanwhile, I heard from their wives and daughters: "I really want another child, but he just doesn't want to" or "He doesn't lead family devotions every night" or "My daddy never really made an effort to start a relationship with me" or "I asked my dad's advice and it didn't match with what the Botkin girls said. How am I supposed to be a visionary daughter now?" 

I didn't realize how ridiculous, unfair and extrabiblical my views on men were. Patriarchy promotes a certain kind of man -- the passionate, outspoken, articulate, bold, leader/teacher type who runs marathons, writes historical nonfiction and starts a business on the side. Going to a college that attracts the best and brightest made me realize that not all godly men look like this.

In fact, most don't.

Which is unfortunate for us ladies who are hopefully destined to marry them. 

Did you know that many smart, godly young men don't want to be pastors or visionary leaders or politicians? Did you know that some prefer poetry to running? Did you know that some aren't good with words, can't spell to save their lives, don't post profound things on Facebook or keep popular blogs?

Did you know that many, many young men seeking after God are imperfect yet wonderful people? 

Looking through Scripture, I see only two qualifications for marriage: both parties must be born-again believers and they must love one another. Notice how nothing is mentioned about maturity levels, personality compatibility, agreement on eschatology, life visions and things like this. They simply must share the same faith -- automatically putting them on the same road -- and they must be willing to love one another.

Because love changes people. Time changes people.

There is no "what he must be" in the Bible. The man is not required to be the visionary type; he is called to show his leadership through sacrifice and profound love -- not his dazzling knowledge of Scripture or preaching ability or the profundity of his prayers or devotions. I always wondered at this, being the visionary/leader type myself -- wouldn't we always be clashing if we were both leaders? And if he wasn't a "leader type" and amazing with words, wouldn't I not respect him? Interestingly, I realized that we never hear of prominent people's spouses -- unless they're something like the Clintons. Many prominent godly women's husbands don't write books or preach or do anything noteworthy of that sort, yet their marriages work just fine -- because they learned to put love before expectation.

One of my friends recently started dating a mutual friend of mine. Of course, everyone put in their two cents on whether it would "work" or not and offered their advice. I told my friend that I wasn't going to tell her who she ought or ought not to love, that certainly the boy was imperfect, that certainly there may be difficulties, but such was life, and I would support her if she chose to learn to love him and I would support her if she chose to move on. I didn't whip out a list of bullet points regarding personality or beliefs or life goals...because that's not how love works.

I think we girls worry so much about being unequally yoked with the Wrong One that we think about relationships as merely hooking up two similar people to the marriage machine. We want someone to perfectly complement us right off the bat or who thinks and dreams exactly the way we do. I don't think love is like that. I think it requires sacrificing parts of oneself and giving up dreams to form one combined life with bits and pieces of both people. It dreams a new dream together. 

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19 impressions

  1. I think this is so true! Good things never come from putting people in a box and saying that they're supposed to be like this and they're supposed to do that.

    I don't fit the typical formerly homeschooled, Christian, future-homemaker stereotype. That used to bother me and make me feel like I wasn't good enough, but not anymore. And I've been learning the exact thing that you wrote about here- that godly guys usually don't fit into one certain stereotype, either. Goodness, I'm glad, too, because it seems to me that would be a little boring. :)


  2. Amen, amen, amen. I love your perspective on this (and pretty much everything else you've written about.) Coming from a background similar to yours, I very much appreciate the thought you've put in to your convictions and how it encourages me to work out my own.

  3. I think we could be friends. :-) Seriously though, yes. I think the homeschool movement (or whatever you want to call it), is extremely flawed in many areas. I like your thoughts, Bailey. :-)

  4. I'm with Kristin. I never fit into the future homemaker stereotype. Sometimes, it made me feel inadequate, but for the most part, I just felt irritated by the expectation that I had to like gardening and sewing in order to be a woman of God.

    It's bad enough to do it to ourselves, and worse when we do it to the guys, since we don't even know what it's like to be a guy in the first place. While I am all for girls learning what Godly masculinity is and seeking the right kind of guy, too many speakers and writers get caught on specific examples of unique people instead of what really matters. It is ridiculous for girls to get so many ideas about what a guy has to be in order to be manly when none of it is in the Bible. It's unfair to the guys, and it's also unfair to ourselves.

  5. Hi Bailey,

    I don't know if you remember me - it's been ages since I commented. I did go back and read all the posts I missed though! Looks like you are having a great first year at college, not because you have been perpetually happy and content, but because you haven't been. You have been challenged and grown and made wonderful new friends and had new experiences. I was glad to read all the posts that illustrate this so clearly.

    Reading this post, I was struck by your statement "There is no 'what he must be' in the Bible" You are correct. Interestingly enough, there is a "what she must be" passage, or a least a passage that is frequently cited as what a woman ought to be or ought to strive for. I am speaking of Proverbs 31:10-31 of course. What do you make of this discrepancy?


  6. I don't usually comment on your posts, but this one was perfect. It's so *true*. I never, ever thought about it this way before, but you're right, the Bible doesn't have a guide to what the perfect mate looks like. Thanks for your perspective!

  7. Could you explain what you consider the "patriarchy movement" to be? I feel like this post was extracted from the middle of a discussion that I missed the beginning of or something.

    I guess I want to hear more since you said this was just "one of the things". If you're referring to Vision Forum, the Boktins, Bauchams, etc, why have they left such a sour taste in your mouth?

    From a sincere, well-meaning inquirer.

  8. Adele! OF COURSE I remember you! I still think of you from time to time, especially when I sit down to blog. :) I think most people abuse the Proverbs 31 woman. In no way does this passage require all women to be exactly like her, nor does she necessarily epitomize godliness. It is merely a portrait of A godly woman. Other places in Scripture also specifically address men and women and how they should behave or conform to Christ, so a gender-specific passage, to me, doesn't sound too odd. :)

    Anonymous, I've written frequently about certain attitudes and paradigms of the patriarchy movement in past posts that I find extra-biblical at least and extremely harmful at most. Some are linked in the "Believe" page at the top of my blog.

    Vision Forum and their affiliates are the strongest, most visible proponents of patriarchy, though, of course, I recognize that individuals within the movement share minor quibbles and emphases. It's more an ATTITUDE and a "Biblical paradigm" that troubles me -- this idea that women are supposed to primarily be in the home as a helpmeet to a man, and that a man must be a specific sort of leader in order to be a "real man." Are you familiar with their teachings and quirks? If not, posts like these might make as much sense. I grew up under their influence, and many of my readers recognize the nuances and lingo.

    The primary thing that concerns me is the lack of grace and gospel in this patriarchy movement, which instead focuses on the family over the church, cultural transformation over gospel transformation, and limits the creativity and authority of God to narrow views on men, women, relationships and family. Basically, they get the emphases of Christianity wrong, and many families, lives and relationships have been wrecked or troubled because of it.

    If there's any specific issue you'd like me to clarify, I'd be more than happy to. :)

  9. *For Bailey, you don't need to post this if you don't want too!*

    I typed up a loooong windy comment and I'm not sure if you just didn't accept it for publishing (which is totally fine. I probably should have re-read it. 'Sides, this is YOUR blog!) Or if I lost it when I hit the 'preview' button instead of 'publish'. Just checkin'!

  10. No, you explained yourself well. I've followed your blog for some time but I'm not a very consistent blog reader, so I'll have to go back and read some of your old posts you were referring to. Thanks!
    I am familiar with Vision Forum but haven't looked into their beliefs that closely.
    This post has definitely proved to be thought-provoking. :-)

  11. Hey Bailey!

    Your last couple of sentences are spot-on. Put two totally "incompatible" people on a desert island and make them work together for a few months and they'll realize just how compatible they really are. When we see love as an action, as obedience to God, ultimately, then the twitterpations become secondary.

    Are you sure, though, that this is a problem with "patriarchy" and "the gospel according to Vision Forum?"

    You listed things like passion, boldness, leadership, marathon-running (physical discipline), non-fiction-authoring (the ability to teach), and entrepreneurship.

    I can see Scriptural precedent for calling every man to these things, in principle. (And every woman, too, understood properly.)

    Sure, the practical outplays will look different for each person, but the principles are certainly there in Scripture; indeed, I'm *glad* to see people like the Botkin sisters and Doug Phillips calling men to have big vision, daughters to honor their fathers, etc.

    So is it the movement which is inciting the women against the men?

    Or is it the women who are missing the heart of Biblical patriarchy that are inciting themselves against the men?

  12. "The primary thing that concerns me is the lack of grace and gospel in this patriarchy movement, which instead focuses on the family over the church, cultural transformation over gospel transformation, and limits the creativity and authority of God to narrow views on men, women, relationships and family. Basically, they get the emphases of Christianity wrong, and many families, lives and relationships have been wrecked or troubled because of it."

    Could it be that they are simply placing emphasis on areas that the Church has long, long neglected to address Scripturally?

  13. Savannah, I didn't get your comment. :( If you can remember what you had to say, feel free to resubmit it! I love your thoughts.

    Gabriel, let me clarify something: by "patriarchy movement," I include the more grassroots end of it -- not those teaching the principles of patriarchy but the ordinary folks receiving it. Of course, people are responsible for twisting and abusing Vision Forum and associates' teachings; however, I believe the manner in which they present these teachings (emphasizing certain images of manhood, womanhood and family, mainly) lend to this sort of discontent because these images come across as one-size-fits-all and miss the beauty of diversity in the body of Christ. Some principles indeed apply to all men (and women). However, not all men possess the gift of leadership or of organization or of teaching -- and maybe their wives do. This relationship would look different than VF presents.

    I do think the family is an important area to address Scripturally. I do not believe the patriarchy movement addresses family relationships Scripturally. In its zeal to overcorrect failures in the church and family, it misses the heart of the gospel and grace, setting up extrabiblical expectations. Relationships become based on roles and duties instead of servant leadership, love, and grace. Its view of daughters and women in general is extremely exclusive and comes dangerously close to depriving them of their special, individual place in Christ's church and their relationship with God.

    So yes, the general emphasis of family is important -- the patriarchy movement's specific emphases within that general emphasis are unhelpful at best and dangerous at worst. In my opinion. :)

  14. Ok the "sincere inquirer" is back. :-) I'd have to say my conclusion is very similar to the one a previous commenter (Gabriel) had to say. You may be addressing some real problems, I'm just not sure I agree with your conclusion. For one thing, I simply don't see "patriarchy" (or what I understand it to be) as extra-biblical.
    Anyhow, I love opportunities to think and learn, so I still thank you for your post!

  15. Well, some of this is going to boil down to our basic disagreements which we both are well aware of... :-D

    I mean, I know that "the beauty of diversity in the body of Christ" is something that we would both totally embrace and also both totally define differently.

    This, however: "Relationships become based on roles and duties instead of servant leadership, love, and grace."

    I beg you to seriously reconsider this. Maybe you or someone you know has been hurt by this kind of doctrinal perversion, but please don't let those who abuse patriarchy define it.

    No doctrine is hard to pervert. Every cult, myriad witch-hunts, countless decimated families point back to the abuse of what was, in its pure form, a good doctrine.

    Further, while relationships should be more than roles and duties, I can see no Scriptural foundation for saying that they should be less than those very same things; nor do I know of one advocate of patriarchy who would advocate keeping the letter, the roles and the duties, while forsaking the spirit!

    I know we have different views on gender roles, but I think there's more to this than just "I disagree with the patriarchal/VF paradigm of gender roles".

    And I humbly submit that there shouldn't be.

    Going beyond "I do not believe the patriarchy movement addresses family relationships Scripturally" into "it misses the heart of the gospel and grace" requires what I believe to be a misunderstanding of the theology of patriarchy.

    I don't doubt that there are some who do indeed miss the heart of gospel and grace while claiming justification under the banner of patriarchal preaching, but again, what doctrine does not have the cowards and the confused huddling for protection behind a twisted copy of its banner?

  16. Gabriel, I have agreed with and peddled the patriarchal doctrines just as much as you have and believed in it longer than I have been out of it. I know what I'm talking about. I've seen the spiritual bondage and abuses happen to young women, not because abusers twisted patriarchal doctrines or missed out on their spirit but because they embraced their doctrines and spirit.

    Many other organizations such as Focus on the Family support complementarianism, gender differences, headship, obedience to parents, etc. without the baggage and extrabiblical instructions that Vision Forum and the like tack on. Rejecting the Gospel according to patriarchy does not, in my mind, reject Biblical understanding of men, women and family. I'm complementarian. I believe that primary church leadership and heads of homes should be men. I embrace differences between men and women. And I still reject patriarchy.

    I have reconsidered, Gabriel. I spent years wrestling with this. And when I read through Scripture and see its emphases and God's heart and the church's mission, I am more repulsed by patriarchy than ever. No book -- from the Elsie Dinsmore collection to Raising Maidens of Virtue to So Much More -- ever taught me about the true grace, love and gospel of Jesus Christ. They never made the gospel central to being a woman or the church central to my walk with Christ. They never encouraged me to look beyond the surface of hurting people. They taught me that college girls were harlots, that it's more important to learn how to bake and sew then care for orphans in Africa, that the family is more central to God's kingdom than the church, that my father is more important in my life than the calling God gave me as an individual believer. They have a different mission and goal than the Christianity I see presented in Scripture. Their hermeneutics, understanding of the OT, and eschatology are different than what I believe Scripture teaches.

    Am I saying all believers of patriarchy are graceless perverters of the Gospel? No. For instance, I still love Jasmine Baucham, whose embracing of the gospel in her life led to a transformation not only for her but many other girls like me who left patriarchy altogether. I am not really talking about "people" so much as ideas and the way they are presented. If you read the books central to patriarchy and compare them to Scripture, you find the emphases askew -- which, because humans are like this, simply begs for replacing the Gospel and grace with legalism and law. I believe the people behind the patriarchy movement mean well. They merely communicate it in a way that totally misses the Gospel as I see it presented in Scripture. Especially the books written for daughters.

    Perhaps you cannot see all of this because you're from the inside. I certainly didn't see it from the inside, didn't look at patriarchy as a movement and a theology as a whole. I only knew it as "Biblical Christianity." Only when God began opening my eyes to discovering the roots -- the theology -- behind patriarchy's understanding of gender and family and dominion and such did I walk away. If you're like me, Gabriel, you never seriously considered "another way" -- another approach to family and life and God -- probably because you never felt the need to. That, more than anything, is our fundamental disconnect.

  17. "If you're like me, Gabriel, you never seriously considered "another way" -- another approach to family and life and God -- probably because you never felt the need to."

    It is my sincere hope that I have never seriously considered "another way" because I've never seen Scriptural justification for the other way in question. :-)

    And this gets back to my point: we do have some disagreements about parts of Scripture; you named some good ones, like the views of the OT and eschatology.

    Why, though, do these differences necessitate a condemnation of the "other side" as heretics?

    Maybe that's not what you're saying, but it's pretty much what I'm hearing.

    Perhaps you're right; perhaps the Botkin girls should put a little more emphasis on the soul and not the body; perhaps Vision Forum should infuse more Gospel into their seminars.

    But if that's the case... why not just say it that way?

    I don't agree with everything that the Botkins say, or that VF says, or any other organization or person, probably. Heh, I don't even agree with my dad on every single thing.

    But why not embrace the good while suggesting the necessary changes, instead of making a blanket condemnation?

    I too have seen women embrace the patriarchal worldview, jump on the Vision Forum bandwagon, listen to Botkin talks- and be immensely blessed and happy as a result.

    Testimonies are ultimately inconclusive; it comes back to Scripture. We both know that we disagree on the Scripture; my request is not that you change your position (though I'd be all for that, of course ;-), but rather that you change your approach toward those with whom you disagree. Not those you're actually disagreeing with in person- you're wonderful to talk to- but those who you are calling out publicly, and, I believe, misrepresenting in the process.

    I could write a blog post that says:

    "Unlike the feminism-tainted and destructive philosophies that we see advocated by people like Bailey, which involve destroying male headship, sending women to the front lines, and condemning all homeschoolers, I propose that we embrace God's Word wholeheartedly..."

    Or I could say:

    "I have a lot of respect for Bailey; this is just one of those areas where we disagree. She said here that "blahdeblahdeblah"; I don't think that factors in the Biblical principles of blahdeblahdeblah."

    In the first one, I've misrepresented you to everyone who reads my post; I've put words in your mouth that you yourself wouldn't agree with; I've pretty much slandered you. No one would agree with the Bailey that I presented in example one- including the real Bailey.

    I would love to see more responses to VF, the Botkins, etc. which let them speak for themselves, in their own words, and then respond Scripturally (of course, your responses will look different than mine would, but that's not really my point here).

    Thanks for sending those articles... hopefully I'll get to them soon. :-)

  18. I don't condemn the other side as heretics. I do believe their beliefs are destructive to the Gospel and Christianity as a whole, and so I say so -- not simply because of the real-life results I've personally seen but because of, well, what they believe. I'm sorry I cannot extend more grace to their beliefs. Believe me, I would like to. But I cannot. I do not have respect for patriarchy. It undermines its alleged faithfulness to Scripture, the Gospel, gender issues and family -- shoots itself in the foot, as it were.

    Why encourage people to spit out the bones when I can simply direct them to boneless teaching, especially when I believe VF and Co. are doing more harm than good?

    You're different than most patriarchy proponents, Gabriel, which is why I enjoy our discussions. I will definitely seek to be more specific about particular beliefs I disagree with VF and the like, as you encouraged me to do so. Thank you for your admonition.

    P.S. I started giggling at your pretend slanderous comment, because it paraphrases how many VF books and leaders condemn their detractors. I suppose we all need to learn a lesson in listening and representing fairly. Again, thank you, sir, for calling me out.


Hit me with your best thought! I'm very interested in your unique perspective. If you'd like to discuss things in private, feel free to email me! :)