When I was a young boy, our family didn’t own a television, which is why I was robbed of enjoying some of the greater cultural achievements of the mid-to-late-1950’s. But as luck would have it, from time to time I did get a glimpse of some of those achievements, here and there on the run, you know. One time we were visiting some friends in another state, as I remember, and they had a television.
On this privileged occasion, I recall taking in an episode of The Lone Ranger. The theme of this particular show was about that time when there was this mousy little man, hen-pecked to the outer limits of human endurance, and through a series of circumstances, the Lone Ranger adopted this poor man and made him something of a protégé. The end result of this crash course in masculinity was that the little man headed on home, and the happy ending to the whole saga was him pulling out his revolver and shooting his wife’s dishes off her shelves. It makes me happy just thinking about it. Fade to black, and with her thinking something along the lines of finally!
Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that this would be an excellent time for me to bend my “no qualifications” rule for November. No, not that. No qualifications. Fire away.
Or perhaps you were thinking that watching stuff like that must have been what turned an innocent little boy with a cute smile into the raging misogynist that he is today. No, that’s not right either. My “raging misogyny” has other sources entirely.
Here’s the right answer—or rather, here’s what you should be thinking. You should bethinking that we are so far gone as a nation that we don’t even recognize how much healthier that time was, shot up dishes and all. We like to flatter ourselves, saying that we have made a “lot of progress” on women’s issues, while some of the more conservative among us lament the “side effects” of such progress, such as 60 million dead babies. But think for a moment. When I was watching that show, abortion was against the law in all fifty states. Maybe we have not progressed at all. Maybe the word for it is regress, or more accurately, apostasy.
About That Word Matriarchy
When I urge, as it appears I did in the title of this piece, the smashing of the matriarchy, I want to make sure to begin by defining our terms. This I propose to do, taking as my starting point a definition of matriarchy that runs thus: “a system of society or government ruled by a woman or women.” But an adjustment is needed. A slight difficulty is caused by the fact that rule by mothers and rule by women are not necessarily the same thing. The word matriarchy has mater (mother) at the root, and so what could you call rule by women who have waged a very bloody war on the very idea of motherhood? It has been bloody enough to actually warrant the name of a monstrous regiment.
So whatever is happening, we are not actually being ruled by fruitful women (a state of affairs that fruitful women actually detest), but rather by men with a homosexual ethos who have recruited a horde of childless and gullible women to serve as their honey-trap shock troops. Such women are those who have accepted the flattering vanities of career “advancement” in place of a truly satisfying life as the active mother of a teeming and energetic pack of yard apes. These duped women have somehow been persuaded that the good opinion of the bureaucrats in HR is somehow far more valuable than the good opinion of the yard apes. It isn’t, by the way.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a word for rule by that sort of women. We don’t have a word for “rule by barren feminists who have been snookered by the homosexual vibe,” so matriarchy will have to do as a stand-in for the present. But it is a stipulated definition, and the true nature of it will be revealed in due course.
Cut to the Chase:
The gifts that make women such a marvel and wonder are not those gifts which equip them for rule. Women are not supposed to rule over men because they are, generally speaking, taking one thing with another, no good at it.
There are three basic governments that God has established among men, and according to Scripture women are restricted from rule in all three of them. In two of these governments, the restriction is general, and in one it is absolute. We shall consider each one in turn.
But be aware of this. Going into it, if you grant the ethic validity of the feminist definition of “sexism,” then it follows necessarily that the Bible is a sexist book, needing to be rejected or adjusted. Such attempts at least have the virtue of consistency. But what are we to do with those evangelical leaders who claim that the Bible is the very Word of God, and who then make all their adjustments on the sly?
Let us start with the absolute restriction. Women may not exercise authority over men in the authority structure of the church (1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34). And this is not supposed to be taken by us as one of those inexplicable and insane restrictions that God placed on us in order to test our faith. No, it is not the case that women would make great pastors, and God arbitrarily said that we weren’t supposed to do it anyway. No, Paul gives us reasons why women are not to rule in the church—one theological and one practical. The theological reason is that if women rule in the church this is plainly an attempt to invert the creation order. God made Adam first, and then Eve (1 Tim. 2:13). The man was not made for the woman, but the woman for the man (1 Cor. 11: 8-9). And the practical reason is that if women rule, given the fact that they are more likely to be deceived, this means they are more likely to pass such deceptions on to the congregation. That would be, according to the apostle, “not very good.”
Second, in the government of the household, the Scripture requires women to be submissive, in subjection, and obedient. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22) “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives” (1 Pet. 3:1). “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:5).
The lemma underneath the word rendered in these places as submissive, in subjection, and obedient to is a word that—once we have soaked it overnight in a pan of rancid zeitgeistian assumptions, and pounded it for half an hour with the meat mallet of eisegetical hubris—is surprisingly elastic. Now the original word actually means spunky, full of sass, street smart, independent, brassy, saucy, large and in charge. Much as the Greek word for head, kephale, actually means the curly little tails that piglets have, so also the word that our versions mistakenly render as obedient here is a word that actually means worthy of receiving obedience. Why, we have gotten the whole picture upside down!
And incidentally, if anyone requires further proof that women shouldn’t be teachers—because they are so easily deceived—then look no further than the widespread acceptance of this exegetical putrescence among them. If someone points out that there are men who accept these insights too, the response should be, yeah, well, they shouldn’t be teachers either.
And what about civil government? Scripture describes the curse that a land suffers under when women are running the show. More on why this is the case below.
“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12).
Isaiah is describing Israel in quite a sorry state, struggling along under a curse placed upon them by God. When a nation defaults to leadership from the immature (who are not ready for rule) or from women (who were not created for rule), the end results are not at all good.
So women were not designed for rule. They are forbidden to rule in the church. They are forbidden to rule their husbands at home. And they are not supposed to rule over Israel in such a way as to “cause her to err,” destroying their paths.
The Complementarian Cave-In
It is de rigueur among conservatish and complementarianish commentators to say things like “it is true that” a woman cannot be a pastor, although said commentator knows many women who could be outstanding pastors. And they go on to say that on those RARE instances when the marriage vote keeps coming up a tie, the husband gets to—reluctantly, with a tear in his eye and an ache in his heart—break the tie. Both husband and wife promised during pre-marriage counseling to tell none of their friends if this ever happens.
I used the phrase de rigueur just now to describe this vibe, but that sounds too much like rigorous, which creates the wrong impression entirely. Nothing about any of this is rigorous. Still we have to use the words available.
So what the complementarian consensus appears to be is this: the entire world can be shaped into just the configuration that the radical feminists demand, with women staffing SWAT teams, landing on aircraft carriers, playing football, singing bass, you-name-it, and stalwart Christians can still be faithful (honest) if they manage to hang onto a couple of private reserves, each one of them suitably small. They will (for now) keep her out of the pulpit that adorns the sanctuary of their private little mystery religion. In addition, they also think they can be faithful if they limit their authority/submission thing in marriage to the privacy of their own home, kind of like those times when he pretends to be a surgeon and she pretends to be an ER nurse.
The Knowledge of Good and Evil
What is the source of all this foolishness? If we want to know why our generation is spending so much time listening to the serpent, we will have to go back to the Garden. Believe it or not, there is some information there.
“But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17).
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).
We should all know that there was one prohibited tree in the Garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life was not prohibited (Gen. 2:16), but once sin had entered the world it went off limits—lest we should eat from it in a rebellious condition and live forever that way, unredeemable (Gen. 3:22, 24). So God in His mercy barred the way back to the tree of life, until it was opened up again in and through the gospel (Rev. 2:7).
But what about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What was it?
So we need to take a moment to consider what that phrase means, and what it does not mean.
Now “the knowledge of good and evil” cannot mean experience of sin. The Lord Himself said that He had that knowledge—“Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22). The serpent earlier had promised that this knowledge would make them “as God” (or gods), “knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Millennia later, the author of Hebrews does not identify this ability to distinguish sin from righteousness as experience of sin in itself, but rather with maturity, with the capacity to handle “strong meat.”
Too many Christians assume that a pre-fall lack of the knowledge of good and evil was a total blank innocence, no ethical categories at all. But if this were the case then how would Adam have been able to fall into sin? How would he have known it was evil to eat from the prohibited tree? No, the knowledge of good and evil here has to mean something more than a simple knowledge of the difference between right and wrong.
So what is it then? What did Eve reach for? What was she deceived about?
The issue was rule. God had created mankind to rule over creation and all creatures (Gen. 1:27-30). In learning how to judge and rule the created order, man really would be like God (Ecc. 12:14). Entering into that rule would have been a transition from immaturity to maturity, and not a transition from moral cluelessness into an ability to tell right from wrong. Kings make judgments. They have to be able to discern right and wrong in the case before them.
Now it is quite true that the Bible often speaks of “good” and “evil” in the simple moral categories of individuals learning to love the good and hate what is evil. But when we talk about this kind of discernment for rule, we are talking about the ability to tell good from almost good, to discern the difference between white and off-white. Because God created us for rule, He created us for this. And when our first parents ate this forbidden fruit, they were grabbing for such rule prematurely, before God gave it to them as a gift.
This is what Eve did, and this is what she persuaded her husband to do.
In discussing this kind of rule, we are talking about what
little children don’t do, and what kings are called to do. Consider the
language of Scripture on this. “Moreover your little ones, which ye said should
be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither . . .”
(Dt. 1:39; cf. Jer. 4:22). This was true of a type of the Messiah, the child
born in fulfillment of the promise to Isaiah. “Behold a virgin shall conceive,
and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel . . . for before the child
shall know to refuse the evil, and choose
the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings”
(Is. 7:14-16). In a similar way, extreme old age prevents a man from being able
to serve as a judge between good and evil, as Barzillai observed: “I am this
day fourscore years old: and can I discern
between good and evil . . .?” (2 Sam. 19:35).
And how did Solomon please the Lord when a vision was given to him at Gibeon? Even though he sacrificed in the high places, he did love the Lord (1 Kings 3:3). When the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and told him to ask for whatever he would have, Solomon’s answer pleased the Lord (1 King 3:10). So what did Solomon ask for? He said first that he was “but a little child” (1 Kings 3:7), and so what deficiency did he think needed to be corrected? “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people” (1 Kings 3:10)?
We are called to understand the world so that we might grow up into a maturity that is capable of ruling the world. The author of Hebrews knows and understands the creation mandate. He quotes Psalm 8 in this regard, and says that we do not yet see everything subject to mankind—but we do see Jesus (Heb, 2:9). The world to come is not subject to angels, but to mankind (Heb. 2:5ff). Mankind in Christ is therefore being fitted for godly rule (Heb. 5:14). Because we grabbed the forbidden fruit out of order, we have needed to be retro-fitted for it, but this is what is happening.
Let us bring all this back then to Eve. Scripture is very plain that she was deceived.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3).
But what was the point of the deception? Eve thought that she was grasping the ability to rule, and she went first, going ahead of her husband. She persuaded him to come behind her, but what she thought she was doing was entering into rule. The fruit was pleasant to look upon, and it was delicious, but the real draw was in the fact that she would be as the gods, “knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). So what did she think she was reaching for? Her interpretation was that the tree was one to “be desired to make one wise” (Gen. 3:6). Wisdom for what? To do what? To make judgments, to rule. Centuries later, John calls the third element in this triadic temptation the “pride of life” (1 John 2:16). This usurpation, and Adam’s subsequent ratification of it, lies at the base of all our woes.
Mankind, man and woman together, had already been given dominion over all the creatures (Gen. 1:26-27). But because this was not enough for them, and because they reached for a greater rule than what had been given prematurely, what happened? Instead of the created order flourishing under him, Adam faced a world that would be far less cooperative (Gen. 3:17-19). And because Eve wanted rule so badly, part of her unhappy lot was to be ruled. Her desire for rule backfired.
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16).
The Actual State of Affairs
When God cursed the ground for Adam’s benefit, He was not making suggestions for the ground to follow—suggestions that the ground might or might not want to listen to. The ground was simply cursed. When God multiplied the sorrows of child-birth for the woman, and when He said that the woman would be ruled, this was also a statement of fact. This was just the way it was going to be.
And so what this means is that when women rule, as is happening in our day, something else is going on. When feminism is in the ascendant, this means that we are actually being ruled by the (male) manipulators behind them. When women rule, this actually means that (wicked) men are ruling, with women being used as their instrument.
God has configured the world in such a way that males will be dominant. Nothing whatever can be done about that. But because sin is a reality, such dominance will either be constructive or destructive, obedient to God or disobedient to God. And what feminism does is outlaw constructive male dominance. And what happens when you outlaw constructive male dominance? Only outlaws will have dominance. And so feminism is actually an ideology that paves the way for the rule of wicked men. This “empowerment” of women is actually one more deception of women, in a long list of deceptions, and, like always, it leaves them miserable.
Explain to us again why women, having been liberated, need to be so heavily medicated?
The Voice of the Serpent
Someone (I am sure) will want to say that all that I have described is a result of the Fall, and that Christ came in order to reverse the consequences of the Fall, did He not? In the redemption offered by Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, etc.
Whatever reversals of the Fall might be contained in the glorious redemption of Christ, they will not be mediated to us through the voice of the serpent. The serpent beguiled Eve through “subtlety,” and Paul was worried that the Corinthians were displaying an analogous gullibility.
He was worried about the kind of gullibility, in fact, that is on high display today among what might be called chump-evangelicals. So if your pastor no longer includes the promise “to obey” as part of the bride’s vow in the weddings he performs, he is listening to the voice of the serpent. If your pastor thinks it a matter of scriptural indifference whether women are brought into combat roles (Dt. 22:5), he is listening to the voice of the serpent. If your pastor will not address characteristic feminine temptations from the pulpit, he is listening to the voice of the serpent. If your pastor is “woke” on gender issues, he is listening to the voice of the serpent. If your pastor teaches that masculine authority is only “a thing” in the sacred two square feet behind the pulpit, and in the private, oh, so private decisions that a husband and wife might make together in the PRIVACY of their own homes, he is listening to the voice of the serpent.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that most of the evangelical world is doing exactly that.
And actually, “listening to the voice of the serpent” is kind of the best-case scenario. Worst case is that such men are the voice of the serpent.
I Was Told There Would be Free Books . . .
The free Kindle book that goes with today’s post is Rules for Reformers, which can be obtained here.