I had noticed them on other Sundays, sitting toward the back: attentive husband, impeccably dressed wife, both calmly waiting for the service to begin while everyone around them hurried to take their seats once the music began. But it wasn’t until this past week that I realized why they were special. Seated in my row, I could hear the wife struggling to breath and caught a glimpse of the man as he pulled a fresh clean washcloth from a bag and gently wiped her face. Suffering from some residual affects of an illness or accident, she had come to worship, raising her hands and singing as the man lovingly placed his arm around her, supporting and encouraging his bride. My heart was instantly touched by the tenderness they shared and I felt the tears coming. “This,” I thought, “is a faithful man.”
My guess is that he has never heard of Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson or the Bayly brothers. To him, a patriarch is named Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.
During the 27 or so years that we have experienced the patriarchy movement, some of them up close and painfully personal, a picture was painted for us of what genuine godly manhood must be. I remember Clay’s face when he came home from his maiden voyage into patriarchy waters. The seminar was called Beards, Babies, and Bowel Movements, the latter two highly recommended and the former only allowed for Amish attendees. (You can’t make this stuff up.) Being the prophet, priest, and king of the home is a tough job but somebody has to do it. And someone has to charge you for the privilege of knowing how to do it. Here is the checklist….for free:
The father is the only one who should teach older sons; he should not be employed but rather be or working toward becoming an entrepreneur so as not to build another man’s kingdom. He will give his sons land and remind them that they are part of his clan.
Though his wife might be knowledgeable of Scripture, he alone is to lead family Bible study and all spiritual or doctrinal questions are to be asked only of him. (I kind of liked this one on days when someone asked me things like “what IS a concubine” or “what’s with all those foreskins?”)
He is to direct all the education of children and prepare sons for the day when they will lead families of their own by helping them establish their own businesses. He trains his daughter for the day when she will be handed over to another man by making sure she is his junior “helpmeet” and understands that she has only one role and that is to fulfill her man’s calling from God. He orchestrates her courtship and betrothal, guaranteeing her physical and emotional purity in the process. He must be certain that his children are not rebellious because rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and the only way to avoid it is by the frequent and daily use of the rod.
He protects his wife from “false” teachings by limiting what she can read or hear or who she can have for friends because she is more easily deceived by Satan and might unwittingly wander into a website like Titus Two Lesbians.com. He oversees the childbirth process, from start to finish, recognizing that his wife might die because “Biblical” principles might dictate such. His household must be in order, children all lined up, happy, and spit-shined when he comes home from work and his wife, possibly in pearls, available for hospitality, educating younger children, and sex whenever he demands it.
His home, rust-free 14 passenger van, and all household goods are paid for with cash. Any personal interests, recreation, and hobbies, especially video games, are the devil’s tools because idle hands are the devil’s play place and a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands (even for a Sunday afternoon nap because Sunday afternoons are for fellowship with other manly men at your FIC) will bring his family to poverty.
To make sure he remembers all of these things, a man will attend seminars, conferences (some of them requiring costumes and tights), and weekly men’s meetings where he will ponder over R. C. Sproul Jr. basement tapes or will read Rushdooney and devise ways to fulfill some other man’s 200 Year Plan. He will listen to Kevin Swanson radio while cleaning his gun and grow a beard, Bill Gothard not withstanding.
But now, even after all this, one of the most repeated mantras I am hearing in response to Doug Phillips’ resignation is this: “Judge not lest ye shall be judged…any of us could fall the same way at any time. If it happened to Doug Phillips, it can happen to any man.”
There is even more fear and pressure to perform when in reality I think most men, yes, most men, are faithful men!
Sure, they have temptations and struggle from time to time, probably mostly when their wives continually talk about modesty and point out all the things that aren’t modest. And we all know the reason men become uncontrollable, sex crazed monsters is because of immodestly dressed women because passionate, patriarchal wives have told us so.
But I do not for a minute believe all men are on the brink of having an emotional or sexual relationship with other women.
And here is why. Because real men anticipate the dangers and if they entertain thoughts of adultery don’t teach seminars and carry on about the evils of homosexuality while thinking nothing of engaging in a long term romantic relationship with a another woman. Because they love their wives and children and sacrifice everything for them in real life ways without pretending they are on the Titanic. Because they purpose to walk with the Lord and seek to live lives of balance in the real world, putting real measures of accountability into place, first of all with their own wives. Because they are busy just trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage, find affordable health care, and put braces on their kids’ crooked teeth. Because they have wives who are true partners, sojourners beside them in spiritual battle, and their sisters in Christ who openly share their opinions and stretch marks one day at a time.
I have long been concerned that patriarchy’s model for godly manhood has become a poor substitute for real men who know that being faithful in the small things is the measure God uses for greatness. I hope and pray this is a wake-up call for those men still entrapped in this movement and their wives who are enabling if not promoting this madness.