FILTER BY: [searchandfilter fields="sermons-category,sermons-tag,sermons-speakers,issue" show_count="1,1,1,"]

Patriarchy

Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, R. C. Sproul Jr., Steven Wilkins, Bill Gothard, the late Rousas Rushdooney and others are involved with the promotion of the ideal of Christian patriarchy. They did not dream patriarchy up by themselves. To understand their Christian patriarchy we need to look at patriarchy as the world defines it because these men have combined a worldly, cultural patriarchal lifestyle with their interpretations of the Bible. The church, especially in old Europe, has struggled with this before, and it remains in the Roman Catholic Church. The various women’s liberation movements, especially in the 1960s and 70s, were a direct reaction to America’s cultural patriarchy. Psychiatrists and psychologists today understand how the patriarchy of our culture has harmed many women and children emotionally and physically. Patriarchy teaches that there is an order of superiority among humans that includes gender and race. Aristotle is the first known philosopher to formulate and promote this idea. Aristotle lived about 384 years before Christ and was taught by Plato; Plato was taught by Socrates. Aristotle had his own university and personally tutored Alexander the Great. His ideas fell away around AD600 and were revived again around AD1100.

These ancient philosophers studied things without God in their minds. If they were religious, they worshipped the Greek gods of mythology. Their understanding of life and the universe was based on their own study of things around them. Plato was strictly a philosopher, but Aristotle philosophized and also studied animals and dissected many. Plato believed that men and women had the same nature (essence) and were equal in everything except physical strength. Aristotle believed that there was a hierarchy of order among living things and that Greek men had a superior nature over everything. For him, the order of things went from superior, which was defined as those who ruled, to inferior, which was defined as those who were ruled over. He based this idea first on his study of the animal and marine world. In the political and social relationships of his day he saw a similar hierarchical order i0n which aristocratic men ruled over everything. He assumed there must be a biological reason for this order. Assuming that this order of rule was a principle of nature, he used deductive reasoning to explain those principles. He is credited with first inventing this type of logic, which is still widely used as a way to prove things. You would recognize it as the kind of logic that the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes used. Aristotle wrote many books and tracts that still exist today. His biological findings influenced Galen, who was the forerunner of medicine. Aristotle’s impact on today’s thinking is considered to be unparalleled with the exception of the influence of Plato and Socrates. His work, ideas and attitudes were embraced for about half of the Medieval Period (AD476–AD1500) and all through the Renaissance (AD1300–AD1650). Many of his biological assertions have only recently been corrected by modern science and modern medicine. Aristotle was the originator of democracy, which is partly why he is esteemed in countries with this type of politics. His ideal social order known nowadays as patriarchy is still prominent in America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, but not so much in Russia, where Plato’s thinking was followed. Nationalities that are strongly Roman Catholic also embrace patriarchy, but not so much in the Eastern Orthodox religion, since it is primarily in Russia.

During this era before Christ, it was understood that the fundamental powers of everything was based on four elements. These elements were earth, water, air and fire. These elements were diagrammed with 4 circles. These circles were inside each other. Earth was the circle in the center, water was around earth, air was around water, and fire was the outermost circle. The gods existed just beyond the outer circle of fire. Also at this time, it was believed that maleness was the norm and femaleness was the departure from normal. Men were considered to be the perfected form of humans and possessed all good and lacked nothing. Women, being the imperfect form, always lacked a characteristic or ability. For Plato, women lacked only strength. For Aristotle, women lacked heat. He also believed that women were either incomplete men or a man that was deformed before birth. For Aristotle this was the biological explanation of the order of rule that he saw around him.

Aristotle claimed to leave all deity out of his studies because he (and many at that time) believed the deities were impersonal, distant, and unconcerned with humanity since they were too busy being gods. Even though he thought he was not influenced by religion, most of his deductions actually arise from what Greek mythology taught about the origins of humans. Mythology holds that the first generations of humans were male. Mythology also teaches that when Prometheus deceived Zeus by stealing fire and giving it to men, the gods created the first woman out of the earth as punishment. Her name was Pandora. On these ideas Aristotle believed and taught that women were made from the earth. He taught that this made them cold in their essence because earth is naturally cold. This cold essence meant they were naturally and biologically a lower form of life. Men were a higher form of life because they had acquired fire from Prometheus and were therefore perfected because their essence now had heat. To Aristotle, this fire and its subsequent heat made men superior. In his observations he noted that men were “larger, stronger, more rational, not so controlled by their passions, more given to reservation and a more thoughtful approach to life.” He associated these qualities with the higher life form that he believed men were. Being a higher form of life made men naturally superior, but this applied to Greek men who were civilized and educated and not to barbarians, slaves, or other non-Greek men. I did not find any reference to Aristotle’s testing his theory by educating some male slaves or barbarians to see if their nature could be improved.

Prevailing also at this time was a generally held idea that feelings, the mind, and the essences were literally connected to certain physical internal organs. To Aristotle, these organs are different in structure in men, women and barbarians. Aristotle taught that because females were cold, they had smaller bodies and smaller organs, including brains. This meant they were less developed mentally, emotionally, and in their character. He taught that this limited the woman’s ability to reason and this contributed to their inability to control their desires or choose right over wrong actions. He taught that women had little reason in their minds, slaves had less, and animals had none. Children had immature reasoning ability. He finds further “proof” that women were a lower life form in his observations: “they were given to be more passionate, more opinionated, as well as more apt to scold and to strike.” He stated in his History of Animals book 9, that “women are more prone to despondency, more void of shame or self-respect, more false of speech, more deceptive, and of having a better memory.” A better memory would seem to be a compliment, but Aristotle taught that this was because the fluids in women were underdeveloped and sluggish so they did not “rinse” off the thoughts implanted upon the brain quickly enough. When Aristotle claimed that women were more passionate and emotional, it was not because they had more emotion in his opinion, but that they had a lack of something, in this case, an inner control over their emotions. Their smallness as well as the natural cold within them prevented them from ever having or developing that control. He believed that since women were incapable of having this control, they were also incapable of living out of a principle even if they knew and understood the principle. This is why he taught that the husband should rule the wife. Aristotle did argue that marriage was meant to provide mutual help and comfort, but that this help was just a happy accident and not what we understand as God’s design for mutual sanctification and spiritual growth.

Since women had a moral constitution that was weak and inferior, they needed men to direct them like a tame animal needs people to keep it alive, direct it, and give it purpose. To Aristotle, there was very little difference between women, slaves, and tame animals. These were all naturally weak and they were destined by nature to serve the superior Greek man. It is also because of the woman’s inability to control her deliberative powers (her learning and reasoning) and physically unable to acquire practical wisdom (because her brain was small and underdeveloped) that she should not be educated in anything other than what was needed to run a home. An education such as the men received was considered a waste.

Aristotle does claim that rule should not be tyrannical and it should benefit those that one rules over. But let’s not confuse this with biblical servant leadership or its benefits. Aristotle’s benefit for the lower class of people meant that they were allowed to eat, survive, and make themselves useful by serving the higher class. There was no such thing as a middle class of people in Athens. He taught that it was nature’s design that the least should obediently serve the greater and that for a society to be happy, it should not go against nature. He did teach that women had a certain level of authority in the functions that involved their portion of the running of the home. Aristotle believed and taught that women should not leave the women’s quarters of the house and should be allowed to only eat half of what the men ate, since they were smaller and their inferior natures needed less. I personally think that hunger would have explained part of what Aristotle saw in the nature and demeanor of women. It is reckoned that by the time of Aristotle’s death, the health of women in Athens had greatly deteriorated, and they were living an average of ten years less than men with elevated rates of death through childbirth. Even though Aristotle had a negative view of women, he did treat individual women with kindness. Aristotle did promote faithfulness to a good wife and taught that it was the husband’s responsibility to secure the agreement, loyalty, and devotion of his wife by providing for her.

To be continued