This book is a detailed but straightforward exposition on the biblical role of men in the home, church and wider society. It’s a pity it was not published fifty years ago when feminism started infiltrating mainline churches and subsequently almost destroyed the biblical teachings on sex (gender) and sex roles.
Zachary Garris is not afraid to take the bull by the horns and show in a logical, rational and biblical way, why Christendom should be patriarchal in structure and theology. Since the 1960s, he argues, the feminist equality jihad has swept all before it. Initially it was tempting to think that feminism in its reformist zeal would collide with the Bible once too often and it would be challenged and rejected and then quietly fade away. No such luck. Feminist doctrine now shapes to an unprecedented degree the theology and rights and duties that govern church life—even in so-called conservative churches—and in society as a whole.
This review appeared in a recent Quadrant.
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The tendency of postmodern equality thinking has become so rife that it dominates Christendom. It is fashionable to pick out isolated texts and say these prove the new normal. For example, that Galatians 3:28 proves the total equality of men and women; that Junia/Junias was a woman well known to the apostles; that Philip had four daughters who were prophetesses. All these are offered up as proof texts which sanction female ministers/pastors/priestesses (the word priest is masculine). These texts supposedly demonstrate that the roles of men and women in the church should be equal or identical, while those texts which clearly teach the opposite are dismissed out of hand as the opinions of the culturally bound and chauvinist St Paul.
Garris believes what he calls the “complementarian” position is flawed; not only does it ignore biblical teaching, it also ignores the testimony of history. In order for a teaching to be orthodox (biblical) it needs to be shown that this teaching has always existed in the church and has been the standard practice in the church universal. Female pastors/leaders/elders were never accepted as orthodox and it’s only since the 1970s with the rise of postmodernism coupled with Marxist-inspired feminism that egalitarianism has been so triumphant in modern Christian thinking.
In modern times Christendom first caved in on Darwin, many churches accepting Darwin’s theory of evolution and that therefore the Book of Genesis is mere allegory. Then came the successful feminist demands for female ministers and now many denominations are pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality within the churches, not only to be members, but as pastors and teachers. Many denominations now are also more concerned about saving the planet than they are about saving souls.
The patriarchal structure even in modern egalitarian times is still surviving, but only just. But one wonders for how long, given the plethora of affirmative action policies in favour of women and girls. The fact that males dominate society for the most part should not concern us at all as it reflects the natural order of things. Even in the animal kingdom males dominate, but in life there are exceptions such as female prime ministers and the matriarchal structure of elephant herds.
Professor Steven Goldberg argues in his invaluable book The Inevitability of Patriarchy that in every human culture known to us, patriarchy is the norm. He gathers evidence from many sources to show institutions that have been observed in every known society and suggests a universal explanation. The institutions he examines and says are universal are patriarchy (men dominating higher positions), male attainment (activities which provide higher status are related to male physiology) and male dominance (cultural expectation of male leadership and control).
Modern society has shifted from being patriarchal to being almost totally matriarchal. Men for the most part have acquiesced in their own downfall, having been cowed into submission by the onslaught of a massive feminist campaign convincing them that unless they fully support feminist demands for equality, they are guilty of sexism and the enslavement of women. As David Thomas rightly points out in his book Not Guilty: In Defence of the Modern Man, “It is not often that a dominant class legislates its own downfall with quite as much thoroughness as the parliaments of the western world, filled as they are with men passing equal opportunities legislation in favour of women, have done.”
Today it appears that, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” Laws and policies are constantly being passed in favour of women, not only in the workplace and the political arena but also in the home. In divorce, property settlement and sharing custody of the children, women are often given preferential treatment. Men can be falsely accused of domestic violence so women can obtain exclusive custody of the children and receive more in government support. Often fathers are denied access to their own children, even if the claims of domestic violence are not supported by evidence, and forced to pay maintenance.
Women can now obtain an abortion up to the time of delivery and the child’s father has no power of veto. Even in courting, men must be very careful. On some US campuses, a man must obtain written consent.
Today all sorts of policies, especially in the political and educational fields, make it difficult for men to exercise their natural dominance. Just to name a few, the Labor Party has a 40 per cent quota for women to be selected for safe Labor seats, women are given preference in selection for courses in traditional male fields of engineering, science, law and medicine—despite the fact that there is no corresponding push to get men into traditional female fields, and that two out of every three graduates are female. Preference for females is rife in the workplace, with many government and private employers featuring females prominently in advertising, and in their hiring practices. In advertising, men are often shown as buffoons while women are depicted as smart and sassy.
Women have formed their own football and cricket leagues, funded by the men’s teams and competitions. Even in the military, all fields are open to females including combat roles.
There is not one field of human endeavour which can now be regarded as masculine, or indeed as feminine, so is it any wonder there is so much confusion about roles for men and women? As a former British prime minister once said, “Once a woman is made man’s equal, she becomes his superior.”
Given the stranglehold that the notion of sexual (gender) equality has on current society and policy-making, for men trying to live by the principles enunciated by Masculine Christianity is going to be very difficult. I do hope the book is widely read and supported.
In chapter six, on “Hierarchy and Authority in the Created Order”, Garris argues correctly that exceptions do not prove the rule, nor should they be used to subvert the natural order of male headship. However, the vice-like grip complementarianism has on Protestantism and contemporary society is very strong.
Masculine Christianity will not be popular in many churches. Even conservative churches, while preserving male eldership and male pastors, will feel challenged as they have females leading worship services, have female deacons, or have women assisting in communion. Nor do they raise objection to men being subject to female bosses in the workplace, or men and boys being slowly pushed to the margins of society—all of which Garris says is against the biblical mandate for male leadership and authority. These are the roles God has mandated for men. Society is besotted with total gender equality and in rebellion against the teachings of the Bible.
The Bible issues a warning to us all. It speaks of those people who did many things in the name of Jesus including performing miracles and healing the sick; but in the words of Jesus, “depart from me, you evil doers”. Garris is right to argue that the Bible is not for picking and choosing what parts we will obey and what parts we choose to dismiss such as male headship. The Bible is never outdated; Christians have a solemn duty to accept it all, and obey it.
by Zachary M. Garris
Reformation Zion Publishing, 2020, 296 pages, about $30
Alan Barron is the Victorian State Director of Family Voice.