Patriarchy: lessons from Bethlehem...

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Over the years, I've often repeated a truism I'd heard as a younger man concerning the sins typical of men during our youth, middle, and old age: we begin with sex, then move on to money; but we end with pride. The past few years this has come home to me with great intensity as I've watched men I respect suffer because of their pride. They have lost others’ respect for them. Their church or religious organization has imploded. Their leadership has become grossly attenuated. Their families have privately suffered severe conflict.

I’ve talked with my wife and closest pastor friends about this quite a few times the past couple of months and we have come to wonder whether we have not gotten things wrong with respect to what God hates? We think He hates rebellion and antinomianism—which He does, of course. His Word tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.

But then this...


God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (1Peter 5:5b)

Is God opposing you? Me? Our denomination? Our particular group fighting in defense of this or that specific area of Biblical orthodoxy? If God opposes the proud and His blessed hand of discipline falls on us, wouldn’t it be good to examine ourselves for pride? After all, God is opposed to the proud.

The past two or three years, a number of shepherds known for defending the Biblical doctrine of patriarchy have taken brutal hits, or have fallen. Have you noticed?

Why would God allow this? Doesn’t He know how zealous for His authority and Father-rule we are? Wouldn’t He honor our hard work in defense of a very unpopular area of Christian doctrine, today? Wouldn’t He tend to protect us? Doesn’t He say "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm” (Psalms 105:15)?

We are prophets of His unpopular truths, so why are we sustaining such heavy blows from Him?

It seems to me we are sustaining heavy blows because of our pride. We think God needs us to defend this truth. We think our defense of this truth should earn us a Purple Heart or make us an Eagle Scout. But all God sees is our pride and He’s warned us that He opposes the proud. Why would we think that our courage and tenacity in battle would cause God to overlook our pride?

Patriarch. Husband. Father. Head of Household. We pump our chests over the primacy and authority God has delegated to us and we teach our wives to tell everyone what a wonderful and Godly Federal Head they have. What a wonderful father our children have. Household pride among those who teach and live patriarchy's federal vision seems to be limitless.

We dress our daughters in frills and lace. We give our sons slingshots, bows and arrows, and then rifles and handguns. We are Lord of our manor and our wives learn their duties watching movies about the aristocracy of nineteenth century England. We have lots of children and fill up a pew and a half at church Sunday mornings. Every one of our children takes communion and none of our children ever fight. We plant apple trees. We milk goats. We spin wool. We grind our grain. We eat brown eggs. We teach our own children. We raise the best and the brightest because our children have received a classical education.

Every last detail of our food, clothing, doctrine, and music is on-pitch with our commitment to the rediscovered truths of federal headship, patriarchy, father-rule. Real men drink scotch, smoke cigars, and hunt with recurve bows. Schlubs use guns.

I mean, really; what’s not to be proud of?

Then our wife leaves us. We commit adultery. Our daughter molests her three-year-old brother. We pass our wife off as our sister. We refuse to discipline blatant sexual perversion in our congregation and the Apostle Paul rebukes us for it, publicly.

Sound familiar?

This past year I was reading Calvin on the incest in the Corinthian church and he made the point that the Corinthians’ besetting sin was pride and this was the reason the Apostle Paul rubbed their noses in their incest. Nothing is more perfectly suited to kill our pride than sexual sin and no sexual sin is more perfectly suited to kill our pride than incest. So, for all time, the Corinthian church will be known as the incest church that was proud!

Let’s be blunt: patriarchy has been shown to have a problem with sexual immorality—and sadly, sexual immorality of a terribly shameful nature. Our churches and homes have incest within them, yet we are proud. We have failed to guard our own children and the children of our church from sexual predators, yet we are proud. Our heads of household and church fathers strut like peacocks as we commune every last one of our twenty-six children, yet our children repudiate the Christian faith as soon as they are old enough to get away from us and our pride.

No, federal headship is not wrong. Yes, God is the Father from Whom all fatherhood in Heaven and on Earth gets its name. Yes, feminism is a heresy. No, it is not wrong to fight against egalitarianism or to provide our children a classical Christian education.

But pride, dear brothers and sisters; pride. God hates pride. God resists the proud and we are proud. Will we ourselves need to have God rebuke us publicly for child abuse and incest in our homes and congregation before we learn this lesson? Before we repent of our pride? Will it take God revealing the incest behind the walls and doors of our houses among our fathers and their children for us to humble ourselves under God's mighty hand?

Let us pray for humility. Let us confess our sins. Let us associate with the lowly. Let us be convinced that others are better than we are. Let us disassociate ourselves from those who will not admit their sin and error. Let us not fawn over famous Christian celebrities who try to convince us they're better than Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Peter, Luther, Calvin, and Knox.

This is the message of Christmas Eve when we meditate on the shepherds, their sheep, nighttime, the manger, the Blessed Virgin Mary and her birth pains. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords did not abhor the Virgin’s womb. Having been made in the likeness of men, His mother went into labor and produced a man-child who went from the pains of labor to the milk of her breast, and soon was looked upon by shepherds who worked on the hillside at night watching over smelly, stupid sheep. It was these humble souls who heard the choir of angels sing "Glory to God in the highest" and who were given the privilege of entering the birthing stall and meeting the One Who would save them from their sins. 

God will not share His glory with any man.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!