I've commented in passing on various blog posts before concerning the Patriarchal movement (see here, here, and here). But I came across more disturbing evidence tonight of its trend towards becoming "another gospel."
The gospel is the good news about Jesus having satisfied the Father's eternal wrath against my sin so that I don't have to. Instead, the good news is that I get everything Jesus got, and am treated by the heavenly Father as He treats His own Son, Jesus Christ. Pretty cool. WAY cool!
If Jesus and Paul were defensive about one thing, it seems clear that it was anything that presented a threat to that good news. I can't do anything to earn that work of Jesus for me and the Father's declaration about me. And I'll never be able to. It's all mercy...not getting what I deserve...to give me grace...getting what I don't deserve.
Scores of "Christian" theologies and philosophies and ideologies abound which teach and preach and write in a way that inherently implies (whether intentional or not) that we've gotta do stuff certain ways to be godly. That doesn't sound quite the same as saying we have to do certain stuff to earn God's favor. No well-meaning Christian would say something that dumb. Yet we all communicate the same thing when we do so in tones that make other people feel so strongly about what we are saying that they either feel compelled to do it so they'll be better Christians, or feel guilty and condemned if they aren't. That's called legalism. And it is THE single, biggest, alive-and-well threat to the gospel of Jesus Christ today, just as it has always been.
The Patriarchal and "Quiver Full" movements are among the two that came to my attention tonight. The Quiver Full, a.k.a. the QF movement (anti-birth control movement), was a new one for me. I'd never heard of it by that name. It is publicized in magazines like Above Rubies, which my wife reads for a particular type of article she finds helpful. (I've always struggled with it and other similar writings by folks like R.C. Sproul, Jr., Mike and Debbie Pearl, Douglas Phillips, and others while reading through their stuff, because I've always sensed a tone behind it that's bothersome...presenting a sort of idyllic picture of what the Christian home ought to look like).
What most bothers me about idyllic Christianity is that an idea or philosophy about how things "should be" is presented with the same authority as the things in the Bible that are explicit, black and white, and clear. In other words, it injects someone's personal ideals into a passage or texts, that says something that resonates with them, for one reason or another. This in turn makes the passages or texts become inflated with an interpretation completely absent of authorital intent (what the original author intended to say). And if this pointed out, the usual line of reasoning is that their ideal or interpretation is a "natural" or "logical" outflow or application or implication of that passage. You'll want to watch out for your dear brothers and sisters in Christ who think, talk, write, argue, or communicate in this way. It is NOT a faithful handling of the word (2 Tim. 2:15).
The reason it's not a faithful handling of the Word is because it takes this inflated interpretative ideal and begins using it as a standard by which others who claim to be Christians are measured. And it is at that precise point that the whole thing turns to legalism. How so? Because it immediately caused that Christian to return to a set of standards or measurements Jesus Christ has already met for us as our substitute. Does that mean that we don't have to live lives that glorify God? Of course not! It means we WANT to live such lives. But we have a new command from Jesus Christ if we have been saved by Him. And it is this: love one another. When we utilize inflated interpretive ideals to compare ourselves to one another and judge each other, we are not loving one another. And we are not living by the good news that Jesus has delivered us from all that stuff - man made traditions like QF theology, included.
My dear friends! Please hear me! If anyone brings to you any theology or ideology or philosophy that has you living by someone else's inflated interpretive ideal that is not readily seen in the Scriptures when you read it and study it, then don't follow it. It will lead you back into a system of requirements and obligations that will ultimately put you back into bondage to guilt, condemnation, discouragement, fear of man, isolation and rejection. That's silly. Yet Satan is so smart, because he knows that if something sounds like it's in the Bible, or feels biblical or Christian, then many of us are just dumb enough to believe it and follow it. And follow it we do! Right back into the very thing Jesus saved us from.
Don't let any one lead you into this. Like circumcision in the OT for Jewish and Gentile Christians, if you let someone else lead you into doing something they say is biblical but sounds like you're obligated to do it if you want to be a "good" Christian or a "godly" family, don't do it. It's a trap. You end up living your life with a false sense of security. And that's what the devil knows we ultimately want...all of us. Deep inside we all desperately want to know that we're doing things the "right" way. But systems like QF and Patriarchal Christianity, among a myriad of others, offer a system that brings a security and comfort NOT grounded in what Jesus has done for us, but in what WE feel like we MUST do for God. And that, my friends, is terrible! It's terrible because it completely bypasses the ONLY thing that can make us right with God - Jesus Christ. And it's terrible because it says that there's MORE I have to do to make God pleased with me...in addition to what Jesus has already done. He is enough. He satisfies the Father.
My Suburban-turned-Urban housewife pointed my attention toward a blog she reads regularly entitled Amy's Humble Musings. Quite a popular blog, it appears. She commented today on the Patriarchal movement and whether it was glorifying to God. She referenced a post by another blogger (No Longer Quivering), who posted a piece by a woman named Kristen Rosser (confusing, I know). In Rosser's post the conclusion stuck out to me, and I thought it bore repeating here as my own conclusion for this post. Think on these things.
"The problem with patriarchal roles is that they set out formulaic boxes within which Christians are to perform. All husbands are to always act one particular way, and all wives are to always act another. The individual dynamics of interpersonal relationships can be lost as we fit ourselves into cookie-cutter lifestyles and live within strict boxes. And this also puts God in a box– a box where God is expected to perform in a certain way based on our own performance. Our relationship with God becomes a thing of duty– our duty and performance of the formula for Him, and His duty and performance of the blessing in response.
"Except that God doesn’t fit very well into boxes. And when our expectations of what should happen in our lives falls short of what we feel He has promised– then we fall back on Scriptures such as “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15).” We don’t understand why God isn’t coming through for us, but we hold onto the hope that if we just keep performing, then He eventually will.
"The problem is that our once simple love for God, our once peaceful rest in God’s grace, has turned into a matter of works. In Galatians 3:1-3, Paul asks of a church that has fallen into just such a mentality, “O foolish Galatians. . . This only would I learn of you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
"Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
"If you are finding very little rest for your soul– if your yoke feels heavy and hard– it is probably not a yoke that comes from Jesus. And it doesn’t glorify God for you to carry it. It doesn’t help you or your spouse grow in love and Christian character. It doesn’t increase the grace of God in your life, or your dependence on His mercy rather than your performance. And it’s not something that God can bless.
Patriarchy, its roles and rules, does not glorify God. Isn’t it time to turn away from it and seek God to guide your own individual life and your own individual marriage, not according to formulas, not in terms of works, but as He sees fit?"