Tuesday, November 9

On Patriarchy and the Modern Family

Patriarchy and Patriarchs get a bad rap today. With most of the very patriarchal societies not being shining examples of how we wish to live or the life we wish to bequeath to our daughters, e.g., some Saudi Arabia. However, it is likely that causes other than the patriarchal nature of the family structure drive problems inherent in those societies. In Genesis, God indicates that the nomadic herding lifestyle is preferred over the town/city life, and He instructs the Hebrew people about how family life is to be structured. The nomadic life is not a choice available freely in today's modern world, but bringing patriarchal elements into the modern family certainly is.

This question of how to structure our family today is not an abstract one. I am a father of two wonderful young daughters and struggle to be a worthy husband to Mrs Pseudo-Polymath. Our family relationships and how to structure them best illuminated by our faith is not an abstract question.

Today's family structure is under assault. Between novel interpretations of the definition of marriage, the nifty no-fault divorce, and the feminist celebration of single motherhood, the health of the family in the modern world is not at its best. In Genesis from the introduction of Abram through the end of the book, the Lord provides for us his guidance as to what and how to structure our patriarchal family. If we examine the role of Patriarchs like Abram/Abraham, Rebekah, Jacob/Israel, and Judah and how God instructs them, we can learn what it means to be a patriarch and how to choose the patriarch for the next generation. Note that I feel that Rebekah, not Isaac was the true patriarch of the people in the generation following Abraham. Patriarchy need not be restricted to a male-only club. It is more about leadership and responsibility than sex.

In future essays (posts) I hope to explore further:
  • What does Genesis teach us about patriarchy?
  • To search classical and modern literature for examples to help guide us in our life.
  • How can/should we apply this teaching in today's complex modern but spiritually numbed world?