Personal Reflection: Misinformed Patriarchy
"I walked away from Christianity at least seven years ago over issues like these. Growing up in an evangelical bubble, I saw firsthand how women and children routinely pay the price for the glory of men who can’t be honest with themselves about their lack of self-work." Shannon Ashley
The leadership within the evangelical community has been set up in a closed system where they are protected and given the benefit of the doubt. Undertones of others are being misinformed, mistreated, and abused by those within the authority is bred and perpetuated.
Being raised in a fundamental evangelical subculture, I learned the importance of respecting the elders, older males, and unquestionably listening/obeying them. There was an elevated view of their position being ordained by God and thus, were able to understand more of what God was trying to teach the congregation. If any of the men within the church (pastor, father, elders) were questioned there was an automatic response of shaming me for questioning or challenging those in leadership and positioned me as being out of God's will, sinning, or rebelling.
More recently, there has been increased discussion of how women are being mistreated within the evangelical culture. The evangelical culture as a whole encourage women and children to remain in systems where abuse is occurring. When the women and children do speak out about their experiences within the patriarchal system, they are shamed for not submitting to the male authority nor praying/trusting God to change the males in their life. For the women who are being more vocal about the harm occurring within the system, they are belittled and attempted to be discredited by others as a way to keep the subcultural system the same.
I grew up with the teachings that the patriarch system is how God designed relationships. And, the older I get, the more I see that this created system is no different from other cultures other Christians look down upon.
Fundamental evangelicalism talks about the oppressive patriarch system within middle eastern cultures and how America is a better system. However, I recently read an article from a middle eastern perspective concerning the need for the patriarch system (Rahman, 2021) It was triggering for me to read and see how Christians tend to use the same points to keep this broken system in place. The fundamental evangelical patriarch paradigm is the exact same as other cultures they try to distance.
Women continue to be objectified in the purity culture and shamed into covering up their bodies. The overtone of the female body means there is the innate tendency to wander from their God-ordained role and needs a male to keep women in line. There are messages of women's responsibility is to bear children and remain at home, no matter what the status of the home (healthy, abusive, neglectful, etc.). Women are seen as weak since there is a tendency to express emotions more readily, being more nurturing and tender, and being physically weaker than their male counterparts.
Instead of redefining and showing a radically different way of honoring women, the larger evangelical culture is perpetuating the harmful and abusive patriarchal system. This will continue to be perpetuated until men are able to honestly and openly listen to the experiences of women and vulnerable reflect on how the system is being experienced by those, not in authority. Additionally, men need to hold other men accountable when they see women being marginalized or hurt.
The patriarchal system is permeated with harmful/oppressive views of women and women will continue to be abused and mistreated if men are not willing to become active within listening, educating, reflecting, and challenging the system.
Ashley, S. (2021, October 12). The fragile male ego that can't function without constant sexual validation. Medium. Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://medium.com/honestly-yours/the-fragile-male-ego-that-cant-function-without-constant-sexual-validation-4188d0faf731
Rahman, M. M. (2021). Why society needs patriarchy: A scientific and social justification. Social Sciences, 10(5), 229.