Thursday, April 29, 2010

Patriarchaic

Spotlighting: The Trouble with Chicken Patriarchy

My summary in a nutshell:

Patriarchy (wives "submit" to husbands) + Egalitarianism ("husbands and wives are equal partners") = PATRIARCHAIC.

Patriarchy: "a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe."

Egalitarian: "asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, esp. in political, economic, or social life."

Archaic: "marked by the characteristics of an earlier period; antiquated"

Yes, I'm channeling my inner feminist. And yes, I think some change is called for.

12 comments:

Matt W. said...

Did you ask your wife if you could post this? (j/k, sort of)

In all seriousness, I do think we have an obligation to personally figure this out with our own spouse in each situation. Some Women want their husband to be the head of the household, to preside, to pick who says the prayer at dinner. Others do not. I think it is really up to each couple to come up with what works for them. Ultimately, that is really what is egalitarian.

What is archaic is the idea of "What's good enough for the goose is good enough for the gander" whether it be patriarchy or feminism.

Matt said...

I agree with Matt W on this one. I also don't find myself identifying with that definition of what it means to be a patriarch and atleast in my lifetime, have never felt like that's what has been preached to us with regards to being a faithfull patriarch in our homes.

Clean Cut said...

Matt W, I completely agree with what you said: "I think it is really up to each couple to come up with what works for them. Ultimately, that is really what is egalitarian." Amen.

And fwiw, my wife actually thought that the word "patriarchaic" was quite clever. And she loves that I'm a feminist. :)

Matt: "I also don't find myself identifying with that definition of what it means to be a patriarch and atleast in my lifetime, have never felt like that's what has been preached to us..."

That's precisely why the word is outdated--archaic. It doesn't match the majority of current teachings on the subject. I don't particularly like trying to fit new wine into old bottles.

David B said...

@Matt: I have heard it preached, myself—usually during stake conference, though, not during general conference.

Mark Brown said...

Or maybe patrianarchic.

Thanks for this post, I agree with the previous commenters.

Papa D said...

Nice post, CC. If you are interested, the following post on my own blog had more comments than any other post I've ever written:

"Presiding: An Evolution of Definition" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008/10/presiding-evolution-of-definition.html)

Paul said...

Clever OP.

I went back and re-read Chicken Patriarchy.

There's another way to view this, and I've not seen it discussed in many discussions. That is the decision process among the most senior quorums of the church.

In those quorums, although there is clearly a line of authority with the senior apostle the only one who exercises all the priethood keys he holds (hard to preside more than that), they operate in major matters on unanimity, discussing matters until there is agreement.

Yes, the President can dictate, but he apparently does not. The example of President Kimball's experience leading the brethren through the discussion about the extension of priesthood blessings to all worthy male members is a great example. He could have simply decreed a change, but he did not. Instead, over a period of time, he sought unanimity in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

The descriptions of those discussions make clear that it was not just President Kimball's making a recommendation and everyone else's accepting it.

A similar process can happen in a bishopric or a stake presidency, or in any other presidency.

And a similar process can take place in a marriage where husband and wife are equal partners, but one in which children bear the name of the patriarch.

That there has been movement in the understanding of patriarch is not only true, it's wonderful!

Clean Cut said...

Thanks Paul. I like that view and think it's much closer to the ideal listed in D&C 121:41: "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned."

Yet while I think it's better to view the "authority" of the "presider" in this way--as the one to ensure consensus and to ensure that unity is achieved--it's still reinterpreting the definition and can cause confusion between conflicting interpretations. In this case, as you say, it's for the better. I'd much rather have the Spencer W. Kimball view than the views on patriarchy as understood in previous decades, not to mention the Old Testament.

David B said...

What Clean Cut just said reminded me: We’ve been reading through the Old Testament as a family, and sometimes (think the last couple chapters of Judges, for example) the only way to explain what went on to my daughters is “Women really weren’t counted as worth much at that point in time”.

Those stand in stark contrast to other points in the record (consider the Deborah cycle, in the same book but separated from it by a few generations).

All this to say that, if “patriarchy” is in fact an eternal principle (as a number of authorities have said), its application certainly doesn’t appear to be eternally invariant.

Paul said...

Well, I agree with you, but as Papa D said (either in his comment or his linked post), we do well to look to the most recent teachings.

I acknowledge that much of what we read and hear is influenced by cultural norms. Certainly that's true of the Old Testament, and even of counsel in the church.

I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say the presider "ensures" unanimity, but rather he reserves pronouncing the discussion oveer until it's achieved. It's a subtle difference.

Years ago I heard in a stake leadership meeting that a wise bishop will keep him mouth shut in Ward Council when discussing an issue. The reason is that for many (still) when the bishop speaks, the discussion is over, and if he wants to take advantage of the wisdom of the group, he'd do well not to stifle it by inserting himself too early in the discussion.

Clean Cut said...

"All this to say that, if “patriarchy” is in fact an eternal principle (as a number of authorities have said), its application certainly doesn’t appear to be eternally invariant."

Well said, David B. And I'd like to also emphasize the "if". I've learned to not be certain on most things. :)

mb said...

As you think on this topic further and find ways to practice and teach it, you might find it worth your time to peruse John Temple Bristow's book "What Paul Really Said about Women". His analysis of some of the more problematic passages in the New Testamet are superb and his take on the etymology of the word "submit" is well worth the price of the book alone.
All the best to you.