In recent years we have seen studies and articles like “After Decades of Decline, A Rise in Stay-at-Home Mothers” from Pew Research. And “More Millennial Women Are Becoming Stay-At-Home Moms — Here’s Why” from Forbes as well as the recent “The Real Tradwives of 2022: Why More Young Moms Are Becoming Traditional Housewives” from Katie Couric Media.
All of these articles and studies have secular humanists, feminists and egalitarians quaking in their boots. Why? Because they show younger woman seeing the flaws of feminism and egalitarianism as exhibited in their parents lives and marriages. They saw the strain their mother’s career put on her trying to balance spending time with them and keeping up with work. They may even have seen how their mother’s career directly led to their parent’s divorce.
Not only are these “trad wife” women rejecting careerism for women, but many of them are also embracing patriarchy and specifically the idea of women submitting to their husbands.
In “The Real Tradwives of 2022: Why More Young Moms Are Becoming Traditional Housewives”, Jo Piazza laments that “A woman submitted to her husband and letting him take agency over her entire life is a dangerous throwback”.
As Bible believing Christians though, we praise God for raising up a faithful remnant of young men and women in this wicked and perverse generation who want to return to his design of Biblical gender roles.
But as young Christian men and women seek to return to a patriarchal life, we must come alongside them and warn them of the fact that not all systems of patriarchy are biblical.
In America, there are two competing systems of patriarchy and those are Chivalrous Patriarchy and Biblical Patriarchy. Chivalrous Patriarchy goes by a new name given to it in late 1980s by John Piper and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. That new name is Complementarianism.
Differences Between Chivalrous Patriarchy and Biblical Patriarchy
Biblical Patriarchy is a Christian belief system which embraces everything that both the Old and New Testaments teach about gender roles and marriage.
Biblical Patriarchy fully accepts the Bible’s teaching that men are to have full dominion over women in all areas of society including the civil arena, the church and especially the home. (Genesis 3:16, 1 Corinthians 11:3, 1 Corinthians 14:35,1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Timothy 3:2)
Biblical Patriarchy sees the husband and father as the God ordained patriarch of the home and the most powerful human authority God established. In the view of Biblical Patriarchy, the husband and father have far greater responsibility and authority over the lives of their wives and children than do civil or church authorities whose powers are more limited in scope. (Exodus 22:16-17, Numbers 30, Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1-4)
Biblical Patriarchy accepts the Biblical commands that women are to be in full subjection to their male head (father, husband or other male) and that women are never to act autonomously outside of some form of male headship in their lives. Biblical Patriarchy fully embraces that a husband is not just his wife’s male head, but that he is her earthly master appointed by God (Numbers 30, Ephesians 5:22-24,1 Peter 3:5-6).
Biblical Patriarchists accept that it is a shame for women to rule over men. Because women are command to be in full subjection to their male heads, Biblical Patriarchists reject rights give to women since the mid-19th century including child custody and financial support in divorce, the ability of women to own property and women having the right to vote. (Isaiah 3:12 ,1 Corinthians 11:3-10)
Biblical Patriarchists accept that the Bible calls husbands to actively discipline their wives. Biblical Patriarchists also accepts the fact that Biblical chastening can be both non-physical as well as physical as long as it follows proper Biblical guidelines and safe guards. (Exodus 21:26-27, Deuteronomy 25:3, Proverbs 26:3, Hebrews 12:11, Revelation 3:19)
Biblical Patriarchy also accepts polygamy as fully allowed by God. It sees man’s polygynous nature not as a corruption of sin, but as the design of God. It also sees the Biblical truth that woman was made for man and therefore sex was made for man. Biblical Patriarchy embraces the truth that women are commanded to sexually ravish their husbands and they do not condemn forced sex by a husband of his wife in marriage. (Genesis 30:18, Exodus 21:10-11, Deuteronomy 21:14, 2 Samuel 12:8, Proverbs 5:18-19)
Biblical Patriarchy categorically rejects careerism for women and embraces the biblical call for women to be keepers at home with men being providers for the home. (1 Timothy 5:14, Titus 2:4-5)
Chivalrous Patriarchy, more commonly known today as Complementarianism, is set apart from Biblical patriarchy in several ways.
First and foremost, Chivalrous Patriarchy is more dismissive of the Old Testament as being an equal source of divine truth on gender roles.
Chivalrous Patriarchy teaches a much more limited form of male headship than the Bible does. Chivalrous Patriarchy ignores the Biblical teaching that husbands are not just male heads over their wives, but they are in fact their wives’ masters. Chivalrous Patriarchy teaches that husbands are merely figure head leaders for their wives and that husbands have no authority or power to compel their wives’ submission. Submission of wives to their husbands in Chivalrous Patriarchy is completely voluntary.
Chivalrous Patriarchy unequivocally condemns polygamy and fully embraces the romantic view of marriage. They see man’s polygynous nature as a corruption of sin. Also, Chivalrous Patriarchy does not see sex as primarily created for man, but they sex as equally created for men and women. Chivalrous Patriarchy teaches men that the goal of sex is to please their wives sexually. This is why Chivalrous Patriarchy teaches that men should never force or pressure their wives to have sex, but instead wait for their wives to be in the mood for sex since the goal of sex is to please their wives.
Chivalrous Patriarchy categorically denies the Biblical teaching that a husband has the right and responsibility to discipline his wife and especially that he has the option of physically discipling his wife.
Chivalrous Patriarchy teaches that it is a sin for a man to cause his wife pain in any fashion even if it is done without malicious intent and is a result of discipline or as a result of forced sex. Chivalrous Patriarchy condemns forced sex in marriage as “marital rape”.
Chivalrous Patriarchy does not have issues with women voting or having a degree of autonomy from men whether it be their husbands or fathers. And Chivalrous Patriarchy gives women the option to have careers outside the home and does not teach that women must be keepers at home.
Origins of Chivalrous Patriarchy (Now known as Complementarianism)
The assault on Biblical patriarchy began with early church fathers like Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.), Irenaeus (120 A.D. to 200 A.D.) and Tertullian (155 A.D. to 220 A.D) who sought to correct what they saw as an oversight by the Apostles. They specifically condemned polygamy as incompatible with Christianity.
Then in 285 A.D., Rome began to impose the Roman version of patriarchy on all its provinces. The constitution of Diocletian and Maximian prohibited polygamy throughout the Roman empire. The term “Romantic” meant “like the Romans who have only one wife”.
The Jews were among some of the fiercest opponents of the new Roman edict against polygamy claiming their Holy Scriptures allowed this right to all men. This Jewish resistance eventually led to a new Roman law in 393 A.D., targeted specifically at the Jews, commanding them to give up their ethnic custom of polygamy.
At the same time that Roman laws were seeking to wipe out the last remaining vestiges of polygamy, Church fathers like John Chrysostom (347-407) began to assault the ancient practice of wife discipline. Chrysostom argued against all forms of physical discipline of wives and instead argued that husbands should always seek to gently correct their wives and then leave them to God. On the other hand, Augustine (354 A.D. to 430 A.D.) argued that if a woman was beaten by her husband in most cases, she needed it.
Around 700 A.D. new laws started springing up throughout Christian Europe requiring rings for both men and women when entering into marriage. In previous societies wedding rings for men would have made no sense because men could have more than one wife. But now with monogamy being strictly enforced – a ring binding a man to only one woman made sense.
Chivalry was a code of conduct that originated around 1100 A.D. amongst medieval Christian knights in Europe. Besides codes of conduct for war and loyalty to the church and one’s nation it also had specific codes of conduct related to how knights would treat women of noble birth.
Eventually these codes of conduct were not just for knights and women of noble birth. The common people also took these customs on so they could feel more like nobility. Chivalry eventually became the “cool” way for men to behave toward women.
The chivalry codes built further on the Roman (Romantic) customs and laws regarding men having only one wife. Now instead of just giving a woman a ring, the man would kneel down before the woman in deference to her. Also new chivalry codes made the common practice of husbands disciplining their wives to become unfashionable in many circles although it was still common until it was outlawed in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The system of Chivalrous Patriarchy was the direct result of centuries of early church fathers, Roman and later Medieval codes all eroding the rights of husbands in marriage and elevating women to a place God never meant them to be. The Chivalrous Patriarchal system with its disapproval of wife discipline allowed 19th century feminism to form nearly unchecked and the Chivalrous Patriarchal system was the direct precursor to late 20th century Complementarianism.
In a way, you could call Biblical Patriarchy “hard patriarchy” and Chivalrous Patriarchy “soft patriarchy”. Biblical Patriarchy is hardcore adherence to Biblical gender roles. The demands of Biblical patriarchy are harder because they demand more from both the husband and the wife.
Chivalrous Patriarchy makes patriarchy more palatable to women giving them all the goodies of Patriarchy (a man providing for them and protecting them) and also him making suggestions for her life that she may or may not take. Ultimately the wife gets to choose what kind of wife she will be and the man simply has to live with it.
But make no mistake – I have met many Christian men over the years of doing this blog that absolutely love Chivalrous Patriarchy. They love it because it is not as demanding on them as Biblical Patriarchy is. They don’t have to worry about disciplining their wife or trying to mold her into the wife God wants her to be. The kind of wife she will be is totally between her and God. They just provide for her and generally try to make her happy while making a suggestion here and there to her about the direction of her life or their family. And these men truly enjoy having to earn sex from their wives and they really believe sex is all about doing whatever pleases their wives.
This is why I sometimes chuckle at how worked up humanists and feminists get over Complementarianism (Chivalrous Patriarchy) because it really is still so soft on women. Women still choose to submit to what they want to and don’t have to submit to what they don’t want. In other words, women still have a great deal of autonomy in a Chivalrous Patriarchal marriage.
On the other hand, I can totally understand why humanists lose their minds when hearing the teachings of Biblical Patriarchy because the values of Biblical Patriarchy are all in complete and utter opposition to the values of humanism.
I also want to acknowledge the fact that I have a lot of Christian friends, including bloggers and Instagram folks, who find themselves somewhere in the middle of these two schools of thought.
For instance, I have many friends who embrace everything about Biblical patriarchy and even husbands being called to discipline their wives, but they just can’t wrap their heads around physical discipline even though the Bible allows it. And I have other friends who can accept everything about Biblical Patriarchy except the biblical allowance for polygamy or the fact that God designed man with a capacity for polygyny which explains a lot of natural male behaviors.
And to those people I say – “I used to be you”. I struggled with some of these same issues years ago. And then I just let go of my 21st century American cultural conditioning and let the Bible guide my feelings on these various moral issues. God can change your heart if you just recognize and let go of your cultural conditioning.
We as Biblical patriarchists need to be looking for these young people in our churches, extended families or online who are hungry to learn about Biblical patriarchy. And we need to catch them as early as possible before they get caught up in Chivalrous Patriarchy which we have shown here is not the genuine article. And even if they have already been caught up in Chivalrous Patriarchy – it is never too late to bring them to the real deal.
Articles on Stay at Home Moms
“After Decades of Decline, A Rise in Stay-at-Home Mothers”
“More Millennial Women Are Becoming Stay-At-Home Moms — Here’s Why” https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahlandrum/2018/02/09/more-millennial-women-are-becoming-stay-at-home-moms-heres-why/?sh=33ad7c336a2b
“The Real Tradwives of 2022: Why More Young Moms Are Becoming Traditional Housewives” https://katiecouric.com/culture/what-is-a-tradwife/