Is Patriarchy One of Our Greatest Sins?

by Mark Votava


Being a man in a culture that is dominated by men has been difficult at times for me.  So much of my experience around church and Christianity has been disturbing.  It seems that women are not equals with men.  Women do not have voice the way men do.

This is weird to me.  Maybe it is because I grew up with five sisters and only one brother.  It is my conviction that the church has struggled tremendously because we have not allowed women to be their true selves within the body of Christ.  We have reduced them to insignificance.

This is tragic and sad.  Some of the greatest teachers in my life are women.  If it wasn’t for the women in my life, I don’t think I would be the person I am today.

  •  Men should learn from women

Men have a lot to learn from women.  When interdependent leadership is about egalitarianism and everyday life in the parish, women seem to embody the gospel through love much better than men do a lot of the time.  Women love their neighbors well.  Men should take note of this and stop pushing a patriarchy on women who show more love, grace, humility and empathy toward their neighbors most of the time.

  •  Christianity has become irrelevant because of patriarchy

Women are our greatest teachers.  Men are foolish if they cannot see this.  I believe that it is because of our patriarchy that Christianity has become so irrelevant to our culture.  When we silence women and do not empower them, we distort the image of God because man and woman were both created in the image of God.  We are to be an expression of the whole nature of God.  God represents both the male and the female.

  •  An egalitarianism that is rooted and linked

Patriarchy is unjust and oppressive.  An interconnected leadership is not about patriarchy, but egalitarianism.  The parish imagination does not like patriarchy.  The parish imagination demonstrates an egalitarianism that is rooted and linked.

  •  All are equal in the parish

There are too many barriers between men and women among the body of Christ.  An interconnected leadership breaks down these barriers and helps us to live together in everyday life.  All are equal in the parish.  Women have just as much opportunity for meaningful engagement in everyday life in a particular place as men do.

  •  Patriarchy is not a theological issue, but a justice issue

God will use both men and women through an interconnected leadership that is rooted and linked.  The parish imagination does not discriminate against women because of gender.  This is no longer a theological issue, but a justice issue.

  •  Breaking down barriers between men and women

Kathy Escobar says, “Until barriers are broken down between men and women in the body of Christ, a chasm of lost experience and wholeness will always be present in our relationships and communities.  We can never underestimate how much healing and spiritual transformation can happen when men and women learn to live alongside each other in equal, loving relationship.”

  •  We cannot create a holistic counterculture without women

We cannot create a holistic counterculture without women.  We need men and women to work alongside each other in the parish.  We need men and women to see themselves as equals in the parish.  We will lose so much if we continue to oppress women.

  •  Practicing the priesthood of all believers

The body of Christ needs to practice reconciliation between genders and learn how to love our neighbors together in everyday life.  We need to learn how to be rooted and linked as we practice the priesthood of all believers that is interconnected in our leadership.  The parish will not come alive in any other way.  The parish imagination dreams of this oppression of women to end through the body of Christ in everyday life together.

Do you think patriarchy stems from insecurity and control within men?