The End of the Family?
By Dr. Peter Jones
As Christians observing the huge behavioral changes in Western culture, we need to evaluate what our public witness will mean in the days ahead, whether for us individually, for the church community or for our children. It will not be business as usual. Someone recently observed: “If you think of American Christianity as a pendulum, we’re currently at the opposite extreme from the First Great Awakening.”
The “progressive” principle I mentioned in my last essay believes that history is always “progressing.” There is no such thing as the timeless choice between Oneism or Twoism. Progressives have no trust in a sovereign God, so they must try constantly to create their own ever-new versions of utopia. They become self-appointed redeemers who create compelling and urgent narratives of doom and then propose a cultural nirvana for the hope of the world. The utopian vision is usually some form of radical egalitarianism or sameness, best expressed in the Marxist notion: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.”
To bring about an egalitarian utopia, one must destroy authority of all kinds. The most rudimentary and crucial of the human authority structures is the authority of parents over their children. Old style Marxism tried to capture the cultureby the destruction of the family. The newest Marxist version does the same. In order to undermine the family, one must reject the Genesis narratives. Jordan Peterson, a wildly popular psychologist is not sure what to do with the Bible—except to keep it, study it and try to honor it. Recently the Cambridge Divinity Faculty (in the United Kingdom) would not allow him to lecture there. Peterson wants to hold to some of the “ancient stories”:
…it matters whether people around the world understand these ancient stories. It deeply matters. We are becoming unmoored, because we no longer share the structure these stories undergird. This is psychologically destabilizing. It’s producing a pathological and desperate nihilism that is increasingly common and, at the same time, a pronounced proclivity for the ideological certainty that mimics but cannot replace true religious belief. Both consequences are bound to be, as the evidence certainly indicates, divisive and truly dangerous.
On March 6, 2019, Jihan McDonald published an article “Beyond Patriarchy: An Unexpected Encounter,” in which she seeks to “empower people and organizations to create value-driven cultural solutions rooted in diversity, equity, inclusion and healing.”[3} The article is published in Tikkun Magazine, created by Rabbi Michael Lerner, a radical Leftist from the Sixties. Ms. McDonald is a black feminist lesbian and a spiritual director. The magazine’s title in Hebrew means “Fixing/Rectification” and thus “mending the world.”McDonald’s article represents the maturing fruit of the 1960s revolutionary utopianism.
The original egalitarians fought for “fair play” in the culture and in the church, but few saw what was on the horizon. This article develops a new definition of patriarchy. We now must embrace all forms of “diversity, equity, inclusion and healing.” Sameness is the goal. In other words, the destruction of patriarchy is justified because it is seen as an evil opponent to totalizing egalitarianism, which must break down all sexual and gender distinctions.
The patriarchy Ms. McDonald opposes is not rooted in a simple reaction against unequal pay or a restriction on the roles women may play in the military. The attack against old-style patriarchy was mounted on the natural family, in which husbands had been seen as fathers and protectors, and wives as mothers committed to raising children, thus denying women their freedom. From this “liberated” view, the church splintered into two groups: those who opened church leadership to both men and women, and those who championed biblical complementarianism, in which males lead in ordained positions but women are respectfully treasured as essential complements for the full functioning of the body of Christ.
We are no longer dealing with this definition of patriarchy. On February 27, 2019 a Canadian judge ruled that physicians could begin injecting a 14-year-old girl with testosterone without parental consent.So much for the significant role of fathers and mothers!
The old-fashioned patriarchy was criticized because it considered history to be His-Story. “The HISstory of humanity,” says McDonald, “with its male bias, is now not the whole story.” McDonald goes on:
In my own non-binary existence, his or hers fails to tell [my story] fully. If I am to speak of seeing oneself as a complex unity, of seeing oneself as a microcosm of the total story of the universe, of what lives beyond the categorical, then I must get away from HISstory and HERstory and get into THISstory: this story that the Earth is telling itself through us, this story that the Earth is telling the Universe through us, and vice versa. THISstory lives at the queer intersection of HISstory and HERstory. One story. Non-gendered. Queer. Abiding.
“Beyond Patriarchy” is a radical extension of what the Sixties started. We are now told that being a woman or man is not something that one is but something that one decides to do. Biologically there are no such things as “men” and “women.” This thesis is powerfully expressed in the writings of postmodern feminist, Judith Butler in her books, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) and Undoing Gender (2004).She sees gender as “performativity theory.” There is no pre-determining divine creation. There is only self-creation. One is reminded of the famous statement of one of the early feminists, Simone de Beauvoir, who already in 1949 stated: “On nenaît pas femme; on ledevient”—“one is not born a woman; one becomes one.” Gender is a constructed status radically independent from biology or bodily traits, “a free floating artifice, with the consequence that man and masculine might just as easily signify a female body as a male one, and woman and feminine a male body as easily as a female one.”
Will this culture be virtually unlivable for Christians? How can we love both people and the truth, if we have to deny essential humanity? A black Christian mother, Izzy Montague, of Croydon, South London, was branded “homophobic” after claiming live on TV that being gay is a choice and nobody is born homosexual. She was violently criticized by viewers of ITV’s Good Morning Britain, who claimed she was “bigoted” and “from the 1500s” with “absolutely disgusting” views.One viewer wrote in to the program: “What century did you dig this guest out of?”
The new view of “patriarchy” is so widely accepted that distinction-making has become highly insulting to law-makers. The California Department of Education, a part of this “post-patriarchal” reality, is proposing new “health guidelines” in a booklet entitled “Who Are You?” With disarming assurance, these modern educators explain to students that there are at least fifteen genders and that it is impossible for anyone to determine whether a baby is a boy, a girl or something else.
Christian believers must make known with care and respect that destroying patriarchy eliminates the reality of fatherhood, without which there is no family. It is also a rejection of the amazing revelation taught by Jesus regarding God as loving Father, which is at the very basis of the Christian message. Fatherhood is the basis of the success of the Western Christendom, which, with all its faults, has lasted down the centuries, based on a belief in God as Father and Creator. Rejection of patriarchy is a form of Gnosticism, since the Gnostics rejected the given-ness of creation for their own subjective views of reality. Philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901–85) noted: “All gnostic movements are involved in the project of abolishing the constitution of being, with its origin in divine, transcendent being.”
As Christians, we must show by our lives and our words that distinction-making is the objective, Twoist key to the created cosmos and is the only way to approach God the holy Creator and Redeemer. The temptation is to “self-censor” by falling silent. But to demand silence of believers is like asking the early Christians to burn incense to Caesar as Lord in an active expression of polytheism. We must show love to “non-gender” people while loving our Creator and Father first. We must explain to our Christian children the god-denying essence of “a-sexuality” while teaching them to respect every human being, since they are all made in God’s image. Christ’s love is available to all. The church must show the love of Jesus to homosexual and “a-gendered” people, even if our testimony means losing one’s job or reputation. In a time of deliberate rejection of homes and fathers, may we use our families as places of welcome for those in need. The Christian message must not be silenced, but it must be accompanied by courageous acts of love and bold expressions of care. Though this post-patriarchal culture may be unlike any we have known, it is the place where God has put us to preach the gospel with great clarity.
This utopian culture, headed for dystopia, will only be a utopia for God-denying progressives who feel called to save their world by eliminating all creational structures. It will fail. It will implode. Thus, we need to pray that God will have mercy on us, use our courageous witness to his truth, and bring about a hunger in the culture for his Word, his Will and his Honor, from which derives all human dignity. One day the final utopia will come in the marriage supper of the Lamb, where Christ the husband and patriarch will take his bride, the church, in a renewed reality that will bring eternal glory to God its Creator and Savior. In that day the concluding words of Scripture will be heard ringing throughout the cosmos from the lips of the renewed family of God:”Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11).
Jihan McDonald, “Beyond Patriarchy: An Unexpected Encounter” (Tikkun, March 6, 2019).
Jihan McDonald “Beyond Patriarchy: An Unexpected Encounter” (Tikkun, March 6, 2019).
Benoit Denizet-Lewis, “The Scientific Quest To Prove Bisexuality Exists,” The New York Times Magazine, March 20, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/magazine/
Judith Butler,Gender Trouble: Feminism And The Subversion Of Identity (New York: Routledge, 2006, 1999, 1990) See the account of her work on Wikipedia.
Benoit Denizet-Lewis, “The Scientific Quest To Prove Bisexuality Exists,” The New York Times Magazine, March 20, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/magazine/.
Simone de Beauvoir,Le Deuxième Sexe(Gallimard, 1949, 2004), as quoted in Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism And The Subversion Of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990, 1999, 2006), 1.
Judith Butler,Gender Trouble: Feminism And The Subversion Of Identity (New York: Routledge,1990, 1999, 2006). 9.
Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism: Two Essays(Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1968), 99-100, cited in https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2015/05/12/the-new-gnosticism-of-the-homosexual-movement/.