"Ecclesiastical Matriarchy"


By P. Andrew Sandlin
March 13, 2000


Feminine Christianity is our affliction, feminine churches our scourge. The problem is basic: we have feminine churches because we do not consciously inculcate a masculine religion; instead, we unconsciously inculcate a feminine religion. Biblical masculinity is simply not a calculated ecclesiastical program in today's Christianity. Therefore, we suffer under ecclesiastical matriarchies.

Feminists in the church always amuse me with their efforts to refashion or rehabilitate Biblical faith in feminist terms. Christianity is a masculine religion. Period. It starts with a masculine Deity. Every book in the Bible was written by a man. Every apostle of our Lord was a man. Every leader of Israel, except when men refused to lead, was a man. While prophetesses are mentioned, the overwhelming majority of those who delivered the word of God were men. Face it squarely. Christianity is a masculine religion. We can, of course, devise a feminine Christianity. All we need to do is drop the Bible. This is precisely what "Christian" feminists have done.

Today's churches practice feminine theology (existentialism), feminine preaching (sentimentalism), and feminine unity (relationalism). Biblical churches, by contrast, champion masculine theology (confessionalism), masculine preaching (expositionalism), and masculine unity (covenantalism). We wonder aloud why our churches are filled with loud, pushy, dominant women and wallflower, pusillanimous, girlie-men. I know why. Everything about the church today appeals to women, not men. We start the service with "praise choruses"; move on to polite supplications for "spiritual warmth"; continue with a doleful communion service; progress to weepy pleas for tithes and offerings (to finance the new nursery annex or girls' volleyball team); and conclude with a fifteen-minute, poetic, seeker-sensitive sermonette. It's all topped off with an altar call punctuated with a trite story about somebody's grandmother getting decapitated by a train, as "Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling" wails plaintively from the organ in the background. All fit for the fairer sex. And that's who comes to church.

You get what you fish for.

This applies even more so to many (though by no means all) house churches, which are often the offspring of home schools, in which (unfortunately), borderline-feminist Moms tend to dominate. This has become an epidemic; and if we expect to engender a new reformation, it must stop soon. Mom is ever there in the background (sometimes foreground), pushing the unsure, reluctant Dad into leadership. Mom listens to "Focus on the Family" and Dad reads Field and Stream (or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue). Mom trains the children, and Dad repairs the bikes. Mom leads family worship, and Dad prays at meal time. Mom orchestrates the church, Dad complies.

A Biblical church? Now, that's a different matter. The service gets underway with great hymns of the Faith like, "How Firm a Foundation" or "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Then comes the pastor's prayer, boldly beseeching God in the name of Jesus Christ, confessing the congregation's law-breaking, imprecating God's enemies, and invoking the King's presence. Following is the offering, in which the minister enjoins the divine commands of the tithe. Communion begins with the confession of sin and ends with the joyous song of victory, the consumed body and blood of Christ supplying the strength to wage war against the world, the flesh and the Devil. Finally is the sermon, Biblical, bold, forceful, direct, forthright, admonitory, applicatory. Steve Schlissel, in his chapter in Chalcedon's Keeping Our Sacred Trust, said it best:

"[P]reaching should be self-consciously directed to the men of the covenant. Preaching is very powerful. In many contexts, it reproduces its character in the congregation. If preaching is soft, round, pretty, and introspective, you'll have a congregation of women, though they be of both sexes. If it is clear, well-defined, direct, and objective, you'll find men drawn to it, and women and children, too! It's a case of "Where the Boys Are," my friends. Preach to women, have women; preach to men, have men women, and children."

It is this kind of church that produces strong male leader and faithful female followers. It is this kind of church alone that storms Satan's fortresses. It is this kind of church alone that transforms cultures.


P. Andrew Sandlin is executive vice president of Chalcedon and editor of the Chalcedon Report and other Chalcedon publications. He has written hundreds of scholarly and popular articles and several monographs.


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