Can Patriarchalists Pray the Lord's Prayer?

Can patriarchalists pray the Lord's Prayer?

It's a good question. My best guess at an answer is that they probably can't. Here's why:

As we all know, we have material in the writings of St. Paul that point to different gender arrangements. Egalitarians like to point to Galatians 3.28, "there is neither male nor female." Patriarchalists like to point to texts like 1 Timothy 2.12, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man."

Which of these visions should regulate the life of the church?

A simple way to cut to the chase is to frame the question eschatologically. That is, when the Kingdom comes in its fullness will there be egalitarian power relations between men and women as envisioned in Gal. 3.28, with all in submission to Jesus and to each other? Or will men still have authority over women in heaven as envisioned in 1 Tim. 2.12?

I expect that, in my church at least, a lot of the men (and women) who preach 1 Tim. 2.12 as normative for the church actually believe that Gal. 3.28 describes what heaven will look like. That is, I don't think most patriarchalists, at my church at least, think that men will have authority over women in heaven. They believe that men only have authority over women now, on the earth.

And if that's the case I return to my question: Can patriarchalists pray the Lord's Prayer?

Can they pray "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?" and mean it?

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32 thoughts on “Can Patriarchalists Pray the Lord's Prayer?”

  1. It's especially worth pointing out how Gal 3:28 makes reference to the new, eschatoloigical order, as there are no distinctions "in Christ" but 2 Tim 2:12 references the old created (and fallen) order as the rationale for the teaching. "For Adam was formed first, then Eve;
    and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

  2. Could it be that Galatians 3:28 is addressing equality of position as in “all sons” from 3:26 and not at all have anything to do with “egalitarian power relations between men and women?”

    Could it be that 1 Timothy 2:12 is in regard to teaching (of which there will be no need in the kingdom) and domineering control by woman in the present teaching setting (of which there will also be no occasion in the kingdom) rather than “men still have authority over women (in all matters???) ?”

  3. That's a good question. I think egalitarians and patriarchalists have different answers for that.

  4. Could it be that Jesus has in mind a much more comprehensive, encompassing, and all-penetrating vision of the "kingdom of God" than you do?

  5. This is one of the best posts I've ever read on the subject. If Christ's work is actually finished; if redemption is inaugurated, we are letting old creation win if we choose to continue living under the curse.


  6. I'm not sure if this is pedantic or obvious but... The prayer *is* addressed using a literally patriarchal title (at least in its traditional form). That doesn't change your eschatological point, but it does point to the limits of language defining an ineffable God (and socio-cultural bias, blah blah blah).

  7. Thanks for raising this question, Richard. By pushing the envelope, you often help me see where I agree with "progressives" (for lack of a better word)--and where I find, rather to my surprise, that I cannot.

    I agree with almost everything about egalitarians, yet always felt uncomfortable--and here, explicit in your post, is the reason. I am simply not willing to accept that neither my Christian brothers and sisters, nor the (pseudo?) Paul who wrote 1 Tim 2:12, really understands the gospel. The word "patriarchalist" (???) aside, I wonder if it is a peculiarly modern, peculiarly Western conceit that a perfect world is ipso facto a world without authority-relations.Many Christian and Jewish eschatological texts have no trouble envisioning a "Kingdom" in which priests (males of a certain bloodline), elders (males of a certain status), and others have a special place of authority. Many of these texts even rank the authority of various classes of angelic beings. None assume that "authority" or "inequality" is inherently domineering, abusive, or a challenge to the utopian nature of the Kingdom.I am modern, and I am Western, and I find it easier to think of the ideal reality as egalitarian. But I am not quite so caught up in my own biases as to think that anybody less committed to egalitarianism than I is thereby less committed to the coming of the Kingdom--that only with the invention of egalitarianism could anyone pray the Lord's Prayer.

  8. Non Sequitur alert!  God is, always has been, and always will be sovereign over everything so I don't see how His rule could encompass even more than all there is.  Possibly you could shed some more light on your confusion of my vision?

  9. Wow. I really appreciate the way you pull things together from very familiar places and let the connection between them state the obvious. So plain. So true. So good. Thank you.

  10. Of course they can pray it and mean it.  I mean, if they believe that men having authority over women is a temporary thing to be done away with in the coming Kingdom, why can't they pray for it?  This is a crude example but I believe that when God's kingdom comes I won't need to lock my front door at night.  Does locking it now mean I can't mean it when I pray for the Kingdom to come?  Perhaps I'm missing the point of your argument here?  The only people who can't pray it and mean it would be people who fit into this formula:

    1.)  They believe that women are subject to men as a temporary thing which will be eradicated when the Kingdom comes.  AND
    2.)  They secretly desire that this never really actually happens.

    Only if both of those are true would a person be in the conflict you seem to be describing.

    p.s. I do really like the idea of thinking this way though: How should we live now, in light of the coming Kingdom? Great way to think!

  11. In conversation with (uncommitted but reflexive) patriarchialists, I have found this the most straightforward, comprehensible, and persuasive argument -- and it serves as a helpful hermeneutical lens for reading other areas of the NT on gender roles.

  12. Good point. But look closely: 2 Tim 2:12 references the pre-fall order (not just the fallen order). Christians have generally thought that creation is the best clue to the (admittedly mysterious) nature of re-creation. So 2 Timothy's non-egalitarian (not, necessarily, patriarchal) reading of Genesis seems to itself be eschatological--because the restoration of Garden conditions is indeed an eschatological theme.

  13. Short and to the point, Richard.  Excellent.


    Yes indeed, language is limited.  The brilliant Christian thinkers of the early centuries understood that, and they also were quite clear that God as Father is not an indication of sex or gender, but rather the limited way we have to express how the Father is related to the Son, particularly, and also to the Spirit.  Those thinkers also never, ever posited that women were less human or some other type of human than men, which is where much of patriarchalist "theology" leads (especially that which would liken male/female relations to those of the Father/Son - it boggles my mind that they see no problem in dismantling the hard-won understanding of the Trinity (insofar as we can understand it at all) in order to preserve patriarchy).

    No, the early Christian theologians not only gave us Trinitarian doctrine, but also continued the general biblical view, well expressed in the quote in this blog post, that women were not "othered":


  14. "A simple way to cut to the chase is to frame the question eschatologicaly"
    Simply brilliant!" This hermeneutical key has just unlocked so much for me- my mind is buzzing with possibilities. Thank you so much Richard.

  15. You're assuming that Paul is giving the creation order, and/or Eve’s deception, in verses 13-14 as his rationale for the prohibition in 1 Tim 2:12. However verses 13-15 could be Paul’s repudiation and correction of part of the false teaching at Ephesus. Paul's letter was written in response to the problem of heresy in Ephesus, and there are several indications within the letter that the heresy was an early form of Gnosticism.
    There is nothing in any of the three creation accounts in Genesis (1:27-28; 2:21-24; 5:1-2) which indicates the concept of male authority or primacy, rather we see unity, affinity and equality between the first man and woman.  There is also the command to rule over the created world together with no hint about a division of labor according to gender.  There are no gender roles or male-only authority stated or prescribed in the pre-fall scriptures.

  16. What do you think about historical-critical approach to this? The Pauline authorship of this epistle seems to be challenged by most modern New Testament scholars, i.e. the letter is a pseudonymous forgery by an anonymous author.

    Another instance of "Paul" speaking against the role of women in the church is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35: "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

    Here again there's a scholarly suspicion of tampering: the verses in question appear at different position in different manuscripts, there's a question of contradicting 1 Corinthians 11:5 ("But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven."), and the flow is improved if we remove the verses. Admittedly, we don't have any early manuscripts without these verses.

  17. Thank you for putting this question out there! I will never pray The Lord's Prayer the same again. In fact I think I'll be praying it more often and with more fervor. I am also thankful that we are seeing this prayer being answered in our family (daughters, son, and granddaughters).

  18.  Given that Priscilla was a founder & primary discipler in Ephesus, I don't think interpreting the 1 Tim. 2 text as patriarchal is accurate.  I think it more likely that these teachings are a response to the contextual realities of the Artemis cults & the role women played in those rites.  Further, "authority" in this text is an anomaly, not used elsewhere in Scripture.  If Paul was referring to authority as have tended to interpret it, why not choose a word more clear and one he uses elsewhere?  Not definitive, but highly suggestive.  Finally, that women "will be saved through childbearing", taken explicitly, won't fit into any solid soteriology.  Instead, I suggest Paul is referring to Mary, who birthed our salvation in bearing Christ.

  19. While i can agree with you that the context of 1 timothy is Ephesus, i cannot narrow down the instructions in 1 tim 2 to just Ephesus. Notice how in verses 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, how Paul uses "all people/men". In verse 8, he says "every place". Verses 9 begins the instructions for women and begin with "likewise". The clincher that this should not be narrowed down to just Ephesus is when he brings Adam and Eve and her deception in v13 and 14 as his reason for the instruction in v11-12.
    Also i can agree that the word for authority is not used anywhere else in the Bible and not translated well. My personal translation would be to use the phrase "assert herself over a man".
    Problem with assuming Woman in v14 is Mary, well if Paul wanted to say Mary, he would have said it and in v15 he uses the plural "they". I will be honest here, i am not conclusive in what exactly he is saying in v15.

  20.  Samuel, interestingly, I take the same verses to suggest a very different meaning.  As you say, frequently states his words are to "all", yet stops doing so on the specific issues we are addressing.  He starts with the universal, then from that foundation addressing the local, returning then to the universal.

    You are right that v15 uses "they", but there is the oft mistranslated word at the beginning of the verse, which many render as "women", but is in fact the singular "she".  This shift from singular/specific to plural/general suggests there is a meaning that is less apparent than we might think.

    It is a difficult text, but with the history of the Ephesian church, I suggest that interpreting a patriarchal meaning to these words is not consistent.

  21. Samuel, “all places” or “everywhere”, depending on the English translation, could easily refer to all the house churches, or other Christian meeting places, in Ephesus.  Priscilla and Aquila were in Ephesus for some time (Acts 18:19ff), but there was obviously another group of believers in Ephesus, consisting of about twelve men, that had not connected with them and were ignorant of the rite of Christian baptism. (Acts 19:1-7) (Were these men converts of Apollos before Apollos was set straight by Priscilla and Aquila?) “Every place” could also include places like the hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9-10). I’m not suggesting that the events in Acts 18 and 19 are contemporary with 1 Timothy.  All I am saying is that the Ephesus church did not meet in one place but in many places. It is also interesting to note that in the verses immediately preceding verses 1 Tim 2:11-12, Paul gives instructions to men and to women [plural]. Paul’s instructions to men and women in 1 Timothy 2:8-10, for lifting holy hands in prayer and for not wearing luxurious clothing in church meetings, are rarely mentioned, let alone applied or enforced, in most contemporary churches.  But the instruction in 1 Tim 2:12 is enforced.  There is an obvious bias here in how we apply scripture.Also, why does Paul then switch to the singular for woman and man (or possibly wife and husband) in verse 12? I think this is significant. 1 Tim 2:12 doesn't say, for instance, that a woman cannot teach men. This may sound pedantic, but 1 Tim 2:12 is used to affect so many people, and so I think we need to be careful that we do think that the verse says something which it doesn't. Furthermore, Andrew Perriman (1993) has noted that the use of the verb epitrepō in the New Testament (which occurs in 1 Tim 2:12), in every case, is ”. . . related to a specific and limited set of circumstances . . .” Perriman goes on to say that, because of Paul’s choice of words, the instruction in verse 12 is more about [local] church governance and practice than theological authority. I believe the prohibition in 1 Tim 2:12, of a woman teaching a man, was local and temporary.

  22. A simple way to frame the question is context. In Galatians Paul is talking of salvation by faith. In 1 Timothy, the saved one's conduct in case he is delayed.
    ·       Galatians says all people are saved the same way, there is no other Gospel.
    ·       Timothy is told how those saved are to conduct themselves.
    In Galatians he appeals to the historical plan of God. God has always saved by faith. In Timothy he appeals to the very beginning of creation. Adam was created first, Eve transgressed first. There was a curse. But if the serpent's head was crushed by the Promised Son, why still the suffering?
    That leads to a very legitimate first century question. If we are still operating under that fallen order, what happens if a woman dies under the curse of childbirth? Will she be lost? The answer: Absolutely not. She will be saved as everyone is saved: by faith. Paul has not contradicted himself.  All are saved by faith. The earth still groans under the curse, and so do we. Suffering, sweat and death still exist. We are not operating under the final consummation. Paul is not discussing eschatology in either passage, but salvation and conduct here and now until the end.
    A psychiatrist cannot pray the Lord's Prayer or understand the Bible if he analyzes Paul for bipolarism rather than placing himself under the unified Word of God.

  23. Verse 15 is a legitimate question arising out of the historical order. If we are still operating under the fallen order, ·       Adam created first, ·       Eve transgressed first, ·       Curse (of painful childbirth) ·       And promised Son to reverse the curse, crush the head of the Serpent  How then is the woman saved, if she dies in childbirth, still under the curse? The same way Paul said in Gal. By faith in the promised Son who crushed the head of the serpent. If she dies in childbirth, she is not lost. She is saved like Jews, Gentiles, Slaves and the Free: by faith.  In Galatians Paul tells we are all saved the same way. By faith. In Timothy he is telling those saved how to conduct themselves. Paul is not contradicting himself.  We are not operating under the pre-fall order and we have not yet made it to the final consummation where, like the angels we will not be given in marriage. The earth still groans, and so do we. But do not lose heart. We have saved by faith in the Promised Son.

  24.  I guess one of the questions that should be asked is whether, "all" refers to all houses of gatherings/church in Ephesus or all houses of gatherings in the world. I lean towards all places in the world because in v1-2 Paul uses "all people" and then the plural for Basilues/Kings. If he was referring only to Ephesus, he would have used the singular Greek word for King. Also when Paul bring in Adam and Eve, he is saying something which applies to Christians of all places and ages, just like how Jesus brings in Adam and Eve when talking about marriage and divorce.
    I agree with you that we do have an undue emphasis on v11-12 and not v8-10. It would be nice if this was not the case. Personally i try to follow them. I do try to maintain unity, i am in a Church where the women's roles are not of my view. My wife dresses up modestly too and am trying to install it in my daughter. I also go further and am open to greeting others with a holy kiss :). All i am saying is that i try to be faithful to God and in no way am i trying to put women down by following only v11-12 and not v8-10.
    I would be interested in seeing how Perriman narrows down epitrepo to be local. The word is used in Hebrews 6:3 and 1 Cor 16:7. I do not see how it can have a concept of place to it.

  25. Good answer, Marg. I didn't mean to assume that. I merely meant to notice that references to Genesis 1-3 are not, in and of themselves, non-eschatological. I would not argue that 1 Tim 2:12 is patriarchal, much less that it is grounding patriarchalism in the creation account. I was simply reacting to a tendency to take passages that say "in Christ" (such as Gal 3:28) and simply trump passages that refer to Genesis 1-3. This is a subtle Marcionism, a failure to see continuity between creation intent and eschatological expectation.

    That said, I like everything you said. Your careful reading of the actual Genesis narrative is far more likely to guide my view of gender relations than the extremely puzzling comments that 1 Timothy seems to be making about creation.

  26. Thank you! This is exactly what it comes down to for me. We're supposed to be living the Kingdom now; and so, as you've said, the essential question is: will there be hierarchical relationships in the Kingdom?

  27. This post is highly ironic. Try praying "Our parent, who art in heaven . . ." without giggling.

  28. Most complementarians actually argue that the origin of gender roles is in the good created order as described in Genesis (not in the fall), and so presumably would have some continuation into eternity.

  29. Please forgive my ignorance, but I thought His prayer was for the establishment of the Kingdom in terms of His Church on earth. Under that framework, the Kingdom coming and His will being done on Earth would involve whatever circumstances are appropriate in the Church today.

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