Week 7 in the year of our Lord 2022

Hierarchy & egalitarianism, mission & marriage, and an OPC pastor doesn’t like our book

10 minutes to read

In a world of equals some equals become more equal than other equals. —George Orwell

Some people misunderstand what this statement is communicating. It does not mean that some people are actually of greater value than others. That’s an asinine view which Orwell was critiquing, as becomes clear if you read Animal Farm:

No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?

The issue is not of ontology, nor of worth, but of rank and station. The professed egalitarians claim with one one side of their mouths that any kind of hierarchy is unjust because it entails inequality…but then out of the other side of their mouths they can’t help advocating for hierarchy. They take the existence of higher and lower rank as indicating the existence of higher and lower worth, and demand that we eliminate it. But they are dishonest, because the next thing you’ll find them doing is reinstating hierarchy by another name—usually in a way that reveals just how much better they think they are than the average schmuck.

God’s design cannot be thwarted, so the question is not whether there will be a hierarchy. It is which hierarchy, and based on what?

A reader shared an article on 6 Matriarchal Societies Around the World, wondering how it squares with our claim that patriarchy is inevitable. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. There are always exceptions and outliers for any pattern in creation. This is because it is actually a pattern of creation that there is always an edge, a fringe, a periphery, where order and rules break down. This pattern is inevitable, and must be given its place; hence God is careful to represent it in the very law of his people, reminding them to make allowance for the margin through the tassels on their garments, the edges of their fields, and even the unruliness of their beards. Indeed, the Sabbath, which is the very sign of the Mosaic covenant, follows a similar kind of pattern. So there is absolutely nothing threatening about finding counterexamples to the general rule of patriarchal order that we find in our book. We should be worried if we didn’t find any.

  2. That said, the fringe is the place where order breaks down, where things get chaotic and messy. Hence the term “fringe elements.” Glancing down the list of these supposedly matriarchal societies, they exemplify this principle very clearly. They’re not exactly impressive examples of human civilization, are they? Even if they truly are matriarchal (on which, see below), what we have here is not proof of how great matriarchy is. It is proof of how it sucks to live on the margin. The consequences of repudiating God’s design of patriarchy aren’t good. These are all third world societies, in generally tiny groups. (For more on this, see Goldberg’s Why Men Rule.) Such examples are a complete embarrassment to feminists…yet feminists still champion them, because they are religiously devoted to disorder. Imagine if we found some examples of cultures that had rejected science, which look like these matriarchal societies do, and insisted on holding them up to show how you really can build a society on anti-science principles. You’d laugh your head off, because we’d be making your case for you.

  3. Reading some of the descriptions, many of these examples are either outright deceptive, or probably very weaselly. E.g., there is a village founded in 1990 for sexual abuse survivors. So…a woman’s refuge is an example of matriarchy now? Really? And many of the others, the descriptions are veeeery vague as to how they are “matriarchal.” Conflating matrilinear societies with matriarchal ones is dishonest. As is conflating a particular female-oriented idiosyncrasy of that society with female rulership. It would be interesting to do some research on these examples to see if they are genuinely examples of societies where women, rather than men, predominantly exercise civil rule. We strongly suspect that at least some of them are not. But of course, that would itself be part of the pattern. When you’re religiously devoted to promoting disorder, it is only natural to lie about how much disorder there already is. Falsehood is itself a kind if disorder. The snake eats its own tail.

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A helpful analogy for understanding the importance of a man’s mission is that of a business.

If you’re running a business solo, and you decide to take on a business partner—a CFO to your CEO, maybe—it would be insane for you to hire someone talented and capable, and then micromanage the heck out of him, supervising every little task. That would be insulting to him and counterproductive to you, because it would give you more work, not less.

But it would also be insane for you to hire him and not bother to tell him what the company was about.

Imagine that he turned up on the first day and you smiled benignly and said “OK, this is great, we’re gonna be a great company”, and he was like “Yes, OK, what is it we do exactly?”, and you looked puzzled and said “We’re a company. You’re my partner. I think you’re great.” And day after day, month after month, that was all the information you gave him. “Oh, don’t worry about it. I like our company. You’re great.”

You praise him for doing a great job, or sometimes you’re annoyed at him for not doing something else, but you never actually let him know that you are a publishing house, or a software company, or a purveyor of fine wines.

And worse than that, he wouldn’t know how well the company was doing, or if you were planning to relocate, or take on a bunch of junior staff. (For the purposes of the analogy, “junior staff” means children, not polygamous underaged wives.)

Think about what kind of effect this would have on his morale. Left to himself, he might spend all day playing Minesweeper, or he might try to glean what you wanted of him the best he could and muddle along, or if he was a gung-ho type, he might decide to use the freedom of his situation to start up a business of his own on your premises. And it’s very possible he might start looking around for another job—one that had a job description.

What he would not do is advance and expand and benefit your business the way he could if you gave him a clear idea of what the company was about, and enough direction to help you achieve your goals. Nor would he give you any kind of companionship and support in your role, because he couldn’t.

He would also be inclined to wonder in this scenario why you hired him at all. And if he thought you hired him just because you liked him, he might not feel too secure in his job; because what happens if you stop liking him? He certainly wouldn’t feel valued if you spent all day every day locked up in your office running the business without his input or help. It would be fairly insulting.

Now, obviously this analogy isn’t perfect, because a household is not a business, and a covenant is not a contract. You can fire an employee if he proves to be incompetent; you can’t divorce your wife if she turns out to be a bad helper, or your husband if he turns out to be a bad provider.

But it’s a useful analogy nonetheless, because recent history has shown that marriages based on feelings—on liking each other—tend to fall apart. As we’ve talked about in our article on who does the dishes, a household built on sentiment is not a real household.

When you evaluate a potential wife, try to imagine her helping with your mission. Would you work well together? Would she be a help or a hindrance? Would she be happy?

And if you’re a woman evaluating a potential husband, ask yourself if you’re happy to join him in his mission, and accept whatever it entails. Is he in a field of work that involves a lot of traveling, or night shifts, or financial instability? Will you be constantly resentful of the work he has chosen to do, or are you excited to help out?

And ideally, when you’re dating or courting or whatever, put yourselves in some situations where you have to work together. Build something together. Learn something new together. See how the other person gives or takes commands and criticism and advice, see if he can cope if she’s better at something than he is, see if you end up bickering.

—excerpted from Bnonn & Smokey’s new podcast episode, “Mission, Submission & Rulership in Marriage.” It’s in your favorite podcast app, or you can check it out in your browser:

Listen on the web

We have also published the complete email exchange about our book, between Michael, and John Hahaffy, an OPC pastor. We had removed the previous, incomplete exchange, last week—apologies to anyone who clicked the link and found it broken. This is the droid you were looking for.

Mahaffy went on to publish a review of our book (linked in the exchange), which was both dishonest and lacking in basic accuracy. Michael did a Facebook Live video reviewing Mahaffy’s “review.”

Note that Mahaffy posted the review on his personal blog. If you choose to leave a comment, let your speech and conduct be above reproach.

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Talk again next week,

Bnonn & Michael

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