There, I said it. I am starting to feel better already, but I will continue and explain myself some.
My dear mentor, S. Scott Bartchy, PhD., is still in the process of the final edit of his long-awaited book: Call No Man Father. I long for it to be finished, but in the meantime there are a few links to articles he has published which can give you some of the general background.
Who Should Be Called Father?
Undermining Ancient Patriarchy
On page 145 of his article "Who Should Be Called Father?", Dr. Bartchy addresses the third of three barriers to understanding how Paul has been misunderstood as supporting patriarchy (and with it, hierarchy) in the section entitled Egalitarianism Is Not the Opposite of Patriarchy.
The problem is that is has become common to blur the distinctions between two ancient Greco-Roman social institutions: politics and kinship. They are not opposite ends of the same social-political spectrum. They are on completely different spectrum.
Patriarchy belongs to the semantic field of kinship -- the realm of the family. Egalitarian belongs to the semantic field of politics, referring to things like equal access to the vote, to positions of public leadership, and to ownership of property. The opposite of patriarchal dominance is not egalitarian anarchy/cooperation.
Because of this ongoing confusion, we have not assigned a proper term. We must slog along with, um, non-patriarchy. This is the term used where the power of the fathers and males has been undermined in favor of the Heavenly Father's leadership of his Kingdom Family of siblings who follow Jesus as First Born, Lord and Master.
In the same way, the opposite of egalitarianism is not patriarchy but monarchy, oligarchy or despotism. And part of the confusion came from Roman Emperors who disguised their monarchy behind a kind of public patriarchy -- the pater patriae, the father of the fatherland.
Understandable yet regrettable...and, ultimately, something that must be made right by those who call Jesus Lord and no man Father but God. Jesus, and Paul, turned the power of the patriarchs on their heads. There was no longer an entitlement to power over ... but a command to love and serve as Jesus loves and serves.
Jesus, and Paul, called on the men to give God's place back...to let God be Father of those who accept his amazing offer of adoption as siblings of, and joint heirs with, Jesus Christ.
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In a really funky way, the polarized politics in America is caught in this same kind of semantic problem. Stay with me all the way through, please...so you understand where I am coming from:
- Conservative means faithfulness to the "status quo" -- and is meant to apply to the Constitution as intended by the original authors. The Framers have the same problem as the Apostle Paul as folks try to twist and expand and change the original meaning of their writings. Conservatives believe that the Constitution cannot mean today what it did not mean when the Framers wrote it. This requires diligence with regard to historical and linguistic and social and political distance ... because history and language and society and politics have changed over the past two centuries.
- Progressive means adapting to the changing meanings of history and language and society and politics -- and is meant to apply to learning from history, updating colloquialisms, removing barriers to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in society and seeking peaceful unity in politics. If this requires amending the Constitution, there is a policy in place that is to be followed.