Is Catholicism pro-Patriarchy?

According to Wikipedia Patriarchy means

[quote=Wikipedia: Patriarchy]Patriarchy is a social system in which: males hold primary power; males predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property; and, in the domain of the family, fathers or father-figures hold authority over women and children. It implies the institutions of male domination and entails female subordination.

Since the Bible and the Church teaches

[quote=Ephesians 5:22-25 (DRB)] Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ: so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and delivered himself up for it:

It seems that “holding authority over women and children” is something St. Paul advocates. The details about things like “political leadership” are less clear, however.

No. Here’s what Saint Peter has to say on the matter: " For after this manner in old times the holy women also who hoped in God adorned themselves, while being subject to their husbands. So Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You are daughters of hers when you do what is right and fear no disturbance. Husbands, in like manner dwell with your wives considerably, paying honor to the woman as to the weaker vessel, and as co-heir of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered." ( First letter of Peter, Chapter 3, 5-7) True, in comparison to modern perceptions, this might be seen as an emphasis of the power of man over woman, but in truth it makes clear that this power the man has is not based on superiority. This is why Peter does not simply advise the women, but advises the husbands immediately after too. The two are codependent. They both have power over each other that is based on their natural tendencies. The terms “lord” and “master” is used in the context of family, not government or society, therefore it has no basis in power by force. Peter even explicitly states that if the man does not pay honor to the woman and her contributions, his prayers will be hindered.
Also, this question is easily refuted by the Blessed Mother. She is the new Eve. She came into the world without sin. She humbly accepted the Lord’s will and brought the Word flesh incarnate into the world in her birthed son Jesus Christ. True, it is His will that is done, but Mary intercedes for us, and the Saints and Jesus often heed her prayers, the way any son would heed the wishes of his mother. Consider Christs’ kingship and Her queenship. This overthrew the old order and fulfilled the law. This heavenly royalty is based on love and justice, not power in the earthly sense, which is what patriarchy implies. Consider Saint Joseph too. He led Mary in the exile to Egypt to protect her. He helped her raise and care for Christ. Both fulfilled their roles in the carrying out of God’s will. Whenever this question of the patriarchy is introduced, always meditate on the Holy Family. The Church advocates for the kind of relationship Mary and Joseph shared. They are our examples of a Holy man and woman.

God is a patriarch, the priesthood is a patriarchy, and His natural design for human society and the family, is patriarchy. Therefore patriarchy is fundamentally good. As a Catholic, and also a simple human being defending natural law, it is necessary to promote, respect, embrace and love this patriarchal design. Any lack of realization, respect, and promotion of this is therefore is a fundamental and serious problem that is quite destructive.

For example family obedience requires obedience to the husband and father, under pain of sin. If this is forgotten the family does not and cannot function properly. And it is an act of virtue, this obedience, and so a good, which sanctifies the wife and children, so not simply a negative. Their holiness is gained from the virtue of obedience.

It is natural society and government reflect the family.

When people ask, why not ordain women, and the answer is given ‘We don’t know, we just don’t because Christ didn’t.’ This is given alone a poor answer – The answer is the good of patriarchy.

It seems that “holding authority over women and children” is something St. Paul advocates. The details about things like “political leadership” are less clear, however.

Throughout Catholic history women have held powerful positions in politics, theology, education, control of property, and social privilege. I encourage you to click the following link to see examples:

Catholic History and Women’s Equality: A Timeline

Regarding the authority of husbands over the family, I have a problem where Wikipedia says, “[This] implies the institutions of male domination and entails female subordination.” Either they are defining that as part of male authority, in which case I think they are wrong and the New Testament serves as a corrective, or they are defining that as part of patriarchy, in which case the New Testament indicates that early Christianity did not support patriarchy – at least not by Wikipedia’s definition of the term.

In the New Testament passage you quoted about male authority, you missed a critical verse in verse 21: “Be subject to one another.” (Ephesians 5:21) You also missed the part where it tells husbands to treat their wives as equals: “Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” (Ephesians 5:28-29)

Notice that it says husbands should love their wives as themselves. That is equality. Other passages about female equality include Galatians 3:28 – “[T]here is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Furthermore, the Christian teaching about the family united the wife to the head of the family. That was an increase in family authority for women, because, if I understand early Roman domestic history correctly, in Roman civilization women did not have any connection to authority over the family. In Christian teaching, they were united to the family head as a coequal, and the husband had to place himself in service to the wife: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) And: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

Because of all these things, I think the early Catholic Church did not match up to the definition of patriarchy given by Wikipedia.

Who says patriarchy is a BAD THING? Im not being sexist, but I mean what if that IS how God created the family? And everything in the church should model the family, right?

God made Adam first, then Eve. Each person is equally valuable. Each has inherent qualities that complement each other. Our goal is to gain heaven. Nowhere in our teachings are women disrespected or dishonored. We all have a unique place in society and in the Church.
FYI: using Wikipedia as some sort of expert site is ill-advised. ANYONE can post to Wikipedia. There are trolls who spend all their time posting with their own slant and objecting to posts made to clarify errors. Use your brain to educate yourself, don’t take the “shortcut”/trap of Wikipedia to answer all your questions.
Check out history beginning with scripture, then the early writings of Church fathers, etc for a true historical view. Go to any Catholic church, spend some time and you will discover for yourself that women are valued, respected and honored in a much better light than in modern society, where women are used and abused, made pawns of the ‘sexual revolution’ encouraged to dress like harlots and perform like unpaid prostitutes.
The Catholic Church upholds women’s dignity and value. Just like Jesus did.

Translated :-Women, know your place and don’t get any notions above your station.

HAHAHAHAHAHA Nope. Nope. Nobody else put down women here but you…you said it not us. Funny how people say “:we are equal” and “we all have specific roles” and then are yelled at for being unequal. Tell me, do you think man and woman are the same? Their minds and bodies ae not. SO why should their social jobs be?

Being equal and being the same do not mean the same thing.

I was taught that we are all equal in the Eyes of God, I was NOT taught that we are all the same in the Eyes of God.

It is said that we are made in the “Image of God”, either we all are or none of us are.

By the way, what do you mean by: “SO why should their social jobs be?”

Amen, Exactly, and AMEN!! That is what I meant.

And by that I meant that many people complain that woman and men dont have the same roles in the church or the family, and those are the “social jobs”. But if women and men are different physically and psychologically, why should they be the same in social roles in the church or family?

Oh wait i forgot…this culture wants them to be the same psychologically and physically too…

The “superiority” concept is a red herring. It’s not included in most definitions of Patriarchy. Nor is it a well-defined concept.

I’m pretty sure that Jewish and Greek culture believed that husbands had legal (“force”, as you put it) power over wives.

Hardly inconsistent with Patriarchy, as defined by Wikipedia.

I thought the central aspect of Mary’s venerability, that she was submissive to God’s will. And she did not seem to hold an equal relationship with Jesus, or Joseph.

The idea of Mary as an intercessor in heaven, is not an anti-patriarchal concept. Unless I’m missing some essential aspect of Patriarchy or the intercession of the saints.

Catholic history is also full of examples of adultery and rape. I don’t think the church approves of them.

Has Catholicism traditionally interpreted this command as “being subject” in the same sense as wives should “submit”? It would be strange for everybody to “be subject” to one another.

Also, why are Husbands not told to “be subject” to their wives? It seems strange that he’s singling out wives.

In what way does this mandate equality? After all, I don’t treat different parts of my body equally. That would be weird. Unless I’m missing something, I think you just inserted the concept of “equality” here.

But you believe we should submit to bishops, correct? The Pope does not seem equal to the average Catholic. He seems higher in status, to hold authority/domination, et cetera.

And Jesus tells us to love everyone as we love ourselves. But children are not equal to parents, and various other (normal) inequalities clearly exist. Unless you’re defining “equality” in some very reduced way, where children are equal to parents, I don’t thing any of these passages indicate equality.

Women held authority over children. As they do in Christian teaching.

And where did the “equally valuable” idea come from? I’m focusing on the “equally” part.

I was just using it for a general definition of Patriarchy. The dictionary definitions I tried were too short/vague.

I’m not sure how “dignity” or “value” is inconsistent with Patriarchy. 300 years ago, women were treated a lot like older children, in terms of authority and their social role. Yet we still believe children have “dignity” and “value”.

I’m pretty sure that one of Paul’s infamous sayings about women–the one about them not speaking in church–is now believed to be written by someone else and plopped into that letter.


Maybe not. But being different does not necessarily mean the two cannot do the same job.
Most jobs and vocations do not depend on whether a person has a male or female body.


Most jobs do not. But vocations do.
Basically, it DOES mean no woman priests. But other than that, you are correct.

Everybody is submissive to God’s will. All men through history have submitted to God either willingly or in their particular judgement. There are many examples in the Bible: Abraham, Moses, Peter. I don’t see how Mary’s submission to God’s will makes her less of a person than a man. Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, preserved from the stain of original sin. What man can claim that status?

It is not a red herring. Patriarchy is a form of power dynamics. You concede to this when you admit that Jewish and Greek culture gave husbands legal force over their wives. The term “legal” involves power. Laws are how power is enforced. Power is used to establish hierarchy, and hierarchy depends on a concept of superiority. Wikipedia is not a legitimate source. Its definitions are faulty. If you are going to use terms like " Patriarchy", “legal”, and " superiority" in an argument, you have to establish what they mean in relation with the argument.
Here’s the definition of Patriarchy from Oxford dictionary, “A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. The father or eldest male is also the head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.” This last part is key. The Church traces the descent of Jesus from both Mary’s and Joseph’s line. This is why we know that He descended from both Ruth and David. Also, women are not excluded from the Church. They are not ordained priests, but they still hold power in the Church. Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Teresa of Avila, these are two examples of women who helped shape the Church as we know it today. These two were instrumental in advancing the church through times of persecution and through the reformation. Their contributions are widely acknowledged and praised. Women like Mother Teresa and Mother Angelica are given this title “Mother” because of their leadership roles in the church. They, like all of us, are servants to God, but not servants to the Church the way a woman would’ve been a servant to the Empire.
As for the Blessed Mother being “submissive” to God’s will, again, your use of the term “submissive” is faulty. Submissive in what way? The oxford definition of submissive is, “Ready to conform to the authority or will of others; meekly obedient or passive.” The first part is true about Mary, but not the “passive” part. That’s the point. Her submission to the Lord’s will is based on humility, not on force. Again, Patriarchy means a system in which men hold power and women are excluded. God is neither “man”, nor “woman”, so submitting to his will is not submitting to a “man”. She is not being excluded from his plan when she is chosen to bear and birth Christ. She is called “blessed among women”. You have not responded to my argument about her queenship. This is important. Patriarchy relies on power obtained by a concept of superiority. This is the only way laws can be established to enforce the hierarchy of a King and Queen, or any other government system in which the power of women is largely excluded. Mary’s Queenship overthrew this power-based patriarchy. Her intercession is the polar opposite of patriarchy, because it means she has an active role in Heaven and in the determination of how we are judged.
I mean this charitably, but if you base an argument off faulty terms, the argument can never be resolved. Otherwise, you will simply be caught behind the definitions you force-fit into your theory. Then you will state assertions and cite Wikipedia for proof, rather than make counter-arguemnts. This is especially important to remember with terms involving power dynamics. Patriarchy is one that has been co-opted by neo-feminism and other isms, to the point where it will mean a different thing depending on the class it is being taught in. You have raised an important question, please do not close the door to answers that do not conform to faulty definitions.

I was responding to someone who claimed that the existence of someone like Mary was in conflict with the idea of Patriarchy. I didn’t say anything about “less of a person”.

Mary has a unique role, as someone who gave birth to Jesus. Her role, unlike the role of, say, the Apostles, is in child-birth. Not anything involving leadership of society.

If Patriarchy is “hating women”, then Mary contradicts that. But Patriarchy is not “hating women”, or anything similar. It’s about rigid gender roles, that place men as the people in control of a society, and women as home-makers. Mary’s spiritual role fits quite nicely into that worldview.

“Superiority” is not a general term. Superior in what? Someone who is in a higher rank in the hierarchy is “superior” in authority. But when you used the term “superior”, I assumed you meant “superior” in intelligence, ability, et cetera. Which is how it’s typically used in our culture.

If you’re going to object to Patriarchy, as involving “superiority”, a term I did not use, you should probably define it.

Firstly, there are some cultures that are both matrilineal and Patriarchal. post-exile Judaism, for example.

Secondly, just because Scripture traces Mary’s line of descent, does not mean it opposes patrilineal descent. That’s a big leap.

Thirdly, even when tracing Mary’s line of descent, it almost exclusively mentions men.

There are no female Bishops. Women cannot be successors of the apostles. That is, at least, a partial exclusion from power.

If they do hold power in the Church. At least, power over men, then Catholicism seems to be in conflict with Scripture. Unless the church interprets the Scripture verses I cited in a different way than I do, and I am unaware of it. But you haven’t cited any church document explaining the nature of Paul’s comments, and my brief Google search on the topic makes it look like Catholicism does agree with my interpretation. I am open to correction, though.

Women can, and have played important roles. And they can hold authority over other women.

I am not aware of the two saints you cite, but did they command hierarchical authority over men?


[quote="1 Timothy 2:12]But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence.

The opposite of “passive” is “aggressive”. Was Mary’s obedience aggressive? What exactly is wrong with the “passive” part?

And you’re right, it was based on humility, not force. So, does that imply the usage of force is wrong? That’s a leap, and a strange leap.

God has revealed himself to us as a man - all three parts of the Trinity. He does not have a human gender, of course, because he is not human. She is submitting to someone who reveals himself as a man, and this conforms to Patriarchal norms.

Do you realize that a “Queen” does not generally hold authority? She is high-status, and influential, because her husband is the King. But she can only do things with his consent.

Lots of Patriarchal societies have had Queens. This seems obvious.

And intercession is not the polar opposite of patriarchy. She holds no power herself. She is appealing to Jesus, the King, for prayers to be answered. It’s actually a hierarchical relationship.

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