The spiritually moribund and misnamed “Reconstructionist” Radio has launched a new podcast in an attempt to market feminism to neo-Reconstructionists. The Monstrous Regiment podcast derives its name from John Knox’s famous anti-feminist pamphlet, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. This podcast features angry women who intend to lecture boorish patriarchal men on how evil they are and how women are absolutely equal to men in pretty much every sense imaginable.
These women are disciples of Bojidar Marinov, and it’s pretty easy to perceive his obvious influence in their frequent equivocation that is so typical of Marinov’s style. Words and expressions such as “pagan,” “covenantal,” and “ethical/judicial” are used in ways that are frequently the opposite of what they actually mean. From this Marinovian perspective all human authority is considered “pagan power religion.” This is especially evident in the introductory episode of the Monstrous Regiment in which Suzannah Rowntree and Kate Robinson respond to Knox’s famous tract denouncing feminist egalitarianism. Rowntree and Robinson are aghast at Knox’s “dehumanizing” hatred of women. Most of their commentary could easily be summarized as “wow, just wow.” Both women complain that Knox begins his analysis with pagan pre-Christian societies as though Knox considered pagan societies as some kind of authority. In reality Knox was simply pointing out that patriarchy is the default position in human history.
Rowntree and Robinson analyze Knox’s use of the Church fathers such as Ambrose, Augustine, Tertullian, and Chrysostom. The hostesses are careful to clarify that Knox and the Church fathers were not pagans and that they still deeply respect these men in spite of their perceived shortcomings. I suppose that it’s possible to be a “sexist” and still be considered a Christian as long as you aren’t a “racist.” Tertullian is quoted as lamenting the role of Eve in the fall, and the hostesses complain that more blame isn’t placed on Adam. What this ignores is that many of the early church fathers referenced the role of Eve in the Fall to Ecclesiasticus 25:24: “Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die,” and drew a sharp contrast between the disobedience of Eve and the obedience of Mary in salvation history. Personally I think some of these quotes are a bit hyperbolic, but in any case the church fathers weren’t simply denouncing womanhood in their criticism of Eve, but also exalting womanhood in their praise of Mary.
Most of the quotes marshalled by Knox are rejected out of hand without any substantive critique, but what they do demonstrate is that Knox and other proponents of patriarchy are not alone in our position. Patriarchy is certainly the historic belief and practice of Christians, and Knox’s many quotes from the Church fathers bear this out. Rowntree and Robinson might attribute this to an idolatrous exaltation of men over women, but this conclusion works only for someone willing to write virtually all of Christendom off as pagan. The more interesting portion of this podcast is where Rowntree and Robinson attempt to rebut Knox’s use of the Bible. The main concern of the hostesses is with the nature of the curse pronounced on Eve in Genesis 3:16. They rightly argue that the curse isn’t necessarily intended as a perpetual mandate to be continued throughout all generations. However they stumble in their truncated analysis of other relevant passages that are relevant to the discussion.
The hostesses briefly engage 1 Corinthians 11 in their analysis, but most of the important passages are ignored. Suzannah Rowntree believes that 1 Cor. 11:9, “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” is speaking of a woman’s origin, not her purpose. She argues that the Greek word dia (Strong’s G1223) should simply be rendered “through” rather than “for.” Rowntree believes that Paul is simply explaining that women came into existence through the man, via the taking of Eve from Adam’s side, while rejecting the traditional rendering that women were created for men.
Rowntree’s argument easily falls apart upon even rudimentary analysis. The word dia can mean “through,” but only when its object has the genitive case. Nouns in Greek can have different cases based on their grammatical role in the sentence, and the meaning of dia depends upon the case of its object. Strong’s Dictionary reports that dia can have different meanings depending on whether its object is in the genitive or accusative case; a genitive object gives dia a meaning of “through, throughout, by the instrumentality of,” whereas an accusative object gives dia a meaning of “through, on account of, by reason of, for the sake of, because of.” Plainly, then, if dia takes an accusative case, then its meaning is teleological, or purpose-oriented, rather than denoting mere instrumentality, as dia does with a genitive-case object. But any elementary Bible software will also reveal that “the man” at the end of 1 Corinthians 11:9 (ton andra) is in the accusative case, not the genitive. Out of the gate, there is no semantic scope for dia to refer to woman’s origin.
But even beyond this, since words have meaning only in their particular context, we can see other reasons the traditional translation is more appropriate. Paul has just stated that “the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man” in the preceding verse (1 Cor. 11:8), which refers to woman’s origin. It would be superfluous for Paul to simply repeat himself in the next sentence. The sentence of verse 9 is worded in such a way that clearly indicates that Paul is introducing a new idea, not simply repeating the same idea in the preceding sentence. Paul is simply applying Genesis 2:18 by stating that woman was made for the man as a helpmeet.
Most of the rest of 1 Corinthians 11 is ignored as well. Both hostesses seem shocked by Knox’s suggestion that women do not bear the image of God in the way that men do. They both misunderstand Knox’s point. Knox is not denying Genesis 1:26-28, which states that both men and women are made in the image of God, but simply applying 1 Corinthians 11:7. Women do not exercise dominion in the same way that men do because women are normatively under the dominion of their fathers and husbands, as verses like 1 Cor. 11:3 make clear. The hostesses reject the concept of headship entailing authority, opting for the modern idea of “servant leadership.” The headship spoken of in 1 Cor. 11:3 clearly entails submission for those under the authority of the head. This is demonstrated by Christ’s perfect obedience to God the Father as His head (Jn. 12:49, 14:31; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:8, 10:7). Likewise, Christ is the head of the Church (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18) and this gives him authority over the Church (Jn. 15:14; Eph. 5:24).
This necessarily entails that husbands have authority over their wives, as in every other case of headship. The Apostles explicitly teach that wives are to submit to the authority of their husbands (1 Cor. 11:3, 14:34-35; Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). These passages are clear and unambiguous. The God-ordained authority of men is not limited to home, but extends to the Church and civil society as well. The qualifications for civil government are specifically for men, since the Hebrew word used indicates men as opposed to women, rather than the concept of man which is inclusive of male and female (Ex. 18:21; Deut. 1:13, 17:14-20). The prophet Isaiah even laments that women rule over his people (Is. 3:12). The same applies for the qualifications for church leadership and clerical ordination (1 Tim. 3; Tit. 1). Women are explicitly barred from teaching authority (1 Tim. 2:9-15). The hostesses appeal to Old Testament examples of Deborah from Judges and Abigail from 1 Sam. 25. These examples are certainly worthy of consideration, but I agree with Knox and other traditional expositors who argue that these exceptions don’t negate the overall rule because these are obviously cases in which God brought good out of bad situations.
Dalrock also has pointed out that examples like Deborah, Abigail, or Vashti are not the examples commended to Christian women to follow. Instead the Apostle Peter commends Christian women to follow the example of Sarah who obeyed her husband and called him her lord, even during difficult circumstances (1 Pet. 3:1-6). The modern concept of “servant leadership” is contrary to the nature of Christian authority. The hostesses claim that they desire to serve, but want men to serve alongside them. True Christian authority is rooted in humility and self-sacrifice for the benefit of those ruled (Mk. 10:42-45; Phil. 2:1-8; cf. Lk. 22:25-27).
This does not mean, however, that human authority is a dead letter or mere formality. Parents, husbands, kings, governors, judges, and Christian clergy have authority given to them by God even though they are sinful individuals. None of these important passages are addressed by the hostesses, but why bother when you learn at the feet of a “prophet” like Marinov who was commissioned by a mysterious Israeli prophetess? These hostesses have unwittingly encouraged women to surrender their genuine feminine dignity as daughters, wives, and mothers in favor of competing with men in the roles that God has ordained for men. Francis Parker Yockey in his magisterial work Imperium rightly quipped, “Feminism liberated women from the natural dignity of their sex and turned them into inferior men.” The heart of the issue is that Joel McDurmon and Bojidar Marinov’s disciples have rejected the concept of human authority itself as revealed in the Bible, and I plan to discuss that issue next.