My text for this post are the following scriptural passages, written by the apostles Peter and Paul:
Peter: Wives, be in subjection to obedient and disobedient husbands
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conduct of the wives; while they behold your chaste conduct coupled with fear. Let your adorning be not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in old times the holy women, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands; even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do will, and are not afraid with any amazement. (1 Peter 3: 1-6 Inspired Version)
Paul: Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3: 18 Inspired Version)
Paul: Wives, your husband is your head, submit and subject yourselves to him
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11: 3 Inspired Version)
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5: 22-24 Inspired Version)
Androcracy is “rulership by the men.” (From Webster’s 3rd Unabridged International Dictionary.)
Although there is little doubt that biblical patriarchy existed, what Peter and Paul taught under the gospel framework in the above scriptural passages was theological androcracy, not biblical patriarchy. Patriarchy is androcracy with the added dimension of father-right. Here are the definitions of patriarchy and patriarch, as well as matriarchy, from the same dictionary.
A patriarch is “the father and ruler of a family or tribe; one ruling his family or descendants by paternal right; –usually applied to heads of families in ancient history, esp. in Biblical and Jewish history to those who lived before Moses.” The word comes from patri-, meaning father + arch, meaning a leader, chief.
A state or stage of social development characterized by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family in both domestic and religious functions, the legal dependence of wife, or wives, and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line. Patriarchy is distinguished from androcracy, or the physical and social supremacy of men in primitive society, patriarchy being held to involve, besides such supremacy, father right (adaptation of the Ger. Vaterrecht), or descent and inheritance in the male line.
A state or stage of social evolution in which descent is reckoned only in the female line, all children belonging to the mother’s clan. Such a system increases the mother’s social and political importance, making her the head of the family and the guardian of religious rites and traditions. Hence, with many writers matriarchy means not only descent reckoned through the female line (called uterine descent, or cognation), but also rulership by woman. Others, however, discriminate the rights and customs characteristic of uterine descent, as mother-right (adaptation of G. Mutterrecht), from the political or domestic supremacy of woman, known as gynecocracy, or gynocracy, “rulership by women,” or metrocracy, “rulership by mothers.” Matriarchy in the narrow sense (that is, as “mother-right”) is found among many primitive peoples; whether it ever existed in the broader sense is disputed.
The priesthood is patterned after the egalitarian tribe
We modern LDS tend to view the the gospel in terms of only patriarchy and androcracy, but this view is only held because we are not numbered in functioning tribes. The gospel, when lived tribally, encompasses patriarchy, matriarchy, androcracy, gynocracy, father-right and mother-right. When taken out of the tribal context, some aspects of it manifest or dominate more, while others are suppressed, depending on the non-tribal culture we find ourselves in. The gospel can be adapted to the cultures and societies of the world, but it is designed to be lived in egalitarian tribes.
Because of the gospel’s tribal nature, the organization of the priesthood mimics that of the egalitarian tribe. Bishops, bishoprics, counselors, common judges, higher judges, lower judges, high councils, presidencies, apostles, seventies, quorums, etc., all have their counterpart in egalitarian tribal organization.
A man married to a woman acts in the office of a bishop. The office of a bishop “is in administering all temporal things” (D&C 107: 68) and in being a common judge. This is the duty of a husband, to provide the temporal (material) necessities of life for his wife and children, and to sit as a judge in his family.
His wife, as his helpmeet, may act as his counselor in matters of temporal administration or in judgment of family affairs, or may simply defer all judgment to him, allowing him to sit as a literal descendant of Aaron, without counselors.
The tribal bishop (with the single counselor) is superior to the church bishop because there is a covenantal bond between bishop and counselor.
When a man is married to two wives, the arrangement corresponds to a bishopric with two counselors. The two wives are not equal to the man, just as a bishopric’s counselors are not equal to the bishop: he is the wives’ bishop (with responsibility to provide temporal salvation) and they are the husband’s counselors. Because of the covenantal bonds between the man and his wives, this marriage bishopric is superior to a church bishopric.
A husband in a tribe sits as a common judge of the wife with whom he lives and their children.
Higher judges the lower; lower judges the higher
The gospel principle set forth in the Book of Mormon of a system of higher and lower judges, the lower one judging the higher and the higher judging the lower, is based upon ancient tribunals (tribe-unals), or tribal judgment systems.
Higher and lower judges
When a man has more than one wife, his wives form a quorum or council of lower judges. Because common consent must reign supreme, the combined decision of his wives upon his head is the end of controversy concerning him. If a husband, a common judge, acts up the lower judges (the wives) can convene to decide the issue.
When a woman has more than one husband, her husbands form a quorum or council of higher judges. If she acts up, the matter can be taken before a council of her husbands, for judgment.
These are the true “courts of love,” for all these people are married to each other and are under covenant to love one another. They are superior to church higher, lower and common judges, as well as church higher and lower courts of love. The church courts are mere imitations of the tribal courts.
A jury of peers
In an egalitarian tribal system, the jury of peers consists of the husbands of your wife, or the wives of your husband. The modern jury of peers is inferior to the tribal peers, because there is no mechanism to link the peers together. In the tribal system, they all have a vested interest that justice and mercy be done, for they are all linked together through a web of marriage covenants.
Priesthood councils, presidencies and quorums
Every conceivable priesthood council, presidency and quorum is found within the tribal quorums and councils of husbands. Three husbands of one wife form a presidency. Twelve husbands of one wife who are free to travel, form a quorum of apostles (sent ones). Seven husbands of one wife who are free to travel, form a presidency of seventy. Seventy husbands who are free to travel form a quorum of seventy. 12, 24, 48, or 96 husbands form quorums of deacons, teachers, priests and elders.
The United Order
A woman who has multiple husbands essentially is married to multiple bishops, meaning she is married to men who are responsible for her temporal welfare. Her husbands form a bishopric quorum, or quorum of bishops, in which they share what they have with each other and with their wives and children, so that all have everything common. They are bound to the all the wives by covenant to care for them and thus are bound (or linked through her) to each other, also. In other words, this is the what the United Order is patterned after. The United Order binds men together by covenant to care for the poor and the needy and to dispose of their material possessions in their behalf.
Androcracy and patriarchy are found in egalitarian tribes
The egalitarian tribe is what Zion is based upon, nevertheless, an egalitarian tribe may or may not use the gospel as its tribal law. Just as a husband is free to “obey not the word” of God, so an entire egalitarian tribe is free to adopt or reject the gospel. But regardless of whether a husband obeys the word of God or rejects it, the gospel, being patterned after the egalitarian tribe, requires that wives submit or subject themselves to their husbands. This is a manifestation of androcracy. The husband is the common judge, the bishop. When there are multiple husbands, they constitute the high council, or higher judges.
When one husband lives with the wife and the other husbands live with other wives, the children of the one wife that lives with the one husband may be counted as posterity of the one husband, even though any of the husbands may have fathered the children and despite all husbands treating them as their own flesh and blood. But on the tribal records, all children may be written down as being fathered by the one husband living with the wife. This is a manifestation of patriarchy.
Gynocracy and matriarchy are also found in egalitarian tribes
When acting as a quorum or council, as a court, as a jury of peers, or when giving or withholding consent, the wives manifest gynocracy. All the children born to a woman are posterity of that woman and her lineage is recorded on tribal records. This is a manifestation of matriarchy or mother-right (uterine descent). If the woman lives with multiple husbands and not just one of her husbands, then uterine descent is the preferred method of recording lineage.
When a woman marries a man from another clan or tribe, she remains with her clan and her husband leaves his own clan to join with her clan, not vice versa. The gospel imitates this tribal function by instructing the man to leave his father and mother and become one flesh with his wife.
Gospel checks and balances
The gospel provides checks and balances to abuses that may result in relationships between men and women. Although women are instructed to obey their husbands, even if the husbands are not themselves obeying the gospel, the law of common consent still applies. Also, men are instructed to love their wives and to use only persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, unfeigned love, kindness and pure knowledge to influence their wives. If any husband attempts to maintain his power or influence over his wives by virtue of his title of husband, or if he attempts to exercise control or unrighteous dominion over his wives, his authority as a husband is null and void and his wife is justified in withdrawing her consent from him. But as long as that husband follows the gospel-prescribed way of influencing people, even if the man himself is an unbeliever, or was a believer in the gospel but has since departed from it, or even if the man believes in the gospel but his views of the gospel have become markedly different than the wife’s, she is still bound by the gospel to obey him.
Proper protocol: go through covenant lines of authority
Sometimes a woman is tempted to by-pass her husband and his divinely appointed leadership and go to an ecclesiastical (church) authority for direction. She may feel justified to talk to her bishop, or perhaps even to her stake president, about her husband, because she feels that his beliefs about, and actions concerning, the gospel are incorrect. She may feel that he is breaking his gospel covenants in some way, shape or form (even though he himself may not see them as broken). Or, perhaps he no longer believes in the gospel. Because of this, she may see him as a sinner and as a man no longer worthy of following, submitting and subjecting herself to.
If she goes to see the bishop or stake president for guidance and direction, by-passing her husband and tattle-telling on him, she will be guilty of committing sin. Men and women are free to believe what they will and act however they want. They are free to accept the gospel, modify the gospel or reject it outright. As long as a husband is following the proper manner of influencing a wife, in other words, as long as there is no unrighteous dominion, the wife is to obey the husband. That is the gospel law. He can start drinking and smoking and swearing, he can start growing a beard and stop wearing ties, he can do all sorts of things that his wife may think are incompatible with the gospel, but as long as he is not exercising unrighteous dominion, she is bound by the gospel law to submit to his authority.
The reason why there is no gospel justification in holding a bishop or stake president’s authority above a husband’s is because the Lord considers the authority of a husband as carrying more weight than the authority of a bishop or stake president. The bishop or stake president is under no covenant relationship with the man’s wife. They have no vested interest in her. They have not become one with her. The husband, though, has become one with her and has a vested interest in her, and she in him. Even without the priesthood, the husband still acts in the tribal office of bishop and common judge. The Lord looks upon him as if he were an un-ordained priest, as if he possessed priesthood. And the Lord fully recognizes the tribal authority of that man.
When a wife goes to a priesthood holder who has no covenantal relationship to her, for leadership and guidance, she shows by her actions that she has no respect for her husband’s tribal office, nor for the gospel law or their marriage covenant. She disrespects both her husband and the Lord.
Proper priesthood protocol is to go through the lines of authority. The first line of authority that a wife has access to is her husband with whom she is living. This line is created by her covenantal relationship to him. Her next lines of authority are all her other husbands, who do not live with her, but who also have covenantal relationships with her. The next line of authority would be the wives of her husband, what some call the “sister wives.” These wives are linked to her through covenants they have with her husband. An ecclesiastical leader, who has no covenantal ties to her, is the very last line of authority she should resort to, and only after all tribal lines have been exhausted.
Not submitting is iniquity
Again, if a woman in such a situation, whose husband is not engaging in unrighteous dominion, does not submit to her husband, she commits the sin of rebellion and treason by ratting out his beliefs and actions which she believes are incompatible with the gospel to an ecclesiastical authority who has no covenantal relationship to her. It is disloyalty and betrayal on her part, akin to cheating, by revealing family matters essentially to strangers and is unbecoming of a saint. It also will create even greater problems in her family as now the ecclesiastical leader will often go on a witch-hunt and interfere in their covenantal connection.
If there are beliefs or actions that the wife doesn’t like, she and the husband need to work it out among themselves, and not drag persons who are not in a covenantal relationship with either one of them into the matter. If there is genuine iniquity, it needs to be confessed to the offending party (the wife or the husband) and then forgiveness and reconciliation between the two needs to occur. Ecclesiastical authorities are only to be called in for cases of unrepentant sins in which the offending party refuses to confess to a sin witnessed by two or more persons. But in most cases a spouse should never testify against another spouse. That would be an act of betrayal.
Speaking in terms of plasma theology, this would be like two planets linked to each other through a plasma column (the marital covenant) and one of them moves toward, or attracts, a third planet that has no plasma column linking it to the first two planets. The resulting plasma interactions will cause disruption of the plasma column found between the first two planets.
In a gospel-centered marriage, the man and woman have covenanted with each other, making them equals. They have also covenanted with Christ, which binds both of them individually to Him. This makes a triangle, with the husband, wife and Christ each taking a corner.
Paul’s words, though, about God being the head of Christ, Christ being the head of man, and man being the head of woman, creates a straight line of authority (a plasma column) : creating a patriarchy or androcracy. What needs to be kept in mind when reading Paul is that this is only one frame of the picture. If the full, tribal picture is not seen, if only the one frame is observed, it is understandable that the gospel may be understood as containing only patriarchy. With only the single frame to see, patriarchy or androcracy dominates the view.
Paul’s words, then, must be viewed in light of the complete, tribal picture, that also contains matriarchy and gynocracy. This makes it plain that the gospel is egalitarian in nature. We cannot clearly see it now because we are not currently living in egalitarian tribes.
The head is the chief, which is the servant
In the gospel, the chief ones are to be the servants, by entrance into the priesthood. So, when Paul says that the man is the head of the woman, it is because he is meant to be the servant of the woman.
But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10: 42-45, emphasis mine.)
Here is the same scripture, re-worded a little different:
But Jesus called them, and said to them,
You [Twelve] know that they who are appointed to be -archs(a) over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But among you [Twelve] there shall be anarchy(b); whoever desires to become great among you [Twelve], shall be minister of you [Twelve]. And whoever of you [Twelve] desires to become the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10: 42-45, emphasis mine.)
(a) “-arch” and “arch” defined: -arch Function: noun combining form. Etymology: Middle English -arche, from Anglo-French & Late Latin & Latin; Anglo-French -arche, from Late Latin -archa, from Latin -arches, -archus, from Greek -arches, -archos, from archein, to begin, rule. : ruler : leader (Taken from Merriam-Webster’s Online Collegiate Dictionary.) -arch [Gr. archos chief, commander, archein to rule. See ARCH, a.] A suffix meaning a ruler, as in monarch (a sole ruler). arch, a. 1. Chief; eminent; greatest; principal. (Taken from Webster’s 3rd Unabridged International Dictionary.)
(b) anarchy Etymology: Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler, from an- + archos ruler. (Taken from Merriam-Webster’s Online Collegiate Dictionary.)
So, whoever wanted to be great, was not be be great (they were to be the least) and whoever wanted to be first (chief, principal), was to be last (servant of all). The priesthood, then, is not an archy, but an anarchy. The order is reversed: whoever wants to be first must be last. There are to be no rulers, only servants.
Follow the Brethren
Although many LDS find this annoying saying (“follow the brethren”) to be counter-productive to a gospel-enlightened life, it actually does have some basis in truth. In a tribal setting, in which a wife is married to multiple husbands, her husbands form a tribal quorum of “brethren.” If these men hold the Holy Priesthood, they also form a priesthood quorum. It is this quorum of husbands, or council of husbands, that the wife must follow. When meeting together to decide issues pertaining to this woman and her children, they form a council of husbands.
In the church, the saying “follow the brethren” applies to quorums, or men who hold priesthood together as a quorum, and specifically to the highest two quorums in the church: the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In a tribe, the highest quorum that has anything to do with a wife, being bound to her by covenant, is the quorum of her husbands. If she is in a monogamous relationship, then she is to follow her “brother” (singular husband) until such time as she gets another husband. So, the only “brother” or “brethren” that the gospel requires to be followed (by women) is the council of husbands. For the men, we are to “follow the sisters”, meaning that quorum or council of our wives that decides issues in tribal settings.
A tribal view of the gospel helps us to see it for what it really is. There is no aspect of the gospel that we need be ashamed of. It is completely egalitarian in nature and divine.