Where does patriarchy come from?

by | Aug 12, 2023 | August 2023 | 0 comments

August is Women’s month in South Africa. We celebrate Women’s Day on the 9th of August. I have heard some men lamenting the fact that we don’t have a day to celebrate men. Whilst I understand the sentiment, I feel that such a view undermines and underplays the suffering that women have suffered for thousands of years at the hands of men. Much of violence in society, whether against women, against children or even against men, is perpetrated by men. Why is it like this? Where does patriarchy come from?

We have to go back to the human origins in Genesis to find the answer. When our ancestral parents Adam and Eve sinned, everything was corrupted including male-female relations. We are told in Genesis 3:16 that because of sin, God told Eve “… you will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you” (Genesis 3:16 Net Bible). Since then, the male-female relations have been characterised by a desire to dominate each other. This is an abomination to the creation order. God ordained humans to dominate creation, not to dominate each other. He said humans must “… fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV).

Sadly, the history of humanity has been a sad reality for women. They have been denied their humanity for thousands of years. In the Bible we are told of a story of a woman called Dinah who was denied her humanity. Her story represents the story of many women throughout the ages. Dinah was the daughter of Leah and Jacob. She was the only daughter amongst the 12 sons of Jacob. Because of her gender, she does not get much mention in the Bible compared to the twelve sons of Jacob. However, God made sure that Dinah’s story is not forgotten.  The story of Genesis is interrupted in Genesis 34 to tell us of Dinah. A whole chapter in Genesis is dedicated to telling her story. This is not just a story of Dinah. It is a story of broken male-female relations.

Dinah was raped by a man who claimed he loved her. After he raped her, he asked her family to allow him to marry her. However, Dinah’s brothers, Simeon and Levi decided to avenge their sister. They used the weakness of her rapist to revenge. They told him that if he wanted to marry their sister he must be circumcised first like them. Because he was infatuated with her, he agreed to be circumcised together with all the men of the town. Three days after they were circumcised and were in pain, Simeon and Levi came and killed them in revenge for the rape of their sister. This is not a good story, but it is a story of women in our world. They are raped, beaten, abused, neglected, ignored and used. The good news is that Jesus came to heal our world of its brokenness and to restore human relations. This August, let’s remember that there is neither “… male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gaatians. 3:28), and learn to live up to the ideals for which God created us as men and women


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.