Empire and Patriarchy

Empire and patriarchy are very nearly swear words in contemporary culture, and a great many Christians are being blown sideways by that particular wind of doctrine. If we are going to follow Jesus, then we must make our peace with both.

We are citizens of the New Jerusalem, a city that is not yet on Earth, but it will be. When it comes, it will be the capital city of the whole planet, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory and honor into it. On that day, it will be the Bride, the Church, and a political entity. We are not called to make it all happen tomorrow, but we are called to live into what we know to be true. So to the extent that we are able to now, we  mirror the culture and customs of the coming City, which is to say that we are envoys of the coming Empire to end all empires, governed by Jesus, the King of kings. You can go to heaven without grasping this truth, but you can’t be a faithful, discerning follower of the King of kings without grasping what a king of kings actually is: an emperor. 

Does that mean we’re fans of every empire going? Of course not. Jesus is the standard by which all empires are measured; the civil authorities are His agents for good, responsible to live up to the calling He’s given them. Our resistance to evil imperial power and our submission to good imperial power are both grounded in our prior submission to Jesus as agents of His empire. 

Likewise, you can’t be meaningfully Christian without being a heartily willing participant in patriarchy. We are children of God the Father, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth derives its name. Our leader is the ascended man Jesus, our Lord and Brother and High Priest and King. This patriarchy–rule by our Father and the Man He has ordained–is absolutely necessary to a faithful Christian walk. 

As with empire, so with patriarchy: resistance to evil patriarchal power is grounded precisely in our prior submission to the rule of our Father in heaven. And submission to good, God-ordained patriarchal power is grounded in that same submission. 

In either case, trying to avoid empire or patriarchy because some exercises of power are evil is like trying to avoid food because you’ve had bad tacos. No matter how prevalent bad tacos might be, the solution to bad food is good food, and the solution to bad patriarchy is good patriarchy. In the world our Father made, patriarchy is inevitable, and a good patriarchy is one where the men ruling are themselves ruled by God their Father and Jesus their King. Reject rule by good, godly men, and you will get rebel men instead. Good luck with that.


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