The authority of the father over his household has been under attack by the leaders of the church for over 1000 years. Small wonder that today, fathers are an afterthought when one thinks of a family. Before we get to the Scripture and the history to be examined, let’s look (again) at the impact of a father on his children. The following table lays out the religious attendance of adult children according to the attendance practice of their parents.
Our first table shows us the father present in the family, a man who places importance on worship attendance in church. Notice that when his wife is also in regular attendance with him, only just over 1/4 of the children will have no attendance in church as adults. However, as the mother is less submissive to him both the percentage of children who attend regularly as adults as well as the children who attend irregularly rises. A devout father with no wife present will see almost half of his children become regular worshipers as adults.
The chart detailing what happens when the father is only in irregular attendance.
Finally, we have the chart in which the father does not attend church or is absent from the home.
The data demonstrates the influence of the mother on the regular attendance of their children in adulthood is negligible. Indeed, the less a mother goes to church the more likely her children will regularly attend church as adults.
Fathers Have An Incredible Impact that cannot be understated. The authority that God granted to fathers is likewise broad and deep.
The Authority of Fathers
In Numbers 30:2-5 we read the following:
If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.
Also if a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and her obligation by which she has bound herself, and her father says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand and every obligation by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father should forbid her on the day he hears of it, none of her vows or her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her because her father had forbidden her. (Emphasis added)
This passage details the blanket grant of authority of the father over his daughter, which points to his responsibility to his daughters. The father has the authority to command his children and direct their lives. The Bible provides several examples that generally make feminists want to scream because they point to the lack of agency for young women.
In Exodus 21:7-10, we observe that the father has the authority to sell his daughter as a female slave to become the owners’ concubine, a wife for his son, or the wife of one of his slaves. A concubine is the wife of a free man, but she is not a free woman. If the man purchases the woman for his son, she will enter the marriage to the son as a free woman (according to the custom of daughters). If he purchases her to be the wife of one of his servants, she will become that man’s wife but as a slave she is not held to the same standards as free women are. For example, if a married free woman commits adultery, they are to be put to death but in Leviticus 19:20 we can see that if a slave woman commits adultery,
“there shall be punishment; they shall not, however, be put to death, because she was not free.”
In 1st Corinthians 7:36-38, we see the father has the authority to refuse to allow his daughter to marry. But what if she gets married without her father’s permission?
In Exodus 22:16-17, we see the effect of a daughter choosing to agree to get married (she was seduced and agreed to have sex). According to Numbers 30:3-5, we see in verse 16 that the father hears of it and says nothing. She is his wife. In verse 17, the father forbids it and refuses to give his daughter in marriage. Thus, because the father forbid it she is not married, even though they had sex.
This passage records a judgment of Moses and the question before Moses was a conflict of Law between the Law of Marriage and the Law of Vows. According to the Law of Vows, the father has the right to pass judgment on any agreement his daughter makes and if he chooses, he may forbid that agreement. However, the Law of marriage says that when the eligible virgin has sex, she is married.
Since the father would not hear of the agreement of his daughter to marry until after the deed was done, does the father have the right to forbid her agreement to marry that resulted in the marriage immediately afterward when she gave him her virginity?
As it turns out, the answer is yes and that is illustrated in Exodus 22:16-17. In forbidding the agreement to marry, the father is forbidding her marriage to that particular man. The effect of doing so means he was not eligible to marry her and thus the sex did not result in a marriage. Readers of the Bible generally do not understand any of this and exegesis is further clouded by the fact translators place extra words in the passage that completely change the meaning. Verse 16:
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her
to behis wife.”
Notice the words that have been struck out. Those words are a translators addition, but completely change the meaning of the passage by creating the illusion that they are somehow not married yet. Those who care to confirm this may do so here if they wish, translators additions are in brackets. Now look at verse 17:
“If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.”
Following the form set out in Numbers 30:5, first we see the father obviously says nothing and the man must pay a dowry for his wife. Then we see the father has forbidden the marriage to him (he “absolutely refuses to give her to him”) and he still has to pay the price equal to a dowry for virgins. Because students of the Bible don’t understand the nature of this judgment of Moses so they are taught that sex doesn’t make one married. Obviously if sex doesn’t make one married, it makes sense for the translators to add “to be” in order to fool everyone into thinking the text supports that notion.
Understand, in order for marriage to be under the authority of the church, the church had to forbid a marriage that did not have their permission. In order for the church to get control of this, the marriage had to be a public ceremony of commitment and not sex, which is where the “sin” of premarital sex came from.
The “sex doesn’t make you married” was a doctrinal tool used for the purposes of power and control. In order to gain the power they wanted they had to steal it from the individuals who rightfully possessed that authority.
A Conspiracy Theory, Or Historical Fact?
Why would Bible translators insert words that completely change the meaning of what the text actually says? The answer is because 1500 years ago the man who translated the Bible for the church (Jerome) did it that way. The doctrine of the church was established that a public ceremony of commitment was required because (regardless of what the Bible said) sex did not make one married.
That isn’t conspiracy theory, it’s historical fact. As to why that was done, observe a brief history of how this happened.
The following quotes are from “Law, Sex and Christian Society in Medieval Europe” by James A Brundage. Emphasis added in the following quotes.
During Constantine’s reign and those of his sons and successors, Christians secured numerous social and political advantages. By the end of the fourth century the Roman government, with the enthusiastic cooperation of Church authorities, was beginning to persecute pagans and other non-Christians, as well as Christians whose beliefs differed from the norms of an orthodoxy that was continuously engaged in defining itself. Early in the fifth century, Christianity became in law what it had for several generations been in fact: the official religion of the Roman state (1). (page 77)
The church leaders got their first taste of real power when Constantine and his successors granted authority to Christian bishops to adjudicate disputes among Christians. Provincial civil authorities were required to enforce the decisions of the audientia episcopalis, as the bishops courts were styled. Following this the boundaries between the civil law and the church law became increasingly blurred once the decisions of the episcopal audientia became enforceable by civil authorities. At the same time the bishops were becoming increasingly involved with the administration of the government. What happened then, do you suppose? Persecution of the pagans.
When people are persecuted by a dominant group, there are generally three strategies. Fight them, join them or run from them. One of the results of the persecution of various pagan and “heretic” groups was an influx of individuals claiming orthodoxy. As these individuals infiltrated the church, just like an invasion of SJW’s, there was a push to codify things and make rules.
Up to the beginning of the fourth century Christians had not yet created a systematic theology; now they felt the need to devise coherent and sophisticated justifications for their religious teachings in terms of current scientific and philosophical thought.
The Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries took up this task with zest and vigor. They were determined not only to justify the teachings of their religion to others, but also to demonstrate to their own satisfaction that Christian beliefs accounted for the world and mankind’s place in it more adequately than alternative explanatory systems. Out of the writings of such teachers as Sts. Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 335-ca. 395) and John Chrysostom (ca. 344-407) in the Greek-speaking East and Sts. Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine in the Latin-speaking West, there would emerge by the sixth century a Christian world view that was far more systematic and rigorous than anything that had gone before. The theologizing of Christianity began in earnest during this period. This process required Christian intellectuals, among other things, to account for the place of sex in the scheme of creation and to define the role that sexual relations ought to play in the Christian life. (page 79)
In order to understand why current doctrines are the way they are, one must understand the thoughts and attitudes of the early church fathers who created the systematic theology of Christianity beginning in the 4th Century. Fortunately they were rather prolific in their writing.
The Church Fathers’ views of sex were dominated by ascetic values, for most of the Fathers were, at one time or another in their careers, monks or hermits. The most important patristic authority on sexual matters, the one whose views have most fundamentally influenced subsequent ideas about sexuality in the West, was St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430). Augustine held strong, deep seated convictions about sexual relationships and the role of sex in human history, convictions that flowed from his own experience and his reflections upon it, convictions that brooked neither denial nor dissent (3).
Sexual desire, Augustine believed, was the most foul and unclean of human wickednesses, the most pervasive manifestation of man’s disobedience to God’s designs (4). Other bodily desires and pleasures, Augustine felt, did not overwhelm reason and disarm the will: one can be sensible while enjoying a good meal, one can discuss matters reasonably over a bottle of wine. But sex, Augustine argued, was more powerful than other sensual attractions; it could overcome reason and free will altogether. Married people, who ought to have sex only in order to beget children, can be overwhelmed by lubricious desires that blot out reason and restraint; they tumble into bed together simply in order to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s body. This, Augustine thought, was not only irrational but sinful (5). Augustine’s underlying belief in the intrinsic sinfulness of carnal desire and the sensual delight that accompanied sexual union became a standard premise of Western beliefs about sexuality during the Middle Ages and beyond. (6). (page 80)
Augustine wrote eloquently on the theology of sex, but he was by no means the only patristic writer to deal with the subject. His contemporaries by and large shared Augustine’s negative attitudes toward the role of sex in Christian life. A few were even more certain than he that sex was a root cause of sin and corruption. St. Jerome (ca. 347-419/20), for example, maintained that sex and salvation were contradictions. Even in marriage, coitus was evil and unclean, Jerome thought, and married Christians should avoid sexual contact whenever possible. St. Gregory of Nyssa was still more emphatic: he taught that only those who renounced sex completely and led lives of unblemished virginity could attain spiritual perfection (13).
Such views as these owed as much to philosophy, particularly to Stoicism, as to religious teaching, and St. Jerome explicitly acknowledged in his treatise against Jovinian that he was drawing upon Stoic sources (14). 14 But although fourth-hand fifth-century patristic writers borrowed heavily from pagan sexual ethics, they nevertheless sought to legitimize their borrowings by finding support for their conclusions in the Scriptures. This sometimes required ingenious feats of imaginative interpretation, but a Scriptural foundation for their ideas about sexuality seemed essential. (page 82)
Patristic discussions of the place of sex in the Christian life are shot through with a fundamental ambivalence about the place of women in the scheme of salvation. (25) Augustine agreed clearly and emphatically with other patristic writers in requiring that men observe the same norms of sexual conduct as women. (26) At the same time, however, Augustine, like other patristic authors, considered women frankly inferior to men, both physically and morally. (page 85)
According to the Bible, men and women have different norms of sexual conduct. Indeed, there are two separate standards of sexual morality- one for men and the other for women. This agreement among the patristic fathers of the church that men and women were to be held to the same standard of sexual morality is the moral foundation of feminism. We have already seen their disdain for sex, but observe that they changed the Biblical definition of marriage:
Patristic writers assumed, as Roman law did, that consent made marriage. They rejected the notion that consummation was an essential part of marriage. It made no difference whether a couple ever went to bed together; so long as they consented to marry one another, that was what counted (63). If consummation was not essential, it might follow that sexual impotence constituted no reason for holding a marriage invalid, and Augustine at any rate seems to have subscribed to this view (64). (page 92)
The marital debt created a parity of rights and obligations between the spouses. Each had an equal right to demand that it be paid; each had an equal obligation to comply with the other’s demands. Equality of the sexes in marriage meant equality in the marriage bed, but not outside of it (69). Just as each spouse was entitled to sexual service from the other on demand, so each was entitled to require sexual fidelity from the other. Neither had a right to seek sexual fulfillment outside of marriage, even if the other party was, for example, absent or ill and thus sexually unavailable (70). Cessation of marital relations did not break the bond of marriage, just as the beginning of sexual relations was irrelevant to the contracting of marriage (71). The evident aim of patristic matrimonial theory was to separate marriage as far as possible from its sexual component, defining it as a contractual union, separate and distinct from the sexual union of the married persons. (page 93)
That, in a nutshell, is the history of the church’s doctrine on sexual morality you have never heard anywhere else. There was no conspiracy, the early church fathers openly and prolifically broadcast their hatred for all things sexual. They publicly threw out the Biblical standards for marriage and sexual morality, replacing them with a mixture of Pagan belief, Stoic philosophy and Roman law.
The Church Usurped The Authority Of The Fathers
In its desire for power the church took control of marriage. This usurped the authority of the man (given the authority to marry in Genesis 2:24) and fathers’ authority over their daughters by making marriage a ceremony of consent rather than sexual intercourse. The church forbid “secret marriage” and required marriage to be performed under the authority of the church with witnesses in a ceremony in which both parties gave their consent and commitment to the marriage.
The reason the church could get away with this was because having taken control of marriage, the church decides who was married and who was not. This determined who could inherit and who could not, which was of critical importance to the Nobility. Again, Brundage:
Roman law prior to Constantine had not required any sort of ritual for contracting marriage, even though in practice ceremonies were in common use. During the fourth and fifth centuries, Church regulations began to require Christians to receive a nuptial blessing from a priest. (37) Christian wedding rituals first began to take shape during this period, and by the sixth century two varieties of ceremony had emerged. One type, commonest in Gaul, featured a nuptial blessing imparted by a priest while the newly wedded couple lay in the marriage bed. Nuptial ceremonies in Italy, by contrast, centered on a blessing bestowed upon the couple either in the church building or, more commonly, at the door of the church, at the time when they exchanged consent. Thus the symbolism of the Italian rites centered upon consent and the Church’s role in marriage, while French wedding symbolism stressed consummation and treated the nuptial ceremony as primarily a domestic affair. (38) (page 88)
Obviously, the Italian rite won out (in keeping with the previously described attitudes) and the church later adopted a uniform marital rite for the entire church that required a public ceremony with witness to exchange vows of consent.
The major opponents to the increase of power by the church were the nobility, who maintained and solidified their dynasties by carefully arranged marriages, often to cousins. By requiring the consent of the bride and declaring that sex would not create a marriage, the church effectively usurped the father’s authority to decide who his daughter would marry. Without the blessing of the church the marriage was invalid and the child could not inherit. By gradually changing the forbidden levels of consanguinity the church made it impossible for the families to continue cousin marriages.
At the same time, given the doctrine that sexual pleasure was evil and wicked, the practice of polygyny was forbidden because the only reason a man could have for wanting more than one wife was sexual variety and pleasure. At the same time forbidding divorce, this placed the nobility in a very difficult spot if the wife did not bear an heir. The church had a vested interest in this because when wealthy nobles died without heir, the church inherited the property. While these policies were aimed at the nobility, they were enforced (as much as is possible) for everyone.
With the protestant reformation and resulting schism in the western church, the civil state seized the power that had once been wielded by the church, especially over the institution of marriage. As this was firmly established in the culture and law, the state was set for feminism to finally grow and bear its poisonous fruit.
This is the history of how the authority of fathers was usurped. First by the church and later by the state, then finally by the feminist state. The goal is to separate the fathers from their daughters and remove daughters from the protection of living in their father’s house.
Fathers, teach your children and understand your authority. Especially the authority you have over your daughters. The kindest thing you could do is probably to have a discussion with your daughter and forbid the marriage she began without your knowledge. It does not matter whether she married a Christian or not, in complete ignorance she was bound to that man when she had sex with him.