First off, people aren't actually being excommunicated for violating patriarchy. Rather what is happening is that people in very conservative churches and woman that are part of the home-schooling movement are being made to feel unwelcome if they don't support patriarchy. Woman who don't have the same submissive inclinations are having their self esteem undermined as they are being told that the biblically correct way for them to live is in a state which is unnatural for them.
A good introduction to the doctrine, is posted on vision forum ministries:Biblical Patriarchy and the Doctrine of Federal Representation by Brian M. Abshire, and a more "catechism" oriented version Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy. If you are unfamiliar with the topic start by reading those two articles.
Abshire says things like,
"In effect, Western civilization was a ‘patriarchy’ up until recent times and assumed as the normal means of governing not only households, but also entire nations.”
Central to the crisis of this era is the systematic attack on the timeless truths of biblical patriarchy. This attack includes the movement to subvert the biblical model of the family, and redefine the very meaning of fatherhood and motherhood, masculinity, femininity, and the parent and child relationship. ... the church should proclaim the Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy as an essential element of God’s ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions.
Or David Gray, "Well in this instance drawing the line so that it embraces egalitarian rebellion shrinks the church as it excludes 2000 years of Christians who didn't dream of such folly."[cite].
That is the simplified argument for patriarchy comes down to the following (3) points:
1) That God has command patriarchy
2) That this belief is clear in scripture and there is no room for debate on scripture's meaning
3) That this belief was upheld by the church and understood by all until the 20th century
Again, this blog has a strict no theology policy, so we will not analyze the theology of patriarchy. We will take no position as to whether it is or is not God's position that woman should be silent in church, submissive in the home and unemployed for life. The web is full of this debate and it will not be repeated here. Point (1) will not be addressed.
Points (2) and (3) however are simple questions of fact and history. We don't have to speculate on what the Church believed regarding sex roles and gender they have left us a long written record. Not only are the views of the patriarchy movement not universal, as far as I can tell, there is no point in history until recently where Christians held the views that are being claimed. Which in my opinion is quite logical. Despite themselves, the patriarchy supporter's views are very 20th century, a reaction against 20th century feminism and not ancient at all.
That is we will argue:
People from hundreds (or thousands) of years ago are do not have a position in a modern debate since they don't share our assumptions, nor are they confronted with our issues. We argue that scripture as read through history is highly ambiguous on the nature of gender and sex roles. We will prove that the Christian community has had an evolving understanding of sex and feminism over its 2000 year history, and moreover the commonalities that do exist by and large do not agree with the patriarchal view. Arguments as to what scripture command are made by these early authors and they come to entirely different conclusions about what God desires for the family and from woman.
To actually understand what Christians thought through time would be a book and not just a few web articles. However we will look at a few selections:
We will show that:
1) In part 2 we will look at the In the first 2 centuries (prior to the emergence of authoritative scripture normative throughout the Christian community) Christian views of gender and sex were mixed. These were active areas of disagreement. None of them held views remotely similar to either side of the current debate. We examine works like the Didache, Acts of Paul and Thecla, and the teachings of Valentinus to understand the breadth of the pre 180 CE church's views on gender and sex. By in large the Christian view is very hostile to family, marriage leads to sex and childbirth and lead one away from God. However, fornication is far worse than married sex. Christians are mixed whether procreative or non procreative acts are more damaging to one's relationship with God.
2) By the time there is normative scripture in the early 5th century, the classical view (the supremacy of virginity and chastity) has become the undisputed norm. Part 3 looks at this 5th century Christianity which is mildly hostile towards the family, and mildly hostile towards procreative acts within the family. Augustine and Jerome will be typical sources, though other church fathers will be considered.
3) In part 4 we example the dark ages. In the dark ages the concept of family undergoes a metamorphosis. A family no longer consists of a breeding pair of adults and their children but rather people arranged in bonds of property and status. The issue of legitimacy for children becomes paramount for reasons of inheritance. This configuration where property not descent defines the family last for centuries. The Christian focus shifts as well and this can be seen easily in both normative church law and papel rulings. At this stage we do see patriarchal marriage as a societal norm and the Christian reaction is a rejection of it.
4) Part 5 examples the high middle ages. In middle ages the church begins attempts a synthesis of the two previous views. (Aquinas). As an aside its in this section where the most damning piece of evidence is presented. Aquinas does a survey of previous writers and shows no evidence of ever having heard of anything resembling the current patriarchal view. I can think of no stronger disproof of the belief that the modern patriarchal view is the clear view of scripture and the normative behavior of Christians than the fact that Aquinas is utterly ignorant of this position. We will also examine Dante to see a less academic view on family relations.
5) Within a few centuries of Aquinas, Europe experiences a population boom. As the economic value of chidren decreases while the costs of raising them increase, horrific poverty makes family planning normative. Literature of this time starts to view children as a burden rather than a blessing and the notions of illegitimacy as a source of poverty becomes the majority view. Marriage is seen as destructive for woman leading to poverty and death in childbirth. Reason, industry and chastity are strongly supported by Christianity over family.
After this period we have the romantics. The notion of romantic love rather than property or sexuality being the core of healthy marriage begins to emerge. This romantic view of marriage and its effects is the topic of part 6. Children are associated with purity, innocence and love. Wealth increases and children no longer induce starvation. Fathers begin working outside the home to increase income, and sometimes mothers as well. We quickly arrive at essentially the modern debate. Its at this point we can can potentially argue that the "traditional view" is something even remotely like what the patriarchists are supporting.
Obviously all the above needs to be proven. However it is my hope that understanding that patriarchy is a reaction against capitalism and 2nd and 3rd wave feminism and not a traditional viewpoint at all allows those woman who wish to reject it the support they will need. For those woman who do want to play dress up in 19th century clothes, be silent and submissive; congratulations on finding your own version of Roissy that works for you. Please, however, don't lost yourself completely in the fantasy and fail to educate your daughters.