Thursday, November 6, 2008

Matriarchal Misconceptions

The biblical patriarch Abraham is known as the Father of the Faithful and is a pivotal figure in the three Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in spite of inconsistencies in the patriarchal picture we are accustomed to have of him. On more than one occasion he hid behind his wife Sarah to protect himself, leaving her vulnerable. But not only did Abraham fail to protect Sarah's honor, he also submitted to her wishes without challenge when she urged him to take Hagar as a wife in order to become a surrogate for her. When Sarah later regretted this decision, Abraham again submitted to her will and was thus complicit in allowing Hagar and Abraham's "outside child" Ishmael, to be kicked to the curb and to make it on their own. So Abraham, by abandoning Ismael and later threatening to kill Isaac, appears to be something less than a "man of the house" and an ideal father to his boys, an image that many readily apply rightly or wrongly, to contemporary black men.

It is also clear that the boys' mothers played the pivotal role in guiding them to become leaders of the nation - Sarah, in a traditional household, but also Hagar, in a non-nuclear, single, female-headed household. Among the most myth-busting, misconception-mashing accomplishments of Barack Obama's ascendancy to the White House would have to include that: Great outcomes and strong values can indeed spring from the seeds nurtured in and by nontraditional families that may or may not include the father or a man. From the roots of assessment based upon a patriarchal nuclear family structure, we have long attached the negative labels of deficient, selfish, abnormal, or tragic to women, who by choice or circumstance, find themselves without a husband.

However, a startling fact came out of 2008 presidential election as reported by The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research along with Women's Voices Women Vote.

Unmarried women supported Barack Obama by a stunning 70 to 29 percent margin, exceeding the support among both younger voters and Hispanic voters. In fact, there was a 44 point difference in the behavior of married women and unmarried women.
If not for the overwhelming support of unmarried women, John McCain would have won the women's vote and with it, the White House.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10

A nation can rise no higher than its women. Elijah Muhammad

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This comment has been removed by the author. said...

Hello Pastor!

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog! Your insights are so appreciated.

Thank you for this post. I was raised by a man so I have had a much different indoctrination than most black women I encounter in the church who were constsntly being conditioned in female settings.

I have never been a member of a church with a female pastor, for example.

My blog focuses on black women and empowerment so many assume I am a feminist! *LOL* They are floored to learn that I am used to seeing men in charge and used to men WANTING to be in charge. I had never heard a woman preach until I was in my 30s.

This post gives me a great deal to think about.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

SjP said...

I have never thought about Sarah and Hagar from this frame of reference. Very, very interesting. Much obliged for the post.

Believer 1964 said...

I appreciate the perspective of Hagar being a single parent.

As a daughter of a single mother, I know about the perseverance and courage that comes from a woman trying to succeed while instilling good values in her children.

Nevertheless, I see the benefit that a father has in a child's life through the eyes of my daughter.

Furthermore, I cannot dismiss that God in his infinite wisdom considers the balance needed in having both a mother and father present and/or participating.

Revvy Rev said...

I think that the bible included both instances of family structure - father present in one and absent in the other - to indicate that hope is not lost when the father is not present.

The benefits to the children and the home economically, socially, politically, etc. of having both parents present are indisputable.