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Dorothy Patterson, on Dobson program, notes biblical stance on gender roles

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–God’s plan for humanity did not begin with “the tabernacle, the temple or any other vestige of government,” Dorothy Kelley Patterson said on James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program May 12.

“God started with the home,” Patterson said in a recording of an address she delivered at the annual convention of Concerned Women for America. “He chose that vehicle to reveal Himself to us.” For example, God is found in Scripture as “our Father” and “we are His children” and the church is found as “His bride,” she said.

Patterson is a professor in the women’s studies program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where her husband, Paige, is president.

Speaking from Genesis 2, Patterson said the account of creation illustrates clearly defined roles for men and women.

The first responsibility for man in the account, she said, was to tend the garden God had created. “It is important for a man to provide for his family,” she said. The man also was charged with guarding the garden. He was to protect it and the remainder of creation as husbands today should protect their wives and families.

But the greatest responsibility given to man, Patterson said, was that of spiritual leadership. In the same way, she said, “[M]y husband is to be the leader of my home.” There is a “spiritual hierarchy,” but one in which the husband is a servant leader. There is no “oppressive tyranny” in a biblical marriage, she said.

That does not mean that things in the home always run smoothly, Patterson said. Feelings are hurt on occasion, but she said that should not be the focus of the relationship. “God’s plan is not dependent on perfect people or perfect circumstances because it is a perfect plan,” she said.

Women are given a different role than men in society, Patterson said. That role has “nothing to do with gifts or intelligence.” She is to be a “helper” to her husband, she said, even though she is created equal to him.

“We are equal before God … but from Genesis in creation it is clear that we have different roles. Now, you can go around moping and pouting about that; you can take the road of the feminists and rename yourself; you can rename the world and take over that; you can rename God — and that’s just what the feminists do — but it won’t change God’s plan.”

Those who try to change God’s plan follow the familiar path of deception displayed by the serpent in Genesis, Patterson said. They assume that their plan is better and they contradict God. Still, the plan for the home remains the same as it was in the Bible, she added.

Dobson said he chose Patterson’s address for the broadcast because she articulated well the same principles he has been advocating his entire career. He said his goal in life has been to combat the “radical feminist distortions” about marriage, the family and the role of women in society. While the radical feminist movement no longer exists, Dobson said, the ideas it promoted so permeated American society that they have influenced modern Christian culture.

Patterson is a woman “who knows of what she speaks,” Dobson said. She has authored several books on the subject of family, offering insights into biblical passages that address a woman’s role in marriage, the home and ministry. “Family: Unchanging Principles for Changing Times” is available through Focus on the Family and in bookstores.

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  • Gregory Tomlin