Orderly Umbrellas


“So pastors are under God’s authority,” Bekah explained. “Families are under the pastors.” She held her hand in the air and moved it down levels as she spoke. “Husbands are in authority over wives. Wives are in authority over children.”

When Ty didn’t respond, Bekah added, “It’s all very orderly, anyway.” But of course Ty didn’t give “orderly” as much weight as she did. In the Fellowship, orderliness was nearly one of the Ten Commandments.

The FellowshipChapter 5.

The “umbrella of authority” is a concept that’s been around for many years. I was taught this very “order” as a teenager, although the charts I saw weren’t illustrated with patio umbrellas. It gives it kind of  an easy-living vibe.

It’s a clean, logical graphic that makes its point with a single glance: The Umbrella of Authority concept effectively protects Jesus from getting cooties from women!

Haha, not really. We all know that in Christ, men and women can approach God as equals. So this chart isn’t saying that a woman can’t get to Jesus except through her husband.

Of course, if you look at the husband’s share of life responsibilities, you’ll see that he’s supposed to be the spiritual leader. And underneath the woman’s cute little umbrella, you see “Submit to husband’s authority.” So a woman could approach God on her own, but to be honest, that really does mess up the Natural Order of the Family, doesn’t it? And God is a God of order, so he actually prefers you to go through the proper channels.

So… just go through your husband, okay?

There’s certainly nothing here that a man could object to. Shouldn’t a man lead his family spiritually? Shouldn’t he provide for his family? Shouldn’t he love his wife?  Well, then, what’s the problem?

What do you mean, these responsibilities don’t have to be limited only to husbands?

Oh. Hold on. We need to get something clear here.

You can’t shift these categories around. The umbrellas are impermeable when it comes to proper roles and responsibilities. You let a woman provide for the family or exert spiritual leadership, and the next thing you know, the husband will submit to her authority on some issues, and that’s it. The umbrellas disintegrate in a fiery, bloody, toxic meltdown.

This catastrophe completely incapacitates men. They won’t read their Bibles, won’t hold a job, won’t take out the garbage, nothing.* But they probably will look at porn and run away with another woman (probably some woman who usurped her husband’s authority, destroyed her home, and is now going to destroy yours). Why would you even want to mess with that?

No, this is the Natural Order of the Family. It looks great and worked really well in Victorian times, assuming you happened to be white and middle- to upper-class.

Just go with it.

Just hush.

Just obey.

It’s the Natural Order of the Family.

*Very recently, I read an admonition written by a man to younger women, advising them on how to find good answers to their questions. He explained that they were, first of all, to read their Bibles. Then they were to ask their husbands any questions they had. Don’t worry if you, the wife, knew more about the Bible than your husband did; your questions would motivate him to study! But the flipside is that he won’t read his Bible at all if you bypass his authority and seek out answers on your own.

I heard this same idea very often growing up. Men in patriarchal circles are badly prone to wind down to complete nothingness if their wives aren’t there to motivate, bolster, and reassure them that they are big strong leaders.

**By the way, why doesn’t Jesus have to do anything in this umbrella system?

***Seriously, it’s like its all dependent on our own works or something.



6 thoughts on “Orderly Umbrellas

  1. Oh my, this umbrella diagram brings back very, very bad memories!! I am still trying to undo all the warped teachings I received as a PK growing up in a huge Minneapolis Church in the 70-80″s.


      • The problem in today’s society is that I am finding that more and more women want to be in charge over men, even in church. These are called feminists. I know that the pastor of the church I’m currently going to submits to his wife because he justifies against women having to keep quiet in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:34–35. I don’t agree with it, but then again I have found other churches that have been falling short in other areas. I have walked out on many churches when women preached through out the entire service, but I think if they open up in prayer it’s ok and I think this is a good work around by my current pastor. I haven’t seen a woman preach in this church, just that the pastor’s wife has opened up service in prayer and that women lead worship and I think that’s ok according to 1 Corinthians 11:5, which indicates that women were “praying and prophesying” in the church.. so I think this eases up some of the tension. I believe the scripture regarding women staying silent in the church refers to women not being the preacher because that would hinder God’s order of authority. It’s just like man cannot take the place of God like the Catholic church does, the pope. It’s idolatry. There is also a back story to this in Adam and Eve. It was woman who was easily manipulated by the devil to take a bite of the apple and then it was the woman who convinced man that it was ok to take the bite of the apple. So in this order, if women lead the church, it may fail as I have seen that most feminist churches are easily persuaded to inadvedently open up some unbiblical doors leading to disobedience. We don’t want to be cast out of heaven twice, you know? No offense to women, but at least we can all agree that the psychology between men and women are quite different and we should just trust God with all our heart and not lean in our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.


      • Frank: “Women shouldn’t be in a leadership role” (unless it’s a minor one sanctioned by Frank himself) “because otherwise it could end in us being cast out of heaven for a second time” (citation needed).

        Also Frank: “No offense to women, of course.”


    • Ha. According to the camps who teach this, of course, there is no such thing as an LGBTQ “couple.” They aren’t in a God-ordained relationship, so they have no protection against Satan’s attacks no matter what.

      Nope, best to stick to easily-defined gender roles so you know who’s in charge at all times!


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