Monarchy and Patriarchy

Jonathan Boucher was a Loyalist cleric, Anglican and friend of George Washington. Gregg Frazer, the author of a recent book on Loyalist sermons during the American Revolution, quotes and summarizes one argument of Boucher’s 1775 work “On Civil Liberty” in the following paragraph:

According to Boucher, an “all-wise and all-merciful Creator” established patriarchal rule over man in light of man’s “unruly will.” God clearly made man to be social, but He knew that men could not live together without the restraint of law and government. Not only does patriarchal government have the “most and best authority of history…to support it” but it also is “by far the most natural, most consistent, and most rational idea.” This system is the most natural because the “first father was the first king” and “kingdoms and empires are but so many larger families.” Boucher suggests that “the first man, by virtue of that paternal claim, on which all subsequent governments have been founded, was first invested with the power of government.” Inferring the law from the practice, he concludes that “it was thus that all government originated; and monarchy is it’s [sic] most ancient form.” He also points out that patriarchy “always has prevailed, and still does prevail” among both the most enlightened and least enlightened peoples. Patriarchy is the most consistent and most rational system because in every country, “the ignorant are more numerous than the wise.” Because this is the case, it is never wise for the safety of the country to depend on the determinations of the ignorant majority.

–Gregg Frazer, God Against the Revolution. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2018. p. 81

I find it hard to argue against this reasoning. Most of us here would agree that civil authority is established by God. Most of us would agree that civil authority is civil fatherhood exercised by civil fathers. If Adam was the first father of us all, it makes sense that he was also the first civil father, the first king.

My difficulty here is that a social contract/compact theory seems much harder to prove, prima facie, from Scripture. I have Locke’s Second Treatise on my shelf, unread. I shouldn’t say more until I read it. Let’s say for the sake of argument that good Christians in the past have successfully and biblically argued for social compact theory.

Yet, it is much easier and natural and obvious to prove patriarchy from Scripture. If nations are larger collections of families, then setting up fathers of fathers, or kings, makes sense. The fact that monarchy has existed all over the world for centuries upon centuries is proof for it being there from the beginning. God the Father made the world to reflect His Fatherhood. Patriarchy is baked into reality. Try to eliminate it and it comes back in another form.

You could argue that monarchy, driven out of the American republic, has returned in the forms of the imperial presidency and the untouchable, appointed-for-life Supreme Court. The anticipated response is that neither of those two things are in the Constitution. Fatherhood is nevertheless real, and people all over the world in every culture have a strong drive to give honor to a national father. Is it evil or inevitable?

Even if you put forward social compact theory, civil government retains its fatherly role. Locke and patriarchy are not necessarily incompatible.

It’s hard to read the historical books of the Old Testament and not naturally conclude that the reigns of David and Solomon were the golden age of Israel, the standard by which everything that came before and after is measured. That implies that monarchy, while not prescribed by Scripture, is also given an honored place in Scripture. God gave Israel a righteous king to lead her into greater glory and picture the King Who is to come. The covenant with David is an eternal covenant fulfilled by Christ. Deuteronomy 17 laid out the rules for how a king was to rule, not absolutely, but according to God’s law. Note that God, in His law, worked with the peoples’ natural desire for a civil father, rather than have grace destroy nature. God works with the grain, rather than against it.

You could say that it is improper to have a king, because only Jesus could be the perfect king. How does this reasoning not also apply to fatherhood? My father is imperfect, therefore my only father is Jesus and natural fatherhood is meaningless. Grace destroys nature.

Lots to think about.


If monarchy is a grievous crime against God and liberal democracy is the only true and blessed governmental system, then Jesus and the apostles surely forgot to mention it.

Once you see that the Declaration and the Constitution are 17th century Progressivism, preserved in amber, and that there is a straight line between “all men are created equal” and whatever wave of feminism that conservatives are conserving these days, it’s impossible to un-see them.


Going by the Old Testament, the wisest form of government is an aristocracy of faithful judges in communion with God. The judges were certainly patriarchal and contrast at least as favorably as monarchy with abstract allegiance to a corporate state. A republic of truly representative patriarchs making decisions together has commonality with the judge system as well.

Aristotle’s three bad governments all are perversions of fatherhood as ignoble oligarchs and despots are wicked fathers and democracy puts the children in charge.


Here is the primary source:

2012Shakeshaft.pdf (124.5 KB)

More on Boucher himself

Although Locke’s Second Treatise is the one people generally read today, and is the most obviously influential on American government, his First Treatise on Government is actually about the idea that monarchies derive their authority from Adam as the first civil father (which was a prevalent Enlightenment argument among people who were pro monarchy and opposed to the Magna Carta and Parliament, and frankly was often poorly argued), and he makes extensive use of scriptural argumentation throughout. In some ways, I think it is a better Treatise and argument than the second, although I certainly have some disagreements, and he deals with some truly bad arguments that were contemporary in his day. For example, the influential Robert Filmer, Locke’s chief target, wrote:

  • The three sons of Noah had the whole world divided amongst them by their Father; for of them was the whole world overspread, according to the benediction given to him and his sons: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth”. Most of the civilest nations of the earth labour to fetch their original from some one of the sons or nephews of Noah, which were scattered abroad after the confusion of Babel. In this dispersion we must certainly find the establishment of regal power throughout the kingdoms of the world.
  • p. 58 Patriarcha

In essence, Filmer argued that kings had a genetic right to rule based on their descent from Noah and Adam. Although this was hardly his only argument, it was essentially the foundation of the rest. Since, everyone else can say the same, I don’t think this argument holds much water.

People will sometimes call the idea of a social contract regarding government and the governed an Elightenment or Modern idea, but it’s roots (if not the name) go back much further. Feudalism, for example, land and protection (from the lord) for military service (from the vassal). Noblesse oblige, an idea that long predates the term, is another example of the social contract. Nassem Taleb’s Skin in the Game spends its opening chapters arguing that in order to be successful, leaders (of various kinds) have always needed to show that they are leaders by being worthy of following.

Indeed, Wikipedia’s Social Contract page says “Social contract formulations are preserved in many of the world’s oldest records.” As an example, it quotes Plato’s The Republic:

They say that to do injustice is, by nature, good; to suffer injustice, evil; but that the evil is greater than the good. And so when men have both done and suffered injustice and have had experience of both, not being able to avoid the one and obtain the other, they think that they had better agree among themselves to have neither; hence there arise laws and mutual covenants; and that which is ordained by law is termed by them lawful and just. This they affirm to be the origin and nature of justice;—it is a mean or compromise, between the best of all, which is to do injustice and not be punished, and the worst of all, which is to suffer injustice without the power of retaliation; and justice, being at a middle point between the two, is tolerated not as a good, but as the lesser evil, and honoured by reason of the inability of men to do injustice. For no man who is worthy to be called a man would ever submit to such an agreement if he were able to resist; he would be mad if he did. Such is the received account, Socrates, of the nature and origin of justice.[7]

All this is to say 2 things. One, The Social Contract isn’t a newfangled, anti-patriarchal, anti-authority idea. It’s heavily bound up in both of those things. Just think of a wedding ceremony, where a groom vows to cherish his new bride, and a bride vows to obey her new husband.

Two, although there is much to disagree with in the writings of men like Locke or Hobbes, oftentimes we read their writings without being aware of the larger context and ideas they were interacting with, which gives us a skewed perspective on their meaning. Although I don’t know about Boucher (it’s entirely possible he makes strong arguments for his view), many of the arguments regarding divine rights of Kings and Adam common in that day were essentially Christianized versions of the old pagan idea that their heros and kings were descendents of ancient, semi-divine mythic figures, or descendants of the gods themselves.


Really appreciate your comment, Jesse. You’ve given me more work to do. Thanks

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Wanted to respond in some more depth. I deliberately kept my edges in my initial comment rounded. Social contract theory endures because there is something to it. Though some reactionaries draw comparisons between the American and French Revolutions, really these are two very different revolutions fought for very different ends.

The other thing I would say is that America was a nation before the Declaration of Independence was ever signed. Nations develop organically over time in God’s Providence, as He appoints their habitations. Nations are also peoples.

Nations can be constituents in a larger whole. For instance, in David’s time many enemy nations were conquered and made part of his empire.

Given the distance and the differences in customs and religions, America was destined for independence. The fruits of that independence, such as the First Amendment, are things i am grateful for.

Boucher’s primary source article is not as monarchist as my opening comments made it seem. Frazer was doing some interpreting. Boucher did not identify a particular sort of government in connection to patriarchy. He would be favorable to Michael’s comment above.

If you read through the pdf in my second comment, you will find that Boucher experienced a crisis of faith while studying for the priesthood, which was brought on by his reading of Enlightenment philosophers. In reaction, he became something of a fundamentalist. His zeal for Romans 13 is the zeal of a convert. It doesnt make him right, but it does make him a man of courage.

Like with the Civil War of the 1860s, the civil war between Englishmen in America in the 1770s had faithful men on both sides. We should remember them. Keep all the statues and memorials and even add more.


Pierre Viret and John Calvin talk about government forms in their work. It would be helpful to read them as well even thinking through monarchy.

Here is Calvin:

And for private men, who have no authority to deliberate on the regulation of any public affairs, it would surely be a vain occupation to dispute which would be the best form of government in the place where they live. Besides, this could not be simply determined, as an abstract question, without great impropriety, since the principle to guide the decision must depend on circumstances. And even if we compare the different forms together, without their circumstances, their advantages are so nearly equal, that it will not be easy to discover of which the utility preponderates. The forms of civil government are considered to be of three kinds: Monarchy, which is the dominion of one person, whether called a king, or a duke, or any other title; Aristocracy, or the dominion of the principal persons of a nation; and Democracy, or popular government, in which the power resides in the people at large. It is true that the transition is easy from monarchy to despotism; it is not much more difficult from aristocracy to oligarchy, or the faction of a few; but it is most easy of all from democracy to sedition. Indeed, it these three forms of government, which are stated by philosophers, be considered in themselves, I shall by no means deny, that either aristocracy, or a mixture of aristocracy and democracy, far excels all others: and that indeed not of itself, but because it very rarely happens that kings regulate themselves so that their will is never at variance with justice and rectitude; or, in the next place, that are they endued with such penetration and prudence, as in all cases to discover what is best. The vice or imperfection of men therefore renders it safer and more tolerable for the government to be in the hands of many, that they may afford each other mutual assistance and admonition, and that if any one arrogate to himself more than is right, the many may act as censors and masters to restrain his ambition. This has always been proved by experience, and the Lord confirmed it by his authority, when he established a government of this kind among the people of Israel, with a view to preserve them in the most desirable condition, till he exhibited in David a type of Christ. And as I readily acknowledge that no kind of government is more happy than this, where liberty is regulated with becoming moderation, and properly established on a durable basis, so also I consider those as the most happy people, who are permitted to enjoy such a condition; and if they exert their strenuous and constant efforts for its preservation and retention, I admit that they act in perfect consistence with their duty. And to this object the magistrates likewise aught to apply their greatest diligence, that they suffer not the liberty, of which they are constituted guardians, to be in any respect diminished, much less to be violated: if they are inactive and unconcerned about this, they are perfidious to their office, and traitors to their country. But if those, to whom the will of God has assigned another form of government, transfer this to themselves so as to be tempted to desire a revolution, the very thought will be not only foolish and useless, but altogether criminal. If we limit not our views to one city, but look round and take a comprehensive survey of the whole world, or at least extend our observations to distant lands, we shall certainly find it to be a wise arrangement of Divine Providence that various countries are governed by different forms of civil polity; or they are admirably held together with a certain inequality, as the elements are combined in very unequal proportions. All these remarks, however, will be unnecessary to those who are satisfied with the will of the Lord. For if it be his pleasure to appoint kings over kingdoms, and senators or other magistrates over free cities, it is our duty to be obedient to any governors whom God has established over the places in which we reside.


I read Locke’s “Second Treatise” long ago, and didn’t find it compelling. In the years since I have become more convinced that the anthropology and history presented are nonsense. He is taking a regime that had arisen through centuries of competing interests, conflict, cultural solidarity and gospel power trying to impose a universal theoretical basis upon it.

I think this piece by Hazony and Haivry does a good job of discussing governance as something that is properly an organic thing, the ideal form of which will vary from polity to polity. It is consonant with the Calvin quote provided by Pastor Spurgeon below, I think. I would strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t read it to give it a try (though I think Hazony is quite weak on empire).

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Their positive mention of Hamilton and Washington aligns with I caught from Russell Kirk in The Conservative Mind. It’s very different from what you get from the paleo-libertarians whose perspectives are common among conservative Reformed men in Idaho, Arizona and Wisconsin. Joe Sobran, in his last 20 years of life, was very influenced by paleo-libertarians like Murray Rothbard.

Federalists like Washington and Hamilton emphasized authority, order and national unity. They conceived of America as a single nation. That’s duplicated by John Jay in Federalist No. 2. They emphasized continuity between us and Britain. The Jeffersonian Republicans tended to be more favorable to France. It set the stage for the major political conflicts of the post-revolutionary period. We’ve had both of these tendencies represented in American politics ever since.

The other thing to throw in here is that when the Bible speaks of the “elders” or “assembly of elders,” it’s referring to a kind of parliament, which acted together with the kings to govern the nation. National assemblies have existed for thousands of years. Think of how hard it was just to publish or write before the printing press. The job of administration was too large for one man to do alone. Monarchs acted together with both commoners and princes, representing different classes of society. It was never perfect, but it is part of our inheritance.


Didn’t Locke just take the Reformers who wrote on government, I.e. Lex Rex, and just secularize it?

Yes, but I keep returning to words. When Calvin wrote, he was not under anything approaching a democracy, nor did he have any experience of the corruption of that form of government we have long had in the West. The free exchange of opinion in newspapers or the Areopagus, for instance, has always been viewed as necessary for an informed electorate to do their work. But we have not free exchange. Not in the newspapers and not in social media. All is lies, and that’s why I’m sympathetic to those who claim 2020 was stolen. Not that the ballot counts were wrong, but that the electorate was lied to systematically in such a way as to render them incapable of exercising their vote in any informed way. I mean, if we are going to pin our hopes on Fox and Rush in order to inform the electorate, we’re even more stupid than the electorate themselves, right?

So this is why I consistently return to gender-neutered Bibles, preaching that avoids the conscience, avoidance of male-marked terms for the race on the part even of the biggest loudmouths of the conservative Reformed church, absence of the bride’s vow to “obey” in all our wedding ceremonies, refusal to confess the federal headship of Adam on social media by even (or especially) the most conservative of you here on Sanityville, etc. When we refuse to fight over words inside the church, it’s a joke to discuss votes outside the church—let alone to whip up a mob about “tyranny.”

What needs to be cleaned up is the church. Not society or the electorate. And cleaning up the church must start with words. We must begin our battle by uttering thought crimes in worship and publicly. Love,


Dear Pastor Tim,

I agree that reformation must happen in the church and believe that reformation in the church will have a reforming aspect to society. The question I have about this is: at what point will there be enough reformation in the church for it to be concerned with society or the electorate. Some seem to argue that a church must work on itself until it reaches some undefined level of reformation then it can impact the culture around them. I was talking with a pastor who was arguing that the church has nothing to say to civil government until revival has happened.

I am of the mind that it’s a bit of the chicken and egg thing. A church reforming will speak to society and civil magistrates precisely because it’s reforming and if the church isn’t doing that it hasn’t reformed yet.

In other words I believe the church has a duty to speak to its own sins and to be growing in personal holiness but that this internal growth has the purpose of discipling the nations.

I don’t know that you disagree with that but it seems to me that it’s not an either/or but a both/and.

Love you brother

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Oh, I think I know! Reformation (whatever form it takes within the Church) will have advanced far enough when such reformation triggers persecution from the civil magistrate, the electorate, and society generally against the Church per se.

We are, at the moment, not “there” yet. Of course, individuals here and there are persecuted by “society” which uses the machinery of the civil magistrate to impose penalties against expressions of Christian conscience. I’m thinking specifically of the bakers and florists who withhold their services from so-called “gay marriages” and who suffer great financial penalty for doing so.

But what have these instances of persecution accomplished? One might look to other Christian bakers and florists for an answer. When I look in this direction what I see is a diminution of such persecution. And why that? Have Christians wholesale abandoned baking and florist-ing? Or, have they instead “dodged?”

And what of the persecutors of Christian bakers and Christian florists? Are they satisfied with the handful of scalps they’ve collected? Or have they instead found far fewer scalps to collect?

Far more often than dissenting bakers or florists, I see ever increasing numbers of parents who, instead of refusing to attend their gay child’s wedding to someone of the same sex, attend these mockeries of matrimony and send gifts.

Incredibly rare are parents who refuse to attend the remarriage of their divorced child to another of the opposite sex. I assure you - these latter parents endure bitter and long-lasting persecution from everyone in their ostensibly Christian circles - fellow parishioners, church leaders, family members, neighbors, co-workers on the job.

Then there are the Christian parents who connive in the murder of their grandchildren. Pastor Tim has spoken to this scandal many times.

Pastor Tim insists that reformation must begin with speech. I concur, with an insistence that such reformed speech must invade the pulpits, enough pulpits across the land that it impacts the “reputation” of Christianity and calls down on our confession of faith the hostility, the persecution of the Church and any of its members.

And, clearly, reformation - beginning with words - must extend to deeds (or a refusal to enact a deed, a strict refusal to offer a pinch of incense to the currently fashionable idols).

When the Church is “concerned with society or the electorate” because they’re coming at the Church with pitchforks and torches, then we’ll know we’ve reached the point where there is “enough” reformation to matter.


Thanks for the question, Pastor Spurgeon. Fr. Bill has already given an excellent response. Let me add a bit. It is not a question of when we turn from reformation inside the church to leading reform outside the church. The two can’t be separated and the way we know we have the first is when we have the second. And as I never stop pointing out, we have neither in anything more than one-in-a-thousand churches.

Churches that claim to be doing the second have almost always skipped over the first. This is because the first is much more painful than the second, splitting apart mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, wives and husbands, worshippers sitting next to each other and small group members. Only the church that judges itself, repents itself, and believes in the power of God will ever rise to the level of salt and light. It may claim it’s salty and blow its horn against other churches who aren’t salty in the same way it claims to be salty, but visit that church, talk to the people, and the only enemy forevermore is “out there.”

So again, we don’t need to worry about which is first, the chicken or the egg. We need to do our work as pastors responsible to guard and build up the sheep, assuming the real danger to them is our own unfaithfulness in that menial and hidden work, meanwhile trusting that sheep whose pastor has protected their saltiness inside the body will inevitably be salty outside the body. (This is not to say the pastor won’t be salty outside the body, also; and you are a good example of both, in my judgment.)

You, of course, know all the ways the souls here in Bloomington have been salty outside the church for many years now. Very painful and very fruitful. Love,


Thank you brothers for your answers. I appreciate it and found this discussion very helpful.

God bless

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