I’m generally the kind of guy who will sit in the back of the room contemplating something, or if someone asks a question I’ll not answer, right away, but think on it for a wee while. One of the things that I have been thinking about recently is complementarianism, and more specifically how exactly this theological view manifests itself in the church today.
The specific question that I have been thinking about is; how complementarian is our complementarianism?
Complementarianism is the view that God has created men and women as equals yet with different roles, one sex is not superior to the other nor do they have the same roles, but each sex compliments the other as they work together to glorify God.
I grew up in an egalitarian church (meaning, at the very basic level, that men and women are equals and there is no difference in their specific roles), but when I moved to Bible College in 2013 I was confronted with these opposing views. Initially I thought that complementarianism was a restrictive and damaging view that minimised a woman’s role in church and family, but after wrestling with the Bible I came to the conviction that it is not. Contrary to being restrictive and damaging, I have found complementarianism to be beautiful and liberating freeing up each individual, both male and female, to live out their God’s given roles as they seek to glorify Him.
One problem stills bugs me though, in many churches I have seen complementarianism used to promote a kind of ‘alpha-male Christianity’ something that I do not see in the Bible.
This is evident in the way we talk about the role that women have in churches, for example, how often we start off this conversation immediately from the negative “As a woman you can’t do…”?
Wouldn’t it be better if the conversation went:
Lady: Hi, I’d love to serve in the church, what can I do to help?
Pastor: Great! There are so many areas that you can help with! We have women who need discipling, training, encouraging in their faith, we have so many prayer meeting that need leaders…
How different would our churches look if instead of starting on the negative, we looked at all the work that women can do? Often women can do things far better than us men can (Yes, I just said that!).
This also goes beyond the area of church life; pick up the majority of academic theology books that are on your shelf, or books on church life, or discipleship or just Christian life and sadly in most of them you’ll find that the endorsements are mostly written by men.
I guess the reason for this is that people want ‘titles’ to endorse their books and so pastor or head of such n’ such a ministry looks better, but there are tons of women out there whose name would carry a lot more weight.
If I pick up a book on how to be a good pastor I want to hear the endorsements and testimonies of ladies who have been treated and lead well, I want to hear from a pastor’s wife about the difficulties of church without her being introduced as “the wife of…”
We have a lot to learn and one of the difficult things that I will continue to wrestle with, and I hope that you will join me, if how complementarian is our complementarianism?
If our complementarianism liberating people to glorify God in their God-given roles?