Complementarianism is a theological concept many of us are familiar with but do not necessarily know by name. Those who subscribe to this school of thought believe that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities; these roles are supposedly reinforced by biblical scripture.
I do not take issue with this initial statement but I certainly do with the second portion of the complementarianism viewpoint; a viewpoint that casts men as the irrefutable leader and women as non-decision making supporters.
They can call it being a complementarianist… traditionalist…hierarchicalist… what it is is archaic and oppressive.
A formal statement on Complementarianism is the Danvers Statement; a document released in the late 1980’s by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). This organization was started by “a group of pastors and scholars assembled to address their concerns over the influence of feminism not only in our culture but also in evangelical churches”. Oooh Feminism… scary stuff. It’s a good thing we have such devout biblical scholars here to valiantly fight the evils of such absurd concepts as, “hey, let’s treat women like people of worth who have an ability to contribute to the Body of Christ”. Heaven forbid such things come to fruition!
Excuse my sarcasm but the more I read on this matter then more nauseated I become. It is nearly impossible not to say even more obnoxious things in response to such nonsense.
The Danvers Statement lists contemporary developments which they view with “deep concern”. For example, “the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives;”
The implication here is that a woman who does not adhere to this archaic model is lacking in intelligence and is not a “redeemed” woman. Essentially our very salvation is on the line if do not forgo all opportunities for leadership.
Another concern of The Danvers Statement reads, “the emergence of roles for men and women in church leadership that do not conform to Biblical teaching but backfire in the crippling of Biblically faithful witness;” Complementarianism supporters generally believe in the limited roles of women in the church. Some more “progressive” complementarianists may permit women to evangelize or teach and, in the case of The Catholic Church, become nuns. The role of pastor or priest is restricted to men. Women are never to lead men in an any form.
Have you ever played the card game Bulls***? Right about now is when I would be calling out my fellow card players.
The bible affords men the right to unquestioning submission and total authority? Bulls***
Women in leaderships role will cripple us a body who witnesses to the world? Bulls***
None of the “biblical” cards they’re holding seem to say what they’re claiming they say.
All of the scripture used to perpetuate this theology is being used in its most traditional, basic, and surface-level interpretations. I would go so far as to say much of it is being distorted and misrepresented. But this is not a new tactic in the matter of gender-roles in the church and family.
One of the first arguments is in regards to creation order; as though where you came in the order of things dictates primacy. The claim is Adam came before Eve and this gives him an implied headship over her.
My obvious response against this would be: take a look at the entire order of creation. yes, man did come before woman… and animals came before man. Are animals the authority over man? according to the creation order argument the answer is “yes!”. But we all know that to be false.
One of the more popular scriptures used to push this agenda is Genesis 2:18 “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Helper must mean “sidekick” right? According to this women are secondary to men and the staunch traditionalists might go so far as to say inferior to men.
Actually the word “helper” used in Genesis does not necessarily carry the same connotation as it does in english or western culture. The Hebrew word being used in Genesis is “ezer”. In fact, the same word is used to describe God as the helper of Israel. In the Bible, kings come to ‘help’ other kings, and nations come to ‘help’ other nations. A helper is not necessarily less powerful or less capable than the person s/he is helping.
If we really wanted to get into the nitty gritty of it we could point out that Eve was not explicitly placed under the governance of Adam until Genesis 3:16. It was only after the fall of man that God said, “Your husband will rule over you.” This implies that before the Fall, Adam did not rule over Eve.
If we believe that Jesus came to restore us, to bring us into a pre-fall state of relationship with our God, is is it possible also that men and women can be restored to a pre-Fall relationship? A relationship where men can lead without exerting total dominance and where women can fully exercises their gifts and intelligence as man’s “ezer”?
My fear is that complementarianism, rather than preserving the proper relationship between Godly men and women, diminishes the power of the body of Christ. How can we limit the ability of women to stand alongside men in pursuit of God’s kingdom? We have an enemy who is fighting with all the resources provided to him. Shouldn’t we do the same?