Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

… But, interestingly, I think this is where the complementarian view actually has something very interesting to say. On

couple reflected in a mirror

couple reflected in a mirror

complementarianism, men and women both reflect God’s image, but in different ways, ways in which neither gender can do on their own. I think that actually provides a unique dignity to each gender and gives both gender reasons to affirm, delight in and stand in awe of the role the other gender has in reflecting God’s image while affirming their ontological equality. – A complementarian Facebook commenter

Firstly, egalitarians also believe that both genders reflect God, that every man and woman – even more so if they are Christians – reflect God in different ways that one person or one gender cannot do alone. As such, giving men and women that dignity is not uniquely complementarian. But – do complementarians actually, like egalitarians, provide that equal dignity to both genders?

Both complementarians and egalitarians affirm that men and women complement each other. Two thing differentiate us:

  1. Complementarians believe that God places certain restrictions (“thou should NOT”) on women but not on men. They do not agree on what these restrictions are, but they include things like preaching, being elders or deacons, working outside the home, leadership roles at work or in politics, etc.
  2. Complementarians believe in some degree of male/husband lead and female/ wife following.

These 2 ideas are the main, or arguably the only, difference between egalitarians and complementarians.

How are they compatible with: “men and women both reflect God’s image, but in different ways”? Is being restricted from certain good, meaningful tasks as much a reflection of God (Is God restricted from doing good thing too) as not being restricted?

Is being a follower and a submitter as much a reflection of God’s character as being a leader?

I would say no, God is not restricted and not a follower. As such, the two main ideas that make a world view complementarian are not compatible with us reflecting God equally, but in different ways. Restrictions on females, plus male lead, would rather fit in with the idea that God is male and masculinity more God-like.

Or at least that is how I see it.

Comments on: "“men and women both reflect God’s image, but in different ways”" (9)

  1. this is a good discussion starter, Retha. Why not put it up for consideration on the Equality Blog. 🙂


  2. TL, I’ll do that on Tuesday. I will be away from my computer untill then.


  3. Nick Bulbeck said:

    I suppose the problem I have with patriarchalism is that Jesus stated that “I call my sheep by name”, not “I allocate my sheep by category”. A megachurch pastor (“pastor” being pseudo-latin for shepherd, and little-used in English in any context other than church) is not the risen and ascended Jesus and can only know and work closely with a small proportion of the thousands in attendance. Everyone else must be handled through an expanding pyramid of delegated authority.

    To the outside observer, it rather looks as though patriarchalists project their own physically limited pastoral capabilities onto the one Good Shepherd – but he has limitless time and resources for every one of his sheep. Thus he can cope with complexities and exceptions that a humanly-contrived system cannot handle.

    I do believe there are broad differences between men and women, but I believe they are best described not by analogy to the possession of one or other reproductive system, but by analogy to height. On average, men are taller than women. But that doesn’t prevent there being tall women and short men. It would be fatuous in the extreme to provide a person with clothes “reflecting their God-given gender size” rather than actually fitting them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ooo…Nice analogy with the clothing.

      If we were all wealthy, or worked in television or film, our clothing would be tailored for us. Each one of us. Is it such a stretch to imagine that our personalities differ as much as our shapes?

      I find the idea that God made us so simple that one can know most of what they need to know about me from the fact that I am female, and most of what they need to know about you from the fact that you are male, offensive. I mean in the sense of an offense to God.


    • I love your clothing analogy, Nick!


  4. Why do complementarians presume to know the very nature of God? Is that not the height of arrogance?


    • Nick Bulbeck said:

      To be fair, ML, I don’t think that’s just a patriarchal/complementarian idea. We are told that “In his own image [God] created them; male and female he created them”. If that’s where they’re coming from, then they do have a valid starting point.

      Though I certainly think they fill in far too much detail on exactly how these male/female categories are defined, and I certainly think they’re wrong in dividing social and church job-roles between the genders.


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