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

mixed messages

Once more, I read one of those: “Complementarians are NOT like this, you characterize us wrong” articles. But they always sound like: “We would NEVER advocate for playing music loudly! We only say people should crank up the volume! We do NOT advocate for disturbing the peace, only that your neighbours should always hear your music! We are against noise! We only say that music should not be played at a low volume and that you should buy quality speakers that could handle a lot of sound. Oh, and some people who do not read this blog also plays music loudly, so it is not my fault if my fans do. Nobody hates loud music more than me.”

To quote this article:

Myth #1: Complementarianism is obsessed with male authority.

…Complementarianism… in reality focuses on … God’s … binary design where the husband’s leadership is exercised through love and servant leadership and women are included as significant participants in the church’s mission. A biblical perspective of the male-female relationship in the church’s ministry doesn’t picture a man wielding authoritarian leadership
Myth #3: … Because of [complementarianism’s] affirmation of male leadership and authority

What I see: “We are not obsessed with male authority, only with male leadership! And we affirm male leadership and male authority!”

Love, servanthood, and women included as significant participants are the egalitarian focus (too). The thing which makes them complementarian as opposed to egalitarian is, indeed, their focus on male leadership.

Whether he calls it leadership or authority or both, it comes down to telling others what to do. Leadership could be beneficial at times – if I do not know the way out of a forest but my guide does, I would let her (or him) lead. However, complementarians never explain the real difference between their leadership and lording it over her. What kind of leadership is no wiser than the one being led, but does not act on the power or right to give orders? What kind of leadership is loving and beneficial when the leader knows no better than the follower?

Myth #2: Complementarianism confines women to the home
… but these roles are to be lived out by God’s grace and are freely entered by a woman as instructed by Scripture… her divine calling [is] in relation to her husband and children. In Paul’s letter to Titus, women are called to be “workers at home” and to love their husband and children. We believe that the joy and work of women’s lives will be best lived out as she centers herself primarily on her family and in her home.
… complementarianism is not ruling out that women ever work outside the home. In fact, it’s commonly acknowledged that the married woman of Proverbs 31 was active in the community while still being centered in her home… Overreactions are common, however, such as insisting that women may engage in any activity outside the home with virtually no or minimal concern for God’s specific creation purpose for each gender. This is contrary to biblical teaching and deeply problematic.

What I see: “Complementarian women are not literally confined to the homes, but every step away from their homes, husbands and children is  a step away from God’s creation purpose for them.”
I never met anyone who claimed that complementarians literally chain the ankles of bare-footed, pregnant women to the kitchen table, so this message tells me exactly what I already know about complementarians.

Myth #3: Complementarianism leads to domestic violence and spousal abuse.
… implicating complementarianism with domestic violence is based on a misconception of what complementarianism in fact teaches regarding the true nature of male authority … It should also be noted that abuse of women is in no way limited to one side of this debate…
So, the charge that complementarianism insufficiently condemns or unwittingly condones or can lead to domestic violence and spousal abuse is manifestly untrue. Recent complementarians have gone on record to state unequivocally that they strongly condemn and oppose any form of domestic violence and spousal abuse. In their “Statement on Abuse”1 adopted March 12, 2018, which follows earlier, similar statements, the board of directors of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the principal complementarian organization, writes, “We condemn all forms of physical, sexual and/or verbal abuse.”

What I see: “We are against abuse! Only, we leave out that abuse is tied to controlling the partner, and that our teachings indeed want men to control lead women. We recommend the controlling, we shame men for not controlling well and women to not accepting control leadership.”

Also, a charge is not “manifestly untrue” if what happened was not your true intention. If “complementarianism leads to domestic violence and spousal abuse” only when misunderstood, it is still true that the message was a factor.

Myth #1: …
Complementarianism, the myth goes, is tantamount to being anti-women or anti-women-in-ministry with the intent of keeping women out of positions of leadership in the church, the corporate world, and the political sphere…

Myth #4: Complementarianism only limits women’s access to the pastoral office.
… the biblical teaching on gender is much more thoroughgoing and profound than a singular negative stipulation would convey, … in other contexts where the teaching of Scripture or the exercise of spiritual leadership occurs, this should be carried out by qualified men… It is the teaching and ruling authority that leadership roles entail that is at issue here.

…The full-orbed creation mandate for man and woman, and its implications for masculine and feminine identity and roles, should be a concerted focus of attention from the pulpit and be upheld in our churches as beautiful, worthy, and desirable…

What I see: “Complementarianism is not like being anti-women with the intent of keeping women out of leadership. It only keeps women out of leadership. It is beautiful and worthy to keep women out of leadership, not anti-women.”
How is it not anti-women?
“Because we say it is not anti-women!”

Myth #5: Complementarianism can and should be culturally compatible…
It is sometimes alleged that complementarianism is advocated out of traditionalism or conservatism regarding men’s and women’s identities and roles… it is doubtless true that some hold to complementarian teaching because of underlying traditionalism or conservatism… mischaracterization of complementarianism as merely traditional… try to accommodate their teaching and practice to the culture …  complementarianism… is profoundly countercultural, if not culturally unacceptable.

What I see: “Our teaching is not compatible with any tradition or culture, not even traditional or conservative culture, but some hold to complementarian teaching because of their traditionalism or conservatism.”
If it is incompatible with traditional or conservative culture, how do people manage to be conservative/ traditional and complementarian?

Myth #1: …the beauty of complementarity within God’s purposeful and beautiful binary design … Myth #2: …the joy and work of women’s lives… part of his blueprint for the man’s and woman’s mission on earth to be lived out together for his glory… Myth #3:.. God-honoring marriages among complementarians… exhibit the beauty of God’s complementarian design in practice. Myth #4: …The full-orbed creation mandate for man and woman, and its implications for masculine and feminine identity and roles, should be … upheld in our churches as beautiful, worthy, and desirable…God’s glorious plan for them… Myth #5: …complementarianism in all its glory and truth…joy of living and teaching God’s design for man and woman…

What I see: “Complementarianism is beautiful, I tell you! And true, and glorious, and worthy, and desirable, and joyous, and did I mention beautiful?”
Neither Köstenberger nor other complementarians ever explain how men leading women, women not being encouraged to use their gifts outside the home, denouncing only some aspects of abuse, women not teaching, and living in a way the culture notices as regressive is beautiful, true, and glorious.

Do complementarians even know that they contradict themselves?

Comments on: "Do complementarians not understand themselves, or do they understand and lie to us?" (6)

  1. They put lipstick on that pig, don’t they?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The Comp. doctrine fundamentally involves double speak. That in itself tells you that something is up. The comp. doctrine is supposedly the “plain and clear” teaching of Scripture, yet CBMW publishes a journal ever so often where various people try to demonstrate how it is true. If it was that simple, there would be no need for a Journal.
    The Con is on! Thanks for helping expose it.


  3. When it comes to domestic abuse, comps will say the right things. What they fail to recognize that abuse is about power and control. Comp doctrine is a perfect setup for an abuser. The husband is called to lead and the wife is called to submit to his leadership. This is an abuser’s dream come true! Now he has God-ordained authority to carry out his controlling behavior.

    As far as women in leadership in the church, they like to think that it’s only about women teaching men. The authors fool themselves because at the beginning of the article they laid out what comp doctrine entails: “According to the divine design, men are given the responsibility to lead in marriage and the family, as well as in the church as God’s family, while women are assigned a role of partnering with and supporting their husbands and are entrusted with bearing and nurturing children for God’s glory, as well as being active participants in the church’s mission.”

    Comps clearly state that men are to lead God’s family while women actively participate. This doesn’t imply any room for other leadership roles in the church.

    I could go on and on about this.


  4. Retha, They find *something* appealing about complementarianism. As you show, that isn’t a logical something. But there is some emotional reason why even women find complimentarianism attractive. I know, because I used to. Frankly, I used to like the idea that there was something different about me because I am a woman, something exceptionally and eternally valuable that a man cannot aspire to. I liked the idea that I belonged to a sisterhood, that we understood something only we had. The idea that men are required to die for us as Christ did for the church, to support us so that we can be active and primarily mothers (rather than mothering a la carte), that the “leadership of husbands (not men in general)” was a form of servitude and a cross designed to use their physical absence of pregnancy and menstruation distractions to enable the best possible support for the rearing of children. That’s why I found it appealing… before I fully thought it through. Though, I’m sure other (ex)Complimentarians can explain their reasons to have found it “beautiful” too. If you can understand (dare I say even sympathize with?) that motivation a little bit more, you may have more tools to help people think more clearly about egalitarianism.


  5. I think that some people honestly cannot see past the double speak. And others can. The use of the phrase “unfettered male-female equality” is a huge red-flag, though. Hard to believe that someone can talk like that and not realize what he is saying.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: