Complementarian vs. Egalitarian (pt 4) – The other one (pt 1)

Posted on November 8, 2012 by


We have covered two views regarding gender equality in the church




To sum up:

Complementarian = God made men and women different to do different things and gifts us differently to achieve those things.

Egalitarian = God made men and women differently but Christ makes us equal so we are able and allowed to do anything the other can with no limits.

(these are vague generalizations of views that contain a spectrum all their own)

Now to the third view, which I affectionately call “Complegalitarian”

*I did not coin this phrase. It has been used in several articles. There is even a website that was dedicated to dialogue regarding this issue of gender roles by that title.

Let’s make the whole discussion of gender roles into a spectrum with Complementarianism being to the right while Egalitarianism on the left. Complegalitarianism would be in the middle. A centrist’s view.

Since complegalitarian hasn’t been around very long and continues to be a somewhat amorphous, changing considerably depending on who you talk to, I will lay out for you my interpretation of this gender roles third party.

The Problem of Hermeneutics

If you read much of the literature on gender roles, or really any Christian issue, you will find a general thread of argument that basically says that the opposing view really just doesn’t understand, or willfully misunderstands, how to read and interpret the bible. Without reservation Complementarian and Egalitarian proponents are guilty of hermeneutical inconsistency. Where they say this verse must be taken literally and prescriptively, they point to another and say that it is simply descriptive or allegorical without good reasons as to why they are interpreted differently.

(at this point I have to say that I stole this point from Rachel Held Evans, I don’t agree with her often but she has some good things to say)

                This is a problem that we all have to face when approaching biblical issues, how much of our bias is coloring our interpretation. So as a general rule I have approached it this way, where the New Testament has specific commands we listen. Where it is vague or silent, we remain quiet and let the Holy Spirit, and our conscience, guide us.

Let’s take a look at Ephesians 5. Here we have 3 commands that apply to this discussion. 1)Submit to one another 2)Wives submit to your Husbands 3)Husbands sacrificially love your Wives

In general one group focuses on the “one another” verse, and another focuses on Wives/Husbands verse, while minimizing the verses surrounding it.

One thing we can’t ignore is that Paul shakes it up in verse 32 when he basically says ‘I’m not even talking about marriage I’m talking about Christ and the Church.’ WHAT!? Yeah He’s describing the relationship of the Church and Christ using marriage as a metaphor. It still applies to us but it’s not ONLY about us. He finishes this little section with the verse by which the previous 12 verses should be measured.

“33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

This is about how we work out the beginning of chapter 5 where he says “walk in love” within the relationship of a marriage. Men love your wives, women respect your husbands. To grasp the whole of this section we have to look at the oft neglected, and long, section of vs. 25-29. Men love your wives like Christ loves the Church. What does that mean? Paul focuses in on Christ’s sacrifice, “He gave Himself up for her.” Jesus set aside His position and glory in heaven, He rejected selfish ambition, He gave His life for Her ultimate good.

So Men love your wives, women respect your husbands. Sacrificial love, the kind that Christ exemplifies in His incarnation, life and atoning death, and submission are aspects of walking in love.

We walk in love towards each other and that looks differently but the heart is the same, Love.

This brings me to a second issue which is another post in itself.

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