Complementarian vs. Egalitarian (pt 4) – The other one (pt 2)

Posted on November 9, 2012 by


This is a continuation of

The other one (pt 1)

The issue that we were about to jump into is –

An Understanding of Image bearing


In the beginning God created all things. But He did something special when He made humans.


Genesis 1:26-27

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.


What makes mankind different from all other creation is that we are made to bear God’s image. The thing I want you to notice in these two verses is that the pronouns are, for the majority, plural. God refers to Himself as ‘our, us’, and mankind is referred to as ‘them, male and female’. In this I see a aspect of image bearing that we don’t often address, that our ability to bear the image of God is dependent on our engagement with others. We are made to be relational, and as we live in those relationships we are bearing the image of God who exists eternal as a singular community, three in one, the trinity.


Men cannot bear the full image of God without women and likewise women cannot bear the full image of God without men.


God made us different and with the need for each other. The relationship between men and women is fractured in the fall. We can see in the curse how sin will affect our relationships in different ways. “Your desire shall be for (against) your husband and he will rule over you.” Neither of these (desiring against or ruling over) is spoken of in a positive light. They are the broken image of God. No longer do we work together and in each other complete the image of God, we war against each other in selfishness and pride.  So where the wife rises against her husband to dominate him there is brokenness, and where the husband rules over his wife like a lord over their servants there is brokenness.


God’s sovereignty

Another issue that has to be addressed when talking about Christian gender roles is the gifting of the Holy Spirit. One side of this debate says that women never can exercise leadership in the church or home. The other can end up forcing that we must have women in all levels of leadership. These within these views are expectations of Spiritual Giftedness, either that women will be excluded or that gifts can be assumed.

I take issue with both ways of thinking. When an individual comes to faith in Jesus, is saved, whatever your language for it, the Holy Spirit fills them, seals them, and empowers them. He brings with Him specific Gifts for the building up of the church and the faith. In 1 Corinthians 12 it says that the Spirit gives whatever gifts He wills to whomever He wills. Essentially, God the Holy Spirit maintains His sovereignty. So to say that someone can’t have a gift, or that they must be given the gift if they step into a role, is to misunderstand the sovereignty of God.

God’s Design

In the Ephesians chapter 5, Men are told to love their Wives like Christ loves the Church. We’ve talked a little about what that means in general but I have personal convictions about what that means and how that makes men better husbands. The thing is that God has made us all different. I don’t care for most sports or to kill things that have fur, I am a crier with movies and stories, and really only get angry when those that are defenseless are being abused. I also avoid confrontation like the plague. So the parts of Christ’s life that are going to challenge me might be different than what will challenge you.

We are all, men and women, called to be transformed into the image of Christ. Each of us start from somewhere different but we share a common goal. Some of the things that help focus us towards that Goal are the same (i.e. prayer, scripture, community, etc…) some of them are different (i.e. Music, style of Church, amount of interpersonal communication, etc…).

The bible repeatedly calls the man the “head of the household” at the least, and possibly the most, this means that there is a measure of responsibility placed on Men for their families. Take Adam for instance; after both he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit God confronted Him. This is a picture of how being the Head of the house plays out. This isn’t to say that women aren’t held responsible, Eve clearly was, but this extra measure is put on men. I personally think it is to help motivate us out of a pretty universal struggle with passivity.

More generally men and women come into this world with differences; physically, mentally, emotionally, culturally. This doesn’t mean that all men are strong and insensitive, or that all women are frail and more emotional. But it does mean that because of our gender and our culture we are predisposed to certain traits and characteristics.

Because of some specific commands in scripture and because of our inherent differences we can’t say that men and women are the same. We aren’t, if we were that’d be really boring and not a reflection of our dynamic and expansive God.

Posted in: Praxis, Theology