Time after time, I’ve read complementarian literature that seems to misunderstand what is meant by biblical equality for women and men. The heart of the misunderstanding appears to be a misperception of what is meant by the term “equality.” Very often, the complementarian literature I’m familiar with assumes that egalitarians are advocating for the “sameness” of men and women in the church, rather than for their equality. For example, in her book, “The Feminist Mistake,” Mary A. Kassian uses the terms “equality” and “sameness” interchangeably (p. 37). She also wrongly assumes that Christian egalitarians want women to be “just like men” (p. 38).
Throughout history, the church has been characterized by a male-dominated social hierarchy. This worldview has been so pervasive that some even consider it to be “God’s created order.” In light of the prevalence of this pattern, some people have asked me, “Has there ever been a female-dominated culture?”
A 1st century B.C. historian by the name of Diodorus Siculus provides us with the following information:
“Beside the river of Thermadon, therefore, a nation ruled by females held sway, in which women pursued the arts of war just like men…. To the men she [the nation’s Queen] relegated the spinning of wool and other household tasks of women. She promulgated laws whereby she led forth the women to martial strife, while on the men she fastened humiliation and servitude.”
As a man and a Christian, I’ve been given some heavy burdens. In a society characterized by a long history of male privilege, that may sound like a strange statement.
There are some distorted messages being taught about creation these days, in particular, that God designed men to be in authority and women to follow. Here are 5 related myths.
“Governing,” according to this document, is exclusively a man’s role. This begs the question, if you are a complementarian man, why do you believe women need you to govern them? How is this a service?
Patriarchy is an oppressive cultural norm with a history that predates Christianity.
Fortunately, it is fading from our global community. Unfortunately, it persists in some corners of the institutional church today, where some Christian leaders still teach that it is the God-given right of men everywhere to exercise authority over women at church and at home. From my vantage point as a male social worker, psychotherapist, and former department head at a multi-denominational Bible college, I’ve had many opportunities to observe how patriarchy impacts people every day on a very practical level.
in Ephesians 5:24, Greek manuscripts of the New Testament frame male authority or the submission of wives to husbands not as command, but rather as a description.
In some churches, women are not even allowed to read the Bible from behind the pulpit, allegedly because the pulpit is a sign of male authority in the church. Do these churches realize that there were no “pulpits” in the New Testament, and that “church” often took place in women’s homes?
Is the doctrine of male authority in the church “God-ordained,” or does it have a more human origin? To answer this question, I’d like to explore relevant evidence found in the writings of key philosophers, theologians, and modern-day complementarian leaders. Then I’ll follow up with an examination of key verses about men and women found in […]
Every few weeks we get a comment protesting that the claims we make about the complementarian view are not what most complementarians believe, even though most of the points we choose to refute are espoused publicly by prominent leaders of the movement. This has led us to think that perhaps many complementarians don’t know what […]
“The church has not been kind to women.” That is perhaps the most profound understatement I have ever made about any subject in my life. Jesus liked women. More than that, He loved them. He treated them with dignity and respect. The same could not be said, I thought, for the religious leaders of his day.
It’s probably true that nobody disagrees that men and women are different. It’s how these differences are perceived that becomes a potential source of controversy. When we consider gender roles, let’s be careful not to project onto God and the Bible assumptions that we have internalized from our own social history.
Husband and wives or masters and slaves? Today’s theologians do not continue to justify racial slavery on the basis of Canaan’s curse, yet in some corners of the church, however, the subjection of women to male authority remains.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” the firm foundation of male authority? There is a movement today that calls men to be responsibly involved with their families and in the church. Unfortunately, this movement equates this responsible involvement with “leadership.” Apparently, men will either be leaders, or they will […]
In Lost in Translation, Part 1, Bob showed that some words in the Bible are translated differently when they refer to women as opposed to when they refer to men. Case in point: Phoebe’s depiction as servant and helper rather than minister and leader. Today he addresses the impact of translation on our understanding of […]