Why I Cannot Agree with Complementarianism   Leave a comment

On Tuesday, I wrote about complementarianism, particularly as some people see it pertains to The Fall of humanity.  As expected there were some fairly heated reactions to my post, and I appreciate all of them.  This topic stirs people up, and I’m glad to hear respectful, reasoned arguments about the ideas of gender-roles in marriage.

One of the things that is difficult for me in the complementarian position is that as a single woman I’m kind of stranded without a role.  I can’t take care of my spouse and children because I don’t have them, and I have to be the financial provider for my household, namely me.  Thus, I don’t fit the complementarian model.

But this reality is only one small indicator of the major flaw I see in complementarian thinking – it doesn’t take into account the passages of Scripture that call for a higher sense of identity than gender or race or class.  As it says in Galatians 3:28-29:

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

When I read this passage, I see a sense of purpose that extends beyond gender identity and beyond our relationship to each other, as important as that is.  Instead, our central identity is in our relationship with Christ.

Yes, we have other identities.  I am a woman. I am a daughter, a writer, a reader, a teacher, a (reluctant) runner – and those things are important elements of me, but they are not THE important part.

When I consider having to squelch my gifts of leadership and teaching and submit them to someone who gets to claim those gifts simply because of his gender, I don’t see this as finding my true identity in Christ.  Instead, I am finding my identity – or refusing the use of my “talents” – because I wasn’t born a man.  That just doesn’t seem to mesh with the rest of my understanding of Scripture or the nature of God.

Not to mention the whole issue of same sex marriages (which is, I know, another hotbed of controversy).  I know many people in the church, whether or not they hold to complementarianism, do not believe same-sex marriage is acceptable.  I, however, do (and will write a post about why at a later time), and so this particular teaching becomes especially problematic when there are not two genders involved in the marriage.  How does this get sorted?

So while I truly do respect people who choose to enter a marriage where both parties agree to a complementarian pattern of life and while I can absolutely see where Scripture could be read to uphold this patter of life, I do not understand, and I honestly disagree with it on some significant levels.  I could not be a part of such a marriage; I think it would quite literally damage me.

All of this said, I am not an expert on these subjects, nor do I want to pretend to be such.  I’m simple a Believer, trying to walk by faith more than by sight.  And my faith says that God honors all that I am and doesn’t need me to hold part of that back because God decided I would be born a woman.

What do you think of complementarianism?  Why do you hold to it?  Why do you not? 


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