Complementarianism framed our world, even before we knew what it was called. Yet the practice of complementarianism troubled us. It troubled us so much that we finally decided to challenge it. The Making of Biblical Womanhood tells this story.
Complementarian theology depends on distinct roles for women and men in marriage. This article explores how, in practice, these roles mean women and men are not equal, leaving women vulnerable to spiritual abuse by men.
A seminary student explores questions about God-given hierarchy between women and men, including what the New Testament teaches about power, domination, and status to affirm God’s intent for women’s equality with men.
When people share their stories of harmful church teachings about gender roles, we’re accustomed to real horror stories of abuse. We also know that the problem is far more widespread, and it’s not always so overt.
In a recent Desiring God podcast entitled “Sex-Abuse Allegations and the Egalitarian Myth,” Piper argues that egalitarians are to blame for abuse of girls and women because we neglect God-created gender differences. By elevating gender competence—giftedness for any vocation—over God’s design for men to lead women, egalitarians have removed men from their God-given role in protecting girls and women from abuse.
Many complementarians want to respect women’s needs and stories and benefit more concretely from their insights, but are not sure how to begin moving in that direction. I used to leave church in frustration every week because of the implicit marginalization on display in services. A childhood, or lifetime, of watching women pushed further to the edges of leadership and visibility has an immense impact on a woman’s self-worth.
Although the issue of low self-esteem in women often headlines glossy magazines, we the church are responsible for addressing it. But women’s low self-esteem is directly related to the church’s theology of gender as well as how we read Scripture.
I was raised in something of a theological echo chamber where my complementarian convictions went undisputed. All diligent Bible readers would obviously conclude that men were to lead, and even more obviously, that women were not to be pastors. What could be simpler?