When the curtain on male headship is pulled back, it shrinks from the light of logic and truth. Consider the most recent defense of male headship by John Piper. He offers three reasons why he believes it will endure, but in pulling the curtain back, we find each deeply flawed.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai—international women's education activist and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner—was invited by TED to share his experience as a mentor and father to his influential daughter. His words were wise, simple, and elegant. What had he done to make Malala "so bold and so courageous and so vocal and poised?" "Don't ask me what I did," he instructed, "ask me what I did not do." Ziauddin concluded his TED Talk with the now famous phase, "I did not clip her wings, and that's all."
There are two main groups within evangelicalism debating the issues of subordination (lesser authority) among the members of the Trinity and subordination among male-female relationships. Complementarians believe, among other things, that women should be under the authority of male leaders in their churches, and wives should be under the authority of male leaders (their husbands) in their marriages.
Karen and Mark are both pastors with vibrant ministries, but their marriage is at a crossroads. Karen has been offered a large church in a growing area that sounds like a perfect fit. Mark has no desire to leave his flourishing ministry. They love the Lord and each other, but they can‘t agree. How can they decide?
Embracing a fully egalitarian perspective was a long twelve-year process. When all was said and done, there was one final hurdle to overcome. By the time I began pastoring in 2008, I already understood that God gifted both women and men with “speech” gifts such as prophecy. I also believed women were allowed to teach and preach, even with men present.
I remember how embarrassed I was the day I walked into work with a black eye. I dreaded the questions, knowing I would have to reveal my lost battle with lawn equipment, and worrying that someone might wrongly suspect my husband of abuse. I turned on the office lights, sat down at my desk, and interacted with people all day.
On a macro scale, the complementarian approach to abuse is incomplete. If our mission is to end the abuse and oppression of women, it becomes clear that we can’t just saw off individual branches of oppression, leaving the tree rooted in the sin of patriarchy.
My mother was a godly leader — though I’m sure she would never have described herself that way. She had a high school education, and her only employment outside the home was either in a hosiery mill or a dime store. If she had been asked to speak to an audience of adults, she would have been terrified.