I just read a beautiful quote in the book “Reconsidering Gender.” The author, Craig Blomberg, is somewhere between the egalitarian and complementarian perspectives. He observes, “Let us agree to disagree with one another in love where we must but give each other as fellow evangelicals the benefit of the doubt when we are all trying to understand God’s will as best as possible on this topic and, once we have understood it, to follow it faithfully.”
I believe we egalitarians are right. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be one. However, I recognize that people on both sides of the issue are basing their beliefs on Scripture which they are trying to understand as hermeneutically and exegetically accurately as possible. We should all want to love God and each other in the best ways possible.
Egalitarianism is not a salvific doctrine. What we’re arguing is in-house—not believer vs. unbeliever. A loving complementarian relationship or situation can be very godly if all involved are agreed and trying to imitate Christ. I believe there is a more excellent way, that of egalitarianism. The problem between the two really arises most clearly when one of two things are happening: A gifted and called person is not allowed to serve God in the church because of their race/gender/social status or a marriage is in trouble because of misuse/misunderstanding of authority issues.
In these two situations, it is vital that we interact with each other with love and respect. Hopefully, we will have mutual respect. We must work to get our emotions under control, specifically under the Holy Spirit’s control. God will help us do this. While conversations between egalitarians and complementarians often bring to light vital or volatile disagreements, we do not have to agree in order to love one another, and to disagree in a godly way, we must do so lovingly.
When I wonder if I’m acting lovingly, I go back to I Cor. 13:4-8, where we are encouraged to love, be patient, believe the best of the other person, to not be proud etc. I suggest to every Christian that these verses be memorized in the translation of your choice. Particularly, in this case, ask yourself if you are being patient, believing the best about the person who believes differently, and not giving up. There is a time to withdraw: when a disagreement becomes an argument. You may not succeed in convincing the other Christian, but you can continue to pray for clearer understanding for that Christian even as you pray for clearer understanding for yourself. We are all in the process of learning and holiness. Pray for the other Christian. Continue to look and see if you are the one who needs to pray for increased knowledge, love and obedience to God.