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Published Date: February 24, 2013

Published Date: February 24, 2013

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Role or Rank ?

One of the basic tenets of Complementarianism is that men and women have equal value and worth as human beings made in the image of God.  Complementarians also state that men and women have different roles in the home and in the church.  Some even say that men and women have different roles in broader society.  When Complementarians use the word “role” what they really mean is “rank”. gives a definition of “rank” as ”a number of persons forming a separate class in a social hierarchy or in any graded body.”  Complementarians have effectively graded and divided the church into two main classes: men #1 and women #2.

Complementarians (such as John Piper) claim that men were created by God to be the leaders and have spiritual authority.  And they claim that women were created to be responsive and submissive to this all-male leadership and authority.  This is not a difference in tasks to be performed.  It is not really a difference in roles either.  Rather, it is a difference in rank or status, with the lower class serving, and submitting to, the higher class (cf Eph 5:21).

The Bible, in fact, says very little about gender-based tasks, activities or roles.  Moreover, the Bible has enough examples of women with spiritual authority, who taught, advised and led men, to call into question the hierarchical concept underpinning complementarianism.  Complementarians, however, seem intent on dividing the church along gender lines.

Generally speaking men and women have some basic differences, but we also share many more things in common.  As Christians, men and women share many profound things in common.  We share our common faith and hope, our relationship with Jesus, and our fellowship with each other.  And each of us shares the responsibility to love our neighbour and minister the gospel of grace, healing, hope and forgiveness.  Our varying abilities to love and to minister are not fundamentally tied to gender. (See 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and Ephesians 4:7). The body of Christ should function as a unity, and not a social hierarchy.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:26-28 (NIV)

c) 14.01.12 Margaret Mowczko and Bob Edwards

This article was first published at

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