What if what you think of complementarianism isn’t REALLY complementarianism?
What if men who are jerks to women in general and their wives in particular are just using the term “complementarianism” as a way to justify their desire to be patriarchal? [Isn’t that kinda what many people did in the Westward Expansion? What many did in the name of God, was really just out of a heart of greed.]
What if what many people say is “complementarianism” is really just “traditionalism” or “patriarchy”?
What if we can separate the solid principles of what Paul was saying in many of those controversial passages about the relationship between man and woman from the abuse that we has seen?
I’ve had the chance over the past few months to observe some different male/female relationships, and I’ve seen the “woman, make me a sandwich” attitude and talk among couples who would not begin to call themselves Christians. I think a lot of times we blame this attitude on people taking Ephesians 5 too far….or even people reading Ephesians 5 at all.
And I’ve also observed some relationships between men and women, Christ-centered in this case, who would consider themselves to be egalitarian, but the man doesn’t honor his wife and treat her like Christ did the Church (i.e. he’s not laying down his life or sacrificing for her) as it talks about in Ephesians 5. And that’s sad to me.
Because what if Ephesians 5 is how things work out best? What if we’ve distorted that Scripture to mean something it doesn’t mean and have used it to justify abuse, sinful desires, and dishonoring of our spouse?
Of course, I guess I don’t really expect any egalitarian to really consider these questions. But from my perspective, as a complementarian (although most of my good friends would say Jake and I aren’t really), the Bible doesn’t give men a license to treat other people like a doormat. And the Bible says nothing about what a woman’s role is and what a man’s role is when it comes to household chores or work or child care. Some “biblical complementarians” have taken that ridiculously too far. And the Bible doesn’t say that women can’t serve and play significant roles in the church body.
My plea is for people to stop equating complementarianism with traditionalism. They’re not the same, and are not built on the same values. True complementarianism is based on love. Deep, sacrificial, radical love that is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the Church. No more, no less. So, instead of fighting the big beast of complementariasm, take time to ask people questions about what they mean by that, and then fight those injustices that people practice because of their desire for control or dominance or power.[Instead of using blanket statements and assumptions about “complementarians”]
As a caveat, I’m definitely still exploring these ideas and as of now, am still based in the complementarian camp, although i’m actually turned off by both labels and all the connotations- egalitarians and complementarians. One of my big beefs with egalitarianism as it’s lived out is that it seems to have at its core the value and idol of individualism. I’m going to do what I want to do and no one can tell me what to do. What some call “compromise”, I see as both parties not wanting to give in to what someone else wants…not really seeing themselves as actually “one” but living out two separate lives. Anyway, overall, I’ve read quite a bit from the perspectives of both sides and find both to be wanting…