Two quick questions for all you complementarians out there….


I’m still in the process of writing my first post on a specific text (1 Timothy 2:8-15). It’s not done yet (I chose to have an amazing of night full of wings and really good friends instead of writing it).

Because of the impending holiday weekend and the travel days that it entails, I’ll probably be putting that one up on Monday (sorry to get everyone fired up just to drop you for almost a week), but in the meantime, I wanted to solicit some help from my more conservative friends out there (also usually called “complementarians“) on a couple of questions I’ve had during this on-going series on Women in the Church. First:

Under a complementarian view, what would the traits of a failed husband in this respect look like? In other words, what does a “feminine” husband look like? Does that look anything like the way you think women are supposed to act in the home?

What I’m getting at is this: when I think of these answers (on both extremes), I think of terms like “weak, passive, indecisive, silent, not-present, abusive, exploitative, manipulative, and aggressive”.

But is that how complementarians want women to act like instead? If not, shouldn’t we categorize these traits more as “Un-Christian” all-around rather than “Failed Masculine Headship”?

Further, and similarly, it seems that in the ongoing dilution of what the term “complementarian” actually means when defined by said complementarians, it has been so increasingly re-defined and softened to the point that the only real distinguishing factors anyone talks about anymore (it seems) are initiative and self-sacrifice.

But, once again, are these traits wrong if they are present in a wife? Are they not to be present in her heart and their marriage on her as well? Should she not cultivate the strength and relational awareness such that she would take the initiative towards reconciliation if her heart is softened first, or lead family devotions if the Spirit moves as such upon her? Is she not to pray for a heart that is willing to sacrifice her own self-interest for the sake of her marriage regardless of what her husband does and whether he does it first?

My contention: just like church/family “roles” themselves, I’m thinking that, among these traits, there aren’t uniquely “male” and “female” ones, but rather “mature” and “immature”. The difference comes not in the traits/roles themselves, but rather the “style” or “flavor” with which these roles/traits are employed. Each gender will take initiative or lead differently, for example, but it doesn’t mean that one has a greater burden to do so than the other. Is this a crazy idea?

Okay, second question:

I’ll be honest, though I am very secure in my conviction of women being free to hold every office in churches and exercise every gifting that men can in the same ways men can, I can’t shake this internal “intuition” that I still feel the responsibility to “lead” in my own future home and marriage. This got me wondering: where is the basis for the idea that the church leadership is meant to resemble family leadership?

I can absolutely imagine a situation where there’s a woman with the gift of pastoring and preaching who fully exercises those gifts in church, and then goes home and her husband, who has no vocational religious giftings, still leads their family. Is this crazy?

Could leadership in the church be more pluralistic than in the home? After all, as was C.S. Lewis’ point, there are only two people in a marriage: if no one is the primary leader, how will anything get done? (Although, it does work just fine for lots of more “egalitarian” couples out there.)

My contention: “Headship” in the home is different than in the church. Husbands are to use Christ as their model, while Pastors are to “sacrament”, or (please be gracious, as I know this phrase has baggage) in a sense “mediate” Christ to us. Husbands do not have “authority” over their wives, yet pastors have “authority” over their flock (albeit in a loving and sacrificial way). Husbands serve, and pastors shepherd.

Okay, this is where I’m at right now on these two things, but I’m there very weakly, so I’m totally open to having my mind changed. This does not happen often (haha), so take your chance while you can!

So, friends, what do you think?

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6 thoughts on “Two quick questions for all you complementarians out there….

  1. Pingback: sorry, that earlier link was broken. here’s the new one. | the long way home

  2. I think, perhaps, both categories of complementarianism and egalitarianism have their own shortcomings. For the pathetic shortcomings of complementarianism just see where the fault is placed on Stanley’s divorce (I presume a complementarian): http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/19/two-preaching-giants-and-the-betrayal-that-tore-them-apart/?iref=allsearch
    It is my conviction that our thinking on these matters will forever be clouded until we return to the sacramental (or “analogous” to use a safer term) nature of marriage. Then we may begin to better think on these things. Paul, I sent you an email with a paper I wrote on this matter. Regarding this present post, it somewhat address your second question. I hope you are well my friend! Pax, Brice

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  3. That you don’t seem to get how much of a softball question this is (at least the first one) makes me wonder if you’re still not missing the entire point of the complementarian view altogether…I’ll try to clarify later (post-work)…

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  4. Since the golden rule of Christianity is to treat.others.as.you wish to be treated, it would appear that.complimentarian men really want to be slaves.within their marriages, have to obey a spouse at all times, and to have.restroctions placed on them within their churches. If they don’t really want these limitations, why would they put them on women?

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