Yesterday Jason Meyer released a post over at The Gospel Coalition titled “A Complementarian Manifesto Against Domestic Abuse (Source).” He used a tactic I see complementarianism use quite often, which seeks to make egalitarians look like confused extremists.
I am constantly engaging with complementarians in debate and many of them seem to think egalitarians do not truly understand complementarianism, and if we did, surely we would be more accepting of it.
Often, complementarian males encourage me to read the book “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism” as if I have never read it. I have read the book. In fact, I refuted the book and the entire doctrine of complementarianism in my master’s thesis (Find Here).
Egalitarians are not confused when we associate complementarianism with domestic abuse. We understand that complementarianism stands firmly against abuse of any kind, yet many of us still find the doctrine guilty.
Complementarianism can be seen as a weapon. Sure, the weapon in itself does not hurt people. Sinful human beings hurt people. Yet, someone has to provide the weapon to the sinful human being. Complementarianism provides the weapon to the most powerful and the most vulnerable are the ones who pay.
Even Meyer’s admits,
We ask women in complementarian marriages to take the most vulnerable position in the relationship, which can quickly become a dangerous position when our views get distorted.
Here is the thing Meyers fails to acknowledge; humans will always distort views because we are sinful people. Even egalitarianism gets distorted to various degrees, but its distortions do not normally (if ever) lead to abuse of the vulnerable.
Why would any Christ follower ask a woman to take a “vulnerable position?”
Sure, sometimes Jesus calls us to be vulnerable, but it is Holy Spirit that beckons us to “get low,” not another human. There is no danger in giving all authority to Holy Spirit, but there is tremendous danger in giving too much power to humans (male or female).
However, I would argue that there is even greater danger in giving more power to males than females because males are physically stronger than females and can literally rape or kill a woman with their bare hands. As Christians, we are to make people less vulnerable, not more vulnerable.
I love my husband, Luke. He may be the most sacrificial human being I have ever met. He lays down his life for me often and I trust him enough to submit to him often. However, Luke is not Holy Spirit, Jesus, or God and he still has sin and selfishness running through his blood. If I give him authority over me, even with his selfless personality, he will sometimes make self-centered decisions.
I wonder, if my husband, who is naturally a selfless person, will sometimes make selfish decisions; how much more will other women’s husbands who do struggle with the sin of selfishness?
As I stated in my master’s thesis,
In sum, Piper and Grudem challenge evangelical feminism with the notion that men and women are equal in value, but equipped by God to function in different roles. Male and female life-positioning represents an orderly and simple approach to submission; woman submits to man, man submits to Christ, and Christ submits to God.
While this argument may be appealing to some because it is clean-cut and logical to the human mind, there is an enormous amount of fault with this so called “biblical mandate;” mainly that God is not a man and men are not God!
Complementarianism, even in its purest form, will lead to all sorts of injustices against women because men are not Jesus Christ. Yes, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, but this means laying down authority and equalizing power for the sake of the more vulnerable.
Men naturally have the upperhand over women because they are almost always bigger and physically stronger. Why would the Apostle Paul give them even more power over women (in an already male dominated society of ancient Rome and Greece) by suggesting that they are superior in authority?
Roman and Greek men already believed themselves to be superior in authority. There would have been nothing countercultural about Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 if “head” did in fact mean “authority over.”
The Kingdom of God is always about laying down power for the sake of the vulnerable.
Yes, men should protect and fight for women and that is exactly what egalitarian men are doing. Complementarian men are first putting women in a vulnerable place, then protecting them. This makes no sense. If we want to protect women from being abused, we will remove them from vulnerable positions and resist the temptation to interpret the Bible to fit a male-centric view of the Trinity.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
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