How We Will Defeat Complementarianism


God, how will we defeat such a stronghold in the Church? How will we bring down the massive religious walls that surround the church in the area of patriarchy? How will we break such a strong spirit of legalism that lurks within our homes and is justified by “biblical doctrines?” 

I find myself asking all these questions late at night, heavy hearted, unable to fall asleep.

I strongly beleive that Satan Himself has a hand in complementarianism. How conniving the Prince of Darkness is to convince intelligent, loving Christian men and women that females are of lesser authority or power than males. It truly baffles me how long He has gotten away with this in the face of so much biblical and historical evidence against complementarianism presented by an abundance of conservative scholars.

Egalitarians have proved their case over and over, using the Bible in its original context and languages, as their primary source. Yet this mountain seems to be barely moving. How many times do we have to give the same lecture, write the same book, address the same scriptures, write the same post, have the same conversation, tweet the same tweet and preach the same sermon before we will be heard?

The problem is that we continue to be ignored because our voices have been determined to be of less authority and therefore of less value. Complementarians are quick to argue that men and women are equal in value, but when one gender is stripted of power, while the other holds all the power, “value” becomes a patronizing word.

How grateful we are for the few men who are writing and speaking out for our cause, but we need MORE who are willing to fight. I have mentioned this before, but this is not a battle against flesh and blood, but against evil that has tried to oppress women since sin plagued humanity.

It is not that we need men or women to win this theological war, but we do need the whole image of God which is found when males and females operate together – mutually loving and mutually submitting to one another in Christian humility.

I am encouraged as I think back on our historical roots of slavery here in America. At one point in this country, men and women alike justified the evil of owning another human being based off their skin color in the name of the Bible. This lasted for hundreds of years and at the hands of Christian brothers and sisters. How it makes my insides shake just thinking about the endurance of those who walked through such horrors in the name of God.

Can you imagine if churches nowadays held it within their doctrines that black people could only serve in assisting roles in the church? Would we not boycott such establishments, even if they could somehow manipulate the Bible to prove their case?

Yet, the enemy is much more sly about this battle. He has to be. Women recognizing their God-given authority is extremely dangerous to the Kingdom of Darkness.

Complementarian theology focuses on treating women really well and with much “value” but little to no respect. Many would argue with me about that, but I receive emails weekly from ladies who are caught up in both marriages and churches that say they “value” them, but silence their voices, leadership gifts, and attempt to mold their personalities to someone more “biblically suitable.”

It crushes my soul as I read these women’s stories. I want to tell them to run for their lives, but their greatest suppressors are their greatest loves – their husbands and their churches. I know it is not that easy. I know that it is painful. I have been involved in situations like this and there are costs to deciding you have had enough.

So we stay; we accept being treated as inferiors. I mean at least they are teaching our husband’s to man-up, right? But what if this is not enough anymore? What if no one is listening to our voices because we are not bold enough to act?

Another thing that amazes me at Satan’s brilliance is that Complementarian churches often times have the best programs – especially women’s programs! They often offer their ladies wonderful luncheons, amazing pampering, top-notch child care services, and just all around beautiful experiences.

But think about this for a second with me – the reason for this is because the women in these churches are not permitted to do anything else but other things for women and children. Women are the ones creating these beautiful experiences!

Imagine if the women in the church were permitted to operate on all levels of leadership; how exceptional would the whole church function and how many more souls would come to know Christ?

Perhaps you feel that women in church-leadership is not your battle, but it is every Christian’s battle if we believe in the fullness of redemption and that both men and women are called to share the gospel in hopes of Christ’s soon return.

Humor me for a minute; if you just had to think this through without the pull of either doctrinal side, would you really tell a woman who feels called to share the good news by becoming a pastor that she is heading towards bad things? Do you not see how crazy this is? Why are we still blind? Why are we telling women to only preach the good news to other women and children? It makes no sense to limit women in whom they share the Bible with!

We are blind because Satan has made us blind. Let us remove our blindfolds and see the truth. Once we see the truth, lets put our faith to action! If you really beleive what I am saying here then why are we still supporting churches that hold this doctrine? Words are no longer enough because Complementarians are not listening. It is time to lovingly walk away.

If your spouse still wants to support this sort of church, then graciously let him or her. Be your own person and stand up for what is right! Break free today. Shake off the bondage. Run for your life!

If we continue to financially support Complementarian churches and volunteer to operate their programs, we are directly supporting and strengthening patriarchy – the very system that is enslaving girls and women all over the world.

Complementarianism is going down sooner or later because it is not biblical; nor is it part of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. It is time to join the front lines of this battle, refuse to look the other way any longer, and choose to support full equality among men and women in both value and authority. If we don’t, we are choosing to allow patriarchal legalism into our homes, which will ultimately damage our families and our churches.

Words alone are no longer enough; it is time for peaceful protest. 

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  • Well said, Jory. I feel the same way. God, with a divine sense of humor, has put me in a small group with two complementarian couples. What’s amazing to me is that the women are the ones who most strongly defend that position! If a woman does not have leadership or teaching gifts, she would sometimes rather have the men run things so that she doesn’t have to. It baffles me as well. I agree that this is Satan’s subtle way of keeping half the church from full participation and therefore limiting the gospel. I also think that a watching world sees what looks like very old-fashioned sexism, and says, “if that’s what Christianity is about, I’m not interested. Patriarchy and hierarchical practices destroy our witness to unbelievers, both men and women.

    • Keri, thank you for your comment. I too have found that complementarian women tend to fiercely argue for the continuation of patriarchy. Often, they like their comfortable lifestyles and have no desire to lead in the church. Women like you and I need to figure out ways to capture these women’s hearts and it won’t be done by telling them they are wrong. We need to show them the damage that patriarchy has on women and children outside of the USA: the rapes, the torture, the evil. They don’t get it because they have an American perception and they have been taught to see the beauty in patriarchy. And yes, what a terrible witness this is to the world that is watching us!

  • “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” – Max Planck

    When people stop attending and giving money to complementarian churches, they will suddenly “see the light” or shrink and die.

  • I am reminded of a good Christian man named Dr. Hall. He ran the Faith Christian School in east Washington. Dr. Hall has passed away many years ago now. His wife has carried on the school after his death. I am quite certain that Dr. Hall did not want women leaders in the church. He was very respectful around women, but you could physically feel that he believed women were not equals in leadership.

      • She’s very kind. I was going to enroll my kids there, but we moved. Whenever you blog about women not being able to be leaders, it reminds me of him. I gave him quite a terrible time when enrolled there, and I’m sure I’ve got a few dents from getting paddled..repeatedly, for doing everything from out right just being bad to challenging him on a lot of studies.

  • David Instone-Brewer points out that the obedience of slaves and submission of wives is so the advance of the gospel is not hindered; so the APPLICATION of that principle says that when it does hinder such it should be dropped. I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Jory, you speak my language! I can feel your passion, and I am certain that we share the same heartbeat. I did my peaceful protest from my last church by leaving. It was a very strong complementarian based church. My former church claimed that the Gospel unleashed people, but I truly felt as if the women had to wear a spiritual burka. This article encourages me not to settle as my husband and I search for a new church home. Keep fighting the good fight my fellow firecracker…… Lol

  • Actually, there is a way. Bloggers such as yourself should end each blog with a direct challenge to their readers to speak up. I do that, but I am just one blogger with a small readership. I am with you in calling for stronger action. If we don’t do something while the iron is hot, bloggers like you and me will be silenced by the mass of inertia. I challenge you, Jory Micah, to call for action at the end of every one of your blogs and to ask others to do so. I challenge you, readers of this blog, to ask other egalitarian bloggers to do the same thing. Tweet it! Believe it! Do it!

  • Jory, I live in the Austin area and am single. It seems that like women’s programs, all of the churches with substantial singles ministries (typically the evangelical mega-churches) are all comps. One would think that becoming egal would free up singles of both genders to use their gifts more fully. Sadly, many otherwise well-meaning, dedicated, intelligent Christ followers have been blinded to this truth. Until recently I attended one of the aforementioned churches, even becoming engaged to a woman I met in the singles ministry last year. I had been a mild Egalitarian for a few years, but silenced my convictions to try and make those relationships (with the church and my fiancee) work. I got wise and ended the engagement last year and eventually left that church, and came very close to becoming one of the “dones” you hear about, but just this past Easter God led me to a wonderful new Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church very near my home, which values women at all levels of leadership, and has a great female spiritual formation pastor. I do think that one day, hopefully in my lifetime, we will see patriarchy in the same light we now see slavery. Thanks for an excellent article!

    • Thank you for this awesome comment! I lived in Dallas for 4 years and attended The Village (Matt Chandler’s Church) for a year or so while in Bible school. I was sad to find out that they were a comp. church. I am glad that you escaped such oppression and did not marry into such legalism. I am also glad that you have found a church you are free to serve. I beleive we will see a breakthrough in our lifetime. Maybe not a complete breakthrough, but a significant one!

  • Clarke and Jory, I worked for Baptist General Convention of Texas (located in Dallas) for almost 15 years. I know the situation you describe and it is played out all across Texas. I am a member of CBE International and CBE Houston. I contacted Dr. Paige Patterson a few months ago and asked for a few minutes of his time to speak with him. He replied that he was too busy saving souls and didn’t have the time to meet with me. I am very familiar with CBF and am glad for their work, but most churches that are CBF are dually affiliated with SBC, and the SBC DNA overrides CBF. I have written a book that explains how we got in this mess (Paige Patterson was/is a key player), and who keeps us there. I am currently revising it for a second edition.

    • I attend Grace Baptist Church in Round Rock, which has no affiliation with SBC. In fact, one of the items in discussion currently is whether to change the name, as the Baptist moniker could be scaring off some people. Also I think FBC Austin is no longer affiliated with SBC, and another CBF church, Broadway Baptist in Ft. Worth was booted from the SBC because they wouldn’t tow the party line.

      • Very interesting! It seems a lot of Baptists are going “non-denom” in theory, but many are still holding onto their doctrine concerning women. 🙁

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