My Concerns Over Matt & Lauren Chandler’s Up & Coming Marriage Conference #MinglingofSouls

My Concerns Over Matt & Lauren Chandler’s Up & Coming Marriage Conference #MinglingofSouls

Matt Chandler, lead pastor at The [mega] Village Church, along with his wife, Lauren, are currently promoting a marriage conference called “The Mingling of Souls,” which will take place in February of 2016. I have followed Matt’s career since the early 2000s, and, in my opinion, he is one of the best communicators the evangelical church has to offer.

No doubt, this is the reason people flock to his church, located in Flower Mound, TX, and will most likely flock to Matt and Lauren’s up-and-coming marriage conference. Matt’s ability to teach the Bible (as he understands it) is the very reason I drove an hour, Sunday after Sunday, to attend his church when I was a Bible college student in Waxahachie, Texas.

In my early twenties, I believed everything Matt said was truth, because he preaches with strong conviction, and backs up much of what he says with theology, philosophy, sociology, and psychology. Further, Matt is charming, funny, and witty.

The man is brilliant and truly believes that what he is preaching to and about women is God’s Word, which is why I am heavy-hearted about “The Mingling of Souls” marriage conference.

I don’t fear for the “Laurens” in the room (women who hold a similar personality and/or giftings to Matt’s wife). I fear for the “Jorys” in the room. The truth is that Matt and Lauren’s natural personalities just happen to fit the mold of complementarian thought – the theology to which they both subscribe and which they teach to the masses.

Matt is naturally a strong-willed, determined leader, and Lauren is naturally a laid-back, submissive type. Lauren openly admits that submission in marriage comes easy to her in the video below. Around 2:13, Lauren states, “I was great at the submitting part, and partly because Matt is a great leader.”

There is no doubt in my mind that Matt is a great leader and a great husband to Lauren. But there is also no doubt in my mind that the dynamics of their relationship and their personalities are primary reasons for their subscription to complementarianism.

Matt is older than Lauren and the two met at a Christian youth camp in which Lauren was a camper and Matt was the camp speaker (Source). The very foundation of their relationship is a teenage girl, looking up to a young, good-looking, spiritual preacher-man. This happens sometimes, and the two did not date until Lauren was of age, so let’s not accuse them of anything perverse, but let’s be honest here.

Of course, a naturally laid-back woman, who crushed on her husband as her camp pastor when she was still a teenager, would easily embrace complementarianism as “God’s Word” and the correct interpretation of Scripture concerning marriage. Likewise, of course, Matt, being a natural-born leader with a naturally submissive wife, would be highly inspired by complementarianism.

The two naturally fit the complementarian mold of what so-called “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood” look like.

Further, Matt talks about how it is his job, as the “spiritual leader of his home,” to help nourish Lauren’s gifts and abilities (see video above), but Lauren’s gifts and abilities conveniently fall under “approved” gifts and abilities aligned with complementarianism’s definition of biblical womanhood.

Lauren is a beautiful worship leader and writer, as well as a homemaker and mother. I believe that Lauren was born to do these things and that these are genuinely her gifts and abilities. But what about the “Deborahs” who will be attending this marriage conference in February – you know, the female warriors, the judges, the prophets (Judges 4)?

Will the Chandlers ignore the “Deborahs” in the room or explain their leadership gifts away as “God’s second choice and only to be wanted if a man won’t stand up to lead?”

What about the “Junias” who will be attending this conference – you know, the female apostles, preachers, and church leaders of both women and men (Romans 16:7)? Will the Chandlers continue to pretend that God does not call women to be apostles – the highest level of church leadership among early church ministers? Worse, will they decide to believe Junia was actually male and side with sexist Bible translators over the years?

What about the “Jorys” who will be attending this conference – you know, the females who were born with more of a “Matt-like” personality – strong-willed, holding passionate convictions, risk-takers, who do not easily submit to people or ideologies?

Matt and Lauren are open about how the first 6 years of their marriage were very difficult because basically Matt was difficult to live with (Source). I can relate. The first 5 years of my marriage were pretty difficult too, and it was mostly because I was difficult to live with.

Strong leaders are always difficult to live with when they are young and immature, which is why we tend to choose mates who are naturally laid-back, submissive types.

In the video above, Lauren talks about how she had to learn to start speaking up more in her marriage and holding Matt accountable. My husband, Luke, had to do the same thing with me. Strong headed leaders who have sensitive hearts are not easy to confront; especially for non-confrontational personalities.

Luke had to “boil up” and I had to “simmer down.” This had nothing to do with our genders and everything to do with our natural personalities. Just like the Chandlers, we had to learn to become more equal partners and adapt to one another.

The truth is that complementarianism leaves very little room for the strong-willed woman, and I know for sure there will be strong-willed women at the Chandler’s marriage conference. Will they walk out feeling like God “wired” them wrong? Will they think they need to suppress their warrior hearts and leadership gifts? Will they feel they need to be more like Lauren? Will they be frustrated with their husbands for not being more like Matt?

Matt seems to think that men (in general) are not tired enough at the end of the day, and in my opinion he uses shaming techniques to motivate them to be better leaders. Also, in my opinion, Matt preaches a theology to men that is mixed with both grace and legalism (See video below). To be fair, every preacher mixes grace and legalism to some degree because we struggle to understand the grace of God, but Matt appears to be extremely bent towards law and striving when he calls men out.

Will those men attending this conference who are naturally laid-back guys go home feeling God wired them wrong? Will they feel demoted, or will they allow shame to motivate them for a while, only to find themselves back to who they actually are, feeling as if they have disappointed God, their wives, and themselves?

Further, will these men leave feeling confused: are women supposed to teach us or not?

Apparently, the Chandlers have found a loophole in complementarian thought, because Lauren seems to be permitted to teach both men and women as long as Matt is standing by her side. It seems that The Village Church trusts certain women to teach men as long as they have male oversight, making sure the ladies don’t get out of line. It is very difficult to keep up with all the sects of complementarianism because they each make up their own rules as they go.

Any theology that is manmade is always subject to change, because its foundation was never correctly rooted in Scripture in the first place.

The truth is that those of us who study theology and are gifted communicators can find a “biblical” argument for almost anything we want to and convince others to jump on board. This is why we each must read the Bible in proper context (as a complete narrative from beginning to end) for ourselves and be careful not to cherry pick scriptures to fit our personal experiences and preferences.

I think Matt Chandler is a great guy who truly loves Jesus, but has bought into the complementarian lie because it was naturally fitting to his and his wife’s personalities, experiences, gifts, and callings.

Many couples attending “The Mingling of Souls” conference in February will not naturally fit into complementarianism’s very small boxes and narrow definitions of “biblical womanhood” and “biblical manhood,” and I fear they will grow convinced that they must change their personalities and giftings in hope of pleasing God and having a stronger marriage.

The truth is that marriage is challenging and the best thing a man can do for his wife is to allow her to be her true self, even if her true self does not fall under approved complementarian gender roles and giftings. Likewise, the best thing that a woman can do for her husband is to allow him to be his true self, even if his true self does not fall under approved complementarian gender roles and giftings. This is grace without any components of law and is a purer demonstration of agape love.

*** ***

Exegetical Read: Dismantling the Falsity that Complementarianism is “Clearly Biblical”

Dismantling the Falsity that Complementarianism is “Clearly Biblical”

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  • Jory, this is an excellent post. I love, love, love everything you wrote here – excellent points and graciously written.

    • Interesting I can only find one comment that does not agree with your take on the Chandlers…you can blog all you want on them, but the fact is that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors or what is in their hearts and to assume you know is downright prideful. Now where is the sin in that?

      • Hello, thank you for your comments. Just so you know, I think Matt & Lauren both have wonderful hearts. In fact, I was able to have coffee with Lauren just a month ago, and she is a lovely person. It is not their hearts that I disagree with; it is their theology that troubles me.

        God bless.

    • I think you are overthinking this. I appears you are a little offended by approach so you have reached based on assumptions to support your viewpoint. I have been to this seminar and know many people of all types of personalities who said it was valuable. There is a proper order biblically for the man and women. Men should step up to be the spiritual leaders in the home. The issue is many men have failed and the women has been placed in this role due to this failed role of the man. It has nothing to do with being a strong willed women or not. My wife would fall under the strong personality that is much like Matt but she chooses to follow what God has laid out in scripture. Your view seems to be more feminist in nature.

      • Hello Jack, you are certainly welcome to your opinion on what you believe to be biblical, but Scripture never calls husbands “leaders” over their wives.

        The debate is around what the word “head” means in Eph. 5, and I don’t believe it is a command for husbands to “lead;” but rather to, love and sacrifice power and privilege for their wives benefit.

        Love is never about having authority over another person; but rather, using authority or privileges to authorize and empower one who may have less privilege and power than you.

        This is the upside down kingdom principals of Jesus Christ. In Eph. 6, we see Paul tell slaves to submit to their masters, but if slaves would have taken this passage literally in the United States, they would have never been freed from slavery, because it was many Christian who used this Bible verse to keep them enslaved.

        Both slavery and patriarchy are cultural backdrops to the Bible’s message, but Gal. 3:28 is the message of the Bible: “There is no male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile in Jesus Christ. For we are of one Spirit.”

        If you claim that wives have some sort of unique role to submit, than you must also hold to slaves having a unique role to submit, as these are both part of the customs of Paul’s day.

        Here is the truth: Once the Bible told husbands (who were the master’s of their wives in Paul’s day) and masters of slaves to love their wives and slaves as Christ loves us, it was the beginning of ending slavery and patriarchy; because one who loves their wife or slave, will set them free from unequal submission.

        This is not a feminist view; but a biblical view that happens to support feminism as well. God bless your journey!

  • Keep up the good work of fighting for gender equality.

    As you point out, I see that one of the traps of comp teaching is when people happen to fit into comp boxes, they can think they are more spiritual than those that do not, when much of the fitting is simply personality.

  • Great article. I have been a done for almost 10 years, now, I might consider crawling into a back row pew, but only if you are the preacher. God Bless U.

  • Excellent thoughts. As you so graciously stated, leadership personality types can be with both women and men, and neither should be shamed into thinking they have to fit a certain mold. I would love to see a marriage seminar for egalitarians. I feel there are many women and men (including me) who would benefit greatly from it.

  • Such great questions and insights Jory! So many teachers like Matt apparently preach from their own experience. To tell our Own unique stories is blessed but when we export it as “bible teaching “for all I think we miss out on the broad beautiful gifted was of men and women.

  • I am a Leah, 50 years down the road of my marriage. My submission was more of a worship and dependency on a man. At 35 years, something happened that I absolutely could not accept nor follow. The one I worshipped fell off his pedestal. I stood up and when I finally did…the fur did fly. Jory, your encouragement that in marriage we must let each other be real is so spot on. I leaned on a very powerful man and it didn’t help either of us. But God was faithful. He made me stand. We still have major differences and I am still trying to learn how to be authentic, even if it is inside myself. Personalities are so key. I can’t push a string uphill and years of living looking up to a man left a major scar on us both. I would not fit at the Chandler conference. Today I would be thinking of all the people who are not in the comp box…of whom I am one. Keep encouraging us, Jory. Honesty matters.

  • Love this post awesome job as usual. I love the part about what about the Deborah’s or the Lydia’s for that matter thank you for your insight.

  • I fear for the “Lauren’s” and for the “Jory’s” and for all human beings in attendance at this conference who are not categorically made for submission or leadership. I reject that binary categorization and have found in harmful in my own marriage and my own development. The reality is that we all–even the Lauren’s–are created for both submission and leadership and without cultivating both we do damage to our selves and do not offer all our gifts to the world. Thx Jory for alerting people to the harms that this charming man is preaching. I found myself feeling so bad for Lauren repeatedly calling herself a “helper”… she seems like a great person and of course wants to keep fitting into the evangelical tribe she is a part of so is willing to drink the compementarian koolaid… I found Matt’s tone and posture to be jarring and find myself increasingly not able to stomach young guys in the pulpit who have been propped up like he has by evangelicalism to speak like he’s such a big shot. Evangelicals are like little sheep that give these guys way too big of a platform that gets people listening and looking to them and their big shot ideas rather than the Still Small Voice Within. So much of the complementation mindset I see to be linked in with this same powered up view of ministry in general that almost deifies preachers. Thankfully even the Creator of the Universe relates to us in a humble, mutual, and truly relational way rather than this top-down leader/helper mode that so many preachers like this give off. The more I get further away from the evangelical subculture the less I can stomach even little clips like this…

    • “The reality is that we all–even the Lauren’s–are created for both submission and leadership and without cultivating both we do damage to our selves and do not offer all our gifts to the world.”


      It appears in healthy complementarian relationships there really isn’t the hierarchy they claim. That’s why some e.g. Mary Kassian have stated publicly their marriage appears egalitarian to an onlooker. I think this is what you are saying, and I would agree. We all have different strengths and energies to offer and to grow as an individual and a couple we must expend those for the flourishing of the other and the whole.

      I suspect what Lauren is describing (i.e. speaking up where before she wouldn’t to avoid conflict) is actually using her perspective and relationship to influence or what I would call leadership. Of course, hierarchical comps wouldn’t use that language, lest a woman lead a man. I have to wonder if the awkward or labored way in which she describes her transformation to “helper” is because there is a dissonance with the complementarian script and the Chandler’s actual practice.

  • It is curious the exceptions for some women to teach other men. I noticed recently Darrin Patrick’s wife had taught from the pulpit recently on multiple occasions.

    • Yes, I have been confused by this. I am guessing that “it is OK” in some circles if the woman has a “male covering” of some sort. It is all very legalistic.

  • The clip of “calling out the men” paints this picture that I am always annoyed with: the oh-so-important man upon whom everything rests. The woman seems so peripheral in this picture; like nothing is truly “done” until the husband has come home and checked it. The heavy burden of all the important things “rests on his shoulders alone.” It’s a way of making men look so important and vital- a trick to pad the ego. Notice the joke about girls being so difficult to deal with also. Additionally, the first clip equates men with Christ and women with the church- it always annoys me that men get to be the “perfect Christ” and we have to be the “flawed church” who is imperfect and needs help. I think that verse is talking about the way men should love their wives, but is not making a comparison that they must always represent Christ and women must always represent the flawed church. She didn’t clarify that he is not perfect like Christ either, which annoys me, because many women deify their husband’s opinion because they are the “leader” without recognizing that he is not perfect like Christ and can legitimately be wrong.

    • “it always annoys me that men get to be the “perfect Christ” and we have to be the “flawed church” who is imperfect and needs help.” Bingo! The truth is that the bride of Christ (the church) is both male and female Christians.

      • Actually, the Bride is “FLAWLESS” because of her Bridegroom who paid for her cleansing with his own blood! She is both male and female, yes. But the Apostle Paul still points out that God’s design for men and woman in marriage was a sort of “mirror” to reflect the glory of Christ and His blood-bought Bride. We as women are now flawless and washed white in Jesus, our lives should be lived in constant, joyful admiration of our Savior. This would ultimately lead us to lead humble, servant lives because we see our own unworthiness and the great honor we have been given to be part of God’s creation. We no longer need to push our way up to the levels we think we deserve. God has already placed us there in Christ!
        Godly men who have been washed white as well, will not feel the need to push us down. They will grow in the understanding and art of treasuring and honoring their wife and her giftings. But they will also feel a God-given burden to protect and defend women. Knowing that Christ has done the same for them!
        A woman of the Word will not feel the need to assert herself on the same level as a man.
        It also cannot be ignored, that the Devil approached a WOMAN in the first recorded temptation of mankind.
        When God came looking for adam and Eve after they ate of the forbidden fruit, the Lord approached ADAM FIRST and questioned him. He does not let the man or the woman or serpent off the hook. But was it purely accidental that He first calls the man to give account for his actions? God clearly designed His creation with specific roles in mind. These roles are exactly what allows us to experience the beauty of His plan. A man’s responsibility to be the head of his wife does not give the woman an excuse to not lead her own heart in the way of the Lord also. And a woman’s responsibility to accept her husband’s headship does not give the man an excuse to be unChristlike or domineering.
        The struggle becomes real whenever someone becomes insecure in their role! Whether man or woman.
        Personality differences create endless possibilities for God’s gifts to flow through His people, both men and women. There are countless of examples in scripture of Godly women leading in many ways. But this does not change God’s design. And what some may see as inconsistency in the Chandler’s practices may simply be their ability to allow God’s Holy Spirit to flow through the channels of their unique Biblical roles as a man and woman.
        All of us must learn how to grow into using our gifts in GOD’S WAY- whether we are naturally strong personalities or not.
        God sovereignly ordained that the beauty and glory of the gospel would be brilliantly displayed through our distinct maleness and femaleness. We are both on level planes before the Lord in our justification and this calls for a life of endless worship! But to not recognise or acknowledge the incredibly contrasting roles that God gave to husbands and wives as laid out in scripture, would be to deprive the world of one of the most breathtaking visions in the universe: Christ in the flesh and His Flawless Bride.

  • Hi Jory … we really enjoyed your post.

    For thirty-nine years we have humbly walked out our marriage as co-leaders and reciprocal servants. Rather than focusing on roles based on gender; we focus on functions based on the gifts God has given to each of us.

    We base our marriage theology on God’s original marriage design … “in the beginning”. In Eden both the man and woman were given the dominion and procreation mandates. The mutuality principles in Paradise included mutual equality and mutual authority (intrinsically and functionally).

    In the beginning … we find no mention of hierarchy, headship, female subordination, or the husband designated the wife’s leader or spiritual cover. These all came after the Fall.

    Our ongoing desire is to focus on the miracle and mystery of “two becoming one” as we celebrate God’s “naked without shame” description of the first married couple. And when we are occasionally asked; “who wears the pants in your marriage?” We reply that (figuratively speaking) our marriage works best- and is the most joyful- when neither of us wears any pants!

    One suggestion … our sense is investing in the marriage gathering you write about may provide benefits to some couples. That said, Jory would you consider hosting your own marriage gathering? Teach your full functional equality and mutuality principles; and invite couples who could share egalitarian and co-leadership marriage perspectives.

    Warmly/ tim+anne

    • My husband and I would love to host a marriage conference, but truthfully, we do not have the financial backing.

      Your comment “Neither of us wears any pants” made me LOL. 🙂

  • What are your thoughts about men, who are servants in deed, i.e. take care of all the day to day things, which are very appreciated. but as Matt talks about sheparding hearts versus correcting behavior. I don’t think sheparding hearts in purely the husband/father role at all, and I like you am the strong willed one who is naturally a leader married to a more laid back person, who naturally does not engage emotionally or try to press into people’s hearts, including my own. So I am wondering do we just accept that God has wired him this way, or is there a place to challenge growth? I do go to bed exhausted from trying to make sure everyone’s hearts are well, when my own is not. Just really wondering about this. I have pretty much taken the posture of God will need to work this out with him (after many years of pushing and always being the initiator), but wonder what you think the Biblical perspective would be on this? I do understand what you are saying, but wonder if there is a balance between what you are saying and the Chandler’s perspective…… as an FYI I have been married 22 years and kids are 18, 16, 9. Of course that is simplifying everything as well as life experiences influence much of this as you said. We served many years in ministry together, some years very effectively in our giftings and then some when we were trying to fit the ‘mold’ described, not very well, and now are in secular service.

    • That is legit question, Karyn. I think being open and honest and calm with a laid back guy is the best way to go. If you are feeling your heart is not being taken care of, you need to let your husband know and then you need to be very direct about how he can go about fixing the problem. In my experience, most laid back guys simply want peace and are more than willing to change if you ask them to, but you have to tell them exactly what you need them to do. However, change takes years of ongoing communication and is a lot of work and often can be a lot of frustration. This is the agape love part. 🙂

  • Good article on an important subject, thanks for sharing. Interesting what she says about personalities / ‘the truth is that Matt and Lauren’s natural personalities just happen to fit the mold of complementarian thought – the theology to which they both subscribe and which they teach to the masses.’ I have often observed this. There is a tendency to choose a theological position which fits neatly with who we have chosen as a partner and how we relate to one another. I think the male/female stereotypes and the idea of strong personalities is only part of it though. For me it’s mainly about gifts rather than personality. If a woman has leadership gifts they should be welcomed and encouraged. The challenge comes to gifted male leaders of churches like this one to embrace women who are different from their own wife. This is quite rare.

  • I echo what Tim and Anne Evans say – Jory would you consider hosting your own marriage gathering? Teach your full functional equality and mutuality principles; and invite couples who could share egalitarian and co-leadership marriage perspectives.

    • Yes Debra. I would love to do this, but I don’t have financial backing right now. God will provide in the right time I believe. 🙂

  • That video….ugh. No one should have to be exhausted every day. It isn’t healthy. It leads to burn out and stress related illnesses. It damages relationships. It makes you struggle in your job. It hurts your ability to be patient and empathetic. Our culture needs to stop worshiping exhaustion. Exhaustion is not now, nor has it ever been, a virtue.

  • Well said. I agree we need to broaden the scope of consideration to those of us who are gifted in different ways. We are personalities, unique as God has formed us, and our job is to surrender to His hand in guiding our paths, whatever that may be within the context of sound theological and spirituallty formative teachings that are rooted in LOVE. LOVE = GOD

  • I really enjoyed this post. I did want to also point out that there are women, like myself, that perhaps don’t naturally “think” of themselves as leaders, but are called by God to lead and to pastor. I am a pastor and I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would “fit” the stereotypical profile of a pastor. I’m also pretty laid back and tend to defer first to other people’s opinions and voices. (Although as part of my healing process, I am learning now to value my own as well!) I’m realizing more and more that I do have inherent leadership traits, but due to some childhood wounds and cultural conditioning I wasn’t able to support or nurture these traits — until now.
    So I think that there is a third group of women, or maybe a fourth or fifth, that might relate more to Lauren’s personality, but have the calling on their lives to lead a church like a Jory. 🙂 This of course has ramifications for a marriage as well, since neither partner should be the “leader” of another simply because of their “biblical role” or even personality. Each spouse should be free to be his or herself and look to Jesus to lead them in their marriage.

    • Summer, you said in the end of your comment there that, “neither partner should be leader of another simply because of their biblical role or even personality.” Do you have scripture to back this statement up? I get alarmed when people use revelation over scripture to validate such thoughts.

    • Summer, you are so right. We are all so unique and sometimes God calls people to be leaders who we would never expect. So cool you are a pastor! 🙂

  • I am flabbergasted at the amount of people willing to support egalitarianism without proper context to scripture. My wife has no such personality as Lauren or any “submissive” lady. She is as independent as they come. But because she would like a stable household and because I am an actual man, she knows that while we both talk about decisions, mutual submission is impossible, better yet, it doesn’t exist. This article made me sad, because no scripture was used to validate the argument. The only type of people who preach egalitarianism are the ones who have never met a real man before.

    • This is so far from true, it is sad Lee. My husband, Luke, is an awesome man and we have a happy and stable marriage. We submit to one another and lead one another. Sometimes he has the final say and sometimes I have the final say. If you are looking for scriptural backing, please feel free to read my master’s thesis:

    • Lee, I would respectfully disagree with your assertions that “mutual submission is impossible…doesn’t exist” and that “The only type of people who preach egalitarianism are the ones who have never met a real man before.” I am a lady who, like your wife, is as independent as they come, and am grateful to be married to a real man who is (honestly) much better at the mutual submission thing than I am–although we are both committed to putting the other person’s needs ahead of our own! He’s a true spiritual leader, in our home and in our church, and he inspires me every day with his servant-hearted leadership. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He is a former athlete who could very easily be strutting around in life getting his needs met constantly, but he has consistently chosen the needs of our family, and the needs of people who get forgotten over his own. I will admit that practicing mutual submission is HARD, and not always perfect, and yes, sometimes, someone doesn’t get their way. But, when both partners in a marriage are committed to Christ’s way first, and when you try to love each other the way Christ loved the church, it IS possible, and in fact does exist!

  • My husband’s personality and my personality are as “non-complementarian” as they come. I spent five years as a single mother and married a wonderful man. Our Biblical worldview dictates our lives, however, and not our personalities. We want to display the Gospel with our marriage as Scripture demonstrates. While it is a struggle, at times, to serve one another in our Biblical roles, it is an honor and a blessing to do so. Scripture should determine our behaviors and our view of society and the world around us, not the other way around. My personality does not trump God’s design.

    • Your design is beautiful as is, and you can stop striving to fit a gender role that is not even biblical. I encourage you to find your identity in Christ alone and not in complementarian gender roles. There is a better way in Christ, Gina. I hope you find freedom. I really do. Please do more research and dig deeper into the Bible. The Junia Project or Christians for Biblical Equality are great resources and are conservative (as I am) in the fact that we believe the Bible to have the final authority on all matters. God bless. 🙂

      • With all do respect, Jory, I never said that I find my identity in complementarianism, or that it has become an idol for me. I’ve found freedom and true lasting joy in Christ. Which is why it brings me greater joy to honor him through my marriage. I don’t behave a certain way in order to gain favor with God, as I know that is not possible. I’ve only been redeemed and saved through the work of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection. But because he first loved me, I love him and love to use my life to point others to him. In our marriage we strive, albeit imperfectly, to display Christ and his church, as is written in Scripture. This is absolutely Biblical. I pray that the Lord reveals to you through Scripture the beauty of His design and how we were designed to live before sin broke everything.

  • My experience with complementarianism is that it has really helped a lot of guys grow up and become responsible and love their wives. And I have also seen it be a burden that causes a lot of confusion for newlyweds. So I see some good and bad in it.

    I would say that my marriage is more naturally egalitarian but things have seemed to changed over the years. My wife is more of a natural leader but in the past few years something has shifted and I seem to be taking the lead more. It has been an interesting journey. Overall, I think what is really important is loving self-sacrifice . . . living for the flourishing of the other.

    On another note, I was wondering how an egalitarian would approach teaching the Song of Solomon. That book seems to be an important one for complementarians. Would an egalitarian basically say that Song of Solomon was written into a patriarchal society and since we now live in an egalitarian society the roles of man and woman pictured in the Song of Solomon are interchangeable, i.e. both the man and woman should be equally initiating, pursuing, loving one another?

    • “Overall, I think what is really important is loving self-sacrifice . . . living for the flourishing of the other.” I agree with this statement.

      As for the Song of Solomon, I read a man and woman pursuing each other. Can you point on the exact verses you are referring to?

      • My question was more about how an egalitarian might approach the book from a hermeneutical/meta-narrative/presuppositional perspective. It’s not really about a single verse or passage. I would probably learn best if I could read an egalitarian interpretation of Song of Solomon. Do you know any egalitarian interpretations of Song of Solomon? Then I could compare that to Chandler’s Mingling of Souls. Thanks!

        • Complementarian pastors I have read and heard interestingly acknowledge the female takes most of the initiative in SOS (of course they wouldn’t say lead), and because sex is involved they teach it is permissible for wives to lead, hmm, initiate, in his sphere.

          • Yeah, it’s interesting to me that complementarians don’t shy away from Song of Solomon because there is so much reciprocity in the book. I guess it technically doesn’t prove much for either egals or comps since it doesn’t address the issue of roles or headship and it was written from a patriarchial perspective. From what I understand of comps, they don’t object to woman leading or men submitting at times as long as there is an understanding of the man having a positional authority. That seems to be the crux of the issue because most comps acknowledge some level of mutual love and mutual submission in male-female relationships at home and in the church.

          • Right, several leading complementarians, e.g. Mary Kassian who claims to have helped coin the term, acknowledge their marriages appear egalitarian. If there is no practical difference in marriage, then is it not only theory? However for too many, complementarianism is more than theory with unhelpful and unnecessary, even at times harmful implications.

          • Good points. The whole debate is pretty confusing with all of the emotions and individual experiences involved.

            I would agree that complementarianism can be unhelpful and harmful, but, at the same time, I have also seen it be a blessing to many marriages. I guess I think it can be a beautiful picture of love when a man treasures and provides for and protects his wife and family. Maybe I’m just old school on that issue and maybe that isn’t the only picture of what a marriage should look like, but I would like it to at least be on the table as a respectable option.

          • Brad – what makes complementarianism NOT a respectable option is their refusal to allow women to be lead pastors and elders, etc… As long as they see marriage as they do, they will not allow women to use their spiritual gifts if those gifts mean leading men.

          • It seemed like you were saying that comp is a respectable option for some – like the Matts and Laurens. And it seemed like your heart was to show that there is another option for those who don’t fit the comp mold – not that you wanted to discourage people from Matt’s teaching. Did I miss something?

          • Brad, a husband loving by treasuring, providing and protecting his wife and family is not exclusive to hierarchical complementaranism. Non-hiearchical marriages possess those same qualities without transferring or diminishing the autonomy or responsibility of the wife. Mutualisits also believe providing and protecting take many forms, not just bringing home a paycheck or checking on a noise at 2am. My husband and I thank each other regularly for the loved expressed through provision and protection in varied forms. I believe this is the more respectable and evangelistic option in our culture.

          • Gotcha . . . I wasn’t saying anything about egal marriages. I was just trying to say that hiearchical marriages (to use your term) can look beautiful too. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but for some – like a Matt and Lauren Chandler as Jory pointed out – it can be a beautiful thing. I’d say my marriage started of egalitarian but has naturally moved more complementarian, which has surprised both of us. Though, I know for others it has gone the other way.

          • Brad, can you help me understand? How is your marriage specifically distinguished now from your earlier egalitarian marriage? What now makes it distinctively complementarian as opposed to your earlier egalitarian one or my non-hierarchical marriage which is characterized by mutual love and respect.

            I have enjoyed your respectful dialogue.

          • Good question! When I think of our marriage being egalitarian I meant that we didn’t really have any specific roles and we operated more out of our gifts than roles. We both worked and provided financially, we both cleaned the house together, we cooked together, my wife was a stronger leader and decision maker so she had the final say in things because she was more confident and decisive. Sometimes I did the shopping, sometimes she did. Another interesting thing was that she would often use her maiden name instead of my last name in conversation. As the years have gone by I think we definitely have more defined roles and we operate less out of our gifts. I’m probably the more natural homemaker and she has the potential to make more money than I do. But she stays home with the kids full time and I pay all the bills. I have become more of the leader and initiator of what I want our family to be. And I have grown in confidence and decision making and she has enjoyed submitting and following in different ways. Those are the types of things I was thinking about when I said that we have moved more to the complementarian way. I’d say it has been good for both of us – I think I have grown up a lot in terms of taking responsibility and this has given me more confidence and purpose in life. And I think that my wife feels more treasured and unburdened by life. These changes weren’t based on any theological commitment or even really a conscious choice; we just kind of grew into them out of living life together and trying to love and serve one another the best we could. When I think of marriage now I think of it kind of like a dance. We like to salsa and merengue dance and its beautiful because we respond to one another almost without thinking about it, but the man has a slight and subtle position of leadership. Hope that helps!

          • Maturing and assuming responsibility is always beneficial to our loved ones and our relationships. I happen to believe, however, men can assume responsibility without conferring or presuming a higher rank or stripping their most intimate companion of autonomy and responsibility which is what complementarianism teaches. I’m not saying this has happened in your case as you say your marriage evolution was not based on any theological commitment or a conscious choice.

            I suspect in the “dance” of your marriage, you do not always have the benefit of facing forward to a choreographed routine. I suspect when life gets out of step with the routine your wife because of her perspective, wisdom, gifts, or experience likely has the slight and subtle position of what you call leadership. I wish you and yours all the best in the New Year.

          • Yeah, life does change how we dance! I’m thinking the main thing you and I differ on is that a higher rank equals some kind of superiority. In our egalitarian years, I didn’t feel less than or without a sense of autonomy or responsibility. And I don’t think my wife feels less than or without a sense of autonomy or responsibility now that she would look to me as the “leader.” So I guess I can see how hierarchy doesn’t always mean that one person is superior and robs the other of autonomy and responsibility. But, who knows, maybe one day my wife and I will arrive at a point where there is literally no hierarchy in our marriage! In the meantime, I am thankful for what I have learned from both gals and comps! Take care.

      • It is interesting to me that the Song of Solomon was written from a patriarchal perspective and in a patriarchal culture. In other words, it is patriarchal literature . . . it is what patriarchal love looks like. I think that is what is so surprising to me. So I guess that is why comps can feel at home teaching it.

  • My husband and I attended at Family Life “Weekend to Remember” conference, which had a distinct complementarian bent. It was such an unpleasant experience for me…a weekend I remember, to be sure…I remember my frustration and tears and feeling like I didn’t fit into that mold at all! They even invite you to renew your vows on the last day, and the wives’ vows make promises to submit to the husband, but not the other way around. I had to tell my husband that I was just going to stick to our original wedding vows, and disregard the ones I said at the conference, with no foreknowledge of what I would be promising.

  • Oh – I figured you would be upset about the unscriptural idea of “mingling souls.” Jesus was pretty explicit that there is no such thing (Matt 22:30, for instance), and it’s a heresy leaned on heavily by the Mormon church.

    At any rate, based on your article, I’m guessing Peter’s description of wives as “weaker vessels” is pretty troubling too. If you don’t understand that marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ’s headship over the Church (Eph 5) you will assume that anything that speaks of a husband’s headship over his wife is something to run from.

    I would respectfully suggest Emerson Eggerich’s “Love and Respect” book to understand what the Bible is saying about headship and followership in marriage.

  • Thank you for this Jory. I think that we don’t readily admit how much of our theology is down to our personality. It’s easy for the Chandlers to espouse a theology that suits their natural personalities.
    If we believe that the Gospel is for everyone then our reading needs to apply to the Jorys and Katies!

  • there is so much useful in this post -thank you! it bothers me that women need to follow men because they (the men) are emulating Jesus. How can you follow someone you can’t see if you can’t follow the person in front of you? well the thing is -the husband isn’t actually Jesus – isn’t gifted with omniscient wisdom, perfect love, etc -and sometimes in some areas of life they have shown themselves untrustworthy. When they talk about forgiveness -they often give the example – if your church treasurer steals from your church, do you forgive them, of course, do you make them treasurer again, not so much

    • Yes, Gale, complementarians pressure men to BE Jesus (not simply be LIKE Jesus). It is a very dangerous doctrine for both men and women. In some cases, it turns into idolatry.

      • Aaron’s reply to me is exactly why I shared this post -and why I hope more people write versions of it. ‘3 Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. — so if your husband doesn’t manage money well -you should continue to let him manage the money and he will be won over when you are homeless apparently.

    • You don’t submit to your husband because the husband is perfect like Christ… Scripture is quite clear that all have fallen short of the glory of God. You also dont submit to your husband because of the idea that “he is better than you”. He’s note. You follow a husband because that is the command God gave wives (2 Timothy). Any inability to do this is not due to the imperfections of your husband, but rather due to the lack of faith or the over abundance of pride or selfish ambition found in a woman to persue her own needs/desires over God’s natural order (Genesis 1-2) and commands.

      Wives with unbelieving/ungodly husbands? Read 1 Peter 3… The answers are in God’s Word… If it is truth you want, that is were you will find it.

  • Submission to your husband or men of the church is not a “gift”… It is a choice… And a command given by God. (Read Timothy 2)

    You don’t submit to a husband because he is “better than you”… You submit because you serve a great and perfect God who created a natural order (Genesis 1-2).

    You say you shouldn’t do things that don’t fit your personality, but how far does that argument go? What if Moses refused to lead God’s people out of Egypt because that wasn’t his personality type? The fact is, it’s not about doing what suits your interests, personality, or even giftings… It’s about serving and obeying God as you follow HIS will… Not your own.

    You tell us not to “cherry-pick” scriptures yet that is exactly what you do in this article… You even misreference it. Romans 16:7… It translates to saying Junia was “well known” and “respected” by the apostles. It does not say that she was a pastor, apostle, or a leader of men. Yes, a woman can be respected in the church and not be a pastor. Be careful when you misreference scripture as you will be held accountable for these misteachings. (Galatians 1)

    As a man, I fear I will get backlash for this but understand that it is not a personal agenda to “portray a doninance of gender”. I seek to follow God’s word as a man as well… To lead my family and my church with a self sacrificing love… To die for my wife and kids (to put their needs ahead of my own) as Christ died for the church. Understand that men will be held accountable for their leadership in the family and in the church (1 Corinthians 11; Ephesians 5) so it IS important that men take their leadership seriously and women support that. Men need to stand up and be the Godly leaders of the home and church as God has commanded then to be… And women need to support those husbands and church leaders and fulfill God’s callings and commands as well. One role is not greater than the other… They are both of equal value and important to God’s kingdom.

    Seek God’s will over your own. Rely on Him and His Word for clarity and direction. Not on the social agenda’s of the world.

    • I just wanted to point out that regarding Junia, the passage says that she is respected AMONG the apostles. That word difference is pretty big. I’ve read some writers who try to dismiss her as saying that she lived among the apostles and was respected by them… but that is simply not what the next says, nor is it logical. If someone introduces me as, “Dalaina, respected among the Tuesday Moms Play Group,” it’s going to be assumed (rightfully) that I am a member of that play group. Junia is worth putting more study into because if she is an apostle and Priscilla was a teacher and Phoebe was a deacon and Mary was an evangelist, Philip’s Daughters were prophets… what exactly were the male-only leadership roles supposed to be again? 🙂

  • The only real path to sorting this subject out is Bible study, but it has to be study that follows certain rules — not projecting “local cultural issues/conditions” into every passage that teaches male leadership, not ranting about the evils of secularism in reaction to verses that talk about female giftedness or core areas of equality.

  • Jory –

    I think you are correct in noting that, for some marriage partnerships, the male as main leader is easier. I am egalitarian, but also recognize that, in general, my wife defaults to me as the leader. Sometimes I’ve not been a good leader, but a forceful one. Still I do believe my wife, as a more quiet & gentle soul, defaults to me to lead. However, that’s not the reality with all couples – so to force it can be, or is, problematic – as you note.

    My only comment would be that you are lamenting the Jory’s, Junia’s, and Deborah’s that might be attending this conference. However, people know where Matt (and his wife) land on the issues. So I am imagining very few, if any really, strong women leaders will be attending the conference. Of course, there might be a few couples/women there. So the concern can be real, but it would be minuscule in many ways. No?

    • My concern is more so younger women in their twenties and early thirties who are trying to figure out how to be a godly woman. As I stated, at one point, I, a very strong willed leader type, thought everything Matt said was true. Also, several women have emailed me from Matt’s church who have finally woke up and are very hurt by how they were treated as women in these comp. circles. I am helping women find a way out who want or need out. 🙂

      • I see what you’re saying. I imagined it would predominantly involve those who already agree with Matt. But I guess you can agree with unhealthy teaching and not realize it. That seems to be your testimony of the past. I’m sure you’re providing some good encouragement to these younger ladies.

    • Not necessarily. So many of us women today were raised in conservative Christian homes and married conservative Christian men, and we’ve spent literally years going to conservative Christian conferences and meetings. I cannot even tell you the scores upon scores of such gatherings I have attended through the years, and there are uncountable women like me at every single one of them.

      It is not uncommon to have strong women with leadership abilities attending these conferences. Indeed, it is so common I would be shocked to ever attend a gathering that *didn’t* have a great many such women in attendance. We have all learned our place well, until our journey brings us to awakening into whatever it is God has for us to do.

  • “…in my opinion, Matt preaches a theology to men that is mixed with both grace and legalism (See video below). To be fair, every preacher mixes grace and legalism to some degree because we struggle to understand the grace of God, but Matt appears to be extremely bent towards law and striving when he calls men out.”

    This preacher criticises men for not being tired at the end of the day, but as a Christian man what wearies me is this kind of psychological approach to the Christian faith. In my view it’s a substitute for the grace of God. What is really troubling is why we (men and women) need to be taught in this way. Can’t we have our own walk with God, living in His grace, and work out our own salvation? I don’t need to try to be a man, or try to fulfil some kind of psychological programme in order to convince myself that I am “living biblically”. To my mind this is self-indulgence. To be a true man or woman of God requires taking our eyes of ourselves, and looking to God, and then courageously looking to the needs of our fellow human beings.

    I must admit that I am quite disillusioned with organised Christianity at the moment. I have seen how damaging this introspective psychological approach can be. I resent any man telling me how I am supposed to prove myself to be a proper Christian man. I regard such a person with extreme scepticism, because his attitude is offensive and presumptuous. My affirmation as a man comes from God through His grace alone. Anything else is counterfeit and of the world.

    • I don’t think you are alone. My friend, Nate Pyle wrote a book called “Man Enough.” You should check it out. You may think like he does. 🙂

  • It’s a proactive move. If they can get the buy-in up front from more women, there will be less push back, backlash, and media exposure in the future regarding grievously mishandled marital issues within their type of church.

  • I appreciate that young women like you are speaking out against this legalistic approach to women in leadership and marriage. I have been a “Deborah” many times and I am anything, but laid back though age and wisdom have taught me which windmills to tilt at. Have you heard of or read Dr. Craig Keener’s book, “Paul, Women and Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul”? It is an excellent (and very in-depth) study of female roles and what Paul meant and likely intended. I highly recommend it!

  • Thank you for sharing this. My personality is similar to yours and for years I struggled in the church, feeling like I was a square peg trying to fit into a circle hole. I have been described as strong willed forever and wondered how in the world this would ever be in line with the submissive, meek/gentle, quiet ideal Christian woman I often saw presented. I was so thankful that God brought my husband (who can also be strong willed) as he was not afraid of my strength–in fact it attracted him! : ) A part of me I thought I needed to change was really just part of my personality and it was not just accepted but admired. I could relax, I could be me, there was freedom and love there. When believers take their journey or their personality and project it as “the godly” or “the biblical” way, so many people can feel like they’ll never measure up, they feel shame about aspects of their personality or journey that could be the very things God could use to impact the world in huge ways (this is also seen in how to date, how to parent, how to seek/experience God, etc). I love when preachers and teachers not only teach the Word and practical ways to apply it, while avoiding prescribing “their way” that can fall into preference or personality. This takes humility, wisdom, patience, and openness. And I loved the end of your article where you encourage us to love our spouses….their “true self” instead of striving for some prescribed stereotype. What a breath of fresh air!!!!!

  • Tragically, what typically happens in these situations (where women spend years being taught that their God-given personalities are wrong if they’re not naturally laid-back and submissive) is that eventually, after years of struggle, they decide they are just going to be who they are — and this forces them to abandon the church, which condemns them and doesn’t allow them to be who God made them to be.

    They may not want to abandon church or God. But these teachings leave them no alternative. They have fully learned that God and the church don’t like them the way they are and that they’re wrong and sinful for trying to live out non-submissive, non-traditional gifts and callings. These erroneous teachings on complementarianism force them to choose between church/God on one hand, and what the true God has actually wrought in their lives. This is tragic.

    Even more tragic are the cases I see where women, after years of struggle, succeed in fully subsuming what God has created and made. They never recover. They never regain a healthy sense of identity again. That is even more tragic.

    • Terri, I am afraid you are right. It breaks my heart how many women are leaving the Church and even God because they have grown convinced the two are sexist. Then many comps chalk it up to, “Those women just don’t want to submit” or “they are rebellious” only deepening the wounds.

  • I read your thesis and found it very Biblical and interesting. I am a Junia who went to seminary in the seventies and fought the complementarians theology when it was unheard of a woman in leadership. I have spent thirty six years of my life as a missionary and as a Biblical Feminist. It is refreshing to see more and more women recognizing the passion and the gifts that God gave them.

    • Yay!!!! You go Jory. Let us know how it goes. Praying that the voices for those Deborah’s, Jory’s, Dana’s, and Junia’s will be heard and given a space at the conference for all to hear.

    • Why would you believe Lauren thinks for herself? If she admitted publicly that she thinks different from what her husband teaches the house of cards would crumble, perhaps even financially, from which she benefits. Never forget this brand of celebrity xtian it is also a business of branding and image.

  • As a young minister who doesn’t quite fit the mold of typical Evangelical/complimentarian man, with a fiancée who is also more leadership-driven than this theological “ideal,” I’ll be interested to attend this conference and find out first hand about some of these issues!

  • As a woman who is more reserved and laid-back, I find complementarian teachings to be harmful not only because they stifle women with natural leadership abilities, but because it denies the humanity of women in general. I grew up in a complementarian church, and I watched as women’s contributions and talents were cast aside and seen as less important than men. That hurt my self-esteem as a woman, and to this day I have difficulty voicing my opinion when I want to. In addition, I am not a homemaker, I want to have a career and be successful in my profession. Complementarianism denied me this, too, and caused a lot of congitive dissonance in me growing up. Complementarianism hurts ALL women.

    Also, I agree that the Chandlers subscribe to this view because it fits with their personalities, but I also believe that Matt uses it as a way for men to maintain power through patriarchy. Men like him in the Church are misogynists, plain and simple. They fear women, and therefore hate them, and fight to keep them subdued.

    I would also like to point out that complementarianism ignores and denies non-heterosexual unions, making it not only misogynistic but heterosexist. It hurts individuals like myself who are not heterosexual by rendering them invisible.

    • I am sorry for all you have been through Vicki. I agree that all women are in harm (and really a lot of men too) under the teachings of complementarianism.

    • @ Vicki.
      I’d also add that as gender complementarianism fixates a whole lot on marriage, it has little to nothing to say to or about single, celibate, childfree adults (whether they are heterosexual, or whatever sexual orientation).

      Other than bloviating on “no women preachers ever,” their next biggest fixation is on married mothers specifically.

      Even women who are married but childless (due to being infertile or whatever other reason) sometimes feel overlooked in gender complementarian settings (I’ve read them say so on other blogs before).

      I have noticed that gender complementarians set up all sorts of rules, and write many blog posts and books, talking about what married mothers may or may not do, or how such a women ought to best submit to her spouse, or what have you, but these folks almost never opine about single, celibate, childless adults.

      Complementarians tend to assume that all or most women go on to marry and have children – or that most women want to marry and/or have children.

      Or, conversely, in the case of someone like myself (a woman who wanted to marry), they will often insultingly assume that someone like myself intentionally avoided marriage because I (or we) hate all men, or I (we) hate marriage, or I (or women like me) value career over marriage.

      The simple truth is the biggest reason I never married is that I never happened to find an eligible Christian single man to marry.

  • I’d be more concerned for the ‘Laurens’, the laid-back and naturally more ‘submissive’ women, who are indoctrinated to always defer to the man and to rely on his judgement – thus ignoring their own discernment and responsibility. They neglect their own need for growth in this area and are dependent on their spouse, instead of depending on their God. What happens then if she is, God forbid, widowed, or worse, abandoned? Then she’ll finally have to learn to be the responsible one, the adult.

    Yes, this is how things have been in many cultures all throughout human history, but even in the tribal pre-Christ Israel, a capable woman was seen as an asset, not as a threat (Abigail, anyone?) .. There are times to stand up agaist male foolhardiness, and if women don’t do it… who will?
    More often than not, women will have to clean up the mess after their men. . .
    Mutual responsibility and accountability are what churches should emphasize, instead this crazy ‘male headship’ and ‘female submission’.

    • @NGal
      I’ll try not to go into a lot of detail here, but I do relate to what you wrote.

      I was born with a fearful, insecure- like personality. I remember being very shy and soft spoken as a toddler, and that stuck with me as I got older.

      Rather than teach and encourage me to take risks, be bolder, etc (which is what I wish my parents and Christian teaching had done), I was, rather, encouraged to be even more quiet, passive, docile, non-confrontational and shy under gender complementarianism.
      I come from a gender complementarian family, and they used to take me to gender complementarian type churches. Being brought up that way caused me to be very passive and a doormat.

      Growing up in that context, I got the message from Christian gender complementarian teachings (in churches we went to, from my parents, from Christian magazines and books) that it was wrong or unladylike for girls or women to be assertive, direct, to disagree with people.

      I was taught it was wrong for me to ever put my own needs first (I was always to put others first all the time), I was taught that my feelings do not matter, and that I should just sit back and take emotional and verbal abuse off anyone and everyone. This really created problems for me later in life (and still does).

      Gender complementarianism absolutely infantilizes women and does not adequately prepare them for adulthood or how to deal with conflict.
      There’s probably a lot more I could say about these subjects, but I’ll try to end it here.

      • Your experience Christianpundit nails it. I am sorry for the way you and many others were raised… 🙁
        May God give us the encouragement and support we did not have in our growing-up years, and teach us how to speak up for what is right.

        On the other hand, coming from a culture where women are seen as very capable / responsible, and where the expectation often is that women ‘do it all’ while men just tag along… I understand that there is a need to tell men they need to become active too and stop being ‘lazy bums’. What I’m talking about is less a personality issue, but a cultural problem – men are very passive, which is not healthy either. Many capable, strong women are burned out and stressed, because they are often left to handle things and bear the burden by themselves – be it in a marriage, family or church, there should be equal responsibility and sharing, not just one party doing it all.

        • @NGal.
          I agree with you here too. I was engaged to a guy for a few years who was very irresponsible.

          I was the responsible one. He was always late on apartment rent or other payments, so I was sometimes paying off his debts and bills. He always promised to pay me back but did not.

          I do see a need for some men – who are lazy and passive – to be told to get off their behinds and get with the program.

          In my case with my ex, not only was I the responsible one and fixing a lot of his problems for him, but due to my passive nature (which was further instilled by my Christian parents and the gender complementarianism I was brought up in), I was unable to say “no” to my ex.

          I very badly wanted to refuse to loan him anymore money, but I was taught that saying no and refusing requests is a selfish thing for Christians (especially ladies) to do. So, I felt as though I had no choice but to continue to allow my ex to financially exploit me. I didn’t know how I could refuse him, or even if it would be “nice” or “biblical” to do so. Therefore, the guy kept taking hundreds and thousands of dollars off me over the years.

          I’ve seen similar play out with my sister. I’m not sure if the “be a passive doormat” messages we got from our parents and church took as root deeply in her as they did in me, but she has been with a string of husbands and boyfriends who are lazy and mooch off her, and she basically put up with it.

          Her longest boyfriend rarely held jobs, so she had to pay all bills for the both of them, and he would not do housework, either, even though he was at home all day while she was at work.

          So I have seen situations (including one of my own) where in some regards, the woman is the stronger one, who does most of the work in the relationship, while the man coasts off the efforts of the woman. I do agree with you there, that is also a problem.

          You said, “On the other hand, coming from a culture where women are seen as very capable / responsible, and where the expectation often is that women ‘do it all’ while men just tag along…”

          In Christian culture that pushes gender complementarianism, you know where I think the parallel is? Christians (at least the gender comps) teach that the woman is to be the ‘help meet’ to the man.

          Gender complementarians sort of teach that the woman is there to meet all the needs of the man, to always put him first, and to disregard her own goals in life, her own dreams, her own wants and needs.

          That sort of played into my relationship where my ex was taking advantage of me financially. I thought I was being the good, supportive, Christian girl friend by paying his bills for him, etc.

          Gender complementarians often teach that the man is to be the ‘strong one’ who financially supports the woman, but I’ve seen so many cases where the opposite turns out to be true:
          The man often mooches and leeches off the woman financially and/or emotionally) and doesn’t meet her needs.
          And gender comp teaches women that being taken advantage of by men is God’s intent and design for women, that women are here to be supports for men.

          • That is so true… Most men I have known in churches, leech off the women at least emotionally 🙁
            May God protect us from the energy stealers and send godly, giving and kind men into our lives for mutually respectful relationships!

  • You are aware that Matt’s theology led to the Karen Hinckley situation? Expecting her to remain married to a missionary pedophile con man?

  • Do you believe in total depravity? We should feel shame if we didn’t give our all for God throughout the day. I think you have some valid concerns but didn’t back any of it up with scripture.

    • I used to believe in total depravity, but that is because that is what I was taught. Now, I need to go back and study the Bible on this subject. I don’t believe there is any shame or condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1).

      As for backing up my concerns over complementarianism with scripture, please see my most recent blog post

      God Bless, Drew!

      • This is one of the best articles I’ve read on Biblical submission. It’s by a woman named Christina Fox.

        Have you ever played one of those word association games where someone says a word and you say the first thing that comes to mind? Well, what’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word submission? Is it positive or negative?

        In our culture, submission is a word that often incites controversy.

        I believe one of the main reasons for this strong emotive response is what people think of when they hear the word submission. For many, the first things that come to mind are words such as inferior, doormat, or controlled. I know that response well. For me, the word submission once conjured up negative memories from my childhood of put downs, anger, threats, rejection, and fear.

        I viewed the call for wives to submit to their husbands solely through the lens of my personal experiences. In fact, upon leaving home and attending college, I feared men and even the idea of marriage. I vowed to never find myself in a place where I was belittled, pushed around, or threatened. As a result, when I first met my husband-to-be in college, my heart was skittish and resistant. I panicked at the thought of reliving my childhood experience all over again.

        In my journey to understand the biblical call of submission in marriage, I’ve had to travel far. I’ve had to go back into my past and revisit painful memories. I’ve had to study God’s Word and seek wise counsel. I’ve had to look back to the cross and then forward to my own marriage. Though it’s been a long journey, it’s been a good one. Now when I hear the word submission, my first thoughts are not fear or threats, but beauty and grace.

        Does that sound strange to you? Maybe it does, but stick with me. I hope to explain how biblical submission is beautiful. And in order to understand God’s call for wives to submit to their husbands, we need to explore and understand what submission is and what it’s not.

        Understanding Christian submission

        First, submission in Scripture is not isolated to wives. It’s something Christ did when he yielded to the will of the Father to lay down his life for us. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Submission is something all Christians are called to do. For example, we are all called to submit to the governing authorities (1 Peter 2:13–17). Children are to obey their parents (Colossians 3:20). And in the body of Christ, believers are to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).

        Then there are a handful of key passages in Scripture where we see the specific call for wives to submit to their husbands: Ephesians 5:21–33, Colossians 3:18–19, Titus 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:1–7. When we read these passages, it’s important that we have a proper definition of what the word submission means in the context of Christian marriage. John Piper defines submission as “the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It’s the disposition to follow a husband’s authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership.”

        Let’s use that definition as we explore further what this call to submission is all about. Ephesians 5 contains a lengthy description of the marriage relationship. Here Paul instructs husbands and wives in their unique roles in marriage:

        Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

        Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:22–28)

        Paul shows us that the purpose of marriage is to reflect the gospel. A husband’s call to lead and a wife’s call to submit reflect the relationship between Christ and the church. The unique roles that men and women have in marriage serve as a living message of the gospel. The husband models the love that Jesus portrayed in laying down his life for the church. And a wife then models the church’s submission to her Bridegroom — the church’s trust and respect.

        As a wife yields to her husband’s leadership in their marriage, she reflects the heart of faith that characterizes Jesus’s people. The church follows Jesus as her head and uses her gifts to carry out his mission in this world. Likewise, the wife respects and yields to her husband’s leadership as she uses her gifts to complement his good purposes for their marriage and family.

        This reflection of the gospel in the marriage relationship is where we begin to see the beauty. The gospel is the glorious story of a King who comes to save his bride from slavery to sin. By his own sacrificial death, he redeems her and restores her back to his kingdom of light. The gospel is a story of love and grace, of humility and sacrifice. And this bride is the church, who is irreversibly united to the King by his unfailing covenant.

        Because the gospel of grace is beautiful, the marriage relationship reflecting the gospel is beautiful. As a husband and wife live out their unique callings in marriage, they share in this beauty. They shine a light in this dark world, pointing to Jesus and his grace.

        What submission is not

        When it comes to the kind of submission that lingers in my memory from childhood, it is not the kind of submission that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 5. Submission is not about forced control. When a man leads his wife, he is leading her to depend on Christ, not on himself. The kind of leadership a husband provides his wife is to encourage her growth in grace and prepare her to be a coheir in the coming kingdom. As Piper and Grudem point out in their book Fifty Crucial Questions:

        Any kind of leadership that, in the name of Christlike headship, tends to foster in a wife personal immaturity or spiritual weakness or insecurity through excessive control, picky supervision, or oppressive domination has missed the point of the analogy in Ephesians 5. Christ does not create that kind of wife.

        Submission is also not about belittlement, inferiority, or worthlessness. Scripture teaches that we are to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). It also says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). And “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19).

        A wife’s submission is also not blind and absolute. Ultimately, Christ is the wife’s final authority. As a part of Christ’s church, she is his bride chiefly. As a wife follows her calling to submit in marriage, she is ultimately submitting to Christ. She also gets her spiritual identity and ultimate strength and meaning through Christ and not through her husband. Though her husband’s role is to encourage her and build her up in the faith, Christ is the sole source of her faith.

        Marriage and the Gospel

        Now that we have looked at what submission is and what it’s not, how do we view the challenges we face in marriage? How do we as wives live out this call to submit? And how can the beauty of the gospel shine through in our everyday lives?

        The gospel really is central — not only because marriage reflects the gospel to the world, but also because our marriages must rely on the gospel in order to do so.

        When we struggle in our God-given roles in marriage, it is the result of sin. When spouses respond in anger toward each other, rather than love, it is because of sin. When one spouse rejects or discounts the other, it is because of sin.

        But that is why Christ came.

        He came to redeem and restore all that has been broken by sin, including marriage and all its details. When we fail in our marriages, the only place we can find restoration and healing is through the gospel of grace. We have to return to the cross. Christ’s blood is effective to cleanse and heal all our brokenness. Here is where we are compelled to repent, to turn from our sin and to embrace our Savior.

        Content taken from Designed for Joy edited by Owen Strachan and Jonathan Parnell ©2015. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187,
        Written by
        Christina Fox

  • This article really spoke to me, as a Christian woman who is not naturally retiring or submissive. I’m glad that you’re speaking out for the myriad dynamics possible in our human relationships, rather than buying into the standard dominant-leader husband/ submissive-homemaker wife.

  • Incredibly late post, but honestly just dismayed but almost all the replies and their disregard to what scripture has to say. It is a great great pity that some of you went to churches where women where disregard. That is heartbreaking. But I think so much of how we think is based on the culture we live in, culture is teaching that we can perform the roles men can and that just isn’t true. We are distinctly different from men and that’s the beauty of it, we should not seek to adopt or replicate the traits of masculinity, instead we should revel in our feminity.

    We have different roles and that doesn’t mean our roles are inferior. it’s clear in scripture God wants man to lead the household. God the father is the head of the trinity, that doesn’t mean Jesus and the spirit are inferior, docile versions of God. Not at all, they are all equal, but with different significant roles.

    Culture has so infiltrated the church, and thats the problem. We are to be salt and light in the world. We are to be distinctly different. All of this smells of is 3rd wave feminism. Let our views be steeped in God’s eternal word, and not the fleeting, views of the world. If it was 1520, none of you would feel like this.

    I say this as a very strong willed argumentative women, who struggles with submission, but realises it’s not about what I feel, it’s about God and the joy that comes in living for him.

    • Hi Tasha.

      Everything you are saying is what you have been taught by complementarianism. I know this because you all make the same arguments about “scripture” and “culture.”

      The truth is that I wrote a master’s thesis opposing comp. theology, using scripture as my primary source. I believe in the final authority of the Bible, and if you take time to read my thesis, you will see that is true. In fact, many egalitarians are theologically conservative (as you seem to be).

      I encourage you to put “Tasha glasses” on when reading the Bible and take off the “comp glasses” so you can see the truth. Check out Bible gals like Deborah, Junia, Priscilla, etc..

      God bless, sis! Xo

      • Maybe they all make the same argument because that’s what scripture says about marriage.

        “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Chesterton

  • I think it would encourage and maybe even challenge you to listen to a conference that The Gospel Coalition did called “Male and Female He Created Them” back in 2007. (If you have not heard it already). They discussed many topics and the speakers and panalists were both very intellegent men and women speaking on what the Bible has to say about gender roles and why God knows us best and knows what works best. Even if you dont agree with everything they are sayinf or what scriptures have led them to the convictions they have, it might give you some good stuff to chew on and pray through

  • Okay,so, you’re questioning how what this means to you, that’s great, but, you’re questioning the marriage advice in the Bible like it was man that put it there instead of God… Submission in marriage is irrespective of personality types coz it basically means,respect and pureness of character in regards to the man God’s given you, it’s not promoting gender stereotypes, I’m a ‘Jory’ and I connected with how Matt taught…before,however,I used to question pastors that taught this… so, go ahead and question it,it’s not wrong and it’s how we learn anyway…I came to learn that,our submission isn’t a response to our husbands but our response to God working in us…a by product of our hope being placed in God,experiencing God as our strength, as the lover of our souls through relationship with Him, not him, but Him…

    • Another thought,submitting to a man who has submitted to the Lord is different than submitting to a man who hasn’t, meaning, submitting to his ego…the man who has submitted to the Lord inspires submission from his wife…

      Plus,you talk about leadership from the perspective the world does…

      • Submission is not to the flesh,it’s to the man’s spirit,who God says he is… Like,under Grace,there’s no condemnation, because you are not flesh, where your sin dwells,you are your spirit,meaning,regardless of what you do… you remain righteous,because of your identity in Christ. (Romans 8:1,1 John 3:6&7,Romans 7:17) So,who you are,is your Spirit,what the Bible mirrors you to be…so,if,my saved man,has a tendency towards some negative behaviors, mnot submitted to his flesh,m submitted to him,who God says he is,so how I deal with him…is with that knowledge, of who we are in Christ, who we’re accountable to individually,not getting distracted by what the devil is doing but rejecting it and instead praying (establishing) God’s will (His Kingdom) in our lives…

        • Y’know, God doesn’t tell the man to lead because he’s perfect,and God doesn’t tell the female to submit because,she’s flawed,and needs to be led…It has nothing to do with who we are,His design,is all about,His glory…His purpose…

  • First I would like to say that I apolagize for men who have abused their God given headship over women. Also, male headship does not stop women from using their gifts. As far as teaching, women can teach other women as well as children. Women are gifted by God in many ways and are to use those gifts, but the use of those gifts will line up with God’s word. Women are equal with men, but there are God given roles that are to be fulfilled by men and women.

    Now to adress directly what you wrote.This post is patently unbiblical. You are taking unclear scriptures and putting them over clear ones. The proper biblical interpretation method is to find what the bible clearly teaches on a particularl subject first and then build from there. You have done the oppisite. Deborah was a judge. What does that have to with women teaching over men in the church? Priscilla, with her husband taught Apollos. Again what does this have to do with women not submitting and teaching over men in the church?
    Here is what the bible clearly teaches.

    1 Timothy 2:12-14″ I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
    Why are women not to lead men in marriages and in the church? vs 13 “For Adam was formed first , Eve.” This is the creation order given by God.

    1 Timothy and Titus give qualifications for a pastor and not once is women mentioned for the role.

    1Corintians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God.”
    It clearly says man is the head of woman as God is the head of Christ. This doesn’t make Christ less equal with God and it doesn’t make women less then men.

    Ephesians 5:22-23 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Later it says husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church and gave his life for it. Based on your logic is the man not supposed to this because it doesn’t fit his personality?

    Ephesians 5:26 “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” He is to teach her through God’s word. Male headship.

    Ephesians 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands”. Male headship

    Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
    Male headship.

    1 Corinthians 11:8-9 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” Male headship. This clearly teaches women are helpmates.

    1 Peter 3:1-7 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
    7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
    Women are called the weaker vessel.

    These scriptures show God’s perfect design and His created order. Read these clear verses first (in context) that directly deal with the subject of women subitting and men leading. After doing this, then read about Deborah, Priscilla etc.

  • It’s “easy” to be the leader in Matt’s case. He’s just the “big monkey” on the block with his church. No hate here. I do believe he is not a ‘lukewarm’ Christian. He also happens to be blessed with impeccable skills to lead a church, and he also happens to have a very attractive wife. Let’s face facts, this helps. It does….more than even perhaps Matt would like to admit. There is nothing wrong with this per say. Again, no hate here.

    I don’t believe in “Biblical roles” so to speak when we apply some “cultural” norm to them. I am hearing over and over in Christian circles and fellowships, conferences for men, seminars for men, workshops for men, retreats for men……….

    “we’re just natural leaders because we are men”

    What a load of nonsense. I have served under many men, TOO many men that have zero clue on how to be a leader. That’s in and out of the church btw. I have served under women in work and church too who have no business being in a leadership position.

    When we talk about “leadership” today, all it boils down to now for the most part is that “someone” told the person they were a great leader. We’re not all leaders. Leaders also make mistakes. In the church of today, and in churches like Matt’s……’s just assumed a man will be a good leader, and if he “isn’t” he must be shamed into submission with videos like you posted.

    What happened to men who just loved God, broke bread, stood up for His word, and lived righteously? It’s been replaced with Charisma, charm, who can thump his chest the loudest, and claims of “leadership” with little merit except for a certificate or a class that “says they are a leader”

    Marriage takes work from what I understand (I am single) and seminars likes these can be more hurtful than helpful to a marriage. People don’t fit into a “neat peg board” of men are this way, and women are this way.

    In either case, I liked this post…but your comment about breaking the “glass steeple” at the end…….come on………….comments like that take away from the legitimate things you do bring up 🙂

  • I loved this post. We’ve been married 20 years and we’ve always been equals in leadership. We have different gifts and I definitely had to simmer down and my husband had to boil up. My husband loves that he married a strong woman.

    I especially glad to find this because this couple is advertising their marriage study on Facebook now.

    Have you read about how they put a woman under “church discipline” because she filed for an annulment after discovering her husband was a pedophile? That’s seriously messed up.

  • Jory,

    love your heart, but I think your theology is off, not Matt’s. Within marriage there are clear Biblical roles laid out in Scripture. One role is not better than the other, but they are clear roles nonetheless. The female is called to be the “helper” just as the Holy Spirit is our helper in our time of need. From the beginning, God saw it was not good for man to be alone, so in His perfect plan He created a suitable helper to be on mission with Adam. Now, if Adam would have seen his role as greater, then that would have been an improper view of the roles within marriage. The role of helper may look differently for different relationships depending on personalities and relationship dynamics.

    For the male, our role is to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. Now, we know that Christ is the “head” over the Church, so we must submit to His leadership. That being said, the way that Christ chooses to lead and love the Church is through sacrifice, grace, understanding and constant pursuit of a sinful Bride. Biblically speaking, the female is called to submit to her husband’s leadership, and the male is called to lead, love and sacrifice for his wife.

    When we walk by this model in our marriages, we bring more Glory to God, because people can see the Gospel through the institution of marriage!

    • God and the Spirit do not have separate roles; they do have unique personalities. In fact, God is called “our helper” over and over through the Old Testament; the very same word used to describe Eve as Adam’s helper is used to describe God as our helper. You are greatly misunderstanding the word helper, by looking at it in our English modern language. Let me ask you, if God is your helper, does that make God your subordinate in God’s role? Please take some time to read my blog post on this:

      God bless your studies. Dig deeper. And thanks for being respectful.

      • You are exactly right that God and the Spirit are one in the same, which makes God our helper because they are one in the same. However, you are greatly misunderstanding that God and the Spirit do have separate roles. God has ordained all, and He ordained one of the Spirit’s roles to be the helper All 3 persons in the Trinity do have a role to play in God’s divine plan. This is a mysterious concept that is tough to understand.

        God is the only supreme being in all of existence, and there is only one God who is the first and the last.1 Although God has three parts, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit,2 He is one God.3 There are different roles of each part of the trinity, for example, God the Father ordains.4 God the Son saves through manifestation of Himself,5 and God the Holy Spirit is our helper. He also sanctifies and brings freedom.6

        1 Isaiah 43:10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.
        Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.’”
        2 Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
        2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
        3 John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”
        1 Corinthians 8:6 “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
        4 John 14:16-17 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
        2 Corinthians 1:21-22 “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
        5 Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
        Matthew 1:23 ““Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
        6 John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
        1 Peter 1:2 “According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
        2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

        Being a helper is not a subordinate role as you have said in your last post. It is an equal role! That is marriage, it is 2 flawed beings coming together and working together equally as a team. That team is most effective when they live through the roles God has ordained in Scripture.

        “I do have to chuckle a little when I think about how traditionalist often understand the verse above to mean that the wife is to take a subservient role in marriage (as I picture myself saying “yes master” to my husband)”

        This quote from your article is one I agree with, and I chuckle at people who view marriage like this as well. Men who view their role as greater are wrong, however, women who won’t accept their role because they view it as “subordinate” are wrong as well.

        At the end of the day, I can see we are both passionate about seeing the truth of God’s Word proclaimed and I love that! You are clearly a gifted orator and writer and God has blessed you. I am going to end on this comment to make sure you and I do not go back and forth in argument. It is always important for both you and I to remember that although we disagree, we are on the same team and will one day stand together in heaven worshipping the same God :).

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