Why I Predict Complementarians will Lose this Theological Battle

piper-chandler

Lately I have been tipping my head back a little and laughing along with the Proverbs 31 Woman without fear of the future.  I hope my laugh is not snarky as I do like to be right; but rather, a natural, non-anxious type of laugh that is irresistible and contagious.

As a gal who was called to be a teaching, preaching, writing minister at the ripe age of 13-years-old, I find Complementarian theology to be offensive to say the least.  I am certain I will spend the rest of my life finding godly ways to refute it as I consider it to be one of the most devastating and false teachings the church has to offer.

As a woman, I have sat under the teachings of many Complementarian men without even knowing that I was submitting to a church that stood against me and believed my calling to be a figment of my imagination at best and even sin in some circles.

When I was in Bible School in Dallas, TX, I traveled over an hour to Flower Mound, Texas each week with my friends to hear a new preacher in town by the name of Matt Chandler.  He was relevant.  He was brilliant.  He was witty.  The church building was dimly lit with a post-modern feel and Shane & Shane led worship sometimes.

At that time, his church was made up of mostly 20 somethings and they didn’t even take a formal offering.  Everything about Matt Chandler and his church was impressive.  You can imagine my dismay when I found out that the guy I looked up to as a young minister in training actually stood against my God-given dream.  I still love and respect him as a brother in Christ and feel my time learning under him was valuable, but how I pray that Matt would truly reconsider his position and allow called-women in his pulpit someday.

To be clear, this is not a battle against Matt Chandler, any specific denomination, or really even Complementarian thought within itself; but rather, this is a spiritual war and one of great importance and intensity.  I believe that the enemy of our soul, Satan, has a unique hatred for women. Perhaps because He thought He outsmarted her in the Garden of Eden and then she turned around and gave birth to the Son of God who set her free from the curse that man would rule over her (Gen. 3:16) and redeemed the world.

It is my belief that women have been continuously oppressed and suppressed within the church because their power to bring about the fullness of redemption greatly threatens the kingdom of darkness.  What better way for Satan to slow down His ultimate demise but to wire shut the mouths of half of the church of Jesus Christ?  

Complementarian teaching will not go down without a fight since those who subscribe to it truly believe their theology to be 100% biblical, but it will slowly lose traction and here are five reasons why I predict they will ultimately render themselves defeated.

1. Their Army is Weakened in Both Numbers and Power:  

Complementarians find fancy ways to tell their women that they are to take secondary or assisting roles in the church while the men take on the primary leadership roles.  Complementarian women do get around this rule to some degree by leading both men and women in worship, teaching both boys and girls in Sunday school, and writing material that both men and women read and learn from.

Since women are taught one-way submission very early on, they grow to be less out-spoken and often mistake quietness for humility.  In other words, they are taught to know their place and often find great contentment in being taken care of.  Therefore, the front line of Complementarian thought is made up of males only.  While this may be ideal if this was a physical battle, it is not.  It is a battle of spirit, intellect, and words (things in which females generally thrive in).

Their own theology weakens their army tremendously in both numbers and power.  Their army is essentially cut in half as the men head off to “theological war” and the women stay home where they are safe and comfortable.  In a way I don’t blame these women, but I do believe that some of them are missing out on their higher callings to lead both men and women to a deeper knowledge of God.

2. The Egalitarian Army is Complete: 

Biblical Feminists are not too proud to admit that they need their brother’s help in engaging this theological war.  They recognize that together, men and women reflect the whole image of God and both gender gifts and abilities are needed to fight in any spiritual battle.   

Although it is clear that women are in the front line of this battle to a heavy degree, we are seeing many brave soldiers rise up along side of us and we are both happy and grateful to share the front lines of leadership with them.

3. The Women in the Front Lines are Dangerous Women:  

A dangerous woman is one who knows she is loved and supported unconditionally and she finds this in Jesus Christ. Egalitarian women are joining forces, letting go of back-biting, gossiping, and wanting to be first. We are crossing denominational barriers, state-lines, and theological differences and giving one another room to think for ourselves and still be accepted.

We are made up of professors, teachers, preachers, stay-at-home-mothers, business women and social activists.

We are more educated than we have ever been before.  Perhaps the greatest and most satisfying irony of us not being permitted many platforms in the church is the fact that we are creating our own platforms online, setting ideas on fire, and watching them spread across the global internet while tending to our children and folding the laundry.   

As a cherry on the sundae, our husbands, fathers, and sons are proud of us and helping us mend our broken wings and get back our lost voices.

4. Egalitarian Thought is Rooted in Biblical Truth and Redemption: 

Christian feminists are not willing to compromise biblical truth and greatly respect every word of the Bible as God-breathed and authoritative for our lives.  We do not present straw man arguments rooted in emotion or experience alone.

Our books, blogs, articles, and teachings do not ignore controversial Bible passages; but rather, seek to explain their appropriate meaning through responsible exegesis and historical analysis.  We are confident that our side of the story must be equally heard in order for God’s redeeming work to continue to move forward and for this reason we will not back down to what we believe to be a form of gender discrimination in the name of religion.

We believe we are right in the center of God’s will and that it is time for women to rise up and take their place of equal authority among our brothers in Christ.  We are an army of love for the Lord; His warrior princesses if you will.  We fully embrace our womanhood, but are willing to give up comfort for the sake of our daughters, sisters, and friends who are called to leadership in the evangelical church.

5. Patriarchy Always Leads To Mistakes:  

Patriarchy, even in its purest form, always leads to mistakes.  Why?  Because men and women balance each other out and there are some areas that female leaders are naturally more equipped to handle (Ex://a woman who has been raped). God did make men and women to compliment one another as co-leaders in this world.

As churches that practice patriarchy grow larger in numbers, their mistakes will be made more public.  Stale doctrines that leave no room for the female voice will always go south when actually practiced.  It is a blessing in disguise that megachurches are taking their patriarchal views of scripture seriously.  Their errors will only show the world how unfruitful their interpretation is and it won’t be long before millennials and younger generations start to incorporate women as pastors, elders, and leaders in all positions in the home and church.

Don’t worry my friends.  God will not abandon His daughters who have been called.

Redemption is near.

For biblical evidence please see my master’s thesis: HERE.

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40 Comments

  • Enjoyed the post. I was raised in a complementarian-leaning church, even though I didn’t know it. And I became egalitarian before I had ever even heard the word.

    Looking back on my experiences it strikes me as interesting and peculiar that my complimentarian church would not allow women to teach men in our local church, but DID support women who were church-planting missionaries in other countries. These women would come back every couple of years and give reports of their work which, in retrospect, sounded a LOT like the work of a bishop or regional pastor.

    I am not sure anyone ever noticed the contradiction.

    • Thank you Scott. That is very interesting. I am not sure of the actual facts or stats, but I have heard that there are many more female pastors overseas than in America. If a theology does not work globally, it is bad theology.

    • A lot of the reasoning there is basically “social Darwinism” and the class system. At the top were white men, under them, white women. Other colors of men came next, and then the women of color. So it was fine for a white woman to go to Africa or China as a missionary because she still out ranked the men. Now that color has stopped being a great separator, some comps are trying very hard to hold the line at women being equal. They don’t want to lose their standing. Sin sin sin.

  • Great stuff, Jory. One point that many of us egalitarians like to make: Eve was never cursed. Read Genesis 3. The ground was cursed, and the serpent was cursed. The “consequences” of the fall were that man would have to toil to scratch a living out of the ground (which had previously been an abundant garden) and the woman would be sorrowful, and conflicted (desiring for a man who would take advantage of that desire, bearing children she would love but whom cause her pain). God never cursed the woman, but both men and women suffered natural consequences from their mistake, which they made together. And you’re right, Jesus reversed the fall, so that we now live not under the fall but under grace, redemption and restoration.
    Well done.

    • Thank you so much for pointing that out Keri! I am learning so many amazing things. God continues to fold back new layers of his mercies daily! 🙂

  • I’ve been praying for hope, and struggling with a lack of Hope at the same time, that things in the church (across all traditions and denominations) will change for the sake of the Gospel and communicating Christ’s love to our neighbors here and now. You give me Hope, Jory!! God has just used you as an answer. Love how the Holy Spirit works. God bless you from a kindred spirit!

    • Awe, this makes my day Adrienne! I wrote this post about 2 months ago and having been praying about when to release it. I strongly feel this post is a prophetic word! There is an army rising up to break every chain!

  • Hey Jory, great article.

    I love your passion and the clarity with which you see the issues and the solutions. Great point about women, being denied a platform, are creating their own platforms, setting ideas on fire and watching them go viral. Awesome.

  • This is so good and exactly what I needed to read. As an egalitarian at a complementarian church it’s a struggle at times to go to church. I’m thankful that my husband is one of those quiet warriors for equality standing beside me as we try to navigate what church looks like in this context. Also, thank you for including stay at home moms. As a mostly stay at home mom sometimes I feel like the egalitarian camp dismissing us as not following God’s leading in our lives. At the core, we should all do what God gifts us to do and not judge. Thanks again!

    • Hi Shannon – you are welcome girl. I know how hard it is to be at a complementarian church when you don’t agree. It can be a very painful and oppressive atmosphere even if everyone is very nice to you (glad you have your hubs). Being a stay at home mom is so valuable – you may be raising a world changer! What a great investment – your children! 🙂

  • Love this … so necessary for so many. I am so grateful for the voice, brilliance, teaching and authority of so many of my sisters! Keep preaching it, Jory. Well written!

  • I was introduced to the egalitarian/complementary discussion about twenty years ago. At the time, I thought egalitarianism would win the day, but I have been surprised to see the complementarians holding strong and probably winning the day. It will be interesting to see what the next twenty years bring, but I’d have a difficult time predicting that complementarians will unequivocally lose this theological battle – there is just too much biblical evidence and Christian tradition behind their position.

    • Hey Brad. Thank you for your comment, but I do think you are wrong. I don’t think it will be an overnight thing, but I do think as younger generations begin to take over the church, we will see more and more female leaders in the American church. I respect your opinion though! I guess only time will tell! 🙂

  • I read this article and I am discourage by the lack of biblical evidence as well as the straw men presented about the issue(complementarianism does not allow for women to teach boys or lead worship or write books) . I also am confused, you called this issue ” one of the worst false teaching” yet you call Matt a brother this is inconsistent. As well most of your proof is that is that “your called” well this is not proof, this is pragmatic argumentation that is illogical. I would welcome a response with your refutation of 1 Corinthians 11 thanks

  • Jory,

    It sounds like you are rejecting Patriarchial/Hierarchrial views or a form of complementarianism that doesn’t value or allow women to use their gifts in the church. I have often wondered how complementarians make a case for no women in ministry when it seems complementarianism possibly makes a greater case for women in ministry since, as we need both men and women in marriage to have a God-displaying marriage, we also need men and women in ministry to have strong healthy God-displaying churches (it is the household of God). I am a complementarian that believes in men AND women using their gifts in the church. I have not been able to come to an egalitarian position because if I say there is no difference between men and women (which the Bible does not teach), then I can also make the case that we don’t actually need women alongside of men or men alongside of women ministering in the church. The egalitarian case makes it possible for me to say an all male ministry team or leadership team is absolutely fine since there is no difference. In that case, having all men is no different than to having all women or to having a mixture of men and women. Any one of the options is perfectly fine if I hold to an egalitarian viewpoint. However, as a complementarian (I call it Ordered Equality in Shared Ministry as I know “Complementarian” usually means Patriarchial or Hierarchial leadership which I don’t agree with) I believe we need BOTH men and women to display the relational nature of the Trinitarian Godhead. I believe God’s design for marriage is a husband (male) and wife (female) and I believe his design for church is to have men and women working side by side, ministering together in complementarian expressiongs bringing strengths to the marriage partnership or the ministry team that the other doesn’t have.

    • Hi Jeff.

      Thank you for your comment. I too believe that men and women complement one another and that God has intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. But, complementarians argue that men and women are the same in “value” but NOT the same in “authority.” This is where I strongly disagree. All within Jesus’ church (men and women) have been given the same exact spiritual authority. Complementarians do not allow women to hold the same positions as men in the church and/or home. There is no doubt that men and women are very different and that we would lead in the same role very differently, but I think that is a positive thing. A female pastor/elder has a unique set of gifts to offer that the complementarian church is missing out on.

  • Sweetie you go and do what God is leading you to do. At the and it is only him that matters, we are wasting our time to try to convince people that obviously are more interesting about themselves than sharing the faith with others. I always tell those people that are against it. ” if when I get to heaven God is upset because I shared him with lots of people, it will be ok just knowing that I will spent eternity with him” Praying for you, you are a courageous young lady, don’t give up we are thousands of women that are following God and doing what he is calling us to do. Luci

  • Hi Jory,
    Just read your article and responses. Loved them….
    Thanks for offering a dialogue and not a debate. Well written, gracious and strong. I’ll have to ponder and watch more to learn. My wife and I are in a new ministry of working with crisis marriages at the verge of divorce after 34 years of pastoral ministry. Thank you for your love for Christ and His/our church…
    I want my grand daughters to read your blood when they are older… Perhaps by then it wouldn’t be necessary.
    Russ

  • Hi there, this is my first visit to your blog. I totally agree with your stance on egalitarianism and I like your style of writing. Glad to have your voice in the mix! However, this paragraph: “men need women. Women balance men out. She is often the “heart” of the family and the church and he is often the “head.” This in no way means that the man is smarter or of greater authority; but rather, it means he is prone to reason with limited emotion and she is prone to trust her intuition. A woman’s sensitivity and intuition is a brilliant expression of her godliness and when she is centered on her maker, her emotional intelligence far outweighs that of a man’s.” Is it not just perpetuating a gender stereotype? Men use reason and women just wing it? Women are more emotionally intelligent than men? I find these to be super stereotypical and true SOMETIMES but certainly not all the time! I am just surprised to hear you say that, especially insofar as you contradict your own thesis by saying these things. And moreso due to all of the study you’ve done. Clearly you are SMART! Why minimize it by saying women just use their gut? It detracts from so much and gives extra fodder for complementarians to say things like: “Sure, intuition is good but it’s so subjective. Let’s use REASON.”

    Thoughts?

  • This is my first time to your blog, and I love it. You are my new favorite blogger! You go girlfriend!

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