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Complementarianism and Egalitarianism Which Is Right-author-scott-lapierre

Complementarianism and Egalitarianism: Which Is Right?

What is complementarianism? Egalitarianism? Is one biblical? Unbiblical? Which is correct? Read on!

God created Eve because He wanted Adam to have “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew word for “comparable” is neged. Other translations say:

  • NASB & NIV—“suitable for him”
  • ESV—“fit for him”
  • HCSB—“his complement”

The literal translation actually means “opposite or contrasting.” Men and women were designed to fit in all ways. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When a husband and wife become one flesh at their wedding, they perfectly complement each other. Together, they become something stronger and more magnificent than they could be alone. The strengths of each compensate for the weaknesses of the other:

  • When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
  • When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.

We should give thanks to God for His wonderful design and do everything we can to fulfill the roles He has given us as husband and wife. One of the best ways to do this is by embracing the different roles and responsibilities He gave men and women.

What is Egalitarianism?

Egalitarianism is the rejection of the different roles and responsibilities. Egalitarians believe God does not have separate and distinct plans for men and women. They see them interchangeably. Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are simply extreme forms of egalitarianism.

The Scripture most cited by egalitarians is Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Using the verse to support egalitarianism takes it out of context because it deals with salvation. Everyone, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, or female is saved by grace through faith apart from the law and works (Galatians 3:1–25). If Paul were saying men and women are identical in terms of responsibilities, he would be contradicting numerous Scriptures he wrote outlining the differences between the genders.

Egalitarian assertions are based on false premises. [Identical] responsibilities and authority produces the chaos of no one having ultimate authority or responsibility. The egalitarian premises of socialistic communism are unworkable. Identity, value and worth are not found in gender function, but in a personal Being beyond ourselves.

James Fowler, Women in the Church

What is Complementarianism?

Complementarianism, on the other hand, teaches that God has separate and distinct responsibilities for men and women. This allows them to balance and support each other. Complementarians recognize the gender roles in Scripture are meaningful. When embraced they promote spiritual and emotional health that allows people to reach their God-given potential.

God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27, 5:2, and Mark 10:6

The emphasis is not on God’s creating people but on His creating two different types of humans. One male and one female. The rest of Scripture reveals the distinct plans for each. Although men and women equally share God’s image and together have dominion over creation, God designed them differently in order to accomplish His purposes.


To learn more about complementarianism and egalitarianism, listen to this conference message I delivered…


A Poor Criticism of Complementarianism

Egalitarians claim complementarianism is chauvinistic. One gender is supposedly superior to the other. But a difference in roles and responsibilities doesn’t mean a difference in value. Two people can be different and equal. Men and women can have the same significance while not being identical. God’s very nature supports this in that there are three different Persons with distinct roles, but there is still equality.

In our day, many say there is no real difference between men and women. This makes sense if we are the result of mindless evolution, but the Bible says “male and female He created them.” To God, the differences between men and women are not accidents. Since He created them, the differences are good and meaningful. One of the saddest signs of our culture’s depravity is the amount and the degree of gender confusion today. It is vain to wonder if men or women are superior to the other. A man is absolutely superior at being a man. A woman is absolutely superior at being a woman. But when a man tries to be a woman or a woman tries to be a man, you have something inferior.

Pastor David Guzik’s commentary on Genesis 1

The Real Tragedy with Egalitarianism

We can’t expect unbelievers to agree with God’s Word and accept complementarianism. The real tragedy is when Christians hold to an egalitarian view. They see no differences between men and women’s roles in the home or the church. Such individuals may not condone such outright sins as homosexuality and transgenderism, but they indirectly support these agendas by denying the gender roles and undermining God’s Word.

Complementarians embrace God’s commands for men to lead in the home and the church. Although they also believe that just as men are needed in the home and the church in crucial ways, so women are needed in the home and the church in crucial ways. But the way each gender is needed is different. We must maintain the distinctions between men and women if we are to obey God’s Word.

Obey the Bible Versus the World

These days we often hear about the “redefinition” of marriage. Such discussions typically refer to marriage as being something other than the union of one man and one woman for life. But there is another way society has redefined marriage, and that is in relation to the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives. Consider this: Even non-Christian friends and neighbors have no issue discussing husbands’ loving their wives, but mention male headship or submission, and you can count on facing fierce opposition. Consider what self-proclaimed feminist Cath Elliot said about biblical womanhood:

Unfortunately, as in any movement for social change, there are those who remain resistant to their own (freedom): a tiny minority of women who have been so indoctrinated by religious conditioning that they continue to see themselves as men’s subordinates . . . Biblical womanhood does exactly what it says it does: it sends women back to the dark ages. At the (True Woman) Conference, for example, the Christian sisters launched their new manifesto, inspiringly titled “The True Woman Manifesto,” where they resolved to cultivate “such virtues as purity, modesty, submission, meekness, and love” and where they affirmed their calling as women “to encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity, and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.” It’s encouraging to see that only three thousand women have signed this terrible charter, but it’s also depressing to think that three thousand women think so little of themselves and their daughters that they’re prepared to endorse such illiberal, anti-woman nonsense.

Cath Elliot. “Beware the anti-feminists.” The Guardian. January 28, 2009

Obviously, a radical feminist such as Ms. Elliot denies complementarianism, and embraces egalitarianism. But she is not alone. This is the prevailing view of our society regarding the roles of husbands and wives. More tragic yet is the fact that this is even the view of some churches.

True Freedom

Freedom is experienced when we live our lives in obedience to God. True freedom comes when we strive to be husbands and wives as God commanded rather than as society defines:

Jesus said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:32

This is why we need to embrace what Scripture says. Real freedom and joy—whether for young, old, male, female, single, or married—comes from obeying God. Disobedience always leads to frustration and bondage.

Whenever we read the Bible, we face two choices:

  • We can shape Scripture to fit our desires and beliefs.
  • We can allow Scripture to shape us and our thinking.

As Christians, we will undoubtedly say we want the latter, but the real difficulty is that we live in a world that is also striving to shape and influence us. This is why the apostle Paul said:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:2

Paul identified the world—that is, the view of the society that surrounds us—as a conforming influence on our lives, but he told us to have our minds transformed instead.

What does this mean? The Greek word for “conformed” is syschematizo, which means “to conform one’s self—one’s mind and character—to another’s pattern . . . fashion one’s self according to.” It is related to the English word schematic because it is describing the way society tempts us to follow its patterns. Instead we are to be “transformed,” which is metamorphoo, related to the English word metamorphosis. Picture a caterpillar bursting from its cocoon, transformed into a beautiful butterfly. Similarly, we are transformed in mind and character as we resist the world and surrender ourselves to God’s Word.

Allowing our minds to be transformed in this way can be difficult, especially when we come across verses that are hard to accept or with which we disagree. When our beliefs are challenged – whether about complementarianism and egalitarianism or something else, it is at those moments that we need to choose to submit to Scripture. Unless we think we are wiser than God, we need to trust that He knows best.

We may think “walking by faith” means going overseas as a missionary or taking on some ministry that is terrifying to us, but walking by faith plays out more often in our lives when we look at God’s Word and say: “This does not make sense to me, but I am going to obey anyway.” Before you read any further in the book, I hope you will make the decision to let the Bible transform your view of marriage. Otherwise, you will end up being conformed by the world. This is especially important when discussing complementarianism and egalitarianism since there’s so much confusion in our society and, sadly, even within some churches.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Were you taught a complementarian or egalitarian view of marriage? If egalitarian, are you willing to reserve judgment and openly receive what the Bible teaches about distinctions between husbands’ and wives’ roles and responsibilities? Why or why not?
  2. In what ways has egalitarianism influenced Western culture?
  3. Considering what you read about complementarianism, how would you refute the egalitarian assumption that a difference in roles and responsibilities implies a difference in equality, importance, or value.”
  4. In what ways do you and your spouse complement each other?
  5. Describe a time you experienced freedom by obeying God.
  6. Discuss a time time you:
    • Allowed Scripture to shape you and your thinking
    • Shaped Scripture to fit your desires and beliefs
  7. Discuss an example of worldly advice you received, and how it conflicted with Scripture.
  8. Describe a time you obeyed God’s Word even though it did not make sense to you.

48 Responses

  1. After years of trying to find my place in Christianity as wife and believer (my husband did something radical for his time and gender…he basically said when we got married in 1975—,” God gave you a good mind, intelligence, gifts and He expects you seek him to use them—I do not want t o make decisions that may go against what God is leading you to do. ” And he let me lead my own life in our marriage, not having to ask him permission or blessing for every little or big thing I do.

    After a long time or prayer, study, research, I have come to embrace egalitarianism over patriarchy/complementarianism for the following reasons. The good thing is you do not have to agree with me as i will not pass judgement on you for what you chose to believe in life…. just read and keep an open mind as to why there are many Christians are now questioning traditional biblical gender roles….— Below are only some of the reasons why I came to believe like I do.

    Then after reading all my commentary—honestly answer me this—Do you think I am sinning? Do you think my hubby is sinning? Ultimately I think that is what most Christians desire to know about decisions they make in life…is what they choose sin or not? And who gets to decide and pass judgement on those choices as to whether it is sin or not?

    1- patriarchy is biblical in the sense that it is recorded in the bible as the way people lived back then,,,man head of the house, women in subjection to men, etc. BUT the bible in no way endorses patriarchy as the way to be a good christian. Just as rape and slavery are in the bible does not mean it is condoned. P.s. Christianity once believed the sun revolved around the earth and anyone who thought different was called a heretic and sometimes put to death. Even when Galileo offered scientific proof, he was arrested. We no longer believe this way.

    2- more women are abused under pat/comp because the abuser uses scripture to hide behind. Depending on whose patriarchal advice one follows there are many more restrictions and rules on women then there are on men, including education and careers being restricted or outright sinful for a woman. And those rule often conflict which causes a whole other bunch of problems, is going to college sin or not, is working outside the home sin or not, can a woman be a doctor instead of just a nurse. According to which pat/comp believer you talk to, it may or may not be sin. Very confusing. And very micromanaged.

    3- Jesus himself talked one on one with women–something forbidden in those days as women were slightly above slaves in society. Many women are listed in the bible as having leadership positions and working alongside Jesus, the disciples and apostles–women were the first to see the empty grave of Jesus and among the first to see him after rising from the grave. .

    4- in Christianity, a relationship with God through Jesus is a one on one affair…an individual seeks God’s will and direction in their life…they make seek advice and counseling from others but it is ultimately between God and that person to work it out. (yes, wrestling, questioning, making mistakes are all part and parcel of a Christian life)

    5- Under patriarchy a man is told he is responsible for his wife’s spiritual growth, leading her, directing her and even disciplining her, which puts an unfair burden on an imperfect person who has enough trouble with their own relationship with God. (see #4)

    6—under patriarchy/comp there is the push to make the home life look like a 1950’s (honey I’m home)…unaware of the fact that during this time many women of color left their homes every day to work as maid and cooks in those homes. Even today many women around the world work outside their homes in fields and markets because home is little more than a one room shack.

    7- It is hard to find any site where women tell their stories of how they have been abused under egalitarianism but many sites exist where women tell horror stories of abuse because they lived under pat/comp and literally had to escape, often leaving children behind.

    8- Some sites that promote pat/comp will ban and call you an outright sinner for disagreeing with them saying you are going against God.
    I have been called a wayward wife and most recently a satanist feminist.

    9- At sites that are explaining what egalitarianism is the writers use scripture, translations of those scripture after many years of learning ancient languages, and the culture of the time to bring light on what exactly the writer was trying to convey. And they offer their reasons and proof and leave it with the believer to accept or not.

    10–often times when a woman goes to her pastor and says she has a call on her life to be a pastor, teacher, leader they often send her to the mission field, where she can function in those roles….so then is it not a sin in the mission field for women to be those things.

    1. Hi Susan,
      Thanks for reading my post and sharing your thoughts. I’m sorry you had trouble finding your place as a wife and believer. I wish someone would’ve pointed you to Scripture, because we find our place by embracing what God’s Word says.

      I didn’t notice any verses in any of your ten points, which makes sense, because they seem to be your opinion versus scripture.

      I think the question is simple: do we want to embrace what God’s Word says or rationalize it away? If you want to embrace it, do you think it teaches egalitarianism or complementarianism? It clearly teaches complementarianism. If you want to reject God’s Word, it’s important to be honest and at least acknowledge that’s what you’re doing. God bless!

  2. Hi Scott,
    Your post presents an extreme version of egalitarianism. If we read egalitarian writings, we find that Bible-affirming Christians who describe themselves as egalitarian firmly believe that men and women are different and complementary.
    Your post describes a soft version of complementarianism, with which many egalitarian Christians would find some substantial points of agreement.
    The debate about the Bible’s teaching concerns two areas. First: how should husband and wife relate? The question is whether in Eph 5:22 Paul really means that the husband has a one-way authority over his wife (in that respect, like master and servant, though of course in other respects very different) or whether we should understand that each partner is called to yield to the other in Christian submission (1 Cor 7:3-5; Eph 5:21-22, 25). Second: is it acceptable for women to be involved in church leadership?

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. The first question about how husbands and wives relate to teach other goes outside the spectrum of this post, but is answered in many other posts on the site discussing husbands and wives roles.

      Regarding your second question, the answer is yes. Women can be in leadership over other women and children. We have many women serving in this way at WCC and they’re huge blessings.

  3. Excellent. Thank you for explaining the difference. I had heard of egalitarianism before but didn’t understand exactly what it was. Your post has brought that clarity. I loved the commentary quote by Pastor David Guzik. I thought that really summed it up so well.

    I think people have gotten so caught up in anti-subservience (often associating submission to subservience) that they’ve gone completely off the charts into egalitarianism and missed the whole point.
    God loves diversity because its in our differences that we get to really experience a greater understanding of his character and nature. Think of the Trinity – 3 persons united into 1 each with their own role and characteristics. I love that about God. When he made Adam and Eve he made them (us) in His image because one person couldn’t represent a united God as well as a man and a woman joined together (in marriage).

    1. Hi Ailie,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad to hear my post provided clarity. Yes, David Guzik is a blessing.

      Yes explained yourself well by using the word diversity, versus superiority. Different doesn’t have to mean unequal. You’re the second person to mention the Triune nature of God in your comment, which makes me think I didn’t make that point clear enough in my post :).

  4. Scott,

    First let me say how well you’ve responded to the comments and questions on this post. I hope I can do as well when it happens on my site.

    I think one of the reasons Christians, and non-Christians alike, have such a hard time with this concept is that it’s so rarely done well. Even when a couple is living this out in their marriage, outsiders may not notice. It’s the extremes that get the attention.

    1. Hi Beka,
      That blesses me to hear you say that about my responses. It is very difficult – especially in writing where tone can be misunderstood – to disagree without becoming hostile. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, especially over a controversial topic like this.

    1. Hi Caroline,
      At a conference last month I taught a workshop called, “Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism” and the man introducing me couldn’t pronounce it. I said I would now call the class, “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”

  5. Hi Scott,

    Your post is very interesting post. I like it.

    Here is a thought for you;

    Just as Yeshua (Jesus) was the only begotten (brought forth) from Elohim (God), so Hawwaa (Eve) the woman was the only brought forth from Hebel (Adam) unlike all of the other creatures He created.

    Isn’t it also interesting that Yeshua (Jesus) is likened unto a Groom and the congregation is likened unto the Bride.

    Also consider this;
    The main test of a man then is in the home with his wife.
    He MUST pass this test.

    Bereshith (Genesis) 2:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

    The man needs to complete the ‘You and Your Wife’ – The Two Shall Become One Flesh (Echad)
    This is the same word for One (H259 אֶחָד (‘eḥāḏ) as found in the Sh’ema.
    Debarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4 “Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one!

    It is the man’s responsibility not the woman’s.
    The woman will not be held accountable (at least not like the man) for this.

    Shalom

    1. Hi Jeff,
      That’s very fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

      Yes, the imagery between Adam and Eve and Christ and the church is fascinating. I was introduced to it too while preaching on marriage in Genesis 2. Ephesians 5:30, 32 says:

      For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

      In Scripture, the word “mystery” refers to something previously concealed and then later revealed. Ephesians 5:32 speaks of “a great mystery” that began at the creation of Eve, was concealed throughout the Old Testament, and then revealed in the New Testament. The mystery is that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church:
      • Just as Adam was Eve’s head, so too is Christ our head (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18).
      • Just as Eve came from Adam’s body to be his helper, so too we are the body of Christ serving as His “helper” carrying on His work in His physical absence (1 Corinthians 12:12–27).
      • Just as God put Adam to sleep and created Eve physically from his side, so as Jesus slept the sleep of death on the cross and in the grave, God created the church spiritually from our wounded Savior.

      Thanks for the thoughts my friend. Hope you and Bonnie are doing well.

  6. This is the first time I have heard the terms: Complementarianism & Egalitarianism.

    We do see more and more that many would prefer to blur the lines of men and women’s roles and responsibilities.

    I do believe God made man and woman to compliment each other and to be helpmates.

    1. Hi Kristi,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, I don’t think we’ve ever lived in another time that had such a ferocious attack on the gender roles.

    2. Please consult a dictionary. Mr. LaPierre has used a definition of egalitarianism that no reasonable person would recognize.

    3. Hi Angie,
      Would you mind sharing your definition of egalitarianism? Then if people read your thoughts they can contrast what you have to say with my post.

    4. Sure. From Oxford Dictionary:
      egalitarian: n. A person who advocates or supports the principle of equality for all people.

      equality: n. The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

      Thank you for asking.

  7. I have quite a bit of disagreement with the article above, but I think of all things I’m most troubled by the statement that, “Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are simply extreme forms of egalitarianism.” I’m not sure that is true, but even if it were, what would be the value of it except to cast aspersions on egalitarians?

    One could just as well say, “domestic discipline, dominance and submission, and BDSM are simply extreme forms of complementarianism.” That statement is every bit as true as the statement you made, and yet I think you and I can agree it is horribly unfair because it characterizes the movement by it’s most extreme and offensive elements. So I most strenously object to your statement.

    Further, I think you have mischaracterized egalitarianism as advocating for “sameness” of the sexes, while mischaracterizing complementarianism as advocating for “difference”. That is not at all what the argument is about, which is proven by the origins of the term complementarian and complementarity.

    It is the people now known as egalitarians that first referred to men and women “complementing” one another in their strengths and weaknesses and used various forms of the word to advocate for inclusion of women in leadership, because women and men bring unique gifts and abilities to the table. The Christians for Biblical Equality 1989 ‘Statement on Men, Women, and Biblical Equality,” implies the complementarity of the sexes throughout and speaks explicitly of their “complementarity.’ The term was later appropriated by Wayne Grudem and John Piper as a more benign expression of what was formely known as patriarchy.

    Those are historical facts, and they show that the thrust of your article is of base. It is quite easy to refute a position that you misrepresent, and I believe that you have done just that. I trust that this was done innocently and with good intentions, and that you will work to make amends.

    1. Hi Greg,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
      The point of that statement about those perversions being extreme forms of egalitarianism was to point out the dangerous end that comes from removing the lines between the genders.
      No, I wouldn’t say the sins you mentioned are extreme forms of complementarianism. I would say you could twist complementarianism to reach those ends, but they aren’t logical ends of it.
      I’m sorry, but I’m not very familiar with the histories of either. But I don’t think that matters, because my point was to discuss them today, not how they originated. I’m not sure how those historical facts show the thrust of my article is off base? Regardless of what these terms meant in the past, today, egalitarians deny the differing roles and responsibilities God has given men and women.
      Thanks again for commenting!

    2. Hi Scott,

      I’m surprised you could so easily dismiss my equation of domestic discipline as an extreme form of complementarianism, given the reports from the Quiverfull movement and the unfortunate reported antics of RC Sproul. I’d encourage you to have a closer look, the connection is certainly there.

      The reason behind my history lesson was to show that egalitarians do believe in complementarity. The point of making that that clear is that it is logically impossible to deny any differences, yet at the same time affirm complementarity. There must be differences for complementarity to exist. This proves that egalitarians don’t deny differences between men and women, and that destroys the thrust of your post.

      One of the classic egalitarian books is “Discovering Biblical Equality” – the subtitle is “Complementarity Without Hierachy”. That reveals the true nature of our disagreement. Today’s “complementarians” are all about hierarchy of male over female, so much so that gender even trumps complementarity!

      You said yourself, in a reply to Sarah, “A man can definitely be better at managing the home and a woman can definitely be better at working outside of it. But it’s not a question of talent or gifting. It’s a question of obeying God’s Word.”

      So there you said that if the man in a relationship isn’t the most gifted to lead, you believe he should lead anyway, despite that lack, simply because of his gender. How then can you still call it complementarity? If the weaker leader is given that role simply because of gender, there is nothing complementary about it. It is patriarchy.

      I fully agree that the issue for a disciple is obeying God’s word. But I believe that the Bible shows God giving gifts to people without respect to gender, and that we are each obligated to use our gifts to their fullest. Your “complementarianism” doesn’t allow our sisters to do that.

      I think your complementarian system looks good with a few verses used as proof texts, but under scrutiny it doesn’t fit the overall biblical context well at all, and it doesn’t fit the cultural context either.

      Why would the Apostle Paul command husbands to be in authority over their wives, when they were already masters of their wives in his culture?

    3. Hi Greg,
      I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying be dismissive of your point. I explained why I don’t see abuse as a logical end of complementarianism, but I wasn’t trying to dismiss it. If I dismissed it I wouldn’t have responded to it :).

      You said:

      domestic discipline…given the reports from the Quiverfull movement and the unfortunate reported antics of RC Sproul. I’d encourage you to have a closer look, the connection is certainly there.

      I don’t have to have a look. I know it’s there! But there are “bad” cops, and I don’t write off cops. The point is complementarians sinning doesn’t mean complementarianism is wrong.

      You also said:

      So there you said that if the man in a relationship isn’t the most gifted to lead, you believe he should lead anyway, despite that lack, simply because of his gender. How then can you still call it complementarity?

      Yes, he should lead anyway, not because he’s good at it or wants to, but because God commands it. It’s complementary in that what God has called men to complements wives, and what God has called women to, complements men. Just because people don’t excel in the way God commands doesn’t mean they don’t obey God in that area.

      In regards to your question at the end, Paul commanded husbands to be the head of the relationship and lead with love and gentleness. This was a departure from the abuse and mistreatment women received in his day. Paul commanded men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This brought them a level of treatment they wouldn’t know otherwise in that culture.

      I looked at your site and your bio says, “Lover of Jesus, Lover of truth, Biblical egalitarian, Conservative Republican Louisville Cardinal fan.” The first blog post I saw was critical of complementarianism, and your second blog post was titled, “If Complementarianism is New, it Cannot be True.” We clearly probably aren’t going to agree :).

    4. Hi Scott- Of course, as an egalitarian I disagreed with quite a lot of your initial post, much of which I didn’t engage. We come from different ponts in the spectrum, and I’m sure we could debate this endlessly. My point was to engage you on specific statements that I felt were unfair or out of bounds in order to maintain the validity of the discussion. I apparently failed at that.

      You have characterized homosexual marriage, transgenderism and bisexuality not only as extreme forms of egalitarianism, but the logical ends of it. If that’s the case, one would wonder how some of the top living New Testament scholars and theologians like Craig Keener and Ben Witherington III, or Greg Boyd have all failed to think it through sufficiently to arrive at what you think is the logical conclusion. Because that’s not their conclusion at all.

      I would suggest that it’s more likely you simply don’t understand egalitarianism, which I think is shown in other ways throughout your post.

      I must say your definition of “complementary” is unique. For most people, when people “complement” each other that implies one is strong where the other is weak. The implication there is that everyone plays to their strengths.

      Your version of “complementary” is that everyone is assigned their job ahead of time and that’s the one they’ll do. So the CFO does the dishes while the construction worker balances the checkbook because that’s the way it ought to be. I would maintain that isn’t what most people consider to be complementary, but to each his own.

      May God bless your journey, Scott. Thank you for engaging.

    5. Hi Greg,
      I wouldn’t say you failed, and I’m sorry if you feel that way. Even you acknowledged that I did engage, and that’s what your desired, so in that sense you “succeeded” for lack of a better term. Just because we don’t agree isn’t a reason for regret in my mind. As you said, we come from different positions.

      The truth is, you are making me second guess my statement that, “homosexual marriage, transgenderism and bisexuality not only as extreme forms of egalitarianism, but the logical ends of it.” What I can’t get past is egalitarians blur – or destroy – the lines between the genders, and that’s what these perversions do as well. Do you agree?

      You said, “the implication is that everyone plays to their own strengths.” While this might sound good hypothetically, it fails because people decide their own strengths and weaknesses, and what happens when the husband and wife start competing with each other, because they both claim they should do this since it’s their “strength.” The better approach is everyone “plays” to God’s established role for them.

      You said:

      Your version of “complementary” is that everyone is assigned their job ahead of time and that’s the one they’ll do. So the CFO does the dishes while the construction worker balances the checkbook because that’s the way it ought to be. I would maintain that isn’t what most people consider to be complementary, but to each his own.

      It’s interesting that you said this, because in my book, Marriage God’s Way, I discuss the season of life Katie and I enter that requires us to somewhat switch roles. When she’s pregnant, at times she’s so sick she can hardly get out of bed. You can guess who takes on many of her responsibilities. I’d truly be interested in you reading my book, and if you’d consider that I’d give you a free copy.

      Despite our differences I hope the Lord blesses you and your ministry for Him. In the short communication we’ve had, you seem very sincere in your desire to serve the Lord.

  8. Love this post. Very scriptural and yes it is a very sensitive topic.
    I do think women can be good at work and leadership but their primary need is toward to home, family, children. Call me old fashioned but then my Bible teaches me so.

    1. Hi Sheetal,
      You mentioned a point that hadn’t been made yet. The “need” for women to focus their energies toward their homes, children, families, etc. Like you said, the Bible teaches that, but there’s a need for it as well.

  9. So, what exactly are “gender roles”? The woman takes care of the home and the man provides financially by working? Is it not just possible that commonly understood defined gender roles are unbiblical? Is it not possible that, while men and women carry different roles, the actions that play out those roles may shift and change according to the person? Why is marriage all about meeting the man’s needs? Is it not possible that Adam was made for Eve as much as Eve was made for Adam? Even if he was made first — God knew what was going to happen! Let’s stop trying to put people in boxes! Why can’t a man be better at managing the home and a woman be amazing at working outside of it? Let’s see some real, honest Biblical study about this. How do you explain Jael, Deborah, Abigail, Tabitha, Ruth, Lydia and the many other hardworking, honoured women in Scripture? Leaders, workers, assertive women who were called by God for a purpose, had a voice and used it. Why are women only valuable if they are married? What of the women God calls to remain single? What is their role in life? This is a very incomplete representation of God’s call to humankind. It ignores some very real, very Biblical answers about the equality and gender roles. Don’t be blinded by the traditions of men when looking at this issues, but honestly and prayerfully seek Scripture. Man isn’t more important just because he was created first anymore than grass, trees and animals are more important because they were created first. All are equally necessary for the peaceful coexistence of life.

    and: “When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
    When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.” Seriously? Do you hear yourself? Why is it all “for him”? Why shouldn’t a husband be thinking about what’s good for her? He thinks about what is good for him and she thinks about what is good for him. Here is the major flaw in your argument. Nobody cares about the woman. And that is why women want to be viewed as equal, to be as important as the male in the relationship. To be valued, to have their opinion valued, to have their worth recognized. She is NOT there solely to please him!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You wrote quite a bit, so I thought it best to respond below your words so I can answer your questions.

      So, what exactly are “gender roles”? The woman takes care of the home and the man provides financially by working?

      First, I want to say that it doesn’t matter what I think, and – no offense – it doesn’t matter at what you think either. It matters what God’s Word says, and God’s Word describes women as homemakers in the Old and New Testaments:
      • Proverbs 13:27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
      • Proverbs 14:1a The wise woman builds her house.
      • 1 Timothy 5:14 I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house.
      • Titus 2:3–5 Older women . . . admonish the young women . . . to be homemakers.

      As far as men providing financially, God put Adam in the Garden to work, and 1 Timothy 5:8 says that a man who will not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever.

      Is it not just possible that commonly understood defined gender roles are unbiblical?

      I think plenty of commonly defined gender roles are unbiblical!

      Is it not possible that, while men and women carry different roles, the actions that play out those roles may shift and change according to the person?

      Yes, there’s definitely some liberty regarding the way the roles play out, but that’s not license to discard God’s plan and simply claim, “It’s different for us.”

      Why is marriage all about meeting the man’s needs?

      I used that language in my post because I was discussing Genesis 2:18—Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

      Is it not possible that Adam was made for Eve as much as Eve was made for Adam?

      No, it’s not possible. 1 Corinthians 11:9 says, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

      Even if he was made first — God knew what was going to happen! Let’s stop trying to put people in boxes! Why can’t a man be better at managing the home and a woman be amazing at working outside of it?

      A man can definitely be better at managing the home and a woman can definitely be better at working outside of it. But it’s not a question of talent or gifting. It’s a question of obeying God’s Word.

      Let’s see some real, honest Biblical study about this. How do you explain Jael, Deborah, Abigail, Tabitha, Ruth, Lydia and the many other hardworking, honoured women in Scripture? Leaders, workers, assertive women who were called by God for a purpose, had a voice and used it.

      Yes, there are definitely some women with wonderful leadership skills, and who are hardworking and honored. 1 Peter 3:7 commands husbands to honor their wives, so I’m definitely in favor of wives being honored! The spheres in which women use their skills – in the church and the home – is simply different than the spheres for men.

      Why are women only valuable if they are married? What of the women God calls to remain single? What is their role in life?

      I would never say, “Women [are] only valuable if they are married.” That’s a terrible statement. Yes, God can call women (and men) to singleness. Their role is to serve God in their singleness. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 Paul actually said single people could serve the Lord with wholeheartedness that married people can’t since they have to “care for their spouse.”

      This is a very incomplete representation of God’s call to humankind.

      Of course it is; it’s just one post! How could a few paragraphs cover God’s call to mankind?

      My point with this post was to discuss the differences and value of complementarianism versus egalitarianism.

      It ignores some very real, very Biblical answers about the equality and gender roles.

      Okay, can you provide some of these biblical answers about gender roles? The key word is “biblical.” Please make sure your opinions are supported from Scripture.

      Regarding equality, I addressed this in the post. Different doesn’t mean unequal.

      Don’t be blinded by the traditions of men when looking at this issues, but honestly and prayerfully seek Scripture.

      That sounds good, but considering God’s Word presents different roles for men and women, egalitarians are the ones following “the traditions of men.”

      Man isn’t more important just because he was created first anymore than grass, trees and animals are more important because they were created first. All are equally necessary for the peaceful coexistence of life.

      I completely agree with your above statement!

      and: “When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
      When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.” Seriously? Do you hear yourself? Why is it all “for him”?

      Again, I used this language because it mirrored the verse I was discussing: Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

      I’d also cite 1 Corinthians 11:9 says, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

      What are your thoughts on these two verses?

      Why shouldn’t a husband be thinking about what’s good for her?

      He definitely should, and there are other verses (Ephesians 5:25-29 and 1 Peter 3:7) that make this very clear!

      He thinks about what is good for him and she thinks about what is good for him. Here is the major flaw in your argument.

      Can you tell me from my post where I argued that?

      Nobody cares about the woman. And that is why women want to be viewed as equal, to be as important as the male in the relationship. To be valued, to have their opinion valued, to have their worth recognized. She is NOT there solely to please him!

      I completely agree with your above statements. Again, I’d ask what in the post said otherwise?

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

    2. You say: “But it’s not a question of talent or gifting. It’s a question of obeying God’s Word” when God’s Word clearly calls EVERYONE to obey Him first and foremost. It sometimes is absolutely about talent and gifting. 1 Corinthians 12 makes that clear. If God gives you a gift and a calling – you’d better be ready and willing to use it, whether you are a woman or a man. I wouldn’t want to be the one who stands in the way to try to prevent someone using a God-given talent or gift because it doesn’t fit into their definition of “proper gender roles”!

      Anyway, here is my Biblical research on women’s Biblical roles. I blogged it as it’s quite lengthy. https://notjustmama2ca.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/biblical-gender-roles/

    3. Hi again Sarah,
      I understand what you’re saying, but the question is: Would God call people to use their gifts outside the ways He’s outlined in His Word? You said:

      If God gives you a gift and a calling – you’d better be ready and willing to use it, whether you are a woman or a man.

      I completely agree with this statement, but do you think God would call people to serve Him in ways He’s prohibited in Scripture?

    4. I guess my question them becomes what ways of service has God prohibited in scripture? I don’t see any prohibitions set on gender roles, can you show scripture here?

    5. Hi again Sarah,
      Good question!

      Church elders are identified as men. 1 Timothy 3:1–5 and Titus 1:6, 9 says:

      “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work . . . the husband of one wife . . . one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission. If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife . . . holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught.”

      Women are also forbidden from teaching or being in authority over men according to 1 Timothy 2:12-14. Sometimes people ask: “Why can’t women be in leadership over men in the church or in the home?” Like I said earlier, it has nothing to do with talent or gifting. Some women are fantastic teachers and leaders, and they should use their skills over other women and children. What it does have to do with is Adam’s being created first and Eve’s being deceived. Beyond that, I can’t say because those are the only two reasons Paul gives. The real question is not “Why can’t women?” The real question – and it’s the same question we always face – is, “Will we submit to God’s Word?”

  10. You tackle a very sensitive subject in an honest and direct way. You are correct that we can’t expect the world to agree with the Christian view. The egalitarian way seems to make perfect sense until you factor God into the equation. But He always knows best and has our best in mind too.

    1. Hi Tara,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your thoughts, because – at least up to this point – you’re the first female to comment, and it’s often females who struggle with complementarianism. Yes, egalitarian might intuitively seem reasonable until we consider God’s Word.

  11. Hey Scott, appreciate you tackling this topic in a straightforward, clear way. It’s hard to uphold biblical teaching on this in our culture (as you know), and I’d be interested to hear how you see the different roles playing out in real life among married couples. (Guessing you’ll address this in future posts, and have covered it in your book.)

    I’d also add that our struggles to separate role and value extend to many other areas of life, too. For example, I can remember feeling less valuable than other pastors who had a PhD and wrote books, traveled as speakers, etc. This is ultimately a struggle to believe that my value comes from the finished work of Jesus, not my role or how I live it out.

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Good to hear from you!
      Yes, upcoming posts will discuss how the different roles play out in real life. In general I’d say though, and you’re welcome to agree or disagree, that…

      Men are commanded to work and provide for their families:
      –Genesis 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
      –1 Timothy 5:8 if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
      Notice the male pronouns.

      Women are presented domestically:
      –Proverbs 13:27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
      –Proverbs 14:1a The wise woman builds her house.
      –1 Timothy 5:14 I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house.
      –Titus 2:3–5 Older women . . . admonish the young women . . . to be homemakers.

      Hmm, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of that, regarding feeling less value, but it makes sense. It is nice to know my ministry isn’t being compared to the ministry of other pastors. I can see how that would lead to the discouragement you describe, or – just as easily – pride if you happened to think your were “better.”

  12. It’s a good summary of the problem of Egalitarianism. I like your phrase that transgenderism, et al is merely a more extreme form of egalitarianism, as it is the logic of egalitarianism taken to its extreme. Egalitarians will only consistently affirm physical differences between men and women and are agnostic or in complete denial about any other aspect of our differences. The differences that God has created and ordained between men and women have a spiritual purpose to reflect God’s image in different ways. Egalitarianism denies this and puts the differences into the realm of a purely material reality. There can be no claim of sin on a purely material reality. By rejecting gender holiness Egalitarianism lays the foundation for abandoning sexual holiness.

    1. Hi Greg,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Your thoughts are a good summary of egalitarians that they only recognize the physical differences. Yes, it’s a denial of the spiritual (and emotional and mental) differences.

    2. Are these spiritual, emotional, and mental differences the basis for a male-female hierarchy? If so, will you explain what those differences are and how they correlate to the respective roles within the hierarchy?

      Kind regards.

    3. Hi Angie,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. No, I wouldn’t say hierarchy, but there is authority in the male relationship. Scripture makes this clear in a few places:

      Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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.
      1 Corinthians 11:3 I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

      What are your thoughts on these verses?

    4. Eph 5: Paul is giving a Christo-centric ethic to Greco-Roman household codes. 1 Co 11, scholars much more learned cannot find consensus, but where there is agreement is there is agreement is Paul’s culminating point is interdependence.

      I see you object to hierarchy, so I will rephrase. Are the spiritual, emotional, and mental differences the basis for male authority-female submission? If so, will you explain what those differences are and how they correlate to the respective behaviors of male authority and female submission.

      Kind regards.

    5. Angie,
      Regarding Ephesians 5 Paul was speaking to husbands and wives, giving them commands for marriage. Anyone being honest with the text can see that. The same with 1 Corinthians 11.

      We don’t know the reasons for marital submission since God doesn’t tell us. The closest explanation is in 1 Timothy 2:13 and 14 when Paul said, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

    6. Egalitarians will argue that they are not arguing for sameness because they acknowledge the existence of differences between men and women. They do this to try to misdirect the debate away from whether there are spiritually meaningful differences between men and women, which is what is at issue. If you press them on what the differences are, they are only able to be unequivocal about the existence of physical differences. Emotional differences at best are only vaguely acknowledged to exist and are lumped with physical differences, not a spiritual difference. Having a different role and a having a different spiritual purpose go together. Since Egalitarians work backwards from a denial of roles, they will deny spiritual differences. They will try to argue that men and women are both made in God’s image, thereby misdirecting the debate away from whether men and women are made in God’s image differently. These are their argumentative sleights of hand involved in trying to syncretize secular feminism with the teachings of Scripture which is what Egalitarianism is. Scripture ends up bent and broken over the wheel of feminism.

  13. Even within the Trinity, you can see a difference in roles (the Father sent the Son, the Son obeys the Father, etc.) without implying a difference in deity. Your statement, “a difference in roles and responsibilities doesn’t mean a difference in value” summarizes it well.

    1. Hi Aaron,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. In my post I said:

      God’s very nature supports this in that there are three different Persons with distinct roles, but there is still equality.

      By this statement I meant what you said in your comment, but perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. Similarly – which I’ll discuss in a later post – the Son’s submission to the Father while remaining equal with Him, demonstrates that a wife’s submission to her husband doesn’t mean she is unequal to him.

    2. Woops! I must have skipped over that sentence! My comment wasn’t due to a lack of clarity with your post, but an attempt to add something to the discussion (which was already there 🙂

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