Jan

17

2013

Fabienne Harford|10:00 PM CT

Women Are Worthy

My name is Fabienne. I'm a woman. And I'm complementarian.

I've been complementarian for about six years now.

There. I said it.

Being a complementarian means that I believe men and women are made differently. I think we are designed for different roles to reflect different parts of the character of God.

As I recently shared, I think it's time to speak up. Because despite what some may think, this belief hasn't played out in being chained to the kitchen sink or pushed to the corner. Rather, I've seen women empowered and valued.

Common Misconception

When I first heard the conviction I now embrace, I'm pretty sure I wanted to throw up. And whenever the nausea passed, I was left with a nagging sense of embarrassment.

I believed the common misconception that to be complementarian meant embracing a destiny of sitting in the corner being docile and quiet. And I was embarrassed because I'm just not the quiet and docile type, and I couldn't help but notice that teaching, prophecy, and knowledge aren't always the most beneficial skills during the church bake sale.

Thank the Lord that I work for a church that demolished those misconceptions for me.

I work for a plurality of male leadership inside a complementarian church, and every single day I come to work in one of the most intellectually challenging jobs I've ever had. I manage strategic leadership in several areas, I am frequently asked for wisdom and counsel (which is crazy if you know me), and my teaching gift was not only identified by my male elders, it was developed and continues to be championed by them.

If not for their complementarian intervention, I wouldn't be close to the woman I was made to be.

If my complementarian male co-worker hadn't challenged me to go deep in theology and deeper in the Word I would still be shallow in my faith. If my complementarian male boss hadn't empowered me to make a difference in our staff, church, and nation, I wouldn't have joined the fight, found a voice and---God forbid---I might have wasted my life.

My leadership doesn't ask me to sit down because I'm a woman. They ask me to embrace my design because they believe the kingdom of God needs all types of image bearers.

Not JV

I'll be honest: when I first heard the invitation to lead in a "female" role, I heard a call to settle for the junior varsity.

When my pastors would ask me to dream about the training we need for the women in our church, I would hear them telling me to focus on the secondary crowd while they lead the real folks. They weren't delegating that task because it was less important; they delegated it because they believe that men and women are different, so I might have something to add to the conversation because of the way I'm made.

Women under my leadership struggled for a long time---not because the men in the church didn't value them---but because I didn't value them. I was too busy wanting to play in the male sandbox to see women right in front of me who desperately needed the very gifts and design that God placed in me.

I honestly think I fought for the right to do everything the guys did because in dark and deep places in my heart I believed that what they did was more valuable. I didn't believe that a stay-at-home mom was as valuable as a CEO. I didn't believe that emotional sensitivity was as valuable as an ability to direct and lead others.

What if part of the clamor to have access to male roles exists because deep down in our hearts we're the ones who don't think men and women are equal? What if we're the ones who think male roles are more valuable than female roles? What if we're the ones who believe the lie that if we get "stuck" doing ministry with women we won't have the power to influence or change the church?

As I've focused on developing women in our church I've learned a few things:

  • Women aren't dumber than men.
  • Women can go as deep theologically as men.
  • Women can be a part of changing the world.
  • Women are hungry for women to start taking them seriously.
  • My male complementarian leadership never thought otherwise. I did.

Fabienne Harford lives in Austin, Texas, where she works as the director of women's training at The Austin Stone Community Church. You can find more thoughts from Fabs at fabsharford.com.

Categories: Commentary, Testimony
  • Sarah R

    Fabienne, thanks for this. I'm a young woman who found herself accidentally on staff at a complementarian church. I could not be happier, feel more valued, or have more freedom. I love how you describe that you literally heard "what you wanted to hear" in your leadership's direction and delegation. I think this is a really common problem that can't be overlooked - you were so set on this certain framework of thinking that you couldn't see any other options. It's important for me to consider that as I come into contact with women who are strongly egalitarian. Often logic and persuasion simply will not work. Not until the heart is softened, anyway. Thanks.

  • Nell

    Sarah

    You say that egalitarians need to have their hearts "softened?" Perhaps it is complementarians who need the same? Complementarians have softened hearts and egalitarians do not. Unfortunately your comment just adds to the debate. One more Christianese word to fling in the food fight.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Good for you. I'm happy for your experience of being released to use your gifts.

    That's not always the experience of women in complementarian churches, however. And not, as you imply was the case for you, because women don't value other women.

    Committed complementarians I know DO value women. But at least some committed complementarians I know behave in ways that seem to value the equipping of Christian sisters less than those of brothers and are slow to release them to use their giftings if those giftings are not consistent with their stereotypes. That's not God's heart for any of his children.

    In a world so marred by sin, sons and daughters of God must pull together to preach the gospel, care for the hurting, defend the vulnerable and witness to the amazing transforming power of our Savior.

    I'm not dissing complementarianism. I'm grateful for your experience. I've had some really beneficial times of growth and experienced great care in complementarian environments too. But I've also experienced the subtle accusation you've made here - that if something is lacking in the way women are taught, equipped, and released, it must be that I don't value children or women (or "women's gifts") sufficiently. Not necessarily, brothers and sisters, not necessarily...

  • Quinn

    Dear Gospel Coalition…

    Why the hyper-focus on Complementarianism? I understand your intentions of trying to draw women and men into an understanding of it…but belaboring the subject isn’t necessarily going to make this go your way. Personally, articles like these continue to further alienate me from Christianity b/c despite what the author states, Complementarianism does not line up with my lived experience as a Christian. Called by the Holly Spirit, I have served and led both men and women and in church. My home church thrives with both men and women at the helm of leadership. After 8 years of marriage, my husband and I have struck a peaceful balance when we both take turns leading in ways that reflect our talents and abilities. Asking women to write these “convincing” articles looks like a desperate attempt to repair the unpopular image of complementarianism .

    • Kraz

      "Asking women to write"

      Who says she was asked rather than wanted to write it for herself?

      They 'hyper-focus' for the most part are women speaking for themselves. I know it'd be a lot easier for egalitarians if complimentarian women just shut up, stopped speaking of their experiences and let egalitarians define what it means to be a woman in a complimentarian relationship but that isn't the reality.

      Hopefully as complimentarian women continue to speak egalitarians will see that they are neither lobotimised stepford wives or timid mice yearning to be free, but sisters in Christ of equal worth.

    • CG

      I imagine TGC focusing on it a lot lately because it's been attacked a lot lately from others inside the church, on the basis of misunderstandings and misrepresentations.

      You say, "my husband and I have struck a peaceful balance when we both take turns leading in ways that reflect our talents and abilities". That you even bring this up indicates you continue to hold to a misguided caricature of complementarians (as if complementarian marriages don't divide up responsibilities!), and thus, articles like this continue to be needed.

    • Matt

      just want to comment shortly: you said "Complementarianism does not line up with my lived experience as a Christian"

      I challenge all of us, as I do myself: be formed by the Word of God. We can, by the Holy Spirit's power, rise above our personal experiences, both good and bad, and even the era we live in, to live in the truth of God's word which is eternal. I have heard very similar statements as to why egalitarians arrived at their positions. I suggest you start over in the Word of God, and let that form your experience.

      A Spiritually strong man knows how to willingly submit himself to Christ, and a Spiritually strong woman willingly submits herself to her husband. And everyone willingly submits to the ecclesia, the government, our "masters," and ultimately God who ordains all this in proper order.

      God Bless Sister

      • Quinn

        Matt,

        Thank you for your kind reply. I suppose the issue I keep running into is that I feel there are equally good arguments for Complementarianism and Egalitarianism when it comes to the bible. Scripture, when interpreted, can support either belief. Just depends which theologian you listen to. I have read extensively on both positions and attended both Complementarian and egalitarian churches. So I choose the belief system that makes the most sense to me based on listening to the Holy Spirit minister in my life and my lived experience in community.

        • Phil

          Quinn: The primary way to judge a doctrine or theological position is by Scripture; on that we seem to agree.

          However, I have a secondary motto: "You know a theology by the company that it keeps."

          In other words, look not only at the doctrine, but the fruit of those who embrace and promote it. And in doing so, we may need to look across decades or even generations to see how those doctrines play out.

          In the case of denominations and movements that have rejected historically held "complementarianism" (to use the modern term), MANY if not MOST of those denominations and movements have gone on to theological liberalism and doctrinal compromise in subsequent decades and generations. In fact, the exceptions to that path are just that: exceptions. Few have gone down that path and remained doctrinally and morally faithful (the Nazarenes in the U.S. are an example of such exception), and I can't think of any that don't also reject the Doctrine of Grace, too. But when others have gone down that path, they found themselves plagued with wolves attacking the sheep from within very soon thereafter. The Reformed Church in America (RCA) is a good example of this advanced decay, with the CRC (Christian Reformed Church) now following in their steps, about two decade behind. The now-liberal "mainline" churches in the U.S. went down this path a couple generations ago, and they now stand like the smoldering ruins of the Solomon's Temple; hideous monuments to a once great people of God.

          • Quinn

            Thanks for your response Phil. With respect to where I get my doctrine, The church I attend which is the Christian Missionary Alliance church is theologically conservative. You may not be familiar with this denomination as it exists only in Canada I think. It is not considered mainline. It however, just this past summer, decided to begin ordaining women...which I was pleased to see. Only time will tell whether this will result in a moral decline or not.

            I have always felt a visceral sense of embarrassement and shame being a woman in a complementarian church. There was always an internal conflict while I was trying to follow the rules of where I could and mostly could not serve and what I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to do. I have not been able to reconcile this until I dropped the complementarian mentality and just started being who I was meant to be.

            Best,
            Quinn

            • Phil

              Hi Quinn. It makes we wonder: Do your pastors have any authority?

              If "no," then a denomination of powerless/non-authoritative pastors has drifted even further out of line with Scripture (e.g., Heb. 13:17, 1 Thess. 5:12, etc.).

              If "yes" your pastors do hold positions of authority (such as doctrinal and/or disciplinary authority) then your pastors' husbands are *NOT* in an "egalitarian" relationship alongside their wives, but are in submission under them.

              You write: "I have always felt a visceral sense of embarrassement and shame being a woman in a complementarian church." As the author if this article explained, that complex is *entirely* on you; a misunderstanding and devaluing taking place within you, and not a doctrinal problem. When an egalitarian retorts that complementarianism is "degrading" because "women are 'only' allowed to teach women"...well, the premise of that line if thinking is that it's beneath them to teach women.

            • Al

              @Phil
              You are confusing a fact with a premise.

              When an egalitarian says 'only allowed to...' it's nothing to do with being beneath them to teach women. If that is what you are called and equipped to do then that is recognized as a serious contribution. There is also nothing demeaning about teaching children or offering hospitality through what are culturally traditional occupations for women. I know of no egalitarian churches or women who would ever teach or demonstrate such an attitude. They'd be sat on pretty hard if they did as it is inconsistent with egalitarian theology.

              The word 'only' simply refers to that the fact that there are certain limitation of the role of a woman in church life.

              You don't have to agree whether this is a right or wrong application of scripture - it is a straightforward statement of fact to say that, whilst you are highly gifted as a pastor and a teacher, you can only exercise those gifts/calling in a certain sphere.

    • http://fabsharford.com Fabs

      Hey Quinn!

      Thanks for your comment! I wanted to respond because it was such a hard decision for me to write on this issue. Mainly because I don't want to get caught up in argument and debate, and I long for the church to unify and not divide.

      I felt burdened to write on this topic for the reasons I outlined here:http://www.fabsharford.com/its-time-to-speak/

      I care about women's roles in the church, but far more than that I care about the way my generation of women interact with the Bible. I am starting to see a dangerous resistance to any theology that might harm culture. I guess my concern is how our culture is affecting our theology.

      The debate on this issue matters to me because I think it's a symptom of a bigger problem: a world where we are determining what is true based on the implications and applications; based on our version of reason and logic. I long to help encourage and empower a generation of women who stand on the Word, even when it's inconvenient. I want us to be people who fight the lie (that has been the source of all sin since the garden) that God's direction is designed to limit us, when in reality I believe it will set us free.

      Hope that helps clarify!

    • Angie

      I really appreciate the honesty of Fabienne's post. I find too often women (and men) do not fully grasp the status of females as ezer kenegedo, and we can too easily slip into that wrong thinking i.e. females are junior varsity, junior assistant. Earlier this week Tim Challies writes this: "Explicitly the word (ezer) implies that the woman would have a subordinate role in the relationship." [http://www.challies.com/christian-living/embracing-dependence-and-celebrating-need#more] In part, it is poor interpretations of scripture that cause us to come away with the thought that females are junior varsity or assistant to males. Thinking of females as "junior varsity" or, as Challies explains, subordinates in a serving role has consequences for how we think about ourselves and other women and our place as co-vice regents of God’s good creation i.e. "women aren't worthy".

      If, as Fabienne claims, females are to reflect a certain character of God and men are to reflect a different certain character of God, then neither are fully reflecting the character of God. God calls us all, male and female, “to be conformed [fully] to the image of his Son” (Ro 8:29), to have Christ [fully] “formed” in us (Gal 4:19), to have our minds [fully] renewed and transformed (Ro 12:1), to have the mind of Christ [fully] (Ph 2:5), to put on the new self which is being renewed in the image of the Creator as we come to know him (not partial image for male and a distinct partial image for female) (Co 3:10), and many more.

      • Steve Matthews

        Small quibble with the Hebrew that you cite. Not sure how it's being used in your post, but the term עזר often translated as "help, helper" does not imply subordination in any way. As has often been pointed out, God is sometimes spoken of as being "an ezer" for humans, which of course does not imply that God is subordinate to humans.

        As far as כנגדו is concerned, this is not a qualitative or descriptive indication of the kind of "helper" made for Adam. Rather, the root נגד carries the sense of "revealing" or "making known." Its use to modify עזר simply builds on the theme of a helper not being found by Adam among the animals. Thus, God is saying that he will make a helper for Adam and this helper will be readily visible and apparent to Adam, in contrast to Adam's earlier frustrating and ineffective search.

        This isn't a commentary on the merits of complementarian or egalitarian views. I have my own opinions, of course, but my main goal is to make sure that people are not trying to support or attack arguments on the basis of faulty exegesis or poor understanding of the original languages.

        • Angie

          Steve,

          I want to confirm I was indeed citing a hierarchical-complementarian blogger (Challies) with whom I have a not so small quibble about his understanding of ezer. I was citing him because I believe his interpretation of ezer as a female subordinate servant to a higher ranking male is faulty. When this view is propagated through teaching, whether behind a pulpit or a blog, it will have implications about how men and women think about women. I, too, do not believe ezer is intended to be a qualitative or necessarily a descriptor indication of the kind of "helper" made for Adam.

          Respectfully...

    • Hope

      Quinn,

      I agree with your comment above and experience many of the same things, especially with what you mentioned about marriage.

      I've found the husband-wife team of Soulation a wonderful ministry speaking into a void in the church. They often tackle these questions with no Christianeese allowed. Here are a couple of my favorite articles on the topic (although they pretty much write on every topic):

      http://soulation.org/jonalynblog/2012/05/is-patriarchy-more-beautiful-than-egalitarianism.html

      http://soulation.org/breakfastreading/2012/08/makings-of-a-reluctant-complementarian.html

      They are even having an egalitarian marriage retreat this summer! Have you ever heard of such a thing? I'm excited to attend. http://soulation.org/gatherings/

      • Akash

        Lol you know people are not biblical when majority of their articles for men are on why they should be a stay at home dad??!
        Seems Dale is a bit to nervous to become one on his own?

    • Mel

      Quinn

      How can we be hyper-focused on homosexuality, abortion, and leadership roles?
      I hear this argument over and over with whatever subject a person doesn't want to hear anything more about. Often it comes with the emotional threat of wanting to leave the faith or the church because of the rest of us. Maybe I'm becoming overly sensitive to this from taking care of two year olds and teenagers all the time. I apologize.

      Growth is hard. It is hard for the individual and it is hard for the church. We need to do it with support of each other instead of having emotional tear downs.

      I am confused why so many seem threatened by this subject and it doesn't help my learning process when I have to sort through the accusations.

      We can't forget why we are having these discussions. Because we are nothing without Christ. Christ died for us. That has to be first over everything.

  • HLP

    As Quinn stated, I find that Gospel Coalition is hyper-focused on complementarianism. As an egalitarian (and as a Bible teacher who teaches both men and women), it would be nice to see a more balanced approach to this topic. I appreciated what Fabienne had to say about her experience in a complementarian setting, but I stand by my belief that God gives gifts to men and women alike, including the gift of teaching, and that gift can be expressed in more than just the "women's pastor" role. Should women be in the role of women's pastor? Absolutely - just as if there were a position called "men's pastor," a man should be in that role. But when it comes to leading/teaching a congregation of both men and women, I think Scripture is clear that s/he with the necessary gifts should be in that role, regardless of gender. The Holy Spirit does not distribute "pink" and "blue" versions of giftings! I feel that the emphasis on men in leadership roles is based on a misunderstanding of verses such as 1 Timothy 2:12, and Titus 1:6; when one looks at the historical background of these books, it would seem that Paul is more concerned that teachers are presenting the Gospel accurately (the women in Ephesus were not, and thereby Paul forbids them to teach, just as he spoke out against all false teachers, including men), and that elders have only one spouse, rather than giving into the cultural acceptance of infidelity. My passion for egalitarianism is rooted in seeing both men and women walk in their giftings in whatever way God would lead them, whether that is leadership, eldership, or in serving one's own gender.

    • Glenn

      HLP - With all respect I have a few comments.

      You said, "I think Scripture is clear that s/he with the necessary gifts should be in that role, regardless of gender." And then to support your "thinking" you speak about the Holy Spirit and what 'he' does or does not do. Finally, you essentially say that anyone who disagrees has a poor understanding of Scripture and specifically 1 Tim. 2:12 and Titus 1:6.

      First, I "think" when we read Scripture we do not see a direct relationship to gifts of the Holy Spirit, gifting as you call it, and leadership roles, whether in the church or the home.

      Secondly, the whole of Scripture, not just the classic "male" passages that you refer to, points to men as those whom God, the Lord, holds responsible for leadership roles in certain situations. The classic is of course Jesus who chose 12 men to be His Apostles. If there was ever a person who wasn't concerned about being politically correct, only choosing men because it might upset the powers that be, it was Jesus. Nope, he chose men because that is what he wanted to do. He wanted them to be responsible for being the ones that he would use to build his church.

      Finally, this issue is important but shouldn't so divide us. I have often said (somewhat tongue-in-cheek ;-) that I became a complenentarian because my wife requires it of me. The one thing that I appreciate about this article is that this woman sounds like my wife who is a great leader and my equal in every way. That said, she expects that I will lead her, our family and our church as a servant-leader, in the same way that Christ loves His church.

  • Jared

    I honestly wonder why this issue (Egalitarianism vs. Complementarianism) is such a big issue on Reformed websites. And indeed - that seems like the only place where it's such a big deal; Reformed websites. Let's roll with "Reformed Blogging Community" (RBC) to represent TGC and other similarly minded websites for the rest of this comment.

    I wonder why the RBC seems to feel the need to trot out a happy complementarian every other week to tell us how happy they are in their complementarianism? Does the RBC feel as though it needs to continually demonstrate the joy that this philosophy brings to prove its validity?

    I wonder why the RBC will not challenge those "extreme" complementarians with the same ferocity with which they challenge egalitarians. I won't name names, but I believe it common knowledge that there are those in the complementarian camp who advocate for some completely unbiblical applications of complementarian thought.

    I wonder why Complementarianism has become such a robust, well thought out, gigantic theological structure among the RBC. The structure is a mountain based on 2 oz. of Biblical data. (I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm just saying the mountain is too big.)

    I wonder why the RBC feels the need to comment on every instance of egalitarianism possible. I read an article where a prominent RBC-er commented on a Tide commercial. A TIDE COMMERCIAL. Really? Does the RBC have so little belief in the theological astuteness of its readers that they feel they have to challenge commercials?

    These are things I wonder.

    • Kraz

      It's a lost - lose situation.

      When complimentarian women say nothing, people say "if complimentarianism wasn't oppressive then women would be happy to talk about it".
      But then when women do speak of their experiences and try to correct some of the misconceptions people have about them, people say "If you were really happy then you wouldn't need to keep talking about how happy you are."

      Personally I prefer that complimentarian women are sharing their experiences. I'm not sure telling them, basically, "you're talking too much" is an effective way to silence their experiences.

      • Jared

        I want to hear from complementarian women as well.

        But I want to hear from them on all sorts of issues; TGC seems to only "allow" them to write about what a happy complementarian they are.

        So yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you - I too prefer that they share their experiences. But please, TGC, please... widen your horizon a little bit.

        • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

          Jared, is it possible that you're only reading the articles from women who address gender roles? Feel free to browse the archives and give us a report.

        • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

          After you've finished reading everything women write for this site, Jared, I'd encourage you to browse the archives of this conference and see if your thesis holds up. Then we welcome you to offer your analysis.

        • CG

          Jared, maybe your radar is only noticing the articles on complementarianism? Because the notion that that's the only thing they're writing about is completely false.

          • Jared

            First, I'd like to apologize for being snippy and curt. It is altogether too easy to forget that you are speaking to real humans when you're just typing into your computer, and fire off responses without thinking, so for that I am very sorry to Kraz, TGC, Collin, and anyone else who may have perceived a slight. Please forgive me (and I really mean that).

            That said, I would like to add that I did try to look through the archives, because I took your request quite seriously. I do want to know the truth. I went to Articles, and then sorted by name. Most names are men's names, so I searched through the columns for women's names. Most of those that I found brought up either nothing or some kind of error. I did succeed in finding one article that was both by a woman and not about complementarianism.

            As for the Women's conference, I'm not sure that "counts." I'm not talking about a dedicated conference to a specific audience. I'm not even really singling out TGC, as my earlier comment pointed out. I'm talking about the day-in, day-out workings of the Reformed Blogging Community.

            I do really wonder about the questions I asked above. I do really wonder why so few women write for these blogs about so few topics (although, in my mind, this is only a minor piece of the bigger questions I asked above).

            And finally - I do wish to stress that I do not think that these types of articles are "all" that women write about on these sites. I do think that these types of articles make up the lion's share of what women write about in the Reformed Blogging Community. And please, let me add that I am both "Reformed" and a "Complementarian."

            • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen
            • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              And I should also mention that you'll be excited to see a couple articles from women that will be posted on Monday. And like every other article I've cited, they're not writing about gender roles.

            • Jared

              Thank you for the links and notes about Monday, Collin. I will indeed be glad to have read/read articles that are not about gender roles.

            • Rachael Starke

              Sorry for the double posting of comments sort of out of order, but one other thing struck me in regards to your question, and it relates to my comment below about women being intentionally invested in in terms of theological training, leadership, etc. One of the logical consequences of so many churches passively or actively neglecting to invest in the training of women to teach other women anything other than the usuals was that these women simply didn't exist. Or rather, they did, but they really didn't have a voice outside of their local church (if it was heard, instead of quieted). The Internet and social media has totally changed that. Many women I've befriended through TGC and social media say the same thing - that it feels like we're in the early stages of a renaissance in womens' ministry within the church. And like previous renaissances, the early stages are going to be somewhat messy, and we're going to have to keep working to sort out some of these differences. But the messiness and the disagreements I see as progress.

            • Kraz

              "First, I'd like to apologize for being snippy and curt. It is altogether too easy to forget that you are speaking to real humans when you're just typing into your computer, and fire off responses without thinking, so for that I am very sorry to Kraz, TGC, Collin, and anyone else who may have perceived a slight. Please forgive me (and I really mean that)."

              Jared, I accept your apology and, to be honest, I am in the same boat. Sorry if my response was overly hostile or negative. However I still stand by my point, complimentarian women only seem to be acceptable in some circles as something which is talked about (or pitited, or helped, etc.) rather than as people to be heard from.

            • Al

              I've read through the articles that are helpfully listed by Colin and as I usually look at the articles written by women so none of them were new to me. All but one of those listed are about what are often seen as women specific interests so I think that Jared's comments about the limited nature of the topics that women write about, are valid.

              Over the past two years I've been following TGC I have noticed that the women tend to write in a similar style which, as a woman, I don't find in the least attractive. They always reference their own experience, it's usually based around children and the home or their marriage and it somehow does lack gravitas. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS and sometimes referencing those home and relationship based experiences are relevant but for the most part it just comes across as frothy and limited.

              So my question is this: why aren't there more articles written by what would be considered by anyone to be 'heavy weight' female complementarian theologians? Women who teach theology regularly and write about it? You must have women theologians who can write on doctrine in more academic ways in a style that is not just that of a female part time blogger that could be appreciated by more than just other women? I hasten to add that I do enjoy some female focused blogs but I don't tend to go to them for theological instruction which is why I come to TGC site.

              I know that some complementarians would have difficulty in reading articles on doctrine by women who are officially in church leadership positions but many complementarians will accept the teaching of women professors in seminaries so how about inviting some of these women to contribute?

            • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

              Trying to post this in response to AI (not sure if it will end up in the right place):

              I think your reaction is precisely what the author is fighting against--how can we say that we view men and women as equals, that we respect whatever role and calling they have as necessary to the functioning of society and the church, and then criticize women for writing about issues that are specific to their experience?

              Now I'll quickly agree with you that some writers are more engaging than others and some are better at drawing our spiritual truth. Some are simply good at what they do than others are not--but that is true of both men and women. I hope it's just the lack of writing chops that bothers you and not the topics. Just because a particular piece is a theological treatise doesn't make it more valuable than the quiet reflections rooted in practical, daily life.

              And yes, quite frankly, a lot of women do write about gender and home issues because that is what is happening in their lives right now--this is what they contribute to the larger body of Christ. They are learning things about the Gospel in this context that others can't. Also if you spend time on emergent blogs written by young women, you'll find the same proportion of articles dealing with these issues of gender, comp/egal issues, home and parenting--only from a different perspective.

              Didn't mean to deluge you... (stepping off my soap box now)

            • Al

              @Hannah
              You may be happy to read article after article demonstrating the limitations that women place upon themselves but many women are not. The topics most certainly DO bother me. They are highly relevant to many women but not to all and there are many women in complementarian churches who are bored to tears with these sort of topics.

              Fabienne concludes:
              Women aren't dumber than men.
              Women can go as deep theologically as men.
              Women can be a part of changing the world.
              Women are hungry for women to start taking them seriously.

              So, I say again, where are the articles by the theologians in the complementarian camp who are female that can prove what she asserts? It beggars belief that a woman in this day and age has to be convinced in the first place that women aren't dumber than men but that aside, if you want women to go as deep theologically as men then the complementarian world is going to have to do better than what is currently on offer from the women in it.

              If you want other women to take you seriously then you'll have to up your game. It's what the men who have a public profile in the complementarian world have done and there is no reason why the women can't do the same. Women can't get by with the sort of lightweight fare so many seem to think is acceptable. It's not cute or appealing to other women - it's boring and just plain embarrassing.

              I am convinced that there are plenty of intellectual deep thinking women with serious academic credentials as well as the life experience to back then up who aren't obsessed by their home life but interested in theology outside themselves - they are out there but they are not given the exposure that their male peers are. So where are they and why aren't we hearing their voices?

            • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

              @AI,

              But isn't this precisely a type of elitism that says that certain things are more "serious" than others? Doesn't this attitude just fuel the presumed inferiority that we're all fighting against? When you say that certain topics--e.g. home and family--are less significant, less deeply theological than say, an exposition of the nature of corporate worship, aren't you elevating one aspect of Christian experience over another? How is it that our definition of what is valuable has been hijacked by academia and professional ministry?

              Certainly I'm not content with fluff, certainly I want women AND men to think and write with depth and theological rigor, but the problem isn't simply a matter of topic or content. Case in point, Ann Voskamp roots tremendous amount of her writing in a domestic context and yet, no one accuses her of "fluff." (The NY Times best seller list certainly didn't.)

              I do understand your frustration with fluffy writers, but I'm simply suggesting that accusing women who write about gender issues or home life of somehow being sub-standard is highly chauvinistic. Sure there are women writers I don't like reading, but there are just as many men that I don't read (even when they are writing about "theological" ideas)simply because they are bad writers and can't make a coherent point. Gender and topic choice should have nothing to do with it.

            • Al

              @Hannah - you are not addressing my point and you are clearly taking this personally. I know nothing about you so if you write exclusively about gender and domestic type issues I can understand why but you are not addressing my point.

              The problem isn't women writing about domestic issues and making a theological point out of their experiences - the problem is that this is what they seem to do almost all of the time in complementarian circles. No where have I said that domestic matters, gender and experiences aren't important simply that women in complementarian circles use them as their reference points almost exclusively.

              It demonstrates the inability to step outside the domestic and relationship world and this is very frustrating to read all the time when you are a man or a woman who has a much wider experience than that. Over time it says that complementarian women are limited in their experiences and understanding of life and theology. I am sure that is not a message that you or any other woman wants to portray to the egalitarian world but this is what has happened and will continue to do so unless something changes.

              Many of the men who are writing on the TGC have degrees and postgraduate qualifications. The women who are writing on the TGC are sometimes equally qualified but usually do not present themselves professionally. In order to be taken seriously it is evident that being a homemaker and wife is really the major qualification. Bright and intelligent women are selling themselves short and are being encouraged to do so. Disagree with me? Then up your game and prove me wrong because there's nothing attractive to an egalitarian woman to witness this.

              So, I say it again, if you want to be taken seriously as complementarians who value the gifting of all then roll out the women who are professional theologians as well as the tales from domesticity. Bring out the women who scholars of Greek and Hebrew, who deal with the doctrine of the Trinity and the intricacies of Biblical history. Where are they? The fact that this is not happening speaks volumes because there are plenty of such women in the egalitarian world and they have the same respect that any man would have because of their qualifications.

              Incidentally, it is unfair to Ann Voskamp to bring her into this discussion. She produces excellent and insightful articles - she goes deep, no question about it, but they are not written as theological articles and she doesn't pretend that they are - they serve a different and valid purpose in instruction but it's not where you would go for theological instruction - they are more like theological reflections. If you think that is where you would go for theological instruction it says to me that your diet is lacking.

              Women who are highly educated with professional qualifications want something more and so far, with a few exceptions, the complementarian world is failing to provide it.

            • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              Not that I think making this comment will make any difference, especially since we're arguing over selective use of anecdotes hiding behind entrenched views, but upcoming articles feature a seminary-trained woman who has devoted her life to reaching the working class of Taiwan, and another woman who earned her PhD in English from Vanderbilt. She will be writing about the literary contributions of Flannery O'Connor. This event also featured a wide cross-section of women serving in a variety of roles from academic teaching to publishing to homemaking.

            • Al

              @Colin 'we're arguing over selective use of anecdotes hiding behind entrenched views' Er - no! This discussion is certainly not that! The evidence is plain for all to see on TGC site itself. Check it out yourself.

              It is clear that many complementarian women are concerned by the way in which they are perceived so their contributions will have to be more evident in accessible public ways if they are going to put the record straight. A conference is not accessible in the way this site is and few egalitarians would be going to the event anyway - and certainly no men.

              I look forward very much to reading the articles by the women you mention - topics about which I know next to nothing - it's always good to learn. Just let's have more of them please.

            • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              How do you know few egalitarian women attended the event? Because I helped organize the event, and we heard from lots of egalitarian women who learned a lot and made it a point of telling us. Did you attend? Did you talk to anyone who did? Have you watched or listened to any of the media? Do you know any of the speakers personally?

            • Al

              @Colin What a very interesting response from you! I do not know how many egalitarian women attended the event but, in my comment above, I did not exclude the possibility that some did attend. I'm sure there were lots of good things to say about the conference and egalitarians are a pretty gracious bunch as a rule so I'm not surprised they gave you as much good feedback as they could. You should be aware that they are very pro women and they'd want to encourage your women as much as possible and would not want to pull them down. But I'm pretty certain that unless you did a survey that you don't know either how many egalitarian women were there either. Did you do a survey to establish the percentage of egalitarian women compared to complementarian women? That would be an interesting exercise. Maybe you could do that for the next conference.

              I am left unclear why you feel the need to ask me lots of questions about the conference as that is pretty much irrelevant to this discussion as it not accessible to many people and in any event, I have not criticized any of the speakers who were there. They were probably excellent. I have to ask though: if they are good as you hold them out to be then why aren't they contributing as much as their male counterparts on the public forum that is TGC?

              Your response is fascinating though. Do you realise how terribly defensive you sound? Clearly I have hit a nerve.

              In the absence of a reply to my main question I have asked all along (where are all the female complementarian theologians who can grapple with theological issues at depth - intellectually and academically as well as experientially?) there are only two conclusions I can reach.

              The first is that you don't know where they are - but then you seem to think they were at your conference speaking on a wide variety of topics so that can't be right. You do have some who would fit the description and are on a par with your male theologians. Let's discount that one then. Which leads me on to the second conclusion: you do not want to admit in writing and in public, that you do not want such women to have too much exposure on your site.

              In which case the question would be why? From my knowledge of the complementarian world there are many complementarians who will not even accept a well qualified woman writing about theology in public outside the context of a church and many of them are involved in TGC. Can it be that the real reason there is such a dearth of high quality theological teaching from women on TGC is because you don't want to upset such folk or maybe you even agree with them? I can see why men who don't even think women are allowed to read a Bible in a public service or pray aloud would object. They wouldn't have to read the articles of course but they wouldn't want other men who have a more flexible attitude to be tempted to read them eeither.

              In which case, just have the courage of your convictions and say it instead of deflecting the question with a red herring. At least everyone will know where they are then.

            • http://thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              If you can provide a list of the women theologians you have in mind who fit with TGC's confessional statement and theological vision for ministry, that would be helpful. I'm always willing to add to my list.

            • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

              @AI Wow. How quickly we have played into the stereotype that women take everything personally...

              1. I write about a wide variety of topics including "theologial" ones(I'll provide links if you wish) and I just signed a book contract to write about finding identity as image bearers; but I have had to struggle through feelings of inferiority when I do choose to write about domestic issues--probably because of reactions like yours.

              2. I don't believe it is necessary to think about the gender of the person writing the article--as a woman, when I want to read about theology, I read about theology. Women who are starving for something *more* should stop worrying about whether it is written by a man or a woman. Good writing is good writing. Full stop.

              3. TGC is not an academic theology blog. It covers a wide variety of subjects from church life, to pop culture, to the home and attempts to tie it to the gospel from a generally reformed perspective. If this were ETS, you'd have a point. As it is not, you don't.

              4. We must stop being intellectual snobs. The majority of the church is made up of people who are not academics and could never plow their way through theologically academic writing. When Jesus came, he taught in parables and stories--he used domestic life and work to teach the greater realities of heaven. Funny thing is that the only people who rejected Him were the "learned" types. I'm not anti-academic, but I am against the type of prejudice that says that academic writing is somehow more significant or more spiritually-formative than other types of writing.

              5. You seem to look down on your complementarian sisters who devote their writing to domesticity--I truly believe that you want to elevate them and to celebrate their gifting, but don't you recognize that this need to elevate them is intrinsically rooted in the belief that what they are doing is inferior?

              It's obvious that you and I are both passionate and outspoken people--we would probably have a fantastic time over coffee and make great friends. I agree that women sometimes limit themselves, but I cannot agree with your reasoning and how you interpret those limitations. Certainly we need deep, robust writing--but let's move past the artificial categories of gender and topic.

            • Akash

              The whole idea of egalitarianism and feminism is based on beliefs that

              women who choose to focus on their homes are inferior/stupid/individuals who cannot think for themselves

              and a woman who chooses to follow Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter and Titus 2:5-i.e the bible are being oppressed(by the bible) even though they are reading it in simple man's terms.

              the reason for this is our culture elevates the marketplace so much that one who does any thing else is a loser-as a result the man's role as provider is now seen as superior(the irony of egal/feminism!)s

  • Rachael Starke

    Jared,

    I'll add my encouragement to Collin's for you to check out the conference archive, along with this blog. Look for writing by Kathleen Nielson and Nancy Guthrie in particular.

    It's interesting that you see Complementarianism represented here as a "robust, well though out theological structure." I actually see the as the opposite - a catch-all shortcut of a term that means way too many disparate things to be helpful, to the point of promoting confusion. Fabienne's piece is an example. She references both stay at home motherhood and the intentional investment of her pastor in her teaching/leadership gifts as part of a vision for womens' teaching at her church as aspects of complementarianism. But there are complementarians who don't see stay at home motherhood as a prescriptive or primary part of this view. (I'm one of them, because I see complementarianism as a view that encompasses our identities as male and female across all seasons of life, not just motherhood.) And I know far too many churches where the intentional investment in womens' ministry and women leaders is either neglected or outright rejected, out of the belief that teaching and leadership are inherently male roles. IOW, like EMSDG, I have not been in a church that practices such an intentional investment in womens' ministry and theological education as Fabienne has been blessed to experience. It's the very reason I follow TGC's ministry and am so thankful for conferences like TGCW.

    That's a long way of saying that, sort of like the term "evangelicalism", "complementarianism" is a term that's been overused before it was ever well-defined, and it's overdue for an overhaul.

    • Jared

      Thank you Rachael.

      Let me say that I agree with you - Complementarianism IS a term that is loose and disparate. In its vague form, it is a philosophy that I agree with - men and women have equal but different roles before God. Very good - this is easy to see in Scripture.

      But the problem comes when people try to get more specific. Your example is a a great one - stay at home moms (SAHMS). I think that most in the Reformed Blogging Community would disagree with you there, and say that you MUST be a SAHM (or your wife must be one), or you are not truly a Complementarian. This is precisely what I mean when I say that Complementarianism has outgrown the Bible and become a top-heavy theological/philosophical structure.

      I'm not sure what "IOW" and "EMSDG" mean.

      • Rachael Starke

        :) Sorry - IOW means "in other words". EMSDG is the commenter named EMSoliDeoGloria, with whom I often agree in these discussions, but who has chosen a name that is tricky for me to type quickly.

        • Jared

          Ah - now I see.

          I guess my only follow up now that I understand your last point, is that my frustration is voiced by my wife. She longs for deep, theological, Biblical teaching and training but usually avoids Reformed websites to get it because she has to wade through dozens of articles about wearing dresses or keeping up her home to get to it.

          So yes - where there exists deep, thoughtful, compassionate, Biblical teaching for women (or anyone else, for that matter!), I am happy for it, as you are.

  • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

    As a complementarian woman (who also happens to be a freelance writer and has occasionally written for TGC), I often ask myself similar questions about the topics that I choose write about--I struggle with the fear of getting boxed into gender issues and being taken less seriously as a writer by people who do not consider them a "legitimate" topic. But I've come to realize that I often choose to write about them precisely because they are so relevant--both to my own life and to the broader societal conversation. Because honestly, it is not simply the reformed community who is talking about gender; EVERYONE is talking about gender--from politicians, to emergent bloggers, to the Anglican church. Don't fault women writers who simply want to be part of the larger conversation and offer their own perspective (even if it doesn't fit with what modern women are "supposed" to think.)

  • Quinn

    I don't have a problem with anyone wanting to be a complementarian. That is A-okay with me. If that is what you feel brings you into closer communion with God, well that is great. If it works for your marriage...hooray! What I have a problem with is when certain organizations such as TGC promote complementarianism as THE ONLY way for women and men to live a gospel-centered, Christ-honoring life. As a mutualist/egalitarian...I can do this too. I can love Jesus, follow Jesus and live a life that honors Him and still be part of a church community that supports women as elders/senior teaching pastors and have a marriage which we (my husband and I) mutually submit to each others leadership. I am no more or less of a Christian that a Complementarian. We just chose different ways to live our lives.

    • Akash

      many churches also say that heterosexual marriage is the only way to live life to the fullest

      We seek to follow God no matter how much we fail
      and newsflash-the bible hurts!

  • chloe

    So, I find I am in the minority in my own church,I don't even know church leaders who have as strong views as Paul in the Bible. Was Paul merely being culturally relevant ? and among many Christian friends as a woman who thinks that the 'leadership' of the church ie the pastor/preacher role to be male, whilst there being a huge range of other roles. what is TGC's position on women preaching to both a male and female congregation ? What if that woman is convinced that God has called her to be a vicar? (and many benefit from her ministry ?)What about a church planting context ? And then I begin to doubt, perhaps I've got it wrong all this time, perhaps God is wanting more women in leadership?
    Is this just a western problem ?

  • Clarice

    Thank you for this article! I found it very helpful.

    Along these same lines--how many churches *would* have a thriving women's ministry and women IN ministry if the women of the church weren't biting and devouring each other with judgements, petty conflicts, jealousy, and competition?

    Women are often their own stumbling blocks on the road to healthy women's ministry and involvement in church leadership roles. We blame the men for lack of ministry or women's involvement in ministry when really we should be looking at our own attitudes and relational habits.

    So in addition to being the ones who devalue women's roles, we also tear each other down with an inability to objectively process conflicts and to lead not only ourselves but *each other* with grace and humility.

    I sometimes think that if some women spent the same amount of energy they spend complaining about women's ministry/in ministry on just serving, loving, and blessing there would be more women in ministry!

  • JD

    Fabienne is in an "enviable minority" - a single woman who is fortunate to not only work at a church, but also to have a role where she gets to influence and shape womens' lives for God's glory. Yet, I found this article rather self-serving and melodramatic, instead of being encouraging or helpful to women who have been struggling with the issue of complementarianism.

    Upon reading this, the tone implies that if Fabienne never had this particular job, and had her particular male leaders never challenged her ... she would not have any faith at all. Or, at least not have the kind of faith that is presumed that male church leaders seem to possess. Also, she implies that the woman who she now is has been completely transformed by not God, not the Holy Spirit, but by complementarian males at her church. This puts males on pedestals where they do not belong. And, it cheapens God's power to work in the lives of believers. God uses men and women to help us grow in our faith, yes. But Who really does the work?

    Moreover, it is horribly wrong to assume that had her complementarian male boss not emowered her to find a voice, take a stand, etc. that she would have, in her words, "wasted my life". Really?! God's plans for us are always good, even when He brings trials and sorrows. Yet we can never assume what He has in store for us, because we simply cannot know the mind of God. I highly doubt that if Fabienne worked in the secular world, surrounded by unbelieving bosses and co-workers, that she would have wasted her life. She would have, I hope, done the same things that other believers in the secular universe would have done - stayed in the Word, prayed fervently, made worship at church a priority, sought out fellowship with likeminded believers, and sought accountability or pastoral help if needed. That is not wasting life; that is living it.

    I hope the TGC blog does not print any more articles like this.

    • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

      Yeah... I think maybe you read a little too much into the article. In context of the larger conversation between egals and comps, the author seems to be responding to the notion (and one that she herself held at one time) that complementarian men by definition try to oppress and hold down women. I don't think she was suggesting that these men were her salvation--that complementarianism was the key to all of life's mysteries--but that it was the men in her life who were the very ones to challenge her to pursue her gifting and to take other women seriously. I think it's more of a push back against the standard egal assumption that women aren't respected under complementarianism and that their gifting will be ignored by the men around them.

      Having said that, I agree with what Rachael said above that there are so many different interpretations and applications of comp views that the author's experience may not be as wide-spread as it should be. Still, I'd argue that stems from bad teaching and poor theology, not the fundamental concept of complementarianism.

      • Steve Matthews

        In my opinion, this is one of the biggest problems with complementarianism as it exists today. There is an attempt, by some, to go beyond the few proof texts in Scripture and to apply the complementarian relational model to situations not discussed in Scripture. The question then becomes, (a) "What are the boundaries of the complementarian spectrum"" and (b) "Who gets to define the boundaries?"

        As an example, it is one thing to say that women cannot be in a position of spiritual leadership over a man. It is quite another thing to define what that means in practice. At what age does a boy become a man, and so must not sit under a female's leadership? What constitutes "being in leadership over a man" or "teaching men?" Some complementarians have gone so far as to not allow women to publicly read Scripture in their church services.

        In my opinion, it for this reason that it is a very tricky endeavor to build a "biblical" case for complementarianism. Broad theoretical principles are not easily translated into a practical framework, and this allows much room for human error.

        • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

          I completely agree--the broad principles have often gotten lost in favor of applications and proof texting. Quite simply, we are missing the forest for the trees. I would love to see a fresh, nuanced, robustly biblical expression of comp principles that are framed, not in reaction to feminism or egalitarianism, but in careful dependence on and in light of the grand sweep of redemption.

          In my experience, the questions of application (like the one you brought up about how we determine whether or not a woman is exercising spiritual leadership over a man) cannot be answered without a deep understanding of broader theology and appreciation for societal/cultural norms. For example, in different church traditions, authority is vested not simply in public speaking as much as in the ordained office of eldership. For these congregations, even if a woman speaks to a mixed congregation, she simply CANNOT exercise authority because she is not ordained. But these kinds of nuances are often lost in the discussion, especially as we move further and further from the original principles.

        • Phil

          Steve, you wrote: "Broad theoretical principles are not easily translated into a practical framework, and this allows much room for human error."

          This is true for parsing almost any theological issue. Divorce is another one where "theoretical principles" are put into practice with much room for human error. But the solution is not to abandon the hard work of theology and allow divorce for any reason because, after all, any position allow for human error. The same could be said of the "where is the line?" debate over sex outside of marriage, tithing/giving, and many other issue were someone somewhere could raise "gray areas" or whatever.

          Also, that entire line of thinking self-defeating, as the take-no-position approach is, by definition, subject to much human error.

          The Bible draws some clear lines that the church has almost universally recognized for 2,000 years; until just the last couple generations. These positions are not socially popular nor are many of them well received by our sinful flesh. Yet, the ways of the LORD are not our ways.

  • http://maggiefink.wordpress.com Maggie

    I am grateful for your post on this. I find that, though I love and embrace my role as a mom and wife, God has given me desires and gifts of teaching and a love for deep theology that typically has not been something a woman is interested in. I have been wrestling with what to do with all these thoughts I have especially since I grew up in an extremely condescending complentarian church environment. I love that you are bringing this up and shedding light on what some women feel so that not only can men help the women in the church to find appropriate ways to get involved but also how women can better interact with each other. Thanks for your though provoking insights!

  • Kenton

    I'm a guy who attends a complementarian-believing church, so take that as you will. But I do think we should strive to be as biblical as possible. The temptations are to either be socially conservative, or socially "progressive" on this issue of church and family life. Both extremes depend more on society and culture than the word of God.

    There are good arguments on both sides, and they are about equally based on a handful of verses. But I think there are a few problems that our modern form of doing church and family bring up. First, we view church experience in terms of leadership and being led. That's a big problem, because when Paul speaks of it, he actually very rarely speaks about church leadership (outside of Timothy and Titus). What does he talk about? Mutual strengthening in the church through love and service. If we were less focused about being "influencers" and "visionaries" and more focused on serving and strengthening the body, many of these issues would be irrelevant.

    But we've placed pastors and teachers in pulpits and elders behind closed doors that the church looks more like a classroom and government bureaucracy than a body whose members exist to strengthen each other, with one Head. So that's the first, primary issue.

    The second issue is that I think we've idolized the family to the extent that marriage exists solely for the procreation and raising of kids. While a wonderfully God-given and God-intended thing, the true purpose of marriage, whether in childbearing or just matrimonial covenant, is to glorify God. The family is not an end in itself, but exists so that both children and parents can be shaped into the image of God. So when this debate rages, it's usually restricted to this: the woman's role is to stay at home with the kids and the man's role is to stay outside of the family in the "real world".

    But is that really the case? Yes, there is something to the fact that the primary responsibility of teaching and caring for and protecting and guiding children rests with the parents, not with the school or the state or the neighbors or the babysitter. But it's the responsibility of both parents, and this is (from Genesis and elsewhere) the most important role that anyone could have. It's this relationship that elders mirror with the church. It's this relationship that God himself has with all his redeemed.

    But if we want to focus on modern church leadership, since we like power and influence and to be seen and notable, then I think its important to recognize that there is absolutely nothing that necessarily restricts women from being teachers, except what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2 about women teaching and exercising authority over men (his reasoning here is theological, not situational, so take that as you will).

    Just two passages that seem to embody in parts both sides of this debate:

    1 Corinthians 11 -- 3 But 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. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

    1 Peter 3 -- 1 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 of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

  • Josh

    Really bizarre that believing what the Bible says now has to be boiled down to a label (complementarianism).

    • Phil

      Josh: To quote John Piper... "Words don't mean things. Definitions mean things." So we have labels to define what's what. God, too, uses labels like "holy", "sin", "false brothers", etc., to both define and identify what's what. Another example is Paul's use of the label "circumcision group" (Gal. 2:12) to identify those false teachers by that very appropriate label. So on that vein I don't mind TGC or whomever using the "complementarian" label insofar as it's helpful.

    • Akash

      soon we will have to make up a new word for those who believe gay marriage is wrong!

      then the same people will say-"Gospel coalition is so obsessed about -insert new word here"!

  • MzEllen

    > What I have a problem with is when certain organizations such as TGC promote complementarianism as THE ONLY way for women and men to live a gospel-centered, Christ-honoring life.

    If its part of their statement of beliefs....why shouldn't they?

    As far as being "hyper-focused" -when your beliefs are being attacked, from within and without, you defend where you're attacked.

  • Martin

    Phil, you said ...
    "In the case of denominations and movements that have rejected historically held "complementarianism" (to use the modern term), MANY if not MOST of those denominations and movements have gone on to theological liberalism and doctrinal compromise in subsequent decades and generations. In fact, the exceptions to that path are just that: exceptions. Few have gone down that path and remained doctrinally and morally faithful (the Nazarenes in the U.S. are an example of such exception), and I can't think of any that don't also reject the Doctrine of Grace, too."

    I suggest you check out the Evangelical Covenant denomination. There is a plethora of noted EV authors to dispute your assertion.

    • Phil

      Martin: By my use of the words "many" and "most" I'm clearly speaking in generalities. There are almost always exceptions. Also, note that I was not taking a current snapshot view of their condition, but rather a generations-long overview approach. So while the current condition of some gender-agnostic denominations or movements may not be that bad, my point (which you missed) was that history shows they're headed that way. Again, there are exception, but they're few.

  • Evan

    Wait, doesn't the Bible say 'and a child will lead them...'? All you of you have it wrong! Viva la paedomentarianism!!

  • Gary

    It's amazing what happens when God given humility leads to asking the questions that take courage and character to answer. I have never doubted the strength, intellect and exceeding abilities of women in the kingdom of God and this article explains why! I pray that both men and women will grow in this udnerstanding and practice to the glory of God. Thank you and praise God.

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