The most common understanding of both Complementarianism and Egalitarianism goes something like this:

Complementarians: Do not let women be pastors over men.

Egalitarians: Do let women be pastors over men.

or…

Complementarians: The husband is the leader of the family.

Egalitarians: The husband and wife co-lead the family, with no priority.

or…

Complementarians: Wives submit to your husbands.

Egalitarians: Husbands and wives are to practice mutual submission.

While I think that these are characteristics of both groups, they are not foundational characteristics that define each group. In other words, I don’t think that they are helpful in defining what it means to be a complementarian or egalitarian and they serve to cause a great deal of misunderstanding that leads to emotional bias that is very difficult to overcome once set.

In fact, I am going to say something very radical here and then explain. Here it goes:

It is possible to be a complementarian and believe that a women can serve in the position of head pastor over men.

Did you get that? Reread it. Reread it again…

Complementarianism is not first defined by it view of the roles of men and women in the church, family, or society.

Here is what Complementarianism is:

Complementarianism is the belief that men and women have God given differences that are essential to their person. Men and women are ontologically (in their essential nature) equal, but often, functionally, take subordinate roles (like the Trinity). These differences complete or “complement” each other. Due to these differences, there will be some things that women are predisposed and purposed to do more than men. As well, there will be some things that men are predisposed and purposed to do more than women. Therefore, there are ideal roles for both men and women that should be celebrated, exemplified, typified, and promoted in the church, family, and society. To deny these differences is to deny the design of God and thwart his purpose.

Here is what Egalitarianism is:

The belief that God has created men and women equal in all things. Men and women are ontologically and functionally equal. The way the sexes function in the church, society, and the family is determined by individual giftedness, not role distinctions according to the sexes. Therefore, each person should be judged individually when being placed in a particular position. We should exemplify this reality by overcoming the stereotypical placement that has traditionally been a part of societies in human history, thereby giving freedom to individuals to follow the path that God has uniquely created them for, whatever that may be. In doing so, we should no longer educate or indoctrinate according to any of the former stereotypes, including those of basic masculinity and femininity.

These, in my opinion, are the foundational tenants of each position without giving examples on how this plays out in the family, the church, or society.

The case I am making here is that in order to be a consistent egalitarian, one must deny virtually all differences that typify men as men and women as women. It is not just about getting women behind the pulpit or the concept of mutual submission in the family. It is much more complex and, in my estimation, more difficult to defend with sensibility.

I had a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who was an Egalitarian (he left because of this—I won’t mention his name). I loved this guy. Still do. Great teacher, thinker, and Christian. In fact, I had him come speak to our pastoral staff at Stonebriar to challenge us on why he became egalitarian and to defend his position. I wanted the staff to understand the “other side” from a very able defender. During his presentation, he painted himself into this very typical corner that I find most all egalitarians end up. 

He was advocating a foundational principle of egalitarianism: there are no essential differences between men and women other than reproductive stuff. We were all quite taken aback. Every example we brought up, he shot down by giving a counter-example in the form of an exception. His basic argument turned on finding exceptions to everything. Whether it was that men were less emotional, more aggressive, more one tracked in their thinking, less tender, more competitive, unable to nurture as well as women, or even liked the color blue more, he brought up exceptions that he believed neutralized the “pattern”. Finally, I thought I had him. I said “What about physicality? Men are stronger than women.” He would have none of that. He then brought up examples of German women who were stronger than men! We could not stump the guy!

The problem is that in order to defend egalitarianism consistently, he had to deny all of the common sense distinctions that people have made about men and women since the dawn of time. I won’t get into the science or psychology of this issue as there are many very good resources that do this. To me, it is rather bizarre that one would actually be inclined to produce evidence to prove that men and women are different!

I am of the opinion that many egalitarians would have been appalled by Peter who said that women are the weaker of the sexes (1 Pet. 3:7) siting every exception to this rule and bemoaning this stereotype until Peter cried “uncle.”

Complementarianism says that men and women are different by design. We are different and God did it. It is that simple.

However, most people would not be willing to go as far as my former professor. They realize that sustaining a proposition that men and women have no essential differences is a battle that cannot really be sustained in real life (only theoretical ideology). Men and women are different. Even most egalitarians that I know would give me this. Hear this again. Most egalitarians that I know would admit, when push comes to shove, that there are some essential differences between men and women. Most would even say that there are essential differences that go beyond reproduction and physicality. But I would argue that these people are not really egalitarians, at least in the way I have defined it. They would be complementarians because they would have given up what I believe to be a central driving tenant of egalitarianism and embraced the central tenant of complementarianism: men and women are different by design and their differences complement each other.

Now, having said this, I believe that it is theoretically possible to be a complementarian and yet not take a traditional complementarian stand on the issue of women in ministry. In other words, someone could believe that men and women are different by design yet not think that these differences have any bearing on women in leadership in the church. They may be convinced that the Bible does not really teach that women should not teach men, and yet be complementarian in other issues and, broadly, in their theology of the sexes.

I am interested and committed to complementarianism for more than just the women in ministry issue. This is just one application. But (and here is where I get in trouble with fellow complementarians), I don’t think that it is the most important issue in this debate. Neither do I think that it is the most “damaging” issue.

You see, when people are truly committed and consistent egalitarians, they have to defend their denial of essential differences. In doing so, they will advocate a education system in the home, church, and society which neutralizes any assumption of differences between the sexes. In doing so, men will not be trained to be “men” since there is really no such thing. Women will not be encouraged to be “women” since there is no such thing. The assumption of differences becomes a way to oppress society and marginalize, in their estimation, one sex for the benefit of the other. Once we neutralize these differences, we will have neutered society and the family due to a denial of God’s design in favor of some misguided attempt to promote a form of equality that is neither possible nor beneficial to either sex.

We will have troubled men and women groping to find their way and feeling pressured to repress their instincts and giftedness. We will no longer be able to train up men and women in the “way” they should go since there is no “way” they should go. Women can act masculine and men can be feminine. Men can retreat in the face of responsibility because, in truth, they don’t have any “responsibility” other than the one that they choose. This is to say nothing of the implications this has on the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage.

But in a complementarian worldview (even one that allows women to teach men in the church), men are taught to be men and women are taught to be women. They both have defining characteristics. Masculinity and femininity find their place and are exemplified and celebrated. Men protect women from physical danger and take their positions of leadership seriously, without trepidation or fear that they will be seen as power mongers. And women support this. Women take up their positions of nurturing and supporting the emotional well-being of the world. And men support it. No role distinction is seen as inferior because in a complementarian worldview both are seen as essential and of equal importance. Only in complementarianism do we not define the rule by the exceptions and bow to the least common denominator. Only in the complementarian worldview, in my opinion, can freedom to be who we are supposed to be find meaning.

The true spirit of complementarianism is that God has intentionally created men and women with differences and we are to celebrate this in every way. The true spirit of complementarianism is never domineering (that is a sinful corruption). The true spirit of complementarianism provides no shame only freedom. The true spirit of complementarianism speaks to God in appreciation.

When we attempt to neuter this design, we have lost much more than authority in the pulpit.

Complementarians, while I believe that the Bible teaches the ideal that women should not have authority over men in the church, let us promote the true spirit of complementarianism then simply defending its particular applications.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    637 replies to "What Complementarianism is Really all About"

    • Sue

      1. The KJV doesn’t have “domineer” because it follows Erasmus Latin text “autoritatem usurpare” and translates “usurp authority.”

      2. Up until the 16th century everyone used the Vulgate, and after that the style was to use a diglot or polyglot.

      3. ““It has been really sunny lately so I decided to put on *****.”
      Pants would be too warm, but a skirt would limit my running, so the cut-offs I had were perfect.

      It could be either. You cannot prove that your translation is correct. I propose that there are several possibilities and that we really don’t know.

      4. I do not think that the English word “lord” has divine connotation. There are probably still “lords” in England aren’t there? Let’s try “rulers” Are the apostles rulers. Did Paul behave like a ruler, and did he advocate that the elders act like rulers?

    • Sue

      Pants would be too warm, but a skirt would limit my running, so the cut-offs I had were perfect.

      Someone might think all that, but they would not say it – they would just say, “I’ll go put ***** on.”

    • Sue

      It’s ‘to have disciplinary authority/governing authority/divine authority to discipline” etc.

      Is there any evidence to support this, or are you going from context. You are a long way from the KJV. I can’t think of any time the word was used in that way.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hodge: “BTW, I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this”

      Answer: Keep repeating it as long as Sue keeps repeating her siren song.

      Thanks for staying on the never-ending merry-go-round with Sue.

      😉

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hodge: “I’m really not going to repeat myself over and over again.”

      C’mon Hodge! You can do it!!!

      As you identified earlier, ““egals are trying to win the argument by sheer volume”, so we need you to keep up with their volume!

      Don’t you know: Never-ending broken records are the most fun to listen to!

      😉

    • MShep2

      Re: leadership and the role of women in the church.

      One thing that has not been mentioned is that the comp. position on leadership in the church does not hang solely on the true definition of authenteo in 1 Tim. 2:12. It also flows from the command to the wife to submit to her own husband in Eph. 5:22ff. If a wife is the “head” pastor of a church and the wife at the same time submits to her husband, in many ways this would make the husband the de-facto leader of the church. Or, would the husband submit to the wife in the church and then the wife submit to the husband in the home? This would create confusion in both the home and the church. Ergo, another proof that the comp. position is correct! 🙂

    • JohnO

      Not proof, merely another debating point which, if you really feel the need, you’ll find has been covered here and in the various related discussions in some considerable depth.

    • EricW

      556. MShep2 on 23 Feb 2010 at 5:02 am #

      Re: leadership and the role of women in the church.

      One thing that has not been mentioned is that the comp. position on leadership in the church does not hang solely on the true definition of authenteo in 1 Tim. 2:12. It also flows from the command to the wife to submit to her own husband in Eph. 5:22ff. If a wife is the “head” pastor of a church and the wife at the same time submits to her husband, in many ways this would make the husband the de-facto leader of the church. Or, would the husband submit to the wife in the church and then the wife submit to the husband in the home? This would create confusion in both the home and the church. Ergo, another proof that the comp. position is correct!

      See: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/02/complementarianism/comment-page-6/#comment-26846

    • EricW

      Hodge wrote:

      Making comments about how the Hebrew and Greek don’t transfer to English to someone who doesn’t know them is dishonest.

      dishonest: 1. Disposed to lie, cheat, defraud, or deceive. 2. Resulting from or marked by a lack of honesty.

      Hodge: In what ways were my remarks “dishonest”? Why or how is it “dishonest” to say that Greek and Hebrew don’t perfectly map to English, and that something is thereby lost in translation – and moreso when one goes from Hebrew to English than from Greek to English, because English derives some of its words from Greek, but derives very little from Semitic languages? Martin Luther in the piece I linked to said as much. Was Luther “dishonest” to say that if a person wants to preach and teach properly from the Scriptures, he/she must learn the Biblical languages?

      What definition/meaning of “dishonest” are you using when you accuse me of having done something “dishonest”?

      You accused me http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/02/complementarianism/#comment-26702 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2010/02/complementarianism/#comment-26732 and others of making ad hominems (which I in fact did not make), and you now accuse me of doing something “dishonest.”

      What gives?

    • EricW

      (cont’d)

      Hodge:

      I wrote:

      If you think that something is lost going from Greek to English, wait till you try going from Hebrew to English. 😀

      E.g., did you know that the Hebrew word for “serpent” and “brass/bronze” sounds and is spelled the same, except for minor vowel points (nachash)? And that the word for “bite” is nashach? Look at Numbers 21. Do you realize how much of the intrinsic-to-the-meaning-of-the-text wordplays are going on in the Hebrew text which are lost in English translation?

      And when you compare the LXX with the Hebrew text, you find a whole ‘nother group of interesting things going on re: what and how the Greeks translated the Hebrew. Some of Paul’s arguments/points can’t be clearly seen unless one is looking at the LXX he’s quoting or the Greek text of his writings.

      The only way writing the above would be “dishonest” would be if I had purposefully misstated something about the Hebrew of Numbers 21 or about the LXX or about the Greek of Paul’s letters.

      What “dishonest” thing did I say or do in the above statements? What was “dishonest” about me writing the above, regardless of whether or not cherylu knows Hebrew or Greek?

      Well?

      You wrongly accuse us of making ad hominems, and you charge me with dishonesty.

      Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

    • BradK

      “The Protestant Reformation, for all its opposition to Romanism, never questioned the practice of slavery. Now, if this practice has continued from the time of Abraham down to 1860 or thereabouts, those who are innovators surely must bear the burden of proof. The Westminster Confession indeed says, ‘All Synods…may err, and many have erred.’ Therefore it is theoretically possible that the Reformed Presbyterian Church is in error. But when the agreement is worldwide over 4,000 years, it is, I repeat, extremely improbable. Therefore a mountainous burden of proof rests on those who advocate the abolition of slavery.”

      TUAD, do you find this a convincing argument?

    • Sue

      Mshep2,

      There were plenty of single (widowed) women in the NT who served as leaders of their own familiies, Michael notwithstanding. Lydia, Chloe, Olympia, the elect lady, all in some way head of the house. There are plenty of single women missionaries, leaders and faithful servants of God.

      If wives were excluded from church leadership on the basis of Eph. 5, single women should still be welcomed by the men. I would like to see this happen. Let’s be fair and honest.

    • Don

      Eph 5:21 says that submission to others is a normal part of the believer’s life. How can it be that Eph 5 implies that a wife cannot be a leader in a church?

      There are many things that are supposed to be mutual in a believer’s life, mutual love, for example. What I do not get is why some/many/most/all(?) non-egals think that mutual submission is one-sided, that somehow a husband’s submission to his wife is fundamentally different from a wife’s submission to her husband. Would anyone claim that is true for the other famous “one another” verses that describe believers?

    • Rebecca

      If any of the unbelievers/skeptics I try to witness to read any of these comments, those that can’t wrap their mind around the idea that the bible survives the test of time & can be accurately tranlated through generations & cultures & language, would surely have their concerns reinforced a hundred fold. I can hear them now,”See, even seasoned Christians, mature Christians, bible students, theology professors can’t agree on the main & plain things. So we can’t know what God expects or that the bible is even divine.” End of conversation.Since a few have remarked, myself included, that we will never have a 100% direct answer for sure & since after ALL of this, no one, no, not one has changed his or her mind…read that last part again…for all your efforts, not one has budged including YOU (plural)… at least no one has admitted such…my own personal conclusion is to use the same wisdom that Jesus taught to the multitudes…the less lofty & choose to read the entire bible for all it’s worth. Simplify it. We are all adults here & should have the ability to look at the verse, not simply in the context of the others verses around it but rather in context of the entire bible AND the personality of God & how we most commonly reflect God’s image. Back in kindergarten we started being shaped by other sources. So what is normative about men and women? I mean, what was typical about us before we were shaped by our ideals or tainted by our experiences? Be careful, because both sides have been shaped by something other than The Word. Bold Christians should be willing to peel back those layers & self examine. Are you (plural) trying to reinvent the wheel? Is God, our creator not a God of order? If your position motivates you & others to focus on advancing God’s kingdom rather than treating scripture as a sport, then your position will be blessed.Some of you have too many books & authors in your arms.You are being weighed down IMO by your own intellect.Whom are you defending?

    • EricW

      Rebecca wrote:

      Since a few have remarked, myself included, that we will never have a 100% direct answer for sure & since after ALL of this, no one, no, not one has changed his or her mind…read that last part again…for all your efforts, not one has budged including YOU (plural)… at least no one has admitted such…

      Rebecca:

      But many persons commenting here HAVE changed their minds, and have said so. See, e.g., Don’s comments about how he used to be patriarchal/complementarian. Others used to be more hardline patriarchal/hierarchical, but have changed to what they regard as a view they prefer to refer to as “complementarian.” They came to this thread with already-changed minds. And those minds are able to change again, given time and God’s working. And some minds that have not yet changed can change as well.

      Maybe not in the brief course (timewise) of this thread have some or anyone stated to your satisfaction that their minds have been changed. But this discussion/debate didn’t begin with this thread and it won’t end with it, nor will any of us posting here cease to study the Scriptures and ask God for wisdom and guidance after this thread is finished. When the comments stop, we won’t think that all that can be said and known and learned and discussed bout the matter has been said and known and learned and discussed such that we have nothing more to learn or think about or have our minds changed re: this.

    • Don

      Rebecca, this was similar to a charge the Catholics gave to Luther. If the Church admits error, there goes the Magisterium and the certainty it provides.

      In terms of the home, the question is God’s ideal for a family a benevolent dictatorship or a partnership of equals among the spouses?

      If someone really believes it is supposed to be a benevolent dictatorship, I certainly cannot stop them. If it turns out to not be working for them, I can inform them of another way to look at it. The only caution I would note for those choosing the benevolent dictatorship model is that the wife still has full responsibility, she does not get to assume she has less responsibility for the family, as this is sometimes said by non-egals.

    • EricW

      Rebecca:

      (what I meant to add before we lost Internet connectivity)

      And persons’ minds can change or be changed in either direction.

      Heck, I went from an atheist/new-agey whatchamacallit to being a Jesus Freak. The step or change from complementarianism to egalitarianism, or vice-versa, is quite, quite small in comparison.

      Like plants, people’s minds usually need food, water, light and TIME in order to grow and change, and this thread is less than one week old.

    • Minnow

      Rebecca–I get that not all watcher are responders when it comes to blogs and comments. I understand your concern that someone could leave with a very poor view of how we have conducted ourselves. But to be honest, to wade through 566 and counting comments you probably need to be pretty interest in this particular topic. It is dangerous to imply (and I think your comment comes close) that those who have engaged in this discussion only do this and do not walk out their faith in other ways, perhaps even ways of daily service. Just maybe some of those skeptics you witness to would be relieved to know that some of what has been preach to them (and not meaning by you) is not as black and white as they were lead to believe but that the heart–that God loves them is true no matter where you stand on some of the other issues.

    • TL

      mshep,
      “One thing that has not been mentioned is that the comp. position on leadership in the church does not hang solely on the true definition of authenteo in 1 Tim. “

      Actually it does, the true definition of authenteo does upset the hierarchalist idea that women are not to be allowed to lead and minister in the body of Christ. There are no other Scriptures that come anywhere near such a question.

    • EricW

      There are no other Scriptures that come anywhere near such a question.

      Esp. if 1 Cor 14:34-35 is shown to be an interpolation or something quoted by Paul but not an expression of his or the Spirit’s thoughts/views.

    • Rebecca

      Eric, I was referring to a change of mind as a result from the comments here. So if this noble and will help facilitate someone to make a choice or change a previous choice, how much should one continue in that effort? “til we indecisive ones run into the streets shouting,”I’ve seen the light!” When does it become shoving down others’ throats? When does it lose it’s effectiveness? Perhaps some should consider how it is all viewed though the eyes of the less learned, the less scholarly. It does not read with gentleness and respect. It wreaks of ego. I’m sure once you’re fully enmeshed in any system, it’s hard to see what others see that aren’t part of the clique. This is not a criticism but rather an observation.

      I have not had an opinion one way or the other. I hate labels. But both sides, all sides talked me into seeing their point at some time here, then both sides eventually talked me right out of it. Overkill. Am I the exception? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I’m so average it’s hard to relate to me, I’m sure. But something tells me that being average just might give me the edge. You see, everyone can argue the details FOREVER. Humming Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Of all the examples Jesus gave, I don’t think Jesus ever belabored the point in hopes that someone somewhere would finally connect the dots! What about the heart? I just don’t see this hashing and rehashing of scripture a calling. What happened to planting a seed..a tiny little seed? This is an out of control orchard! What about information overload? Oh, that’s right. The educated here don’t have a problem with it. So, it’s for them, right? Because if your trying to reach the average, like me, you lost me back at Hello.

    • EricW

      Well, Rebecca, PandP IS “a theology blog,” isn’t it?

      Welcome to the blog.
      .
      I, Michael Patton, am the primary contributor to this blog. But you can also expect posts from my fellow bloggers Dan Wallace, Paul Copan, Lisa Robinson, and Robert Bowman Jr. Our blog is Evangelical and our purpose is content oriented. Hopefully we can write blogs that educate, update, and make people think deeply about historic and contemporary theological issues. You are welcome to contribute to our blog, but please be gracious and thoughtful. This is not anyone’s surrogate blog!

      I.e., its purpose is not primarily to be a fellowshipping forum for those who just want to discuss what the average Christian discusses, but for discussion by those interested in theology, biblical texts, languages, etc., and how they affect and should affect Christian belief and practice.

    • EricW

      cont’d/corrected (Internet connectivity issues again):

      I.e., its purpose is not primarily to be a fellowshipping forum for those who just want to discuss what the average Christian discusses, but a place where those who are at a somewhat higher or different experiential or interest level in theology, biblical texts, languages, etc., can discuss these things and how they affect and effect or should affect and effect Christian belief and practice.

      Or so I think.

    • EricW

      That doesn’t, IMO, exclude the “average” person from reading and posting and benefiting from the discussions, but it does mean to me that discussions here may be more ethereal or theoretical or debate-like or non-evangelistic than on some other Christian blogs or forums.

      YMMV

    • Rebecca

      Minnow, you made my point. I would have to further explain what I was trying to say because I can see you have misinterpreted my intentions. I will not do that. Everyone else that has, only further complicates their position and their new words… even in an effort to explain a previous comment, they are now challenged. I heard many say,”I did not say that” “I did not imply that”. And on and on it goes. So I will not explain myself.

      I am grateful for one thing here. I have been just as persistant as most of you here. I have annoyed so many when I thought I was being of service. Jesus has helped me see myself through many of you here. Nothing like a visual!

      “Well, Rebecca, PandP IS a theology blog, isn’t it?” Yes, Eric, I suppose it is…just that. Loads of intellect offering theology. Glad it never got personal and that it stayed honorable? Yes, it’s for the advanced that want to….uh, want to…. Anway, I have to look up to see you. It’s so hard to even hear from way down here. You’re right. What did I expect anyway?

      Wonder why Jesus didn’t take the most scholarly and hold classes for them to teach us common folk? It’s not like we are able to think for ourselves!

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “The Protestant Reformation, for all its opposition to Romanism, never questioned the practice of slavery. Now, if this practice has continued from the time of Abraham down to 1860 or thereabouts, those who are innovators surely must bear the burden of proof. The Westminster Confession indeed says, ‘All Synods…may err, and many have erred.’ Therefore it is theoretically possible that the Reformed Presbyterian Church is in error. But when the agreement is worldwide over 4,000 years, it is, I repeat, extremely improbable. Therefore a mountainous burden of proof rests on those who advocate the abolition of slavery.”

      BradK asks: “TUAD, do you find this a convincing argument?”

      You don’t?

    • EricW

      Rebecca:

      My comments were supposed to continue with the following, but have gotten hung up in “moderation” limbo:

      That doesn’t, IMO, exclude the “average” person from reading and posting and benefiting from the discussions, but it does mean to me that discussions here may be more ethereal or theoretical or debate-like or non-evangelistic than on some other Christian blogs or forums.

      YMMV

    • TL

      TUAD, wouldn’t a more convincing argument be a thorough study of Scripture and finding that God does not and never did advocate or support slavery. Just because God gave us laws in the OT of how to deal justly with our slaves does not mean He approved. God gave the Jews kings, but God did not approve of that system.

    • BradK

      “The Protestant Reformation, for all its opposition to Romanism, never questioned the practice of slavery. Now, if this practice has continued from the time of Abraham down to 1860 or thereabouts, those who are innovators surely must bear the burden of proof. The Westminster Confession indeed says, ‘All Synods…may err, and many have erred.’ Therefore it is theoretically possible that the Reformed Presbyterian Church is in error. But when the agreement is worldwide over 4,000 years, it is, I repeat, extremely improbable. Therefore a mountainous burden of proof rests on those who advocate the abolition of slavery.”

      BradK asks: “TUAD, do you find this a convincing argument?”

      YUAD asks: “You don’t?”

      Am I to assume that your answer would be yes?

      These same types of discussions (like this one) about egalitarianism occurred in regards to slavery during the abolition movements back in the 1800’s. Many people opposed to the abolition of slavery used various scriptures to support the continuation of the practice. I would submit that there is much more solid scriptural basis to support slavery than to support a hierarchy with males in a superior position over women. And yet nobody in the church today, whether comp or egal, would even slightly consider supporting slavery.

      How does one logically hold that Paul’s injunction for wives to submit to their husbands is a validation of a hierarchy of husbands over wives yet repudiate the implication that Paul’s injunction to slaves to obey their masters means slavery is right and acceptable in the eyes of the Lord?

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      BradK: “I would submit that there is much more solid scriptural basis to support slavery than to support a hierarchy with males in a superior position over women.”

      Let’s see it.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      TL, meet BradK.

      TL: “TUAD, wouldn’t a more convincing argument be a thorough study of Scripture and finding that God does not and never did advocate or support slavery.”

      BradK: “I would submit that there is much more solid scriptural basis to support slavery than to support a hierarchy with males in a superior position over women.”

    • Rebecca

      TUAD, you crack me up!

    • TL

      TUAD, however, as Brad is attempting to point out to you, eventually a THOROUGH study of Scripture was found to NOT support slavery. Just because pieces of Scripture can be pulled out that seem to support slavery, a thorough study will reveal that God never did advocate it or support it. This is the reason why slavery was finally abolished in many nations. It is unjust. It is not God’s Love in action.

    • TL

      TUAD, it is my recollection that you’ve been online discussing similar issues for many years. Aren’t you a male supremacist, one who believes women should not vote, nor go to college (except to learn how to cook, sew and raise children), nor work outside the home?

    • Jugulum

      BradK,

      How does one logically hold that Paul’s injunction for wives to submit to their husbands is a validation of a hierarchy of husbands over wives yet repudiate the implication that Paul’s injunction to slaves to obey their masters means slavery is right and acceptable in the eyes of the Lord?

      You are 100% right in that argument. But wrong in where you try to take it.

      You’re right–we can’t logically say “The command in Eph 5:22 validates marital hierarchy” without saying “The command Eph 6:5 validates slavery”.

      So, Eph 5:22 doesn’t validate marital hierarchy. Eph 5:23 does, when it say “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church”. Paul didn’t say that the master belongs in a position over the slave.

      Note: You can try to argue that “head” in Eph 5:23 doesn’t imply hierarchy–the point is, that verse is where the argument lies.

      Also: I did not just imply that wives are like slaves, any more than children are like slaves. They’re similar in that there’s some kind of hierarchy, but each hierarchy is different.

    • Don

      And the rest of Eph 5 CLEARLY states what Christ as the head of the church does, which are ALL serving functions, and nary a leading function.

    • TL

      “o, Eph 5:22 doesn’t validate marital hierarchy. Eph 5:23 does, when it say “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church”. Paul didn’t say that the master belongs in a position over the slave.”

      Because you have lifted these verses out of their context you have missed their integral connection with the wife as body of as well as the husband as head of (not over). The full picture does not paint hierarchy but interconnectedness. Each must submit to and love sacrificially in order for the union to be whole and benefit both. When one steps back and seeks to be apart on his/her own merit (think husband as head over ) then the union suffers. It’s not about the husband, and its not about the wife. It’s about them together as one entity thereby making two as one.

    • minnow

      Rebecca–I am sorry I have offended you.

    • Rebecca

      Minnow, you are very kind and I can assure you, I was not offended. You were frank as was I. I meant you misunderstood…which made my point about the confusion on here but you did not offend me. I did reread my post and it did seem a bit sharp. That too was not my intention. My apologies.

    • Rebecca

      “.e., its purpose is not primarily to be a fellowshipping forum for those who just want to discuss what the average Christian discusses, but a place where those who are at a somewhat higher or different experiential or interest level in theology, biblical texts, languages, etc., can discuss these things and how they affect and effect or should affect and effect Christian belief and practice.”

      And what exactly did I say that is the reason for your comment?

    • Kay

      “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church”.

      And as someone brighter than me once observed –

      Christ is only ever seen in Scripture doing three things for His Church:
      serving, sacrificing and interceding.

    • BradK

      Exactly, Don. It seems clear (at least to me) that Paul is not talking about head in the sense of authority here. Paul often referred to authority and was perfectly capable of directly referring to it had he wished. Paul is talking about head in the sense of the thing at the top of the body that sits on the neck. The context would be the discussion around 1:22, 4:15, and Colossians 1:18.

      Though this takes us back into a discussion of kephale and Sue and others are more qualified than I for that discussion. I just want folks to understand that egalitarians take a very similar approach to this issue as that taken by those who opposed slavery on Biblical grounds. Yet complementarians seem to think that the egal approach is something odd or strange or un-Biblical. A view that is really “out there.” Yet they have no problem with the complete repudiation of slavery. As TL said, the Bible does not support the institution of slavery. But it’s easier to try and make a Biblical case to support slavery than patriarchy simply because there are so many more direct Biblical references to slavery.

    • cherylu

      Kay,

      It might be argued about the meaning of the word “head” etc.
      But unless I am totally misunderstanding where you are coming from, this statement just doesn’t seem to be right at all, “Christ is only ever seen in Scripture doing three things for His Church: serving, sacrificing and interceding.” Are there no places that make it clear that He is Lord and has all authority and we are to obey Him?

    • Jugulum

      Don and TL,

      First, did you disagree with my point? That complementarians see the validation of hierarchy or leadership not in 5:22, but in 5:23, so BradK’s question was beside the point?

    • Don

      Jugulum,

      I think non-egals see hierarchy in Eph 5.

      For at least some non-egals submit is something where the one under does to the one over; that is, submit implies hierarchy. hupotasso in the Greek. I might agree except that Paul refines the use of the word in Eph 5:21 where it is mutual. So v. 22 comes into play.

      And for some non-egals, someone that is called a head means a leader, so v. 23 comes into play.

    • Kay

      “Are there no places that make it clear that He is Lord and has all authority and we are to obey Him?”

      cherylu,
      Perhaps you do misunderstand me – I certainly wouldn’t say that a husband is able to be the Lord of anyone. I certainly wouldn’t say a husband has all authority since Jesus says He has ALL authority (Matt. 28:18). Since Jesus has it all, there is just none left for anyone else. Nowhere in Scripture is a wife told to obey her husband.

    • Hodge

      “Hodge: In what ways were my remarks “dishonest”? Why or how is it “dishonest” to say that Greek and Hebrew don’t perfectly map to English, and that something is thereby lost in translation”

      Because it doesn’t relate to the issue. The issue has nothing to do with words not transferring over in English. Sarah and Abraham laughed, hence there kid is name “he laughs.” We get it. What do the poetic wordplays in Hebrew have to do with the issue at hand? Nothing. The issue is one of who’s lexicography is more accurate and contextual factors. It has nothing to do with the limits of a receptor language understanding the original language. So I’m disagreeing that this is true. I’m stating that it has nothing to do with the issue, and is said for the purpose of seeding doubt in a person’s mind, who does not know the original languages. That to me is dishonest, whether you consciously meant it to be or not. Your comment holds no sway to those who know the languages because they can see that there is no relevance here.

    • Jugulum

      Don,

      It seems that you misunderstood.

      BradK (and I) were talking about where complementarians “see hierarchy validated”–not where complementarians “see hierarchy”. Brad was saying something like, “Suppose 5:22 does mean hierarchy. Well, so does 6:5. If the command to slaves doesn’t validate slavery, why do you think the command to wives validates marital hierarchy?”

      When you argue that Eph 5 isn’t even talking about marital hierarchy in the first place, you’re talking about something else.

    • Hodge

      Eric, if I say to you that there are things in the original languages that are often not picked up by most translations, and then apply that to cause doubt in your mind about the passages that deal with the physical resurrection of Christ, I am being absolutely dishonest. I am seeking to deceive you by causing a doubt with information that has no bearing on the subject at hand. Yes, Hebrew texts have wordplays. Greek texts have the same. Sometimes glosses are used for translations because a paragraph can’t be supplied instead of a word or two. That has nothing to do with our present subject.

    • Kay

      “Are there no places that make it clear that He is Lord and has all authority and we are to obey Him?”

      cherylu,
      These are part of His Being – no human is that. No human can attain His Being.

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