You guessed it. It was about complementarian. Enjoy (again).

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. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    41 replies to "Fourth Most Popular Post of 2010: What Complementarianism is All About"

    • Gary Simmons

      Here’s to 500 comments by tomorrow! Hurrah!

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      CMP: “You see, when people are truly committed and consistent egalitarians, they have to defend their denial of essential differences.”

      I see. It’s such a shame that not only are they in denial, but that they then go to such lengths to defend that denial.

      Good observation, CMP.

    • John Finkelde

      I’m sorry but I see your post as the setting up of a kindling dry straw man that you proceed to torch. And in the process confine people to stereotypes.

      Please justify your position on Scripture rather than around a narrative of one person who took egalitarianism to the extreme of not acknowledging obvious differences in physicality etc.

      As an egalitarian, like you I observe & love the obvious differences between the genders. However we part company when you confine leadership to men only – seriously … the American church gets this so wrong, so often.

    • Rick

      I appreciate your honesty on how you view complementarianism and that you think that that view is even open to having female pastors. However, your characterization of egalitarianism is a gross mischaracterization at best. That simply isn’t what most egalitarians believe, nor is it how they live. Nor must it be reduced to the point you make. People have been egalitarians for a very long time, and your characterization simply has not come true. With all due respect, its a reductionist slippery sloped argument, and one that Scott McKnight does a good job of debunking: http://www.patheos.com/community/jesuscreed/2010/08/12/slippery-slopes-rjs/

      I would never suggest that complementarianism is a slippery slope to misogyny or spousal abuse, but you are essentially making the converse argument… one that certainly could be true, but in most cases isn’t.

      Men and women are are equal before God. They both have equal intrinsic value, but they are not the same. Just as you and I, as two men, are not the same, and have different skills, personalities, and gifts; men and women have the same, but often along more gender lines. Yet, still God has called both of them to participate in leading the church and the family. So why don’t we lead together, rejoicing in our differences, and working together in our differences, and yes, even at times submitting mutually to our differences? Humanity is complete in the union of man and woman. The church is complete in the unity of believers. I don’t think egalitarianism starts with an understanding of sex roles (especially since so often those are defined culturally), it starts with an understanding of Imago Dei, ontology of humanity, and God’s call that all be a part of bringing his Kingdom and salvation to this earth.

    • Rick

      Just to follow up. This is the basic argument that Wayne Grudem makes, and it is one rooted in a lot of misunderstanding and frankly inability to truly “rub shoulders” with egalitarians. It is almost becoming a bunker within a bunker within evangelicalism, that associates by proxy egalitarian with liberal, or something worse. Its the core of a wider theological argument, really only being waged by the bunker within the bunker… i.e. somehow backing away from inerrancy leads to egalitarianism leads to undefined sex roles leads to weak men and aggressive women leads to homosexuality, etc, etc. Its based in a kind of evangelical paranoia and not really in grasping the wider theological picture and mission of the church, and the wider problems and sin that ensnare us. It sees “the other” on the other side of the evangelical theological gap as somehow dangerous, and it doesn’t work for true understanding. Nor does it see “the other” as a potential partner in mission, reflection, or pilgrim in overcoming the evils of this world.

      Mike, I don’t say this to characterize you, but more a general spirit that often pervades evangelicalism. I say this also particularly as someone who has lived in the gap for many years, as a grad of DTS, a long time member of the PCUSA, a confirmed egalitarian, and a missionary with one of the largest evangelical organizations in the world.

    • TL

      I see you are back to the usual strawman arguments – in essence still trying to box people into boxes. 🙂

      ”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.

      This type of mockery of what egals believe is only heard from gender hierarchalists. You will never hear it from those who believe in Biblical equality.

      While your professor was indeed acknowledging that there are a variety of men types, just as there are a variety of women types, even your quotes show that he acknowledges frequent differences. The problem is when gender hierarchalists say women cannot or women are always and all women are inclined. This is shown when gender hierarchalists say that women are inclined to be easily deceived, or women cannot lead as well as men, or women cannot manage authoritative teaching, or all women are good at teaching children, all women like cooking and cleaning, and so on. There are very few things that we can say that all women or all men are inclined to do. One is that most all women want children. Another is that most all women have less strength than men. But we cannot say all. AND the problem comes when people decide that whatever is done most must therefore become a requirement. Thus what most women want becomes what all women must want and must do. This will always be challenged by the few or more that such a censure is offensive to.

      Yes, we are all different and even that by design. But it is not only two differences. All men are not alike. All women are not alike. Humans have zillions of differences amongst men and women and each other. And none are required. It is very doubtful that you will find two individuals, even twins, that are exactly alike in everything.

    • TL

      ”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.”

      You don’t really believe that, because you also said: ”Complementarians, while I believe that the Bible teaches the ideal that women should not have authority over men in the church,”

      ”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.”

      And this IMO is where we get into trouble. I don’t think men or women need to be trained to be who they are sexually. We should not try to train men and women to have a specific kind of personality. All Christians need to be taught what it is to be holy, loving, modest, gracious, long suffering, forgiving, wise, encouraging, supportive, and helpful to others. Schooling should be for learning skills. There are schools for cooking which should be taught to both men and women. There are courses in shop, construction, sewing, accounting, leadership, preaching, teaching and all kinds of things. Why would anyone think it good to limit who can take what kind of courses?

      Why would anyone think it a good thing to constrain a person to a cultural personality and call it what God wants and ‘spiritual’?

    • L. DeLay

      A general response:

      Here’s where things fall apart….with “complementarianism…. (The belief that women should be should ladies (which is whatever a man deems that to be, and men should pee standing up, or die of embarrassment? ha.)

      HERE’S THE BIG QUESTION:
      What to we do with a woman’s giftedness? Mustn’t we ignore some of them to keep to this gender role based view? of course.

      For complementarian-minded men, woman can only be gifted to the point where it does not offended a man’s sense of personal sensibilities, or authority, etc. If you read a woman’s work, and you learn something, she is gifted in teaching, and probably preaching, maybe even evangelism. But this culturally based (and now out of vogue) idea shifts, so in order to not look like a pack on misogynist pricks, these same men will shift the concept to be more inclusive, as women through secular application move into positions of respect. (professors, directors, CEO, etc.).

      In order to keep this complementarianism idea going, consistence is in order. Women mustn’t write or teaching either…any where, or any time. Who is willing to say that, whatever they might think the Bible says?
      Trying to have it both ways, it seems.

      Doesn’t Paul seems to contradict himself as he asks for both mutual submission and “women” having their so-called “proper female place”? **Or, isn’t it more likely, Paul is addressing a specific church he has been helping along, after they have requested his help on a concern regarding a specific group of women?

      If the 2nd is the case, cultural sacred cows held dear for millennia have to be questioned and maybe dropped. Too threatening, right?

      Are we sincere in understanding how the Holy Spirit uses women (then and now) in and for the Kingdom of God, or do we like what we like, and massage what Paul says to fit our preferences?

      Some intellectual honesty would be refreshing.
      REad “The Blue Parakeet” for a much better understanding devoid of so much agenda.

    • david carlson

      The major problem with complementarians is use their position to establish some type of non-biblical male hegemony in their churches.

    • ScottL

      I remember these lovely threads, especially the one on why women cannot be head pastors.

      It might be worth considering the effect trajectory theology has on all students of the Scripture.

    • William Wilcox

      Rick,

      The post you linked to does not demonstrate that slippery slope arguments are always logically fallacious. In fact I don’t think it even addresses that question. See Kevin’s comment in the thread at 19. Slippery slope, as some use it as a simple descriptive term, doesn’t constitute an argument. Without an argument it is just an expression of feeling, personal impression or inclination.

      John said: “As an egalitarian, like you I observe & love the obvious differences between the genders. ”

      The differences are between the sexes. Gender is for nouns.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “[The Christian Doctrine of Creation] insists upon hierarchy. We might not use this term very often, but it is clear that any serious doctrine of creatio ex nihilo (“creation out of nothing”) involves the recognition of a very real hierarchical distinction between God and world. The difference between the great Creator who gives reality and the cosmos that receives reality is absolute. The one is utterly independent, the other utterly dependent. The one is worthy of all worship; the other rightly offers this worship. There is here a hierarchy of the deepest, richest kind, for in every imaginable respect, the world is subordinate—and rightly subordinate—to the God who creates and constantly sustains her.

      Yet right alongside this affirmation of hierarchy in the Christian doctrine of Creation, we find the insistence that creation is fundamentally, unambiguously good—and with a goodness that grows directly out of its unqualified dependence upon its Creator. Note the surprising interpenetration of these two principles. Creation is not good in spite of its subordination to God, in spite of the hierarchy; it is good because of its subordination, because of the hierarchy. It is good because it is created, and to be created is to be glorious precisely by virtue of reflecting or showing forth the greater, higher glory of the Creator.

      Indeed, as soon as any created thing ceases to be rightly subordinate to God, that creature ceases also to be good. It becomes a competitor with God, like Molech or Baal or Satan, rather than a servant of God. This is the essence of sin in Lewis’s mind: it is a turning away from our true creaturely status. It is an attempt to replace the goodness that naturally comes from being subordinate to God the Creator with a different, independent, autonomous goodness. It is a rejection of God.

      Delight in Hierarchy

      So hierarchy, by its nature, is fundamentally good.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      (cont.)

      Delight in Hierarchy

      So hierarchy, by its nature, is fundamentally good. And Lewis follows the overwhelming majority of the Christian tradition by going further, by believing that the goodness of hierarchically ordered relationships extends all through the world that God has made. Relationships of all kinds are ordered, Lewis thinks, with an appropriate kind of giving and an appropriate kind of receiving. When that order is respected, real joy and freedom are the result.

      Now we don’t have space here to pursue this idea very far, but the point is absolutely crucial: in Lewis’s mind, hierarchy is the source of freedom. This means that, as odd as it sounds to most of us, hierarchical order is something that we all ought not to hate or to fear, but to delight in.

      To be sure, hierarchy has been abused, and Lewis is well aware that, in a fallen world, we need equality as a protection against that abuse. But it is one thing to protect ourselves from the abuse of hierarchy, and it is another to reject outright the thing that is abused—and it is this latter error that the modern world has fallen into. Finding that hierarchy has been abused, we have rejected hierarchy in principle.

      But this is a dreadful mistake. It is like discovering that some of our food has been poisoned and therefore resolving never to eat again. Worse still, if Lewis is right, this rejection of hierarchy is nothing less than a rejection of a fully Christian way of seeing the world.”

      From Here.

    • Don J

      MP, why make a straw man?

      I am egal and believe the genders/sexes complement each other.

      The people who like to call themselves complementarians do not really believe in complementary roles, as the male is always on top, while the term complement does not even hint at a hierarchy.

      So, first admit you believe in male hierarchy and then we can discuss our differences and why you think Scripture teaches male hierarchy as God’s best and why I think it does not in the new covenant.

    • DM

      To be an egalitarian says more about how you interpret Scripture, more than anything. It is near impossible to get by the plain teaching of Scripture on this issue. Eve was made as a helper for Adam. To deny this is and other clear Scriptures says much about one’s faith.

    • Michael T.

      TUAD,
      Nice to see you could create another account after being banned just to post more irrelevant comments.

      1. Whether or not hierarchy is good or bad in the case of God ruling over and creating the Cosmos is not at issue. God is perfectly just and rules perfectly. The issue addressed by this debate rather is whether or not ANY fallen, sinful human being should be allowed to rule over any other human being with absolutely zero accountability to those they rule over. This goes for husbands ruling over wives as much as it goes for rulers of governments over their people. Your quotes don’t address this other than to say “hierarchy good….rejection of hierarchy bad”

      2. In arguing for pure hierarchy aren’t you ultimately arguing for patriarchy rather then complementarianism? Granted I’ve actually never heard anyone adequately explain how patriarchy and complementarianism are functionally different.

      • Truth Unites... and Divides

        CMP took me off time-out.

        “Granted I’ve actually never heard anyone adequately explain how patriarchy and complementarianism are functionally different.”

        IMHO, they’re interchangeable. Biblical patriarchy and biblical complementarianism for church and home.

        It bears repeating:

        Delight in Hierarchy

        So hierarchy, by its nature, is fundamentally good.

        the goodness of hierarchically ordered relationships extends all through the world that God has made …

        When that order is respected, real joy and freedom are the result.

        hierarchy is the source of freedom.

        Pax in biblical patriarchy,

        Truth Unites… and Divides

        • Michael T.

          TUAD,

          1. Nothing in your quotes supports the idea that humans ruling over other humans is a good thing. Again no one disputes that a perfect God ruling over all creation is good. It would seem that at least in the case of the Pharisee’s and Roman Governing authorities humans ruling over other humans was not a good thing (and there are numerous other examples). I think slavery would be another example (which let’s face it isn’t that much different from the position of a female in a patriarchal relationship).

          2. I’m not sure why you insist on using the adjective “Biblical” in front of all your nouns as if that somehow provides credibility to them. Just call it “patriarchy” and then we can have a discussion.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “Nothing in your quotes supports the idea that humans ruling over other humans is a good thing.”

      Did you overlook this excerpt:

      “And Lewis follows the overwhelming majority of the Christian tradition by going further, by believing that the goodness of hierarchically ordered relationships extends all through the world that God has made. Relationships of all kinds are ordered, Lewis thinks, with an appropriate kind of giving and an appropriate kind of receiving. When that order is respected, real joy and freedom are the result.”

      “I’m not sure why you insist on using the adjective “Biblical” in front of all your nouns as if that somehow provides credibility to them.”

      Because patriarchy and complementarianism is rooted and taught in Scripture.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “Nothing in your quotes supports the idea that humans ruling over other humans is a good thing.”

      I wonder if your choice of words is causing you an unnecessary difficulty. Eg., your choice of seeing it as “ruling over” may not be helpful for you. Instead of seeing it as “ruling over”, how about seeing it as “having authority over”?

      So perhaps you might be more receptive to seeing it as: “the idea that humans having authority over other humans is a good thing.”

      Would that be more helpful?

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      FWIW, I have to pack for vacation to the 50th state.

      So I’d like to sincerely echo CMP’s closing comments from his other thread:

      “However, as always, I do feel it is necessary to say that there are many godly men (and women!) who do not agree with me here.”

      Signing Off with Peace, Joy, and Freedom in Biblical Patriarchy,

      Truth Unites… and Divides

    • Michael T.

      TUAD,
      1. What I mean is that the statement is made that hierarchy is good yes, however there is nothing given to support this other than that Lewis supposedly believed this. There is actually not anything even given to support the assertion that Lewis believed this. It is nothing more then bald assertions.

      2. Having authority does not change anything from ruling over in that the issue is how the authority or power to rule is derived. Think about it this way. Does the President of the United States have authority over the people of the United States? Absolutely! However, he is ultimately accountable to the people over which he has authority for the exercise of that authority. If the current President is just bad we can vote him out next election, if he is really bad he can be impeached by the representatives of the people. In the case of patriarchy the female is less than a man simply because of having a second X chromosome instead of a Y chromosome. The male does not earn his position of authority through superior merit or competency to lead, but simply through being a male. Furthermore the female has no recourse to a impartial body for the abuses of a males power (I wonder in patriarchy if it is even possible for a male to abuse his power). Sure the female can appeal to the Church, but when the decision makers in the church are all male is this really a legitimate and impartial body to hear the appeal??? This is the reason why in the case of the law we have juries made up of ones peers, rather then a Judge, who already represents the State, decide a case. Imagine the injustice if representatives of the very State bringing a charge were the ones who got to decide the validity of that charge.

      This is ultimately the failure of complementairanism. It is ultimately incomprehensibly incoherent to view a female as being equal in status, but subordinate in function to a male. Either they are equal and should be judged according to their merit and abilities as to their fitness for any given position, or they must be regarded…

    • A Reader

      While God is “Father” and is the “Father” of our Lord Jesus Christ, we believers are all brethren – brothers and sisters of each other – in Christ.

      Jesus said as much.

      There is no human patriarchal hierarchalism in His Kingdom or Government or Church.

      As for those patriarchal hierarchal systems and organizations that claim to be His Church and His Body and an expression of His Life….

    • bishop

      “Put bluntly, a woman can exercise her gifts fully without seeking to compete with men. The feminist error assumes that women can only lead if they do what men do” (Beyond Stateliest Marble, p. 86).

    • ScottL

      DM –

      To be an egalitarian says more about how you interpret Scripture, more than anything. It is near impossible to get by the plain teaching of Scripture on this issue. Eve was made as a helper for Adam. To deny this is and other clear Scriptures says much about one’s faith.

      Did you know that God’s creation of Eve taken ‘out of’ man as a ‘helper suitable for’ is a proclamation of their equality? I’d welcome your interaction with these two articles – article 1 and article 2.

      • DM

        ScottL, equality is not what is at stake here. Compl. vs. egal. is not a debate about equality but roles. God’s creation of Adam first from dust and then Eve from Adam is symbolic of God’s order in the marriage, as Paul interprets for us in 1 Tim. 2, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.”

        In other words, Paul is saying that man has authority over a woman because Adam was created first, then Eve. This, along with many other verses, is a very clear teaching on God’s order of our relationships. But unfortunately it is twisted to by egalitarians.

      • L. DeLay

        HEBREW help here. The only other time “helper” or helpmeet is used is when it refer to God as a helper for man (humankind).

        The better translation would be “rescuer” …

        (Promote Eve to Rescuer and you get something else entirely.)

        • Gary Simmons

          To take the way a word is used in reference to God and insert that meaning in a context where it refers to a human is illegitimate totality transfer.

          What if I were to refer to a human (other than Jesus) as my savior? How inappropriate would that be? Rather, in reference to someone other than Jesus, it would be more likely that I mean savior as “someone who gets me out of a difficult situation.”

          Nothing in the context of Genesis 2 says that the woman rescues the man, so that is a spurious claim.

    • ScottL

      DM –

      Yes, equality in socio-functional roles.

      I think you undertake a mistake when you read this specific theology into 1 Tim 2:13 – God’s creation of Adam first from dust and then Eve from Adam is symbolic of God’s order in the marriage, as Paul interprets for us in 1 Tim. 2.

      If we read Genesis 1 and 2, there is nothing that states one has authority over the other. Please show in the text of Genesis 1 and 2 where we are taught that one being created first shows us who has authority? It’s not in the text. We read that into the text by misapplying 1 Tim 2:13 back into Genesis 1 and 2. But Genesis 1 and 2 never says such. Not to mention Paul is addressing a specific situation in the church of Ephesus within the context of 1 Timothy.

      All I can ask is that you interact with these articles on Genesis 1 and 2 – article 1, article 2, article 3.

      • Hodge

        Scott,

        I read the first article, and where I think you are misunderstanding something is not in terms of whether the word ‘adam is to be understood as “humanity” (although many would say that it functions eponymically, with the man as federal head of humanity, like Israel/Jacob or the tribe of Judah, etc.), nor do you misunderstand that the woman is also made as God’s image (although some scholars have argued that the woman is not said to be God’s image, and Paul seems to say that she is the glory of man and man is the glory of God). Where your study misunderstands is in the nature of the image and how the man and woman fulfill that role, both in the immediate context, and within the larger context of the book of Genesis.
        I don’t know if you pursue that in your other articles, as I did not read those; but your argument falls flat for those of us who understand that the image is connected to the procreative command that has the humans fulfill a role of “conquerors” of chaos through taking upon themselves respective roles that differentiate between the sexes, something that is brought out more clearly in Gen 2 and the rest of the book. I just suggest this to you as something to pursue, since you indicated that you were open to pursuing things further.

        • bishop

          those of us who understand that the image is connected to the procreative command that has the humans fulfill a role of “conquerors” of chaos through taking upon themselves respective roles that differentiate between the sexes

          This is certainly a novel interpretation of the many I’ve studied (though it certainly fits more within the Western Hermetic/European Folk [i.e., pagan] interpretations of the Creation myth). I’d like to hear more. Care to point to any resources that elucidate this particular view?

          • Hodge

            bishop,

            Do you really need to see it in a resource when it’s right there in the context? But there are many scholars who note this in one way or another. If you want more of an explanation and support for it, you can see my “Revisiting the Days of Genesis.” Although I’m not addressing this issue specifically, I do still talk about it a bit. Studies on the early chapters of Genesis are beginning to reexamined these traditionally philosophical readings we take for granted more and more, so you may not see it all over the place, but I believe it will become the dominant understanding of the text soon enough once the argument of the Primeval History, as well as the larger book as a whole, is seen more as a unified argument that is based upon the opening chapter.

            • bishop

              I don’t see anything referenced as a source material or even alluded here. Is this your interpretation? I admit that I’m only starting to examine fundamentalist scholarship (if I dare call it that) and so I’m not familiar with the territory quite yet. Up to now I’ve preferred actual academic work to fundamentalist interpretations. But in order to understand the more novel approaches, I’ve decided to branch out.

            • Hodge

              Well, I cited the text, which you can read; but apparently you need a liberal to hold your hand in order to walk you through it. For us “fundamentalists,” we like to read the text in context, so the imago Dei needs to be interpreted within the context rather than according to medieval, Thomistic anthropology or twentieth century liberation theology first. I cited my own work, and yes it is my interpretation, but if you need two hundred scholars to confirm it, even though it’s clear in the context, then I can’t help you with that. I can go through and list articles, but since I don’t feel you really want to learn, I’m not going to take the time to do so. Remain as you are.

      • DM

        ScottL, by this statement, are you inferring that the NT does not teach us the proper interpretation of the Old Testament? Our understanding of Gen. 1&2 is interpreted for us in many places in the NT, 1 Tim 2, Matt. 19 issue about divorce, etc. Yes, Paul is addressing a specific situation, yet the whole Bible is addressing specific situations throughout! This logic does not follow. Was the Sermon on the Mt. just for Jews of antiquity? Do the 10 commandments only apply to desert-dwelling Jews of the 14th century BD? Every epislte of Paul was for specific situations, so do none of those apply to us either? But just in case readers would think Paul was only talking about 1 situation in 1 Tim 2, he ties it back to creation, thereby applying it to the whole human race, not just the Ephesian church. A basic hermeneutical principle is that a specific situation, under girded by a theological principle, is binding on all believers of the church age.

        • Michael T.

          There are a couple interesing points I think about 1 Tim 2.

          1. Exceptionally few complementarians follow their line of thinking to its natural and inevidible conclusion. Paul says “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet”. Couple issues

          A. No church I know of require women to “remain quiet” and not speak in church. Even your strictly male lead churches would not run if this were required (we all know it is the church ladies that put everything together and make it run smoothly anyhow – i.e. good ole fashion church putlocks). If we are to take this passage literally complementarians should not allow women to speak in church (biblical or not that would go over like a lead baloon even in the most male lead church)

          B. Notice that while the context is addressing church the reason Paul gives could be applied universally to all facits of life including the work place. Yet I have yet to hear of a church stating you must quit your job if your workplace has females in leadership positions over males, or even stating you can’t put women in leadership positions if you own a business. Yet I think this is a logical necessity if one follows Paul’s literal reasoning and takes it as a universal principle with universal application.

          2. I think the ultimate thing that makes this not a universal principle is simply this phrase – “But I”. The simple language used seems to indicate that Paul is telling Timothy what he does with the issue. There is no need to read this as a universal principle.

          • DM

            A. To cook a potluck dinner is not exercising authority over anyone in the church. The issue is women teaching over men. There are other places where Paul discuss women speaking in the church setting. Here “speaking” is, according to the context, speaking in a teacher/pastor/elder role.

            B. Although the context is clearly the church as you say, I agree, along with many other Christians, that this should be applied universally in the workplace as well. But the fact many Christians do not consistent in their convictions does not have any bearing as to what Paul actually is saying here.

            2. So every time Paul says “But I” it is not universal? Paul has apostolic authority and what he commands in Scripture has divine authority as well. And just in case what he says in verses 9-12 is unclear to anyone, he appeals to the created order. Is the created order universal to everyone?

            If you think the “But I” clause (v.12) is not universal, when does the letter become universal again?

    • ScottL

      Hodge –

      I can only ask you to read my other articles. Actually my whole series is about 12 articles. Soon I will post a full PDF document.

      DM –

      I would only hope you would read my articles. The situation of 1 Timothy 2:8-15 is addressing something separate from the roles of male and female in Genesis. Again, go to Genesis. What does the text say? Nothing about who has ‘authority’. And, if you are interested, here is my post on 1 Timothy 2:8-15.

      • DM

        ScottL, it’s very simple.

        1. Paul is using the created order argument when he says, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve”
        2. The created order is described in Gen 1&2.
        3. Therefore Paul is addressing Gen 1&2.

      • Hodge

        Fair enough, as long as you address this concern. I’ll try to read them as soon as I get a chance. God bless.

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