The Logical Outcome of Complementarianism
The sad reality that many of my good Christian brothers and sisters don’t realise is that, in the end, their supposed scripture-tight homey Complementarian view toward women plays out in the suppression of women in society at large. Many may scoff and think that I am exaggerating the reach of this doctrine. However, consider the words of John Piper, a foremost champion of Complementarianism and one of the most influential and well respected Christian leaders and teachers of our time. He says, “To the degree that a woman’s influence over a man, guidance of a man, leadership of a man, is personal and a directive, it will generally offend a man’s good, God-given sense of responsibility and leadership, and thus controvert God’s created order.” He goes on to say, “For example, a drill sergeant might epitomize directive influence over the privates in the platoon. And it would be hard for me to see how a woman could be a drill sergeant — hut two, right face, left face, keep your mouth shut, private — over men without violating their sense of manhood and her sense of womanhood.”
Though many Complementarians wouldn’t take it that far, Piper’s view is the sum logical outcome from their interpretations of certain key texts in the Scriptures. And, to the degree that this view is held by men who hold sway (and also by women), and to the extent that they have influence, false notions are imposed upon women, families and churches, and even onto society. The end result is a distortion of God’s creative and redemptive purposes for women, which is a loss to everyone, even to men.
Creation Testifies That Women Can Lead Men
The loss to men is especially ironic considering that Eve was meant to be a gift to Adam and, by extension, women to all of humanity. While this loss is to be expected in humanity’s fallen state, it is sad when it gets perpetuated by those who are in Christ. This leads to the other sad irony of Complementarianism, which is that the world, rather than those who hold Christ’s redemptive message, often benefits by not impeding the potential in women. For example, women are in the senate, in congress and in parliaments, and others successfully lead very significant countries and corporations, not to mention past queens and prime ministers. Creation doesn’t lie, because, like Deborah in the Bible, women have proven to be very good and capable leaders over men.
Scripture Testifies That Women Can Lead Men
Now, to be fair, our faith is based on Scripture alone. And, in this regard, we thankfully have many churches that interpret and teach a better message concerning women by using the very methods of interpretation that Complementarians use, yet with outcomes that are more consistent with Scripture as a whole and with God’s intentions for women specifically. In this regard, Women as Leaders is a link to several posts where I give alternative historical-grammatical interpretations to those of Complementarianism. I believe that you will see them ring true to the rest of Scripture and unintentionally, yet unsurprisingly, to what we see evidenced in life around us.
Just as we have evidenced that the earth is a sphere and are, therefore, not surprised to find that the Bible says the same thing, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Bible teaches that women can be leaders of men. Perhaps culturally and religiously indoctrinated men, and insecure men in particular, will battle with this outcome, but that God’s word. I, for one, would be grateful to be like Barak. He submitted himself to Deborah who commanded him in accomplishing God’s will. Nevertheless, even in the face of excellent alternative biblical interpretations that don’t compromise the Scriptures in any way (as some suppose), we still have Christians who doggedly hold to their interpretations and who teach that the Bible instructs otherwise. And, this despite both biblical and natural evidences of women unshackled.
Finally, I would like to end by recommending this TED Talk that highlights the sad reality of male leadership and women suppression found in varying degrees in many homes and churches and, as a result, in society too: Why I Left an Evangelical Cult | Dawn Smith | TEDxNatick