One of the basic tenets of Complementarianism is that men and women have equal value and worth as human beings made in the image of God. Complementarians also state that men and women have different roles in the home and in the church. Some even say that men and women have different roles in broader society. To be clear, when Complementarians use the word “role” what they really mean is “rank”.
Dictionary.com gives a definition of “rank” as “a number of persons forming a separate class in a social hierarchy or in any graded body.” Complementarians have effectively graded and divided the church into two main classes: #1 men and #2 women.
Complementarians (such as John Piper) claim that men were created by God to be the leaders and have spiritual authority. And they claim that women were created to be responsive and submissive to this all-male leadership and authority. This is not a difference in tasks to be performed. Rather, it is a difference in rank or status, with the lower class serving and submitting to the higher class (cf Eph. 5:21).
The Bible, in fact, says very little about gender-based tasks, activities or roles. Moreover, the Bible has enough examples of women with spiritual authority, who taught, advised and led men, to call into question the hierarchical concept underpinning complementarianism. Complementarians, however, seem intent on dividing the church along gender lines.
Generally speaking men and women have some basic differences, but we also share many more things in common. As Christians, men and women share many profound things in common. We share our common faith and hope, our relationship with Jesus, and our fellowship with each other. And each of us shares the responsibility to love our neighbour and minister the gospel of grace, healing, hope and forgiveness. Our varying abilities to love and to minister are not fundamentally tied to gender. (See 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and Ephesians 4:7).
The body of Christ should function as a unity, and not a social hierarchy.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28
This post was inspired by, and borrows from, an interesting comment that my internet friend Bob Edwards recently posted on his facebook page. Bob Edwards (Msw) is a counsellor, social worker and the author of “Let My People Go: A Call to End the Oppression of Women in the Church.” His book is available at Amazon and at www.equalityforwomeninchrist.com
Bible Women with Spiritual Authority
Is motherhood the highest calling for women?
Gender Division Divides the Church
Complementarianism: A Traditional Belief of the Church?
The Complementarian Concept of the Created Order
Gender Roles and Speaking Ministries in the Church
25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women
Kevin Giles has written an article on the misuse of the word “role” by complementarians which Philip Payne has posted the article on his website here.