I’m not sure if I’m a weak complimentarian or just an egalitarian.
Actually, I think both labels are rubbish. ‘Egalitarian’ is hollow because no one (well, I hope no one) believes men and women are unequal. Even though the complimentarian catchphrase ‘equal but different’ might be somewhat illogical when you unpack it (and a unfortunate allusion to apartheid and racial discrimination in America with their ‘separate but equal’ policies – does no one consider history?), it still clings onto equality. Both sides of the debate believe in equality, we’re all egalitarians.
And ‘complimentarian’ implies that men and women are complimentary, opposite equals, like yin and yang, positive and negative, black and white. Not only does this contradict our experience – I know all sorts of men and women – but I’d say it’s especially problematic when you consider humanity, both male and female, is made in the image of God. Is God half masculine and half feminine? Is God divided?I reckon complimentarians would be better off just biting the bullet and sticking with the old school label ‘patriarchalist’, that is, rule of fathers or of men. At least it’s more honest; unlike that ‘complimentarian’ sugar-coating.
I’m not really sure what Paul meant in Ephesians 5 or Colossians 3, or what Peter meant in 1 Peter 3. Was it prescriptive or descriptive? I’m undecided. Were they using the Old Testament as illustrations or were they using it to appeal to principles from creation? Were they simply saying ‘this is how to be a Christian in our society’ which already had these social roles of headship and submission? After all, most of us accept that those passages were not promoting slavery, but were saying how to be a Christian slave. Or did they mean ‘you must actively become heads or submit?’ because of Jesus and his Bride. I don’t know.
But it makes no difference. If those passages were lost, if it turns out they were made up centuries later, if we didn’t have any of the instructions for wives and husbands in the New Testament, it would make no difference to how I want to relate to my husband.
I’m still going to seek to submit to him, subordinate myself to him, lower myself, put his needs first.
Why? Because we know our attitude should be like that of Jesus.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.