When I originally started writing this post I was pretty sure it would just be a one-off. Maybe a few more words than usual, but a one post should do it. However, the more I started thinking about it, the more I realised that what I have to say on this subject will not be contained in 750 words. So, prepare yourself for a series, time will tell how long of a series it might be.
I also feel the need to preface my comments with a couple of disclaimers:
- Allow me to reiterate my standard – these words are mine, and don’t necessarily reflect that opinions of the organisation who employ me.
- And accept that whilst I do know what I think with regards to the broad picture fundamentals of this topic, how it works itself out in practice is good deal blurrier and liable to change. Since becoming a Christian 12 or so years ago, I have thought a lot about the place of women in the Bible and in the Church, and I have also changed my mind about what I think, and I don’t expect that I’m finished doing that. The theological theory is in place, but the day to day living it out is a continuing journey, and I’ll always welcome comment and discussion and questions as I walk that path.
So, on with the show, and let’s begin with a brief definition of the big word, courtesy of Wikipedia:
“Complementarianism is a theological view held by some… that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. The word ‘’complementary’’ and its cognates are currently used to denote this view. For those whose complementarian view is biblically prescribed, these separate roles preclude women from specific functions of ministry within the Church. It assigns leadership roles to men and support roles to women, based on the interpretation of certain biblical passages.”
I didn’t start out my Christian life as a complementarian. In fact, for the first three years I was wildly and vehemently opposed to the viewpoint, and then, in the summer whilst waiting for A Level results, I made an utter nuisance of myself at camp, asking all of the leaders what they thought about women and the church, until Cassie (my kind and gracious dorm leader) gave a brief, but excellent, wee seminar on the issues. Sitting in that room and listening to her chat about 1 Timothy 2, and Genesis 3 and all sorts of other stuff was the turning point in my understanding, and since then I’ve basically considered myself a complementarian. But, that word, big though it is, is not enough, because although many people might agree on a broad, brief definition of what that means, once we get into the details and the practice and reasons and the day to day outworking of that, everything gets a bit blurrier, and murkier, and I get a lot less happy.
And that’s where I find myself with a problem, and perhaps it would be better to have been a bit more detailed in my title – maybe, confessions of a frustrated complementarian? A confused complementarian? Or sometimes, a reluctant complementarian?
The frustration, confusion and reluctance can be found in two places: firstly, with myself, as I battle with trying to find out how this is all supposed to work itself out in my day to day life (especially when there’s not a lot of rules in the bible for how this all fits in a CU context!); and secondly, with other complementarians as they manage to move quite swiftly from complementarianism to chauvinism.
When I first started the Feminine Friday series I mentioned that it was because I wanted to celebrate the fact that I am woman (and that I quite like being a woman). I don’t think that there is any contradiction between being complementarian, and being happy that God has made me a woman, but to hear some (usually, but not exclusively, male) proponents of the complementarian position, I shouldn’t be happy that I’m a woman, because from their perspective to be female is to be less.
And that is both frustrating and confusing.
So, expect more next week, and in the meantime – tell me what you think!
In summary: starting a sub-series.