Gender Role Debate: Egalitarian or Complementarian?

men-and-women.gifSimply stated, this debate pivots around roles that men and women play in the church and in marriage. One side says there should be no role distinctions (egalitarian) while the other side says there should be a hierachy of roles that influence leadership and submission (complementarian). One of my goals in this blog is to clarify the arguments on both sides of this controversial issue and to invite thoughtful dialogue from both sides. It helps me orient my own view in the context of the wider spectrum of thought and the interaction helps all of us grow in our personal convictions. I also enjoy seeing what I can learn about people in general by the nature of their responses (What do people seek? What do they react to? What emotions drive their reactions?) My visit last week to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting in Washington DC stirred this particular debate because we heard opposite views voiced by intelligent and spiritually mature people supporting their views from the Bible.

I think one of the clearest concise statement of the debate comes from

When it comes to our understanding of gender roles, the battle lines are often clearly drawn between the “traditional” complementarian view and the more “progressive” egalitarians. In the ongoing debate about male headship, most evangelicals—male or female, married or single—have chosen a side and can defend their position with some degree of skill and persuasiveness.

The Complementarian position is held institutionally by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood whose executive director is Randy Stinson. The egalitarian position is held institutionally by Christians for Biblical Equity Dr. Kevin Giles being a prominent spokesperson for this position. I met Dr. Giles last week and was struck by what a gracious gentleman he is, even though I do not hold his position. Notice that both sides base their views on the Bible. This is a good example of why I believe the Bible is not intended to be the final “handbook” word on all matters of human life. The best summary of each position I know of is by Bruce Ware who delineates the arguments, their biblical support, and the objections from the other side.

I have noticed that most reactions to either view are based on implications of a statement rather than an internal weakness. For example, many argue that the complentarian view allows for male dominance, domestic violence, and the notion that women are second-class citizens. I think this kind of reaction is emotionally based on fear and does not address the basic point.

Let me know your view.

 

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7 Responses to Gender Role Debate: Egalitarian or Complementarian?

  1. Rod Bunton says:

    I think CBMW has articulated the positions well. They have definitely clarified the biblical perspective on complementarianism. I think alot of Pastor’s were getting confused on these issues. We are having Randy Stinson speak here in Tallahassee in mid-January.

    What is your view on the above? Does DTS have a stand on these issues?

    Rod Bunton

  2. leejagers says:

    If I lived closer to Tallahassee, I’d put you on my calendar to hear Randy Stinson. I like what I have seen. Another man that I am just getting to know and like is Dr. Steven Tracy from Phoenix Seminary. I have referenced him on my 11/27/06 post. As far as I know, DTS does not have a stand on these gender role issues. — Lee

  3. Gender Role Debate: Egalitarian or Complementarian?

    J. Lee Jagers blogged last year on the Gender Role Debate: Egalitarian or Complementarian? He wrote:

    One of my goals in this blog is to clarify the arguments on both sides of this controversial issue and to invite thoughtful dialogue from both s…

  4. LJagers says:

    I just read (again) the “Danvers Statement” that is included in the “Council for Manhood and Womanhood website referenced in the post. It’s easy to pass over, even on their site, but if you go there and click on Vision/Mission and then click on “The Danvers Statement,” up it comes. It’s well thought through and clearly presented. — Lee Jagers

  5. Moara says:

    As an egalitarian, my reaction to complementarianism is a revulsion to the teaching that women who are gifted by God to teach, preach or lead should not be allowed to do so based on their gender alone. I find a higher calling in serving God than in following earthly hierachy structures.
    I don’t think you would define that being “based on implications of a statement rather than an internal weakness”.

  6. Julie says:

    I don’t think we struggle as much regarding the positions, but the way that these positions play out in the church and home. What I have found is that people take a Scriptural stance and add some human thinking to it. It feels somewhat like “the traditions of men” that Scripture talks about. How much is truly Biblical and how much an error of interpretation based on the culture and time in which it has been received. It can be a devisive topic and thus useful to satan in his attack against the body of Christ. When men (women) become fearful they tend to regress to a time and place of comfort. I am not sure that it is comfort we should seek, but the Truth that sets men free regardless if it causes us to change the way we believe
    .

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