Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Some thoughts on complementarianism

Riffing on something I posted over at Forever In Hell the other day... here are my thoughts on Complimentarianism.

I’m in favor of lower-case-c complementarianism in marriages. Partners should complement (and for that matter, compliment) each other. We all have things that we like and don’t like, that we are and aren’t particularly good at, and one of my criteria for a good marriage is that each partner buttresses the other’s weak points with their own strong points: you help each other out, you make each other better.

The problem with capital-C Complementarianism is that it insists that there’s only one way to do this, and that it’s The One True Way Ordained And Mandated By Almighty God (who, if He exists, almost certainly finds that assertion hilarious). There is one set of roles for men, and one set of roles for women, and ne'er the twain shall meet. This means, by extension, that all men have the same set of skills and talents as other men, and all women have the same set of talents and skills as other women. This is self-evident poppycock, if not outright lunacy.

Here's the thing: if your theology doesn't address the fact that human beings are individuals, with different personalities and talents and skills and interests, then it's really time to back up and try again. Individual differences are vastly more important to what a person will or will not be good at, and what they will enjoy, than their genitalia will ever be. In fact, individual differences are so much more important that any generalizations based on sex will not only be useless (as a practical matter), but in all likelihood counterproductive.

So, to paraphrase what Personal Failure was saying in her post, it's simply not the case that men will be leaders - or that they should be, or that they need to be. If it was as simple and inevitable as that, it would be just another fact of life and nobody would feel compelled to talk about it - let alone preach or argue the point.

Leaders will be leaders. That's how it works. And in any sort of cooperate effort - a marriage, running a church, organizing a ski trip, whatever - roles should should be based on skills, interest, and abilities... and not on anything as comparatively irrelevant as sex.


  1. Great post. Of course I used to be a big C husband.

    These days Polly and I do what each of us are good at. I am the bill payer, house maintenance man, tech support service, along with occasionally cooking, doing laundry and cleaning the house. Polly cooks, cleans, sews, does the laundry. While we are very traditional for people our age, our reasons for doing so are very different from when we were Christians. No divine order...just two people each doing what they do best.


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