Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism

What is complementarianism? Egalitarianism? Is one biblical? Unbiblical? Read on!

God created Eve because He wanted Adam to have “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew word for “comparable” is neged. Other translations say:

  • NASB & NIV—“suitable for him”
  • ESV—“fit for him”
  • HCSB—“his complement”

The literal translation actually means “opposite or contrasting.” Men and women were designed to fit in all ways. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When a husband and wife become one flesh at their wedding, they perfectly complement each other. Together, they become something stronger and more magnificent than they could be alone. The strengths of each compensate for the weaknesses of the other:

  • When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
  • When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.

We should give thanks to God for His wonderful design and do everything we can to fulfill the roles He has given us as husband and wife. One of the best ways to do this is by embracing the different roles and responsibilities He gave men and women.

What is egalitarianism?

Egalitarianism is the rejection of the different roles and responsibilities. Egalitarians believe God does not have separate and distinct plans for men and women. They see them interchangeably. Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are simply extreme forms of egalitarianism.

The Scripture most cited by egalitarians is Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Using the verse to support egalitarianism takes it out of context because it deals with salvation. Everyone, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, or female is saved by grace through faith apart from the law and works (Galatians 3:1–25). If Paul were saying men and women are identical in terms of responsibilities, he would be contradicting numerous Scriptures he wrote outlining the differences between the genders.

Bible scholar James Fowler explains:

Egalitarian assertions are based on false premises. [Identical] responsibilities and authority produces the chaos of no one having ultimate authority or responsibility. The egalitarian premises of socialistic communism are unworkable. Identity, value and worth are not found in gender function, but in a personal Being beyond ourselves.

What is complementarianism?

Complementarianism, on the other hand, teaches that God has separate and distinct responsibilities for men and women. This allows them to balance and support each other. Complementarians recognize the gender roles in Scripture are meaningful. When embraced they promote spiritual and emotional health that allows people to reach their God-given potential.

Genesis 1:27, 5:2, and Mark 10:6 state:

God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The emphasis is not on God’s creating people but on His creating two different types of humans. One male and one female. The rest of Scripture reveals the distinct plans for each. Although men and women equally share God’s image and together have dominion over creation, God designed them differently in order to accomplish His purposes.

A poor criticism of complementarianism

Egalitarians claim complementarianism is chauvinistic. One gender is supposedly superior to the other. But a difference in roles and responsibilities doesn’t mean a difference in value. Two people can be different and equal. Men and women can have the same significance while not being identical. God’s very nature supports this in that there are three different Persons with distinct roles, but there is still equality.

Pastor David Guzik states in his commentary on Genesis 1:

In our day, many say there is no real difference between men and women. This makes sense if we are the result of mindless evolution, but the Bible says “male and female He created them.” To God, the differences between men and women are not accidents. Since He created them, the differences are good and meaningful. One of the saddest signs of our culture’s depravity is the amount and the degree of gender confusion today. It is vain to wonder if men or women are superior to the other. A man is absolutely superior at being a man. A woman is absolutely superior at being a woman. But when a man tries to be a woman or a woman tries to be a man, you have something inferior.

The real tragedy with egalitarianism

We can’t expect unbelievers to agree with God’s Word and accept complementarianism. The real tragedy is when Christians hold to an egalitarian view. They see no differences between men and women’s roles in the home or the church. Such individuals may not condone such outright sins as homosexuality and transgenderism, but they indirectly support these agendas by denying the gender roles and undermining God’s Word.

Just as men are needed in the home and the church in crucial ways, so women are needed in the home and the church in crucial ways. But the way each gender is needed is different. We must maintain the distinctions between men and women if we are to obey God’s Word.

Discussion Questions:

  • Were you taught a complementarian or egalitarian view of marriage? If egalitarian, are you willing to reserve judgment and openly receive what the Bible teaches about distinctions between husbands’ and wives’ roles and responsibilities? Why or why not?
  • In what ways has egalitarianism influenced Western culture?
  • Considering what you read about complementarianism, how would you refute the egalitarian assumption that a difference in roles and responsibilities implies a difference in equality, importance, or value.”
  • In what ways do you and your spouse complement each other?

Marriage God's Way book and workbookNOTE: Most of this post is taken from the Introduction in Marriage God’s Way. The book is currently 20% off, the workbook is 25% off, and you can receive FREE shipping on orders over $20!

Related Posts

48 thoughts on “Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism

  1. Excellent. Thank you for explaining the difference. I had heard of egalitarianism before but didn’t understand exactly what it was. Your post has brought that clarity. I loved the commentary quote by Pastor David Guzik. I thought that really summed it up so well.

    I think people have gotten so caught up in anti-subservience (often associating submission to subservience) that they’ve gone completely off the charts into egalitarianism and missed the whole point.
    God loves diversity because its in our differences that we get to really experience a greater understanding of his character and nature. Think of the Trinity – 3 persons united into 1 each with their own role and characteristics. I love that about God. When he made Adam and Eve he made them (us) in His image because one person couldn’t represent a united God as well as a man and a woman joined together (in marriage).

    1. Hi Ailie,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad to hear my post provided clarity. Yes, David Guzik is a blessing.

      Yes explained yourself well by using the word diversity, versus superiority. Different doesn’t have to mean unequal. You’re the second person to mention the Triune nature of God in your comment, which makes me think I didn’t make that point clear enough in my post :).

  2. Scott,

    First let me say how well you’ve responded to the comments and questions on this post. I hope I can do as well when it happens on my site.

    I think one of the reasons Christians, and non-Christians alike, have such a hard time with this concept is that it’s so rarely done well. Even when a couple is living this out in their marriage, outsiders may not notice. It’s the extremes that get the attention.

    1. Hi Beka,
      That blesses me to hear you say that about my responses. It is very difficult – especially in writing where tone can be misunderstood – to disagree without becoming hostile. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, especially over a controversial topic like this.

    1. Hi Caroline,
      At a conference last month I taught a workshop called, “Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism” and the man introducing me couldn’t pronounce it. I said I would now call the class, “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”

  3. Hi Scott,

    Your post is very interesting post. I like it.

    Here is a thought for you;

    Just as Yeshua (Jesus) was the only begotten (brought forth) from Elohim (God), so Hawwaa (Eve) the woman was the only brought forth from Hebel (Adam) unlike all of the other creatures He created.

    Isn’t it also interesting that Yeshua (Jesus) is likened unto a Groom and the congregation is likened unto the Bride.

    Also consider this;
    The main test of a man then is in the home with his wife.
    He MUST pass this test.

    Bereshith (Genesis) 2:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

    The man needs to complete the ‘You and Your Wife’ – The Two Shall Become One Flesh (Echad)
    This is the same word for One (H259 אֶחָד (‘eḥāḏ) as found in the Sh’ema.
    Debarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4 “Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one!

    It is the man’s responsibility not the woman’s.
    The woman will not be held accountable (at least not like the man) for this.

    Shalom

    1. Hi Jeff,
      That’s very fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

      Yes, the imagery between Adam and Eve and Christ and the church is fascinating. I was introduced to it too while preaching on marriage in Genesis 2. Ephesians 5:30, 32 says:

      For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

      In Scripture, the word “mystery” refers to something previously concealed and then later revealed. Ephesians 5:32 speaks of “a great mystery” that began at the creation of Eve, was concealed throughout the Old Testament, and then revealed in the New Testament. The mystery is that marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church:
      • Just as Adam was Eve’s head, so too is Christ our head (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18).
      • Just as Eve came from Adam’s body to be his helper, so too we are the body of Christ serving as His “helper” carrying on His work in His physical absence (1 Corinthians 12:12–27).
      • Just as God put Adam to sleep and created Eve physically from his side, so as Jesus slept the sleep of death on the cross and in the grave, God created the church spiritually from our wounded Savior.

      Thanks for the thoughts my friend. Hope you and Bonnie are doing well.

  4. This is the first time I have heard the terms: Complementarianism & Egalitarianism.

    We do see more and more that many would prefer to blur the lines of men and women’s roles and responsibilities.

    I do believe God made man and woman to compliment each other and to be helpmates.

    1. Hi Kristi,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, I don’t think we’ve ever lived in another time that had such a ferocious attack on the gender roles.

    2. Please consult a dictionary. Mr. LaPierre has used a definition of egalitarianism that no reasonable person would recognize.

    3. Hi Angie,
      Would you mind sharing your definition of egalitarianism? Then if people read your thoughts they can contrast what you have to say with my post.

    4. Sure. From Oxford Dictionary:
      egalitarian: n. A person who advocates or supports the principle of equality for all people.

      equality: n. The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.

      Thank you for asking.

  5. I have quite a bit of disagreement with the article above, but I think of all things I’m most troubled by the statement that, “Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are simply extreme forms of egalitarianism.” I’m not sure that is true, but even if it were, what would be the value of it except to cast aspersions on egalitarians?

    One could just as well say, “domestic discipline, dominance and submission, and BDSM are simply extreme forms of complementarianism.” That statement is every bit as true as the statement you made, and yet I think you and I can agree it is horribly unfair because it characterizes the movement by it’s most extreme and offensive elements. So I most strenously object to your statement.

    Further, I think you have mischaracterized egalitarianism as advocating for “sameness” of the sexes, while mischaracterizing complementarianism as advocating for “difference”. That is not at all what the argument is about, which is proven by the origins of the term complementarian and complementarity.

    It is the people now known as egalitarians that first referred to men and women “complementing” one another in their strengths and weaknesses and used various forms of the word to advocate for inclusion of women in leadership, because women and men bring unique gifts and abilities to the table. The Christians for Biblical Equality 1989 ‘Statement on Men, Women, and Biblical Equality,” implies the complementarity of the sexes throughout and speaks explicitly of their “complementarity.’ The term was later appropriated by Wayne Grudem and John Piper as a more benign expression of what was formely known as patriarchy.

    Those are historical facts, and they show that the thrust of your article is of base. It is quite easy to refute a position that you misrepresent, and I believe that you have done just that. I trust that this was done innocently and with good intentions, and that you will work to make amends.

    1. Hi Greg,
      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.
      The point of that statement about those perversions being extreme forms of egalitarianism was to point out the dangerous end that comes from removing the lines between the genders.
      No, I wouldn’t say the sins you mentioned are extreme forms of complementarianism. I would say you could twist complementarianism to reach those ends, but they aren’t logical ends of it.
      I’m sorry, but I’m not very familiar with the histories of either. But I don’t think that matters, because my point was to discuss them today, not how they originated. I’m not sure how those historical facts show the thrust of my article is off base? Regardless of what these terms meant in the past, today, egalitarians deny the differing roles and responsibilities God has given men and women.
      Thanks again for commenting!

    2. Hi Scott,

      I’m surprised you could so easily dismiss my equation of domestic discipline as an extreme form of complementarianism, given the reports from the Quiverfull movement and the unfortunate reported antics of RC Sproul. I’d encourage you to have a closer look, the connection is certainly there.

      The reason behind my history lesson was to show that egalitarians do believe in complementarity. The point of making that that clear is that it is logically impossible to deny any differences, yet at the same time affirm complementarity. There must be differences for complementarity to exist. This proves that egalitarians don’t deny differences between men and women, and that destroys the thrust of your post.

      One of the classic egalitarian books is “Discovering Biblical Equality” – the subtitle is “Complementarity Without Hierachy”. That reveals the true nature of our disagreement. Today’s “complementarians” are all about hierarchy of male over female, so much so that gender even trumps complementarity!

      You said yourself, in a reply to Sarah, “A man can definitely be better at managing the home and a woman can definitely be better at working outside of it. But it’s not a question of talent or gifting. It’s a question of obeying God’s Word.”

      So there you said that if the man in a relationship isn’t the most gifted to lead, you believe he should lead anyway, despite that lack, simply because of his gender. How then can you still call it complementarity? If the weaker leader is given that role simply because of gender, there is nothing complementary about it. It is patriarchy.

      I fully agree that the issue for a disciple is obeying God’s word. But I believe that the Bible shows God giving gifts to people without respect to gender, and that we are each obligated to use our gifts to their fullest. Your “complementarianism” doesn’t allow our sisters to do that.

      I think your complementarian system looks good with a few verses used as proof texts, but under scrutiny it doesn’t fit the overall biblical context well at all, and it doesn’t fit the cultural context either.

      Why would the Apostle Paul command husbands to be in authority over their wives, when they were already masters of their wives in his culture?

    3. Hi Greg,
      I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying be dismissive of your point. I explained why I don’t see abuse as a logical end of complementarianism, but I wasn’t trying to dismiss it. If I dismissed it I wouldn’t have responded to it :).

      You said:

      domestic discipline…given the reports from the Quiverfull movement and the unfortunate reported antics of RC Sproul. I’d encourage you to have a closer look, the connection is certainly there.

      I don’t have to have a look. I know it’s there! But there are “bad” cops, and I don’t write off cops. The point is complementarians sinning doesn’t mean complementarianism is wrong.

      You also said:

      So there you said that if the man in a relationship isn’t the most gifted to lead, you believe he should lead anyway, despite that lack, simply because of his gender. How then can you still call it complementarity?

      Yes, he should lead anyway, not because he’s good at it or wants to, but because God commands it. It’s complementary in that what God has called men to complements wives, and what God has called women to, complements men. Just because people don’t excel in the way God commands doesn’t mean they don’t obey God in that area.

      In regards to your question at the end, Paul commanded husbands to be the head of the relationship and lead with love and gentleness. This was a departure from the abuse and mistreatment women received in his day. Paul commanded men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This brought them a level of treatment they wouldn’t know otherwise in that culture.

      I looked at your site and your bio says, “Lover of Jesus, Lover of truth, Biblical egalitarian, Conservative Republican Louisville Cardinal fan.” The first blog post I saw was critical of complementarianism, and your second blog post was titled, “If Complementarianism is New, it Cannot be True.” We clearly probably aren’t going to agree :).

    4. Hi Scott- Of course, as an egalitarian I disagreed with quite a lot of your initial post, much of which I didn’t engage. We come from different ponts in the spectrum, and I’m sure we could debate this endlessly. My point was to engage you on specific statements that I felt were unfair or out of bounds in order to maintain the validity of the discussion. I apparently failed at that.

      You have characterized homosexual marriage, transgenderism and bisexuality not only as extreme forms of egalitarianism, but the logical ends of it. If that’s the case, one would wonder how some of the top living New Testament scholars and theologians like Craig Keener and Ben Witherington III, or Greg Boyd have all failed to think it through sufficiently to arrive at what you think is the logical conclusion. Because that’s not their conclusion at all.

      I would suggest that it’s more likely you simply don’t understand egalitarianism, which I think is shown in other ways throughout your post.

      I must say your definition of “complementary” is unique. For most people, when people “complement” each other that implies one is strong where the other is weak. The implication there is that everyone plays to their strengths.

      Your version of “complementary” is that everyone is assigned their job ahead of time and that’s the one they’ll do. So the CFO does the dishes while the construction worker balances the checkbook because that’s the way it ought to be. I would maintain that isn’t what most people consider to be complementary, but to each his own.

      May God bless your journey, Scott. Thank you for engaging.

    5. Hi Greg,
      I wouldn’t say you failed, and I’m sorry if you feel that way. Even you acknowledged that I did engage, and that’s what your desired, so in that sense you “succeeded” for lack of a better term. Just because we don’t agree isn’t a reason for regret in my mind. As you said, we come from different positions.

      The truth is, you are making me second guess my statement that, “homosexual marriage, transgenderism and bisexuality not only as extreme forms of egalitarianism, but the logical ends of it.” What I can’t get past is egalitarians blur – or destroy – the lines between the genders, and that’s what these perversions do as well. Do you agree?

      You said, “the implication is that everyone plays to their own strengths.” While this might sound good hypothetically, it fails because people decide their own strengths and weaknesses, and what happens when the husband and wife start competing with each other, because they both claim they should do this since it’s their “strength.” The better approach is everyone “plays” to God’s established role for them.

      You said:

      Your version of “complementary” is that everyone is assigned their job ahead of time and that’s the one they’ll do. So the CFO does the dishes while the construction worker balances the checkbook because that’s the way it ought to be. I would maintain that isn’t what most people consider to be complementary, but to each his own.

      It’s interesting that you said this, because in my book, Marriage God’s Way, I discuss the season of life Katie and I enter that requires us to somewhat switch roles. When she’s pregnant, at times she’s so sick she can hardly get out of bed. You can guess who takes on many of her responsibilities. I’d truly be interested in you reading my book, and if you’d consider that I’d give you a free copy.

      Despite our differences I hope the Lord blesses you and your ministry for Him. In the short communication we’ve had, you seem very sincere in your desire to serve the Lord.

  6. Love this post. Very scriptural and yes it is a very sensitive topic.
    I do think women can be good at work and leadership but their primary need is toward to home, family, children. Call me old fashioned but then my Bible teaches me so.

    1. Hi Sheetal,
      You mentioned a point that hadn’t been made yet. The “need” for women to focus their energies toward their homes, children, families, etc. Like you said, the Bible teaches that, but there’s a need for it as well.

  7. So, what exactly are “gender roles”? The woman takes care of the home and the man provides financially by working? Is it not just possible that commonly understood defined gender roles are unbiblical? Is it not possible that, while men and women carry different roles, the actions that play out those roles may shift and change according to the person? Why is marriage all about meeting the man’s needs? Is it not possible that Adam was made for Eve as much as Eve was made for Adam? Even if he was made first — God knew what was going to happen! Let’s stop trying to put people in boxes! Why can’t a man be better at managing the home and a woman be amazing at working outside of it? Let’s see some real, honest Biblical study about this. How do you explain Jael, Deborah, Abigail, Tabitha, Ruth, Lydia and the many other hardworking, honoured women in Scripture? Leaders, workers, assertive women who were called by God for a purpose, had a voice and used it. Why are women only valuable if they are married? What of the women God calls to remain single? What is their role in life? This is a very incomplete representation of God’s call to humankind. It ignores some very real, very Biblical answers about the equality and gender roles. Don’t be blinded by the traditions of men when looking at this issues, but honestly and prayerfully seek Scripture. Man isn’t more important just because he was created first anymore than grass, trees and animals are more important because they were created first. All are equally necessary for the peaceful coexistence of life.

    and: “When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
    When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.” Seriously? Do you hear yourself? Why is it all “for him”? Why shouldn’t a husband be thinking about what’s good for her? He thinks about what is good for him and she thinks about what is good for him. Here is the major flaw in your argument. Nobody cares about the woman. And that is why women want to be viewed as equal, to be as important as the male in the relationship. To be valued, to have their opinion valued, to have their worth recognized. She is NOT there solely to please him!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. You wrote quite a bit, so I thought it best to respond below your words so I can answer your questions.

      So, what exactly are “gender roles”? The woman takes care of the home and the man provides financially by working?

      First, I want to say that it doesn’t matter what I think, and – no offense – it doesn’t matter at what you think either. It matters what God’s Word says, and God’s Word describes women as homemakers in the Old and New Testaments:
      • Proverbs 13:27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
      • Proverbs 14:1a The wise woman builds her house.
      • 1 Timothy 5:14 I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house.
      • Titus 2:3–5 Older women . . . admonish the young women . . . to be homemakers.

      As far as men providing financially, God put Adam in the Garden to work, and 1 Timothy 5:8 says that a man who will not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever.

      Is it not just possible that commonly understood defined gender roles are unbiblical?

      I think plenty of commonly defined gender roles are unbiblical!

      Is it not possible that, while men and women carry different roles, the actions that play out those roles may shift and change according to the person?

      Yes, there’s definitely some liberty regarding the way the roles play out, but that’s not license to discard God’s plan and simply claim, “It’s different for us.”

      Why is marriage all about meeting the man’s needs?

      I used that language in my post because I was discussing Genesis 2:18—Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

      Is it not possible that Adam was made for Eve as much as Eve was made for Adam?

      No, it’s not possible. 1 Corinthians 11:9 says, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

      Even if he was made first — God knew what was going to happen! Let’s stop trying to put people in boxes! Why can’t a man be better at managing the home and a woman be amazing at working outside of it?

      A man can definitely be better at managing the home and a woman can definitely be better at working outside of it. But it’s not a question of talent or gifting. It’s a question of obeying God’s Word.

      Let’s see some real, honest Biblical study about this. How do you explain Jael, Deborah, Abigail, Tabitha, Ruth, Lydia and the many other hardworking, honoured women in Scripture? Leaders, workers, assertive women who were called by God for a purpose, had a voice and used it.

      Yes, there are definitely some women with wonderful leadership skills, and who are hardworking and honored. 1 Peter 3:7 commands husbands to honor their wives, so I’m definitely in favor of wives being honored! The spheres in which women use their skills – in the church and the home – is simply different than the spheres for men.

      Why are women only valuable if they are married? What of the women God calls to remain single? What is their role in life?

      I would never say, “Women [are] only valuable if they are married.” That’s a terrible statement. Yes, God can call women (and men) to singleness. Their role is to serve God in their singleness. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 Paul actually said single people could serve the Lord with wholeheartedness that married people can’t since they have to “care for their spouse.”

      This is a very incomplete representation of God’s call to humankind.

      Of course it is; it’s just one post! How could a few paragraphs cover God’s call to mankind?

      My point with this post was to discuss the differences and value of complementarianism versus egalitarianism.

      It ignores some very real, very Biblical answers about the equality and gender roles.

      Okay, can you provide some of these biblical answers about gender roles? The key word is “biblical.” Please make sure your opinions are supported from Scripture.

      Regarding equality, I addressed this in the post. Different doesn’t mean unequal.

      Don’t be blinded by the traditions of men when looking at this issues, but honestly and prayerfully seek Scripture.

      That sounds good, but considering God’s Word presents different roles for men and women, egalitarians are the ones following “the traditions of men.”

      Man isn’t more important just because he was created first anymore than grass, trees and animals are more important because they were created first. All are equally necessary for the peaceful coexistence of life.

      I completely agree with your above statement!

      and: “When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
      When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.” Seriously? Do you hear yourself? Why is it all “for him”?

      Again, I used this language because it mirrored the verse I was discussing: Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

      I’d also cite 1 Corinthians 11:9 says, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

      What are your thoughts on these two verses?

      Why shouldn’t a husband be thinking about what’s good for her?

      He definitely should, and there are other verses (Ephesians 5:25-29 and 1 Peter 3:7) that make this very clear!

      He thinks about what is good for him and she thinks about what is good for him. Here is the major flaw in your argument.

      Can you tell me from my post where I argued that?

      Nobody cares about the woman. And that is why women want to be viewed as equal, to be as important as the male in the relationship. To be valued, to have their opinion valued, to have their worth recognized. She is NOT there solely to please him!

      I completely agree with your above statements. Again, I’d ask what in the post said otherwise?

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

    2. You say: “But it’s not a question of talent or gifting. It’s a question of obeying God’s Word” when God’s Word clearly calls EVERYONE to obey Him first and foremost. It sometimes is absolutely about talent and gifting. 1 Corinthians 12 makes that clear. If God gives you a gift and a calling – you’d better be ready and willing to use it, whether you are a woman or a man. I wouldn’t want to be the one who stands in the way to try to prevent someone using a God-given talent or gift because it doesn’t fit into their definition of “proper gender roles”!

      Anyway, here is my Biblical research on women’s Biblical roles. I blogged it as it’s quite lengthy. https://notjustmama2ca.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/biblical-gender-roles/

    3. Hi again Sarah,
      I understand what you’re saying, but the question is: Would God call people to use their gifts outside the ways He’s outlined in His Word? You said:

      If God gives you a gift and a calling – you’d better be ready and willing to use it, whether you are a woman or a man.

      I completely agree with this statement, but do you think God would call people to serve Him in ways He’s prohibited in Scripture?

    4. I guess my question them becomes what ways of service has God prohibited in scripture? I don’t see any prohibitions set on gender roles, can you show scripture here?

    5. Hi again Sarah,
      Good question!

      Church elders are identified as men. 1 Timothy 3:1–5 and Titus 1:6, 9 says:

      “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work . . . the husband of one wife . . . one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission. If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife . . . holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught.”

      Women are also forbidden from teaching or being in authority over men according to 1 Timothy 2:12-14. Sometimes people ask: “Why can’t women be in leadership over men in the church or in the home?” Like I said earlier, it has nothing to do with talent or gifting. Some women are fantastic teachers and leaders, and they should use their skills over other women and children. What it does have to do with is Adam’s being created first and Eve’s being deceived. Beyond that, I can’t say because those are the only two reasons Paul gives. The real question is not “Why can’t women?” The real question – and it’s the same question we always face – is, “Will we submit to God’s Word?”

  8. You tackle a very sensitive subject in an honest and direct way. You are correct that we can’t expect the world to agree with the Christian view. The egalitarian way seems to make perfect sense until you factor God into the equation. But He always knows best and has our best in mind too.

    1. Hi Tara,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your thoughts, because – at least up to this point – you’re the first female to comment, and it’s often females who struggle with complementarianism. Yes, egalitarian might intuitively seem reasonable until we consider God’s Word.

  9. Hey Scott, appreciate you tackling this topic in a straightforward, clear way. It’s hard to uphold biblical teaching on this in our culture (as you know), and I’d be interested to hear how you see the different roles playing out in real life among married couples. (Guessing you’ll address this in future posts, and have covered it in your book.)

    I’d also add that our struggles to separate role and value extend to many other areas of life, too. For example, I can remember feeling less valuable than other pastors who had a PhD and wrote books, traveled as speakers, etc. This is ultimately a struggle to believe that my value comes from the finished work of Jesus, not my role or how I live it out.

    1. Hi Bryan,
      Good to hear from you!
      Yes, upcoming posts will discuss how the different roles play out in real life. In general I’d say though, and you’re welcome to agree or disagree, that…

      Men are commanded to work and provide for their families:
      –Genesis 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
      –1 Timothy 5:8 if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
      Notice the male pronouns.

      Women are presented domestically:
      –Proverbs 13:27 She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
      –Proverbs 14:1a The wise woman builds her house.
      –1 Timothy 5:14 I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house.
      –Titus 2:3–5 Older women . . . admonish the young women . . . to be homemakers.

      Hmm, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of that, regarding feeling less value, but it makes sense. It is nice to know my ministry isn’t being compared to the ministry of other pastors. I can see how that would lead to the discouragement you describe, or – just as easily – pride if you happened to think your were “better.”

  10. It’s a good summary of the problem of Egalitarianism. I like your phrase that transgenderism, et al is merely a more extreme form of egalitarianism, as it is the logic of egalitarianism taken to its extreme. Egalitarians will only consistently affirm physical differences between men and women and are agnostic or in complete denial about any other aspect of our differences. The differences that God has created and ordained between men and women have a spiritual purpose to reflect God’s image in different ways. Egalitarianism denies this and puts the differences into the realm of a purely material reality. There can be no claim of sin on a purely material reality. By rejecting gender holiness Egalitarianism lays the foundation for abandoning sexual holiness.

    1. Hi Greg,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Your thoughts are a good summary of egalitarians that they only recognize the physical differences. Yes, it’s a denial of the spiritual (and emotional and mental) differences.

    2. Are these spiritual, emotional, and mental differences the basis for a male-female hierarchy? If so, will you explain what those differences are and how they correlate to the respective roles within the hierarchy?

      Kind regards.

    3. Hi Angie,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. No, I wouldn’t say hierarchy, but there is authority in the male relationship. Scripture makes this clear in a few places:

      Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
      1 Corinthians 11:3 I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

      What are your thoughts on these verses?

    4. Eph 5: Paul is giving a Christo-centric ethic to Greco-Roman household codes. 1 Co 11, scholars much more learned cannot find consensus, but where there is agreement is there is agreement is Paul’s culminating point is interdependence.

      I see you object to hierarchy, so I will rephrase. Are the spiritual, emotional, and mental differences the basis for male authority-female submission? If so, will you explain what those differences are and how they correlate to the respective behaviors of male authority and female submission.

      Kind regards.

    5. Angie,
      Regarding Ephesians 5 Paul was speaking to husbands and wives, giving them commands for marriage. Anyone being honest with the text can see that. The same with 1 Corinthians 11.

      We don’t know the reasons for marital submission since God doesn’t tell us. The closest explanation is in 1 Timothy 2:13 and 14 when Paul said, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

    6. Egalitarians will argue that they are not arguing for sameness because they acknowledge the existence of differences between men and women. They do this to try to misdirect the debate away from whether there are spiritually meaningful differences between men and women, which is what is at issue. If you press them on what the differences are, they are only able to be unequivocal about the existence of physical differences. Emotional differences at best are only vaguely acknowledged to exist and are lumped with physical differences, not a spiritual difference. Having a different role and a having a different spiritual purpose go together. Since Egalitarians work backwards from a denial of roles, they will deny spiritual differences. They will try to argue that men and women are both made in God’s image, thereby misdirecting the debate away from whether men and women are made in God’s image differently. These are their argumentative sleights of hand involved in trying to syncretize secular feminism with the teachings of Scripture which is what Egalitarianism is. Scripture ends up bent and broken over the wheel of feminism.

  11. Even within the Trinity, you can see a difference in roles (the Father sent the Son, the Son obeys the Father, etc.) without implying a difference in deity. Your statement, “a difference in roles and responsibilities doesn’t mean a difference in value” summarizes it well.

    1. Hi Aaron,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. In my post I said:

      God’s very nature supports this in that there are three different Persons with distinct roles, but there is still equality.

      By this statement I meant what you said in your comment, but perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. Similarly – which I’ll discuss in a later post – the Son’s submission to the Father while remaining equal with Him, demonstrates that a wife’s submission to her husband doesn’t mean she is unequal to him.

    2. Woops! I must have skipped over that sentence! My comment wasn’t due to a lack of clarity with your post, but an attempt to add something to the discussion (which was already there 🙂

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please share!