Today is International Woman’s Day Synchroblog. Here’s my two cents worth about the insidious nature of a biblical perspective called complementarianism. And, I’ve done the legwork for you and collected some quotes and rants from some other women syncro bloggers today.
This is why complementarianism sucks:
Complementarianism is a term to describe a theological view held by some Christians that differing, non-overlapping roles between men and women , manifested in marriage, church and leadership , and elsewhere, is biblically required.
The term Complementarian was coined in recent years and largely replaces today what previously was known as the Traditionalist or Hierarchical view of gender relationships. (Wikipedia)
I like this definition from blogger, Mad Reverend:
Complementarianism is a complicated series of intellectual gymnastics justifying the assignment of authority to men on the grounds that authority is but one among many roles played by human beings
Grace tells why it matters what the beliefs and practices of Christian communities are:
It matters that we not limit the complete work of redemption. The elimination of division of every kind is a part of God’s reconciliation and restoration.
It matters that we understand the nature of mutual love and all of the mutuality that entails. Hierarchy will never allow us to realize the fullness of mutual submission, mutual sacrifice, mutual giving, and mutual honor.
It matters that we give place for the full expression of every person’s unique gifts within the body of Christ. Power structures limit the potential of so many people, but particularly women.
Makeesha, that fireball of a voice in the blogosphere who refuses to soften her stance against complementarianism recently sounded off:
We as Christians should be the loudest voice for justice and mercy, we should be the loudest voice in ensuring that women around the world give their voices wings, we cannot do this when our churches are run by elder boards that are 100% male, when the person “up front” is always male and when 99% of what goes on in the church is ultimate determined by those “lucky” enough to be born with reproductive organs on the outside. In the best case scenario, those men will at least pay attention to the women in their congregations, the Sunday School teachers, the wives of the leaders, the singers, etc. But more often than not, churches are crippled by losing the input, leadership and gifts of half of their population.
Julie Clawson blogs why she cannot be a member of a complementarian church:
If a church sees women as inferior and denies them their voice, I honestly could not join as a member of that community. I could not worship week after week alongside those that denied my full humanity.
My new friend and blogger, Kathy Escobar smoked up the keyboard with this challenging confrontation for those who favor complementarianism:
Charles degaulle said “silence is the ultimate weapon of power.” i believe that men and women have been silent on this issue for far too long. allowing ourselves to give time, money, heart to a system that does not value a woman’s voice means we are unknowingly supporting oppression. i believe it is time for men to begin to say “hey, this isn’t right. i am not going to stand by and let my sisters/daughters/spouses/friends be silenced.” i believe it is time for people to start asking good questions about the lack of women’s voices in their communities beyond the typical support roles. i think it is important that we learn to vote with our feet. i am so distressed by the number of people willing to stay in systems that continually perpetuate boy-power because it looks and sounds cool, and they don’t realize the subtle theological message that is being sent.
So this is why complementarianism sucks. It’s a fancy word that hides an ugly reality. Much like the rhetoric of the 19th century that used terms like “polygenesis” to defend human slavery. For real. Google it.
I know a woman who told her leadership when she was a teenager that she wanted to be a youth pastor. She was told, “You cannot. You’re a girl.”
I know a woman whose published bible study was pulled off of shelves when it was discovered that she was a (gasp!) pastor. For real. I’m not making this up.
I know about a woman who served faithfully in cross-cultural missions in a foreign land as the leader in charge until her missions board could finally find man willing to go over and lead. When asked if she thought this was unfair, her reply, “No. It doesn’t matter.”
I once listened to a woman explain to a room full of churched women why women ought not to pray publicly when men are present and should do all the praying instead.
I listened to a youth pastor explain at a parent’s meeting to a distressed mother that no, she did not need to worry about him allowing women to usurp the authority of men in the youth ministry by allowing women staff, or female students, teach bible studies.
I know of a woman who was willing to go overseas and serve God in Asia but was told she could not because she was a young single woman. I know of another woman whose church nearly did not send her out because she was an older unmarried woman.
A churched woman once gave me a copy of a book that she said would help me in my marriage. The title: Wives Submit to Your Husbands.
The same woman from time to time refers to her husband as “sir.” I’m not making this up!
This is why I say,