Friday, April 15, 2005

Complementarianism vs. Egalitarianism

Today I went to Crystal Evangelical Free Church for a pastor's summit on Different by Design, which is an un-official local branch of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). We discussed ideas on how to integrate and implement the complementarian view in our churches. I have been studying this subject for the past year fairly intensively, and have moved from a moderate egalitarian view to a moderate complementarian view. I'll explain the views below for those unfamiliar with them. It was a great chance to meet with others who share these same views and see how it is working in their lives and ministries. I was able to share my passion that churches begin to integrate this at water shed points in people lives in the church, especially (but not limited to!) pre-marital counseling. I think that if we help people come to an understanding of who God has created them to be, we will save them from some potential problems later on in their marriages. I am blessed with a wonderful woman who has a Biblical worldview and understands who God has created her and I to be, and how our uniqueness works to complement each other. I picked up a few good ideas, but the meeting was in large part a reminder of what I learned earlier this year at a conference put on in Minneapolis by the CBMW in conjunction with Bethlehem Baptist's Pastor's Conference. I did have the chance to meet some great people though, and I hope to foster those relationships in the future meetings.

Below is a summary first put together by Pastor Irv Woolf of Crystal E-Free with some additions and tweaks by me.

a. Key idea: Uniqueness
b. Other designation: Different by design
c. Characteristics:
i. Roles are unique and clearly defined by flexible
ii. Abuses -- without love can lead to egalitarianism or authoritarianism
iii. Underlying mood is one of peace and harmony
iv. Appeals to biblical thinking
a. Key idea: Equality
b. Other designation: Equalitarianism (equal status)
c. Characteristics:
i. Roles are interchangeable, loose
ii. Abuses lead to chaos, anarchy, leadership vacuum
iii. Underlying mood is one competition, no structure, rights
iv. Appeals to feminist thinking
a. Key idea: Control
b. Other designation: Hierarchicalism (hieros -holy, meaning "structure, order")
c. Characteristics:
i. Roles are fixed, rigid with male, or less frequently female dominance
ii. Abuses lead to dictatorship, tyranny
iii. Underlying mood is one of fear, intimidation
iv. Appeals to chauvinist and radical feminist thinking

Complementarianism affirms that men and women are equal in value and dignity. God created both in His image. That does not mean that we are not unique. God created us differently to complement each other, with different skills and abilities, all of which are necessary for a healthy and balanced relationship. In using proper hermeneutics, we find that men and women have different roles in marriage as part of the created order. Egalitarianism does not advance on the strength of exegetical examination of scripture, but instead rides piggy-back on our corrupt culture. Complementarianism is very counter-cultural, or at least it is in the USA in 2005. I believe we need to take a stand, and begin to retake churches and denominations that have walked away from this view. For a deeper understanding of the subject, I reccomend Dr. Wayne Grudem's fantastic book (I'd call it his Magnum Opus) - Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth.

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