Saturday, April 28, 2012

A "Complegalitarian" Perspective on the Roles of Men and Women

My husband and I affirm that both complementarian and egalitarian views on the roles of men and women in marriage and in ministry in the church are valid in terms of sound Biblical exegesis. We do not "throw out" or try to "explain away" any verses of the Bible, but attempt to examine every line in a systematic way.   We maintain that this is an “open-handed” issue, meaning that a person can take either stance, or any stance in between the two, and still land within the realms of orthodox Christianity.  We do not judge or condemn other Christians for differing beliefs in this area.  It is the fruit of the marriage that will be judged in the end (Lk 6:44).

We do feel that the complementarian viewpoint has sufficient representation in many churches, and that the egalitarian viewpoint has been stigmatized for various reasons.  Therefore, this post is an attempt to give a more equal treatment for a view other than the complementarian one in the context of our own personal lives, which are transparent to those with whom we live in community.

Our view point is mostly egalitarian in terms of both marriage and ministry, although there are points where we differ.  We believe the following:

·         Before God, in Jesus Christ, there is no distinction based on gender or race (Gal. 3:28, Acts 10:34).

·         Men and women can function in any and all roles in the church (See examples of Phoebe, Lydia, Prisca/Priscilla, Tabitha/Dorcas in the New Testament church).  

·         We believe in a plurality of leadership that involves both men and women (Titus 1:5).  Men and women need each other in ministry (1 Cor. 12:21). 

·       We believe in oneness in marriage, a partnership of which Christ is the leader.  Eph. 5:23 is imagery of a united being; just as the head and the body are one being, so is the husband and wife. The wife (the body) is called to submit to her husband and the husband (the head) is told to love and sacrifice himself for his wife because they are one being.  The husband and wife are meant to be a representation of the unity between Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32).  After humanity's fall into sin, man and woman were cursed with the desire to dominate each other in the marriage relationship (Gen. 3).  Christ has freed us from the curse of sin and death (Gal. 3:13).  
*Note: Our view of the "headship" verses as imagery/metaphor and not symbolism is where we differ from a strict egalitarian interpretation.

·         Following the imagery of one united being (a head connected to a body), both the husband and the wife have the responsibility to hear from God and discern direction for the family as they attempt to follow Christ and be transformed into His image (1 Cor. 11:1, 2 Cor. 3:8).  

·         Both the husband and the wife have the responsibility to provide for the family (See Prov. 31, Titus 2:5, 1 Tim. 5:8).  Eve was created as a partner corresponding to Adam, that is, she was the same species and was meant to work with him (Gen. 2:18).  This may look different for each family according to the historical and cultural context and other variables.  However, we do maintain that women and men can have flexible roles as far as responsibilities within the household and related to working outside the home.  

·         Children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 127:3). Both the husband and wife have the responsibility to raise the children (1 Tim. 3:4).  We affirm efforts to move against the spirit of this age, to have children as the Lord leads, to live simply, and spend more time with the children/family (Acts 2:46, Prov. 22:6).

This is not a comprehensive list of what we believe, nor does it encompass all the possible arguments that could be presented.  Nonetheless, our position is that these points are all valid interpretations of the Bible, when taken as a whole. We recommend the work of Dr. Sarah Sumner for further reading. 


  1. Thank you for this. It's so nice to hear a balanced and non-hostile view.

  2. Although this is a bit late, I recently just found your blog. I myself am not entirely in the comp or egal camp. Instead I rather go beyond those two groups in learning about true biblical theology and doctrines. Look for to reading your blog.


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