Please note: This page does get updated on a semi-regular basis. Because my own thinking about these topics is still undergoing development, I try to make the content here reflect where I am at the present time.
The function of women in the church has been a concern of mine for literally decades now. Through my own journey I have struggled to find my place, been personally attacked by those with opposing views, and found great delight in exercising my gifts that would be considered “male” gifts by many in the church.
For a long time I was reluctant to call myself an biblical egalitarian. I am not completely convinced in my own mind that the egalitarian view is the correct view. But there is much about it that I think is right and Biblical. I do now call myself a conservative Biblical egalitarian since I think it best describes my views.
I am, however, fully convinced that the complementarian view as currently promoted by groups such as the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) and The Gospel Coalition (and, previously, Vision Forum), when taken to its full and logical conclusion, has far more problems that cannot be explained from the Scriptures.
I do think that men and women complement each other and so I find it frustrating that CBMW has taken a term and made it into something that goes far beyond the Scriptures. So while I do believe men and women complement each other, I do not call myself a complementarian.
For many years I considered myself a complementarian because well, you know, all egalitarians are self-absorbed, power hungry, Bible-hating heretics and I certainly didn’t want to be one of them. But there were too many things about the complementarian view and the supposed practice of it that bugged me. The inconsistencies of the way complementarians interpreted Scripture and cherry-picked what they would and wouldn’t do in accordance with their own views really annoyed me (to be perfectly frank) and seemed intellectually dishonest in so many ways.
- Women can’t teach but a teacher and speaker to mixed groups like Elisabeth Elliot is revered in most of these circles.
- A woman like Beth Moore can speak to a mixed group if she stands up and says that she is under the authority of some man on the platform (whatever that means and wherever that is in the Bible), but she would be an anathema if she were doing the same thing as a pastor.
- Women can’t teach men because women are deceived and may lead men astray, but women can teach impressionable children.
- Women in leadership in the Bible are consistently explained away.
- One verse must be taken according to the plain meaning of the text but the verse before or after it doesn’t have to be.
- Women serve on church staff and do the same jobs as men, but the men are called pastors and the women are called directors or some other lesser term.
I could go on and on, but you get the point.
As for my present views, they are thus.
I believe in the authority of the Scriptures.
I agree to the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed.
I believe men and women are different. Basic biology makes that pretty clear. Men and women do complement each other.
I do not believe it is God’s desire for there to be a hierarchical, patriarchal set-up in the church. I do not believe all men are created to lead and all women are created to follow.
I am completely on board with women teaching to mixed groups and women being deacons.
David and I have a very happy marriage of mutual submission which I believe is a completely biblical marriage. The only time we have ever been less than fully happy in our marriage was when we flirted with patriarchal, hierarchical teachings and we were both completely miserable.
My final hang-up with the egalitarian view has been the role of elders and I think this has more to do with questioning the current ideas of church leadership that depends heavily on hierarchy. I am not at all convinced that our current way of “doing” church leadership is correct. I am convinced that people should function in the body according to their spiritual gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit so I believe that also means women serving as elders.
I love my brothers and sisters in Christ who are complementarians. Most of the people I am closest to are complementarians. But I cannot name myself among them. And I believe many people who call themselves complementarians actually live like egalitarians but would not admit it to other believers around them.
So I am a person in process. I am still learning and studying. The more I study, the more I see myself moving closer to the egalitarian tent. But regardless of where I end up, I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He gave His life for me. Thanks be to God!
Last updated April 2017