The terms complementarian and egalitarian are used all the time, but they are’t two simple terms. There can be quite a lot of nuance for each one. For example, what someone might mean when they identify as one or the other may not be at all what the other person envisions. So it’s interesting to consider what kind of complementarian or egalitarian you might be.
Complementarian and Egalitarian Spectrum
Adrian Warnock’s suggested his own overview of the full spectrum of complementarianism and egalitarianism. He breaks them down into:
- Strong Complementarian
- Moderate Complementarian
- Soft Complementarian
- Moderate Egalitarian
- Strong Egalitarian
- Extreme Feminist
I agree with his summaries for the most part. I think he’s a little more generous with the complementarian views in terms of couching them in more positive terms than he is with the egalitarian views. But, overall, I do agree with his breakdown as a helpful point of reference for discussion.
The Perceived Value of Men by Feminists
His definition of Extreme Feminist is interesting, especially the idea that Extreme Feminists basically devalue men. I think he is right that only the Extreme Feminists devalue men. I’ve yet to meet any Christian Egalitarian of any kind who doesn’t fully appreciate and see the value of both men and women.
Christian Egalitarianism by its very definition rejoices in the importance of both men and women.
Feminism in the Church
Now, in light of his breakdown and after considering where you and others you know might fall on the spectrum, consider this conversation from 2006 entitled “Feminism in Your Church” with
- Mark Dever (The Gospel Coalition)
- CJ Mahaney (Sovereign Grace Ministries)
- Russell Moore (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
- Randy Stinson (President of Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)
If you listen to the first five or ten minutes you will get the general gist of their views.
Perhaps most striking to me is that in their minds Egalitarianism = Feminism.
And they sum up Feminism in one word – wrong.
One of them thinks Feminism started in the 1960’s and another one thinks it started in the Garden. They never really say which it is.
So according to them, feminism started sometime in the past 50 years (give or take 6,000 years). In their discussion of Feminism, Feminism is just wrong, wrong, wrong and a literal threat to the Gospel. It is a Gospel issue.
Even more striking, consider that they believe most people in the church are feminists and don’t realize it. And most people in the church are even in same-sex marriages and don’t even know that! Did you know you are in a same-sex marriage? I bet a lot of you are! This is what they said:
Why is this topic important?
Because most of the people in their churches are feminists and most of the people in our churches are in same-sex marriages right now, they just don’t just realize it. Because you have people who have marriages in which you do not have male headship, in which you do not have male protection, and you do not have provision for wives and so this is not a theoretical issue, this is something that is a gospel issue.
That’s why Paul says a man who does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel. . . .
. . . There are gospel implications for wives taking their children to day care in the morning and picking them up in the afternoon.
Yes, if you are a working woman or take your children to daycare or live in a home where the man isn’t in charge the way these men think he should be, YOU are in a same-sex marriage.
Seriously. Listen to it for yourself. It is in the first ten minutes.
Is this your definition of complementarianism?
Do you think couples who are basically not patriarchal are in a same-sex marriage?
That’s what these men said in 2006 and not one of them said that was an inappropriate statement. They all let it go right into the discussion. This discussion is still up and available on their website six years later. It’s not like I had to use the Wayback Machine to dig it up.
These are the men defining complementarianism today. These are the men training pastors, writing books, speaking at conferences, and teaching a huge audience via the internet.
So unless you are a hardline patriarchalist, tonight when you go to bed… Tell your spouse the good news you discovered today. You are in a same-sex marriage!