Wednesday, May 19, 2010

does complementarianism oppress women?

My friend Fiona McLean wrote this letter in response to an article in The Melbourne Anglican. It's great to see a Melbourne woman so thoughtfully defending complementarianism against common misconceptions. Thanks, Fiona!

I write in response to the article 'Hostility to women clergy on the increase', (TMA April). I am amazed that Dr Giles links the teaching of male headship to the abortion of female foetuses in China and India, and the trafficking of women and girls into prostitution. Is he suggesting that such tragedies are perpetuated or condoned by conservative Christians?

I am frustrated that the complementarian view is so frequently caricatured as one where men/husbands are encouraged to dominate and oppress women, and where women are seen as inferior. Egalitarians (such as Dr Giles) seem unable to realise that complementarians (such as myself) also believe in the equality and value of men and women before God; and that a complementarian position is not one in which husbands are encouraged to dominate or abuse their wives, but to serve them and love them - indeed, as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5: 25)!

It is true that men (and women) have abused their power and authority in the past, and even today; but the biblical response to abuse of authority is not to deny it but to exercise it rightly and compassionately. One of God's great blessings to us is good authority, rightly exercised - the leadership of wise politicians; parents who are committed to loving and teaching and training their children; ministers who boldly and graciously proclaim God's word; husbands who love and care for their wives in proactive, thoughtful ways.

Submission (to the right authority) is a good thing. It is, in fact, a concept that is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian, as all believers are to submit to God's good authority (e.g. James 4:7). Similarly, church members must submit to church leaders (e.g. Hebrews 13: 17; Romans 16: 16; 1 Peter 5: 5); good citizens are commanded to submit to the government (e.g. Romans 13: 1); and wives are to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5: 22; Colossians 3:18). The Bible's teaching about submission is repugnant to a culture obsessed with autonomy, independence, individuality and self-fulfilment - but as Christians, we are called to be shaped by God's values, not the world's.

Reprinted with permission from the author from The Melbourne Anglican.

image is from sqmk5 at flickr

1 comment:

Rachach said...

Good on you Fiona! That's fantastic!
Thanks for sharing that Jean.