Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Equal and Complementary: a review

A few weeks ago, I went to the conference Equal and Complementary. I wrote a review for Sola Panel, which you can read here. Below are the more personal bits of what I wrote, reflecting on what being complementarian means to me.

I was once a feminist. In my early twenties, I became a complementarian, with the view that God made men and women equal but with different roles and responsibilities. It didn't happen overnight; I studied the Bible, read books by complementarians and egalitarians, and joined in discussions, until I was convinced that the Bible teaches that God wants men to be servant leaders, and women to be helpers by their side as, together, we make Christ known.

It wasn't an easy position to come to, and it's not always an easy one to hold. It's an unpopular viewpoint in Melbourne and much of Australia, and it doesn't sit easily with family, friends or the wider church or culture. It's led to a few uncomfortable moments! I've also had to battle my own desires for power and recognition.

Over time, I've only become more convinced that God's plan for men and women is good. I've seen women cared for and honoured, and their teaching gifts nurtured and encouraged. I've seen men grow strong, gentle and servant-hearted. There's something beautiful about servant leadership and trusting submission that displays the truth of the gospel in a way nothing else can (Eph 5:22-33).

...Sometimes it's (rather patronizingly) suggested that men are complementarian because it advantages them (which it rarely does in our culture) and that complementarian women are oppressed. In fact, ... we're complementarian because we believe it's what God teaches in the Bible, and we see how both men and women are blessed and benefited by it.

Fiona McLean put words to my feelings:

In the end, I want my worldview to be shaped by God's word, the Bible. Where the Bible's teaching grates against the culture in which I live, I want to make sure that I am neither misinterpreting the Bible, not capitulating to our culture … As a complementarian woman, I feel affirmed and valued. When men live out the complementarian view, this has enormous benefits for women! All believers, men and women, have a valuable part to play in God's mission in the world, whether in paid or unpaid work, formal or informal, church-based or home-based or elsewhere. Let's get on with it!

To read the rest of my review (including some of the biblical and theological reflections which led me to this point) click here.



Jennie B. said...

I just thought this post needed a comment. Felt a bit wrong to see it sitting here without 450+ comments. So here's my contribution... ;)

Jean said...

:D Trust me, I'm not missing the 450+ comments at all!