Gabriella brought up some common refutations to “complementarianism” and “patriarchy” in A Christian understanding of attraction which signify to her that “egalitarianism” is correct. The comment is here if you want to read it, but it is too long to quote.
She brings up several points in regard to “patriarchy” or “complementarianism” which I do find fault with; however, I also find fault with her reverse assumptions of what that should look like under “egalitarianism.”
I would say the view that I most likely fall under is some form of complementarianism, but I don’t like using the terms because they are loaded. They also don’t signify my actual views about marriage, which are based on the Scriptures. Therefore, I’d like to actually lay out what I believe with supporting Scriptures as to what I currently believe about marriage.
Before I start I must make something clear. I am not “for” complementarianism, nor am I “for” patriarchy, nor am I “for” “egalitarianism” or whatever else there is.
I am “for” God and his Scriptures.
Recognize that I am not about compromising between any of these viewpoints — complementarianism, egalitarianism, patriarchy, etc — trying to find the “best” parts of each and harmonizing them. I am about first looking to Scripture for the Truth, and then finding the best possible scenario under which the husband and wife can grow in unity.
The main way I will do this is examine the Scriptures first, and then refute the common “traditional” viewpoints — e.g. sins — of egalitarianism, complementarianism, and patriarchy. Then I will expound the freedom that is afforded to us in such interpretation of the Scriptures focused on unity between the husband and wife.
- There is no way to get around submission of wives to husbands and/or authority of the husband to the wife.
Even selectively refuting Ephesians 5 (v21 vs v22-24, “omission” of hupotasso from the Greek in v21 even though it is present in some interlinear versions) or 1 Corinthians 11 (disputing “kephale”) there is still Colossians 3, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3. The Scripture are consistent on this. Church teaching has been consistent on this until recently. Have the Scriptures or the Church magically changed? No. But society has, and we see the rot of feminism that has infested society.
The main sin that egalitarians have is that they believe that authority is bad. Authority is good. This leads them to discard God appointed authority in human institutions which is rebellion against God.
The main sin that many complementarians and patriarchal supporters believe is that authority makes men superior to women. Authority does not signify qualities of superiority or inferiority contrary to popular belief. It signifies a duty to subordinates as modeled by God. God is love, and God uses His authority to love: by sending Jesus to die for us. Likewise, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. So too husbands have a duty to love their wives not to lord over them.
Women take an incorrect view of Scriptural authority when they think that a husband’s authority is about them serving the husband. If Jesus’ authority over the Church is to love the Church, then why do wives believe different about the authority of husbands over wives?
The reason is that they “fear” an imaginary situation of “abuse.” I know of zero men who call themselves Christians and actually read their Bible and pray that don’t want the best for their wives even at cost of their own expense. Yet, most wives would rather rebel against their husbands and thus God — especially by taking an egalitarian stance — rather than trust in them. It’s very sad.
Authority, as exemplified by God and Christ, is given to love His creation: people. As such, authority is given to husband to love their wives as shown in Ephesians 5. Authority is given to the government or rulers to love their people (Proverbs 29). Authority is given to parents to love their children (Matthew 7, Luke 11).
- Authority is able to be delegated.
I have a post coming on this in the future, but let me discuss this concept now.
John 17:10 So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority [c]over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Luke 10:1 Now after this the Lord appointed [a]seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come. 2 And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. 3 Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
10 But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet [f]be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’
16 “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”
In these Scriptures, Jesus acknowledges that authority is able to be delegated. Additionally, we know that from the Scriptures that God also delegates authority on several occasions to human institutions. Namely, Husbands-wives, government-Christians, parents-children, pastors-flock, masters-slaves, etc.
If a husband has a job that has him deployed overseas or away for extended periods of time is it feasible for the wife to be calling him up over every little decision? No, of course not! Like the delegated authority that God gives to human institutions, authority can be delegated from those who hold it to those they are responsible for. This is often seen in the military where in-field commanders have freedom to operate even though the general has the ultimate authority.
A husband would be wise to choose a competent, resourceful, wise, and knowledgeable wife who is as proficient or has even more expertise in matters especially where his weaknesses are. That way he can trust in her to give him godly advice, and if he is somehow incapacitated he can trust in her to do what is right in all areas in which he was responsible.
The sin that egalitarians fall to is they think authority is bad, and that the wife will never be able to make any decisions. This is simply not the case. Authority can be delegated as necessary so that the wife if she has expertise or talents so she can make decisions for the household (like via Proverbs 31). This is a common theme in the next few points.
The sin that complementarians and patriarchal advocates fall into is that they will never consider delegating authority their wives because they don’t trust them. This is not consistent with Proverbs 31 and many other Scriptures.
- Husbands are wise to listen to their wives in their talents and expertise.
This is an extension of the above point regarding delegated authority.
The sin most egalitarians fall prey to here is that they take a results oriented approach at the expense of rebellion and distortion of the Scriptures. They argue that “what if a woman has expertise that a man doesn’t have and the man ignores her expertise?” My reply to this is that such a man is foolish.
A wise husband should and does delegate authority to the wife to act on family matters in areas she has talents or expertise in to where the wife can make decisions for the entire household.
Likewise, if my wife was an expert in business, or web design, or other areas that would help me or my family I would certainly listen and act on her advice given her expertise and talents. However, I would make the final decision, and I would take responsibility for the decision. This is a win-win for wives because it is their advice that is being followed, and they will not have to worry about taking responsibility for the decision if something goes horribly wrong. They will also be praised if it goes well.
Now, some wives are find with handling responsibility and consequences. A husband would be wise to trust in a wife who wants such responsibility as in this she is his helpmeet. But to those wives that do not want to worry about decision making and responsibilities, the authority structure is put in place to protect them not to harm them.
Obviously, as stated in the above, most complementarians and patriarchal advocates fall into the trap of not listening to wise advice from their wives.
- There is considerable freedom in the roles and responsibilities of a wife.
The sin most egalitarians fall into is that they believe staying at home or other such things are about serving the husband or limiting the freedom of the wife. This is far from the case.
The sin that most complementarians and patriarchal advocates fall is that they arbitrarily constrain women for their own means. Proverbs 31 is fairly clear that a wife is able to (1) have the trust of her husband, (2) work in business, (3) work outside the house, (4) provide food for her household, (5) purchase property, (6) do physical labor, (7) can be wise in her business and other dealings, (8) make clothing, (9) is generous to the poor, (10) sells anything she makes, (11) is wise/kind/does well to her household, (12) is blessed by her children, and (13) her husband praises her.
Scripturally, I am neither for or against women who desire to choose to be in the home or be a stay at home mom. This is quite admirable. However, I am also not against women who desire to work outside the home either. This is also quite admirable.
What I do believe is that this must be an decision that should ideally be agreed upon by the husband and wife prior to marriage so that there will be no unrealistic expectations or conflicts pre- and post- children. The conflicts are both sides of the coin: the husband wants to the wife to work and the wife wants to stay at home, and the husband wants the wife to stay at home and the wife wants to work.
Currently, in my church I know of two couples among others. In one couple both wanted the wife to work after having children, but after having prayed about it God changed both their minds and the wife stays at home now and they are both happy and in unity with the decision. The other couple, if I remember correctly, both wanted the wife to stay at home after children, but the wife ended up going back to work after prayer. They are both happy and in unity with the decision.
These are both couples who are walking in godly marriage contrary to the typical traditional egalitarian, complementarian, and patriarchal viewpoints.
If you were unwise to marry a spouse to whom you didn’t discuss such important topics prior to marriage so you knew what you were getting into, then 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Peter 3 have answers for both spouses. You are walking a difficult road. Pray that God allows you to love your spouse through any conflict.
- My church takes the position that women are allowed in “leadership” positions in the church as long as the head pastor is a man.
In this instance, teaching of the flock may be delegated to women, which is via explicit or implicit endorsement of the Church as all decisions and material run through the head pastor.
This delegated authority, like in marriage, and it fulfills the verses from 1 Timothy. Indeed, it also utilizes the talents, experience, and wisdom from women and wives to impart to those in the Church just as wives are also called upon to teach their children. This also conforms with the nature that both men and women are to be disciples of Jesus and make disciples.
This may actually be a point of contention with my Catholic brothers in Christ, but I cannot deny that I have learned a great deal from both men and women outside and inside the Church (obviously filtered through the Scriptures).
However, I do recognize that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have stayed more consistent to the Scriptures than the majority of Protestant ones. This does lend evidence that there is something to be said for a more strict interpretation to God’s Scriptures. This is not only in a stricter interpretation of 1 Timothy but also in the sacraments and willingness to excommunicate those who willingly sin and are unwilling to repent of it.
It should be clear by now that my position on the roles and responsibilities of marriage is in direct alignment with the Scriptures (although point 5 is arguable), and it allows considerable freedom to both the husband and wife.
This is why I state that my current position is neither what is traditionally viewed as “complementarian” or “patriarchal” or “egalitarian” or whatever. It is a position that is pro God and the concepts that God stands for.
In summary, these are the main points:
- Authority in the marriage relationship of the husband-wife is consistent with the rest of the instituted hierarchies that God and Jesus have made here on earth. Authority is given to people or institutions you are responsible for to love them. Of course it an be abused, but Christians are called not to abuse it.
- Authority is able to be delegated in any of these institutions, especially in the marriage relationship
- Husbands are wise to listen to their wives who have considerably talents and expertise in any decision they make, and would also be wise to delegate authority to their wives where she has talents and expertise where she wants to take responsibility for her decisions.
- There is considerable freedom in the roles and responsibilities of wives in marriage via an understanding of Proverbs 31. Potential husbands and wives would be wise to discuss major life decisions prior to marriage both in the scenarios of pre- and post- children with extensive prayer.
- Delegated authority in the Church is allowed as women do have considerable talents, expertise, and wisdom that men can learn from. While I agree with my church’s stance that the head pastor is able to delegate this authority to women to teach, if a man feels uncomfortable with this via passages in 1 Corinthians where it causes him to stumble then it would be wise for him not to attend any such teachings from women or to go to a church without any women teaching.
These are all points that can be substantiated by Scriptural unlike most of the traditional understandings of “egalitiarianism”, complementarianism”, and “patriarchy” which often have bad feelings or connotations with them. I am not about compromising between any of these points trying to find the “best” parts of each and harmonizing them. I am about first looking to Scripture, and then finding the best possible scenario where the husband and wife can grow in unity.