Counterpoint: We complementarians need to recover a fully biblical view of women — and of handling theological disagreement.

I am a proponent of women in ministry leadership. In agreement with egalitarians, I believe that God calls both men and women to serve as pastors, preachers, and leaders of the full congregation. I also believe that Christ, not the husband, should be the leader of every marriage, since Jesus Christ alone is Lord and Savior.

At the same time, I believe that many egalitarians have tended to appeal more to political liberal thought than to the Scriptures. In so doing, they've employed the language of rights in a way that is Kantian, not Christian.

In Kantian ethics, everyone is bound by a sense of duty. It's Kantian, for example, to say that it's your duty not to drink and drive. This aspect of Kantian ethics overlaps with Christian ethics.

However, Kantian ethics differs by extending the ideal of duty to mean that when you fail to perform your duty, you violate my right. Kantian logic says that because it is your duty not to drink and drive, I have the right to drive on a road without drunk drivers.

According to Jesus, a Christian ethic says, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:38). A Christian ethic ends at the point of duty; it does not convert others' duties into personal rights. As a Christian I can say that God commands others to love me, but I cannot say that I have the right to be loved. I don't.

Egalitarians often argue that since God commands his people to submit to one another, women leaders have the right to be submitted to by men. When this doesn't happen, they feel angry. Yet a truly Christian ethic would remember that women have the duty, not the right, to lead as God ...

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June 2008

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