Guest / Limited Access /

Twice my husband left me. The first time, he moved months ahead of our family to attend Chicago's most prestigious business school. I was pregnant with our third child. The second time, he moved months ahead of us to Toronto, accepting what we both considered an irresistible career opportunity. I stayed behind with the five little ones—and the responsibilities.

Our arrangement could illustrate the burden of complementarian theology. Men are imagined leading in their marriages and churches, fleet-footed after their dreams. Women are pictured trailing behind, bedraggled with the demands of self-sacrifice. I sometimes can't help wondering if the stereotypes are true.

Yet they aren't the full truth, and misunderstandings about complementarians abound. At a recent women's conference, I heard a speaker describe her egalitarian upbringing, saying it wasn't until college that she recognized the breadth of theological difference on this issue.

"I was shocked. And to be honest, I was heartbroken. It had never occurred to me that in this day and age, so many people just like me were being sidelined," she said. Her implication? Complementarianism was theology that should have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Like me, the closet complementarians in the room may have sensed the muting of their voices in a circle designed to celebrate them.

When my husband and I graduated from Wheaton College, we married as committed egalitarians. I did not vow to submit on our wedding day. My husband and I both believed that male headship was a sign of the curse (Gen. 3:16).

But somewhere over the years, our ideas changed. Maybe our egalitarian confidence eroded, slowly and imperceptibly, in our complementarian ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueA Native (American) Approach to Foreign Missions
Subscriber Access Only
A Native (American) Approach to Foreign Missions
Missionaries from indigenous backgrounds may be the key to reaching the nations
RecommendedWhen Women Blame Men for Domestic Stress, They Miss the Big Picture
When Women Blame Men for Domestic Stress, They Miss the Big Picture
The gender wars inspire finger-pointing. The gospel offers another way.
TrendingThe Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
The Story Behind Trump’s Controversial Prayer Partner
What Paula White’s Washington moment implies for the prosperity gospel’s future.
Editor's PickThe Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
The Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
It begins by recognizing the name above every name.
Christianity Today
The Accidental Complementarian
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.