What You Don't Know About Complementarian Women
Earlier this year, when I listened to John Piper address pastors and argue for Christianity's "masculine feel," I was outraged.
Weeks later, when I picked up the book Junia Is Not Alone, in which Scot McKnight reclaims the story of Junia and other lost historical Christian women, I sobbed.
So it may come as a surprise that I am a complementarian. I believe that men—not women—are commissioned by God to lead churches and families. Raised Southern Baptist, I learned that women should submit to their husbands. My childhood home hummed with the principles of submission, although if Dad were to ask how much Mom had spent on the new drapes, I was not to tell.
I was first exposed to the diversity of Christian opinion about gender roles while in Christian college. I heard credible, convincing egalitarian interpretations of Ephesians 5 and 1 Timothy 2. Soon, I enthusiastically abandoned my (albeit confused) models of male headship. And so did my fiancé.
Egalitarianism "worked" for us in the early years of our marriage. But we eventually returned to complementarianism, and not for the reasons you might think. We did not return because we had trouble resolving arguments in the egalitarian mode. Instead, we read Scripture, and theological convictions took shape. We found ourselves asking whether we had rejected complementarian theology in order to accommodate our preferences.
It is this same suspicion of bias that Rachel Held Evans brings to her yearlong experiment in biblical literalism. In A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Evans intends to expose the exegetical gymnastics we all use to contort the Bible. "We all go to the text looking for something, and we all have a tendency to find it," writes the popular blogger.
It's with great interest that I've been reading Evans's recently released book. My interest is twofold: I share some of her suspicions about modern hermeneutics, and as a wife, mother, and theological writer, I have a genuine stake in the "biblical womanhood" debate. I do not, however, intend to review the book here. Rather, I'd like to address the misconceptions about complementarians that emerge around the book and because of it.
A recent Facebook comment drew my attention to these misconceptions. "Do you think the absence of a more substantive type of Christian female blogger like Evans is due in part to the complementarian position that women shouldn't be teaching men?" the commenter asked. "In other words, [are] complementarian women being told that godly women should be blogging about parenting and homemaking and loving their husbands and not worrying so much about theology?"