Jump directly to the content
Who Speaks for Complementarian Christians? Aussiegall / Flickr
Who Speaks for Complementarian Christians?

Who Speaks for Complementarian Christians?


Apr 5 2013
For me, it's not the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It's the local church.

In admitting that she is routinely criticized for painting complementarians with too broad a brushstroke, blogger Rachel Held Evans recently asked: "Does the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood represent you? If not, what organizations or leaders do? Who are complementarians looking to for leadership these days?"

As a complementarian, I'm not interested in mounting a defense of male headship, and I don't want to become the poster child for complementarian theology. I myself am only held fast by exegetical threads. What's more, I am frequently embarrassed by the illogic and cultural bias that tends to frame some of the complementarian sound bytes (Boys shouldn't play with dolls, Dads who stay at home are man-fails, Christianity has a masculine feel, and so on).

Yet it's a fair question to ask: Who am I taking my theological cues from? If the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood doesn't speak for me, then who does?

Evans isn't the only one asking about today's complementarians. When I wrote "What You Don't Know About Complementarian Women," a commenter remarked, "Complementarians??? Good lord, people! What's with inventing all this terminology? Can't wait for the day when a brave soul publishes a Christian lingo dictionary."

These theological terms -- complementarian/egalitarian -- describe our theological understanding of gender roles in the church and family. They aren't our regular Sunday fare, and standard definitions often fail to capture the broad ways people live out each approach.

So who is it that represents my stance? I have two answers: Stanley Hauerwas, and Kyle Hackmann. They haven't laid out a thorough outline of what I think it means to be complementarian; instead, they articulate the need for us to understand theological principles like these within the context of the local church.

Hauerwas, theological ethics professor at Duke Divinity School and Time magazine's Theologian of the Year in 2001, is by no means a complementarian. However, Hauerwas loves the church. And so do I.

In his memoir, Hannah's Child, Hauerwas explores the trajectory of his theology. What immediately becomes plain is how the church stands central to his work:

I am not interested in what I believe. I am not even sure what I believe. I am much more interested in what the church believes. I have discovered that this claim invites the skeptical response, "Which church?" I can reply only by saying, 'The church that has made my life possible. The name of that church is Pleasant Mount Methodist, Hamden Plains Methodist, the Lutheran church at Augustana, Sacred Heart, Broadway Christian Parish, Aldersgate United Methodist, and the Church of the Holy Family."
Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.

orSubscribeor
More from Her.menutics
How to Address America’s Foster Care Crisis? It Takes a Village

How to Address America’s Foster Care Crisis? It Takes a Village

The next wave of the evangelical adoption movement will rely on the church's support.
There's Never Enough Time

There's Never Enough Time

What I’ve learned as a working mother about the limits of time management.
Why Adult Coloring Works for Christians

Why Adult Coloring Works for Christians

I mocked the coloring book trend, until I discovered it for myself.
Does the Road to Character Run Through Silicon Valley?

Does the Road to Character Run Through Silicon Valley?

The HBO show draws us in with deeper questions about power and morals.
Include results from Christianity Today
Browse Archives:

So Hot Right Now

Blessed Are the Agnostics

How I learned to see my unbelieving husband through God’s eyes.

Twitter

  • RT @alissamarie: Anyhow I got cranky about ALICE and less cranky about some other things in the latest newsletter: https://t.co/WWINXrmFJh
  • RT @thinkchristian: If you haven't watched the Chewbacca Lady yet we have it here, along w/ some thoughts on joy https://t.co/WBUDIFnqLc ht2026
  • @KellyMRosati @KirstenPowers The best stories and friendships are!
  • @KirstenPowers @KellyMRosati Totally didn't realize you were BFFs! That's great!
  • Will better planning solve our time angst? If only2026 https://t.co/LaOAAqntE3


What We're Reading

CT eBooks and Bible Studies

Christianity Today
Who Speaks for Complementarian Christians?