Complementarianism (or "Why I'm Not A Chauvinist Pig")

Let me paint you a little picture of our family. Stacy and I are married (almost four years), and we have our one year old son, Boaz. I work a full-time job, and Stacy gets to stay home. She takes care of raising our son and keeping up our house. I make a majority of the money that we use to live our lives.  Together, we both volunteer at our church, lead a community group, and enjoy our circle of friends.

My main responsibilities in the family are to provide spiritual leadership and teaching, earn a steady income, and protect my family.  Stacy's main responsibilities are to maintain our home, care for our son, and spend the money I make wisely. This is a pretty decent example of a complementarian relationship.

Complementarianism is the theological view that although men and women are created equal in their being and personhood, they are created to complement each other via different roles and responsibilities as manifested in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. 

The biblical basis for complementarianism comes from passages such as Ephesians 5:21-33, 1 Timothy 5:8, and Titus 2:3-5 among others. Those who hold this viewpoint tend to agree on some key points such as male eldership, the importance of submission in marriage as an example of Jesus and the church, and a generally patriarchal view of the family (the man leads, teaches, and provides for the family) as found in scripture.

While I find this to be the most biblical viewpoint on gender roles, there is another widely held view called egalitarianism. This view focuses on equality between men and women, but there are no gender based guidelines on what functions or roles each can serve. They feel that women could and should be called as pastors and elders and that women have just as much responsibility for working and earning money. Most evangelical Christian leaders do not endorse this viewpoint. I personally find it to be very narrow-minded and focuses too much on the wrongs that are committed by men, rather than on the true purpose of what God is doing. 

Clearly, in either view, people are still sinful. And I'm fully aware that many men have abused their position of authority that complementarian marriages gives them. They will continue to do that. I can not say that I have lived as a perfect example of righteous complementarianism. But I do know turning away from a biblical viewpoint because it has not been lived well by others is just as dangerous of a sin.

So in our family, I'm in charge. In our church, men are in charge. This is the way that God set things up and to say that it's wrong is to say that God is wrong. God is never wrong and when we live the way that he wants us to live, we see that it's actually the best possible scenario.

Home Life
Complementarianism does not mean that women can not work. Proverbs 31 makes it clear that a righteous woman will do everything that she can to serve her God and her family. But it does relieve women from the burden and responsibility of working to provide.

I then have the ability to work hard without having to schedule our lives around two work schedules. I can study and pursue my career and ministry. Together we can volunteer in our church, lead a community group, and counsel with others. I can counsel men, and she can counsel women. 

Stacy has the ability to stay home and raise our son in the way that we want him to be raised. Sure, she can do things to earn money (and she does), and she is fully capable. She has a college education (is smarter than me in many areas) and quite skilled even in manual labor. She can hold her own with a road construction crew. But once she stopped working a full time job, she realized the skillsets that she didn't even know she had. She is an amazing cook, a skilled parent and teacher, and a savvy shopper. She really is amazing, and my leadership of her is in no way because she is inferior, but more because we are both inferior to God, and so we want to live as he has commanded us.

So I wanted Stacy to share her thoughts on this subject as well. And she was gracious enough to put this together...

"I’m not a fan of the word “egalitarian.”  It implies to me that the other main view doesn’t see husbands and wives as equals.  Complementarianism is the belief that the Bible teaches that husbands and wives are equal in value and dignity as image bearers of God and are co-heirs with Christ in His kingdom, also sharing the responsibility of stewarding His creation.  
But men and women are different.  Any five year old knows that. (remember Kindergarten Cop?)  
  • Females are equipped to carry, bear, and nourish their offspring and males aren’t.  That’s just a fact for all mammals.  Now, that’s not to say that dads or single fathers can’t take care of their kids.  (Obviously for a complementarian marriage, there must be two people.)
  • Women generally can multitask more efficiently than men, and maintaining a household requires a lot of multitasking.  Running laundry, running the dishwasher, cooking dinner, and giving a kid a bath simultaneously is not something that should be looked down on.  It’s a skill.
  • Statistically, men tend to earn a higher wage.  I’m not saying it’s fair, it’s just a statistic.  
  • If you look at it from a purely logical standpoint, I’d rather Jesse work and make that 25% more because we are a team and we share everything.
From a practical, day-to-day perspective, I love the interdependency that complementarianism creates.  If we each had our own job, our own car, our own paycheck and bank account, it would be very easy to live parallel lives meeting only at dinner and on weekends.  I pack Jesse’s lunch, run his laundry, make his dinner, gas up the cars, raise his child, and do all the grocery shopping and cooking for our family.  Jesse works his cute little butt off making money so that I can do all those things.  He depends on me and I depend on him, and when both of us are working hard at what God has given us to do, it works!

The biggest advantage I see to this lifestyle is that I am the one raising and influencing our child the most, not a daycare worker.  I know that for some people, like single parents, that might be very difficult to do, but I think that if it’s possible, it’s worth it.  I am good at teaching, and I think that no one else will be able to teach our son exactly what I want him taught (and not what I don’t!), love him as well, understand him as well, or give themselves up for him like I will.  I know I feel toward him unlike any other child.  I wouldn’t let any other kid stick their fingers in my mouth just to make him laugh, but he is mine.  Worth it.  

It’s not difficult to live on one income if you seek wisdom on how to steward God’s money and the money your husband worked so hard to make.  I watch the ads to find sales, clip coupons, use elbow grease instead of expensive cleaners, and make more meals from scratch than I would if I were a working mother.  Money, and not time, is my most valuable currency, as opposed to a culture where “time-savers” are worth paying extra money for.  

Jesse depends on me to run the household, and I depend on him to earn money.  He works hard and I try to steward it well.  Eph. 5:22-24 compares marriage to Jesus loving the church.  I see this model worked out in a complementarian marriage, with Jesse giving himself up and providing for us and me respectfully and gratefully stewarding those resources well.

Complementarian marriage functions because of cooperation, mutual respect and love, and having each other’s back.  My husband is a godly man who loves me and encourages my love for my son, the desire to learn how to cook, and my not wanting to go out in the cold every morning."


Post a Comment