What’s Wrong with Patriarchy?

In their defense of complementarianism, several Council members in The Gospel Coalition have been known to preface their remarks with the insistence that complementarianism is not to be confused with either patriarchalism or with mere traditionalism in men/women relationships. To some observers, however, all three expressions are roughly synonymous. So why do we insist on the difference?

Everything turns on the connotations of the words involved, the mental associations conjured up by various expressions. An unrelated example may help. At the denotational level, one might suppose that a “Calvinist” is someone who stands in the theological tradition of John Calvin; at the connotational level, however, in some cultural contexts a Calvinist is thought to be a fatalist, while in still other contexts just about everyone supposes that a Calvinist is uninterested in evangelism. One may wonder if such people have ever heard of George Whitefield or Charles Haddon Spurgeon, but in any case both the ignorance of history and the abuse of terms are in some social contexts pretty strong. Because of my commitment to evangelism, I have once or twice been labeled “a Finneyite Calvinist.” I am still unclear as to which of the two terms is more greatly abused.

In a similar vein, while “patriarchalism” may refer, rather neutrally, to a social order in which fathers rule, the mental associations connected with the term may be hugely variable. For some, it may conjure up order, stability, and fathers of the “Father Knows Best” variety. When one examines family breakdown in many of our communities, with fathers known rather more for their absence than for anything else, a little “patriarchalism” may have its attractions. On the other hand, for many others “patriarchalism” conjures up macho condescension toward women, self-promoting arrogance at the expense of “the little woman,” and even (God help us) terrifying sexual abuse. Why would any Christian organization want to defend such grotesque distortions of what God has ordained? Similarly, “traditionalism” in male/female relationships calls to mind, for some older Americans, the stable families of the Eisenhower years (even while all sides acknowledge that the white picket fences sometimes enclosed more unseemly realities), but for many others “traditionalism” is associated with nothing more than preserving the status quo. If one associates that status quo with a refusal to overcome manifold injustice, then traditionalism itself is evil.

So John Piper and others coined the expression complementarianism. One of its virtues was its newness: it did not (yet!) have a history of wretched connotations. Denotationally it encapsulated what many of us were trying to say. The Bible does not present men and women as if they are interchangeable in every respect, save for the fact that only the woman has a uterus and can therefore produce babies. Rather, both men and women were made in the image of God and are of equal worth before him, but in God’s good design they fit together in mutually complementary ways that go way beyond mere sexual mechanics. The substance of this complementarianism has to be filled out by careful and reverent study of Scripture, study that is as suspicious of agenda-driven traditionalism as it is of agenda-driven egalitarianism.

Terms rarely remain unaffected by the changing currents of ongoing robust discussion. Some neologisms stand the test of time (e.g., “Trinity”); others slither into well-deserved oblivion. In this case it is not so much a particular term that TGC wishes to defend, as the theological stance the term seeks to summarize, because we are convinced that the theological stance to which it refers is not only biblically mandated but also for our good—something to rejoice over rather than to rebel against. And we are unaware of any other word that encapsulates this position as well, while remaining relatively clear of distorting baggage.


Editors’ note: Tune in tomorrow, when Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper answer the question, “Why is TGC complementarian?

  • Josiah

    Great article. I googled “Finneyite Calvinist” to no avail.

    • AStev

      Ha! I did the same thing. The only result was this article.

      • Troy Miller

        I believe he is referring to a combination of Charles Finney “Finneyite” and John Calvin “Calvinist” as to the type of theology he has been labeled with.

  • David

    Dear Dr Carson,

    I will have to try a bit of flattery first and say that I really appreciate your teaching and the thoughtful and logical way you approach a problem/ dispute. And its for this reason that I am writing this response in that I believe you are open to logical argument and it will bother you if it can be demonstrated your position is not reasonable.

    So on the point I wish to raise completarianism (a catchy title) I do have a problem with this for the following reasons:-

    1/ It doesn’t describe what is distinctive about the position held. Your “egalitarian” opponents (within the evangelical church) would also agree that men and women are complementary. In fact it seems to me the bible actual says very little about how men and women complement each other except for the biologically obvious and the disputed point in relation to hierarchy. In fact on the disputed point of hierarchy the way that men and women seem to complement each other is that the Man gives orders and the women obeys….of course in the nicest possible way in this gentle mannered version of a form of patriarchy. I think say reformed/gentlemanly patriarchy or would be a better description….

    2/ It is an attempt to try and occupy the high moral ground. It is quite a clever political move in that it attempts to undermine your opponents in trying to claim what they agree with anyway making out that they believe in some feminist sameness. I think for this reason it seems to lack integrity and a genuine attempt to try and understand and come to a common mind on this topic.

    Best wishes

    • Elizabeth

      Great point, David. I think the post misrepresents egalitarian ‘opponents’ (I don’t see anything here with which evangelical egalitarians would disagree).

    • JR

      But David, you missed the whole point, which was that complementarity is actually not patriarchy in the full definition of what patriarchy means. There may be an aspect of patriarchy which describes “comps”, but the full definition does not apply.

      from Merriam-Webster:
      Definition of PATRIARCHY
      1: social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children to the father, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line.

      In addition, patriarchy entails social and civic organization which sets forth the institutions of male rule and privilege.

      Clearly, Christian complementarity is NOT all of the above.

      • David

        Hi JR,

        I think thats a bit of a moot point…

        A copied and pasted definition from Webster and then seeing if this compares exactly to that doesnt really prove anything.

        The so called complementarian view is that the man is the head over the woman as a leader – the woman is subject in all things. Check out the complementarian interpretation of Ephesians. If thats not some version of Patriarchy then I dont know what is…. As I said its a kind of gentlemanly patriarchy… a soft version of an historic position. I dont see why this should be a problem for complementarians as they argue this is derived from Genesis 2 anyway and we subsequently have the patriarchs…

        All I am suggesting is that we call a spade a spade…

        Best wishes

        • JR

          David, “some version” of doesn’t get the job done.
          What’s a moot point? Defining terms? That’s the most important part, my friend. Bottom line: complementarian is expressly NOT the same thing as patriarchy – by definition.

          (and btw-Why do you sound angry?)

          • James Rednour

            Both Doug Wilson and Denny Burk agree that complementarianism is equivalent to patriarchy. Probably Owen Strachen too although he has not explicitly said so (although he has strongly implied that women are created by God to be housewives). So that’s three Reformed theologians who are highly visible in the comp camp. If you have a problem with calling complementarianism patriarchy, then you should take it up with them first.

            • JR

              James Rednour, Sorry, that doesn’t cut if for me, since I’m not YRR or a new Calvinist type. I don’t need to take anything up with them, since I’m simply going follow the tried and true teaching of men like Dr. DA Carson, Dr. Timothy Keller, Dr. John Piper and Rev. Ligon Duncan. Most of the YRRs and new Calvinists seem like they’re out on the web looking to write the next controversial soundbyte to drive up blog traffic and noteriety.

            • SM

              Yes, this is so confusing. Barely two months ago Joe Carter writing for TGC says:

              “Evans [Rachel Held Evans] claims that complementarianism is patriarchy, and here she *stumbles upon the truth*… the *patriarchy* of marriage models the patriarchy of the Godhead. (*emphasis added) http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/tgc/2012/06/08/debatable-is-complementarianism-another-word-for-patriarchy/

              BTW, Owen Strachen in the recent Journal for Biblical Womanhood and Manhood writes:

              “For millennia, followers of God have practiced what used to be called patriarchy and is now called complementarianism.”


            • Lou G.

              SM, like JR said, Denny Burk and the rest of the new Calvinists are not following the sound teaching of their elders by invoking patriarchal and traditionalist baggage at this point of the discussion.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      Having been force-fed “evangelical feminism” at Fuller Theological Seminary, I don’t believe it is possible to come to a “common mind” with them as they are feminist who have rejected the authority of scripture on the matter. Or, perhaps to put it another way, the only way to come to a common mind with them is get them to understand that scripture has to be obeyed, not tailored to the spirit of the age.

      • David

        Well why not just call it a nice form of Patriarchy – you invent the term rather than using a term which your opponents agree with… why so afraid of the word Patriarchy if this is what the scriptures teach. Surely you should be standing against the spirit of the age…

        I guess the problem with disagreements is that we always think we are right. Surely you shouldnt be so dismissive of your brothers and sister in Christ – after all one day we shall be of mind in Christ in the coming age.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          I don’t really have a problem with the term “Patriarchy”: the rule of fathers, if they are Christian fathers who are, like Christ, self-sacrificial.

          If they truly are brothers and sisters in Christ, then we’ll be of the same mind when they conform to the Word of God.

          • David

            I commend your stance on Patriarcy it has a clarity about it…thats really my point so thanks.

            I really do think a more charitable stance would be appreciated by those who genuinely believe the bible doesnt support your interpretation of the texts.

            My way or the highway doesnt win any arguments / friends and I wonder whether Jesus would really want such an attitude. Doesnt the apostle Paul ask us to consider others better than ourselves.

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              I studied under Paul K. Jewett who wrote the seminal “evangelical feminist” book “Man As Male and Female”. To support his position he said that the Apostle Paul was simply wrong in what he wrote restricting the roles of women. I could respect him because his position had integrity to it. He didn’t try to argue that scripture means the opposite than what it appeared to say. He simply said it was wrong.

              I do not believe that anyone really reads scripture and comes away with an “egalitarian” position. Those who say they do are simply not being honest, unlike Dr. Jewett.

            • ARoz

              Hi John,
              Speaking as someone who holds the same position on complementarity, I want to offer a correction (as I see it). You said that you don’t believe that anyone reading Scripture actually comes away with an egalitarian reading. But it’s not a reading issue. It’s a hermeneutics issue. I study with many brilliant evangelicals who are also egalitarians and they are reading the Bible, taking it seriously, and working it out quite well, trying to understand the text in its context. I respect them for it and don’t charge them with “not reading the Bible.” I understand your experience at Fuller but not all scholars who hold the egalitarian position fit that bill of trying to deny the text.

  • Laura

    One problem with using complementarianism as an overarching structure for our understanding of God’s design is that it disappears unmarried men and women. If each sex needs the other to make a whole, what does that tell single folks? And it’s not as if Jesus or Paul or anyone directed that everyone get married so as to be completed.

    Whereas in patriarchy, everyone, whether male or female, adult or child, married or unmarried, is under the patriarch – see Genesis 27.

    • AStev

      Laura, complementarianism doesn’t say “each sex needs the other to make a whole”.

      On the contrary, what it says is that the differing sexes have different, but complementary roles in God’s creation. It isn’t a matter of whether one is married or not, but how God creates people to serve him.

      Presumably, there are no churches out there that are 100% male or 100% female. If there were, they would be extremely unhealthy churches.

      • Laura

        Editing to take out links so that this doesn’t languish in moderation. The first is from Merriam-Webster, the second from the Free Online Dictionary.

        1com·ple·ment noun ˈkäm-plə-mənt
        Definition of COMPLEMENT
        1a : something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect
        b : the quantity, number, or assortment required to make a thing complete ; especially : the whole force or personnel of a ship
        c : one of two mutually completing parts : counterpart

        com·ple·ment (kmpl-mnt)
        a. Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection.
        b. The quantity or number needed to make up a whole: shelves with a full complement of books.
        c. Either of two parts that complete the whole or mutually complete each other.

        May I suggest that it is more than a connotation, that a complement is something that completes something else.

        Outside of marriage, how is it that I, a woman, would fulfil this? I hope even complementarians don’t think that every woman should submit to every man? Or that a woman can’t have leadership at work?

        • Tom


          No, complementarians don’t think that every woman should submit to every man. Read Russell Moore’s article, “Women, Stop Submitting to Men,” in the latest issue of The Journal for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood… http://www.cbmw.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/jbmw-spring-_12-17-1-complete.pdf

          • Rachael Starke


            Many “complementarians” I know absolutely do believe in universal leadership for men and submission for women. They believe that women should not hold leadership positions in the secular world, or indeed work outside the home at all.

            • Tom


              The issue of women working outside the home is not exclusively a complementarian position. I know of at least one well-known, published egalitarian who believes its best for the family for women to stay at home.

              I don’t doubt that some (I can’t speak of “many”) complementarians may believe in universal leadership for men even in the workplace, but clearly there are those within CBMW and TGC that don’t hold to this.

            • Laura

              “I know of at least one well-known, published egalitarian who believes its best for the family for women to stay at home.”



            • Tom

              Laura, because having a mother at home provides a better environment when rearing children.

            • Laura

              Tom, is it your understanding that every woman has children at home? Woman = mother of small children? My daughter is grown and I don’t have a child at home. I’m a potted plant now?

            • Pamela

              John Carpenter’s tone illustrates perfectly much of what is wrong with patriarchy.

  • Laura

    Also, to David’s point – my 30-year marriage is one in which my husband and I complement each other. We bring different strengths to the table and support each other so that our strengths strengthen the marriage and do not strive against each other. But it’s not the breakdown that complementarians would prescribe. (Since they don’t know us, and we are not answerable to them, I don’t really care. I would care if I thought God cared, but I don’t.)

  • Mrk

    I think I struggle with this, where culturally, complementarianism can lead to a form of sexism. By that I mean, that the input of women in the congregation is seen to have less value than that of a man. This can be evident in, say committees with mixed genders. I’ve seen cases where the input of women is virtually ignored, in favor of that of the male members.

  • Irene

    I appreciate the thoughtful comments already posted and to which I would add that in today’s answer to “Why is TGC complementarian?”, it would perhaps be more interesting, and dare I say more authoritative, to hear from the women of TGC.

    • Joe Carter

      Why would it be more authoritative?

      • Irene

        Joe, for these reasons:

        A woman would be inclined by both nature and our culture to be opposed to complementarianism. By having women explaining/defending it, the support of complementarianism that comes from both the nature and culture of the “patriarchs” would be eliminated.

        Having women describe TGC’s view would demonstrate that what is said is the view of a broader section of the TGC leadership than just the men, as much as we appreciate their teaching, that we usually see put out front and center. Aren’t there any women in the TGC who can explain/defend the “ism” and show how it works out practically in their own lives?

        Show, don’t tell. Because if women are excluded from the public discussion, then it won’t matter what Keller/Piper/Carson say: TGC is not complementarian.

        • Rachael Starke


          TGC has been actively, visibly incorporating more and more women into their ministry endeavors. Just search for names like Kathleen Nielson, Nancy Guthrie, Gloria Furman, Trillia Newbell, Wendy Alsup, etc,,. Or just go the the Conference link and download the something like 45+ hours of expository teaching women were offered by other women at the TGC womens’ conference back in June. I don’t disagree that it would be helpful/encouraging to hear from some of these women. But I’m not ready to jump to the conclusion quite yet that the Keller/Piper/Carson discussion will be the last word. :)

          • Irene

            Thanks Joe. I know about the women in the TGC. I’ve listened to and watched many of the videos from the conference. Of course women have a role in ministry in the TGC. That’s not my point though. On this particular issue, it is essential that they weigh in and speak for themselves. Nonetheless, I look forward to hearing from Keller/Piper/Carson.

        • http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

          Thank you for writing, Irene. I gather from your comments that you may be new to this website. So I’d encourage you to poke around and find many articles by women on a variety of issues, including what it means to be complementarian. Or check out the wealth of resources from TGC’s recent women’s conference. Among the dozens of plenary addresses and workshops aiming to teach God’s Word you’ll find a couple talks on gender roles. You might be pleasantly surprised to see how women have contributed to the public discussion. Or at least you can return to the site tomorrow and hear from Kathleen Nielson, TGC’s director of women’s initiatives, writing “To My Egalitarian Friends.” Blessings!

          • Irene

            Thanks Colin. Actually, I’m not new to the site. I’m aware of other takes on this topic. I’ll check out Kathleen tomorrow.

            I find it interesting that a couple of people seem to think that my point of view isn’t valid for some reason.

            I rest my case.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    The problem I have with complementarianism as it has been presented to me by my pastors and by CBMW authors over the last dozen or so years, is that it seems to reduce male and female relatedness to authority (leadership) and submission (followership). That is the emphasis I have heard over and over again from influential male and female complementarians. That problem is magnified greatly from the self-confessed patriarichalists that have close ties with TGC complementarians.

    I have been known to say things like: “DA Carson and Timothy Keller are some of the most sensible (and dare I say “biblical” vs cultural) complementarians out there.” By that I mean that the two of you, as distinct from some others, tend to hew closer to the biblical texts in arguing for your position and are less likely to make extreme statements that are condescending and hurtful to sisters in the Lord.

    That said, I think you miss the mark a little in this piece. The problem with patriarichalism is not just that it has a bad rap by connotation. The problem is (a) that no sinful human being
    can be trusted with the type of absolute power that patriarichalists want to give to males; and (b) that God desires men and women to relate as co-dominionists, joint heirs, and fellow undersovereigns – stewarding creation together for his glory
    and displaying his image to one another.

    It is this one-anothering aspect that patriarichalism tends to miss entirely (at least in emphasis) and that also often complementarianism tends to minimize or overlook. In other words, the problem with patriarichalism for believers should be a theological problem – not merely a PR problem.

    • JR

      Yes! Great points. I think the connotation part does have merit, in that I know some guys who consider themselves patriarchal, but who do not view patriarchy as a totalizing system. Meaning, that they view it in the way Dr. Carson paints it: an idealized 50’s nuclear family.

      Similarly, others who may have may never had the idealized family experience, associate patriarchy with the anthropolic meaning, where male rule in requisite in every sphere of life: family, work, church, government, etc. All women being obedient to all men in all situations. Unfortunatley, there also are self-professed comps who hold to the anthropologic view as well.
      Therefore, when one uses patriarchy as the term of choice, then he should ask himself whether the term is an accurate portayl of what he really means?
      Dr. Carson’s point is well taken then. If someone holds to that particular view of patriarchy, then they are not really complimentarian. That’s my $.02.

      • JR

        wow! I had lots of typos. sorry.

    • Former Daughter of Patriarchy

      I agree with you. Russell Moore tried to make a similar claim on facebook recently, that people were uncomfortable with patriarchy because of the bad publicity from the feminist movement. I am under 30. I grew up under patriarchy. Feminism was a filthy word. Douglas Wilson was on our bookshelf. My problems with patriarchy are not from connotations, but personal experience. There are lots more like me at this point, both men and women who have seen the results of patriarchal teachings. We don’t have to guess what happens at the end.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Or continuing on what Mrk noted above, there are some complementarian (not patriarichal) churches where women are not invited to serve on committees that so much as consider the church matters and give advice or counsel to the elders.

  • Jim

    As an outside observer of the Gospel Coalition who appreciates much of its emphases and theological vision, I am genuinely confused that this issue takes up so much “air time” on this site. Would someone please explain to me why complementarianism is a central gospel issue and not, say, infant (or believer) baptism?

    Representatives of the evangelical Reformed tradition like Roger Nicole (to name one figure who was much celebrated on this site when he passed away) suggest that the “gospel center” includes a variety of “complementarians” and “egalitarians”, both of which honor the Scriptures as the Word of God. But the Gospel Coalition does not allow for this honest difference in opinion on the Bible’s teaching. Why not?

    I don’t mean to be a gadfly. I would really like to understand why the Gospel Coalition takes the position that it does. I am hoping that the promised Carson-Piper-Keller will shed more light on their reasoning.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      In my opinion the answer is clear: If one were to quote the NT scriptures which speak to the roles of men and women in the family and church, on the one hand, and then, on the other hand, make the feminist (i.e. “egalitarian”) statement that God’s true intention is equality of roles (i.e. interchangeability) then one would have to be working with one of two assumptions: (1) either scripture is not inspired or (2) God is an incompetent communicator. That is to say, while there is some room for debate on what exactly are the different roles for men and women in the church and family, the “evangelical feminist” proposition that the roles are the same for the sexes is not one that can be made if scripture is accepted as authoritative. Put simply, the egalitarian position is not one that can be held with integrity with a serious doctrine of Biblical inspiration.

      • Laura

        John, what do you do with Galations 3:28?

        There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

        Seriously, what do you do with this verse, which seems to me to say that the male/female differences are biological but not spiritual and not relevant to our roles as Christians? Do you just set it aside?

        • Barbara

          The context of that verse tells us that he is referring to salvation – that the Gospel is spread to all – not our roles as God’s people in God’s kingdom. He addresses that elsewhere.

          • Laura

            No, it’s not, Barbara. Look up Galations 3. He’s talking about legalism v. faith. Guess which wins out.

            23 Before the coming of this faith,[i] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was put in charge of us until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

            26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

            I suggest that you who want to put women under the supervision of men are imposing legalism on women.

            • Barbara

              He’s discussing faith in Christ and His Gospel vs works-righteousness as a means of justification (remember the primary issue at hand is the judaizers requiring circumcision for entry into the Kingdom)which is the primary definition of legalism. Now, in Christ, the kingdom is extended to Gentile as well as Jew, so you do not have to be circumcised in the flesh in order to be saved; likewise, you may be a woman and be a part of the communion of the saints as well (not stuck outside while the men worship alone). That is all he is referring to there. He does not contradict himself in the pastoral epistles nor in the Corinthian letter.

            • Laura

              Barbara, do you think there is a thing I could do that would be a sin, if the very same thing would not be a sin if the only difference was that I was a man?

              If yes, how can you reconcile that with this verse?

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              Then you’ve said that the Lord Jesus’ own appointed and anointed Apostle, and the author of Galatians 3:28, was trying to “impose legalism on women”. You’ve rejected the authority of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps you want to rethink it.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          That scripture says NOTHING about roles. It says that male and female are saved in the same way, through faith in Christ. There’s nothing in that verse that applies it to gender roles and nothing in the context that would suggest that it applies to gender roles.

          • Laura

            That’s right. It says nothing about roles. You are bringing in extrabiblical stuff here. Jesus does not require gender roles of us.

            • JohnM


              I’m going to chime in here. You said “That’s right. It says nothing about roles.” But… before that it was you who asked “what do you do with Galations 3:28″. !!?? Okay then, with regard to roles I do nothing at all with Galatians 3:28, since we both agree it has nothing to do with gender, or any other, roles. So, egalitarians out there, let’s (as in, Ya’ll)don’t bring it up again in support of your preferred position – since it doesn’t :)

            • Laura

              John, it absolutely does support that point. Y’all are shoehorning in roles, and putting women under law, when it’s completely inappropriate. Where it really matters there are no gender roles. Disagree?

            • JohnM


              When you point out “It says nothing about roles” then I (agreeing with you to that point) say “it has nothing to do with gender, or any other, roles” then you come back and declare “it absolutely does support that point” you are contradicting yourself. Which statement do you want to retract?

              I’ll agree the issue has been shoehorned into Galatians 3:28, the point is has always been egalitarians who have done that.

              I could also agree, and could even do so without specific reference to Galatians 3:38 by the way, that your role, or mine, or anyone else’s, doesn’t matter where it is really important. Disagree?

            • Laura

              It supports the point that Jesus does not impose gender-based roles on us. We do that to ourselves.

            • JohnM

              Laura, the text does not support a point on an issue Paul does not at all address in the verse or in the passage. It is logically possible for men and women to be the same in having put on Christ (v.27) and in status as as Abraham’s seed (v.29) yet not the same in other respects, which other respects Paul does not address in Galatians, but does address in other epistles.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            The Lord Jesus’ appointed and anointed Apostle speaks directly to the issue of gender roles in 1 Corinthians 11, 14, and 1 Timothy 2. Those commands have all the weight of the words of the Lord Jesus Himself.

            • Laura

              Going to disagree with you there. I realize we seriously part company on this point, and it’s an important one. I understand that Paul had direct revelations from Jesus, on the road to Damascus and after. But he was still a sinful man – he said so himself. Big difference between him and Jesus.

            • http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              Certainly we can all agree that there is a big difference between Paul the sinner apostle and Jesus the sinner Savior, God in flesh. But it seems like you’re saying that we shouldn’t regard Paul’s biblical writings, or at least not all of them, on the same level as Jesus’ words recorded elsewhere in the New Testament. Is that a fair representation of your point?

            • Laura

              Yes, Collin.

              I also think that the epistles were meant for the people Paul was writing them to. They are very important, mind, because Paul did get those revelations. 1 Cor. 13 is, like, the guiding philosophy of my life. The passage in Galations about the fruits of the spirit, pure gold. But I don’t think that when Paul gave specific instructions for the way those churches were to operate, he meant that for us 2000 years later. I just don’t think he meant for the letters to be used that way. If he had, he wouldn’t have put in cryptic little phrases like “because of the angels,” that have us staring, and shrugging, and eventually moving on.

              I say this with a certain amount of humility, realizing that I could be wrong. But this is my opinion.

            • http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              Thank you for answering, Laura. You might imagine that I disagree. In the video coming tomorrow, Tim Keller addresses this view in his analysis of the hermeneutical challenge and why TGC is complementarian.

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              If one rejects the words of the appointed and anointed Apostle of the Lord Jesus, you’ve rejected Jesus. It’s that simple.

              And, no, I don’t think you know better who should speak for the Lord Jesus than He does.

              @ Laura, you don’t think Paul intended his words for anything other than the few churches he was writing to? Then why did he say:
              “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do qthe churches of God” (1 Cor. 11:16) to close his remarks about the role of women in 1 Cor. 11; and
              “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized” — immediately after his remarks about the role of women in 1 Cor. 14?
              It simply isn’t plausible that Paul wrote what he did, was as emphatic and as insistent that He was speaking for the Lord, and that the Lord really intends us to believe in egalitarianism. If egalitarianism is true then either the Bible is wrong or God is an incompetent communicator.

              I believe God is a perfect communicator!

            • Laura

              “If one rejects the words of the appointed and anointed Apostle of the Lord Jesus, you’ve rejected Jesus.”

              That’s the Gospel According to John Carpenter.

              Look at your quote from 1 Cor. 11. He goes into this long discussion about women and hair, for pete’s sake. Could he not be quoting what the Corinthians are telling him their rules are? And then says “if you are going to keep arguing about this, we have no such practice, and the other churches aren’t doing it either.”

              I’ve already said that the part about “did the word of God come only to you” possibly was in response to the men of Corinth trying to shut the women up. We have the Holy Spirit too, John.

              I know you don’t understand why I am irritated about you trying to put women back under the law that you know Jesus freed you from. If Jesus had told Mary to go help Martha in the kitchen I wouldn’t be making these arguments. It seems clear as day to me that the things you are saying Paul was straightforwardly telling the churches strongly contrast with this.

            • Red


              “The Lord Jesus’ appointed and anointed Apostle speaks directly to the issue of gender roles in 1 Corinthians 11, 14, and 1 Timothy 2. Those commands have all the weight of the words of the Lord Jesus Himself.”

              Galatians 3:26-28 tells us about our full inheritance which is sonship, the context is not about just our salvation but also our inheritance through our salvation. In the New Covenant, now the slave and the female inherit just as equaly as the free males for all are now “sons” through faith. The same rights for the free males now apply to the slaves and females. In this Kingdom we are all as “free sons.” Women have the right to all the gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of pastor and teaching, and leading. No son in the Kingdom of God is denied any gift, and the females are now “sons”, not daughters therefore the hierarchal complementarian interpretation of 1 Tim 2 and 1 Co 14 couldn’t be correct since it contradicts Galatians – that there is no Jew, Greek, male and female, slave or free, since all are sons.

            • Ian

              John, I absolutely agree with you that the passages you mention have the same weight as the words of Christ. ALL of scripture is equally inspired and authoritative.

              BUT if you want to learn what God says about gender roles, firstly you have to consider the whole counsel of God, not just a few bits, and secondly you have to understand the scriptures as the original recipients would have understood them.

              It is primarily on that second point where we must disagree. I find the exegesis of people like Jon Zens and Cheryl Schatz to be convincing. They have studied the texts you mention in detail and in context, and have concluded that they are categorically NOT a permanent and total prohibition on women speaking, teaching or having authority over men.

              So, with respect, I believe you have misunderstood the teaching of the Bible (and therefore the mind of God) on this subject. But I still pray that the Lord will bless you as you seek to learn His ways and serve Him.

      • Jim

        Thank you for your reply, John. Your convictions on this matter are clear. But my point is that there are many others who hold to a “serious doctrine of Biblical inspiration” who would disagree with you. (Roger Nicole is one example; for some others see the book How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership.)

        In my view, this is an exegetical debate, and like many such debates it will not be settled by lining up proof-texts. Take, for example, 1 Timothy 2:15 — salvation by childbirth: should I conclude that “God is an incompetent communicator” because that text must be understood in historical and canonical context? No. Egalitarians simply suggest that we need to exercise the same interpretive skill and nuance in understanding 1 Tim 2:12 as we do with 1 Tim 2:15.

        My point, again, is that this is an exegetical debate among individuals who hold the same doctrine of Scripture. If we can differ on the sacraments of the church (like baptism), and still have “gospel-centered” unity, I don’t understand why women in leadership shouldn’t be a similar matter.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          Hi Jim,

          You’re simply wrong. Dr. Donald Hagner, one of the finest NT scholars today, once said that he couldn’t do exegetical gymnastics to get the NT to support the feminist position. So he just said that the NT was wrong. Dr. Paul Jewett, an excellent Systematic Theologian, made that case in his book “Man As Male and Female”. One cannot legitimately interpret the NT to support egalitarianism. The choice you have to make is whether you believe the Bible or not. To say you do but then mangle it to support feminism is the worst possible thing you could do.

          • Jim

            I can tell you’re passionate about this debate, John.

            “Feminism”, “egalitarianism”, “complementarianism” – these are all contested terms used in different ways by different people. This makes for a confusing conversation and it takes a lot of work to untangle the threads. I don’t think we’re going to settle the matter here.

            But I believe my point still stands — the “comps” have their texts and respected scholars; the “egals” have their texts and respected scholars. Why does TGC deem this a central matter of the gospel? What is the difference between women’s roles and something like baptism? These are not really questions for you, John (I assume you don’t speak as a representative of TGC), but for Hansen, Piper, Keller, Carson.

            • Laura

              “Why does TGC deem this a central matter of the gospel? What is the difference between women’s roles and something like baptism?”

              These are excellent questions. I hope someone answers them.

            • http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              Great question, Jim. Come back tomorrow for our attempt at an answer. But I can tell you now that I don’t know anyone who regards complementarianism as a central matter of the gospel.

            • Jim

              Thanks Collin.

            • Megan


              Does that include John Piper, who earlier this year said that egalitarians are “going to get the gospel wrong”? Sounds to me like he believes that it’s pretty central.

              Do I think you or Dr. Piper are being deliberately disingenuous about it? No, of course not. Do I worry that, in your zeal to defend what you obviously believe is true, that you’ve marginalized a great many people who agree with you on many things, but not this? Yes, definitely.

              The perception that TGC has made gender roles essential or central to the gospel doesn’t come out of no where. Hopefully the promised video will shed more light on this.

            • http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              I’m not sure you’ll be persuaded by the video, Megan, but I do hope you’ll watch and consider. Thank you for reading and interacting.

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              Hi Jim,

              The “egalitarians” (who openly admit they are “feminists” when they are secure, as at Fuller) freely admit that they don’t have scripture to back them up. Their argument is that the Bible is wrong. See P.K. Jewett’s “Man as Male and Female”. Those are the evangelical feminists with integrity. Those who argue for “egalitarianism” on one hand and claim they believe in the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of scripture on the other, either are illiterate or lack integrity. There are many things that are open for debate but in the end the Bible is not a blank slate. You cannot make it say anything you want it to. No one can legitimately make the Bible to be supporting egalitarianism. If they want to make that case, then show the integrity of P. K. Jewett and admit that they believe the passages on women are simply wrong.

          • Ian

            John, I think you’re being unduly influenced by your bad experience at Fuller. Hagner and Jewett may say the Bible is wrong but not everyone is like that.

            Please ignore the people who argue for egalitarianism using the techniques of liberal theology. Stick to the evangelicals – have you read Jon Zens or RT France, for example?

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  • Autumn

    I am troubled that the male/female issue has become primary with so many Evangelicals. Whenever we focus all of our attention on secondary issues, (other than faith in Christ alone, they are all secondary issues), something is out of balance.

  • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

    One thing that I’d love to see addressed is the disconnect between how we define complementarianism as a concept and how it plays out in actuality. To me, this is the larger issue–not whether egalitarians misunderstand complementarian positions, not whether we need to affirm the biblical basis for male/female interaction, but the very real possibility that what we say and what we practice don’t always line up.

    I’m coming to believe that many of the misconceptions about complementarianism aren’t misconceptions about what we believe per se, but observations about how we put that into practice. Because truthfully, we teach as much by what we DO as what we say.

    • Jim

      Well said.

    • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

      Amen to this! I would like to know how complementarianism plays out in a practical sense. They claim that it’s NOT sexist and unjust, but I don’t get how FORCING individual people into certain roles and restricting them from other roles just because of gender (and not abilities) is anything but sexist and unjust. (I think men and women are different and perhaps have different roles in general- but that fact must not be used to make rules about what individual men and women can or can’t do.)

    • Rachael Starke


      Right on as usual. I’ll take your comment a step further and argue that so-called “misconceptions” about complementarianism aren’t misconceptions – they’re a fruit of so-called complementarians actually living as patriarchalists, but not wanting to own up to it.

      Partriarchy by its very definition set up one subset of God’s Kingdom – fathers – over and above all others. It is a system confined to roles and seasons of life.

      Genuine complementarianism (as opposed to the name-only variety that’s more prevalent in reformed/evangelical circles) is rooted in Genesis 1-3 – the creation of two complementary genders who each reflect the image of the triune God in unique ways, consistently across every season of life, in whatever role God ordains in each season.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        In Genesis 1-3, while both sexes are created in the image of God, the man is created first, the woman is created to help him, the man names the woman (thus expressing authority over her). You’re right that that passage portrays genuine complimentarianism. But that involves the authority of the husband/father, i.e. the “patriarch”. I’m sure you’re right that “complimentarianism” is used as a covering for old-fashioned traditionalism but the cure isn’t feminism, the idea of inter-changeability in which the man has no inherent authority.

        • Pam

          God created both male and female – there’s an explicit unity and equality in Genesis 1:27. Males have no inherent authority – they aren’t more in the image of God than women, both men and women are equally God’s image. As such, male and female are equal. Which is what feminism is about.

        • Estelle

          Following your reasoning that naming indicates authority over the one named, does Hagar then show her authority over The Almighty when she gives him the name of the ‘God who sees me’ in Genesis 16? Are both these instances i.e. the man meeting the woman and Hagar’s encounter with God in the desert, rather not examples of recognition of the other party?

          • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah

            Thank you! I’ve heard this line of reasoning recently and it just blows my mind–when adam named the woman, he was recognizing a truth about her essential nature (ironically, that she was more like him than different, that she was human not animal). He was not expressing his authority over her–this is a classic example of how it is equally possible for complementarians (of which I include myself)to mishandle Scripture if we’re not careful.

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  • JR

    Amen, Dr. Carson! Thank you for raising the discussion to higher ground. I’m in full agreement here.

  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    I like the term “complementarian” because it emphasizes that women have a role, it’s just not always the same as men, as Dr. Carson very aptly describes. But no matter the label, the feminists are going to charge us with being “patriarchal” so we might as well as own that term too. God’s order is, indeed, the rule of fathers. But understand, that is a “rule” that loves self-sacrificially as Christ did.

  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    Martin Luther said that it is the very word of God that is most unpopular at any given time that should be proclaimed most energetically; Christians should now defend patriarchy. First, because the Bible plainly – yes, plainly – teaches patriarchy: the rule of fathers. Although there are some “evangelicals” in the West who try to accommodate the Word of God to Western feminism,, it is always an attack on what God has said. Period. Some of the feminists try to make the Bible teach that male and female have interchangeable roles. Everything that a man can do so can a woman, they say. Scriptures that teach otherwise (like 1 Cor. 11:2-17; and 1 Tim. 2:12) were only concessions to a backward culture – we’ve grown beyond that! This assumes that God did not know what He was doing when He inspired the New Testament in the first century. If the plain teachings of scripture can be negated with a wave of the that’s-a-different-culture magic wand then we might as well throw out the whole book.

    Even cultures, like the traditional Chinese, who haven’t been exposed to the Word of God understand that patriarchy is important. That’s because God has not only left instructions in the Bible about it but has written about it in His creation. Creation declares patriarchy and those who obey it are rewarded. While mothers may have all the positive intentions as fathers (and often more) because of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and general female physical weakness relative to men, they are simply not created with the ability that fathers have. Women, even in our modern world, have significant periods of dependency. Some women, particularly in the West, think that with the birth control pill, abortion, welfare, and child-care that they can avoid the need of a father. Those areas of America that have tried this approach the most, the inner city, are rife with promiscuity, AIDS, child abuse, poverty, dependence on the government, crime, and gangs of violent, neglected teenagers. Failure is the result of the break down of patriarchy.

    There is no fooling of God’s original design – even with all our technology. Our sexual identity is profound and eternal. We may not be married when the Kingdom of God comes but there is no hint that we will lose our essential identity as female or male. Both sexes are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and thus both have unique and irreplaceable contributions to make to society, the church, the family. To try to shape one sex in the image of the other is to impoverish us. The “gender blender” is the road to chaos.

    Biblical patriarchy is inclusive. The Western mind has a problem; it sees differences in terms of antithesis, right and wrong; one must triumph over the other and negate it totally. While this may be a useful way of thinking in some scientific fields, people are more complicated. I believe that the Chinese mind has an advantage in approaching the male vs. female dilemma. Yin-Yang balance is a more Biblical perspective when it comes to the complementary roles of the sexes. In a Biblically patriarchal society, church, or family both male and female can be everything that they were meant to be.

    This is because patriarchy is not male chauvinism, it is not the rule of men. Fathers – real fathers – are men who have taken responsibility for a wife and have planned and provided for children. Fathers are not “play boys.” They are not “sperm donors” floating off to impregnate another woman tomorrow night. The real father wants the best for his wife and children. Real fathers will work, study, sacrifice and go to war for their families. Real fathers don’t live to work but neither do they neglect their work because they are keen to make a future for their children. It’s time that children stopped being told that they are being neglected by a working father and be told to appreciate the sacrifices he is making for them. Many fathers pine for their children’s faces while they work but they keep working – denying themselves – for their family. Have some “fathers” abandoned their families in favour of making their mark in the business world? Yes, but don’t tar them all with that brush. There is nobility in the sacrifices many fathers make and it should be celebrated. Sadly, many fathers go unrecognised until after their funeral and suddenly the void they’ve left behind shouts to us how much we owe to fathers.

    • Laura

      John, my husband and I have been married for 30 years. He is not the boss of me. I am not the boss of him. Somehow, we raised a daughter to adulthood and are still married to each other, and expect to be the rest of our lives. And our home is orderly, not chaotic, and we love each other.

      I perceive that you are speaking disrespectfully of my marriage. That’s your right, but perhaps you will understand how I don’t appreciate it. I’m not asking for an apology because I don’t need one from you. I’m just doing you the favor of communicating how your comment comes across to me, and presumably others whose marriages don’t fit your model, in case you were unaware of that.

      Because we did our jobs raising our daughter, she is an independent, self-sufficient adult. She happens not to be married (and doesn’t have a life partner since she won’t enter into that kind of thing without marriage, and hasn’t found anyone suitable yet anyway). How does she fit into patriarchy, since she doesn’t have a man ruling her? You can’t say the Bible instructs her to find a husband, because it doesn’t. Does she just not exist in your worldview?

      • Rachael Starke

        John Carpenter’s statements about womens’ “season of dependency” and their not having the abilities of fathers are good examples of the slippery slope that patriarchy leads well-intentioned Christians down.

        To your points, Laura, it is precisely what leads to girls being raised to aspire only to marriage and childrearing, and to be discouraged from everything from pursuing higher education or a vocation other than motherhood, or even to living outside the home on ones’ own. It ennobles male workaholism, and diminishes men who are unemployed due to poor economies or poor health.

        Im thankful for this discussion as it will hopefully elevate/flesh out the definition of genuine complementarianism and expose closeted patriarchy as an aberration to be rejected.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          Hi Rachael Starke,

          It’s really not possible for what I described to “ennoble male workaholism”, etc.

          Note: “The real father wants the best for his wife and children. Real fathers will work, study, sacrifice and go to war for their families. Real fathers don’t live to work but neither do they neglect their work because they are keen to make a future for their children.”

          • Pam

            John, not a single fallen person will ever live up to your idealised ‘real father’. Only Jesus was perfect.
            This is one of my biggest problems with complementarianism/patriarchy: to work well it is entirely dependent on men being saintly in all their actions. But we’re all sinful, so we all fail. Any patriarchal system puts women and children in positions of serious vulnerability, and simply saying platitudes about ‘real fathers’ will never change that fact.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Hi Laura,

        First, if your husband is not the head of the family then he has not been obeying the command of the Lord.

        Second, I note a lack of seriously dealing with the Lord and His word in your comments. I’d hope you’d use this opportunity to examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). That is, is Jesus your Lord?

        Finally, there is the church, which is supposed to be led by men and women are supposed to be important parts.

        • Laura

          Now you are disrespecting my husband. I don’t appreciate that one bit. As I said, I’m not looking for an apology because you certainly don’t answer to me, any more than I answer to you. I just don’t want you to be baffled when people like me react negatively to what you are saying. “What’s her problem? I only said that her life partner, the person she loves most in the world, has not been obeying God.” Know what you’re saying, that’s all.

          I have seriously dealt with all of these issues. I question whether you have, or whether you take the traditional view because it’s easier and you can disregard those dang feminists asking you to share your power and control. Have you really, seriously considered whether you might be wrong, and thought through the consequences to other people and how they react to the Gospel if you are, and what you might have to answer to on that score? Believe me, I have considered these things strongly in developing my view.

          “Finally, there is the church, which is supposed to be led by men and women are supposed to be important parts.”

          That is the kernel, right there. We profoundly disagree, John.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            Hi Laura,

            Again, I note an absence of taking the Lord seriously. The Lord says the husband is the head of the family and that the wife is to submit. If you are not obeying that, you are disobeying the Lord and are sinning. If you don’t take sin seriously, you need to examine yourself as to whether you are truly converted at all.

            By the way, I’m almost certain I’ve dealt with this issue more than you have. You’re assumption otherwise is the reflexive assumption that thinking people are like the world: feminist. It’s not true.

            • Laura

              My husband and I submit to each other, as brothers and sisters in Christ are supposed to do. You have a problem with that?

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              Yes, first you aren’t interpreting the Bible correctly.

              Second, if your husband is “submitting” to you then he is not loving you as Christ loves the church. Christ does not submit to the church.

              Third, and most importantly, is your apparent lack of concern for sinning against the Word of God.

            • Laura

              Sinning against the Word of God?

              John, when I was growing up in the Southern Baptist Church we were warned repeatedly against bibliolatry. You don’t worship the Bible. You worship God.

            • Laura

              Also – if you want to go out to eat, and your wife is tired and doesn’t want to go, and you say “OK, we’ll stay in tonight,” you’ve left the path????

              Suppose that you develop a habit of losing your temper, and she points out that that is unGodly, and asks you to work on getting some self control? No can do?

            • Laura

              You can’t answer my questions, can you?

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter


            You’re problem is that you’ve rejected the Word of God which is the same as rejecting God.

            • Pam

              I don’t presume here to speak for or defend Laura, but John, you aren’t God, so stop talking as if you are. Kindly take your bullyboy pontifications elsewhere.

    • JR

      John, you wrote: “This is because patriarchy is not… the rule of men”. But that would be true only according to your use of the word.

      In the larger scope, that is exactly how patriarchy is defined in society — along with “the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male lineage”.

      Hopefully, you can see how such a notion is counter-Christian and does not accord with the apostolic teaching of the NT.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        Hi JR,

        I have to basically question whether you’ve actually ever read the Bible. The notion you say is not in accord with the NT is the one explicitly taught there:

        “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. . . . 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” (1 Cor. 11:3ff)

        “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, . . . (1 Cor. 14:33b)

        “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” (1 Tim. 2:12).

        I’d like to interpret those scriptures as liberally as they can be interpreted but that still takes them seriously. The “Egalitarian” position simply does not take them seriously.

        • Laura

          In your 1 Cor. 14 you left out “as the law says”.

          Can you tell me what law says women can’t speak? Chapter and verse?

          You also left out this: “For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” Does this sound like something Jesus would say – that it is shameful for a woman to open her mouth in church?

          And how come women are under the law when men aren’t – they don’t have to be circumcized and so forth?

          I’m asking these things because there’s a school of thought about that chapter, that he’s quoting the men at the church of Corinth and then correcting them. KJV has the next verse starting “What?” Paul asks, did the word of God come only to you [men]? And he ends up, “39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”

          I’m not saying this because I expect you to agree with that interpretation. I expect you not to, because it doesn’t fit your worldview. I’m saying this to point out that there is more than one reasonable way to read these things.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            Hi Laura,

            If 1 Cor. 14 says it, it is the Word of God. And this gets right to the central issue: Feminists think they have a right to stand over the Word of God and tell it that it is wrong.

            His comment: “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” Is not addressed to men specifically but to those who thought that his immediately prior command about women was something debatable or only for a specific church.

            • Akash


              LAURA will only change if she truly loves/trusts Jesus and has respect for his word.
              your talking to wall- the sole reason she speaks is to cause trouble

            • Laura

              John, if it’s the word of God but you are misunderstanding it? That’s my point.

        • JR

          John — How do any of those passages equate to the “the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male lineage” and the “rule of men” in all spheres of life, including work and civic duty??? The only thing you quoted had to do with family and the church.

          And you start off by questioning whether I’ve ever read the Bible? Really? Come on.
          Please, re-read my comment and track it back to your original post, which I was responding to. You seem to have confused something, or missed my point entirely. I will gladly explain it to you, if you would like. But your response to my comment makes very little sense.

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            I believe I understand your comment perfectly and if you really don’t think the Bible promotes the leadership of men — even the definition of patriarchy you quoted — I have question whether you’ve ever really read it.

            A simple thing: do you realize all or almost all genealogies in the Bible are traced through men? It’s the exception when they even mention the mother. You quote that line about “the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male lineage” as if you have never read a Biblical genealogy. Get real.

            • JR

              John, your tone and tact do not even warrant a reply here.

              However, I will simply state a few things, 1)I am complementarian and 2) that we have two VERY different understandings of what the scriptures teach regarding our redemption in Christ (and unless you are a messianic Jew, I don’t believe your view is defensible theologically).

              What you propose ignores essential elements of the Gospel that I simply cannot abide. Reformed hermeneutics are based on the redemptive historical Christ in all of the scriptures. By going deeper into reformed hermeneutics and biblical theology, I think you’ll find that the overarching message of scripture is NOT about bloodlines. Here are few references:
              John Piper’s book called Bloodlines.
              GK Beale’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament.
              Jim Hamilton’s article on “The Seed of the Woman” http://www.tyndalehouse.com/tynbul/library/TynBull_2007_58_2_05_Hamilton_SeedOfTheWoman.pdf

              Scripture passages:
              Eph. 2:11 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

              1 Timothy 1:3 “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.”

              Romans 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Sons = all God’s people, male and female.

              John 3:5 “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”

              1 Peter 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for

              “All flesh is like grass
              and all its glory like the flower of grass.
              The grass withers,
              and the flower falls,
              25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

              And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

              Pretty darn clear to me that geneaology has nothing to do with our inheritance in the kingdom of God. It’s found all throughout the scriptures.

              Hope this helps.

            • JR

              John, one more comment: if you had gone back and tracked our discussion, you would have seen that you were the one who stated on August 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM:
              “This is because patriarchy is not… the rule of men”.

              YOU wrote that. Scroll up and check it out.

              Blessings in Christ

          • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

            All of that is entirely irrelevant. I’m hoping there is just a simple misunderstanding; that we’re talking about two different things. You wrote, apparently, that patriarchy “is counter-Christian and does not accord with the apostolic teaching of the NT.” As I understand it, you cited a definition of patriarchy that has to do with tracing lineage through males, apparently not aware that that is exactly what the Bible does. You then bring up important ideas about the gospel, which are true, but which are totally irrelevant to this discussion and suggest you simply don’t understand what it being talked about here. Complementarianism is about the roles of the sexes, especially in the family and church. The Bible teaches that the sexes have different roles, including that headship belongs to men, what can legitimately be called “patriarchy”. The men should be more than males, they should be “fathers”, if not literally at least spiritually. And I hope you understand that to be a father one must be a man.

            I’m really not sure what you’re trying to prove. Were you trying to make a point that patriarchy/male lineage, etc., doesn’t save us? That’s true. That’s even a more important discussion than the one were having. But, it’s not the point here and it is not the point of scripture that is so widely under attack today. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to pick our battles. I too would rather debate the doctrines of grace, Sola fide, justification and the sovereignty of God, etc., but when the structure of the church and family is under attack (and implicitly the inspiration and authority of scripture) that’s what we have to defend.

            • JR

              Agree with most of what you’re saying.
              My point was that there are aspects of patriarchy that are not found in complementarity, and those aspects are the reason why I do NOT support the use of patriarchy as a defining label for what I believe.

              The topic of male lineage was brought up as one of those elements of patriarchy which I believe have no bearing on believers this side of the cross. I quoted the above scriptures in order to show this.

              Bottom line: I’m agreeing with Carson, Piper, Keller and others who have purposefully chosen to label the biblical view of male and female roles in the church and family as complementarian, rather than patriarchy, in order to avoid all of the negative and unbiblical aspects associated with patriarchy.

        • Ian

          John Carpenter,

          I am an egalitarian and I assure you that I take ALL the Bible seriously.

          I’d have to check up on exegesis of 1 Cor 11:3-9 but I think the view is that it doesn’t suggest authority.

          However, I am very familiar with the other two texts you quote.

          1 Cor 14:33b is in the context of preventing disorderly worship. Taking it literally would contradict 1 Cor 11 where women praying and prophesying is mentioned. It is a statement that women mustn’t interrupt or disrupt the meetings, not a ban on women speaking.

          1 Tim. 2:12 refers to a specific situation in Ephesus where women (almost certainly converts from the cult of Diana) were taking over the teaching. It is a correction to a problem, not a ban on women teaching.

          You are welcome to your views on these passages but please don’t disparage those who disagree.

          How can you say with certainty that you are right and the egalitarians are wrong?

  • http://www.corinthtoday.org paul cummings

    This may be the most elementary/simple-minded observation…but isn’t all this simply an attempt to place a Label/Term on Ephesians 5? I grow weary of the semantics battle when the scripture’s words of love, respect, sacrifice and honor seemed to have been enough for Paul.

  • Mary Spaulding

    I read as much as I can about complementarianism but I still don’t know what it means in every day life. I need specifics. What does it mean in the church? What does it mean in a marriage? It still sounds like ‘men rule.’

    • Laura

      Here’s a specific, Mary.

      Five years ago my family lived in Memphis, TN. At my job at that time I was making three to four times as much money as my husband was, so was the primary breadwinner – we didn’t plan this, it just worked out that way. I got two job offers in one week, one in Chattanooga and one in Florida, which was cool because we wanted to move. My husband and I talked over where we wanted to live and what the jobs would be like for me and so forth, and we agreed upon Florida, but ultimately, he said, it was my choice. “I will go wherever you go,” he said. We did move to Florida, and he eventually found work, and he still from time to time says, “Have I thanked you lately for moving us here?” Because we love our new home.

      Now here is a specific, and people can weigh in whether they think we were disobedient to God here.

      • JohnM


        Why were you making three to four times as much money as your husband was?

        • Pam

          Simply because she had a job that paid more than her husbands’? Are you suggesting there’s any other reason needing to be highlighted, or problem with her having a high income?

          • Laura

            I took John’s question as simple curiosity.

            But it does point up how we are all in our little insular groups.

            On our street, a quiet cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood, two of our male neighbors have had severe cutbacks in their income. Both households have children. Appalled, I asked my husband when he told me this, how they were paying the bills, and in both cases it seems that the wife is the primary breadwinner, so they’re OK. “There are a lot of us out there,” he told me, grinning.

            And some of the guys at work meet on Tuesdays at the range for target practice. Recently one of them mentioned the high cost of ammo and he remarked that this is an expensive hobby, and that if his wife didn’t make more money than he did, he couldn’t afford it. Two other men nodded and said “me too”.

            So in my experience, it’s a pretty common occurence. But if you don’t work at a blue-collar organization, and if maybe you live on a street with a lot of SAHMs and dads who support the family, you might not see it very much.

            • Pam

              Fair enough. I guess I just see it as something that’s common and normal, so I don’t see why it’s a question that needs to be asked. But that is quite possibly just me inferring something into the question that isn’t there.

      • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

        I can’t believe you’d pass up an opportunity to move to Chattanooga! :)

        • Laura

          : )

          It was beautiful, really. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. We had to really think about it.

  • Laura

    I started out making less money than he did, but I got several promotions and ended up in management. He’s a very hard worker, and a smart person, and I respect his abilities very much; and his employers always have as well; but he’s just not a go-getter. And I apparently am.

    I do respect him. He knows a lot, for instance, about electricity, and he can figure out ANYTHING if he looks at it for a minute. I have relied on him over the years to help me troubleshoot lab instruments, and not only has he done that, but he’s taught me so I can do it myself. Once I was on the phone with a service tech, trying to trace down a problem we thought was related to a wiring harness sending current through the instrument, and we couldn’t track it down. I was going to have to box the thing up and send it in. I called my husband, and he told me to draw a picture of the wiring harness and fax it to him at work, and I did; and he called me back and walked me through finding the problem. I think he’s sharp and smart and all that and a piece of cake. It just doesn’t translate to making money, somehow.

    I guess I could either make his life hell until he changed his essential nature enough to make more money, or sit at home in poverty knowing I could make us comfortable, but neither of those options appeal to me. And I’ve always enjoyed my work. I’ve never felt obligated to do it in sackcloth and ashes.

    • EMSoliDeoGloria

      Laura, I love the way you describe your marriage. My husband and I are 2+ years marry and we ascribe to unity and mutual service in all we do. We both work now and his job pays more (higher paying field plus I’ve chosen to work in the non-profit world). At some point, I may stay home for awhile if we have young children but our plans on that aren’t as firm now as what they once were. We will seek the Lord’s direction and make decisions together as the time is ripe for them. I love my husband. I find my job interesting and challenging. But my life does not consist of roles. It’s about sharing all of who I am with the person to whom I have committed my life, loving, respecting, serving and pursuing unity with him (as he does me) while we seek to live for God’s glory together.

      • Laura

        That’s it. Your life does not consist of roles because you are not on a stage, and it does not consist of symbolizing a greater truth. It may, but that is not the purpose of it. You are living an authentic life, and like every other human on the planet, you have to find your path. If you and your husband find a way to walk that path together and lift each other up as you go, that’s the ticket.

        • EMSoliDeoGloria

          I do believe that my life is about symbolizing a greater truth, but not because my marriage is reduced to “he leads; she submits”. The greater truth is that I bear the image of the living God. Because of sins’ distortion, we people end up using our lives to lie about God to one another.

          But for those who have been saved – we are image bearers who are being transformed into the image of Christ. (2 Cor 3:18) Through his word first and our lives as Ambassadors also, God makes truth about the divine nature known to people everywhere.

          That’s why it is so important that even in disagreements like this, we all address each other with gentleness and respect. Mr. Carpenter, if we are in the same household of faith, I would challenge you to listen to what Laura is saying rather than accuse her of saying things she isn’t. Even if you disagree theologically with her, as I do with you, you can do so in a peaceable way.

  • Barbara

    Laura, I’m afraid I’m confused. You indicate above that you don’t consider the Pauline epistles to be on par with the Gospels; you don’t accept them as inerrant and infallible Scripture. So, why is it that you choose a single verse that Paul wrote to the Galatians, taken out of context, but still – it’s Pauline- to make your case?

    Rhetorical question, really. If you don’t believe the Scriptures to be binding and authoritative, then there is really no common ground to go on. You demonstrate clearly here that there’s no desire on your part to engage and to learn; only to challenge and complain. Good day to you.

  • Laura

    Do you want an answer, or not?

    The verse I quoted was not about managing how a specific church in a specific city at a specific time was run. Is it not pretty obvious? Do you give equal weight to “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” and “Take a little wine for your stomach.”? They equally inform your theology? I bet not.

    • Barbara

      Paul appeals to the pre-fall created order in his discussion of roles, thereby giving us an example of how to apply God’s ordained purposes in our individual circumstances. What God has ordained and intended supercedes culture and teaches us how to live in (and yet not of) the world in which we are placed.

      Even so, the spirit of individual instruction in individual circumstances also holds fast. They do matter. (as with the OT civil laws, the spirit of the law holds fast – for example, the fact that we are responsible for taking care to prevent injury of those in our homes and on our property even though we don’t necessarily have parapets on our houses – this as a demonstration of love for our neighbor).

  • Laura

    BTW, 1 Timothy has this:

    9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,[a] 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.

    … I note that infertile widows are out of luck. But do any of you have churches that “enroll” widows, I suppose to support them financially, in this way? And do you consider that Paul’s directions for young widows to remarry carries the weight of a commandment from Jesus? If so, do you preach this from the pulpit? And if not, why not?

    • Barbara

      I don’t preach from the pulpit. I’m a single woman with a full time job, which I need to get back to. Good day.

      • Laura

        This wasn’t aimed specifically to you, Barbara. (I’m off this morning, myself, posting between getting some other things done.)

        But the fact is that this is not preached from the pulpit. Why? Because it was specific to the status of widows in that culture, at that time and place, when there was no life insurance and no social security and women were not normally taught and trained so that they could work to support themselves. It is not applicable to us today. We understand that about this passage. Why is it so unthinkable to have the same understanding about other passages?


        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          I guess you get to choose which passages are only for that culture. Convenient. That makes you the pope (or whatever the female equivalent would be.)

          Your scoffing and disrespectful attitude toward scripture (noted in your assumption that Paul would be so stupid as to not care about infertile widows), is the core issue here. It is especially so because one’s attitude toward the Word of God is a reflection of their attitude toward God Himself. The key issue is your lack of “trembling” at the Word (Isaiah 66:1ff). That is, please examine yourself as to whether you’re really a believer in the Lord.

          But the Lord Jesus’ appointed and anointed Apostle roots the differentiation of sex roles in things that are not cultural to temporal: in the relationship of the Son to the Father (1 Cor. 11:2ff); the creation; the Fall, even the angels. None of those things are cultural or time specific but are absolute and cross-cultural. And, in case we still don’t believe it, he repeatedly makes statements, in connection with these very instructions, that closes the debate: “If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.” (1 Cor. 11:16). “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” (1 Cor. 14:37f.)

          The hypothetical question, then, is: If Paul had wanted to be any more clear and emphatic about the matter, how could he have done so?

          • Laura

            John, when he said “we have no such practice” he was talking about the rules that the church at Corinth has for women and saying “we don’t do that”. Come on, you know what “such” means.

            John, do you or do you not want the preacher at the pulpit to instruct young widows to remarry, as Paul directs? Do you think it is a sin if they don’t, since Paul said for them to? If you don’t, then you are doing EXACTLY what I am doing. Exactly.

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter


              Frankly, it’s absurd to say that at the end of his long paragraph on the role of men and women, which He roots in the Trinity, creation and the presence of angels, that he would suddenly say that all of the above is not our practice. That makes no sense whatsoever. He is clearly saying that if someone wants to argue with him about what he just said, that he has no such practice of anything else, of arguing about it; that it is a settled issue.

            • Laura

              John, are young widows who do not remarry as Paul said he wanted them to do, sinning by not remarrying, or not? Simple question. Yes or no.

              Being that I wear my hair short and even got a haircut today, I realize I’m already beyond the pale.

        • Barbara

          Sorry, the BTW at the beginning made it appear as though it were a continuation of your previous reply. Bowing out :)

  • http://www.humblewonderful.com Tony

    Why not have egalitarian complementarianism?

    Seriously I put some effort into understanding how complementarianism is not just patriarchy… http://humblewonderful.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/complementa-whatsit-ism-just-patriarchy.html

    I think there are differences between complementarianism and patriarchy. In fact I reckon we could all think of complementarians and egalitarians whose relationships look exactly the same, who both oppose male arrogance and support womens voices and who would respond identically to issues like pornography, women’s access to education, refuges for battered women etc.

    It seems to me that making egalitarianism the enemy is a strange madness then. Especially because it makes allies between egalitarian complementarianists and actual women haters.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      Because “egalitarianism” means the idea that the sexes are essentially interchangeable (except for the few biologically determined roles), and since that idea is directly contrary to the teaching of the Bible, it is an idea that Christians should oppose. It’s bad for people, including women, because it is fundamentally untrue.

      • http://www.humblewonderful.com Tony

        But John, if something is fundamentally untrue and bad for people, then simply encouraging loving relationships of honest communication which avoid what is bad will bring that into decline. Lets just avoid “what doesn’t build up” to paraphrase. The imposition of a standard beyond that usually betrays that the standard is not always bad for people and has itself become a form of idolatry.

        I also think egalitarianism might not mean exactly what you think it means. I think it is used to emphasis a non-heirachical relationship between two people. What you mean is androgyny perhaps? This is why arguments between complementarianism and egalitarianism often seem at cross purposes.

        Egalitarian complementarianism would simply mean that you see yourself and your partner having different roles but holding equal power, as parents, lovers, citizens etc.

        • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

          A simple test: Ephesians 5 tells wives to submit to their husbands and the husbands to “love their wives as Christ loves the church” (i.e. self-sacrificially). That’s not egalitarian; it is hierarchical. To teach egalitarianism is to teach contrary to that.

          • Laura

            If I always replied to my husband’s “I love you” with “I submit to you” it would break his heart.

            John, does your wife (if any) love you? Don’t you want her to?

            • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

              You’re not dealing with the Word of God. You consistently fail to take God’s Word seriously and want to deflect to other things, feelings, etc.

            • http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

              These comments have deviated into a very personal debate between John Carpenter and Laura. Either exchange e-mails and continue the debate on your own or we’ll need to delete the comments and/or close them.

            • Laura

              I take that as a “no”. Wow.

            • David

              Hi David,

              I am pleased you have stepped in. The tone and manner of these whole comments has been most unedifying and really unpleasant. To be fair I dont really agree with the complementarian line …. but I am just really put off TGC by this whole debate just its manner if anything. Thats despite the fact there is much thats good with TGC. I do think Carson et al have taken a wrong turn here…

              The justification for many comments have been following the word of God but forgetting the central command of Jesus to love your neighbour as yourself.

              I really do wonder as to the wisdom of allowing people to comment on these articles.

              Please delete all comments and threads I might have started and I apologise to all for any adding to the general cesspool of comments.

              Best wishes


          • http://www.humblewonderful.com Tony

            See I think there’s actually a hard to find basis for differential power between self-sacrifice and submission. If I self-sacrifice and you submit it sounds pretty egalitarian.
            Think about who Christ was. To lead means washing your apostles feet. Christ even allowed himself to be publicly beaten in argument by a woman (scandalous for a male in those times).

            If you were to imagine a Christlike husband and put them next to their opposite in what strange imagining would that opposite be someone who shares power and authority with their spouse? Surely such an opposite of Christ would be someone who needed to be held up and supported, preferentially given the pedestal and pulpit. They would be a Pharisee – an exclusively male position in the bible.

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  • Martin


    As a brother in the Lord (probably older than my ‘holy law – verse by verse’ brothers), I wish to affirm your love for the Lord and your respect for truth.
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    ______ wrote undkindly … “LAURA will only change if she truly loves/trusts Jesus and has respect for his word. your talking to wall- the sole reason she speaks is to cause trouble”

    He/she speaks arrogantly, as do others who said you are in sin for not believing as them. You have male siblings who truly believe like you and would come to your defense against those who would tear the Spirit out of Scripture verse by verse.

    There is a larger picture of God’s love and desire for his children that is lost when we try to construct ideal protocols for gender roles and religious community verse by verse. The larger picture is called ‘justice’, defining the way we are to interact with each and the world. The larger picture takes into account the Scriptural roles fulfilled by Deborah, Huldah, Priscilla, Junia (not Junias), etc… (Did God make a mistake … or are these women anomalies of spiritual authority?)

    Some would have us think that the “spirit of the age” is characterized by militant feminism. But, the spirit of the age has been around a lot longer than since the 1960’s. I submit that the spirit of the age (3000 BC until now) is more likely to have the face of a male seeking power and control. That is what we have seen throughout history. The evidence is irrefutable.

    Because women have been the most powerless, impoverished and abused segment of every society on earth, the Christian church must cast off the mantle of patriarchy (my father, a very godly man, told me throughout my life that we must flee from not only evident sin, but from the very appearance of evil). I think God, as Father, would be pleased if His sons were a lot less concerned with laws securing their own manhood, and more concerned about lifting up His daughters to the same place of honor and authority. And if a man truly loves his wife as his own body, why would he not want to empower her as he is empowered – Christ did that with his bride, the Church, by giving us the Holy Spirit and His subsequent gifting.

    The smaller pictures, painted verse by verse, seek to categorize genders and fall prey to what religious people regularly seem to be victimized by – law. In this case … who can do what and in what setting. Man seeks to erect structures of rules … the Spirit sets people free and gifts them for service to each other.

    Finally, if there are any male (or female) verse-by-verse bullies on this blog, quit implying that Laura does not love the Lord or is in sin. I would never imply that about complementarians. Even though I believe they are wrong in their never-ending focus on male/female role order and lack a biblically holistic perspective, I believe they sincerely love God and, in fact, are probably very respectful towards women.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      So, now quoting scripture is being a “bully”? If you love the Lord, you want to obey Him and you obey Him by obeying His Word. Those who love the Lord don’t regard being taught it as being “bullied.”

    • Laura

      Thank you, Martin. I appreciate this very much.

  • Martin

    I did not say that those who quote Scripture are bullies. But, sometimes bullies quote Scripture. The most powerful message in the world is a message we ascribe to God because He is the highest authority. Sometimes we get it wrong.

    It seems to me that with the equally large number of both egalitarians and complementarians on this blog (both who love the Lord and seek truth), we need to be gracious and ‘complementary’ as to our understanding of God’s ways.

    I was addressing those who implied that Laura had a rebellious spirit.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      But she does and you’ve comforted her in her sin and thus done her a disservice. You don’t help people by making them comfortable in rebellion against God.

      • Lou G.

        Paul’s charge to Timothy to be a Worker Approved by God seems relevant for Mr. Carpenter:

        2 Tim. 2:14 “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. …
        Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with all gentleness.”

        (2 Timothy 2:14-26 ESV)

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  • Anthea

    There are some practices, endorsed by calvinist “complementarians”, which infantilise women by downgrading their need for spiritual development. And daft nonsense like not letting women pray or read the Bible aloud in church — get a grip!

    Remember, that if women are raising the children, it’s vital to have smart and capable mamas. If godless, secular NGOs can see that, how sad that those who are believers can’t.

    The bellicose poster (John?) is representing the way that women often experience complementarianism. Mr Piper et al might speak soothing words about how women should be treated, but when women write about their experience of patriarchal complementarianism, it seems to be a classic case of “an iron fist in a velvet glove”.

  • Ian

    Colin, you said in a comment, “But I can tell you now that I don’t know anyone who regards complementarianism as a central matter of the gospel.”

    If this is the case, then why does TGC insist on it?

    Why are you being dogmatic over something that is not central and over which evangelicals disagree?

    Jim pointed out that you tolerate major disagreements over baptism. I remember the fairly recent articles published on this website where at least one side called the other’s baptismal practices sinful. That’s very strong language, but TGC deliberately accommodates both positions. So why not show the same diversity over women in leadership?

    • http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org Collin Hansen

      If you watch the video we posted yesterday, you’ll see TGC’s founders address that very question. Thanks for reading, Ian!

      • Ian

        Thanks for the prompt response, Colin. I’m planning to look at the video later but can’t at the moment.

  • Martin

    Lou G,

    Good words for all of us! Thank you.

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  • Pamela

    John Carpenter’s tone illustrates much of what is wrong with patriarchy/complementarianism.

    • Red

      I agree Pamela.

      I’m amazed at how much complementarianism looks like the Old Covenant’s brother. It’s rooted in patriarchy. It only gives the males, Jews, and Gentiles full right to their inheritance of sonship (women/sons are excluded from the gifts of pastor, teacher and leader). It teaches a male priesthood through the husband being the priest of the family (though in the New Covenant we all are priests). And it assings uncountable roles comps can’t all agree on or rules/laws through authority of the male, which if broken, is sin. In this way it looks like much hasn’t changed from the old to the new.

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  • kash

    Pamela analysing John’s tone try checking yours!

    If you do not like complementarians why do you come here and argue

    TGC is complementarian- deal with it!

    They are not hurting anyone and these churches do a better job of valuing God’s word and his authority and them being complementarian protects that.

    They are raising Godly men who are willing to protect , provide and die for their families , there is nothing worng with that and in fact it is much better than what egals have to offer, men with no Identity or purpose for their life.

    If you do not want a man to protect or provide for you and feel if it is an insult to women to ensure men protect and provide for their wives go and find and marry that kind of guy.

    Please do not come here and make portray godly men and women who respect God’s word as false teachers and any complementarian as a liar or hater of women.

    Another thing I want to point out to egals is regardless of whether they agree complementarians are wrong or not

    Men still have to be responsible to provide for their family cause that was Adam’s curse, and as far as I know women still have pain in childbearing/birth so I do not know why you desire to be “sexist” and free men from their curse.

    Lastly egals are all about power, everything they do is defined by power in the relationship, who has power when and where and the general sense is it is more positive if the women has it.

    Complementarians are about sacrifice, different roles exist as a sacrifice to each other and not for self fullfillment.

    Egalitarians also assume the stay at home mum is probably a dumb insignificant woman, even if she got her degree from a Yale (yes there are many stay at home mom’s who studied at Yale)

    • Ian

      kash, On the whole I believe that egalitarians conduct themselves in a far better way than complementarians. The sort of things you criticise are anything but commonplace and are totally frowned on.

      There is far more denigration from complementarians to egalitarians – eg look at the video in the post linked at the bottom of the article. Egalitarians recognise and respect complementarians as sincere christians – if only the opposite was true.

      But the one thing that stood out to me is your claim that “They [complementarians] are not hurting anyone”. With respect, that’s simply not true. There are plenty of people, men as well as women, who have been hurt by complementarians.

      Here’s one I read recently: “A long-time member of a baptist church was not allowed to have her funeral in the church since her son wanted two women to read Scriptures at his mother’s funeral”. How hurtful is that?

      There are plenty of other examples of hurt or even abuse being caused by complementarians. A theology that places one group in authority over another group has a much greater risk of causing harm than one which treats everyone as equal.

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