Complementarian in Theory, Egalitarian in Practise

Published November 29, 2016 by courtshippers

Some words I have been throwing around the blog lately include complementarian and egalitarian and some of you might be confused what I mean. These words describe two different theories when it comes to marriage and church roles. To define them simply, complementarians believe women pastors should not exist and the wife is to be submissive to her husband while egalitarians believe women have the same ministry opportunities and are equal to men in marriage.

So today, I thought I would try and define my beliefs when it comes to the two.

Firstly, after much investigation into the matter, I hold to the egalitarian belief that women, just like men, can be preachers and pastors. There were a number of women throughout the Bible who held positions of authority and particularly compelling cases include Phoebe, a deacon who Paul exhorted (why would he do that if women could not be pastors?) and Junia, an apostle who Paul also exhorted (why would he do that?). Today however, I want to particularly focus on my perspective of marriage.

I have been on both sides of the debate. For a number of years I was a strict complementarian, but within the last year I began to study the egalitarian beliefs and soon switched to their side. I now sit in the middle and I now believe that the two go hand-in-hand, leaving me to say that I am complementarian in theory and egalitarian in practise.

Here’s why:

Before the Fall, God did not dish out marital roles for both Adam and Eve. They functioned together in an equal and loving relationship. There is no record of Adam demanding submission or Eve being a brat. We do however live in the post-fall world and since have had marital roles given. These marital roles can be read in Ephesians 5 where husbands are told to love like Christ and women are told to submit. I do believe in this, as the Word is final.

But then, what does this look like in practise? From the complementarian side, there are many levels of the practise of complementarian. Some believe that husbands make big decisions and that’s about it while others believe the husband is to dictate anything and everything the wife does. On the other side of spectrum, egalitarians believe that there are no roles at all and therefore both just work as a team. And it is this teamwork that I believe in.

There is no-where in the Bible that says a husband is to choose who the wife votes for in the election or has to make the big decisions. However, it clearly demands submission from the wife. BUT THEN, people forget that only a scripture or so above this, Paul instructs people to submit to each other. See, when Paul wrote the epistles, he did not have the fancy headings we see in our Bibles today. There was no pause to symbol that, that part of the conversation was over. That was inserted by man. Therefore, I believe that in practise, I am egalitarian in the sense of I believe both husband and wife submit to one another and work as a team.

I’d like to encourage everyone to research the topic because it has been one of great interest to me over the last couple of years. Where do you sit on the spectrum? Are you Complementarian or Egalitarian? Are you like me?



~ C




3 comments on “Complementarian in Theory, Egalitarian in Practise

  • As a single Christian, I find that complementarianism’s rules unduly marginalize what I can do in the church. It seems as if Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7 no longer apply when marriage is a prerequisite for just about everything these days. For this reason, I like egalitarian ideology that says that men and women, single and married are all on level ground – that way my hands aren’t tied behind my back and I can use my skills and talents fully to serve God.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your input Jamie! Yes, I’ve definitely struggled with complementarism. I’m thinking of doing a blog on the Biblical proof of women pastors and preachers because there’s just so much. Sadly, people only choose to look at a single verse rather then read the context on what was going on behind the text.

      Liked by 1 person

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