I set out earlier this week to write a post about all of the beauty in Complementarianism. If you google Complementarianism, you’ll find any number of legit websites that explain and define the term for you, but I’ll also give you a quick explanation that stems from my understanding. Basically, a Complementarian believes that men and women were created by God to fill different, but complementary and equal roles: leader men and helper women.
I am a Complementarian.
I’ve read any number of books on gender roles. Of course I’ve read Elizabeth Elliot and a decent amount of stuff from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I’ve also read some Feminist literature (even some recommended by a certain academic I live with).
And here’s the deal – for this post, I started out by making a list of those things that stir my affections and fill me with love for the role I believe God has created me for. Here’s as far as I got with the list:
- “Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
- “Helper” – Just like the Holy Spirit
- Submission is what Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane
- Earning the trust of a man’s heart
- Gentle and vulnerable
The items on this list truly touch my heart. The call to humbly submit to the leadership/will of another the way Jesus submitted to the will of the Father takes my breath away. “If it be possible, take this cup from me, but Your will and not mine be done.”
But if you’ll notice, there’s nothing on this list about scrapbooking, serving in a church nursery or homeschooling my kids. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those things; they’re just the most visible aspects of Complementarian culture. We teach our men to lead, and we teach our women to be wives and mommies.
Now, don’t get me wrong,
it’s SO important to build up godly, leader men…
but at the risk of seeming incredibly childish, I ask: what about me?
What about singles who won’t be married until they’re 50?
What about singles who will never be married?
What about women who hate changing diapers but love Jesus?
And don’t give me that balogna sandwich about how nearly all people get married. A huge portion of those people also end up single again after marriage.
When I’m honest, my current struggles with figuring out what God is doing in my life stem from the conflict between church culture and biblical womanhood.
There are some changes happening at my church. You can read about them from Pastor Mike by clicking here.
Let me start by stating that I share some of his enthusiasm, but there are also a lot of things about this change that give cause for concern. My biggest worry is that the church we’d be merging with doesn’t seem to know how to use singles… which isn’t necessarily an indication of anything bad. And God doesn’t need the church to have a plan for using singles.
God has a plan for using me.
Yet I’m not thrilled about the message it sends to single women for a church not to have a plan for using them: the message that women need men in order to be valuable. That the church can’t use us. That we can’t serve well until we’ve got a pretty ring and a few kids.
Which leads us to the mentality that plagues our young women already:
get a man at all costs!
We all know that’s not what God is saying to single women. Yet, it’s a message that’s absolutely communicated, and in particular communicated by Complementarian churches. The pastor can give a sermon with brilliant biblical content emphasizing the value of singleness and/or the value of women, but if the culture reminds us of the marriage that we may never be called to, the kids we may never home-school, the ways we won’t be used in the church rather than the ways we will be, we are led to rest our identities in our success or failure to attain those things. We have to focus on Jesus inspite of the church rather than with the help of the church.
Who knows? Maybe these first glimpses I’ve had of the church we’re looking at marrying (you like my word choice?) are incomplete. Maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t there or missing things that are… but thus far, I’ve felt an awful lot like… I don’t know… like the plan is for me to assimilate.
In true, non-traditional Complementarian style, I have to now reference Star Trek “Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.”
And I don’t want to be assimilated. I won’t become a Borg! God created me to be a unique member of the body. 7 of 9 may have been smokin’, but she wasn’t special.
Seriously, though – this issue is SO close to my heart. I’ve been struggling to understand and live out femininity for my entire life. God has guided me from conceited feminist athlete bent on success to occasionally humble Complementarian daughter hoping towards His glory. Yet labeling me a Complementarian doesn’t come close to communicating my thoughts about womanhood. Nor does labeling a church as Complementarian come close to communicating its heart. And while there’s nothing overtly, obviously off about the theology our partner church presents, I’m tired of listening to sermons where the example is always marriage. Sermons about sin, grace, sanctification, justification, love, and forgiveness don’t all have to also be about marriage. They don’t all have to be about the Complementarian agenda. Jesus didn’t select a group to target and preach to them. He didn’t die for wives who cart their five kids around in mini-vans. He died for everyone. He died for men and women. He died for the young and the old. He died for suburbia and tiny villages and cities. He died for me.
So ought we to preach HIM with every ounce of our being? I’m tired of the gospel of marriage consuming our conversations, sermons and identities.