Where Do Women Belong?
March 13, 2008
“Never make a principle out of your experience. Allow God to be as original with other people as He is with you.” -Oswald Chambers
Hey All! My name is Tia Lynn and I blog over at Abandon Image. Linda, this site’s gracious creator, asked if I’d cross post my ongoing series on biblical equality. March is Women’s History Month, so it’s a perfect time to address this very important topic.
The last few months I have been researching biblical equality as it pertains to the roles within marriage and roles within public church life. I absorbed so much information from both complementarian and egalitarian camps that my brain is starting to seep out of my ears. However, I have gained some imperative insight into the Bible’s most bizarre and difficult verses to interpret from a consistent, holistic-scriptural-perspective, taking cultural and historical contexts, as well as original language into account. Since there is SO much information on the subject of women in church leadership and gender roles within a marriage (and society), I will be putting together a series of posts on various topics. So stay tuned!
For now, I will leave you with a summary of the beliefs of both complementarianism and egalitarianism for clarity purposes.
Derived from the French word égal, meaning equal or level, also known as biblical equality, is a recent adaptation of the historic moral doctrine of Egalitarianism which holds that people should be treated as equals. Ultimately, Egalitarianism holds that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth and moral status.
Christian Egalitarianism holds that all people are equal before God and in Christ. All have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God. God freely calls believers to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race.
According to Christian Egalitarianism, gender equality in Christian church leadership (including pastors) and in Christian marriage is biblically sound. Its theological foundations are interpretations of the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and other New Testament principles. It refers to the biblically-based belief that gender, in and of itself, neither privileges nor curtails a believer’s gifting or calling to any ministry in the church or home. It does not imply that women and men are identical or undifferentiated. Christian Egalitarianism affirms that God designed men and women to complement and benefit one another.
Complementarianism is a term to describe a theological view held by some Christians that differing, non-overlapping roles between men and women, manifested in marriage, church leadership, and elsewhere, is biblically required. The term Complementarian was coined in recent years and largely replaces today what previously was known as the Traditionalist or Hierarchical view of gender relationships. It comes from the tenet that men and women are designed to complement one another. The opposing viewpoint is Christian egalitarianism which maintains that there are no biblically-required distinctions between men and women in marriage, church leadership, or elsewhere.Complementarianism holds that “God has created men and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different and complementary in function with male headship in the home and in the Church.” Unlike the historic Christian Traditionalist or Hierarchical patriarchal perspective of gender relationships, complementarianism maintains that men and women are equal in the sense that they bear God’s image equally. But with respect to roles in the church and in marriage, gender-based differences determine or restrict the roles appropriate for each. Specifically, there are requirements of men, and restrictions on women.
The complementarian position has clear implications for the ordination of women as well as for Christian views of marriage. Men are expected to take spiritual responsibility, often called headship, for leadership in the home and in the church. Women are restricted from holding the teaching office of the church and from spiritual leadership in the home and in marriage.
next post: adam and eve: the first egalitarians?