Complementarian Beliefs: Addressing Cultural Influences

I’ve been thinking long and hard about how I could critique egalitarianism in a meaningful way that can actually contribute, rather than repeat statements and conversations that have been made before. And considering the vast amount of resources that you can look at on the topic, I figure that it is best for me to keep this fairly simple and short. In the next few posts, I will be highlighting some key points in egalitarianism that kept screaming at me as I worked my way through the complementarian critiques.

What Culture?

One of the things that I appreciated most about the Danvers Statement was that the council provided a rationale for why they devised the statement in the first place. The influence of the culture was expressly mentioned twice in the rationale:

1. The widespread uncertainty and confusion in our culture regarding the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity;

10. and behind all this the apparent accommodation of some within the church to the spirit of the age at the expense of winsome, radical Biblical authenticity which in the power of the Holy Spirit may reform rather than reflect our ailing culture.

Now you can check out the Christian’s for Biblical Equality statement again, but you will see absolutely no mention or address of the culture or how the culture is influencing Christianity at all. And hearkening back to my college experience where discussing the influences of culture was the norm, this was one of the first things that stood out to me the most about egalitarianism. But let’s get on the same page first and define culture.

Culturethe sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, literature, music, and art, from one generation to the next. (The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)

Learning this definition during my freshman year, I spent the remaining years of college often having internal dialogues about the things that went on around me, and I also asked myself a lot of questions. I knew that our country was founded with some Christian principles in mind, but our culture was far from being Christian or even God-centered. So I wondered if the whole world is not Christian, then what does a real Christian look like today, and should I be making an effort to be different than the rest of the world as a Christian? And if so, to what extent should I be different as a Christian? But, should I reject everything in the culture, or are there some things that can be useful to me as a Christian? Later on, my husband would ask me this question in a new way: How is every area of our lives distinctly Christian?

With this in mind, it has not appeared to me how egalitarians are addressing the influence of culture in their beliefs. Whereas complementarians directly mentioned the influence the culture is having in the hearts and minds of Christians throughout the church, egalitarians have largely remained silent on that particular topic. And it has caused me to wonder if egalitarians are aware that they are being influenced by the culture, and if they see the need to exercise discernment over how these things are influencing them.

As Christians, we have to be able to distinguish and isolate. We have to be able to discern, scrutinize, test, and yes, discriminate. We are called to destroy arguments and lofty opinions that assail the knowledge of God, and we must be able to buffet our own thoughts (as well as the thoughts of others) when they began to fall out of line with what is taught in the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). We are engaged in a real spiritual war that has real consequences and real casualties, and I encourage my egalitarian brothers and sisters to consider these questions in light of that battle on their own time:

Do you believe that the culture has or is influencing your views and interpretations of the Bible? If so, is that proper, and should it be allowed to continue? Do you believe that there is a spirit of the age that you need to be aware of? And if so, how are you able to detect it and stand against it?

3 thoughts on “Complementarian Beliefs: Addressing Cultural Influences

  1. I finally have gotten a chance to sit down and read through your series. Thank you for such thoughtful and discerning articles. It is fascinating to me to see how the CBE statements contain emotionally heavy words, such as “loser” and “freedom”, whereas the Danvers Statement is more cut-and-dry. Please gather all the articles into a table of contents when you’re done!

  2. Pingback: Complementarian Beliefs: Biblical Consistency | CredoCovenant

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