Gospel Issues: An Open Letter to Western Evangelicals

With a small amount of interest, I have occasionally turned my gaze on the provocative happenings in the world of Evangelicalism. Just to be fair, by a very loose definition, I would be considered an Evangelical, though I prefer the term Protestant or, even better, Reformed Baptist. Read me right, though. I’m not bashing the movement. As one whose hope is set intently on the inheritance being kept for me, which works to embolden my faith in Christ Jesus, I have a love and fervent concern for all the saints (Col. 1:3-5). However, I grow weary when exposed too long to the internet sensationalism surrounding much of Western Evangelicalism. I trust that many of our readers can relate.

Gospel Minimalism

Evangelicals, at the very least, are marked by a central concern for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By this definition of Evangelicalism, I consider myself among the fold. However, many in recent days have taken to a minimalistic practice of Evangelicalism in which Christians are encouraged to focus almost exclusively on the Gospel, with very little emphasis on other very important doctrines in the Christian faith. Within this same fold are those who, wanting to minimize all non-Gospel issues as far secondary, have taken to labeling every issue under the sun a “Gospel issue.” So, they minimize all Christian doctrine that is not the Gospel while, at the same time, broadening the Gospel so that it encompasses far more than what the Bible teaches.

This is an understandable position to take if you are a Gospel-minimalist. If all issues are unimportant, or of minimal significance, unless they touch the Gospel in some way, you must demonstrate how any issue that is important to you touches the Gospel. As a result, Gospel-minimalists seem to be bending over backward to demonstrate how their pet issues are Gospel-issues. This hermeneutical technique requires such interpretive gymnastics in order to arrive at the intended conclusions that it can easily leave onlookers’ heads reeling.

I’m not arguing that the issues in question shouldn’t come under the umbrella and influence of the Gospel. They should, and all issues in that sense are Gospel-issues. Everything for the Christian, to a certain degree, is subject to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether we’re talking about race relations, the environment, gun control, taxes, family life, work, etc., etc., etc., the Gospel impacts every area of life. The problem arises when someone comes to endorse one particular solution to one of these issues—a solution that is not the direct result of their study of the Gospel—and then they claim that, because the issue itself is a “Gospel-issue,” Christians must without exception adopt the same solution to addressing the issue that they do.

Gospel-Issues or Gospel-Solutions

This line of argumentation fails to account for certain very important nuances within the Christian community. To say that racism is a Gospel-issue is not an incorrect statement. However, to say that only one approach to alleviating the church of racism is the correct “Gospel” approach is dishonest at the very least. Nor is it incorrect to say that orphans and widows are a Gospel-issue. However, to say that others don’t have a proper handle on the Gospel because they are convinced of the merits of a different solution than you is disingenuous at best.

The difference is a categorical difference. Simply because a brother in Christ has a different approach to solving the problem, which you both recognize as a problem, does not mean that he doesn’t recognize the implications the Gospel brings to bear on that issue. Rather, it means that his culture, his education and, more generally, his life experiences bring him to vastly different conclusions as to how to solve this Gospel-issue.

The issue itself is a Gospel-issue insofar as all things in the life of the Christian touch the Gospel at some point. However, the approach to solving it may not be shaped by the Gospel. In fact, the Gospel message itself often offers no practical, “how-to” solutions for the woes of society. It simply exposes them as woes in the minds and consciences of believers. The Gospel will often compel us to act without giving us the necessary guidelines on how to act in every particular instance.

Gospel Zeal

For instance, we understand that the two Great Commandments teach us to love God and love our neighbor. As a result of the regenerating work of the gospel and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Christians are now enabled to recognize where we need to grow in our love for God and love for neighbor, and we are now enabled to act out of love for God and love for our neighbor. The grace of God makes us zealous for good deeds (Tit. 2:11-14), but zeal without reason is foolhardy.

Christians are to temper our zeal with sound judgment. The gospel and the grace it bears emboldens Christians with a godly zeal necessary to live lives that are pleasing to our Father in heaven. However, without the tools for navigating the nuances of cultural discernment, many of us will fall into pitfalls and commit our Gospel-fueled zeal to unprofitable ends. We recognize that the Gospel emboldens us to take action and be “salt and light” in the world, so we ride off into battle without the proper weapons and armor of our warfare.

As a result, we call for action that does the opposite of what we intend. We don’t rightly understand economics, so we call for actions on the part of the government that we think help the poor when really they are the very things doing them the most harm. We don’t rightly understand the best means for preserving human life, so we call for measures to be put in place by the government that we think will minimize violent crimes and death, but those very measures make people more vulnerable to violent criminals and devalues human life. We don’t rightly understand the biblical teaching on ethnicity, so we call for measures from state and church authorities that encourage deeper divisions rather than promoting unity across ethnicities. And those are just three issues of concern.

The Gospel Hammer

Worst of all, many who promote these counter-productive solutions seek to reinforce their arguments for them by appealing to the Gospel. They (rightly) recognize that every Christian must come under the shadow of the cross when considering the issue about which they are concerned. Subsequently, they recognize that this issue touches the Gospel, in one way or another, the moment a Christian comes to consider it. Wrongly, though, they assume that their approach must be the only Gospel-centered approach to solving their issue.

This approach to addressing issues within our cultures and within our local churches has an undercurrent of gracelessness. It assumes, “If someone else’s approach to solving this Gospel-issue is different than mine, this person is not as Gospel-centered as I am.” Allow me to play the role of peacemaker, here, and call for a little more Christian charity and mercy in regard to these issues.

Simply because someone recognizes the Gospel compels us to act on an issue does not make their subsequent action necessarily right. Just because someone disagrees with your action when you were the first to point out the fact that the problem at hand is a Gospel-issue does not mean the person in question is not Gospel-centered. You don’t have the right to use the Gospel as a hammer to bash your brother in the faith simply because he endorses a different solution to the problem you both recognize. So allow me to call for a moratorium.

A Call for Gospel Grace

Let’s stop saying issues are Gospel-issues, as though not all issues should come under the authority of the cross in the Christian life. Let’s recognize that all issues to one degree or another are Gospel-issues, which means none of them are Gospel-issues in the way Western Evangelicals use (more appropriately: abuse) the term. Let’s stop telling Christians they have to endorse the exact same solutions we do, or they aren’t Gospel-centered enough. The world is more nuanced than that.

We should feel free to point out problems in our world, but then we should be humble enough to ask, “What can be done about this?” rather than shouting one another down when we have difficulty arriving at a consensus. Wasn’t it our Savior who said: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy”? Let’s endeavor to show one another a little more mercy. Let’s stop using the Gospel as a hammer to bash one another when we disagree on how to solve problems. Rather, let’s commit to listen to one another, pray, submit ourselves to the Gospel, educate ourselves so we can make the most informed decision possible, and commit to following our consciences in the zeal God has granted us by His grace.

Soli Deo Gloria

The Document No Man Can Shred

When my daughter sets her mind to something, she’s always devastated when she doesn’t get it. I try to tell her that she should not invest so much hope in the object, but she inevitably sets herself up for disappointment. If we adults are honest, we do it too. I would argue that many of us have done so in recent years. We have placed our hope in men’s words, when really we should be putting our hope in the word of our God in heaven.

The Shredded Constitution

Nothing new to your ears, I’m sure, but the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) handed down a major decision yesterday. SCOTUS essentially broke contract with the states by interpreting the United States Constitution in such a way that gave them permission to override the sovereignty of the states and the voice of the people who had voted in those states. Now, the states are left with little recourse and few who are willing to do what’s necessary to reverse course, politically.

“It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding” (Dan. 2:21; NASB).

In essence, what SCOTUS did was to shred the constitution indefinitely. All doors are open now, and there are no borders. Power has been centralized in the hands of 5 unelected, rogue individuals who seem dead set on redefining biblical institutions to slap God in the face (Psalm 2). But all is not doom and gloom.

A Constitution to Elevate Religious Freedom

The American Constitution was a document framed in a day and age when most on this continent actually cared what the Bible had to say. It worked as a framework to elevate a largely Christian collective of citizens, much like how a pulpit elevates the word of God. The Constitution was a sort of handmaid to support a nation largely comprised of Christians and carries that baggage with it into our current anti-Christian culture. So it should be no wonder that those who hate Christ and His bride would trample underfoot a document that has for nearly two and a half centuries provided Christians (but all religions really) freedom to live, and speak, and operate according to the dictates of their faith.

The problem for us (Christians) comes when we place our faith in that which elevates us in society over against that which elevates us to our God. As an American and a Texan, I am personally incensed at how this once great document has been shredded by the very court that is tasked with upholding it to the letter. As a Christian, though, I must remind myself that my faith is not founded on that document, but another.

When Religious Freedom Is Taken

In Eastern Europe, there resides a once great nation called Romania. In its glory days, they had a dynasty with great riches and were adored by all. In World War I, they took a neutral stance and were largely unaffected by the war. However, in the days leading up to World War II, they made the unalterable mistake of siding with Hitler and the Nazi regime. When the war started, Hitler placed a puppet government over Romania. When that was overthrown by the Soviets, they placed a puppet government over Romania themselves. That government remained in power until 1989 when it was overthrown in the December Revolution. Romania has limped along ever since.

During the time of Communist power in Romania, religious persecution was rampant, especially for Protestants. A Lutheran pastor by the name of Richard Wurmbrand was imprisoned. He was placed in solitary confinement for much of his imprisonment and regularly subjected to torture. He had no contact with the outside world and did not even know whether or not his wife was still alive. The only comfort he had was his God, and the only access he had to God’s word was the amount that he had committed to memory.

“Your word I have treasured in my heart,

That I may not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11; NASB).

Our Proper Fixation

We spend a lot of time fixating on those things we think will bring us ultimate fulfillment in this life. For me, one of those things is politics. I am opinionated about most things, but especially about politics. This is not a bad hobby to have, but when it becomes a fixation, it can be deadly open_bible_by_rachel_titiriga_-_creative_commonsdangerous. We can start to focus so much on these things and invest so much of our hope and our dreams in these things that they become idols to us. I love the American Constitution, and if I’m not careful, it can become an idol.

What we need today is not to invest so much hope in a man-made document like the Constitution. What we need is to invest our energies in God’s word. We need to be reading it, studying it, sitting under the preaching of it, memorizing it, and meditating on it. And when that day comes when we are locked away with no contact to the outside world and no access to written materials, we can then say that we have the comfort of God, because we’ve stored up His word in our hearts.

We could spend our time storing up a man-made document in our hearts, but what would be the point of that? There will always come a day when such documents will be shredded and trampled underfoot. “The grass withers, the flower fades.” There is one document that we can be sure will always endure, though.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8; NASB).

Conclusion

Let us then commit ourselves to that which is lasting, that which is sure, that which will never fail us: God’s word. With the same fervor, let us lay aside our ever-disappointing hopes that we can find any lasting security in men’s words. Our security is found in Christ, and Christ is only to be found in the word of God.

The Sins of Our Celebrities

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion on the interwebs about the proper Christian response to a repentant celebrity who has admitted to heinous crimes. The general consensus among many is that if we have been forgiven by the gospel, and if the celebrity in question has been forgiven through the gospel, we too ought to forgive them as we have been forgiven. Those who would offer any contrary opinion on this matter are then accused of not understanding or “living out” the gospel in their response to these Evangelical celebrities. Many others are simply at a loss for how to respond at all, or whether or not they should. I REALLY did not want to post anything about this. I tweeted about it earlier, but at my wife’s insistence, I have agreed to write this little blurb. All I will do is seek to explain what I have already tweeted. My tweets read as follows:

“It’s neither my place to judge, nor defend, nor forgive any celebrity child molesters. I leave that to God, their church, and the victims.”

…and…

“I wonder what a price the church in the West has had to pay as a result of the celebrity culture that has infiltrated her.”

First, regarding the specific case in question (I’m not going to name names), I have been asked if I think the family handled the matter incorrectly. I don’t know all the details. From what I can tell from what I’ve been told, the family handled things fairly well, as did the local church, as did the criminal who committed the criminal act. The criminal admitted to his crimes and repented of his sins, the family reported him to the authorities, and the local church investigated the matter thoroughly. However, the police seem to have dropped the ball. Besides the police, though, I will say that I think that a lot of Evangelicals are responding in a very improper way. I believe they are responding in an improper way because, in most cases, it is not their place to respond.

There are several questions that seem appropriate here before determining to tweet, blog, comment, re-post, share, etc. Let’s get into them: handcuffed-hands-kevin-curtis

1. Am I God?

Unless you are crazy, we can pretty much agree to the answer to this one. We are not God. As such, in most cases, it is not our place to judge, redeem, forgive, defend, or punish the person in question. That was an easy one. Next question.

2. Am I the victim?

Now, I feel the need to clarify here, because many are making the perpetrator in this case out to be the victim. I’m not talking about him. I’m talking about the little girls he molested. They are the only victims here. If you are not God and you are not the victims, it is not your place to forgive this man for his crimes. It’s just not. Next question.

3. Am I a member or leader in his local church?

If you are, you probably have reason to discuss these matters when they come before the church to be dealt with, and you should probably seek the counsel of your leaders before letting your kids be alone with the man. However, blogging, tweeting, etc., should probably be out of the question.

4. Have your previously, publicly endorsed the man?

This is important. Too often in evangelicalism, pastors endorse men to their congregations and to other pastors that they know to be volatile and reckless, only to respond with utter silence when those men destroy churches and go on speaking circuits seeking to justify their sins without any true repentance. But I digress. If you have publicly endorsed this man in the past, you may feel a need to either retract your previous statements or explain why you still endorse him. However, if you’re not a nationally known mega-church, multi-site pastor, silence may still be the best answer.

5. Are you just defending him because he’s a celebrity?

You shouldn’t say anything.

6. Are you just using this situation as an ice-breaker to start conversations about the gospel?

You should probably find a better ice-breaker.

As a final note, I would just remind you that there are real victims here. To defend a man on the basis that he has been forgiven through the gospel only turns the gospel into a tool to keep victims silent. You may not realize it, but in defending this man, you may be perpetuating the stigma of hopelessness that keeps current victims from speaking out against those who are presently victimizing them. I don’t even think the man you are trying to defend would want that.

Finally, if you have celebrity idols in your life, I would encourage you to turn them over to God. If you find yourself getting overly defensive over your favorite celebrity pastor, or if you find that your favorite Christian actor or TV personality can do no wrong in your eyes, you probably have an unhealthy fixation on them. You should probably diversify your interests in these areas so that your identity is not so wrapped up with theirs. Listen to dozens of pastors instead of just four. Hold loosely to your fascination with celebrities who claim the name of Christ. If you find that you are utterly unable to do these things, these celebrities may just have become idols in your life, idols from which you need to repent.

Well, that’s all I got. I welcome discussion in the comments section. Let’s try to keep it civil.

Lessons for the Developing Complementarian Journey

Along this journey of examining the beliefs of complementarians and egalitarians, I’ve gone through a bit of a personal transformation. But mostly, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the pressures of this world, and how truly difficult it is to be changed by the Word of God and conformed to the image of Christ in this age. It is very difficult, but we know that with God, all things are possible and that He always accomplishes His purposes. So, I would like to offer some brief lessons that I have learned during our short course of marriage so far that may be of some benefit to Christian women who are struggling with their own native egalitarian tendencies while growing in grace as complementarians.

  1. Determine the source of your current beliefs and feelings

The first lesson I have learned is to figure out where the things that I believe and the feelings I have regarding my role in the marriage come from, and I think this is important for every person to consider. Do your views come from how you were raised? Perhaps, your views come from your larger cultural/societal upbringing? Do your views come from past responses to bad experiences and circumstances? Maybe they come from the Word of God? And possibly, do they come from several different places all at once?

Wherever your beliefs and feelings come from, it is important that you are able to identify them properly because this greatly aids you in being able to discern whether or not those beliefs and behaviors should be changed, discarded, or kept as you move forward in your Christian walk. Moreover, going through this process of asking and answering questions will allow you to begin to deal with past issues that you may have stuffed deep into the recesses of your mind and never wanted to deal with in the first place.

  1. Accept the past as the past

Now that I’ve mentioned dealing with the past, I’ve remembered how important this lesson has been to both my husband and me: accept your past as the past.

Having worked at a women’s college and being as chatty as I am, I’ve heard countless stories from people about their “past” throughout my life. And I can honestly tell you that there are a lot of hurt people walking around this world, and I am included in that number. I’ve gone through situations that have caused me to walk in fear for most of my life and had me wrestling with paranoia, extreme anxiety, burdensome guilt, a seared conscious that would not heal, and haunting memories that always stole the peace away from my heart and mind. But I had this one blessed truth to hold on to:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

And I quickly learned to hold onto this truth as well:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

I pray that if you are finding yourself struggling to let go of things, especially guilt, and even when you feel accused and condemned in your own mind that you would cling to the truth of the gospel, the very good news that we have in Christ. If you have truly repented of your sins, you have a brand new life in Christ…a brand new life that you are fully able to live to His glory by His grace alone. So by His grace, cling to this truth, believe it, and continue to confess it.

  1. Read and understand the Word the right way

I think that the worst thing I ever did was to read all of the passages in the Bible that pertained to wives and women and try to just live them out. It was dumb. And it is incredibly disheartening. I mean, just take a look at Proverbs 31:10-31, and try to start doing everything on that list today. You will wear yourself out!

What I’ve learned is to rightly read the Word of God. Don’t just read a couple of verses here and there to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing, but read the whole chapter or even the whole book/epistle to get a clear understanding of what the Lord is saying. If you are reading Ephesians 5:22-24 alone, without considering the foundation that is laid in Ephesians 1-3 and the subsequent call to walk worthy of what we have received in the Lord beginning in chapter 4, then you won’t understand why submitting to your husband is important, and you definitely won’t have a good reason for why you are doing it in the first place. I encourage you to read all of God’s Word, and especially remember to read in context.

  1. Talk to your spouse

If my husband and I ever wrote a book offering marital advice, every other chapter would be entitled: Talk to your spouse! I know it sounds funny, but it is really easy to get advice from other people about what works in their marriage relationship (or what didn’t work) and apply it to your own marriage. And I just want to tell you to STOP!!! DON’T DO THAT!!!

Ladies, if you are married, you are the wife of one man…not everybody else’s man. Talk to your husband. Seriously, talk to your own husband. Get those kids distracted, get a good dessert, and sit down and talk to your husband. Talk about each of your expectations in the marriage. Talk about each of your desires. Talk about what you each want from the other. And I’m not going to tell you those conversations will go perfectly smoothly, but it is far better to have those conversations than to have unmet expectations and feeling unappreciated because you’re doing things that your spouse generally doesn’t like or never wanted you to do in the first place. (Been there, and done that.) Just go talk. It always helps your marriage, and it will help you.

  1. Don’t be afraid to work

One thing that I had to learn was to stop expecting personal miracles once I became a wife and especially after I became a mother. Just because I was a Christian and desired to have a godly marriage and become the perfect, godly housewife did not mean that God just snapped His fingers and changed me overnight. In fact, I haven’t experienced any miracles at all. I wasn’t transformed in a day, or even a week, few months, or years.

Instead, by God’s grace and through divine providence, I’ve learned to challenge myself over the years to do things I never wanted to do. So I’ve learned to make basic dresses for my daughter because it was cheaper than buying new clothes every few months for every growth spurt while we’re paying off debt. I’ve learned how to make bread (without a stand mixer or bread machine, I should add), and I even have a nice burn mark on my arm as a reminder of when I caught the dough on fire in the oven. I’ve expanded my repertoire of things I know how to cook well while also compiling a list of dishes that came out really badly and never ever need to be done again. It’s been hard work, and I’m accepting the fact that it will always be hard work. I encourage you to embrace it.

Challenge yourself to learn something new. Better yet, challenge yourself to get better at the things that could benefit your family the most. Use your family as your motivation to keep pressing forward and learn as you go. Some of you may feel motivated to start a garden to cut back on your food budget. Others might want to try cooking more to cut back on spending money at restaurants. I’ll be learning how to navigate the stock market and make wise investments because that’s something we want to do in the future. I say all of this to say, stop expecting overnight miracles. You are going to have to work at it.

  1. Don’t be afraid of changing

Let me perfectly honest here: Marriage will change you. Parenthood will change you. Your priorities change. How you want to spend your free time changes. Your definition of ‘fun’ changes. Even my love languages changed before and after marriage and after having our daughter. In a nutshell, I’ve changed, and I know that I’m going to keep on changing as the years go by. And so will you.

Now, we can bemoan these changes, or we can accept the fact that God is always at work within our lives. Through His mysterious providence, He brings things into our lives and removes things from our lives to force us to change, to cause us to bear fruit for His glory. And His way of doing it is absolutely perfect and fail-proof. Always remember we serve a faithful, omnipotent God who is mighty to save and relentless in accomplishing His own purposes in our lives for His own glory. And that means that we are all being changed.

In conclusion…

Ultimately, as Christians, we know that the world is opposed to God and His way of doing things. We know this to be true because we once also opposed it. However, we have been brought into the household of faith, and we are called to walk worthy of that calling that we have received. I encourage all of you, but most especially my fellow sisters in the faith, to keep on walking faithfully to the Lord. Be fully convinced in what you believe and why you believe it. Endure the hardships, the backbiting, the insults, and the lack of support from loved ones as you strive to glorify God through your marriage and in your role as a wife and mother. Remain encouraged by the knowledge that you do not strive and labor alone because many are striving with you and many have gone on to claim their reward in heaven. Finally, I pray that this series has been encouraging for all of you, and that the short lessons provided in this blog offer you some encouragement as you continue in your walk. Blessings!

Why I Am Not Opposed to Accountability Software

I’ve heard the arguments: “If you are truly indwelt and walking by the Spirit, you should not succumb to the temptation of internet pornography.” “External systems of constraint don’t solve the internal issue of the soul.” “You don’t mortify sin by mere external means.” To all of these I fully agree. No work to mortify the flesh will ever be complete apart from regularly partaking of the ordinary means of grace. Is that really the question, though? Let’s apply this logic to another area of Christian warfare.

Business People Sitting Around TableLet’s say a physically attractive pastor is counseling a young, physically attractive woman who has just found out that her husband is cheating on her. By the logic used above, the pastor should have no fear of counseling her alone, should he? I mean, if he is truly indwelt and walking by the Spirit, he should not succumb to the temptation of adultery. Besides, having others sit in with them won’t solve the internal issue of their souls. Seriously, though, you can’t mortify their lusts by mere external means, right?

For all of the arguments I’ve heard from some pastors against using accountability software for internet use, I find it quite hypocritical that they still use common sense when guarding themselves from sexual sin. The problem is not with the use of online accountability software; there’s wisdom in it. The problem is when people become sola software in their battle against pornography.

We are to be Sola Scriptura in our approach to all matters of faith and obedience. However, we are not to be Sola Scriptura to the exclusion and utter denial of “the light of nature and Christian prudence” (LBCF 1.6). There are certain aspects of the Christian life which require that we operate with the common sense that God gave everyone. Accountability may not have worked for David (2 Sam. 11:3-4), but that’s not because he didn’t need accountability. It’s because he relied solely on accountability without addressing the deeper issues of his soul.

But what about Paul’s warning against asceticism in Colossians 2?

If you have died with Christ [x]to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,“Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Col. 2:20-23; NASB).

Notice what Paul says about the nature of the things he is talking about. He defines them as “things destined to perish with use.” In other words, they are things created for a good use that do not defile the body. Pornography is not among these things. Thus, in regard to pornography, you are not an ascetic if you “do not handle, do not taste, and do not touch.” In fact, Paul further goes on to argue that the things to which he refers are “in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men.” However, when we talk about accountability and self-control in the area of pornography, we are talking about the commandments and teachings of God, not men. So, Colossians 2 obviously does not apply to this situation. To seek accountability in battling lust is far from “self-made religion”; it is of God.

So, the next time you counsel someone on how to handle his pornographic sin, don’t be so quick to discount the wisdom of accountability software. It won’t work all by itself, but neither will accountability in the preacher’s counseling office. The issues of the soul must be remedied in a manner that’s in keeping with Sola Scriptura, but not to the expense of “the light of nature and Christian prudence.”

Complementarian Beliefs: Tackling the What and Where of the Problem

I am long overdue for wrapping up this series, and I apologize for the longer than expected delays if you are following this. But in this blog I will offer one more critique for egalitarians, and prayerfully, I will finish up in one more blog with some meaningful suggestions that I can offer to any woman who finds herself struggling between her natural egalitarian tendencies and submitting to the authority of Scripture on the matter.

Now, if you have read Christian’s for Biblical Equality’s statement, you will immediately recognize the emotionally-heavy language this is used throughout the document. You will read about “devices designed to make women feel inferior for being female” and “becoming the perennial loser” and even freedom from what they believe is “unbiblical ‘traditionalism’”. And to think about these things like any normal person, I don’t believe that any woman wants to see herself as being inferior just because of her sex or always feel like she has to give up everything about her life just to fit the mold of what history and tradition say a woman should be. Basically, no woman wants to feel oppressed, and you surely don’t want to feel oppressed by the Bible and its teachings. So the question comes down to this: How do you deal with the thing that is seemingly oppressing you and forcing you to do and become someone you are not?

Short Story

Growing up, I was the middle child sandwiched between two brothers. We lived in the country, and outside of school, we spent most of our days playing outside. I enjoyed most of the adventures my brothers and I went on, and we had a lot of fun. But I HATED being a girl! I couldn’t stand it. I hated wearing dresses, and I especially abhorred the tights my mom made me wear during those hot Virginia summers. I didn’t like ribbons in my hair because I thought they looked stupid. I hated getting my hair done at all, and training bras were the bane of my existence. If you couldn’t figure it out, I just wanted to be a boy like my brothers.

In my opinion, their lives were far better than mine! Haircuts took 10-15 minutes, and all they had to remember was run a brush over their heads in the morning. They got to wear pants or “dress shorts” to church (I despised them for those dress shorts). They never got in trouble for playing or showing up a little dirty. They could play contact sports (my mom wouldn’t let me try out for the football team). And overall, they seemed to have far more freedom in their life than I did as a girl. I hated the difference, and I wanted to be a boy. I even told my mom that one day….I’m guessing she didn’t take that well. But it was how I felt, and I continued to feel that way as I grew up. Even with having crushes on guys, I just hated having to be “feminine”. And I wasn’t sure what it would mean for my future (i.e. would I actually get married, would I want to get married, would I have to change and be more “ladylike” in the future, etc.), but I knew I just didn’t like it at all.

Addressing the Conflict

The internal conflict with my feelings was always there because I was raised in the church. I read the Bible. I saw Christian women, and even as a child, I had a general sense of what was expected of me as a female. I just didn’t like it, and eventually, I realized I had a major problem. Let me bring in this excellent quote from Dr. Al Mohler:

Most Americans believe that their major problem is something that has happened to them, and that their solution is to be found within. In other words, they believe that they have an alien problem that is to be resolved with an inner solution. What the gospel says, however, is that we have an inner problem that demands an alien solution – a righteousness that is not our own.

I soon realized that my problem wasn’t being female and getting the short end of the stick. My problem was that I didn’t like God. I felt like His way of designing and ordering things was really unfair. I didn’t understand why He had to make male and female different and then say that they are of equal value in His sight. I felt like men got all the perks, and I didn’t understand why He would make women deal with periods, childbirth, and not being in charge at all. It just didn’t seem fair to me. But as I would read my Bible, I kept coming across passages like Job 38-41, Isaiah 40:13-17, Isaiah 55:6-9, and my favorite, Jeremiah 17:5-10 (verses 9-10 are below):

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

Eventually, I realized that my problem was my own sinful heart. I needed to change. And the more I thought about these things, the more I realized that I had always had problems with things I read in the Bible throughout my life. There were lots of things that I didn’t think were always fair, but I knew that they were right to do because God had commanded them. And my reasoning finally came down to the question of what made being a woman and embracing my God-designed role any different than any other command I had ever learned and obeyed from Scripture. I reasoned that there was no difference. Even if my feelings were stronger, there was no difference, and I still needed to obey.

Coming Around Full Circle

So let’s come back around to the question presented at the beginning: How do you deal with the thing that is seemingly oppressing you and forcing you to do and become someone you are not?

First, you must identify the thing that is opposing you. As Christians, one of the main opposing forces we must fight against is sin (aside from Satan and the world). We also know that sin has penetrated to the very heart of our beings, and it affects every single area of our lives, including the way we think about things. Yet, our Christian duty is to strive and fight against sin all the days of our life. This leads me to my critique of the egalitarian position.

In explaining their position, egalitarians never addressed the root problem of sin. They didn’t address the fact that sin has affected each of us, nor did they consider how sin has affected their own attitudes, predispositions, feelings, and willingness to obey the Word of God on the matter of the roles of men and women in marriage. Egalitarians rightly determine that the whole Bible is “the liberating Word”, but they have failed to rightly identify what the Word is actually liberating them from. As Christians, we cannot get around the fact that sin exists, and we are totally depraved because of it. The difference between us and the rest of the world is that we have been set free from the slavery of sin to become slaves of righteousness (Consider Romans 6 – I would read the whole chapter).

In answering the question, the final thing you must consider is whether or not you should succumb to the thing that is trying to oppose and change you. When it comes to sin, we are obviously exhorted to stand firm against it and not yield to it many times in Scripture. But when it comes to the matter of the roles of men and women in the marriage relationship, the assignment of the roles and the responsibilities attached to the roles were predetermined by God. The Bible is clear on the matter. You only continue to fight against it if you are not willing to accept it. But as Christians, we are called to accept the teaching of the Bible as truth from God for our lives today.

But then you may ask: Why should I allow the Bible to change me when God accepts me for who I am?

And in response, I can only say that you are sadly mistaken. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, because God no longer accepts us for who we are. He is too holy to accept us poor, miserable, sinful creatures. And Christ came, lived, died, and rose so that we could partake in His perfect righteousness and be able to stand before God while not facing the eternal wrath and judgment that we are due. So yes, the Bible is extremely liberating for the believer, but the thing it liberates us from (that is, the dominion of sin) is not something we naturally want to be freed from (consider Romans 6-7). And yes, the Bible will force you to change, to become someone you are not. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are being conformed to the image of Christ, as Romans 8:29 tells us. And in the language of Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, we are constantly exhorted to “put off” our sins and old manner of living and thinking and “put on” the deeds of righteousness, pursuing holiness and godliness in this life. Oh yes, as Christians, we are forced to change all the time, and we do well not to resist the work of the Spirit of God in the matter.

Ultimately, we will all face moments when we have a problem with something we read in Scripture. I mean, the Word of God is offensive. It tells us the truth of our condition…a truth we out rightly reject and often delude ourselves in denying. But it is still the truth. And as Al Mohler pointed out, we can act like the rest of the world and believe that the things outside us, including the Word of God, are the real problems. And we can even make up in our own hearts and minds the proper solutions for remedying these things and ‘liberate’ ourselves from these problems. But ultimately, we have internal problems that can only be remedied by God alone. With these thoughts in mind, I challenge my egalitarian brothers and sisters to consider the weighty problem of sin in their own beliefs and perspectives on the roles of men and women in marriage and in their willingness to accept the plain teachings of Scripture.

Complementarian Beliefs: Biblical Consistency

Picking up from where I left off, the next main point that grabbed my attention were the shifting definitions/words that egalitarians used to defend their position. Formally, this is called the equivocation fallacy, and if you read through Christians for Biblical Equality’s statement, you will see this fallacy a lot. But here is a more formal explanation taken from the book A Pocket Guide to Logic & Faith by Dr. Jason Lisle:

When debating on any topic, it is very important that we pay close attention to the meaning of words and how they are being used in the debate. Most words have more than one meaning, but only one of these meanings will properly fit the given context. When someone shifts from one meaning of a word to another within an argument, he or she has committed the fallacy of equivocation.

Now, my husband likes to call the equivocation fallacy a ‘bait and switch’, and I think that this is a good way of thinking about this fallacy in general and also in considering the egalitarian arguments. For a brief example, consider this tenth point under their Biblical Truths section:

The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them (Matt 20:25-28, 23:8; Mark 10:42-45; John 13:13-17; Gal 5:13; 1 Peter 5:2-3).

On the surface, it is kind of easy to agree with them. However, you have to consider their word choices and why they used the words in the way they did. For instance, they speak of the “function of leadership”. Does the function of leadership nullify the role of a leader? Or does the function of leadership change the fact that leaders, by definition, have authority and rule over the people they are in charge of? (Why else would you call them your leader?) And if not, why would they say that the function of leadership is meant to empower others for service rather than exercise power over them?

This is just a small example of what you will see as you read through their document, and the matter becomes worse when you actually read the Scripture references they have listed in support of their positions. When you read those Scriptures, I encourage you to read before and after the verses for a better context and understanding of what those verses mean, and then, think about whether those verses are really applicable at all to their point.

Let me look that up…

Ultimately, it is crucial for Christians to recognize how easily people change words or equate the same meaning to different words to further their own arguments. When it comes to what we believe from the Bible, being firm and confident in our understanding of the Scriptures is paramount in living a victorious Christian life, and it keeps us from being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). Consequently, as Christians, our only safeguard against this error is to know the Word of God for ourselves and to be willing to tear down faulty arguments that stand against the truth of God’s Word, recognizing that we must be prepared to not only work the defense, but also the offense in this spiritual war (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

This is also why I commend the complementarians who crafted the Danvers Statement and appreciate the fact that they pointed out this serious concern in their rationale statements:

8. The increasing prevalence and acceptance of hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical texts;

9. The consequent threat to Biblical authority as the clarity of Scripture is jeopardized and the accessibility of its meaning to ordinary people is withdrawn into the restricted realm of technical ingenuity;

The issue that is ultimately at stake is the authority of the Bible over the Christian life. If we say that Scripture is not clear enough, or if we underhandedly change the meaning of scriptures, distort the context, or read things into the text that are not there, then we are undermining the fact that the Word of God was given to us by God Himself to be the “only sufficient, certain and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience” (LBC 1.1)

Therefore, I encourage all of my egalitarian brothers and sisters to carefully examine the Scriptures again. Consider the fact that God is immutable, His Word is never contradictory, and “the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which are not many, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.” (LBC 1.9)

My final encouragement for my complementarian brothers and sisters (and all those people who waver or find themselves moderately in the camp) is that you would also carefully study and examine the Scriptures for yourself. Know why you believe what you believe, and be able and ready to give an answer for your beliefs and your choices in living out this Christian life.

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?

Egalitarian Beliefs: Clarifying What We Believe

Continuing from the last post, this blog examines the final application from Christians for Biblical Equality. Application #5 states:

In the Christian home, couples who share a lifestyle characterized by the freedom they find in Christ will do so without experiencing feelings of guilt or resorting to hypocrisy. They are freed to emerge from an unbiblical “traditionalism” and can rejoice in their mutual accountability in Christ. In so doing, they will openly express their obedience to Scripture, will model an example for other couples in quest of freedom in Christ, and will stand against patterns of domination and inequality sometimes imposed upon church and family.

In their fifth application, CBE believes that couples who embrace the egalitarian lifestyle will no longer experience guilty feelings or live in hypocrisy because they no longer have to live in biblical “traditionalism.” Thus, married couples will be able to rejoice and hold one another mutually accountability before Christ, and they will be able to model a good marriage relationship for other couples who are looking to avoid patterns of domination and inequality in their own marriages.

To be honest, it has taken me a while to figure out how to adequately critique the complementarian camp with this application, but thank the Lord for husbands who think differently! Considering that this is the last post critiquing complementarianism, this might be one of the more important critiques that we all need to consider. And I will begin with the only affirmation from the Danvers Statement that I believe would be of key importance here, Affirmation #10:

We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these [complementarian] principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.

As firmly as egalitarians believe that their beliefs and principles are Biblical, complementarians do so to the point that they believe that there will be “destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large” if complementarian principles are abandoned. As a complementarian, I agree; however, egalitarians have brought up some valid concerns when they mention “traditionalism” and “patterns of domination and inequality” that are at times imposed upon people in the church and in the family. So let’s think about that more closely.

For the sake of clarity…

  • How much of what we practice as complementarians is truly Biblical?
  • How much of our practices are really passed down traditions?
  • And how much of our practices stem from or attempt to counteract influences from our culture?

I’m not sure how many complementarians have taken the time to consider the questions or even how they live out their complementarianism, but I do believe it is always important to consider the ‘why’ behind what we do for three main reasons. First, it helps us figure out if we are doing things for the right reasons. Second, it helps us figure out how to instruct and encourage other couples who want to have a God-honoring marriage and be obedient to Scripture. Third, it helps us to be more credible and honest to the rest of the world, especially egalitarians. Let’s briefly consider these points.

How we label things

Coming from egalitarianism, having some solid reasons behind why I am doing things the way I do them now is paramount for me to walk and live in unwavering confidence in this world. Yet, I know that I have a very accommodating personality that desires for things to just go ‘smoothly’ even when I have problems with them, so I often find myself having done things for months or years because I never gave it real thought. This experience is the premise behind my first point. As Christians, we have to be careful to distinguish what are doctrinal standards, convictional beliefs, and our own cultural preferences. We clearly believe that complementarianism is Biblical doctrine that is expounded upon clearly in Scripture, but what about other things we practice?

Can husbands wash dishes, take care of the laundry, prepare meals, and/or take care of small children or is that purely the work of women as homemakers? Can wives cut grass, clean out the gutters, work on the car in the garage, and build furniture in the shed or is that stepping into men’s work? If your daughter likes to play with cars or paper towel tube swords, do you tell her to put it down to play with a doll or have a tea party instead? If your son likes to play house or is really interested in baking, do you try to distract him with some sports or other outdoor activities.

Now, I’ve picked the least controversial examples I could think of to drive home the point that we have to be careful what we label as ‘complementarian’ when it could easily be us sliding into ‘traditional roles’ or doing what we’re most comfortable doing. We also have to be careful that we’re not perpetuating traditional gender roles and calling it complementarianism because we’re uncomfortable that playing with trucks just isn’t ‘feminine’ enough for our daughter or baking isn’t ‘masculine’ enough for our son. I have all intentions to teach my daughter how to manage and care for a home properly, but if she wants to pursue a PhD and become a physicist like her daddy, I’m not going to tell her that she is going against God’s design and purpose for her as a woman. Basically, we ought to be certain that we have a solid understanding of what is actually Scriptural and whatever else is only traditional, cultural, or just our own personal preferences.

Determining what to teach others

One of the obvious results of being able to label things properly is that we will be able to offer more Biblically-sound advice to others. Whether it’s our own children, teenagers at church, or other young couples that we know, we are often put into the position of having to either teach, instruct, exhort, or encourage others about what a God-honoring marriage and family life look like. And these interactions happen either directly or indirectly, but regardless, the interaction will leave an impression upon the hearer.

For instance, most women have probably heard that housework is women’s work in some way or fashion. And from the Bible we know that we are to take care of our homes and our families (Titus 2), so this is perfectly sound to teach. However, if we couple that with something like…The reason you need to make sure that you are taking care of your home is because you really can’t trust a man to do a woman’s job. Men don’t know how to clean the way we do. They aren’t as detailed-oriented as we are, and you know you should never leave your little ones with your husband. God only knows what will happen to them when you’re gone. Really, you just have to learn how to manage it all. And don’t worry, God will give you the grace to be able to handle all of it because He made you a woman, and women are equipped to carry and handle a lot…then we have surely added some things to the Biblical text. But what is worse, the extra traditional and cultural things only cause people to become more burdened down and overwhelmed as they are likely to believe and feel that this is how they are to please the Lord in their roles. Christ told us in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Let us be diligent to not add to the burden in our own minds and hearts and in the hearts and minds of others who are serious about having a God-honoring marriage and family life. If we are going to teach, exhort, and encourage ourselves and others, let’s be perfectly clear about what is Biblical and what just follows traditional norms, our present-day culture, or what just works for us.

Building some credibility

Finally, all of this leads to us, as complementarians, building up our credibility with egalitarians and others who think the way we live our lives in the face of our culture today is just crazy and outdated.

Now, there will always be some people who will simply be contentious and look for a way out so they don’t have to feel guilty about not obeying Scripture, and honestly, we can only pray for those people. But for the other people who are jaded, ignorant of the truth, or searching for some clarity about their role as a man/woman and a husband/wife, I encourage my fellow complementarians to hold fast to the Bible alone first and foremost. And then be open about what they will have to work out depending on their own circumstances. Talk about the things that complementarians have historically gotten wrong. Even touch on the abuses and sins that have often been committed under the guise of complementarianism or being Biblical. By all means, be forthright, frank, and honest in everything that you have to say because as we know that complementarianism is God’s design and purpose for men and women, we are obligated to represent it rightly, fully, and faithfully so that others will have a proper view of what God requires of all of us and so that we will not be a reason why some will choose to abandon it altogether.

This post concludes my critique of complementarianism, and I will pick up my next blog with taking a closer look at egalitarianism.

Egalitarian Beliefs: Valuing and Protecting Self in Marriage

As we move along in this series, the final two applications from Christians for Biblical Equality are similar in nature and intention as the third application that I covered in my last blog. Consequently, you may find some repetitive language as we continue. However, I still want to consider these applications separately because they each emphasis different topics that are important as we look at complementarianism. So, we continue with Application #4:

In the Christian home, spouses are to learn to share the responsibilities of leadership on the basis of gifts, expertise, and availability, with due regard for the partner most affected by the decision under consideration. 

In so doing, spouses will learn to respect their competencies and their complementarity. This will prevent one spouse from becoming the perennial loser, often forced to practice ingratiating or deceitful manipulation to protect self-esteem. By establishing their marriage on a partnership basis, the couple will protect it from joining the tide of dead or broken marriages resulting from marital inequities.

In their fourth application CBE highlights the need for individual spouses to recognize their own unique gifts and talents, recognize the gifts and talents of their spouse, and respectfully work together to “share the responsibilities of leadership.” The intended result is that spouses will learn to see and respect what they each bring to the ‘table’, keep one person from always being the ‘loser’ in the marriage trying to protect their own self-esteem, and protect the marriage from dying and falling apart due to ‘marital inequities.’ More concisely, I would say that this application is focused on how individual spouses view, value, and protect themselves in the marriage relationship.

Now, as a Christian and former Student Affairs professional, I find conversations about preserving and protecting “self” to be very interesting, but not entirely biblical. I do not mean that we should let other people walk all over us, even in marriage, but I do believe that the Christian life is full of “dying to self” moments that the world cannot readily accept. And these moments are so pervasive throughout the Christian life that most, if not all, Christians should be able to identify with the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. So, this application is very interesting to me, but this is meant to be a critique of complementarianism. As such, I would like to highlight the two affirmations from the Danvers Statement that I believe speak best to this concern.

Affirmation #1:

Both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood.

Affirmation #2:

Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.

Now, these affirmations do not speak about gifts or sharing leadership responsibilities, but they do highlight that all people find their identity as bearers of God’s image. Not only that, they say that both men and women are equal before God, but they are distinct by virtue of their masculinity and femininity. We can deduce that this distinction does bring about differences in terms of gifts and abilities, but the distinctions are inherently beautiful and worthy of the recognition and appreciation of every person because they were created by a very intentional God. Outside of this, complementarians do highlight the use of gifts in the Church and in other ministries, but they primarily focus on the heart and mind attitudes of men and women functioning in the home together, while continuing to affirm the place of husbands as heads in the home (consider Affirmations 4 and 6).

Therefore, we can see that complementarians do believe that men and women are of equal value before the Lord, both able to bear His image, but distinct in their gifts and abilities by divine design and purpose. It is a given that complementarians do not believe that men and women should share leadership roles in the home, but they do believe that there should be mutual respect and honor between both spouses. As for the remainder of their application, I do find some things that complementarians should carefully consider in their own marriages.

First, do you really recognize the gifts and abilities that you bring to the table, and can you recognize what your spouse brings to the table too? Now, I know I’ve posed a similar question before, but I am asking this with a different thought in mind. I wonder do people wholeheartedly believe that they bring something valuable to the ‘marriage table.’ We can easily list all the things that we do day to day, but do we believe that those things are valuable and indispensable to the home and marriage?

I’ve wrestled with this personally over the years. When I left my job to be at home full-time it was very difficult for me to see that what I was doing was really valuable. Honestly, I figured if my husband hired a nanny, maid, and cook he could easily replace what I did in the home. It seemed like grunge work, and I felt like being the wife/mom really sucked compared to my husband’s role. To be honest, for a long while, I really hated it. I did share my thoughts with my husband eventually, and he’s spent many times over the past years showing and reminding me how valuable I am in my home, how much my contributions are not easily replaced, and that I bring a lot to the table, a lot that he can’t bring at all. Now, you may be thinking that he’s just brainwashed me or sprinkled some sugar over the real truth so that I suck it up better, but I have come to realize the truth in what he has said. But more importantly, I’ve had to make sure that my identity and sense of worth and value is found in Christ alone, not in my own abilities and talents. That being said, I do hope that complementarians, especially women, carefully consider that question, but also think about how you view your spouse’s contributions and letting him/her know how much they mean and are worth to you.

Second, are complementarians careful not to overemphasize the importance of the work and role of women in the home and family? As Christians we are often guilty of falling into one ditch, getting back up, and then falling into the ditch on the other side. So I bring up this consideration thinking about all of the women (and men) who are members of our churches or families. Are you constantly pressuring people about marriage or even bringing it up a lot just because they aren’t married? Do you remind people of their age and the ‘biological clock’ that’s ticking all the time? Are you sensitive to the people who have gone through divorce when you bring up marriage conversations? For couples who don’t have children, are you constantly asking them when they’re going to add to the family? Do you inwardly judge or look down on people who only have one or two children because you feel like everyone’s ‘quiver’ should be full and overflowing? Do you express unneeded sorrow and pity over those who are childless or unmarried too often?

My primary point with these questions is to make us think about whether or not we have made stumbling blocks of marriage or motherhood or any other good thing that God has given us to the hurt of our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. Truly, the highest calling that any person can have in this life is to be a disciple of Christ Jesus alone, and we need to be mindful to exhort and encourage one another with that truth more often.

My final consideration for complementarians is in regards to calling out sin, both in attitudes and actions, in the marriage. Part of the blessing of marriage is to be known by someone else on an intimate and personal level that has your best interests at heart, especially your progressive sanctification. Now, we all know about love and being patient in love, but do we believe that love also means humbly calling out sins in our spouse when we see them? Now, I do not mean walking around with a clipboard telling your spouse every time he/she sins, but when we notice sinful patterns of behavior, do we as complementarians speak up about it? If one spouse is always selfishly getting their way, does the other spouse, whether husband or wife, feel like they have a Christian duty to speak up and call out the sinful behavior in respect and love? If one person is being manipulative every time something doesn’t go their way, is the sin mentioned or even addressed?

Basically, it appears to me that much of the perceived inequalities that egalitarians believe come from complementarian marriages is due to the belief that only one person is ‘in charge’ and the other must submit to everything. In true complementarian marriages, both husband and wife recognize that they are equal in standing before God. Moreover, they recognize in addition to the bond of marriage, they are also brother and sister in the faith, and they strive to help and assist each other in this Christian journey. So, if a wife sees her husband constantly being given over to sin in a particular area, she has a Christian responsibility to bring that up to her husband for his good in the Lord. Likewise, if a husband sees his wife being given over to sin, he should also bring it up to her for her own good in the Lord so that they both diligently strive for holiness in this Christian life. The intimacy in marriage comes with a responsibility to love in sincere truth for that person’s spiritual good, not avoiding things out of convenience or overlooking things because you may be forced to deal with yourself at the same time. As complementarians, husbands and wives may not share leadership responsibilities or be partners in the marriage relationship, but we are called to be genuine brothers and sisters in the faith who dutifully watch over one another so that no one becomes caught in any sin (Galatians 6:1-10).