Sliding into Complementarianism

I was raised as an egalitarian without realizing it. That may sound funny to you, but I never thought of the way that I was being trained as “anti-Biblical” or even liberal. It was what I had seen all of my life…women who choose whether or not to get married, to have kids, to stay at home, etc. I mean, everyone has choices to make, right? Isn’t everyone entitled to make the choice that works best for them?


Well, my first informal introduction of complementarianism came from a visit to my husband’s (then boyfriend/beau) church. I was immediately impressed at how loving, warm, and hospitality everyone was. When I inquired further, I realized that all of the women were at raising children. Some did assist their husbands with their businesses, but the majority was at home. What amazed me the most was that this was normal to them. For a woman to have her own career or do whatever she wanted in life as a married woman was completely far-fetched, and they were the type of women to gently coach you back to the Scriptures and home again.

Now, my first formal introduction to complementarianism came during my husband and my courtship through the book (mind you, that was enthusiastically suggested to me by the same women from his church) Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl. I will tell you this now; I never made it past the first chapter.

I started so eagerly, wanting to learn what these women had learned to have such beautiful marriages and loving homes, and I couldn’t even finish the first chapter without calling up my fiancé crying my eyes out. After trying to decipher the source of the problem for several minutes while making sure he wasn’t the cause of it, he finally asked me to tell him what I read. So I started to read that first chapter to him, and he fell out laughing. I told him that it wasn’t funny because I honestly could not be the wife he was looking for, especially if he thought that the women at his church were perfect. And I most especially did not want his happiness and joy to be dependent on whether or not I smiled all the time. It was all incredibly overwhelming for my poor egalitarian soul, and that first chapter scarred me for life. Over a year later, I still couldn’t pick it up and read it without shuddering with flashbacks, and eventually it was donated once we moved.

Since then, I have come to a much better understanding of complementarianism, and I have even come to understand my own native egalitarianism better as well. Attending a women’s college, I also learned about the influence and effect of feminism on a lot of things, but especially how we look at the roles of husbands and wives in marriage. So in these next few blogs, I would like to explore the actual definitions of egalitarianism and complementarianism, talk about the extremes of these two camps, the lessons that I have brought with me as my husband and I have grown together in the covenant of marriage (lessons that may be beneficial for others), and my concerns for the future. I hope you feel comfortable to join in the discussion in the comment section, and if you would like for me to bring up a certain aspect or expand on something further, just let me know.