In recent days, a debate has been resurrected within evangelicalism on whether or not women should preach the Bible to the gathered church. The lines are often divided between complementarianism and egalitarianism. Both are complicated words that contain baggage and differing levels of agreement such as soft and hard complementarianism as an example. However, beyond the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12-13 regarding the roles of men and women in the pulpit—how can complementarianism serve to honor the dignity and value of women?
Perhaps the biggest news story involving the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the sex scandal that has become a black mark upon the Convention. Regardless of where you stand on the issues of the way the news media portrays the complicity of the Convention as a whole—the fact remains that women and girls have been abused and men have abandoned their post as protector and provider. This is nothing short of tragic.
When we examine the the definition of complemenatrianism, if we’re honest with the term itself, it involves more than prohibitions on women serving. It’s far more than a stop sign for women. The word itself defines the position that points to the calling of men to be the leaders of the home and the local church—not based on their physical stature or mental abilities—but based on their calling that’s rooted in creation.
Male headship is not a product of the fall. It’s an aspect of God’s blueprint for his people that predates the fall. When we examine the creation account, we see that Adam was created first and then Eve. It was Adam who was given charge of naming all of the animals (Gen. 2:20) and Adam likewise named Eve—his wife (Gen. 2:23). Adam was given charge to work (another responsibility of man that predates the fall). Adam’s headship was God’s plan and we find the commentary on this in various places in the New Testament—such as Ephesians 5:31 where Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 as he describes the mysterious relationship between Christ and his bride the church. In that passage, Paul drives home the responsibility of the husband to love and lead his wife. Once again, this is not a post-fall responsibility—it predates the fall.
Male leadership is not part of the curse, it’s one of God’s good blessings for the home and the church (see 1 Tim. 3:1-5 and Titus 1). Such a big view of male headship points to the responsibility of providing and protecting women for the glory of God. In other words, mature manhood is based on something beyond how much a person can benchpress or how far a man can run. You may hold a coral belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, be able to bench press 300lbs., climb a mountain, skin a deer, and shoot class 3 weapons like a champ…but if you don’t know how to lead your wife and protect her physically and spiritually—you’re not a biblically mature man.
In many cultures throughout history, in order to be a man, you had to be able to:
Today, that formula has been replaced by the three B’s:
Today’s manhood is often shallow and superficial. It’s based on how you perform sexually, athletically, and financially. Sadly, the world has very low expectations for manhood. We have forgotten what Voddie Baucham calls the four P’s:
As men take their leadership responsibilities seriously—it serves to protect women from abuse both in the physical sphere and the spiritual sphere. Complementarianism serves to protect women from home intruders and spiritual wolves, heretics, and false prophets. This is God’s plan for both the home and the local church—that Spiritual and gifted men would lead in both the physical and spiritual spheres.
We must make sure the whole wide world knows that abusive men are not overly passionate complementarians — they’re not complementarians at all. Such a man has abandoned his post as provider and protector resulting in the abuse of little girls and women.
Russell Moore in an address given to the Evangelical Theological Society on November 17th 2005 said the following:
Ironically, a more patriarchal complementarianism will resonate among a generation seeking stability in a family-fractured Western culture in ways that soft-bellied big-tent complementarianism never can… And it will also address the needs of hurting women and children far better, because it is rooted in the primary biblical means for protecting women and children: calling men to responsibility. Patriarchy is good for women, good for children, and good for families.
Any move away from the mature biblical manhood and male headship in the home and local church is a move that the SBC and our local churches cannot afford. The SBC has traveled that road before and it was not exactly a peaceful journey. May the Lord grant us wisdom and resolve to stand upon the sufficient Word of God as we navigate through these challenges and confusing days.