Richard Phillips: Recent months have seen considerable controversy among conservative Christians around the topic of complementarianism, arising mainly from a false analogy between the subordination of wives to husbands and that of God the Son to God the Father. Depending on your perspective, the complementarian view has been either maligned, discredited, or reformed. My hope is that events will prove that the latter has taken place. I am in complete solidarity with those who reject the eternal subordination of the Son in any form, since no amount of nuance or affirmation of Christ’s deity can preserve it from functionally reproducing the Arian position. There are no ends for which a degrading of the Trinity is an excusable means. I am therefore grateful for the way this controversy, though regrettably contentious, has highlighted massively important issues of theology that tend to receive little attention. At the same time, my hope is that this attempt to reform the complementarian position will
Sam Storms: In the on-going dialogue (debate!) between complementarians and egalitarians, there is considerable confusion about the meaning of male headship. So today we look at 10 things we should know about headship. (1) “Headship” (Gk: kephale) has three meanings in Scripture: first, a physical head (1 Cor. 11:7); second, source or origin (Col. 1:18); and third, a person with authority (Eph. 1:22). (2) Among the many misconceptions about male headship in Scripture I mention these. First, husbands are never commanded to rule their wives, but to love them. The Bible never says, “Husbands, take steps to insure that your wives submit to you.” Nor does it say, “Husbands, exercise headship and authority over your wives.” Rather, the principle of male headship is either asserted or assumed and men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Headship is never portrayed in Scripture as a means for self-satisfaction or self-exaltation. Headship is always other-oriented. I can’t think
From Desiring God: Being complementarian doesn’t mean believing that the man’s job is to fix the car and the woman’s is to wash the floor. It goes much deeper than a breakdown of jobs. Christian complementarity is about the different roles of men and women that are meant to give us insight into the relationship between Jesus and his church. Mary Kassian explains in this two-minute video:
What does “complementarian” mean? In this short video, John Piper explains that affirming the glorious differences of men and women locates Christians between two lamentable errors.
John Piper, Ligon Duncan, Russell Moore, and Greg Gilbert at a panel of the 2012 Together for the Gospel (April 2012): Tim Keller, Don Carson, and John Piper at the Gospel Coalition council members’ meeting (May 2012): If you are new to this subject, here are some resources I would recommend starting with: 1. John Piper and Wayne Grudem “50 Crucial Questions About Manhood and Womanhood.” This is a free PDF that gives concise answers to 50 questions. This is the place to start. 2. If you want to hear the audio or read the notes of a weekend seminar, looking at passages and objections and application in more depth, take a look at this free seminar by John Piper. 3. For introductions written by women, consider Carrie Sandom, Different by Design: God’s Blueprint for Men and Women and Claire Smith, God’s Good Design: What the Bible Really Says About Men and Women. (HT: Justin Taylor)
TGC founders Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper discus the reasons why. They are careful to distinguish the gospel from its logical and biblical implications, but maintain that such implications impact the clarity and preservation of the gospel. Why Is TGC Complementarian? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.
Mary Kassian: Last week a reporter asked me to define “complementarianism.” She didn’t know what it meant. And that’s not entirely surprising. “Complementarity” is a word that doesn’t appear in the Bible, but is used by people to summarize a biblical concept. It’s like the word “Trinity.” The Bible never uses the word “Trinity.” But it’s undeniable that it points to a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Though the concept of male-female complementarity is present from Genesis through Revelation, the label “complementarian” has only been in use for about 25 years. It was coined by a group of scholars who got together to try and come up with a word to describe someone who ascribes to the historic, biblical idea that male and female are equal, but different. The need for such a label arose in response to the proposition that equality means role-interchangeability (egalitarianism)—a concept that was first forwarded and popularized in Evangelical circles in the 1970s
Greg Gilbert, John Piper, Ligon Duncan and Russell Moore discuss the relationship between complementarianism and the gospel at this year’s Together for the Gospel:
From Andy Naselli: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21). This 11-page chapter (available for free as a PDF) concisely and convincingly explains why the phrase “mutual submission” is unhelpful at best: Wayne Grudem, “The Myth of Mutual Submission as an Interpretation of Ephesians 5:21,” in Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood (ed. Wayne Grudem; Foundations for the Family Series; Wheaton: Crossway, 2002), 221–31. Outline: Background An Acceptable Sense of Mutual Submission Objections to the Egalitarian Sense of Mutual Submission The following context specifies the kind of submission Paul has in mind. The absence of any command for husbands to submit to wives The meaning of “be subject to” (hypotassō) The lack of evidence for the egalitarian meaning of hypotassō The meaning of “one another” The meaning of Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:1 Practical Application (The entire book is available for free as a PDF.)
Denny Burk writes: Complementarianism is the term that we use to describe the Bible’s teaching on gender and gender roles. The concept stems in part from the biblical account of the creation of the first woman in Genesis 2:18, in which God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” In this text, God Himself declares that the first woman would be a “helper” to the man, and that she would be “suitable for him” or “corresponding to him.” Correspondence speaks to equality. Adam had just surveyed all the newly created animal kingdom and found no creature that “corresponded” to him (Genesis 2:20). But the woman was different from any of the other animals that Adam named. She shared in the very same humanity that he himself had. Indeed, both the man and the woman were equally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Eve alone corresponded to Adam in
From Desiring God: We commended Darrin Patrick’s new book Church Planter before, but here’s a particular word for the preface, titled “Why Focus on Men?” It may be one of the best short articles on biblical manhood now available. Below are a couple paragraphs that give the flavor of Patrick’s even-handed perspective—an approach that critiques both the left and the right, and thus steers clear of both the liberal and conservative errors. These sentences won’t sit well with the left: The persons of the Trinity are equal, but there is, nevertheless, submission within the Godhead by the Son and by the Spirit to the Father. My interpretation of this divine deference is that submission is a characteristic of a healthy relationship. Submission indicates a pervasive humility and mutual trust that orients the partners in relationship. Submission is good and requires not only that one person submits but that one assumes the leadership role. God, in his wisdom, has placed the man in