I wanted to join in the fun on the complementarian/egalitarian debate! After reading the posts from other women on this blog, thinking through my own experiences through the years and taking into account plenty of reading and studying on the topic, I still feel a sense of confusion and lack of intellectual integrity in many (all?) the arguments on both sides.
The lack of intellectual integrity for complementarians show when they let women missionaries be pastors. Or when they limit roles of women in a church but when needs arise or someone they like wants the job the rules get bent. It’s shown when they act like anyone interpreting passages otherwise are decidedly not Christian.
On the egalitarian side, lack of intellectual integrity shows when roles really aren’t equal–men still hold the majority of leadership positions and receive more serious training in most settings. Or when a husband and wife are both listed as ‘pastor’ when clearly it is one or the other that is the pastor and has the training. It’s also shown with an unwillingness to admit even a hint of complementarianism in the Bible exists.
Many of us were taught to use a ‘slippery slope’ mentality on issues of ‘serious’ theology. Changes in non-essential theology do not always, in fact rarely, end up dragging one down into non-Christian thought as the slippery slope idea suggests. Simply build a wall however high and strong you like to keep yourself from falling.
In my first graphic we see that both sides traditionally believe the slipperiness begins at a very specific point: where male authority has any (or no) say.
Let me say first, part of me is still saying, “No, No!! This can’t be true, there is a specific point with a slippery, slippery slope.” But, I contend we should believe the slipperiness begins at a very specific point but a very different point–at the point where people are not believing in the creeds, in the Trinity or in things that make you actually Christian.
The kicker, for me, is that this ‘oval’ is reality. It just is. I know of no church or person that espouses anything considered close to traditional, orthodox Christianity that holds entirely to what either side on this debate says they believe. If you split the argument the way the first chart does, the extreme view on each is the only way to maintain any intellectual integrity. Real life just doesn’t work that way.
We can still have complimentarians and egalitarians but we should shift our focus to those on the extreme edges that are decidedly not Christian and work to minister to those hurt by non-Christian thought patterns and practices. Both extreme submission and extreme equality dehumanizes and is something Christians should unite in standing against.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)