Together for the Gospel recently had some discussion about one of its central ideas, namely complementarianism. (Sigh.) Two points can be found in the clip below: Russ Moore and Greg Gilbert say many of those who say they are complementarian are living functionally egalitarian lives [one might wonder why], and Piper claims there’s a slippery slope from egalitarianism to getting the gospel wrong.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) – A movement in evangelical Christianity that promotes male headship and wifely submission in marriage faces competition today not from radical feminists but rather believers who are “complementarian” in name only, according to a panel at a recent pastor’s conference.
“What I fear is that we have many people in evangelicalism who can check off ‘complementarian’ on a box but who really aren’t living out complementarian lives,” Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said during the April 10-12 Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Ky.
“Sometimes I fear that we have marriages that are functionally egalitarian, because they are within the structure of the larger society,” Moore explained in an audio now posted on the event website. “If all we are doing is saying ‘male headship’ and ‘wives submit to your husbands’ but we’re not really defining what that looks like, in a Christ-centered way of discipleship [this is a doorway big enough for egalitarians to drive through], in this kind of culture, when those things are being challenged, then it’s simply going to go away.”…
Together for the Gospel’s affirmation of beliefs includes a statement that “God has given to both men and women important and strategic roles within the home, the Church, and the society.” Planners recognized that not everyone who comes to meetings, however, believes that God has ordained for men to be leaders in the home and church and used the opportunity to appeal to those still on the fence.“I don’t think you have to be a complementarian to be saved,” said John Piper, pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul. [Can you hear the “but” in his concession here?] “So it’s not essential at that level, but as soon as you move beneath that level and ask what are the implications of not following through with what Ephesians 5 seems to say or First Timothy 2 seems to say [only “seems”? he doesn’t mean that, he means that it teaches complementarianism] — those would be the classic marriage church texts — the implications hermeneutically for the gospel are significant.” [So, there’s a direct line from this text, when read in an egalitarian way, to corrupting the gospel? This is really sad to throw up logic like this.]
Piper said “the kind of gymnastics” required to escape such texts chart a direction of biblical interpretation so that “sooner or later you are going to get the gospel wrong.” [So it really isn’t about what it seems to say. Those who disagree are using gymnastics.]
Piper said egalitarianism — the view that roles described for men and women in the Bible are not God’s design but reflect the culture of that era [I don’t know who said this but it is hardly a fair sketch] — makes senseless Paul’s use of the marriage relationship as a witness to that of Christ and the church [odd, because many of the egals I know think egalitarianism here makes abundant sense of the Trinity and the gospel]. He also said that churches not led by “strong male proclaimers and leaders” sooner or later will “malfunction along the way.” [Sigh.]