Complementarianism has walked itself into a corner and is spinning in circles. Yes, to be sure, there are complementarians and there are complementarians. But the game is played when Piper blows his whistle and his Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is shaping the conversation at the very core. If more complementarians would stand up and critique Piper and his type for their interpretations, we’d all be better.
By the way and for the record again, I do not consider myself an egalitarian; I’m a mutualist — very much along the line of what complementarian originally meant. When it meant difference for the good of the other and not hierarchy. My views have been sketched in The Blue Parakeet.
Well, to show that some have the guts to stand up with Joshua and be counted, here’s Aimee Byrd at Mortification of Spin:
[quoting Piper:] At the heart of mature manhood is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships. The postman won’t relate to the lady at the door the way a husband will, but he will be a man. At the heart of mature womanhood is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.[Aimee’s response:] I find these definitions troublesome. Some of the words used here to describe mature manhood sound an awful lot like the Hebrew word ezer, or as we know ithelper, that describes Eve in Gen. 2:18, and in verses like Ps. 20:1-2, 33:20 and 121:2, describes God’s provision and protection for Israel.As far as the postman goes, I am at a total loss. Are we referring to the obvious, ontological fact that he is a man, or to something in his behavior that makes him a manly postman at the door? And if I am a woman opening the door, am I to be affirming this manliness in some sort of way?And I suppose this definition of mature womanhood exposes me as terribly childish. I do not think it is my purpose as a woman to be constantly seeking affirming, receiving, and nurturing strength and leadership from worthy men. I am married to one man. I affirm that Scripture teaches that my husband has the responsibility of headship in our home. Even then, I take the ezer with the kenegdo. I should be a suitable strength matched for him, discerning if his leadership is of the Lord. I also affirm that only certain men are called to ordination in the church as pastors and elders. Those are special leadership positions that I affirm as a result of the goodness and authority of God, who is the authority of us all. Isn’t this what a complementarian believes?
The passage is arguably even more problematic than Aimee allows. It seems to me to make women in themselves into nothing more than defective beings and to rest upon a definition of complementarity which is really one of radical, across-the-board subordination. It also leaves me wondering what I can say to single women in my church. Find a man, any man, to submit to in some context or other?…
I rarely read complementarian literature these days. I felt it lost its way when it became an all-embracing view of the world and not simply a matter for church and household. I am a firm believer in a male-only ordained ministry in the church but I find increasingly bizarre the broader cultural crusade which complementarianism has become. It seems now to be more a kind of reaction against feminism than a balanced exposition of the Bible’s teaching on the relationships of men and women. Thus, for example, marriage is all about submission of wife to husband (Eph. 5) and rarely about the delight of friendship and the kind of playful but subtly expressed eroticism we find in the Song of Songs. Too often cultural complementarianism ironically offers a rather disenchanted and mundane account of the mystery and beauty of male-female relations. And too often it slides into sheer silliness.