You’re Pro-Woman? Then Ditch the Complementarian Caricatures

You’re Pro-Woman? Then Ditch the Complementarian Caricatures April 13, 2016

Wouldn’t it be great if Twitter’s egalitarians could actually engage views they don’t share? Because, here’s a tip: Hijacking hashtags and hurling cruel accusations about complementarian women and men via Twitter doesn’t work if you’re trying to change hearts and minds or, you know, want to show you truly support women.

Sadly, this is what happened earlier this week while the complementarian Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CMBW) held its “The Beauty of Complementarity” 2016 T4G pre-conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Egalitarian tweeters totally ignored the content of CBMW’s men and women speakers’ presentations. Instead, they tossed around insulting caricatures that left this complementarian woman ready rumble.

I was unable to attend T4G, but decided to check in with the CBMW16 hashtag on Tuesday and catch up with speaker quotes and photographs. I rolled my eyes as I scrolled through a heap of mean-spirited presumptions and cruel conjectures launched by egalitarians. But one particularly infuriating tweet caught my attention.

Oh for crying out loud.

First off, let’s deal with the demeaning accusation hurled at complementarian women. How incredibly insulting to reduce complementarian women to children. How utterly belittling to assume complementarian women are slaves in need of liberating. Does she really think complementarian women are so incapable of thinking for themselves that they allow their husband to squash their goals, opinions, and dreams as mere child’s play?

It’s easier for egalitarians to pretend complementarian women are victimized church ladies limited to nursery duty than to engage our ideas.

Perhaps egalitarians’ time would be better spent reaching out to any of CBMW’s women speakers. I’m sure Jackie Hill-Perry, Trillia Newbell, Courtney Reissig, GraceAnna Castleberry, Mary Mohler, Kristie Anyabwile, Mary Kassian, Candi Finch, and Amanda Peacock would all be willing to share with you why they identify as complementarians.

Arrogant assumptions about theologically or politically conservative women are nothing new. This is exactly how the political left treats women who don’t hold their views. They either pretend they don’t exist or dismiss us as ignorant, brainwashed puppets.

I consider myself a complementarian woman, recognizing I don’t agree with every other complementarian woman out there on all theological and political issues. I also recognize these women studied Scripture for themselves and came to their own conclusions. Then I think, gee, she probably married a complementarian man because he shares her conclusions. Maybe I should talk to her about why she believes x, y, and z.

For my husband Eric and me, complementarianism doesn’t look like oppression. It looks like equal partnership, each of us contributing based on our unique characteristics and roles. Here’s what my complementarian marriage looks like on any given weekday:

Eric cooks dinner multiple times a week because I’m not a fan of cooking. I prefer to clean the kitchen after he prepares dinner. He prefers to cook instead of clean. You might say we complement each other.

My husband and I both work full-time. Last week, I told Eric about a work-related opportunity to travel overseas which I felt apprehensive about. The idea of traveling abroad alone makes me a little anxious. The opportunity also means a good bit of time away from home, away from my husband. Eric keeps asking me when I’m going to grab the opportunity.

Date night typically involves Mexican food and laundry. Eric recognizes that I’m not his slave and that he goes through a lot of white undershirts, so he folds his share of clothes. Neither of us enjoy folding laundry, so we save this chore to do together while watching Netflix. The task is more bearable that way.

When I speak on behalf of the Institute on Religion and Democracy at churches and youth ministries close to our home, Eric is typically sitting in the front row.

Our marriage is neither glamorous nor perfect, but I’ll be darned if someone accuses all complementarian men like my gentle husband with a giant servant’s heart of treating himself as a god and me as a child. It’s insulting and inaccurate.

Indeed, you can find dominating men who mistreat their wives and go to church on Sunday. But I promise you they don’t mistreat their wives because they’re complementarians. They mistreat their wives because they’re sinful chauvinists abusers, not complementarians. Also, I highly doubt many of these men could tell you what complementarianism even means.

Enough with the fabricated presuppositions and belittling caricatures of complementarian women and men. Next time, try talking with a complementarian woman who doesn’t fit your convenient mold. If you listen, then you might be surprised to learn complementarian women have a lot to say.

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