Buzzword Bingo: Complimentarian and Egalitarian

Christians seem to fight over anything and everything. Chuck Missler asks why Christians organize their firing squads in circles. Today’s buzzword bingo involves Complimentarian and Egalitarian, or the proper role of men and women. We’ve discussed it before, but it’s surprising how many people reject what the Bible states, creating their own religion.

The Problem of Gender Roles

Briefly, the modern feminist idea of egalitarian means men and women function identically in the church (and elsewhere) — men and women are literally interchangeable parts. The Complimentarian position hearkens back to Genesis and Paul, and what they say about roles.

As usual, words get thrown around, but it’s not the words, it’s what is true, Biblically based. Thus, we’ll dispense with buzzwords and try to arrive at a simple idea: what does the Bible say?

The Word Feminists Ban

What does the Bible say regarding men and women? As soon as the word “submission” appears, many express a knee-jerk reaction — why are women second-class? Why are they inferior? This leads to domestic violence! Abuse! Poor self-esteem. And on and on…

But where in the Bible does it say anything even close to men are better than women, husbands should be dictators, women are second-class, and so on? (Hint: it doesn’t). By expressing those ideas, those people fight against something the Bible never states; those discussions are off-topic (commonly known as a red-herring, whether the person promoting them knows it or not), and prevent us from finding out truth.

Don’t come to the Bible with preconceived ideas and try to make it fit, rather let the Bible mold your ideas.

Bible Based Views of Men and Women

In the roles of men and women, perhaps some confusion arises because people aren’t familiar with military order. Military order? You bet. You see, if you don’t understand you’re already in battle — and behind enemy lines — you’ve got much bigger problems (people who don’t understand Ephesians six we call casualties).

The Christian is a soldier, and as Paul said “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” In other words, it’s not what I want, it’s following after Christ. As a soldier, many times the private doesn’t understand the greater strategy, but must trust and follow the chain of command.

Think of marriage as a military unit (you’re already in battle behind enemy lines). To use an analogy, the Marines organize by the “rule of threes”, with the lowest unit being a Fire Team:

  • Team leader (M4/M16)
  • Rifleman (M4/M16)
  • Grenadier (M4/M16 with M203)
  • Machine gunner (M249)

Does the guy with the machine gun complain and say “HEY! why is the grenadier better than me?” Nope (not if they want to function as a unit). Each member has specific uses for various tactical situations, while the team needs a leader, just as the marriage needs a leader. Why is it organized that way? Because God said so. Period. That should end the debate.

For some reason, it doesn’t (or as Chuck Missler says “never underestimate a person’s ability to rationalize”).

The team has a leader, but the Fire Team itself forms with others to make a squad, with a squad leader. Squads form platoons, and so on. Each unit has a leader, and each lower unit submits to the chain of command.

CRAP! There’s that #@$! word again — submission. Why are some of the team treated so poorly? This leads to abuse! Why are some of the team superior over others? Why is the squad leader superior to the team leader? All these issues stem from one misunderstanding:

LEADERSHIP DOES NOT IMPLY SUPERIORITY OR INFERIORITY.

Leadership and Order

Like Corinth the modern church allows ideas from popular culture to creep in — like feminism, social justice, secular methods to promote church growth, the latest “best-seller”, and other ideas coming from godless culture, not the Bible. Ultimately all these water down the Gospel, and distract many (as Paul told Timothy) who no longer want sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, find teachers who tell them what they want to hear.

Most importantly, people confuse submit with obey.

  • submit — To voluntarily defer to another’s judgment and decision.
  • obey — To comply with orders or follow commands.

That should end the debate, but it doesn’t.

Military and Illegal Orders

Even in the military, you are not to follow illegal orders (such as spare no one). You can’t justify hideous actions by proclaiming “I was just following orders”. Leadership never demands blind following. God gave you a brain — use it.

Nobody has to follow the Bible if they don’t want — you’re always free to live as you want. Of course, the epitome of hubris comes as some proclaim God didn’t really mean what He said, when it’s in black and white in front of their eyes.

Of course, that does not imply a woman should take abuse. That should go without saying, but anytime this subject comes up someone complains about it, so let’s be clear.

That should end the debate, but it doesn’t.

A Food Example

Let’s shift gears, and consider an illustration. Is an apple superior to a carrot? Of course not, they have different uses in the body, and the differences make both fruit and vegetables required if you’re going to be healthy. If you have scurvy (from lack of vitamin C), you’ll require an orange much more than a carrot.

Why oh why is the carrot not used? You can’t force a carrot to perform an apple’s job; they’re not the same, and can’t perform in the same way. Why can’t the carrot be considered equal to the apple? Because carrots and apples are not equal, but that doesn’t mean one is superior. If you want to have a healthy body, you’d better have both, as each perform distinct roles. Different strengths, different roles. That’s it. Not superiority, just different.

That should end the debate, but it doesn’t.

Leadership isn’t Dictatorship

The idea of military chain-of-command continues. Families group together in home fellowships, those fellowships group into a church, the churches (usually) form a denomination, and those groups form the body of Christ, with Him at the head.

Foolish is the leader who ignores the suggestions of his team, abuses them, or performs any of the other common objections raised. As Lieutenant Colonel Allen West said “If it’s about the lives of my men and their safety, I’d go through Hell with a gasoline can”. A leader doesn’t shout “go forward”, he proclaims “follow me”. No matter who you are, people follow a leader with their interests at heart, the mission to protect them, and who sets an example to follow.

Leadership isn’t about superiority, it’s about … well … leadership.

No bozo messing up leadership invalidates the principle, however. You don’t see the Marines abandon the structure because a psycho messes it up. Nope, they handle the problem, correct it, and move on. Everyone is flawed, everyone makes mistakes.

As the supreme example, Jesus didn’t come down and issue a bunch of rules, He said follow me. That’s leadership. As Paul spoke “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”. In other words, man up, and follow the example and words of Paul, Jesus, and the practical example of Allen West.

Easy to say, hard to do.

That should end the debate, but it doesn’t.

Conclusion

None of this means women can’t be involved in the church (another red herring), should take abuse (by their husband or anyone else for that matter), or any of the other distracting arguments frequently brought up. Paul spoke of women when they pray or prophesy, so those distractions aren’t correct; Paul did lay out some principles for church leadership (1 Timothy 2:12, which most scholars agree prohibits women serving as pastors), as well as husbands and wives (1 Corinthians, Ephesians).

Paul’s clear teaching should end the debate, but it doesn’t.

Your Free Will

You’re free to ignore any or all of God’s Word as you wish, but let’s not pretend Paul never taught on these matters, or take the pick-and-choose idea of claiming some of God’s Word doesn’t apply. Don’t claim Biblical teaching promotes women as second-class or inferior. Don’t claim the Bible teaches women should tolerate abuse. Don’t bring up red herring issues which fail to deal with the main subject.

For those rejecting what Paul taught, they’re throwing out parts of the Bible. They might be comfortable with that, but I’m sure not. Who wants to stand before God and tell Him his Word was wrong?

It’s leadership and military organization, not superiority. Let’s not confuse those two.

That should end the debate, but it probably won’t.

Resources:

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