I recently saw a thread on twitter about views of women (and men) in the church, and finding it insightful, I am sharing it with you. This was shared by Bronwen Speedie. Find her on twitter here: @GodsDesignPerthor. Or at the blog God’s Design.
Some intro thoughts from me: I get so frustrated when certain complementarians claim that egalitarians teach gender sameness, that we want to obliterate differences between the sexes. [Scream! Tear out my hair!] – No we do not! I am not aware of any egalitarians that believe or teach such a thing. I’ll share some final thoughts after this from Bronwen Speedie:
What’s the main difference between complementarianism and egalitarianism? Complementarians believe men and women are “equal but different,” but egalitarians believe we are “different but equal.”
A response on twitter: The difference is the same.
No, it’s not, particularly if you understand what complementarianism means by “equal but different.” Let’s start with a bit of history. Most theologians in the past 2000 years agreed that women were inferior to men, because they read the Bible through the lens of their culture.
By the 1970s, it was becoming evident that the West would no longer tolerate the belief that women were ontologically inferior. Theologians started looking anew at Scripture and saw that men and women had equal worth. If we are equal in God’s sight, then could women be ordained?
Allowing women into ministry roles was too “liberal” for some theologians, so if they were going to say women were of equal worth, they needed an escape clause. So they came up with “equal but different” – God values us the same, but we have different “roles.”
So what this meant in practice was, “let’s SAY we’re equal, but what we DO will not be equal. We will keep women in their place.” This teaching was in essence no different to the old “women are inferior” – it just *sounded* more palatable.
Complementarians claimed, and have continued to claim with monotonous regularly despite zero evidence, that egalitarians “want men & women to be the same” – that we “deny natural differences” & “want to introduce androgyny.” This is part of why they insist on “different roles.”
Despite the complementarian claims, egalitarians have never said “we’re all just the same – men and women are interchangeable.” But we have said, “spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit and are not given according to gender. What the Holy Spirit gives, we must not suppress or deny.”
Back to me:
I hope you see the difference between: equal but different -and- different but equal. The differing emphasis really does make a difference!
Men are men and women are women; we reflect God in different ways. Yet we can be gifted with the exact same spiritual gifts (or other life abilities). The church (and world) needs these gifts expressed in the unique way that a female image bearer of God and a male image bearer of God will do so. When women are limited and restricted, we can end up with a lopsided or off-balance view of God, the church functioning in a less than optimal way for God’s glory.
Egalitarians can also be falsely accused of teaching gender sameness or role reversal in the marriage relationship. Again, no! As I share in another post:
The opposite of a complementarian marriage (man leads/woman submits) would be woman leads/man submits. And woman leads/man submits is definitely not an egalitarian view of marriage! On a line diagram, complementarian (really, patriarchy) would be over to the left, egalitarian would be in the center, and woman leads/man submits (matriarchy) on the right. An egalitarian view does not see interchangeability between man and woman in the marriage, but flexibility. Depending on things such as life circumstances and individual gifting, roles in a marriage may flex or change. The man and woman are partners, and lead together.
Another post of interest: Are Women Human? by Dorothy Sayers. Book review.