Why Complementarianism? | Gender Roles by Tyler Thayer
March 5, 2009, 2:22 am
Filed under: Thought Initiative | Tags: ,


by Tyler Thayer

Have you ever laughed at the differences between men and women? You should.  On ManSpeak we often jest about the “realms of men” and the “realms of women.”  But aside from cultural stereotypes, jokes, and the basic miscommunication between sexes, the Church debates about how significant gender roles are. Usually, people fall into one of two categories: egalitarianism or complementarianism.

Complementarianism bases its argument in Genesis 2, the creation story.  In verse 18 God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Though verse 18 says that woman was made to be a “helper fit for him,” it does not state that woman has any less value or claim to the image of God than man does, and vise-versa. Instead, complementarianism holds that men and women are equal in value, because both their identities are found within the image of God (Genesis 1:27). In addition, their inheritance is equal, and both are sealed by the Spirit as a guarantee of their inheritance and transformed heart (2 Corinthians 1:22).

At the same time, complementarianism brings a distinction to the roles of men and women. Men and women are equal in image and value but distinct in role. Titus 2:1-6 teaches,

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.”

Scripture further teaches that the marriage between a man and woman should reflect the marriage between Christ and his bride, the Church. 

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

We at ManSpeak believe God sees us, men and women, as equal bearers of his image, yet the roles we take on in the church, family, and the world are distinct.  

ManSpeak wants to know what your questions are.  We want to know what questions are going through your mind on the subject of gender roles and complementarianism. 

Challenge us…ask us anything that comes to mind when you think about this subject.

[This is not just for the guys, but all ladies who read the blog, what questions and/or doubts do you have?]


12 Comments so far
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Could you explain what you mean more clearly by complementariansim? This is not a challenge, but your definition and description of said concept would probably seem unclear to one who is not already versed in our small corner of the idealogical world concerning the form and function of gender.


Comment by Jonathan Kelfer

I must say, I am shocked that anyone would actually believe complementarianism is even godly. How could you ever ask for your wife to submit to you? Don’t you think that is the basic definition of chauvinism and abuse?

There is no good that can come for forcing a woman to “submit” to another.

Comment by MarkT

Thanks for commenting on the blog, MarkT. I’m curious, when you submit to Christ is it abusive or derogatory? After all, Christ is the bridegroom of the Church.

Comment by Justin Day

I think MarkT may be thinking that men seem to have their own God complex when they ask women to submit. I think in some cases, they do. One, you can rule your wife rather than lead her. As I was discussing with my mom this morning, a man needs to be an emotional rock for his wife. He cannot be a crybaby or a domineering man, for that’s not the way Christ leads us.

Second, men can see their jobs as harder then women, which is also prideful. They can take pride in the fact that leaders die first rather than as simply a role. You cannot boast in leading. He who boasts must boast in the Lord.

If a man is a dictator or a seeker of man’s glory, and if a woman lets him do these things, he is not leading biblically and she is not submitting biblically.

Comment by David Wells

Tyler, thanks for posting.

A question i would have would be how does the bible view women?

Or since scripture says pastors should be men, what role does this lead for women in the church?

Comment by joshcan

Hey Kelfer,

Thanks for your post. Can you be more specific, in the form of questions, as to what is not clear? I can understand how it possibly could be unclear, after all, I did very little to give a deep theological understanding of the term and its scriptural and cultural implications.

I guess half the reason for this post was to find out what is unclear. What is not understood. Where do people go separate ways in their understanding?

Although I usually don’t subscribe to it, let’s try the socratic method and ask some questions to find some answers.


BTW, thanks MarkT for your post.


Comment by Tyler Thayer

I do have a question or two….

Just how serious and needed are gender roles? And to follow up on Josh’s questions, what about female pastors/leaders? Is it too much to think God may actually ordain a woman as pastor? For example…there are women leaders in scripture, look at the judges, Deborah.

This may be going to far, but I think the question can be extened to the secular arena as well. What about women leaders in politics? We almost had a first woman president. Does scripture point us in any direction to reconcile these things?

Comment by Tyler Thayer

I was asking for you to define your terms. The wikipedia entries that you posted are either: too wordy to be useful or too vauge.

Complementarianism: Men and women are equal in value and distinct in function.

Egalitariansim: Men and women are equal in value and equal in function.

There we go :).

Comment by Jonathan Kelfer

uh…in church i often hear my pastor say, guys protect the girls. why is this? i can understand protect your daughters, and your wife, but i am young with none of that…is it my job to protect? is this apart of chivalry and is that apart of the bible? thanks

Comment by eric_man

Thanks Jon, you are like a human defining machine. A dictionary, if you will. but always clear and concise.

Comment by Tyler Thayer

Mark T and David,

A man should never ask nor force a woman to submit to him, even if it is his wife. It is 100 percent on the woman’s side to choose to submit to her husband. She should, it is beneficial to the entire household, but ultimately it is her choice and God will judge her based off her decision.

And in general, you will find, that most women want their s/o to be a strong leader.

Comment by James Baby

I was learning about this on the BBC website online,
it’s very interesting.

Comment by Jeanne

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