If Complementarianism is New, it Cannot be True

I’d like to offer some help to my brothers and sisters on the complementarian side of the church. While I completely disagree with your doctrine of gender hierarchy, it has come to my attention that some of you have put even less thought into this than I previously believed. By helping you rule out versions of your story that won’t work, we’ll save time and perhaps all of us can get on with the business of the Kingdom.

Let me explain.

When I wrote The Complementarian Emperor is Shamefully Underdressed, I asked the question,  the question, that sounds the death knell for hierarchical complementarianism:

“If Paul and Peter were teaching male headship as complementarians say, where did this doctrine come from?”Paul-prison2-300x224

Later in this post I will explain why the question will ultimately destroy hierarchichal complementarianism. But first, back to my story.

After posing the question, I went on:

“Logically there are only two options: they either started it as a new thing, or they got it from someplace else.”

I confess, I poo-pooed the first option. I didn’t take it seriously, and only mentioned it at all in order to cover all my rhetorical bases. After all, who would believe that Peter and Paul  were starting male headship as a brand new doctrine in the first century AD?  I didn’t think anybody would believe that.

Enter Truth in my Days, an online apologetics ministry.

Truth in my Days Director John Tors has written a blog piece criticizing my my reasoning. And he devotes 10 of his 31 paragraphs to prove that the Holy Spirit could have inspired the Biblical writers to introduce new doctrine whenever He wanted. And in fact, the Lord did introduce new doctrine throughout the Bible. As John mentioned in the comments, it’s called “progressive revelation.”

Well, yes. But I thought everyone already knew that. Seriously.

And I’m really sorry John devoted nearly a third of his blog post to state the obvious. No, scratch that- I’m not sorry. Because at the end of the day that’s just more proof that complementarians don’t have a very good answer for the question. But fear not, I’m here to help!

Yes, it is true. God could inspire the Biblical writers to introduce new doctrine at any time.1

But the Bible, verbally inspired by an all-knowing, all wise, all powerful God, should be expected to have a coherent message. And the way this brother sees it, a view that says male over female authority was newly introduced by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 makes the Bible message incoherent, and so-called “complementarianism”2 would become obviously untenable and very short-lived as a result.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment. This is why all the top complementarians continually try to imagine that God introduced gender hierarchy in Genesis 1-2, because if it isn’t there, it doesn’t exist at all in the Old Testament, Gospels or Acts. Which would leave us with Paul introducing it as a brand-spanking new idea in 1 Corinthians 11:3, written in AD 55, some 22 years after the resurrection and the founding of the church. And that would raise far more questions than it answers. For example:

  • Complementarians teach that men are to be leaders, and women followers/helpers, and that any departure from this divine pattern is sin. If that is the case, why did God neglect telling this to mankind prior to AD 55?
  • It is said that Moses gave the Israelites 613 commandments, yet not one of them explains that leadership is God’s design for men, nor that respectful cooperation and deference to men is God’s design for women.  Did God not care whether the people of Israel followed this divine plan?
  • If God waited until Paul to reveal the truth of male headship, at what point in history did “female usurpation” become a sin? Was it an unwritten sin prior to AD 55? Did God hold people responsible for unwritten sins?
  • Complementarians teach that marriages consisting of male headship of husbands over wives are a type of Christ and the church to exemplify Gospel truth to the world, and that they are an essential witness to this truth. Why would God wait half a generation after Christ to introduce such an essential witness?
  • First century husbands already had complete authority and control over their wives and households. How is it that the Holy Spirit inspired Peter and Paul to inject into Christian doctrine a “new” concept that was already prevalent in the secular culture of ancient Greece and Rome?

For these reasons, it is unthinkable that the apostles introduced male over female authority as a new concept. If complementarianism is new, it cannot be true. And so the only hope for complementarianism is to “find” it in the creation.

Either way, the question leaves complementarians in an untenable position. Because if their answer implies in any way that it came from the Old Testament, the follow up question is: “Where in the Old Testament do we find that?”

Inevitably complementarians will turn to the New Testament chapters of First Corinthians 11 or First Timothy 2 to try to show the Old Testament basis for gender hierarchy. (As John Tors did.) But assuming what one wishes to prove and then using that assumption as evidence for the assumption is a logical fallacy known as circular reasoning. That doesn’t prove anything.

Or they will point to examples of patriarchy in the Old Testament. (As John Tors did. 3 ) But again, everyone already knows that patriarchy was prevalent in the days of the Old Testament. Genesis 3:16 tells us that from that day forward we can expect men to rule over women.

But where in the Old Testament does God give a commandment or precept that establishes male rule as His design or his perfect will? It’s not there. Anyplace. Again, they have no scripture that supports their understanding of Paul and Peter. Which brings us back once again to the question.

And so our patriarchal protagonists peck around Genesis 1 and 2, like hungry chickens scratching the bare ground for food, trying to find some way to make the case for God-established hierarchy in Eden. It simply must be there, because without it, their case will fold like a cheap lawnchair. And they know it.

Eventually, the question will bring down complementarianism, because sooner or later people will realize the scant Biblical evidence and circular reasoning complementarians use to make their case.

But in the short term they can use the chicken scratch hypotheses and faulty logic to contend that complementarianism is from of old. They have to. Because most of them realize that if complementarianism is new, it cannot be true.





  1. In my initial blog post, I made the statement: “Every important biblical concept begins with the foundations laid in the first few chapters of Genesis.” John apparently misread this to mean, “no new doctrines were introduced in the Bible after Genesis 2.”Of course that is absurd and I would never say that. But to disprove the point I never made, John lists 4 doctrines which came up after Genesis 2: the priesthood, the Messiah, the church, and Jesus. But the Messiah (and therefore Jesus) was introduced in Genesis 3, and the concept of the priesthood in Genesis 14. So three of the four follow perfectly with what I said. As for the church, the need for the church was built upon the foundations laid in Genesis 3.The fact that the church itself wasn’t introduced as a concept until a logical point in the Bible story shouldn’t be surprising. And THAT is the point- 1 Corinthians is NOT a logical point in the story for the introduction of male rule as God’s design. Something else was clearly happening there, and there are much more viable alternatives. (e.g. see Phillip Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ)
  2. The confusing term “complementarianism” is used today by gender hierarchalists as a kinder, gentler name for their movement, which from time immemorial was known as “patriarchy”. It was chosen as their new, euphemistic moniker in 1988, co-opting a word that egalitarians formerly used for themselves. (Link)
  3. In the comments section, in response to my point:  “You seem to have overlooked the tenth paragraph under “An Analysis of Hahn’s Argument,” in which I wrote, “a system of religious authority was instituted in the Mosaic law, a system in which authority was in the hands of the priests and Levites – and only men could serve.” To make this point more clear now, let me point out that the closest OT equivalent to church leaders were the priests and Levites, and they were all men. Only males of the tribe of Levi could serve, which meant that in the OT, religious authority was allowed only for qualified men, not women – the same as in the NT. So here is one clear “Old Testament reference” that I provided, and there are certainly other such references in the OT. The law, in fact, is suffused with this understanding (whether or not you consider them only “hints”). – John Tors



Gender in the American Church: Why the Racial Past Matters

I have to talk about slavery.

Of course, being from the USA, I automatically think of the slavery specific to my own country, when white landowners bought and sold black human beings like farm animals. In my own city there are horrifying reminders of our shameful racist history.

Sign in front of 209 First Street, Louisville, KY USA

Sign in front of 209 First Street, Louisville, KY USA – one of many such signs.

To many black Americans, even the mention of slavery triggers a visceral emotional reaction which many white Americans, not to mention those from other parts of the world,  fail to understand.

Some folks would rather not talk about it, and I understand that. But it’s been said that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and that’s surely true in some form or fashion.

And the fact is that we must talk about it. Because the parallels between the fight over human slavery in the church in the US, and the fight over women’s equality are strikingly obvious.

That’s why I was astounded by this 10 minute video on the Gospel Coalition blog of Justin Taylor.

Two Southern Baptist leaders discussed the issue of racial injustice in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention and why it matters today. They didn’t have to elaborate- it is well known and documented that the primary reason for the formation of the Southern Baptist denomination was their strong support for owning black slaves, and their contention that such slave-holding was fully vindicated and supported by God and the Bible.

That seems ludicrous today, of course. The two men, Dr. Russell Moore,  President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and Matt Hall, VP for Academic Services at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Louisville, Kentucky,  seemed humble and apologetic as they discussed the awful, racist past of the Southern Baptist denomination and what relevance that has for them today.

“Frankly, I think the number one reason is missiological,” said Hall. “If we are going to be serious about the Great Commission, in the United States and beyond, that we need to carefully and honestly think through where we’ve come from, and the things that have provided some impediments and some obstacles in our witness and our testimony in the culture.

Of course, slave-holding was that impediment to the gospel preached by Southern Baptists in the nineteenth century. And I believe the oppression of women is that today, and that the detrimental effects of that oppression to the witness and testimony of the Southern Baptists and other gender hierarchist Christian groups will increasingly become a stone around their necks that they cannot bear.

Some folks, perhaps even many good Southern Baptist ladies, may object to my use of the word “oppression” to describe the gender based hierachy of the SBC. I’m sure a good many of these ladies don’t feel at all oppressed.

But then again, as Dr. Moore himself lamented, many of them are living in marriages that are functionally egalitarian. These couples may pay “lip service” to the gender hierarchy preached from the pulpit on Sunday, but  like many couples, they’ve found that a dictatorship doesn’t feel Christlike and doesn’t work well in their marriage. Following Philippians 2:3 and Ephesians 5:21, they consider each other more important than themselves, and they choose to submit to one another. That won’t feel like oppression to most women, even if the man carries a trump card that is seldom, if ever, played.

But a benevolent dictator remains a dictator, and for many Southern Baptist women, oppression is exactly what it feels like… and what it is… in their marriage, and in their church.

To say that one people group has less power than another people group based solely that person’s identity is, by definition, oppression. It was true for race, and it is true for gender.

And I was astonished that these men could discuss the one and not think of the other.

White Baptists in the south were so certain that their pro-slavery/ pro-segregation interpretation of the Bible was correct, they split their denomination, separated themselves from fellow Baptists, and formed a new denomination that favored racial hierarchy, segregation, and slave holding: the Southern Baptist Convention.

“The things that haunt me most is that how many people just like me could have been so wrong for so long,” said Hall. “In the Southern Baptist Convention we cannot afford, missiologically, to not be honest about these things….and we have a generation of pastors…who.. wonderfully and encouragingly…have a vision for what the Gospel calls from us in terms of the inclusive nature of the Kingdom, in terms of racial and ethic diversity.”

But what about gender diversity, Matt? When your churches are led exclusively by male pastors, teachers, and elders, isn’t a fundamental aspect of diversity missing?

And of course, Southern Baptists believe the Bible teaches it should be that way, just as they formerly believed the Bible taught slavery was normal and good, a belief they now decry, shaking their heads and wondering how people just like them could be so wrong for so long.


You are oppressing women in your churches. You are denying pastorates to female seminary students, denying leadership roles to qualified women, holding back able leaders who want to advance the Kingdom of God.

And that is evil. Not as evil as the slavery of a human being, but evil nonetheless, and detrimental to God’s Kingdom.  And these men don’t see it.

I’m sure they mean well, and these things are done with the very best of intentions.
Just like Jim Crow.

“One of the things I try to teach people,” says Dr. Russell Moore, “is that no one sees himself or herself as a villain. In the narrative of someone’s own life one is always the hero, the protagonist. So there are very few people that actually believe themselves to be plotting to do evil. They think they are doing something good, which of course is consistent with what Scriptures tell us, ‘there is a way that seems right to a man, the end thereof is death,’ Jesus says they will put you out of the synagogues and think they are doing service to God….. so when you think about people in the past who held to some really obnoxious views of white supremacy, who used levers of power of government and of the community and of the church to oppress people on the basis of skin color and ethnicity… what did those people think they were doing? How did they see themselvs as actually doing right?”

Matt Hall agrees.

“The irony and the tragedy is, I think, that Southern Baptists, out of often good intentions, thought they knew the way things really were around them. But they were blind and oblivious, often, to the world that black men and women inhabited in the Jim Crow south. And often they would appeal to the Bible….”

Yes. That. The irony and tragedy of the blindness required to use the Bible to oppress other human beings, who God created to bear His image.

But an even greater irony and tragedy is that these men could have this discussion and miss the heartache of the women who have seminary degrees but who can’t find a church that will hire them, who are the most qualified people in their churches to sit on the church board, but who aren’t considered because of their gender, or the women who are slaves in their own homes.

These things go on in their churches today because of their gender hierarchal doctrine, and these men are blind and oblivious to them.

Hall continues in the video:

“It’s a sobering warning to those of us who often see through our own blinders, and we don’t often see the world around us as other people, even often our brothers and sisters in Christ experience it. And I think that’s one of the great calls of the Kingdom of Christ: to see the world as others experience it.”

“Over and over again foreign mission board workers would appeal to Southern Baptists saying, ‘Please, please, stop this. You’re impairing the work of the gospel.‘ And that is one of the most heartbreaking things about this whole story.”

What’s even more heartbreaking is that these spiritual descendants of those racist Baptists of the south,  contrite and humble as they are over the blindness of their ancestors, fail to see the parallels between the racial oppression of the SBC of old and the gender oppression of the SBC today, often citing the same passages as proof-texts.

Just as their forebears separated from their fellow Baptists over the slave issue, Dr. Moore has separated from other Bible-believing Christians over gender hierarchy.

And just as the racist past of the SBC hampered their evangelistic efforts, the gender hierarchy they teach in the present impedes their witness and testimony today. To some degree all Christians are tarred and our evangelistic work also slowed by this false doctrine.

I do pray fervently, that Dr. Moore’s words at the end of the video come to pass.

“I hope that in the year 2065 a historian looking back at Southern Baptist life will write a very different chapter about the next few years to come.”

Amen, Dr. Moore. Amen.


Why This Brother Fights for Women

My friend Jory Micah wrote something nice today on Facebook about a group of Christian men that have impacted her recently. I was very gratified to have been included on that list.

The thing we did that surprised her so much is that we supported her in her fight for gender equality in the church. She’s very honest about the fact that she didn’t expect that from men, and was hesitant to include us in her target audience. But she said our little group proved her wrong, and  she wrote of us:

I have a tremendous amount of respect for men who support gender equality in the Church and want to see women flourish in Church leadership. At one point I had a bad taste in my mouth concerning Christian men. I thought most of them wanted me to sit down, shut up, and submit. I thought that most Christian men were OK with condescending remarks such as “Women are equal in value, but not authority;” but you guys have changed my mind forever and I just want to honor the guys today and express my heartfelt gratitude for each of you!”

I completely understand why many men haven’t signed on to this endeavor. Many guys look on it as women’s ministry. It’s pretty easy to think that the women can do this for themselves, that us guys should just focus on men’s stuff and let the Lord work it all out.

Besides, someone might ask us for our “man card” if they suspect we’ve been pushing for women preachers and the like. “How about that nice floral arrangement on the piano, brother? Did you pick the flowers?”

The fact is that, despite the kind words of Jory and a few other like-minded sisters, my popularity hasn’t exactly soared since I took up this cause. And that’s OK with me, because I’m not doing it for popularity.

I’m doing it because I want to impact this world for Christ. I’m doing it because I take the Scriptures seriously, and I firmly believe that the hierarchical complementarian interpretation of Scripture is completely wrong and that by embracing it, good people are doing the very work of the devil in the church. My conviction of this truth grows stronger each day.

I’m doing this because our Lord Jesus told us-

The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” – Jesus, in Luke 10:2 NLT

While hierarchical complementarians tell us-

…some contemporary evangelical writers appeal to the ministries of women in the Scriptures to support the notion that there should be no limits on women’s roles in ministry today. They maintain that women and men should have equal access to every ministry function and that any limits on women derive from culture and tradition, not from the Bible, which they believe supports the full inclusion of women in any ministry. – Thomas Schriener in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, page 211

Jesus: “Pray… pray, pray beseech the Lord of the Harvest- send more workers into your harvest!!

Complementarians: “Limits! We believe in limiting a woman’s ministry. Don’t let them do too much! Don’t let them soar too high! It’s not proper! It’s not right!”

Fifty. Percent. Of the church.

Fifty. Percent. Of the church.

Fifty. Percent. Of the church.

And John Piper wants to handcuff them. Wayne Grudem wants to hold them back. Thomas Schreiner wants to limit their ministry.

Are you kidding me?

So let’s think….  what can This Brother do to make the biggest possible impact for the Kingdom of God? Make biscuits at the next Men’s Ministry monthly breakfast?

You decide. I’ll be busy doing what I have to do.

Standing Up for our Sisters at the Men’s Retreat

I love men’s ministry. I do. Men’s events, be they campouts, retreats, monthly breakfasts, you name it-  are important to the life of a church.  Many men don’t feel at home in the formal atmosphere of many church buildings, and so find it hard to relax and be real. A men’s event often puts guys together in a more relaxed and natural setting, which help bring down the walls that we put up. Men’s events promote camaraderie and true friendship, something many men lack.

On the other hand, men’s ministry has its drawbacks. Women bring many talents to the human mix, and one of them is that they tend to be a mitigating factor against some of the worst behavior of men. Our bad behaviors are well known: arrogance, bravado, posturing, feeling the need to prove our manhood and outperform the other guy. Unleashed and unchecked, our quest for manly honor among our peers can venture into the darkness.

As I’ve already noted, guys like John Piper define manhood by their degree of authority and leadership over women.

Putting that kind of poison in a room with men trying to “man up”  on one another is a recipe for ugliness. The easiest way in the world to score some “man points” with a lot of other men is to engage in some patriarchal bravado. Sadly, this is all too common at men’s events.

And the degree to which the errors of  hierarchical complementarian theology has permeated our church is a good indicator of how badly men will behave in reference to women at times when women aren’t present.

So I was extremely proud of my pastor at the last men’s retreat in his choice of inspirational video. He always picks several clips for the retreat to fire up the men, to encourage us to not be complacent, to go deeper in God, to fight the good fight of faith for our families and others around us. Often they are clips from action movies.  And that first night, his pick was this:

Leon knew he spoke up to the wrong guy, and at this point wanted out of the conversation. So we moved on for the time being. But that conversation opened the door for us to discuss it more fully after the retreat. And we did.

Full disclosure: I was ready for what came from Leon. I didn’t know who would be the bearer of the patriarchal spew on that retreat, but I knew it would come from somebody. It always does. So I made it a point of prayer before the retreat– that God would arm me and equip me to spot the patriarchal nonsense when I saw it, and give me the voice and the words to call it out effectively.

 Because here is the deal, guys: Left unchallenged, things like that enforce the patriarchal darkness left to us by the fall.

Would Leon leave the retreat feeling his misogyny confirmed? Or rather would he leave feeling it challenged? The answer to that question was up to me.

In the past we may have been content to let our sisters fend for themselves in matters like these. We’ve been thinking it’s not our fight. And that is why the church is still mired in patriarchal teaching 2000 years after Christ. Because if all our conversations are clean and pure whenever the sisters are around, there is nothing for them to discuss or oppose. If all the patriarchal speech is out of the sights and ears of the women, patriarchy continues to spread. And so it will be unless the men stand up for our sisters. And this is what we’ve got to do.

A complementarian friend of mine once prefaced a speech in a men’s breakfast, “I can’t say this everywhere but I can say it here in front of you guys,” before he spouted some misogynistic drivel. I let him get away with it that day, but never again. This is what we cannot allow to happen. Because this fight isn’t solely for our sisters to fight. It is ours to fight with them.

As Tauriel said,

It is our fight. “It will not end here. With every victory, this evil will grow! If your father has his way, we will do nothing. We will hide with in our walls, live our lives without light and let darkness descend. Are we not part of this world? Tell me, Mellon, when did we allow evil to become stronger than us?”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. — Romans 12:21


The Complementarian Emperor is Shamefully Underdressed

Have you ever noticed that complementarians often manage to assume an air of superiority when they write and speak? Well I have. They seem to think their interpretation of the Bible is the Bible, that the Word of God is so clearly on their side of the gender issue that one must go to great lengths and keep one eye closed to miss the intended male over female hierarchy.

Perusing complementarian literature, it’s easy to find the likes of the following

“At the core of this topic lies the fundamental issue of biblical authority. If we write off, ignore, or distort the Bible’s teaching on gender roles, then we are bound to do so with everything the Bible teaches. Indeed, the Bible is so clear on male-female distinction…….. ….If we can wrest egalitarianism from the Bible, we can pervert it to say anything we wish.”1

I can think of few kind things to say about such nonsense. The best I can do is to assume well-meaning but misguided intentions and total blindness to the biblical bankruptcy of their own position. But it’s difficult to be that charitable.

These guys would have us believe that in all their alleged proof texts, Paul and Peter are teaching the same hierarchical complementarianism espoused by  John Piper and Wayne Grudem, and that it came from the creation story. That last part is absolutely essential to their argument, that’s why they keep kicking what is obviously a dead horse.

Because if Paul and Peter are teaching gender hierarchy as the complementarian guys say, here’s the question: Where did they get it? Where did it come from?  Logically there are only two options: they either started it as a new thing, or they got it from someplace else.

Obviously, they can’t have Paul and Peter initiating new doctrine that subjugates the women to the men.  First of all, nobody would believe that, and more importantly, that doesn’t fit the teaching style of either apostle. The apostles were careful to build on the established foundation. But where is that foundation?

Jesus didn’t breath a word about gender hierarchy, but that’s not necessarily a big deal. Jesus didn’t address every possible topic because He didn’t need to. It’s fine that He didn’t mention it, as long as the foundation is laid elsewhere. But that is exactly where the gender hierarchists go embarrasingly astray.

The creation story is where they turn, naturally, and it ought to be there, right? If it’s God’s good plan and all like they say. Every important biblical concept begins with the foundations laid in the first few chapters of Genesis. And look at the many clear and unambiguous statements in Genesis 1-2!

God was the creator.  1:1, 2:4
Everything God created was originally good. 1:31
Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God. 1:26-27
God created marriage.  2:22-24 and blessed the sexual union of man and woman. 1:28
Men and women were told to fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over the animals.  1:28
Plants were given for mankind to eat. 1:29.
Etc, etc, etc.

Clear. Concise. Compelling.

And according to complementarians, this is also where God set up specific “gender roles” in which man would rule over woman in a hierarchical relationship with man as the leader/ initiator / responsible party and the woman as the submissive assistant and only one rung lower than the man on the authority ladder.

Ok, so how about a clear, unambiguous statement to that effect? Nope, sorry. No can do. Can’t help you there.

But what we DO have, are, according to Denny Burk, some “evidences”  Or as Raymond Ortlund says,  “A series of more or less obvious hints,”2

OK, so let me get this straight. You guys are telling me that God subjected one-half of the earth’s population to the other half at creation, an action that affected 100% of the people who ever lived, something more common, in fact, than marriage and sex, and yet God can’t spare a single sentence in the creation story to tell us this? Aren’t you the same guys who were just telling us a moment ago how clear the Bible is on this subject?

According to these self-proclaimed guardians of biblical truth, this gender hierarchy stuff is major doctrine. These guys consider it so essential that they made it a litmus test for membership acceptance into the Gospel Coalition. Piper ominously warns us that, “Egalitarianism must always lead to an eventual denial of the Gospel.”3 There’s that air of superiority again, with a little fear-mongering added for good measure.

Well I have a newsflash for you purveyors of the clear and obvious biblical truth of gender roles: You don’t establish major doctrine like that on “a series of more or less obvious hints.” You need an unequivocal statement of fact- especially in a foundational passage that is literally filled with such factual statements.

And you want to know the part that must cause them unbearable anguish? The clear and unambiguous statement they need is right there in Genesis 3:16, but they can’t use it because it’s clearly connected to the fallen condition of mankind, not the blissful state in Eden.4 So instead of finding their proof text, they are forced to admit that 3:16 describes a fallen state,  and publicly lament that the fall left us with a perversion of God’s original blessed and wonderful design for male leadership.5

So supposedly God gave us a clear unequivocal statement when it comes to male rule as a curse, but when it comes to male rule as a blessing He beat around the bush.

Sorry guys, that’s shoddy exegesis and this brother isn’t buying it. And frankly, if what you’re teaching wasn’t so damaging to the church of Jesus, I’d laugh at the foolishness of what you consider a great argument. It’s ridiculous.

Well, Ok. The complementarian crowd came up empty in the creation story. Perhaps later? Moses, maybe in the 10 commandments, or some other law in the pentateuch? Surely God would have told Moses to put something about it in the law, since it’s such an important part of God’s wonderful plan, right? One would think. But no. Missed it there too.


“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look. Aren’t they becoming!” He heard on all sides, “That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent outfit.”

Maybe Job? The Psalms? Song of Solomon? Isaiah? Those all sound like possibili……well…no, actually. Nothing. Not a word in the rest of the Old Testament about this major doctrine of joy.6

And then we get to Paul, and these complementarian dudes immediately see very clearly that he’s teaching gender hierarchy. Because there were some “more or less obvious hints” dropped 1500 years and 1070 chapters previously without a word about it in between. Gotcha.

Good grief! They have no scripture! They really don’t- because Paul and Peter can’t be teaching hierarchy if it’s not supported elsewhere, and neither the Old Testament nor Jesus teach gender hierarchy to support such an interpretation.

Complementarianism is bankrupt because it has no coherent biblical foundation. And yet they claim biblical superiority to the point of infallibity, cast aspersions on egalitarians, and incite fear in the church over abandoning their corrupt system.

This is why I find it difficult to be charitable in my judgment. By and large, these guys tend to be very bright and well educated. How can they be this obtuse?





  1. Preface to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 2006 edition  (xi-xii)
  2. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 1991 edition, page 88
  3. Preface to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 2006 edition  (xii)
  4. This was not always the case. For centuries patriarchal teachers used Gen 3:16 as their proof text, partly due to a faulty translation of the Latin Vulgate by Jerome. For a fascinating historical account, see Susanna Krizo’s book, When Dogmas Die, esp. Introduction and Chapter 1.
  5. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 1991 edition, page 410
  6. An exception is the ungodly Persian King Xerxes in Esther chapter 1- not the role model they wanted I am sure.

The Impetus of Patriarchy

I read an interesting article at The Good Men Project about: The Hazards of Manhood

Despite some obvious political leanings away from my preferred direction, the article nails some important aspects about manhood and my gender’s incessant quest to attain it, which I think are absolutely true.

“Most American men know perfectly well the qualities they must display to be considered fully creditable as men: power, competitiveness, and toughness.”

That’s the prize, right there. You have to be “considered fully creditable as a man”. And the unspoken understanding of many is that you don’t just get that from having X and Y chromosomes and reaching adulthood. You have to earn your manhood, so as to be seen manly by those around you. If you can feel it, all the better, but in the very least you need to be seen that way.

“They compete for promotions, putting work first in their lives, lest they be seen as wimpy or wussy—sexist code words for “feminine” or “womanly.”

The thinking behind this: If you’re not a man, then you’re a woman. Female is the default gender. Little boys and little girls are virtually indistinguishable with their voices, body hair, and skin, but some of us grow out of that, attaining manhood. The rest remain in that lesser condition. So you can either “wuss out” (be a girl), or you can “man up” ( be a man).

And as the article above tells us, far too many men spend a lifetime reaching for that goal but never feeling they obtain it. (This is absolutely true, and one of the powerful selling points in the message of John Eldredge’s best seller, Wild at Heart.)

“This kind of manhood striving is driven by a contradiction: To be a real man in U.S. society, one must have or display power—the capacity to exert control over one’s self and the surrounding world—but the fact is that most men in a capitalist society have little or no power. For most men, striving for manhood status is an attempt to evade this contradiction, to escape the psychic pain it causes.”

And there you have it.

And if that’s true, that is ultimately what drives patriarchy: Men living in the pain of not “being the man”, which is believed to be “displaying power to exert control over one’s self and one’s world.”

As John Piper said, “Men are hard-wired to lead”.  And by that Piper means that if he is not leading, he is not being manly. Listen to John:

Ok wait. Let’s think this through…. The only difference between a “Complementarian” Christian and an Egalitarian Christian is that the Complementarian places men in authority and leadership roles over women.

And in the video above, when it comes to answering a little boy’s question, “What does it mean to grow up and be a man, and not a woman?” – John Piper says that Complementarians are the only ones of the two that can answer that question. Apparently the only difference between men and women that Piper can see and articulate is that men lead, women follow. So John Piper’s masculinity is inseparably linked to his authority and leadership of women.

This is made clear in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, “The Meaning of Masculinity” (2006 edition, pp36-45) and several other places. Piper says that mature masculinity includes a sense of responsibility to lead. (p36) “Mature masculinity does not have to initiate every action, but feels the responsibility to provide a general pattern of initiative.” (P 39).

And if a man can’t do that in the neighborhood, or the factory, or the office, or at the club, where can he do it?

At home. In the church, where he can still build his patriarchal kingdom and rule over his subjects. After all,

“A man’s home is his castle.” – Sir Edward Coke, 1628 AD

The church and the home are among the final bastions of officially sanctioned male power. This is true for a number of reasons, among them tradition and faulty Biblical interpretation. But from this brother’s perspective, there is another, more compelling reason.

I believe that fueling the reluctance to change or to even look deeply into the issue of male/female equality is, in the heart of many men,  fear.

Often people think it’s about selfishness or control,  and sometimes it is. But I don’t think most guys in the church are like that. It’s usually not a case that they’re bad men. Quite the contrary, most Christian guys just want to live their life, raise their kids and grandkids, serve the Lord and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” at the end. But many men, even the strongest ones, have a deep and abiding fear of not measuring up. I suspect that fear and insecurity drives John Piper and his theology of “Biblical Manhood” and his feelings that his manhood is being compromised whenever he is in the presence of a woman he feels is less than lovingly deferential to his “authority”. And I believe that theology plays into one of the worst fears of very many men: The fear of not being seen as manly.

Can you imagine Jesus deriving his personal sense of manhood from his authority over and leadership of women? Neither can I.

We shouldn’t be drawing our theology from our fear of inadequacy, nor let such fear hinder our quest for the truth.

A Man on a Mission

I love Jesus. I love His Word. And I love His church, His people. The church is His idea, and I’m grateful to be a part of it, flaws and all. Because I have my flaws as well.

And just as I’m a work in progress, so is the rest of the church that Jesus loves. And I feel compelled by the Lord to share some of the things He’s been showing me along the way for the benefit of everyone else on the journey of faith.

Especially for the benefit of my sisters.

God has been working overtime in me for the past few years to correct a wrong that used to be in my soul, a form of misogyny known as patriarchy. I pray that it’s all gone, because I am completely convinced from a purely Biblical standpoint that the source of this wrong is mankind’s fallen nature as shown in Genesis 3:16.

Of course, one of the hallmarks of a curse is that it is almost impossible to get rid of. And in the church that Jesus loves, patriarchy hangs on tightly, too often as official doctrine, under the name “complementarianism.”

I’ve vaguely known about this for a number of years, but not cared enough about “women’s ministry” to look into it all that much. I suppose I thought the sisters could fend for themselves. Well they have been, but it’s not enough. They need their brothers, their Bible-believing conservative brothers to lock arms with them and go to war with them and for them.

Ironically, one of the primary beliefs of my patriarchal brothers (and sisters) is that “defending the women” is one of the characteristics of masculinity. All right then. That’s what this brother is going to do.

This author believes that that we are now in a modern day reformation period, in which “God is restoring the truth of Biblical equality, liberating and elevating His women to a place of equality with His men.” I agree wholeheartedly. And I intend to do my part.