(Or, when Complementarianism Goes Good)
To demonstrate that healthy, faithful & generous complementarian ministry can be enormously fruitful, edifying and empowering for women, I thought I’d share a snapshot of my interactions with a range of my male ministry colleagues and friends just this week.
I had a zoom call with a pastor who’s long been advocating for me to hold a Single Minded conference at his church. We’re doing that in August. He has been bending over backwards to provide me with the support I need to make it the best it can be.
I received a lovely message from a male ministry colleague whom I won’t be working as closely with on a project anymore. He wrote, “I count the time working alongside you really precious and to be honest find it hard to imagine this without you”.
I met with a seminary faculty member who asked me to make a significant contribution to a new Master’s unit he’s working on. He recognises that I have expertise in this subject that he doesn’t and asked me to partner with him in developing, teaching & grading it.
Before and after that meeting, I ran into two other male members of the same faculty who stopped for a chat and encouraged me in various aspects of my ministry. I’m recording a podcast with one of them next week.
I received an email from a pastor (who lives elsewhere in Australia and who I had never met before) who had come across my work and wrote, “Thank you for your contribution to […] my growing understanding of a theology of singleness”.
The editor of a journal contacted me to ask if I would be willing to write a 3000-word article in one of my areas of ministry and theological expertise for an upcoming edition. Meanwhile, the editor of my forthcoming academic book got in touch to sound me out on my thoughts about a suggested change to the book title.
I received another email from a pastor who, due to changing circumstances, I won’t be as frequently in touch with as I have been for the last six years. He wrote, “I shall now have to give thought to what other reasons I can find to chat with you from time to time”. Today, he called me out of the blue to have one of those chats.
One of the pastors at my church got in touch, asking if I’d be willing to contribute to some training evenings we’ve got coming up for our church members later this year.
I was contacted by someone at another theological college asking if I’d be interested in chatting about teaching a unit in their curriculum because ‘we feel like you are the right person, with the best theological expertise’ to do so.
(Pssssst. If you happen to be any of the people referenced above and you are still waiting for me to reply to your email or message - I’m sorry!! 😬 It’s been a busy week! I promise to reply ASAP 🙃)
Someone recently wrote that complementarian teaching oppresses women and stands contrary to everything Jesus did and taught.
Suffice to say; I dispute that statement.
But not me alone. The experiences, opportunities and ministry of many of my complementarian female friends also stand contrary to the assertion that complementarianism is inherently anti-women, let alone anti-Jesus.
Sadly, none of us always get our complementarian convictions and actions 100% right. I haven’t. The men I have worked for and alongside haven’t. My female friends haven’t. We make mistakes. We let each other down. We get things wrong. There are far too many tragic stories of complementarian teaching that speak of misuse and even abuse. I genuinely lament every one of those stories. I wish they were not so.
Nevertheless, faithful, generous, godly, creative, healthy, honouring, committed complementarian ministry is possible. And it is enormously encouraging, equipping, edifying, and empowering for Christian women who seek to use their unique skills, gifts, expertise, and individuality to faithfully serve Jesus and his Body.
To my male and female ministry colleagues, mentors and friends who are committed to making it so, thank you… and please keep going.