“What’s in a name?". That is a question I found myself asking as I dialogued with Aimee Byrd about what is (and is not) complementarianism over the last week. Let me give you a brief rundown of how it all unfolded.
I see you as a hopeful complementarian. And we need more of that hope. If complementarianism lived up to its highest ideals, it would represent the best option. Unfortunately, the current state of Protestant clergy and luminaries is such that rock stars - even minor ones- are rewarded with power, influence, and wealth that would be unthinkable to a 1st Century Believer. Some number of clergy and luminaries have used that power, influence, and wealth to shield themselves from genuine accountability and meaningful consequences for sins, indiscretions, and abuse. Women in the pews and seats of churches need to ask themselves how much power and influence do they have when it comes to the official business of the church? I dare say most will answer "none". That power is vested in a small circle with a closed-loop feedback system immune to input from outsiders. However, all is not lost. As long as voices like yours can be heard, there's a chance more people will push their leaders to live up to the ideals of complementarianism and not slide down the path of egalitarianism.
Generally speaking, we have found that there is a big difference across the pond in the US when it comes to definitions of words like evangelical, etc. with us in Australia. And, unlike our UK counterparts, there is little patience to find out what the difference could be to prevent misunderstanding. Maybe you and Aimee need to do a "face to face" interview to work these nuances out and demonstrate to a watching world that understanding takes effort not sweeping statements and labels?
Thanks for this Dani!
I recently read Sheila Gregoire's (not a theological scholar) The Great Sex Rescue and have seen a few things she's put on instagram etc. I found the book very helpful, but have struggled to understand her views on complementarianism. She might be coming from a similar perspective.
Thankful for this. So helpful to have such week articulate voices that show there's an alternative to what US Big Eva is selling/rejecting. Looking forward to the rest of this series.
I don’t know enough about complementarianism and the diff subcultures and streams within it etc. to be able to make any comment on this, but it seems to me that this is part of the perennial problem of terms and definitions. It’s seems that you probably use the term complementation in a substantially different way to how they do. I don’t really know, but it seems to me that they probably use it to describe a distinctly modern and a probably (somewhat atleast) culturally specific phenomena. I don’t know how useful of a definition of “complementarianism” that is (now how much that is how they acc view it), and I don’t really know what the solution to the problem of these differing definitions is.
But thank you for talking and writing about this. If I hadn’t read any of your readings I (an egalitarian, who has mostly only experienced egalitarian Christian spaces and only came across the term complementarianism a couple years back), would have probably fallen into the same pitfalls they do of having to narrow a view of what complementarianism is, and in doing so, ignoring the experiences of people like yourself. Thanks for helping me to have greater understanding and nuance and empathy.
And, on a lighter note, yes, these are absolutely blogs. Let’s reclaim the term blogs.
Looking forward to this! Thank you for the work! I would call myself complimentarian but agree with many of the critiques of the excesses of the position. I am open to considering egalitarian points and positions. Particularly that maybe there is an American version of it that needs to die. But one thing that bothers me is pointing to sinful behavior, something that Byrd has sadly experienced a lot of, as unique to the view. In other words, a complimentarian is misogynistic and the concluding reason is because of the root theology. I agree that it MAY be because (or partly) of the theology but the reality is that misogyny is not unique to complimentarianism.