The Problems Created by Complementarianism

Although complementarian theology teaches that men and women are “separate, but equal,” the lives of complementarians show anything but equality.

With only a little research, one can easily find many stories of abuse that women have experienced due to complementarianism. In fact, one can just google the names John Piper, Pat Robertson, or Mark Driscoll to see just how oppressive complementarianism is.

For example, Pat Robertson, a former Southern Baptist pastor who now hosts the 700 Club, has said some pretty awful things about women. The advice he gave to a viewer in 2012 is possibly the worst. The viewer wrote in hopes of receiving good, godly advice because his wife wasn’t accepting him as the head of the home. Pat, with a chuckle, says, “You could become a Muslim and just beat her! This man’s gotta stand up to her. He can’t let her get away with this stuff. I don’t think we condone wife beating these days but something has got to be done to make her…She is just totally rebellious.”

Disgusted yet? The list goes on.

John Piper, a Calvinist Baptist preacher, teacher, and co-author of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, is pretty outspoken about his view on gender roles. In an article entitled “Co-ed Combat and Cultural Cowardice” he writes, “Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.”

So John, what you’re saying is that even if a man with little to no experience in physical confrontation has a wife/girlfriend/female friend who has a black belt in karate, he must not let her protect him? He has to potentially die for her, when she is more than capable of protecting them both?

Judy Abolafya, a former member of evangelical pastor, Mark Driscoll’s church, said, “His preaching had really done a number on my head. It permeated our marriage, affected how I looked at myself as a woman, how I viewed my husband. I wasn’t able to view it for what it was while I was inside that environment, but within a matter of days since deciding we weren’t going back, it was like a cloud was lifted. All of a sudden I could breathe again.”

Need I go on?

The point is that complementarianism is damaging. Any theology that teaches that one gender, race, or human is greater or has more authority than another is wrong. 

The men listed above aren’t just some random pastors that I happened to stumble across on the internet. These men are well-known and loved pastors (although Driscoll’s audience is beginning to decline due to various controversies) that have massive followings. People write to these men seeking godly advice, but instead get toxic instructions that have “God” stamped on them.

Jesus came to serve, complementarianism is structured around patriarchal systems. Jesus came to heal, complementarianism hurts. Jesus was centered around love, complementarianism revolves around power. Jesus broke social boundaries, complementarianism perpetuates them.  Jesus was inspired by the Spirit, complementarianism is defined by a list of rules.

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10 


7 thoughts on “The Problems Created by Complementarianism

  1. I think when women struggle with or fight against complementarianism, the people who adhere to that viewpoint say that we are being rebellious, ungodly, disobedient, we don’t understand, etc. In reality, I think we understand very well, but the theology is not something that we can accept and still see ourselves as wholly human, incredibly important, and of immense value. “Separate but equal” is reminiscent of the 1960s…it’s like the people who coined that phrase knew it wasn’t true, but if everyone went along with it, great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Things either make sense or they don’t. They either resonate with us or they don’t. While it would be stealing, I could easily copy and paste this entire article and post to my own blog under my own name, and I’m a guy! That would demolish the “rebellious, ungodly, disobedient, we don’t understand” objection.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Charlie, I haven’t heard or read any complementarians state ‘ separate but equal’. ‘Different but equal’, yes – which if course we would say is the same thing! But complementarians apparently don’t think it is so probably best to use their expression of choice.

    I love your final paragraph!

    Liked by 1 person

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