I may be a complementarian, but I dole out my respect sparingly enough. I do not believe that every woman needs to submit to every man and I do not believe that every man can righteously wield power over me with wisdom or criticism.
I believe that every practical act of ours on earth ought to be a reflection of what happens in the Kingdom. It seems clear that the Trinity beautifully displays a threefold relationship I’m happy to take my part in as helper—equal, but distinct.
One of the few who has won my hard[ly] earned respect is a pastor who moved to my native north from the Bible-belt to replant a church. He’s an author, speaker, and blogger, and never once have I heard him put out anything distracting from the glory of God. Not once, that is, until he stepped on a seeming hornet’s nest a few months ago.
He unwittingly quoted someone who had prefaced something controversial before they said it, but he quoted it without the same warning. And well, we’d all like to be able to pull back our words a time or two, wouldn’t we? Fortunately it was on a blog and so he removed the entry after a discussion ensued when a fuss was raised from an opposing movement (in this case Christian feminists), and issued an apology.
It was in poor form, I’ll give you that. But I took neither offense to it nor did I see the need to address it. Why? Because the most freeing aspect of being a complementarian, for me, is trust. I trust that he has people in his life who will point out any error and, in fact, they did—but nobody seems to want to draw attention to that because it would imply that hierarchal systems actually work without the undo drawing of attention by the masses, gossipmongers, and those who take offense easily.
It may have taken a few minutes to get here, but what this post is about is trust.
It seems to me that on a very base level the problem of the feminist movement and the patriarchy movement, and indeed sin itself, is principally a lack of trust. We have, from the very beginning, been attempting to wrench what was not given in the search of what was labeled off limits.
The whole garden, every tree and plant, the dominion over the whole earth was ours—everything but this one tree, and yet this one tree is the one Eve took the fruit from and gave it to Adam to share.
From the start we are in search of what is not within our grasp. And if we feel powerless holding onto what does not belong to us, we grasp, we cajole, we plead, and finally in an act of spirited defiance, we take it. We reach high into the branches and we twist that fruit until what looked so good is now so bad, and we eat of it—we dominate in the name of righteousness.
And what happens is not satisfaction. It is not completion. It is not godlike presence or perfection. What happens is that we are immediately found wanting for more and nothing covers us fully enough. We need something more to satisfy.
This, to me, is the major practical flaw in movements that attempt to thwart a design, albeit a design with limits, to attain what was not designed to be ours.
We are never satisfied.
Isn’t that the look of all sin though? Isn’t it just, as Augustine said, the reordering of good things until they become ultimate things? Isn’t it what happens when we put our hope in a thing or an action or an apology or even a theology, instead of in God himself?
Here is why I am a complementarian (aside from the fact that I think the Bible is clear about it and I’m too tired of all the other mental gymnastics I do to add one more routine): because it goes against my nature to submit to anyone on anything. I’m aware of it so strongly that I war against anything that teaches me to reach for a higher branch of forbidden fruit.
I war against anything God has said clearly it is not right for me to have (I Tim. 2.12). I war against anything that demands action of me I have not been fit to act on (I Peter 3.7). I war against anything that says if one person has something I ought to have it too (Rom. 12.3). The truth is trust is where I belong, it is where I am safest, where I am held, where I am known, where I rest, and most of all where He has made His glory known to me.
You may call me foolish or underfoot, you may even accuse me of being blinded by my male leadership, and I am okay with that, because here is what I know: I am seen and noted, I am chosen and delivered, I am full of the Father’s design, the Groom’s love, and Spirit’s help. The more I trust, the further into Himself He takes me.
I eat fruit from low-slung tree branches and it is juicy and full and ripe in its season.
And it is good because He has said it is good.
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