18 thoughts on “It’s not complementarianism; it’s patriarchy

  1. I have to agree with John Piper, to a certain extent. Christianity from a sociological perspective IS predominantly masculine, at least in Western culture. However, this is the result of a fallen, sinful world, and is on a long list of failures of the church universal. Thank you, Morven, for bringing to light one other sister who is carrying on the battle against patriarchism (is that a word?) in our faith community today.

  2. I look forward to your future posts on this subject. I feel like what is touted as “complementarian” these days misses the point of the word, or at least dramatically limits it’s meaning, as if there is only one way in which husband and wife together make a whole, or that the goal of a woman submitting is so that the man have someone to lead. I don’t think it’s the best word to describe what is actually meant. Marriage, in the Christian sense, is based on mutual love, mutual self-sacrifice (which is how I define submission), mutual honor/respect, and mutual desire to live as Christ’s body on earth. I do seek to submit to my husband, in obedience to the Scriptures, but for me it is an exercise in respect. I tend to barrel my way through life. My husband does not. I am learning to honor him by slowing down and not bowling him over, giving him space to think and react and speak, and, yes, make some decisions without the undue pressure I can create for him. Through all this I am also learning how better to honor my other brothers and sisters in Christ: ” submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21)

  3. I guess I don’t really get this whole thing, I have to wonder if both sides don’t miss the point or maybe I am missing something. When I look around, I see a lost and hurting world, dying in their sins and even those that are in Christ not always living the abundant life of freedom He promised. Shouldn’t we stop arguing about things like this and just get out there and do something about the suffering that is all around us? Do we really have time to write papers and articles about a patriartical system vs complementarian system and get fired up at each other while the world looks on at us Christians as divisive people who cannot even get along with one another? I just don’t think I understand. I submit to my husband out of love just as he does with me. But its just hard for me to get too fired up about whether someone else understands that or wants to put some name to it or even if someone else believes God’s word tells them to do their marriage altogether differently. I’m not talking about domestic violence or the human sex trade here, if we’re talking those things I’m fired up already and ready to jump in fighting for the victim. But some of these debates that go on…well, I just have to wonder if we couldnt spend our time here a little better. We only have so many days here, we can’t afford to miss a single one without sharing the love of Christ with those who so desperately need it. Lets just roll up our sleeves, join hands together and get out there healing the sick, casting out demons, ministering to the poor, helping the widow and orphans as Christ commanded us too. Once we get all of that done, well…. then I would totally be up for a good debate. I could be misguided, certainly have been before. But I for one want to be too tired being the hands & feet of Christ to really care what Russel Moore thinks about my marriage in the first place.

  4. Dear Papa’s child, I know you and your beloved and the wonderful marriage you share, and I also understand your passion for praying for healing for those who suffer. Maybe it’s because you haven’t lived in a “Christian” patriarchal family, or been raised in such a denomination, or been told that you were not even allowed to read Scripture out loud because you were female. Unfortunately, these things are VERY important to having unity in the body and having all of Christ’s children treated with equal dignity and respect. Sadly, I’ve known first hand the evil of patriarchy, I’ve seen how complementarianism is just a nice way of wrapping it all up in a prettier package and I long for the day that egaliaritanism – where there are no ‘jews or gentiles’, ‘slaves or free’, ‘male and female’ – in Christ Jesus, meaning we are all equal in his eyes. Thousands of females suffer every day because they are taught that the men in their families have power over them, and that God has given those men this authority. Patriarchy is the main power behind domestic violence in religious homes, and I mean ALL religions. I know that will fire you up, so ….

    …. keep reading …. Rachel Held Evans is one of the most solid gals out there. I think that we are all being the hands and feet of Jesus in just the way he has called us to be. For Rachel and I, this is part of our passion and our call. You might not understand it, but we would covet your prayers to help us in our longing for all our spiritual sisters know Papa the way you do! You are precious to me.

    • Morven Baker said, “Thousands of females suffer every day because they are taught that the men in their families have power over them, and that God has given those men this authority. Patriarchy is the main power behind domestic violence in religious homes, and I mean ALL religions.”

      While I wholeheartedly agree that patriarchy is so often the power behind domestic violence, I would have to disagree with you on the number of females that suffer. Every little girl that is told that college is ‘out of reach’ for her simply because she is a female; every teen that is told that ‘all she is good for keeping house and making babies’; as well as every little boy that is told that he has to ‘man up’ and ‘take charge’ are all victims of patriarchy. The number, I respectfully submit, is in the millions. ALL of these children are being prepared for living with (or at least tolerating) domestic violence.

  5. ok….I get it a little better now. Especially the part about us all being the hands and feet of Christ in the unique way He has called us, as He has made us each a different tool in His carpenter’s belt. And since I’m a hammer, maybe I can never quite get what we need blue prints for…I just want to get in there and bang things up and not spend time looking at the design behind why we need to do all the banging in the first place. So, I guess its good He has other people studing the blue prints – as they are surly just as important as the hammer, if not more so.

    I’m sure if someone heard me stomping around and praying out loud in my prayer closet for several hours, they might not get that either! Thanks for helping me understand better, and there is no way you could ever not have my prayers – Papa’s put you on my list. If it matters to you, than it matters to me….even if I don’t always “get it.”

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  7. Morven/Rachel, You make me think! And re-evaluate. I’m a complementarian because of my exegesis; I’ll wait to read Rachel’s reconstruction of the traditional texts. I don’t see myself as a patriarchalist & in practice probably somewhere between complementarian & egalitarian. Russell Moore has made a valid point: what does a complementarian marrriage look like & how should it differ from an egalitarian marriage.
    And by the way just because complementarianism is losing ground does not necessarily demonstrate it is incorrect. While not said explicitly that was implied. Legal & popular approval of same-sex marriage in the US is gaining ground but that is indicative of the culture turning from God’s Word.

    • John, bless you for being the wonderful man that you are. You, my friend, will never stopping thinking and re-evaluating. There are lots of things you and I differ on, and we’ve bantered lovingly back and forth on different continents, and that shall always be because you are you and I am me. But we love Jesus, no doubt.

      • Thanks for the compliment, Morven. Appreciate it. Difference is good; if there weren’t difference I & the world would learn very little. Academic difference is the way knowledge develops & the way we get closer to the truth. I love bantering back & forth, especially when it is done in love & good humour/humor. And I always enjoy bantering back & forth with a good & intelligent woman as she always has a take on the truth & life that a male needs to take on board.

        I’m fighting a battle to get women on the Church Council here as I think the Council is impoverished by excluding the understanding, perspective & feelings of women. The Council is not an eldership, though they wish to make it so without electing elders but simply by calling persons elected as councillors elders. The matter is now delayed.

  8. “3. And they are losing ground because, at the practical level, evangelicals are realizing that complementarianism doesn’t actually promote complementary relationships, but rather hierarchal ones.

    Complemenarianism is patriarchy—nothing more, nothing less. (Though it is sometimes called “soft patriarchy.”) This was made crystal clear when John Piper announced months ago that Christianity is inherently masculine.”

    If it quacks like a duck…glad people are finally catching on. Deception is decption, and CBMW should pay for it’s deception having tried to cover up “patriarchy” by calling it “complementarianism.”

  9. “Complementarianism isn’t working—in marriages and in church leadership— because it’s not actually complementarianism; it’s patriarchy.”


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