Equal and different???


Over here Dave is attempting the big task of discussing male/female relationship, and particularly the role of men and women in the church, over a series of short posts.

In one of these posts he says

As complementarians we often speak about men and women being “Equal but Different”, indeed a large women-led organisation here has that name. Here’s the thing, though. The “different” part comes across negatively. “Equal” is good, but then we say “but” and so communicate to some that there’s a contrary, negative assertion coming.

But we believe that the distinct complementary roles that God has designed men and women to have are a good thing! So, my friend encourages me, we should speak of Equal AND Different. Both are good things and we should give no cause to understand otherwise.

Good discussion to have. I particularly enjoyed reading Honoria’s thoughts as she comments –

Well, I’m not sure if I like “Equal but Different” or “Equal and Different”. Feels like we are letting someone else set the agenda. The categories are a hangover from another debate, from a different context at another time.

(Maybe it’s just me and another friend at college, but) “Equal” suggests striving to be counted to be the same. Christianity isn’t about asserting yourself, but humbling yourself, being last, a servant. Emphasising “difference” is okay, but what do we gain from that? And it’s not exactly winsome, is it?

I quite like the connotations of “Complementarianism”, because it recognises the wholeness and “good-fit” of both genders, as given by God. It emphasises the harmony and reciprocity of the two genders. Each sex needs the other for fullness, for oneness.

There is MUCH to gain in thinking hard about how the genders God gives us is a gift, which enriches the church body. It’s sad and bland to press the *Blend* button on gender then say: there’s no difference. So what’s so good about the differences between genders and the fact that we have both genders in unity?

Later she very helpfully points of the need for both men and women to be thinking this issue through.

Both men and women are needed to think about doing this partnership WELL.

Complementarianism can be done badly. Towards developing a fuller Complementarianism, it may be good to see the mutual, reciprocal dynamic of the male-female relationship. How one impacts and enhances the other. (As opposed to segregation, individualism.)

May be fruitful to ask TOGETHER: (Preliminary questions: What are the Biblical distinctives for men? What do women need to understand / know about men?) How can women help men to be more godly men and fulfil their roles as men? What are the gender specific ways that men impact on wider church body? etc.

Then ask the same questions about women, again in a mixed setting.

Well said.

My experience of college thus far is that women have thought this through much more thoroughly than men (massive generalisation, I know, and apologise to those men who have thought about this). This is an issue that needs much discussion involving both men and women.

Ironically, perhaps, we seem to hear mainly from men on this issue. As Dave helpfully points out

My point was that there’s a perception that when men write on this they are only “reinforcing their status/privilege/subjection of women”.

When intelligent and articulate women write on this topic it has a far more profound impact. Our opponents can write them off as “brainwashed” but it’s a far harder claim to make.

Since I am a woman here is my 2 cents – I believe that Genesis 1-3, 1 Corinthians 11 & 14, Colossians 3, Ephesians 5 & 1 Timothy 2 clearly show the complementary nature of men and women. I believe that  the egalitarian position is not only unbiblical, but it in fact takes away a woman’s right to be a woman (and a man’s right to be a man).

I am also more conservative on the issue of gender roles than most men I know. I recently got called a ‘crazy conservative chick’. It was meant as a compliment. I took it as one – proving that the statement is true.

Accuse me of hating women…. I dare you ;-)