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What is Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism

Scott LaPierre is the author of Marriage God’s Way and I’m excited to have him back. He has been talking about headship in marriage and what the means to God’s design in marriage. He’s here to share the differences between complementarianism and egalitarianism, to continue his thoughts about headship.

what-is-egltarianism-versus-complimentarianism

Egalitarianism

Egalitarians believe God does not have separate and distinct plans for men and women but that they are interchangeable in terms of their roles and responsibilities. Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are extreme forms of egalitarianism.

The Scripture most cited by egalitarians is Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Using the verse to support egalitarianism is taking it out of context because it deals with salvation. Everyone, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, or female is saved in the same manner—by grace through faith apart from the law and works (Galatians 3:1–25). If Paul were saying men and women are identical in terms of responsibilities, he would be contradicting numerous Scriptures he wrote outlining the differences between the gender roles.

Bible scholar James Fowler explains:

Egalitarian assertions are based on false premises. [Identical] responsibilities and authority produces the chaos of no one having ultimate authority or responsibility. The egalitarian premises of socialistic communism are unworkable. Identity, value and worth are not found in gender function, but in a personal Being beyond ourselves.[1]

complementarianism

Complementarianism

Complementarians, on the other hand, believe that God has separate and distinct responsibilities for men and women that allow them to balance and support each other. Complementarians recognize the gender roles in Scripture are meaningful and, when embraced, promote spiritual and emotional health that allows people to reach their God-given potential.

Scripture says, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27, 5:2; Mark 10:6). The emphasis is not on God’s creating people but on His creating two different types of humans: one male and one female. The rest of Scripture goes on to reveal the distinct plans God has for each. Although men and women equally share God’s image and together have dominion over creation, God designed them differently in order to accomplish His purposes.

A common criticism of complementarianism is that it is chauvinistic in that it identifies one gender as superior to the other. Egalitarians will insist a difference in roles and responsibilities implies a difference in equality, but two people can be different and equal. Men and women can have the same value and significance, but while not being identical in their roles or responsibilities. God’s very nature supports this in that there are three different Persons with distinct roles, but there is still equality.

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Pastor David Guzik states:

In our day, many say there is no real difference between men and women. This makes sense if we are the result of mindless evolution, but the Bible says “male and female He created them.” To God, the differences between men and women are not accidents. Since He created them, the differences are good and meaningful. One of the saddest signs of our culture’s depravity is the amount and the degree of gender confusion today. It is vain to wonder if men or women are superior to the other. A man is absolutely superior at being a man. A woman is absolutely superior at being a woman. But when a man tries to be a woman or a woman tries to be a man, you have something inferior.[2]

We should never expect the secular world to agree with God’s Word and accept complementarianism. The real tragedy, though, is when Christians hold to an egalitarian view, seeing no differences between men and women’s roles in the home or the church. Such individuals may not condone such outright sins as homosexuality and transgenderism, but they will subtly support these agendas as they deny gender roles and undermine God’s Word.

Just as men are needed in the home and the church in crucial ways, so women are needed in the home and the church in crucial ways. But the way each gender is needed is different, and we must maintain the distinctions between the roles and responsibilities if we are to obey God’s Word.

Better Together

In Genesis 2:18 God called Eve “a helper comparable to [Adam]” and the Hebrew word for “comparable” is neged. Other translations say “suitable for him” (NASB, NIV), “fit for him” (ESV), and “his complement” (HCSB). The literal translation actually means “opposite or contrasting.”

Men and women were designed to fit perfectly in all ways—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When a husband and wife become one flesh on their wedding day, they are two people who complement and complete each other. Together, they become something stronger and more magnificent than they could ever be alone. The strengths of each compensate for the weaknesses of the other:

  • When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
  • When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.

We should give thanks to God for His wonderful design and do everything we can to fulfill the roles He has given us as husband and wife.

[1] James Fowler. “Women in the Church. Christ In Your Ministries. 1999. Accessed March 7, 2016.

[2] David Guzik, “Genesis 1” Enduring Word Media. 2013. Accessed March 7, 2016.

To check out Scott’s book, you can click the front cover of his book…

Marriage God’s Way

Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre

Family pic for bookScott LaPierre is the senior pastor of Woodland Christian Church in Woodland, WA. He and his wife, Katie, have been blessed with six children they homeschool. He is also the author of Marriage God’s Way: A Biblical Recipe for Healthy, Joyful, Christ-Centered Relationships. You can reach Scott at scott@scottlapierre.org.

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