For many years, I have identified as a complementarian. I did so because I looked at the term as just a modern way of referring to Patriarchy.
And, to be sure, at face value it has Biblical traction, as it rejects the attempts of the egalitarians to strip patriarchy from the Biblical text.
The problem is this: other than that, it is still short of the glory, as Piper, Mohler, & Co. have given us a framework that is just short of Islam in terms of its treatment of women, while way too soft on the men, all while imposing hard dogmatic gender roles that Scripture does not.
In fact, I would contend that complementarianism is a dysfunctional form of patriarchy that is cultural and not Biblical. It is akin to the type of patriarchy that we witnessed in Jesus’ time: Pharisees would not even speak to women in public (even though there’s no Biblical law against that) and wouldn’t let women learn the Torah (even though there’s no Biblical law against that, and even though women in the OT served as judges and even prophets).
Now some of you, reading this, will wonder, “Come on Amir, have you gone feminist on us? Are you an egalitarian?”
To that, I answer no on both counts. More accurately, HELL NO on both counts.
To be clear, I am a Biblical patriarch. As the Scriptures say, I am the head of my wife, just as Christ is head of the Church. It is on me to love my wife as Christ loved the Church.
What does that mean?
Well…let’s ask ourselves, how did Jesus love the Church?
Some would say that the “headship” is more figurehead than actual leader. I beg to differ. After all, Jesus didn’t sit around passively with the Disciples. He didn’t say, “I’m your head, but we are mutual partners.” No, he had headship and he was very intentional in the way he led.
He called out the Disciples to follow Him. Does this mean the man MUST do the proposing? No, but let’s be honest: it’s how we are generally wired. I’m not imposing a dogma–I’ve known couples where the wife proposed, and it’s rare–just acknowledging biology.
He taught the Disciples. You can do this even if she knows the Bible better than you do. That’s because it’s not about how much you know, but what you do with it. Seeking to rightly divide the word of truth is a lifelong pursuit, and as long as you are humble and bold–and committed to growing in your knowledge and wisdom–a good wife will generally give that a lot of deference.
He prayed for the Disciples. You don’t have to be a great Bible scholar to do this. You do need to be intentional, however.
He gave them specific instructions as to what to do. He sent them out; he warned them about issues to come; He told them what it meant to represent Him and what it would be like.
He comforted them. He warned them that things would get bad. He also promised that He’d be at work on their behalf.
He put up with them. The Disciples were always failing, almost always getting it wrong, always feuding over petty matters, overreacting, disbelieving. When He was in agony, they were busy snoozing. When He was arrested, they ran like cowards. When He was on trial, Peter denied Jesus. With the exception of John–who was there with Mary–and Judas, who hanged himself, none of the Disciples were around when Jesus died. But Jesus was patient and forgiving.
He had the guts to call things what they were. When Peter tried to keep Jesus from fulfilling his mission to die for our sins, the rebuke was as blunt as anything in Scripture: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”
Even then, Jesus was graceful and patient with Peter, restoring him after the Resurrection and charging him: “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus did not have a passive bone in his body. And when he saw abusers and thieves perverting that which was holy, He ripped them hard and even physically drove them out. He told the Pharisees and Scribes where they stood (with Satan) and even derisively called Herod a “fox”. He was tough when the situation called for it.
Speaking of being tough when the situation called for it, Paul called out abusive husbands, even suggesting that God wasn’t answering their prayers due to their abuses. He also called out wives who were not respecting their husbands.
(Now let’s be honest here: how many pastors do you know who have the guts to call both husbands and wives in the same sermon, and if they do, minus a thousand disclaimers?)
Paul even had the audacity to call out Peter “to his face”. Imagine the stones it took for Paul to face down the ringleader of the Twelve!
And that’s what I don’t see from ‘complementarians’ like Piper, Mohler, Duncan, Dever, Anyabwile, and even Patterson!
In their world, kiddie-diddlers get deference: as long as they pass the background check, it’s “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” When accusations arise, they either intimidate the accusers or force them into silence by insisting that they forgive their abuser, while the abuser gets little or no punishment and no accountability to the justice process.
In their world, abusive spouses–especially when they are the husbands–get free reign. Even when they peruse child porn. The women get told to submit and pray, but not pursue legal recourse to hold him accountable. And divorce? That’s never on the table, no matter how many times he puts her in the hospital.
I mean seriously, a Biblical patriarch would at least beat the [excrement] out of the abuser, but Piper & Co. are too soft for even that.
Goodness, they lack the balls to even call out each other for abuses or severe missteps.
You want an example: Al Mohler, the foremost culture warrior in the theological world, never wastes time when an issue of major importance arises. When SCOTUS declares gay “marriage” sacrosanct, he’s on top of it. When it’s abortion, or feminism, or communism, he’s Johnny on the spot, and rightfully so.
But when Paige Patterson, at a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood conference, intoned about how he told an abused wife to “submit and pray”, all while not at least referring her to a shelter or advising her to seek recourse, and then–in a “clarification” after the Internet lit up–totally contradicting himself, MOHLER STILL HAS SAID NOT A FREAKING THING ABOUT THIS.
How about this: Hey Al, it’s YOUR Southern Baptist Convention. You have a HOUSE THAT IS BURNING DOWN. You may have a great relationship with Paige Patterson, and that’s all well and good; I’m sure Paul had a great relationship with Peter.
But now, it is on you to confront Paige Patterson, and publicly. His missteps were public; his rebuke needs to be public. And it needs to come from you, because–well–you are, fairly or unfairly, the spokesperson for the evangelical conservative world regarding theological matters.
It is on you to confront C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, as they are your friends, and call for an independent investigation of them. It is on you to confront ARBCA and Tom Chantry, calling on them to uncover the bodies and get the abusers out of their camps, and quit imposing dogma where Scripture does not.
But you guys–Piper, Mohler, Chandler, Duncan–won’t do that, as you aren’t Biblical Patriarchs.
You are cultural patriarchs, just as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were cultural patriarchs.
And we are seeing the fruit of that.
As for me, count me out of your cultural patriarchal game.
Sorry, Dee, but I am a Biblical patriarch.
We’re in agreement, however, on one thing: complementarianism is load of crap.