Henry responds to “Am I a Complementarian?”

Henry has written a response to another silly set of definitions.

It is simply that every person, irrespective of gender, should be permitted to serve in the church as they are called and gifted by God. My egalitarian position says nothing whatsoever about how many men or women will or will not possess what gifts and what calling. That is precisely what I reject. I do not think they are ontologically and functionally equal. I just don’t believe that the offices of the church are necessarily tied to such function and ontology, nor do I think that each man and each woman can be defined solely as “man” or “woman.” There are an abundance of other differences.

The original post starts ok but descends (as complementarians so often do) into a silly caricature of the egalitarian position. 

While I like Henry's response my position is not quite the same. It depends on what is meant by "ontologically and functionally equal".

I do not believe that the female/male continuum should be connected in any way to an understanding of a persons call and gifting by God to serve in the Church. Again the call and gifting by God to serve in the Church is what should be tested (thoroughly) by which I do not include an inspection of that persons genitals.

5 thoughts on “Henry responds to “Am I a Complementarian?”

  1. Henry Neufeld

    Well, we definitely agree on “not inspecting that person’s genitals!”
    From reading Michael Patton’s entire post, I gathered that “ontologically and functionally equal” meant that in order to be egalitarian, one had to believe that women are equal to men and men to women in everything, including, for example, physical strength, an example Dr. Patton did include.
    My view is that if there were only one woman of the billions of women on earth who excelled at strength, she should be permitted to do any task that required that strength. I don’t see that I need to claim that all women are, on the average, as strong as all men.
    But all of this ends of starting from the point of view that men are qualified, which is not a given either, so …
    I like this sentence from your post:

    I do not believe that the female/male continuum should be connected in any way to an understanding of a persons call and gifting by God to serve in the Church.

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  2. Ian Howarth

    If you read Simon Baron-Cohen (the professor of Psychology at Cambridge), in his book ‘The Essential Difference’ where he describes Autism as an example of the extreme male brain, you would come to the conclusion that on average men are far less empathetic than women, and that probably makes them, (on average), less suitable for pastoral ministry.

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  3. PamBG

    Although, Ian, I once saw someone who supported male headship (he was too old to be a complimentarian!) argue that women are NOT suited to pastoral ministry because of their empathy. His thoughts were that pastoral ministry requires a rigid enforcement of right and wrong and that being empathetic made a person unable to stand up for truth.
    I do not believe that the female/male continuum should be connected in any way to an understanding of a persons call and gifting by God to serve in the Church.
    That’s the nub of it.
    And, FWIW, I find it condescending to state that anyone who accepts the obvious differences between men and women is a closet complimentarian who should become an actual complimentarian.
    That’s just the argument of “Once you decide to accept the truth you will think like me.”

    Reply
  4. Dave

    Hi, Henry, thanks for your comment.
    Given that a key feature of male headship is that the man should be the final decision maker it is obviously very relevant and important that the decision maker be the physically stronger (just in case the partner does not agree with the decision I guess) :-)
    Ian and Pam,
    I find it hard to separate stereotypes and cultural conditioning from many of the views of how men and women are and what they are good at. So I wonder to what extent the idea that women (or men) are better at x because they are y is actually self fulfilling prophesy rather than anything else.
    Pam, if I have caught your last point correctly then I agree. I find the frequent challenge by male headship supporters that egalitarianism is about making everyone the same to be totally ludicrous and am insulted that anyone would think we would want anything so completely daft.

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  5. PamBG

    Well, I’ve gone to the original post and am now thoroughly confused by “soft form complimentarianism”. I’ve actually had the (female) co-blogger tell me that she thinks it might possibly be “OK” with complimentarians to be a female British Methodist Presbyter, given our structure of governance.
    I’ve been concerned, however, about the responses to another blogger who has seen women abused in marriages in complimentarian churches. The response is that this isn’t really complimentarianism since complimentarianism doesn’t condone abuse of wives by husbands. Her protests that women still have no recourse under this system have gone totally unheard.
    In terms of this very soft form of complimentarianism, I’m actually wondering if the underlying concerns are something like: a) wanting to celebrate motherhood; b) wanting to give fathers an important role in the family and c) fear of (male?) homosexuality.
    I might be imagining it, but I’m detecting an underlying current of “If everyone were a complimentarian, then society would respect the family unit and respect the roles that mothers and fathers play in the home. And, as an additional bonus, maybe no one would grow up to be homosexual.” These are from comments made and not from the original blog post.
    Dave said: I find it hard to separate stereotypes and cultural conditioning from many of the views of how men and women are and what they are good at.
    I find it hard to separate too. Especially when, during my lifetime, we seem to have gained some scientific evidence that some traits are actually linked to biology and also that many traits we previously thought are, are not. But, as an egalitarian, I don’t really have to worry about the “why of gender roles”. I just have to worry about the how of loving my neighbour.

    Reply

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