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Do I have to have complimentarian beliefs to be a Christian? How do I deal with churches and popular evangelical ministers with these beliefs when I have doubts, questions, and disagreements? Do I stay silent and/or find other Christians who think like me? I’m having a hard time understanding the New Calvanist movement and its strong alliance with complimentarian views. It’s as if the gospel also has “male lead ministry only” in fine print. Am I less of a Christian if I accept egalitarianism?
Firstly, let’s define the terms in play here. Complememtarianism says that men and women are equal, but that they have different roles from God. Egalitarianism says that men and women are equal and there are no God-defined separate gender roles. The different theories mostly manifest around two topics: the man as spiritual leader of the marriage/household and female church leaders.
Complementarians take their view largely from Ephesians 5 where Paul talks about dynamics of marriage and 1 Timothy 2 where he says that women should not have authority over men in the church. Egalitarians point out that Jesus and the early church where both very progressive in their views toward women. Jesus appeared to women first after the resurrection, women are often thanked by name, alongside men, by Paul for having an indispensable role in his ministry.
There is no 100% definitive answer on the issue, and even among people who subscribe to one view or the other there is a huge range of practical ways to apply that to real life. One important thing to point out is that what both schools of thought agree on is that men and women are created equal in God’s sight, that is not a debatable point. That needs to be said because it is not unheard of for people who are just plain sexists to try to hide behind theological smokescreens. That is not complementarianism.
The real issue in your question is the idea of being “less of a Christian”. What makes someone a Christian is a relationship with Jesus. That doesn’t come at the end of filling out a survey of every little bit of theology, it comes from saying “yes” to the offer of His death for your sins on the cross. The major points are: God created you, Sin separated you from Him, and Jesus took your punishment for Sin on the cross so that the relationship could be restored, and we are called to love others because of that great love we have been shown.
As for disagreeing with public figures and ministries, you may have to just agree to disagree. And that’s okay, if you are on the same page with the foundational stuff. Quite frankly I am a little suspicious of a person in ministry who has a platform and uses it to talk about things other than the love and grace of God.
Let me add the note that I am aware that I, as a man, am looking at this through privileged eyes. No one is telling me that I can’t be a pastor, or have any other job. I know it’s not fun to hear, but the people who disagree with you on this have a valid interpretation of scripture. While it is a good thing to question and to pursue your calling, if you do that at the expense of serving and loving, then it can be a tool for division within the body of Christ. The important thing is not to lose the sense of perspective on what is eternal and what is earthly.
-Matt from The Bridge