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Complementarian Versus Egalitarian

Complementarian Versus Egalitarian

What's the correct view?
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What makes for a healthy Christian marriage? What's the biblical role a woman should play? Or does there even need to be a gender-defined role?

Depending on who you ask, you might get wildly different answers to these questions. Some focus on the liberty both men and women find in Christ, stressing equality as well as mutual love and respect in marriage. Others emphasize God-ordained, gender-tied functions of leadership and submission, highlighting distinct but equally valuable roles for husbands and wives. Toss into the mix extreme views that relegate women to quiet-subservient-little-mouse status or exaggerated stereotypes of bra-burning, husband-dominating feminists, and you've got quite a mess to wade through!

So what's the correct view? How ought I best approach my marriage? These are questions I've wrestled with since even before I was married—when I was an earnest, ideals-driven, single university student. And, through Bible study, research, prayer, and discussions with pastors and mentors, I've come to a conclusion. . . . and then, as life continued on, I've leaned toward another conclusion . . . and then, sometime later, I've swayed back again . . . and so on. The truth is, these aren't easy matters to navigate. And now, a decade and a half into marriage, I'd say I've forged somewhat of a hybrid position: I'm a complegaltarian.

The truth is, these aren't easy matters to navigate. And now, a decade and a half into marriage, I'd say I've forged somewhat of a hybrid position: I'm a complegalitarian.

A what? you ask? A complegaltarian. (Yes, I made that word up.) It's the best way I can explain my stance toward two different, Scripture-based understandings of Christian marriage: the complementarian view and the egalitarian view.

Defining the terms

It's important, right off the bat, to distinguish the complementarian view from an ultraconservative, traditionalist stance which may view women as secondary in importance to men. That is not the case with biblical complementarianism. In the complementarian view, men and women are both of equal, intrinsic value before God— and are also both of equal value and importance within the marriage. However, they are understood to have different, complementary roles or functions, with the husband serving as the spiritual leader in the family. An egalitarian view of marriage, on the other hand, focuses on equality within marriage without distinct roles based on gender. Both the husband and wife lead the family collaboratively, stressing mutual submission to each other.

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Kelli B. Trujillo

Kelli B. Trujillo is a TCW regular contributor and the author of several books and Bible studies. Join her to dialogue about spiritual growth and family life at www.KelliTrujillo.com or on Twitter @kbtrujillo.

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From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2014, March Week 4
Posted March 26, 2014

also in this issue

March Week 4
The Hidden Power of Submission

The Hidden Power of Submission

The secret that can unlock deep intimacy in marriage
Be a Yes-Woman

Be a Yes-Woman

What submission to God is about
Romans 12:10

Romans 12:10

Love and honor each other
The Surprising Truth About Submission

The Surprising Truth About Submission

How my marriage mirrors my relationship with God

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Dorothy Greco

March 26, 2014  10:26am

Excellent article Kelli. I also believe that both are true and both have merit. (I never thought of combining those 2 words to describe myself though!)

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