Complementarian Versus Egalitarian

What's the correct view?

"If we have a disagreement and can't come to terms with each other, basically one of us will just cede to the other person. We'll let the person who it impacts the most make the decision, or the one who cares most deeply about it," Jenny describes. "That's an expression of mutual submission; both husband and wife should be willing to submit to each other out of love." Jenny also stresses the idea of building consensus or, if agreement cannot be reached easily, of intentionally waiting to make a decision.

Trillia and her husband also work to find consensus. She explains, "He's my husband—but he's also my friend, he's my lover, he's my brother in Christ. So if we disagree, I'm going to share my thoughts and voice my concerns. We're in a marriage. But when the disagreement is about a decision that has to be made—that's where the rubber meets the road for me. My husband values what I'm thinking and I will express my concerns, but ultimately I'll submit to him."

Common ground

While I lean more toward the egalitarian understanding of Scripture's ultimate message about women and gender, I also find great value in the wisdom and biblical insights offered by the complementarian perspective, especially in the day-to-day reality of my marriage. The truth is, I love my husband and I also respect him. If any human is a leader in my life, it's him. I look up to him. I covet his insights and trust his wisdom. And, if we were to face a tough decision, ultimately I think I'd defer to him (even if it was hard to do so).

So this is where I've landed: in somewhat paradoxical and category-defying "complegaltarianism." Because even though there are differences between the complementarian and the egalitarian understandings of biblical marriage—and, in some cases, sharp disagreement—there are also critical areas of common ground we all can learn from. Both stress truths that are essential in a healthy marriage: fidelity to Scripture, honoring and valuing your spouse, selfless and sacrificial love, and—ultimately—.

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Kelli B. Trujillois a TCW regular contributor. Her Bible study, Enrich Your Marriage, can help both complementarians and egalitarians build healthy relationships. Join her in conversation at KelliTrujillo.comand follow her on Twitter @kbtrujillo.

Kelli B. Trujillo

Kelli B. Trujillo is editor of Today’s Christian Woman. Follow her on Twitter at @kbtrujillo or @TCWomancom.

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Bible; Husbands; Interpretation; Learning; Marriage; Questioning; Submission
Today's Christian Woman, March Week 4, 2014
Posted March 26, 2014

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