A few weeks ago I asked the Twittersphere if anyone had any topics that they wanted me to write about, and got a suggestion to write about women bloggers, complementarianism, the Anon Church, and how all of it worked together.
Let’s start with a definition of complementarianism. From the Resurgence website:
Men and women are partners in every area of life and ministry together. Though equal, men and women have complementary and distinct gender roles so that men are to lovingly lead and head their homes like Jesus, and only men can be pastors in the church.
And the CARM website:
In the context of our discussion of women pastors and elders, complementarianism is the position that the man and the woman in the church complement each other with their different callings and giftings. Complementarianism states that though there may be gifts of both women and men that overlap, there are biblically designated roles that do not. Both men and women can balance the books, be ushers, cook, take care of the kids, etc. But the complementarian position would say that a woman is not to be an elder or pastor because those positions are prohibited to women by scripture.
So, complementarianism is a position on gender roles that states that, among other things, women are not to be pastors. Complementarians (by this I mean real complementarians, not abusive men using the Bible as an excuse) do not believe that men cannot learn anything from women ever. Female teachers in schools are not anathema, and many complementarian women are homeschoolers who teach their sons. I have heard complementarian pastors says that men who will not listen to their wives and take her opinions into account are being foolish. Again, complementarians do not believe that men can learn nothing from women.
So, can men learn from women (the author of this blog included) on matters of theology and topics such as Bible interpretation and application? I believe the answer is yes for three reasons:
1. As protestants we do not believe there is a special group of people called pastors who can understand theology and the Bible better than laypeople. Pastors are in charge of churches because they have been ordained by a church that believes they are capable of that responsibility, not because they are the smartest or the most holy or more blessed by God or whatever. Most pastors are wonderful, committed Christians, but they can’t know everything about all topics. Laypeople can be more knowledgeable on theological topics than a pastor, and that neither puts the layperson in the position of pastor nor makes the pastor less of a shepherd.
2. If we ban women from teaching theology and the Bible to men in all circumstances because they cannot be pastors, we need to do the same for men who are not ordained. Complementarianism in the church means that women are not to be ordained and therefore cannot teach as pastors, but neither can non-ordained men.
3. For women blogs in particular – blogs are not a church. The Anon Church is not a church with pastors, elders, biblical membership and discipline, regular services, etc. It is at most a parachurch organization, but more accurately should be thought of as a loose fellowship of Christian bloggers. We write for the edification of the church, but we have no official authority. Even the pastors who write blogs cannot function as pastors for all their blog readers, because pastors are shepherds for local churches. A Baptist minister cannot walk into a Nazarene church and assume pastoral authority over that church body. We are simply Christians who have a desire to serve our brothers and sisters through our writing.
So, if you are a complementarian man, feel free to read Christian blogs written by women and learn something! We are called to encourage and build one another up and should do so gladly.