Complementarianism

Dun, dun, dun.

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This is one of those topics. But, I’m writing about it now because I am going to be posting my review on Lean In tomorrow, and I wanted to preface it with a brief description of what I believe about the roles of men and women.

{I’ve been trying to shorten my book reviews a little so that you will actually want to read them, plus I don’t want these personal thoughts to overrun a book review!}

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Just in case you don’t know, Lean In, is a book that strongly promotes equality of the sexes and is pro-feminism. I am strongly not a feminist. Maybe some people who’ve met me, or talked to me, or have read about the things I do in my life won’t believe me, but I promise you, I’m not. But I’m also not a perfect picture of domesticity and housewifery. I have a Master’s Degree and for the last three years, I held the primary role of bread-winner in our house while Jeremy was pursuing his grad school degrees (yes, plural. He’s pretty awesome.) I loved working. I’m actually going a little stir-crazy now trying to figure out this whole ‘stay-at-home’ thing. It’s weird for me. But, I’m not feminist. I am complementarian.

IMG_8639While feminism promotes the idea of egalitarianism, or the belief that men and women are essentially the same, complementarianism recognizes the fact that we most obviously aren’t. Jeremy and I are expecting a baby in April. Would you like to guess who is carrying Bug? Who has had the significant weight gain and change in body shape? Who is feeling the kicks and movements on a daily basis? Come on . . . you have a 50/50 shot. Right? No! Duh, of course I’m carrying the baby. I’m the girl!! Jeremy’s body wasn’t made to carry a baby. (For which I believe he is eternally grateful!) Enter obvious difference #1. That should be enough to prove that men and women simply aren’t the same. But, that’s not always enough. I love the way the Gospel Coalition puts it:

Complementarians believe that God created male and female as complementary expressions of the image of God—male and female are counterparts in reflecting his glory. Having two sexes expands the view.

IMG_8638Talk to any social scientist or behavioralist, and he will tell you that there are obvious differences between men and women’s psyches, how they perform in school, how they interact with people, and the list goes on and on. {Have you seen the women’s minds are like spaghetti speech?} Are all of these differences simply socially constructed and reinforced by culture? No, they were carefully planned by an intimate God who wanted us to reflect different aspects of His image. When God wants to talk about His tenderness, He likens himself to a mother hen gathering her chicks. Is the rooster incapable of doing this? Well, no, but he wasn’t created to.

I feel that thread could go on for a long time, so I’ll jump to what I think and why it matters. I believe that we as men and women are created equal but different. I believe that I’m capable of pursuing a career, of interacting with big shots, of making difficult decisions. I can do all of these things, however, that’s not always the role I’m called to. I don’t need to pursue starting a non-profit because it’s my duty as a woman and I have something to prove. I’m starting a non-profit because it is my passion and something I think God is doing through me.

IMG_8640In all honesty, I think that there are people way too far on both sides of this issue. Some on the feminist side think that women need to take over just to prove something. We need to get to where men and women comprise 50/50 of all professions. Then, there are some on the traditional side that think that in a family it is obviously the woman’s duty to stay home, care for the children, and please the husband. They assume that further education and a career (not a job, but a career) don’t have any place in the mother’s life. They don’t provide much flexibility on the issue. I don’t think that is the correct answer, either.

Back to the Gospel Coalition:

Who we are as male and female is ultimately not about us. It’s about testifying to the story of Jesus. We do not get to dictate what manhood and womanhood are all about. Our Creator does. That’s the basis of complementarianism.

I think that really gets to the heart of the matter. And I think it’s a good reminder that gender roles are not cookie-cutter, not cut-and-dry, and not easy to decipher. But in all that we do, we can be assured that we were created in the image of God to reflect Him in this world, and that He is writing a story where our role is defined by Him, not popular culture, or religious culture, or our families. Him.

IMG_8636I have a dream about this little language institute I’m starting in 2014 going a long way. A long way like multiple buildings, lots of teachers being trained and utilized, lots of kids being taught and more importantly loved, and lots of interaction and breaking down walls of hostility. Right now, it’s me in my living room, or me at the corner coffee shop across from Union Station. There’s a little Bug that is going to be an integral part of this story. Is it ever going to get to where I envision it being? I haven’t got a clue. But, God does. The feminist would probably say: you have to go for it, you have to prove yourself. The traditionalist might say: you have a responsibility at home, with your child, caring for your husband, you would be wrong to do it.

IMG_8641Right now, God says: go for it. I’ve got nothing to prove, except that He is in control. And you know what? There is so much freedom in that. Will I end up being a stay at home mom not pursuing any career or further education? Maybe. That’s okay. Will I be the founder and educational director of a successful, international institute? Maybe. That’s okay too.

I am a woman, made in the image of God. He’s writing my story.

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