I was raised in mostly conservative Baptist complementarian churches. I even researched my complementarian views in my early 20’s (along with everything else I believed). I questioned many things, read many comparative religion books as well as writings on equal rights and feminism in particular.
I came to the conclusion that the complementarian teaching I had learned was not only Biblical, but logical as well. I believed and saw that science confirms that man and woman, though they are both human, are designed with different purposes in mind. I believed (and still believe) that freedom within the bounds of God’s laws and commands makes for the best society. God’s designed society with order. Headship in marriage and in the church gives society that order.
I believed the best place for a woman was to be in the home, but I did not believe it was wrong for a woman to pursue an education and then a career. I did not believe it was wrong for a woman to be in leadership positions of business, politics or other places of society.
That was almost 20 years ago for me (as of the time of my writing this paper). What I did not realize is that I like most Complementarians had left some big questions unanswered.
- How can a woman pursue an education and a career without neglecting her first duty to her husband, her children and her home?
- How can a woman be in a position of authority over men, even in society? She can never be her husband’s authority, he is always her authority, Biblically speaking. She can never be her father’s authority either. So for instance if a woman were to become mayor of the city she and her husband(or father) lived in, or governor of the state, they lived in, or President of the country they lived in – she would in essence be in authority over her husband – how could this be right or acceptable?
Then I came to realize that the complementarian views I had been raised with came about to soften the Bible’s teaching on the headship of man in society as feminism in American took root and these teachings became unpopular.
I realized that the complementarian beliefs that limit male headship to only the home and church were inconsistent with the Scriptures. God did not limit man’s authority over woman to only the church or the home, he meant for it to be present in the home, the church and society at large.
It is clear that God has designed a consistent pattern of authority to be followed in this world:
God the father is the authority of God the Son
God the Son is the authority of man
Man is the authority of woman
This does not change in this world. When God creates a new heaven and new earth, then this authority structure may be altered, but for now it remains.
I will talk on female prophets in another article but I will simply say this for now. A prophet does not always carry the same authority over others, sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. Deborah did not want to be in any authority position over men, they asked her to go with them into battle because they lacked the courage God expected of them. She even said to their shame that God would give their enemies into the hands of a woman. Deborah did not sit at the gates of the cities or go into the cities exercising authority over the people, the people simply came to her for advice as she sat under a tree outside the city gates.
Never once do we see Deborah defying her husband or taking authority over him. Never once do we hear Deborah crying for women to have equal rights with their husbands, or to be given more positions of authority in their society.