Council for Bibl. Manhood & Womanhood, John Piper, Patriarchal-Complementarian Movement

What is Difference Between Complementarianism and Patriarchy?

*     *     *

Yesterday, A Mom posted this comment:

Complementarian sex appeals to control freaks, IMO. You’re missing out on God’s best for you, comp men. Let go of your conquer/control death grip on the wheel, and you might actually enjoy your wife’s free will. :) Oops, forgot free will is not part of your theology or in your realm of possibility. Downer to be you in the bedroom. Uh oh, I need to stop or I’m gonna get myself in trouble!

All kidding aside, this comp lifestyle can easily diminish wives into objects, IMO. It can break down into entitlement, hate, and abuse. If we raise boys with a conquer mindset for marriage, they will become barbarian men. We should correctly raise boys to follow Jesus’ commands to love God and then themselves/others. Love is nowhere to be found in the definition of conquer. Barbarians conquer.

Marriage is about companionship. Yes, offspring may result. But if offspring is the primary purpose and pleasure for you, you’ve missed God’s best.

I’m also guessing some of these comp leaders do not practice what they preach about this particular topic. Typical. The rules for them are different, as we have seen many times.

I followed up by asking A Mom if she equated complementarianism with Patriarchy.  I do not see them as the same and wanted to know if she saw a difference.

A Mom responded:

Hi Julie Anne,

Is Complementarian the same as patriarchy? That’s such a good question. What is Comp in action? I did some research. After trying to figure it out, I have to say I’m confused. There seems to be much disagreement on what Complementarianism is in action, much ambiguity on the part of leaders who claim to be Comps. It appears there is much overlap, if there is a difference between the two. Is anyone else confused?

What I found: John Piper supposedly coined the word “Complementarian” a while ago. It seems Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood written by Piper and Grudem is a reference book for many Comp leaders. According to Piper’s statement on Desiring God, he wrote it as a defense against evangelical feminism. Desiring God has a video of Mary Kassian called “What does it mean to be CompIementarian”. She says men and women are different (I agree). She says our roles are different, but doesn’t say what those different roles are. This is just one example of ambiguity. Apparently, there’s multiple Comp. types. There’s hard and soft comp, old and new comp.

What I found so interesting:
Many are jumping ship from Complementarian to Egalitarian.
Many identify with Complementarian but actually function as Egalitarian.

Rachel Held Evans post “It’s not complementarianism; it’s patriarchy”  was very helpful.   I’d have to say I most identified with her views on this. Rachel seems to think Comp and Patriarchy are the same. She points to what Owen Strachan wrote, “For millennia, followers of God have practiced what used to be called patriarchy and is now called complementarianism.”

At any rate, I like my July 14th comment:)

Thanks, A Mom, for giving me a nice birthday present today by dropping this post in my lap – haha 🙂  Seriously, it’s a great topic that would be helpful to discuss.


Ok, here are my thoughts.  I have friends who are complementarians and believe that husbandshave “authority” as heads of their home.  This means the buck stops with the men on major decisions if they are at an impasse (because someone has to be the one to make the final decision).

They feel the husband is responsible to make sure their family is on track spiritually by providing guidance and counsel.  The husbands never lord this hierarchical position over their wife or anyone in their family, although it is understood. They act as a godly shepherd of a church would act in trying to lead by servant leadership. These husbands would never say, “you must submit.”  They would never say, “it is my job to rule over you.” They quietly take this position to heart and humbly serve their family realizing that importance is not the position of authority, but of doing what Christ expects:  love his wife as Christ loves the church.

I have in fact seen this modeled by  Christian couples.  It can be done without any abusing or lording or coercing and both parties are in agreement with the arrangement. Is the wife trampled by her husband in this arrangement? No. Does the wife have a say in matters of the home?  Yes, certainly.  Can the wife disagree with her husband? Yes. Can she appeal to him? Absolutely.

I think Patriarchy is complementarianism PLUS more, just as Neo Calvinism is Calvinism PLUS more.  Now, this is not something I have ever literally read, it’s just my observations on reading quite a lot of articles on the subject.

Patriarchy assumes spiritual headship of the home, but they also claim to own their familiy’s faith.  A patriarch has no problems saying he rules over his family and his wife must submit to him.  He calls it “loving leadership.”  He can exert his authority over his wife/family not in a servant leadership, but in a lording fashion.  He may remind his wife and family of his position of authority that God gave him if they seem to forget.

Here is the video by Mary Kassian ; (mentioned by A Mom) in which she describes how complementarianism parallels the husband/wife relationship with the relationship of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

*     *     *

*     *     *

What you don’t hear Kassian mention is the hierarchical structure that she endorses in complementarianism.

Sometimes I tire of all of these weird rules.  I know I am especially annoyed that each time I type out that “c” word, spell check reminds me that it is either misspelled or not a word.  That says a lot to me.  Why do we need to have made-up words to describe a type of marriage relationship?   Why doesn’t the Bible and its words suffice?   Isn’t that adding more to it?

::::::yawn::::::  Ok, this subject bores me.  I need to take a break.

My 23-yr old just made pizza for my birthday lunch and it just came out of the oven.  Now, this is what I’m talking about!

Yes, that baking stone is black and well-loved!

*     *     *

111 thoughts on “What is Difference Between Complementarianism and Patriarchy?”

  1. Ok, here are my thoughts. I have friends who are complementarians and …..Absolutely.

    I feel my wife and I have this type of relationship. I don’t know about being complimentarion after seeing the definition. As a husband/father I should lead by submitting myself to Christ and loving Him and following Him. My family should see this. If I am truly following Christ, my wife should know her needs and my families needs are placed before mine. What God has impressed on me lately is that I want my wife and daughter to love God w all their heart, soul, mind and strength. I have realized I can’t make them love God either (not that I was trying to force them to do it, just something I have realized). So with a focus on this I watch what I do or say that I don’t push them away from
    Him, and also do whatever I can to help them learn to love Him more.

    One of my classes on men, women marriage and family study from the Bible ran right along these lines of not lording over, but did teach a hierarchy. Hope that rambling made sense.

    “A man cannot be passive about what Scripture tells him to do for his family and expect to be found faithful to God in the end. He must see with spiritual eyes and realize that future generations are directly impacted by his daily decisions.”
    —The Resolution for Men


  2. I have a few questions I thought I would throw out…

    Anyone heard of Abigail? There is a woman with a beautiful name, Abigail, in the Bible. She was married to a man named Nabal. He was a wealthy man. But there’s more to know about them, and some interesting twists and turn of events….

    Have you ever even heard about her? Not me. Has she been preached about or mentioned in any sermon, Sunday school, Bible study, small group, woman’s fellowship that you can think of? Is she mentioned in Piper/Grudem’s book on Biblical man & womanhood? Is it safe to call it “Complementarian-is-not-a-word Handbook”? Sorry I digressed, bad habit…

    Back on topic. Abigail is news to me! Before I get too far, here’s her story told better than I could probably tell it.

    If you decided to read the post in the link above, I have a question for you. 🙂

    Do you think Abigail violated any Complementarian principles/rules? Did she fail in her “role” as a Godly wife to submit to her husband as the deciding authority?

    DO you think Abigail violated any Egalitarian principles/rules?

    I would love to know everyone’s thoughts. 🙂


  3. Mom. She was trying to save the life of an evil man and her family and servants. I think what she did was perfectly acceptable. She also kept that mans blood from being on the hands of Gods anointed future king of Israel. God also blessed her by taking care of her after her husbands death through David’s marriage to her


  4. Darrell, I agree. You make a good point. God blessed her.

    Lydia, Jael certainly thought for herself. Had to look her up. Haven’t heard her mentioned in any preaching/teaching, either. 🙂


  5. A late comment here, but something just came to my mind again while reading about a woman who lost her husband. In these complementarian marriages where the roles are defined, one of them is going to be like a babe in the woods if they end up alone. No one should be so dependent on their spouse that they don’t know how to do things for themselves. Every woman should know how to change a flat tire. Every man should know how to operate the washing machine.


  6. I agree with much of B4B’s criticism but not with his caustic style. Please offer him forgiveness.
    The NT tells women to “submit” to men (and even to “fear” them, Eph 5:35 “phobetai”), but not vice-versa. An argument from silence, I admit, but to me it sounds like a deafening silence. The asymmetry of “submit” vs “love” seems unmistakable; this allows for plenty of shades of opinion as to how far the irreducible asymmetry should go, but the one opinion it excludes is that there is none at all, i.e. egalitarianism.


Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s