What is Difference Between Complementarianism and Patriarchy?

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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.

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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!

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111 comments on “What is Difference Between Complementarianism and Patriarchy?

  1. JA – you just need to update your spell-check. 🙂 he he… also, there are many words used to describe Biblical teachings… e.g. “rapture.” not taking the discussion that direction though.


  2. Jesus taught that those who would lead must become servants of those they would lead. A loving husband serves his spouse to be sure her needs are met and that she is fulfilled in life. That implies an obligation that sounds egalitarian to me.
    Patriarchy is impossible without complementarianism as its foundation. In Patriarchy, men have a superior role that women are not allowed to exercise and women have a subservient role that men should never assume. It creates abusive relationships based on power and authority rather than on sacrificial love.


  3. I’m not one to place myself into a category like what is involved here, but practically every time I have ever studied or been in a study that went through the “roles” of husbands and wives within the marriage I left with the thought that the man has been given the very kind of authority that no one would ever choose to have. The authority that has no real perks, and an enormous amount of responsibility.


  4. Happy birthday Julie Anne! I love you, friend. : ) Tell James that pizza looks amazing!!!



  5. Hey Michelle – Thank you! Come on over and see me sometime! I’ll get that boy to make us all some pizza. He loves to make pizza. Bring your modest swimsuits, too. haha 🙂


  6. Happy, happy birthday!!!! (OK. Now I want takeout pizza for dinner. 🙂 )

    One thing that’s been rolling around in my head about this whole comp/egal thing, it doesn’t take into account how different we are as individuals and couples. Some personalities may naturally function better in a “complementarian” style, and others may function better in an “egalitarian” fashion. I don’t see that either is wrong unless, say, a “comp” structure is forced on a couple. If love is flowing either configuration should work fine.

    I’m not really sure what category my husband and I fall in to. He’s my best friend. We’re just trying to live life.


  7. I didn’t address the question of the difference between complementarian and patriarchal. I understand comp to mean that the husband is usually more the director of the household, but not in a domineering way. Patriarchy (blech) is comp on steroids. A patriarchal father controls every aspect of his family’s lives. His every word is law in the home. His wife and children obey unequivocally. He may even be the one to choose spouses for his children, or they live forever in his home serving him. His love may or may not be present, but is not required.


  8. Happy Birthday Julie Anne!!!!

    I just started reading Charles Taylor’s book Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity. I think it may have much to add in how we frame this discussion, but it’s too soon to tell. I’ll keep you posted. I suppose a key question might be: Who are we, essentially, as men and women? I’ve noticed many start with who we are and then jump to roles. That’s a big jump. I suggest we spend more time on who we are.

    My two cents,.


  9. Good distinctions, BTDT. There are probably varying degrees of control in Patriarchy, too. A very extreme version would be domestic discipline, aka wife spanking.


  10. Craig – I hope you do chime in on what you’ve been reading. Your comment has already intrigued me. Who are we? And who are we in Christ? I have met with a couple of people recently who have been impressing upon me the importance of who we are in Christ. If we lose that foundational piece, the house can crumble.


  11. Happy Birthday Julie Anne! Your pizza looks yummy. Back to the fun stuff. This discussion reminds me of my favorite geometric concept: a square is always a rectangle but a rectangle is not always a square. In other words, patriarchy always includes the guidelines of complementarianism – and then some. But the rules of complementarianism do not always include the extra rules that seem to make up patriarchy. I hope that makes sense.

    Craig, your comment is intriguing. Please feel free to go on. It reminds me a bit of a paper I wrote in college about the Virginia Slave Codes of the 1600’s. My argument was that the creation of the slave codes was just as much about the creation of a new identity for the settlers in the Virginia Colony as it was for the obvious reasons (laws regarding slaves). Basically when we establish an identity an equal part of that is establishing what we are not. The “not” is often implied but just as worthy of study.


  12. I think you and I were tracking on this, Mandy, when I was saying that Patriarchy is complementarianism plus extras. Your square/rectangle example was a great illustration. Thank you.


  13. Happy birthday, Julie Anne!

    I think the words comp / egal are meaningless by themselves.

    There’s a person listed as a council member for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood who claims to be a complementarian. Ha ha ha. When I actually met the couple — after hearing about their reputation — I nearly died with laughter at the complete disconnect.

    The wife says she is a homemaker and even wears hat as a rule. But behind closed doors, the wife absolutely wears the pants and she runs a multimillion dollar corporate machine from inside her home. She contradicts her husband and bellows at him in front of relative strangers. He laughs and acts mischievously and finally obeys.

    My mother, who would call herself a comp, was a working professional who out-earned my father a various times in her career, and she would never have treated my father with disrespect in front of others. My father is a confident secure man who was proud of my mom’s achievements, not threatened.

    Neither of these women *acts* iike a stereotypical complementarian. They are both lucky enough to be in marriages where each spouse is razor smart and equally respected for it.

    Respect is everything. Labels? Uh…not so much.


  14. Comp. is an invented word made up because all the other existing alternatives sounded too negative to the proponents and they wanted to sell their idea. As pointed out by others, comps cannot even agree on what is and is not required by their doctrine, so a lot gets OKed as long as the required genuflections to comp. doctrine are made. It is all a bunch of junk that should be discarded as part of our freedom in Christ.

    A few Patris have split from CBMW because it seems too disingenuous to them to use a made up word when patriarchy already existed. I agree with them. Partis tend to be more consistent in the implications of their beliefs, but this just shows that consistency with bad interpretation makes it more dangerous.

    The (existing) world that encompasses all such thinking is masculinist. But there are different levels of masculinism in a spectrum. So-called ultra-soft comp. is essentially egal. in practice but with the some amount of head nodding to comp. doctrine.


  15. Julie Anne, yes, let’s spend some time talking about, thinking about and praying about who we are in Christ! That’s a great suggestion. Perhaps we’d find that our identity in Christ tears down what seem to be natural walls (Gal. 3:28) while at the same time affirming our differences (not roles).

    Mandy, I like your example (I’d like to read your paper). If my guess is on target, and right now it’s just a guess, then all of this talk of roles and authority on all sides of the discussion maybe hiding from us our confusion about our identities as men and women. We think we’ve answered that question (listen to the Mary Kassion video), but somehow I missed the answer. Before I know what hit me we’ve moved on to roles – and it all seems arbitrary.


  16. Complementarianism is a misuse of the word and a gross misrepresentation of the roles of partners when used in the sense of male headship/female submission of a family. M-W online: Complementary #3 : mutually supplying each other’s lack.
    When the “biblical” man and woman folks use the term, it only makes sense when limited to the sexual sense of a woman lacking male genitalia and vice versa. Any other sense can only serve to dehumanize or belittle people, especially women. If it were truly about supplying the other’s lack in whatever area, the reality of the relationship would likely be closer to the dynamic of what is called an egalitarian relationship.

    What it really means to the people that coined the term is pretty much synonymous with the patriarchal dynamic.


  17. Is that a complementarian pizza or a vegetarian pizza, or an Arian Pizza, or an arminian pizza?

    There is something Artesian that goes with that, too.

    Happy Birthday!!



  18. If it’s an Arminian pizza, then save me a slice!!! If it’s an Armenian pizza, then you can have it. (Same goes for vegetarian pizza. I mean, what’s the point?) If it’s a complementarian pizza, then, being male, serve me a slice, woman! (Totally, totally joking!!!) If it’s an egalitarian pizza, then we’ll share a slice together, like Jesus would. :^)


  19. William Birch,

    2 Thumbs up!! That was extremely good!! I didn’t expect that response! I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until I read your response. I love it!!



  20. Hey happy Bday JA! I’ve historically told ppl that I’m a complementarian. But when I started thing about this topic and looked at my marriage, I realized my marriage works more like an egalitarian one. We divide out roles and responsibilities according to who is the most passionate for them or the most talented. If its something neither of us likes, we try to take turns. And for all major decisions, we don’t do anything until we both agree. I can’t imagine making my wife move somewhere she doesn’t want to, or buy a car she doesn’t like. Seems like a rough way to run a marriage.


  21. If it’s an Arminian pizza, then save me a slice!!! If it’s an Armenian pizza, then you can have it. (Same goes for vegetarian pizza. I mean, what’s the point?) If it’s a complementarian pizza, then, being male, serve me a slice, woman! (Totally, totally joking!!!) If it’s an egalitarian pizza, then we’ll share a slice together, like Jesus would. :^)

    Get your own dang pizza, man! 🙂

    No, William, for you, I’d happily share a complimentary slice of pizza.


  22. Artesian? Arian? You’ve totally lost me, Ed.

    For the record, it was homemade crust and sauce (nice and spicey) with olives, sausage, roasted peppers, loads of fresh mushrooms (my fave) and after it came out of the oven, we put slices of fresh tomatoes from our garden. The only thing missing was the beer. That is my all-time favorite combo – pizza and beer, just one beer, that’s my limit.


  23. Thanks, Donald for your info. I know this is a topic of interest to you and I’m very convinced that you’ve spent a lot of time studying it. I’ve seen you “around.” Glad to have you here.


  24. We buy the frozen four cheese pizza at the market, stir fry onions and mushrooms, warm up some capers, sliced olives (green or Greek), ladle on the 1/2 baked pizza, sprinkle shredded parmesan or mozz, and on top, feta cheese. Bake and, if needed broil, until feta starts to brown. (totally changes taste of feta). Turn a $4 pizza into a $25 gourmet pizza if you can find it.


  25. Happy Birthday Julie Anne! Hope you were celebrated by your loved ones. Thankful for all you do for the the likes of me, & others who have be squashed or crushed by leaders who make Jesus into a task master, rather than who He is. Thankful & awed by how you keep all the plates spinning & yet this keep blog going. Hope you had a wonderful day!


  26. Thank you all. I feel the love!

    One of my sons has been working for a neighbor, painting his house. The neighbor has a peach tree and has been handing my son bags of fresh, ripe peaches. My 2 older boys made peach pies tonight. I am done making pies. They have it down and there’s no use in competing with that greatness.

    There is one thing that worked for me as far as this quiver-full-thang. I was a fantastic cook (I know, I’m bragging) back in the day. I cooked very good home-cooked meals for every meal. I made bread from scratch from grinding the wheat berry to out of the oven in 1-1/2 hours (using professional instant yeast). That was a thing that a lot of homeschoolers got into. They had break making workshops at homeschool conventions, I kid you not. My older kids were spoiled with really good cooking. And then when I got pregnant with #6 and #7, I got morning sickness very badly. It lasted 2 trimesters and smells were horrific, so the kitchen was the last place I wanted to be.

    My kids learned that if they wanted decent breakfasts like they remembered, they had to do it themselves. They had been watching me for years, so it was now their turn to do their thing. And they did.

    When I was too tired to make pie, or had a baby to nurse or tend to, they got tired of being deprived of yummy goodness and figured out things themselves. So, tonight my 15 yr old and 23 yr old sons divided up the task of making the pie. They are out of this world. Their pie crusts are better than mine. Their future wives will either be very mad at me (for taking away their jobs) or will thank me profusely. 🙂 So, anyway, I’m looking forward to fresh peach pie tonight. Go ahead and drool, you should be. Their pies are that good. Should I repent for being such a braggart? Let me know.

    My baby is 7 and I still feel tired – go figure.


  27. If the fact that Christ is the head of the church implies a certain level of authority, and if the comparison of Christ as head of the church with the husband as head of the family (that would include the wife), both relationships are hierarchical by their very nature. I would add that there was no need in the lady’s explanation to talk about the hierarchical nature of the relationship. To imply that her omitting is some sort of grievous error, or that it doesn’t exist, is intellectual suicide.


  28. I read something above about using the term ‘differences’ and not ‘roles’, in this discussion. The Bible clearly defines ‘roles’ BECAUSE of differences God created between men and women. To dismiss ‘roles’ because you don’t want to be under any authority is not Biblical, and in fact is rebellion against God (if you claim to be a Christian), IF the Bible clearly establishes them.

    I think I am done with this one. Just wanted you to know that your ‘thorn in the flesh’ is watching. Mostly for great examples of really ‘fuzzy’ logic.

    Have a great day, folks!


  29. The “role” of a complementarian man or woman means whatever he/she wants it to mean. I’ve observed it in their lives. For every rule and role I’m told about, I can point to a comp family that doesn’t do it that way. It all comes down to treating one another with love and respect. Good comp marriages and good egal marriages are good in the same way.


  30. B4B said:

    “I would add that there was no need in the lady’s explanation to talk about the hierarchical nature of the relationship. To imply that her omitting is some sort of grievous error, or that it doesn’t exist, is intellectual suicide.”

    Say what?

    It is very important because the opposite of “complementarianism” is egalitarian in which there is no hierarchical structure.


  31. Anonymous
    You said:
    “Good comp marriages and good egal marriages are good in the same way.”

    So why bother?


  32. At 3:52 B4B announces, “I think I am done with this one. Just wanted you to know that your ‘thorn in the flesh’ is watching.” I suggest that this evidences a form of stalking behavior. Stalking happens, for example, when authoritarian “church” leadership continues to attempt to have their way with those who have left their congregations, thereby walking away from authoritarian domination-masquerading-as-leadership. Stalking can happen, and is prohibited by law in my state, where an authoritarian male is denied access to his female object. Patriarchy and authoritarian forms of complementarianism play into the hands of men who are obsessed with having their way with their wives (and others). The end result is that the victims of patriarchy and authority leaning complementarianism become mere objects to be used and abused.

    B4B justifies male authoritarianism on the basis the the husband is head of the wife as Jesus is head of the Church. B4B ignores the fact that Jesus’ headship involved giving himself up for His Church. Eph. 5:25. Jesus’ headship does not point to male authority over their wives. It points to a call for husbands to relate to their wives with sacrificial love.

    I say that ALL relationships between Christians are to be based on agape love, as opposed to authority. Therefore, the very concept of Christian patriarchy is oxymoronic. Because love does not insist on it’s own way (1 Cor 13:5), any version of complementarianism that includes notions of male authority contravenes the clear teaching of Scripture.


  33. Julie,
    You posted a blog asking about the difference between two terms. You posted a video clip in which a woman explained the definition of one of them. That she didn’t talk about the other term does not mean there is something wrong with the video clip. Maybe it wasn’t part of whatever larger video it was taken from. You sound like you are pinging about something not in the clip you thought should be there, like you expected her clip (recorded when and why) to conform to your discussion?.


  34. I think any comments I might have would be mainly useless since you all are on another bashing trip. I won’t mention that there is an authority structure in the roles of each person of the Trinity. A Christian that would suggest that agape love and authority cannot mix is not a sound thinking one. I believe there is what is called a ‘category error’ in that fuzzy thinking. ANyhow, naother example of intellectual suicide to add to the list. Thanks!


  35. B4B states
    “If the fact that Christ is the head of the church implies a certain level of authority…”

    Jesus is a servant who serves, so it does not imply authority.


  36. Gary W,

    Where I come from, your response is what we call Owning your opponent! Good on you! Thank you for bringing a proper biblical interpretation of the passage brought up by Born4Contention, thus exposing his egregious error.

    And I’m so glad B4C is “keeping an eye” on you, Julie — you woman, you! Authorian-obsessed Calvinists like B4C have found a way at an attempt to keeping you under their technological thumb on-line. Tragic. (Insecure as well.)


  37. Ed,
    ANYONE who is the ‘head’ of ANYTHING. If you don’t get that, I really feel sorry for you. You have a serious literacy issue here and are actually incapable of seeing clear implications where words you have to see aren’t there, are willfully blind to what the Bible indeniably implies, or are just playing us all. I have no idea which is which. Whichever it is, save your ‘ink’, at least talking to me.


  38. I have spent a lot of time reading about different aspects of patriarchy and complementarianism. I finally came to the conclusion that a lot of these supposed experts have forgotten that humans have individual needs that cannot be accounted for in formulas. There was no room in their formulas for people like me, people with long-term disabilities and chronic illnesses. As a woman with both (I am what is called a SWAN- Syndrome Without A Name), I cannot “submit” to the rules of another person just because they think it is right. I have to do what is right for my body at all times. There are days when I feel good when I can be relatively normal and do things like cook dinner and deal with laundry. Then there are other days when I feel so bad that even getting dressed feels like a marathon. I am learning the hard way that I have to put my own needs first for the first time in my life. It is a constant battle to balance what needs to be done and what I can actually do. If anybody is curious about what my daily life is like, type “The Spoon Theory” into a search engine. You will find a wonderful article written by Christine Miserandino (who suffers from lupus). Traditional roles just don’t work for all of us and that is not a sin. In fact, I would argue that the worship of traditional role structures to the detriment of your brothers and sisters in Christ is a greater problem.

    Craig, unfortunately I no longer have that paper. After 4 moves in 3 years, a hurricane and multiple crashed hard drives, some things simply disappeared. I still remember it vividly – probably because I had so much fun writing it and enjoyed debating various points with my professors afterward.


  39. I hope everyone else here notes Born4Contention’s rhetorical use of “intellectual suicide,” etc. You see, to arrogant, authoritarian Calvinists like him, the intellect is supreme — forget the spiritual, it’s the intellect that counts (quite an unbiblical notion, btw).

    He then rants on about his comments here being useless, but he cannot help himself commenting, time and time again. These types of authoritarian Calvinists are way, way too easy to bait. They cannot let an argument pass, because they must dominate and eliminate all opposition — just like in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Geneva and Holland (e.g. the Synod of Dort).

    Seriously, I’m on the other side of this computer laughing . . .


  40. This is just my own way of understanding, but I’ve always thought of patriarchy as emphasizing the role of the husband/father to spiritually “cover” the other members of the family. In this role, he almost acts as an intercessor between God and the family – particularly the wife and daughters.

    The example I am most familiar with is Bill Gothard and his “umbrella of authority”, where the umbrella is the husband/father. To get out from under the umbrella is to open yourself up up to Satanic attack. So the emphasis is on the daughter staying home under the father’s protection until she can be passed on to her husband – who is then her covering. Of course, any decision must be passed by the father first – God gives him the wisdom to make decisions for the rest of his family.


  41. B4B is nothing but a trouble maker, skewing the scripture to support a cultural stereotype that has clay feet of abuse. “Authority” is a tool of abuse. Jesus taught us not to exercise “authority” over others, but to serve people with agape love. Anyone who is exercising authority over another Christian is not following Christ.


  42. B4B,

    Just in case you missed this:

    Matthew 20:27
    And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

    Matthew 23:11
    But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

    John 15:15
    Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

    1 Corinthians 7:22
    For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

    Galatians 4:7
    Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

    Being a servant of Christ is FREEDOM, not subservient. You have a lot to learn about FREEDOM.

    The Bible does NOT imply what you imply in regards to ROLES, or AUTHORITY.



  43. Another ‘category’ error. Leaders with authority also ‘serve’ those whom they lead. Ask anyone who has been in the military. Anyone who is against authority in the church and/family is a rebel against God. Lots of rebellion against God these days.


  44. B4B,

    My complaint with Kassian’s video (as well as others I’ve seen of her) is that she uses a lot of words to say essentially nothing. After listening to the clip above, I have no better idea of what it means to be “complimentarian” than I did before. She says it’s a matter of having different “roles”, but she doesn’t explain what those roles are. Breadwinner and homemaker? Or what else? And Ed is right, the Bible offers no help in that regard, either.

    I agree that marriage is meant to somehow reflect the relationship between Christ and the church — Paul said as much to the church in Ephesus. But I see no reason to include “authority” into the marriage relationship simply because Jesus has authority over us. Why not let husband and wife submit to each other, the way Jesus did to us in His incarnation, and as we do to Him now?

    P.S. to Julie Anne — Happy Birthday, sister! Sorry I missed it!


  45. Ed,

    Since Jesus is the head of the Church, and a husband is the head of his wife, all those verses you post at 8:03 AM are obviously not true. So much for inerrancy.

    No, wait! Maybe your verses are, among other things, telling us what headship looks like. Maybe?


  46. “Lots of rebellion against God these days.”

    Including lording it over wives, children and our brothers and sisters in the Lord.


  47. B4B,

    You had said:
    “Another ‘category’ error. Leaders with authority also ‘serve’ those whom they lead. Ask anyone who has been in the military. Anyone who is against authority in the church and/family is a rebel against God. Lots of rebellion against God these days.”

    First of all, you are NOT MASTER OF YOUR WIFE. She is NOT YOUR SLAVE.

    Being servants of the FLESH (Military…And I did serve, USN) is much different than being servants of Christ,.

    Colossians 3:22
    Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

    Eph. 6:
    5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

    6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

    7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

    8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

    9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

    Servants of Christ are FREE. Servants of the Military are of the FLESH, not the SPIRIT.

    The Bible does NOT indicate that any husband is the MASTER of his wife.


  48. “What is Difference Between Complementarianism and Patriarchy?”

    Semantics, nothing more.

    Like that one Tsar’s claim “Is no slavery in Russia. Here, we call it ‘Servitude’.”


  49. Now you’re being _____(Moderator Removed Personal Attack) (and silly) again. that there exists an authority structure/roles in a relationship (in order so it can function smoothly) doesn’t mean there are ‘masters’ and ‘slaves’. Are you really this _____(Moderator Removed Personal Attack)?????? (I almost said ‘stupid’, sorry)

    Mod note: Both “stupid” and the other removed words were inappropriate. No personal attacks here, B4B.


  50. The wife says she is a homemaker and even wears hat as a rule. But behind closed doors, the wife absolutely wears the pants and she runs a multimillion dollar corporate machine from inside her home. She contradicts her husband and bellows at him in front of relative strangers. He laughs and acts mischievously and finally obeys.

    Now THAT is a perpetual Domineering Mommy and Widdle Boy relationship.

    Remember the cartoons of the henpecked husband who can only whine “Yes, Dear”? How many of these Male Supremacist types are throwing their weight around in public because they’re on the bottom of the heap at home?


  51. Ed,

    Do you serve Christ ‘in your flesh’? We still live here, are still plagued with sinful passions, etc. More no-brainer’ facts. We obey scripture and walk in obedience while we are in the ‘flesh’ . And again, I didn’t use the term master (or slave), I merely spoke of roles and authority in general. Therefore, your trying to say I am somehow implying that I am MASTER over my wife is nothing but a fabrication indicating you don’t , won’t or can’t discuss this in general principles.


  52. B4B,

    You are discussing serving sin in the flesh, not serving in the military, as in obeying the officers appointed over you, in the flesh. We are servants of Christ, not sin.

    You are mixing topics.



  53. Dee – Thanks for chiming in. I’m very glad you posted the links. So, I’m figuring out that even as recently as last year, I was looking at the word “complementarian” and saying, “say what?” It meant nothing to me. I just don’t like this kind of weird hype and so I skimmed those posts (the same way I skimmed past the YEC posts). What a bad blog reader I am 🙂

    Now it’s coming more and more clear to me and I’m seeing this complementarianism used in a bullying way just like the YEC thang and it’s getting me angry. When can the real thing be the real thing? These pet topics used to bore me, but now I’m getting angry about them because I can see the destruction left in their path.

    To my readers, if you haven’t read these links, please do. Dee researched a lot and you get a very clear picture of what is going on: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/11/28/mary-kassian-and-rachel-held-evans-just-who-are-her-people/

    and http://thewartburgwatch.com/2011/12/19/russell-moore-tells-women-to-stop-submitting-to-men/


  54. Lot’s of…interesting…discussion going on in this thread. Some of it good, some of it…….

    I myself do see a distinction between complementarianism and patriarchy. It is a bit of a blurred distinction though. It is blurred because complementarianism is a major component of patriarchy. It does not then follow though that patriarchy is a component of complentarianism. That’s making an error similar to “A includes B, therefore B includes A.” (Sorry if that is not exactly how it should be put, I have only very slightly studied formal logic). The descriptions and examples JA gave in the original post I think fairly accurately describe many complementarian couples I know (even if they wouldn’t know to use that term), including my parents.

    My dad sought to lead us by making sure our needs were provided for, taking us to church, modeling Christ-like behavior, and loving my mom the best way he knew how. My parents would make decisions together, and would often be in agreement, but when they weren’t, the final decision was up to my dad to make, and the family would follow that. This wasn’t a position of authority, but one of great responsibility. The thought is that God would hold my dad accountable for the those desicisions, so it is not something to be taken lightly. Any choices should be for the good of the whole family. Our ideas, including those of my mom and sister, were never dismissed outright. My dad always listened and took those things into consideration. Based on all I’ve seen, I would say my parents could be classified as complementarian.

    They also lack all of the characteristics of patriarchy though. My dad did not see himself as the “boss” of the family. My sister and I did not need permission to date anybody. We were trusted to make our own decissions, especially as adults. My sister was encouraged to do well in school and go on to college, including getting her master’s degree. My parents do not believe they have the authority to continue speaking into and over our lives, and when they have overstepped their bounds in the past, they have been quick to seek forgiveness. While my mom is and always has ben primarily a homemaker, it is of her own choice, and she has always been encouraged by my dad to do what she wants in that regard (working or not, and what kind of work).

    So for those of you that think complementarianism and patriarchy are one and the same, how would you explain people like my parents? I would disagree with you in the strongest sense if you tried to label my parents as patriarchal. You’d be flat out wrong. But I believe they could be described as complementarian. Oh, and yes, I have see patriarchy up close for comparison. I would describe my wife’s family as patriarchal, and it has caused enormous problems for my wife and I and her family to the point that we are estranged and unsure if there will ever be a relationship there again.


  55. Mandy,

    I too live with a disability. I’m a congenital amputee missing both arms below the elbows and my left leg at the knee. I think you’re right that having a disability gives us a different perspective on roles. Roles don’t always work well for us. I remember a time many many years ago when, as a 10th grader, I tried out for the role of Curly in Oklahoma. I was politely told that Curly cannot be portrayed by a five foot congenital amputee. I’m still getting over that (just kidding).


  56. Julie Anne,
    Gee whiz! Thanks for the hot flash, wasn’t expecting to have one for several more years. You had to pick MY silly comment on SEX to turn into a post… lovely. After getting over my initial shock, happy birthday. 🙂


  57. When Craig and I met in person last summer, the difference in our height was apparent. This is nothing new to me being over 6 feet tall. But I have to say – in my “eyes”, Craig stands tall.


  58. There is probably no hope of (Moderator removed reader’s name) growing a functioning brain, or the one s/he does have is so rusted shut that the plain text of scripture combined with middle/high school reading skills can’t penetrate it.


  59. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahashahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. A Mom, I know my dental hygienist is dying of curiosity as to why I just laughed out loud!! Hot flashes are fun NOT!!


  60. B4B doesn’t seem to know how to comprehend Bible. Wives are not slaves. Husbands are not Masters. When I first began to “study” the Bible, I saw the word FREEDOM all over the place. I first said to myself, “Self, what is this FREEDOM being discussed?” And so, self went to study away. Freedom is never having to submit to man, but to Christ, and that submission is FREEDOM, which is another way of saying to RELAX, Stop worrying, stop working, take a break…for eternity. Aagin, I reiterate, husbands are not masters of any wife. Wives are not slaves to any man. Husbands do not have authority over their spouse. There is no scripture that states the word authority in regards to a male over a female.



  61. I live not far from where the Dugg*r’s homeschool conference is held. I have seen patriarchy in action up close and personal. Its kinda sad. Yesterday I saw about 5 such families out and about. The way a family acts when the patriarch is not present is astounding. When he is present, the family lives in fear. I observed this phenomenon before I even knew what patriarchy or complementarianism was and I was disgusted. I want no part of any of this.

    Craig, thank you. You understand that a “one size fits all” mentality doesn’t really work. Formulas should be restricted to math and science, not human relationships. I have learned so much from you and others here. I have witnessed first hand what true agape love looks like and what happens when a community of believers stands up for the underdog. I have found confidence and now know that I should expect better treatment from fellow believers, that I don’t have to accept being treated as a second-class citizen just because I am different. I don’t know when I will physically be able to attend church again but in the meantime the fellowship I experience here is more than enough.


  62. BeenThereDoneThat said:

    “One thing that’s been rolling around in my head about this whole comp/egal thing, it doesn’t take into account how different we are as individuals and couples. Some personalities may naturally function better in a “complementarian” style, and others may function better in an “egalitarian” fashion. I don’t see that either is wrong unless, say, a “comp” structure is forced on a couple. If love is flowing either configuration should work fine.”

    This, as I understand it, is one difference between egalitarianism and complementarianism. Egalitarianism says, “No one has a biblical mandate to lead, so each couple should do what works best for themselves. If he’s a natural leader and she likes following, by all means, let him lead!” Whereas complementarianism says, “He has a biblical mandate to lead, so if he doesn’t lead and she doesn’t follow, they’re out of God’s will.” Thus complementarianism in all its forms imposes a hierarchy, no matter how “soft,” on every marriage, no matter how well or poorly an individual couple fits into that box.


  63. Born4Battle
    JULY 16, 2013 @ 11:26 AM
    There is probably no hope of (Moderator removed reader’s name) growing a functioning brain, or the one s/he does have is so rusted shut that the plain text of scripture combined with middle/high school reading skills can’t penetrate it.

    Ok, B4B – You are officially in the SSB Dog House because of that comment. Now, run along.

    Dog House


  64. Kristen,
    Ahh. I see. Thank you for clarifying that. I guess that puts me in the egalitarian camp. Though I hate putting another label on myself, it is helpful to understand the definitions. Dee Parsons has been questioning what people really mean when they use terms like these.


  65. B4B,
    You said:
    “There is probably no hope of (Moderator removed reader’s name) growing a functioning brain, or the one s/he does have is so rusted shut that the plain text of scripture combined with middle/high school reading skills can’t penetrate it.”

    Imagine the Christians around the world who have NO reading skills at all.

    I guess B4B wouldn’t consider them to be Christians, since they can’t penetrate it with their lack of reading skills.

    2 Timothy 3:15 (I got good grades in Middle/High School English)
    And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    Galatians 4:31(Freedom, Baby, is never having to say _____________).
    So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

    Ephesians 6:4
    And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath

    Colossians 3:21
    Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

    Yep, I am a CHILD of God. God does NOT provoke me to anger or wrath.

    Husbands do not have authority over anything except for their own lives. You have some serious control (low self esteem) issues, as well as co-dependent issues, to deal with.



  66. Julie Anne,
    Since you opened the can of worms, LOL… Are you interested in doing an upcoming post “the 3rd (preferred???) option, egalitarian” or something to that effect? I think fewer Christians know what it really means or that it’s even a legitimate option…. And my goodness, it’s even a real word. 😉

    You could ask everyone their opinion on whether it’s preferred over the other two or not….

    Patriarchal and even Comp beliefs/roles/hierarchies put forth by it’s leaders and proponents (I am not referring to the marriages that identify with Pat or Comp, but function more as egalitarian) have done damage to Christian families. If the beliefs/roles were put into action, the wonderful examples of Christian marriage spoken of here may have functioned differently.

    Patriarchy and Comp can be especially damaging when it comes to counseling. Want a good marriage? The answer can’t be “just follow the hierarchy”. Have a problem in your marriage? The answer is not “follow the hierarchy” and trust God. Patriarchy and Comp, by default, may lay blame in the wrong place. Even when it could just be a misunderstanding that needs to be uncovered, where no one is at fault.

    There are mutually respectful couples in all three camps, I thank God. For the couples who are not mutually respectful, the Patriarchal and Comp beliefs are not helpful.

    Jesus is the authority. Jesus taught equal rights for all people, love God, love yourself & others – if we miss this we misunderstand Jesus. Marriage is not exempt. Church is not exempt. These guys don’t seems to really believe in equal rights for all people, IMO. Check out Piper and Doug Wilson’s views on slavery. What are they teaching the world about Jesus?

    Julie Anne, This matters to me, because it’s not as harmless as it appears.

    Glad you chimed in! Your links are valuable to this conversation.


  67. In Summary:

    Are Pat & Comp the same? Don’t know, but they seem to overlap a lot if they aren’t.

    Do I think they both have the potential to be damaging? Yes!

    Is egalitarianism damaging? Can’t think of a time it when it would be.


  68. Who should we really be listening to on this topic, learned male theologians who know the right way to read the Bible, or “some women”? 😀


  69. There is probably no hope of (Moderator removed reader’s name) growing a functioning brain, or the one s/he does have is so rusted shut that the plain text of scripture combined with middle/high school reading skills can’t penetrate it. — B4B

    That sounds SO much like Ayn Rand’s “You obviously do not have a Rational Mind. If you had a Rational Mind, you would agree completely with Me.”


  70. Dee, re: Your comment at July 16, 2013 @ 6:19 AM

    “So why bother?”

    My point exactly. If good comp marriages and good egal marriages are both good in the same way, then the enemy (so to speak) is authoritarianism, selfishness, power, control, and manipulation–all tools of the more powerful and insecure person.

    To me, what matters is how they treat each other. Abusers aren’t marriage material no matter what they call themselves.


  71. If a married couple of say, 65 years old, came to Christ for the first time in their lives, how would they ADJUST to, or follow thru on a change from eg to comp? Let’s say that they have been happily married for 40 years, and now, the wife is being taught that she must submit to his AUTHORITY. But the husband states, I LOVE MY WIFE JUST THE WAY SHE IS, and the wife states, I LOVE MY HUSBAND JUST THE WAY HE IS.

    Then what?



  72. @Donald When you say: “Comp. is an invented word made up because all the other existing alternatives sounded too negative to the proponents and they wanted to sell their idea.” BINGO!

    In trying to look both cool and biblical, the founders of the comp. camp have created this term in opposition to mutuality in marriage as an authentic ‘biblical view’. They have worked hard to make this all ‘sound biblical’. Interpreting a biblical view as being hierarchical makes it all right and good. After all the OT model has been around for a long time. Society, for centuries, in most every culture, has always held to a hierarchical model. So, just go with the flow and simply call it: the ‘real Christian view of biblical marriagehood.’

    Without further research, Christian couples are beguiled to buy into ‘this biblical model’ and avoid any other view since that would be the slippery slope of ‘feminism’ and we can’t have that! [In typing this and rereading it, I had actually typed: “slippery slop”–which about covers it, IMO.]

    Mutuality in marriage, otherwise known as an egalitarian view of marriage, is clearly biblical, practical, and honoring to Christ. It is not some rebellious view of Christian marriage that is suspect.

    Then you get to the issue of singles in the church. For whatever reason, there are many singles who are seeking Christian fellowship in a church family. If these female singles do not have a husband, then who are they supposed to submit to, be subservient to, and pull their weight in affirming that women are to be ‘biblically’ controlled by males??!

    I am delighted to read the wisdom portrayed here and the good efforts to dismantle an un-biblical belief system that creates confusion, is hard to define, and is being continually foisted upon the unwary.


  73. Barb nailed the big issue. Why do we need what feels like ten thousand rules, names and formulas to justify mere human traditions as “Christian”? One day recently after reading yet another article hailing the Paleo diet as the perfect human diet because it was the original diet, my mom said something that resonated with me. She said, “We can defend history and tradition all we want but at its simplest, people have been simply trying their best with what they have been given since the beginning of mankind. No particular method of eating or dressing or child-rearing is perfect; every group has its unique challenges and adapts. When are people going to finally learn to do what works best for their unique challenges?”


  74. Yes, Barb O hit it out of the ballpark with her comment.

    Barb O, You are partially to blame for my comments and resulting “hot flash (not really)” when I saw this post. You welcomed me after my first comment as A girl (now A Mom) “who found my voice” and encouraged me. 🙂

    I will continue to stand up and speak up for those who have been wrongly and/or intentionally hurt by leaders, wrong teaching, and people in the church. I will stand up and speak up for those who may not be able or ready to speak up for themselves. My heart breaks for you. The purpose of my comments is to add my voice of support along with the others here – for you. Know I have the highest regard for you. Know you are dearly loved.

    You may feel shattered, dizzy, upside down, hit by a bus, helpless. God sees you, God sees it all, his heart breaks. We are created with a choice to do good or bad, and sometimes people choose bad, with devastating consequences. Don’t give up. Websites like wartburgwatch, paulspassingthoughts, unreformingtheology, churchexiters, spiritualtyranny, cryingoutforjustice will help heal the wounds over time. They are a small but mighty group and God is pleased. Read the healing posts and comments when you can. They will help you grow stronger. You are not alone.

    Jesus had little to do with religious leaders of His day. The Bible talks more about His time spent with people like you and me. Jesus came to proclaim His love for you. The people who hurt you do not have the ability to take that away from you.

    In His love,
    A Mom


  75. Born 4 Battle:This name alone tells a lot. I was not born 4 battle and neither is any other born again Christian. We are born to spread the love of Christ. (Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’) Matthew 22:37-39. This would include your wife and children.

    I like Ed’s answer to you. As for the Godhead having roles, this sound very much like the doctrine of Eternal Submission, which is heresy, a word I do not throw around lightly. All are God. All agree. One is not submissive to the other. Christ was submissive to God on earth in order to achieve the great sacrifice which frees us. My husband is not over me. We are partners. Adam and Eve before the fall was a good example. Christ with his sacrifice, death, burial and resurrection made things right again. It’s sin that has a man desiring to rule over his wife and his wife to want this. But in Christ we are free. I think it is you who should go back and read the scriptures again. You are reading Law and thinking as if Christ hadn’t come to earth etc.


  76. One more thing Born 4 Battle. Your attitude and name calling shows your heart. Look at Christ’s ministry on earth and how he treated and spoke to those he encountered. That would be your model. Christ. Compare that to how you have spoken to others who disagree with you here. I hope you would find your words abusive(which is what this blog is all about) and shameful. So knock it off.


  77. Another problem with the term “Patriarchy” is that it connotes the Biblical Patriarchs who had roles and value systems in ancient cultures that arguably don’t go over well in the U.S.A. in 2013.

    For example, if we’re following Abraham’s example pertaining to gender roles why aren’t we also following his example regarding polygamy?

    Or practicing human sacrifice that supposedly pleases God a la the story about Jephte’s daughter in the Old Testament?

    So far I’m not aware that Patriarchal groups like SGM have advocated human sacrifice, literally, yet they’ve certainly been credibly accused of allowing men to physically, emotionally, and sexually abuse their wives and children on the grounds that Biblical practices permit a father or other male authority figure to treat their families however they please just because they’re men.

    But all that goes away if you substitute a real word like “Patriarchy” with a fake buzz-word like “Complementarianism,” right?


  78. But all that goes away if you substitute a real word like “Patriarchy” with a fake buzz-word like “Complementarianism,” right?

    Ever notice how Newspeak words are always longer and more pseudo-Intellectual obscure than Oldspeak?

    George Carlin had a monologue about how “Shell Shock” became “Combat Fatigue” became “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” and how “Crippled” became “Differently Abled” became “Handi-Capable”.


  79. 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


  80. 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. http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/sapphira-and-abigail-part-1/

    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. 🙂


  81. 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


  82. 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. 🙂


  83. 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.


  84. Pingback: Guest Post: Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, or Mystery | Spiritual Sounding Board

  85. Pingback: Complementarianism and Patriarchy and Links | Emancipated Atlas

  86. 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.


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