Being and Roles

When complementarians are pressed on the incoherence of ‘equal in being (Grudem breaks ‘being’ into ‘value, dignity and personhood’, but it means the same thing) and different in role’, they often respond with the truism that different roles do not necessarily imply inferiority. And they are correct. Partly.

It is true that there are different roles appropriate for different people. It is also true that this simple fact does not necessarily imply a hierarchy of headship vs submission.

However, one of the problems for complementarians is that some rolesĀ require a hierarchy of headship and submission and it is these roles, and only these roles, in which women are prohibited from serving. Furthermore, the only reason that women are prohibited from serving in those roles is their ‘womanhood’ (to borrow the word from the complementarians).

When authoritative ‘roles’ are determined by ‘manhood’ or ‘womanhood’, which describe a particular person’s fundamental being, then it is not true that men and women are equal in their being. So when complementarians claim that men and women are equal in their being and that women are prohibited from serving in authoritative roles simply because they are women, then they are making an incoherent claim that defeats their own claim that men and women are created equal.

The issue for complementarians is entirely about authority and submission, otherwise it wouldn’t be an issue. If the role of pastor or elder wasn’t a position of authority, they would have no issue with a woman serving in that role.

It is no wonder that gifted, intelligent, willing and able women who hear ‘You can’t do that because you are a woman’ also hear ‘You are not good enough because you are a woman’ and ‘You are ‘less than’ because you are a woman’.