When it comes to the topic of gender roles, it all comes down to biblical interpretation.
Many questions have recently been raised about complementarianism. We are keenly aware of the many stories of pastoral and spousal abuse—some of whom are noted complementarians. Such stories make many people wonder if complementarianism is simply a form of power grab, an attempt to hold onto male authority in order to exercise their selfish will.
Cultural questions have been raised as well. Is the complementarian vision merely a product of white western culture—deriving from a patriarchal ethos and an American vision of the good life, entirely sundered from biblical witness?
Or others have suggested the complementarian view solely represents the worldview of the Republican party, constituting a backlash to societal changes in the 1960’s. Or as one historian initially proposed, perhaps we have been more influenced by John Wayne than Jesus of Nazareth?
All of the questions posed above are excellent, and we need to be open to critique and revision. I hope none of us would claim that we are perfect in our interpretation or implementation of what the scriptures teach on the relationship between men and women.
There is always a danger that we have reacted to or imitated the society around us. We are all influenced by culture and should receive any critique that returns us to scriptural witness in good faith. We should listen charitably to brothers and sisters who view things differently—and none of us should be above reforming and nuancing our views.
The matter is complex, however, and egalitarians must also be able to answer the questions that are posed to them. They are not immune to cultural forces either.
The feminism of the 1960’s has shaped society in profound and enduring ways—both for good …