Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Legalism in egalitarianism and complementarianism

Legalism can kill the spirit of the law by following just the letter of the law. Jesus had a lot to say about this during his ministry.

On this blog we often point out problems, or potential problems, with egalitarianism or complementarianism. One rebuttal to pointing out the problems people have experienced under either framework is noting that the bad experience is not really the way the framework is supposed to work. And several of you have correctly been emphasizing that we are all sinners, complementarians and egalitarians alike. No matter how much we may want to please Christ, and follow his Word as we understand it, and, in particular, follow an egalitarian or complementarian framework, we mess up, we sin.

In this post, I'd like to summarize some of the problems which can result from being legalistic about either egalitarianism or complementarianism. I'm sure I won't think of all the problems, so feel free to add to my lists in the comments. I'll start with egalitarianism because so often complementarianism gets such a bad rap on this blog.

Legalistic egalitarianism can result in:
  1. Demandingness ("I did supper last night, so you have to do it tonight.")
  2. Rules take priority over love ("Remember, we agreed this is a 50-50 marriage, and that's the only way I'm willing to keep going in this marriage."
  3. Inadequate attention to the different giftings of each spouse. Expecting each spouse to do the same things.
  4. Lack of love ("You wanted an egalitarian marriage; now you have to practice what you preach; I'm not going to do your part of our marriage.")
  5. Lack of sacrifice ("You said women can do anything men can; I don't care if it's hard for you; you've gotta make it on your own.")
Obviously, these are extreme examples, but I suspect they remind us of some difficulties some have in marriages which they truly want to be egalitarian.

Legalistic complementarianism can result in:
  1. Demandingness (hmm, do I hear an echo?!) ("The Bible says you're supposed to submit to me, so submit; I'm the head of this house.")
  2. Husband not listening to his wife ("Just be quiet and listen to me, as a biblical woman is supposed to do"; "I'm not supposed to listen to you; the Bible only says you're supposed to submit to me")
  3. Wife's spiritual giftings not affirmed
  4. Requiring wife's submission without loving sacrifice from the husband
  5. Rules and regulations about what women can and can't do