Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

***Working to be a safe place for all sides to share.***


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is Sarah Sumner an egalitarian or a complementarian?

In a comment on a previous post John Hobbins perceptively wrote:

John wrote:
It's possible to characterize Sarah Sumner as a soft egal or as a very soft comp. But on CBE, she was treated by most as some kind of traitor to the cause. Once again, fine, I should have expected it. That's what movement blogs do.
I decided to ask Sarah which she is. She answered right away several days ago, but I've been waiting for her permission to post her answer. She just gave it. Here is what she wrote:
I think our new marriage book shows that I am really not an egalitarian. I cast three different models of marriage in our book:

business model, democratic model, and biblical model. The distinctiveness of my beliefs comes through more clearly now, I think.

Also note that complementarians say they believe that women are equal to men in dignity, yet they qualify that equality as something that is true “before God.” In that I believe women are equal to men before people (on the basis that we both are created in the image of God, and as Christians both have the same Christ, same Holy Spirit within us) , I am not a complementarian. The problem with complementarians is that they want to say women are not equal to men “before people,” and yet also say that men are not superior to women. That is a blatant contradiction. The problem, I believe with the egalitarian point of view is that egalitarians do not want to acknowledge that equality in the Church, according to the Scriptures, is different from political equality that legally gives women “the right” to demand to be treated in a certain way. I believe the issue of equality is misunderstood on both sides. Maybe I should write a little article on this. Thanks for prompting me.

Hope that helps.

I don't think complementarians would accept Dr. Sumner as one of them since she has been senior pastor of a church. And egalitarians might question whether she is fully one of them. I suspect she does not fit neatly into either box. I know from what I have read by Dr. Sumner that she tries so very hard to be fully biblical. She has a kind of prophetic voice that calls all of us, whether egalitarians, complementarians, or neither, to be more biblical in the way we approach gender issues. Maybe Sarah is a complegalitarian! :-)


UPDATE (Nov. 25) from Sarah: Wayne,

I'm so 20th century I don't even know how to post on this, but you are welcome to, Wayne:

At this point in my life, I am not a blogger yet. I did, however, take a look at some of the comments posted and have found that you are a very thoughtful group of people. I appreciate your remarks and have been sharpened and instructed by them--thank you.

To be specific, I concede that the Bible itself is the only written word that fully shows the actual "biblical" model of marriage. I used that language in attempt to help people look more closely at Ephesians 5. But still, your point is well taken, Marilyn. Also thanks to you, John H. for noticing that my intention is to be honest about the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the debate--and also of my own take on the matter.

In addition, I wish you could all see for yourselves my friendships with women; I don't want to sound defensive, but the truth is that I have always had many women friends and enjoy great closeness with them. That I repented from being prejudiced against women is really to say that I repented from being prejudiced against myself. As for the comments about a wife being the main breadwinner and what that implies about her position in the marriage, all I can say is that I wish you could meet my husband Jim. Regarding Matthew 18, Jim and I both are convinced that shying away from applying it is very costly to both husband and wife. Jim and I know husbands who say they feel too uncomfortable to confront their wives in a Matthew 18 way, and we know wives who say the same. But not feeling comfortable about applying Scripture is not a good excuse for not applying it. I understand that it's scary to obey Christ's commandments--until you actually DO it and find out that His way works. The key lies in confronting the other person for THEIR sake out of love. When Matthew 18 applied and applied rightly, neither spouse has more power than the other regardless of which one makes more money. Jesus' way levels the ground, so that both spouses can help each other obey the top commandment.

And for the record, I'm a teaching pastor, not a senior pastor. I say that in faith, trusting that anyone who hears me say that will know that I'm simply clarifying my own story and not trying to imply anything about women in the pastorate.

Blessings on you all,
Sarah Sumner