Nowadays, one of the most controversial topics in the evangelical church is egalitarianism vs. complementarianism.
Complementary but not identical
Complementarianism is the theological view that although men and women are created equal in their being and personhood, they are created to complement each other via different roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, and church. In contrast, Christians for Biblical Equality defines egalitarianism that there is no biblical gender-based restriction on ministry in the church. Egalitarians believe that because all believers are in Christ, men and women are equal in functional roles in leadership and the household. One of their position is that all males and females are created equal in all aspects (Genesis chapter 1, verses 26-27). From the perspective of creation, God makes no distinction between men and women as both are created in God's image. God gave both of them the responsibility to rule the earth.
Egalitarians also make a strong case based upon Galatians chapter 3, verse 28. They believe that hierarchy is the result of the original sin. Thus, when Christ came to earth to redeem His people, He also restores the equality between men and women that He originally designed. In Galatians 3:28, Paul states that there is no distinction between males and females because all believers are in Christ. They believe that Christ’s redemption has removed the gender distinction, which resulted from the fall in Genesis.
The egalitarians also build their case upon biblical examples of female leadership in the Old Testament. God has put some exemplary females in the leadership position, such as Miriam (Exodus 15), Huldah (2 King 22), and Deborah (Judges 4-5). Deborah was also a judge in Israel. Moreover, Proverbs chapter 31, verses 30-31 praises the ideal woman who fears the Lord and expresses her faithful service to the Lord by dealing with business outside of her home and inside her home. This article is going to give a brief evaluation of egalitarianism.
The Evaluation of Egalitarianism
First of all, egalitarianism fails to consider many Scripture passages that clearly distinguish between men and women in their functional role in the church and family. In Genesis chapters 1-2, indeed, God created Adam and Eve equally in terms of their value; However, God specifically states the purpose in creating Eve, and the purpose is that she was to become a helper that fits for Adam. It was not good for Adam to be alone, so God created Eve to be a suitable helper for him in ruling the earth.
Egalitarianism makes its case based on Galatians 3 chapter 28; however, the context of Galatians chapter 3, verse 28 does not warrant such an interpretation. In Galatians, Paul demonstrates the great truth of justification by faith alone in Christ and not by works. Paul argues that those who are in Christ are the spiritual descendants of Adam (Galatians chapter 3, verse 29). In its context, Paul was talking about salvation and not the distinction between men and women in the church. In other words, Paul was saying that salvation is given freely to all without respect to external factors such as ethnicity, economic status, or gender. Therefore, Galatians chapter 3, verse 28 does not remove the distinction between men and women.
Besides, the New Testament scripture clearly defines the role of males and females in the church and home. For example, in the church, in 1 Timothy chapter 2 verse 12, Paul does not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; instead, she is to remain quiet. Also, Paul commands Christian men in the church to bear the responsibility of leadership. Paul also gives the model for the home.
In Ephesians chapter 5, verses 21-33, Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord, for the husbands are the head of the wives as Christ is the head of the church. The model for the husband and wife follows the model of Christ and the church. I submit therefore, that egalitarianism is unbiblical.
Dat Nguyen is a student at the Master’s Seminary and a member of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. His desire is to be a faithful minister of the Word of God. He loves playing basketball and watching movies.