Why Complementarianism Failed

Complementarianism presupposes androgynism. So argued Bnonn Tennant at It’s Good to Be a Man. Embarrassed of patriarchy, the Complementarians never could have defeated the Egalitarians. While Beth Moore, Danny Akin, JD Greear, and half the Southern Baptist Convention are mucking around with the definition of Complementarianism to make it fit the exact situations it was designed to prohibit, Bnonn Tennant has done the church a service. He points out that Complementarianism was only ever a halfway house on the road to Egalitarianism.

Bnonn Tennant writes:

Despite the near-universal confidence that conservative evangelicals have in it, complementarianism is not a firm and clear-headed articulation of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality as accepted throughout the history of the church. It is a limp-wristed defensive effort to preserve some traditional exceptions to androgyny on the basis of piecemeal exegetical arguments, while jettisoning the embarrassing telos that supports them.

A whole generation of evangelicals have treated complementarianism as the buttress that protects biblical sexuality from the onslaught of our culture. But complementarianism is a fortress built on sand, because it presupposes the same androgyny that feminism does.

The best it does is take isolated scriptures that plainly institute father-rule in marriage and the church, and says, “We must believe these.” But it does so while ignoring the larger shape of revelation, and instead conceding the general spirit of the age that there is no significant distinction between men and women—and that God therefore has no particular requirements for gendered civil life.

Although we’ll demonstrate this at some length, it is obvious if you simply read the original complementarian manifesto: the Danvers Statement. This was published in 1989 by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), who coined the term complementarianism and effectively defined it.

To continue reading, click here.

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at It’s Good to Be a Man. It has been partially reposted with permission, image and title changed.]


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