David Gushee, the Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, wrote an article for the Associated Baptist Press dealing with issues faced by those who take an complementarian position on the gender issue. He wrote:
I am convinced that all positions of service and leadership in the life of the local church should be open to women or men based entirely on calling and gifts — an egalitarian view. But in this column I am not going to rehearse the arguments for or against this view.
Instead, motivated by my experiences, I want to ask complementarians — those who believe that the role of women complements, but is not the same as, the role
Gushee asks four questions of those who take the complementarian view:
1. Are you successfully communicating to young men the conviction that a complementarian perspective must elevate rather than diminish the dignity of women, and therefore inculcating a moral commitment on their part to act accordingly?
2. Are you absolutely clear on which positions of Christian service (you believe) are barred to women?
3. Once you have determined what positions of Christian service are barred to women, you have therefore also determined which positions are permitted. Are you active in encouraging women to pursue the positions that are permitted?
4. When women occupy positions of church leadership that parallel those of men, are their positions named equally and are the individuals involved treated equally?
Read Gushee’s rationale for the four questions by visiting the web page of the Baptist News Global.
These are important questions. In the article, Gushee expands the intent of his questions and provides a rationale for the four questions. I agree with his views and believe that these questions expose a fundamental weakness in the complementarian view.
David Gushee has also written two additional articles on issue of the complementarian-egalitarian divide: The gender debate is ultimately about Jesus and On the frontiers of gender and racial integration. Both articles are worth reading.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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