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What is Complementarianism?

Christian theology uses the term “Complementarianism” to encapsulate a Biblical worldview of marriage.

Definition

Complementarianism is the teaching that masculinity and femininity are ordained by God and that men and women are created to complement, or complete, each other.”

Scripture

Eph. 5:22-25 ”Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church… Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

Reality

In a perfect world (one in which none of us live in), the love of the man for his spouse dictates that he will do all that he can to support and defend her. That behavior should breed respect, trust, and love by his wife. In any relationship, organization, government entity, etc. there needs to be accountability and responsibility… or, said more clearly, the buck needs to stop somewhere. In a Biblical marriage, the responsibility, both in their relationship and in their family, stops with the husband, just as Adam was ultimately held responsible for eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden (Rom. 5:12).

Interestingly, Adam and Eve are a classic example of the sin nature of mankind creeping into this very imperfect world as, the first thing Adam did was to point to his wife and say to God, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Gen 3:12). However, the reality of our sin nature is no excuse for ignoring God’s principles.

Conclusion

Just because we don’t live in a “perfect” world does not mean we should throw throw the Biblical baby out with the bath water. God’s word makes it clear that the husband is the responsible party in a godly marriage. However, this should NEVER be used to justify an abusive relationship which is the antithesis of what God intended.

Postscript 

I want to add a postscript to this article based on one of the comments. As I have said above, I believe Compmentarianism is the way the Bible defines a marriage to work best. However, I have also tried to make the point that we all live in a sin-cursed world where pride gets in the way. There can be a point where submission becomes abuse, and that was never what God intended in His Word. The problem is the line between submission and abuse gets blurred. Pastors and Christian counselors can miss or reject the transition, to everyone’s detriment.


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Jeff Hilles BCWorldveiw.org, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit

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