But What Should Women Do In The Church, by Wayne Grudem

Wayne Grudem's article is no longer on CBMW.

I'm putting it here as a reference for myself...if Grudem doesn't approve, I'd love for him to contact me and see if he can get it back on CBMW as a reference (and to let him know that I now work with one of his former students 😉

But What Should Women Do In The Church?

Wayne Grudem

Okay, I agree with you that only men should be pastors and elders. But what about other activities in the church? What exactly do you think a woman should and should not do, according to the Bible?"

This is probably the most frequent question I hear when I speak on manhood and womanhood in the church. Sometimes people say, "Just where do you draw the line? Can women teach adult Sunday School classes? What about serving communion, or chairing a committee? We want to follow Scripture, but there aren't any verses that talk about these specific things."

I think in most cases men and women who ask these questions genuinely want to encourage more opportunities for women in the overall ministry of the church. They sense that many evangelical churches have been too "traditional" and too restrictive on ministries available to women. These people want to question "the way we have always done things" in the light of Scripture. But they also do not want to encourage anything that is contrary to Scripture.

In this article I will try to answer those questions, partly in the hope of encouraging churches to examine their traditions to see if there are more areas of ministry which they could open to women as well as men. On the other hand, I also want to explain why I think that certain kinds of activities are restricted to men.

For the purposes of this article, I will assume that my readers are in agreement that Scripture teaches some restriction on the roles women may fill in the church. Generally these restrictions fall in three areas: (1) governing authority, (2) Bible teaching, and (3) public recognition or visibility.

In fact, almost all the questions of application pertain to at least one of these areas. This is because Paul says, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men" (1 Tim. 2:12), and the other passages which speak of restrictions on women's roles in the church also deal with questions of governing and teaching (1 Cor. 14:33-35; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Matt. 10:2-4; etc.). I have included area (3), public recognition or visibility, because some activities in the church are very visible but may not include governing or teaching authority, yet people easily confuse these issues in their minds. If we keep this issue distinct, it helps us think more clearly about specific applications.

What follows here are three lists of activities.

In List 1, I proceed from areas of greater governing authority to areas of lesser authority.

In List 2, I proceed from areas of greater teaching responsibility and influence on the beliefs of the church to areas of lesser teaching responsibility and lesser influence on the beliefs of the church.

In List 3, I proceed from areas of greater public recognition and visibility to areas of lesser visibility.

Finally, one word of caution is appropriate: These lists do not rank importance to the church! In fact, Paul tells us that all the members of the body are needed (1 Cor. 12:14-21). And he tells us that "the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor." (1 Cor. 12:22-23). Jesus said, "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant" (Mark 10:43). These statements remind us that when we talk about levels of governing authority, or Bible teaching responsibility, or public recognition, we are not talking about greatness or importance.

Then why talk about such levels at all? We must do so, because Scripture tells us that there are some kinds of governing and teaching that are inappropriate for women. In order to think clearly about what kinds of governing and teaching roles those are, we first must list the actual kinds of activities we are talking about. Then we can ask, in each case, if this was the kind of governing or teaching that Scripture intended us to understand in these passages. In short, we need to make such a list for purposes of clearer thinking on this issue.

Here then, on the following pages, are the three lists. (The actual order of items on each list is approximate, and churches may think that some items should be moved up or down on the list according to the way they assess their own situations).

List 1: Areas of Governing Authority
Areas of greater governing authority to areas of lesser authority

1. President of a denomination

2. Member of the governing board of a denomination

3. Regional governing authority (such as bishop in some denominations, district superintendent or similar office in others)

4. Member of regional governing board

5. Senior pastor in local church

6. Member of governing board with authority over whole church (for example, elder in many churches, deacon or board member or church council member in others)

7. Presiding over a baptism or communion service (but see List 3 for serving communion or performing a baptism)

8. Giving spoken judgment on a prophecy given to the congregation (I think this is what Paul forbids in 1 Cor. 14:33-36)

9. Permanent leader of a fellowship group meeting in a home (both men and women members)

10. Committee chairman (or "chairperson") (explanation: this item and the following two have some kind of authority in the church, but it is less than the authority over the whole congregation which Paul has in mind in 1 Cor. 14:33-36, 1 Tim. 2:12, 1 Tim. 3, and Titus 1)

11. Director of Christian Education

12. Sunday School Superintendent

13. Missionary responsibilities: many administrative and organizational responsibilities in missionary work in other countries

14. Moderating a Bible discussion in a home Bible study group

15. Choir director

16. Leading singing on Sunday morning (note: this could be listed between 8 and 9 above, depending on how a church understands the degree of authority over the assembled congregation that is involved)

17. Deacon (in churches where this does not involve governing authority over the entire congregation)

18. Administrative assistant to senior pastor

19. Church treasurer

20. Church secretary

21. Member of advisory council to regional governing authority

22. Meeting periodically with church governing board to give counsel and advice

23. Regular conversations between elders and their wives over matters coming before the elder board (with understanding that confidentiality is preserved)

24. *Professional counselor (one woman counseling one man)

25. *Professional counselor (one woman counseling a couple together)

26. *Professional counselor (one woman counseling another woman)

27. Speaking in congregational business meetings

28. Voting in congregational business meetings (Explanation: each person voting has some influence over the whole congregation, but it is significantly less than the governing authority held personally by elders or a senior pastor, and does not seem to be what Paul has in view in 1 Tim. 2. By analogy, an 18-year old American can vote for the President of the United States, but cannot be President of the United States, and the authority residing in the office of President far exceeds the authority of any individual voter.)

List 2: Areas of Bible Teaching
Areas of greater teaching responsibility and influence on the beliefs of the church to areas of lesser teaching responsibility and lesser influence on the beliefs of the church.

1. Teaching Bible or theology in a theological seminary

2. Teaching Bible or theology in a Christian college

3. Preaching (teaching the Bible) at a nationwide denominational meeting

4. Preaching (teaching the Bible) at a regional meeting of churches

5. Preaching (teaching the Bible) regularly to the whole church on Sunday mornings

6. Occasional preaching (teaching the Bible) to the whole church on Sunday mornings

7. Occasional Bible teaching at less formal meetings of the whole church (such as Sunday evening or at a mid-week service)

8. Bible teaching to an adult Sunday school class (both men and women members)

9. Bible teaching at a home Bible study (both men and women members)

10. Bible teaching to a college age Sunday school class

11. Bible teaching to a high school Sunday school class

12. Writing a book on Bible doctrines (Explanation: I have put four examples of writing activities here on the list because the author of a book has some kind of teaching authority, but it is different from the teaching authority over the assembled congregation that Paul prohibits in 1 Tim. 2. The teaching relationship of an author to a reader is much more like the one-to-one kind of teaching that Priscilla and Aquila did when they explained the way of God more accurately to Apollos in Acts 18:26. In fact, with a book the element of direct personal interaction is almost entirely absent. Moreover, the book comes not only from the author but also with input from the editors and publisher.)

13. Writing or editing a study Bible

14. Writing a commentary on a book of the Bible

15. Writing notes in a study Bible

16. Writing or editing a study Bible intended primarily for women

17. Bible teaching to a women's Sunday school class

18. Bible teaching to a women's Bible study group during the week

19. Bible teaching to a junior high Sunday school class

20. Teaching as a Bible professor on a secular university campus. (Explanation: I have put this here on the list because I see this task as essentially a combination of evangelism and teaching about the Bible as literature, mainly to non-Christians. Even though there may be Christians in some classes, the professor has no church-authorized authority or doctrinal endorsement, as there would be with a Bible teacher in a church or a professor in a Christian college or seminary.)

21. Evangelistic speaking to large groups of non-Christians (for example, an evangelistic rally on a college campus)

22. Working as an evangelistic missionary in other cultures

23. Moderating a discussion in a small group Bible study (men and women members)

24. Reading Scripture aloud on Sunday morning

25. Reading Scripture to other, less formal meetings of the church

26. Giving a personal testimony before the congregation (a story of how God has worked in one's own or others' lives)

27. Participating in a discussion in a home Bible study (men and women members)

28. *Professional counseling (one woman counseling one man)

29. *Professional counseling (one woman counseling a married couple)

30. *Professional counseling (one woman counseling a woman)

31. Teaching children's Sunday school class

32. Teaching Vacation Bible School

33. Singing a solo on Sunday morning (a form of teaching, since it often has Biblical content and exhortation)

34. Singing to the congregation as a member of the choir

35. Singing hymns with the congregation (in this activity, sometimes we "teach" and exhort one another in some sense: Col. 3:16)

List 3: Areas of Public Visibility or Recognition
Areas of greater public recognition and visibility to areas of lesser visibility

1. Ordination as pastor (member of the clergy) in a denomination

2. Being licensed to perform some ministerial functions within a denomination

3. Paid member of pastoral staff (such as youth worker, music director, counselor, Christian Education director)

4. Paid member of administrative church staff (church secretary or treasurer, for example)

5. Performing a baptism (in churches where this is not exclusively the role of clergy or elders)

6. Helping to serve the Lord's Supper (in churches where this is not exclusively the role of clergy or elders)

7. Giving announcements at the Sunday morning service

8. Taking the offering

9. Public reading of Scripture

10. Public prayer

11. Prophesying in public (according to 1 Cor. 11:5 and 14:29, where this is not understood as having authority equal to scripture or Bible teaching)

12. Singing a solo on Sunday mornings

13. Giving a personal testimony in church

14. Giving a prayer request in church

15. Being a member of a "prayer team" that will pray for people individually after the service.

16. Welcoming people at the door (a greeter)

17. Editing church newsletter

18. Singing in the choir

19. Singing of hymns with congregation on Sunday morning

20. Participating in the responsive reading of Scripture on Sunday morning

*Note: I put these three items in both columns because there is some amount of authority and some amount of Bible teaching involved in them. I should also say that I am not here commenting on whether it is ordinarily wise or most effective for one woman to counsel one man; I am just listing these activities according to the degree of governing or teaching authority they exhibit over the congregation of a church. Moreover, people may put these activities at different places on these lists, depending on the style of counseling and the degree of authority they think attaches to it.

Even such long lists are of course incomplete. For one thing, there are specialized ministries (sometimes called parachurch organizations) which would have similar charts but with different titles in many places. For example, mission agencies, campus organizations (Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity, Navigators) and other specialized ministries such as Focus on the Family or Prison Fellowship could all have similar lists of activities, but with slightly different specific items.

In addition, it is very important to recognize that this list of activities simply cannot include the very important factors of variation in attitudes which can make a big difference in the actual degree of governing authority in a specific situation (does a particular woman have a domineering attitude? or a gracious servant heart?).

This list also cannot take into account any variation in goals which a person is trying to attain (is a woman seeking more and more authority over men, or genuinely seeking to use gifts for the benefit of the church?). In situations which churches see as "borderline" situations, it may be hard to decide in advance, and the difference may well depend on variations in attitudes and goals found in the specific people involved. Moreover, this table cannot take into account the widely varying situations which occur in different churches. One church may have a college age class of three students, while another may have a college age class of 500. Surely what it means to teach and have authority over men applies differently in the two situations. Once again, in such "borderline" situations, churches will need to use mature wisdom and sound judgement to make a correct evaluation of what is appropriate in light of biblical principles. But I think these lists, though not exhaustive, are helpful as far as they go.

What is the Solution?
These lists now present us with a dilemma: Everyone who agrees with the principles of the Danvers Statement will agree that some of these uses of authority are appropriate for women, and some are not. Everyone will also agree that some of these kinds of Bible teaching are appropriate, and some are not. And I think that everyone who agrees with the Danvers Statement will agree at least that ordination as a pastor in a denomination is inappropriate for women, while there may be differences on whether the other areas of public visibility are appropriate. At this point we must state the obvious: the Bible does not give us a specific verse on each of these situations! But it is that way with the entire Christian life. Each day we face thousands of decisions, very few of which are covered by a specific verse. We agree that it is wrong to steal, but can we use the office phone to call home? Can we take an unused bar of soap from a hotel room, or a box of tissue? Surely not the table lamp! Between what is clearly right and clearly wrong we make decisions every day, seeking to be faithful to Scripture as we apply it to everyday life.

We must simply recognize the fact that God in his wisdom has given us a Bible which specifies many principles for conduct, and does give some specific examples of application. But by its very nature the Bible cannot speak in specific detail to the thousands, and even millions of real life situations that people will encounter throughout the centuries.

What then do we do? We understand the principles that allow certain activities. We understand the principles that prohibit other activities. Then between these parameters, we attempt to make a mature judgment based on the wisdom that God gives us and our knowledge of the situation.

In all such situations, I have found the following chart useful:

Now regarding the question of women in the church, what actions should we put on this scale? On the left side of the scale we can put verses such as 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul prohibits a woman from teaching or having authority over men. Since I think it is very evident from the context that Paul is talking about the assembled congregation in this passage (see 1 Tim. 2:8-10; 3:15), and he is giving principles that apply to the entire congregation (see 1 Tim. 3:1-16), I think that the left end of the scale prohibits women from teaching or having governing authority over the whole congregation.

What shall we put on the right end of the scale? Here we would put verses such as Acts 18:26, where, in a less formal setting apart from an assembled congregation, we find that Priscilla and Aquila were talking to Apollos, and "they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately." This situation is similar to a small group Bible study in which both men and women are participating and in that way "teaching" one another. Another verse that we can put on the right end of the scale is Titus 2:4 which tells the older women to "train the younger women to love their husbands and children..."

Moreover, since Paul specifically prohibits women from teaching or having authority over men, we may also put on the right end of the chart the activity of teaching children, for surely both mothers and fathers teach their children, and I think all would agree that it is appropriate that this family teaching activity be extended into the Sunday School where women function as the "mothers" of the church and teach other children as well as their own. So our scale would look like this:

With this scale in mind, we could place all of the activities in the long lists above at one point or another on the scale. Some activities, such as serving as senior pastor in the local church, would clearly fall on the "no" side of the scale. Others, such as performing a baptism or leading a home fellowship group or chairing a committee, would fall somewhere in the middle of the scale. And it is at this point that individuals and churches will need to prayerfully consider just where they will "draw the line" in saying what activities are encouraged and what activities are prohibited for women in their local churches.

The Decision of the Danvers Statement
When we wrote the Danvers Statement in 1987, we realized that no brief statement could possibly include all the varieties of activities that are mentioned in a list like the one above. We wanted a brief statement that would apply broadly across denominations and in all kinds of different churches. I think we came up with an excellent statement. We said that:

Some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men.

While we did not wish to exclude applications to areas outside the local church, I believe that our primary focus here was to indicate how this would work in the local church. In terms of the local church, this statement means that, on list one, the Danvers Statement definitely would prohibit activities 1-6 for women, and probably also items 7 and 8: We affirm that the office of senior pastor, the office of elder (or equivalent), together with activities specifically connected to those positions, are not open to women. But all the other activities on the list, from item 9 to the end, would be open to women.

In the areas of Bible teaching, in order for "some" teaching roles within the church to be restricted to men, the Danvers Statement would draw the line between 5 and 6 on list two: regular Bible teaching to the assembled church on Sunday morning is restricted to men. But the rest of the list, from item 6 to the end, would be open to women as well as men.

The Danvers Statement did not specifically address areas of public visibility or recognition (list 3 above), but since we intended to restrict the offices of pastor/elder to men, then in the third column we would draw the line after number 1, and say that the ordination to the clergy, which in most or all denominations implies recognition of an ability to serve as senior pastor, would be restricted to men. But all other items, from item 2 to the end, would be potentially open to women as well as men.

By saying that "some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men," the Danvers Statement draws a definite line: it differs decisively with all evangelical feminists (or egalitarians), who simply could not agree with this statement. They would insist that no governing or teaching roles within the church should be restricted to men-that all should be open to women and men alike.

In this way the Danvers Statement draws a very broad circle. It asks only for what seems to us and to so many evangelicals to be clearly affirmed in Scripture: that when the church assembles, there is a teaching and governing authority over the congregation which is reserved for men. Christians who agree with this foundational principle agree with us in the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and agree with the Danvers Statement. People who differ with this put themselves in the egalitarian camp.

Personally, I believe that this brief phrase in the Danvers Statement is going to become very important in the ongoing discussions between complementarians and egalitarians in the evangelical world. In spite of the many varieties of ways in which churches will work out this principle in their own congregations and denominations, this phrase points to a decisive difference in understanding Scripture and in understanding how a church will function. This brief phrase, then, defines the foundational difference between egalitarians and complementarians over the role of women in the church.

My own personal convictions
When we wrote the Danvers Statement in 1987, we drew it up in such a way that it was intentionally broader in what it allowed than the personal convictions of many of us on the Council. We did this because we recognize that applying Scripture to specific situations not addressed by Scripture is an area which requires much wisdom and mature judgment, and an area in which Christians may differ. Therefore we wanted to specify what we thought the Bible at the very least would require of us.

In areas of difficulty in application, it is right for us to talk with each other and attempt to persuade one another of what exactly God would have us do in our specific situations. At this point I will speak for myself, and probably for many other members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, but I do not here purport to be speaking for all of the Council or for the Danvers Statement itself.

My own personal judgment in this matter is that in the area of governing authority I would draw the line between numbers 9 and 10; that is, I would approve of a woman as Director of Christian Education or Superintendent of the Sunday School, or as a committee chairman within the church. These activities do not seem to me to carry the sort of authority over the whole congregation that Paul has in view in 1 Timothy 2, or when he specifies that elders should be men (in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1).

On the other hand, I would not think it appropriate for a woman to be a permanent leader of a home fellowship group (item 9), especially if the group regularly carries out pastoral care of its members and functions as a sort of mini-church within the church. This is because the leader of such a group carries a governing authority that seems to me very similar to the authority over the assembled congregation that Paul mentions in 1 Timothy 2. Given the frequently small nature of churches meeting in homes in the first century, and given the "pastoral" nature of the responsibility of leading a home fellowship group, I think Paul would have thought of this as included in 1 Timothy 2:12, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men."

But I must say at once that that is my personal judgement. And in fact at one time I was a member of a church that differed with me at that specific point, and that had some women leading home fellowship groups. I differed with that decision, but I found that I could in good conscience continue as an active and supportive member of the church. However, I don't think that I personally could have participated in good conscience in a fellowship group in which I myself was a member and there was a woman who functioned in that local "pastoral" role with regard to me and my wife.

With regard to areas of Bible teaching, I would personally draw the line between points 10 and 11. Once again, I think there is a strong similarity between a home Bible study which is taught by a woman (item 9) and the local church meeting in a home in the ancient world. Therefore I do not think it would be appropriate for a woman to be the regular instructor in a home Bible study. On the other hand, my own personal judgment is that the moderating of a discussion in a small group Bible study may at times be appropriate for women. The teaching and governing component is less than it would be if she were regularly teaching or had pastoral responsibility over the entire group, and does not clearly resemble the teaching authority over the assembled congregation that Paul prohibited in 1 Timothy 2.

For similar reasons, I think it would be inappropriate for a woman to be the Bible teacher in an adult Sunday School class where much instruction is carried out. This looks so much like what Paul prohibited in 1 Timothy 2 that I could not personally endorse it. (I have already heard many stories of women doing such teaching effectively, but I don't want to base my decision just on people's experiences: I am trying to say how I think Scripture applies, and then to let Scripture govern our experiences, and I think Scripture applies here-though I admit that God may bless his Word with good fruit anyway no matter who teaches it. The final question still must be what Scripture tells us to do and not to do).

When do children become adults, and when does teaching boys become teaching men? I think we must recognize that this will vary from society to society and from culture to culture. It may even vary from subculture to sub-culture within our own country.

In our own culture, if children graduate from high school, move away from home, and begin to support themselves, then surely they are no longer under the instruction of their mothers at home, but are functioning as adults on their own. A new household has been formed. In that case, the young men are certainly adult men, and it would not be appropriate for a woman to teach a class with them as members.

Many college students are already living away from home, supporting themselves at least in part, and functioning in our society in all other ways as independent adults. In fact, most college students would be insulted if you called them "children"! For these reasons, it seems to me that a college age Sunday School class (item 10) should have a male teacher.

The situation with a high school class is different, because high school students are still at home, and still under the instruction of their mothers. Sunday School class might be seen as an extension of this home instruction, and therefore I do not think it would be wrong for a woman to be a Bible teacher in a high school Sunday School class. However, many churches may well think it preferable for a man to teach a high school Sunday School class, because of the modeling of male leadership in the church that these young adults will grow to appreciate and in fact to imitate.

But what about activity number 6, occasional preaching to the whole church on Sunday morning? It is fair to say at this point that a number of evangelical scholars who publicly identify themselves as complementarians have decided that Scripture allows this activity. Evangelical leaders such as J.I. Packer, James Montgomery Boice, James Hurley, and John Wimber, have all publicly written or stated that this kind of activity seems to them to be allowed from time to time. Their argument is that 1 Timothy 2:12, which focuses on governing authority and teaching in the church, thereby indicates to us that what Paul really has in mind is the office of elder. And as long as a woman does not hold the office of elder or regularly perform the functions that an elder performs, then 1 Timothy 2 would not prohibit her from occasional preaching.

Personally I differ with this because Paul is speaking of activities and not the office of elder in 1 Timothy 2:12. He does not say, "I permit no woman to have the teaching or governing authority over men that belongs to elders," but rather he mentions certain activities in the assembled congregation which are prohibited to women: He says, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent" (1 Tim. 2:12). For this reason, though I have pondered this matter, I simply cannot bring myself to think that Paul meant that women could teach and have authority over the congregation "occasionally," but that they could not teach and have authority on a regular or permanent basis. Moreover, 1 Corinthians 14:33-36 prohibits an activity (judging prophecies), not an office.

I mention this difference among people who agree with the Danvers Statement simply to point out that there is room for legitimate difference of understanding of how these biblical teachings apply to specific situations. We agree in principle, and we differ slightly in one specific application. I hope that as we talk and pray and search Scripture more, we may come to agreement. But this kind of difference in specific application should not bother us too much, because such differences are inevitable in a world in which churches vary so widely in the nature of service, the kind of governing structures that they have, and in their understanding of specific situations. In all areas of church life, differences on specific applications can occur within broader guidelines on which all are agreed.

Finally, in the areas of public visibility and recognition, I personally would also draw the line between items 1 and 2. I do not think that women should be ordained as pastors, but I think it is entirely appropriate for them to have other full-time positions on the "pastoral staff " of the church (such as youth worker, music director).

I hope that these guidelines will be helpful for many churches in coming to their own understanding of where to "draw the line" on what they think appropriate for women and what they think to be inappropriate. I fully realize that many churches will draw such a line in a way that is more restrictive than what I have mentioned here. I would simply encourage churches in all of this to be careful not to prohibit what the Bible doesn't prohibit, while they are also attempting to preserve male leadership in a way Scripture directs.

What is left below the line? Many activities that have not "traditionally" been open to women. And I have not even mentioned hundreds of other kinds of ministries in a local church that women and men are already carrying out. Therefore I suspect that almost every person reading this article will realize that there are some areas of ministry that are not currently open to women in his or her church, areas to which the church should give careful and prayerful consideration.

In fact, I hope that this entire controversy in the evangelical world will prompt churches to give earnest consideration to the possibilities of many more kinds of ministries for women than have "traditionally" been open to them in the past. I know I speak for the entire membership of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood when I say that it is our sincere desire to "open the doors wide" to all the areas of ministry in the church that God intends for women to have.

And I think we are all conscious of the fact that these areas of ministry may indeed be more numerous, more publicly visible, and more prominent in the life of the church than we had previously thought. If that happens, this entire controversy will have served a wonderful purpose and the church will be far stronger, and far more pleasing to God, as it enters the twenty-first century.

Words Matter
It is helpful in the discussion of manhood and womananhood to consider the fine but significant distinction between complement and supplement. A complement is "something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection." For example, one might say, "His tie complements the suit he's wearing." The suit in itself is a complete unit, as is the tie.

On the other hand, a supplement is "something added to complete a thing, to make up for a deficiency." This usage is reflected in the statement, "Bob works nights to supplement his income." Obviously, the earnings from Bob's day job are inadequate to meet his financial needs.

The application of this distinction in theological discussion can be seen in the fact that men and women as individuals are image bearers. A single man or a single woman fully bears the image of God.

In marriage, then husband and wife as male and female complement one another; they are equal in terms of their dignity, personhood and value. One is not superior to the other, though they have different functions. Since they are individually complete before God as bearers of His image, they do not supplement one another in this way at all.

In CBMW, we have chosen the term complementarian to represent our position. The careful choice of words makes a difference in how we express and understand Biblical, theological and practical concepts.

Words do matter.



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