Tag Archives: Complementarian

I have learned that great articles disappear off the web.  So, with a clear disclaimer that if the author wishes, I'll make it private (so only I can read it,) and with a clear link to the article and appropriate credit, here is the text of


By Colin J. Smothers

In Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, John Piper speaks about two methods that can be used to commend a vision for biblical complementarity—the teaching that God has created men and women with distinct differences for His glory and our good.

The first method is careful, exegetical argument that demonstrates the plain teachings of the Bible on complementarity. We need people who do this, and we should be thankful for people like John Piper and Wayne Grudem for doing just this.

But the second method is just as important. This method is a robust portrayal of the vision of complementarity, and we are in need of people who do this, too. We need people who are able to show that God’s ways are good, that God’s ways are most satisfying.

Complementarianism is true not just because it is right, but also because it is beautiful.

And so I have excerpted below the introduction to John Piper’s chapter in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood because of the way he portrays his faithful parents living out complementarianism. Piper’s reflection on manhood and womanhood through the lens of his childhood is not only beautiful, it is compelling. It is compelling because it is God’s truth, and God’s truth resonates with us. It is what we were created for.

When I was a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, my father was away from home about two-thirds of every year. And while he preached across the country, we prayed–my mother and my older sister and I. What I learned in those days was that my mother was omni-competent.

She handled the finances, paying all the bills and dealing with the bank and creditors. She once ran a little laundry business on the side. She was active on the park board, served as the superintendent of the Intermediate Department of our Southern Baptist church, and managed some real estate holdings.

She taught me how to cut the grass and splice electric cord and pull Bermuda grass by the roots and paint the eaves and shine the dining-room table with a shammy and drive a car and keep French fries from getting soggy in the cooking oil. She helped me with the maps in geography and showed me how to do a bibliography and work up a science project on static electricity and believe that Algebra II was possible. She dealt with the contractors when we added a basement and, more than once, put her hand to the shovel. It never occurred to me that there was anything she couldn’t do.

I heard one time that women don’t sweat, they glow. Not true. My mother sweated. It would drip off the end of her long, sharp nose. Sometimes she would blow it off when her hands were pushing the wheelbarrow full of peat moss. Or she would wipe it with her sleeve between the strokes of a swingblade. Mother was strong. I can remember her arms even today thirty years later. They were big, and in the summertime they were bronze.

But it never occurred to me to think of my mother and my father in the same category. Both were strong. Both were bright. Both were kind. Both would kiss me and both would spank me. Both were good with words. Both prayed with fervor and loved the Bible. But unmistakably my father was a man and my mother was a woman. They knew it and I knew it. And it was not mainly a biological fact. It was mainly a matter of personhood and relational dynamics.

When my father came home he was clearly the head of the house. He led in prayer at the table. He called the family together for devotions. He got us to Sunday School and worship. He drove the car. He guided the family to where we would sit. He made the decision to go to Howard Johnson’s for lunch. He led us to the table. He called for the waitress. He paid the check. He was the one we knew we would reckon with if we broke a family rule or were disrespectful to Mother. These were the happiest times for Mother. Oh, how she rejoiced to have Daddy home! She loved his leadership. Later I learned that the Bible calls this “submission.”

But since my father was gone most of the time, Mother used to do most of those leadership things too. So it never occurred to me that leadership and submission had anything to do with superiority and inferiority. And it didn’t have to do with muscles and skills either. It was not a matter of capabilities and competencies. It had to do with something I could never have explained as a child. And I have been a long time in coming to understand it as part of God’s great goodness in creating us male and female. It had to do with something very deep. I know that the specific rhythm of life that was in our home is not the only good one. But there were dimensions of reality and goodness in it that ought to be there in every home. Indeed they ought to be there in varying ways in all mature relationships between men and women.

I say “ought to be there” because I now see that they were rooted in God. Over the years I have come to see from Scripture and from life that manhood and womanhood are the beautiful handiwork of a good and loving God. He designed our differences and they are profound. They are not mere physiological prerequisites for sexual union. They go to the root of our personhood.

Excerpted from John Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 31–32.

May God enable our churches and our homes to reflect His glory in living out His design for manhood and womanhood. Let’s not just know that God’s truth is true, let’s demonstrate that God’s truth is true.

Thoughts on "Hey John, Is My Femininity Showing?"

The offending podcast is here.

The way I'm reading it goes like this.

The basics

  1. John Piper is a Complementarian
  2. He believes that men should be the leaders in the home and church and further...
  3. women should not be in spiritual leadership positions over men.

The question the podcast answers the question: Can men use commentaries written by women?

The logic:

  1. Piper doesn't have a problem reading spiritual material written by women
  2. Piper does have a problem with a woman sitting in spiritual authority over a man, whether in a church, or seminary class.
  3. Therefore: the mere presence of a female body (in general) is offensive to John Piper.

Apparently, most egalitarians don't see the distinction between reading a book (sitting and gathering information) and sitting under teaching authority.

You don't submit to a book, you do submit to a teacher.

You can put a book down, you can give it away, throw it away, burn it...you can't do those things to a teaching authority. You can get yourself out from under the authority, but as long as you're in that class, you're under authority.

I understand that it's not the body parts, it's the authority. Piper makes that clear when he says, "whereas if she were standing right in front of me and teaching me as my shepherd< /strong>…I couldn’t make that separation"

This is not the voice of "femininity" - it's the voice of worldly feminism (which is antithetical to femininity.) It's the brand of feminism that cannot tolerate dissension, cannot respect differing viewpoints and must tear down those who disagree.

So Rachel, don't worry...it's not your femininity that's showing.


On Complegalitarian, Don Johnson tells us how a complementarian can be a poor witness based on how they react when a woman teaches.  A complementarian is not to question, not to raise a fuss, they should either not attend if they know ahead of time or slip out quietly if caught by surprise.

How to turn this table?

If a woman is in a complementarian church and suddenly believes that she is to be in leadership over men, should teach authoritatively in the assembly - against the leadership of that church.

Should she stay and try to convince that church that she is right and they should put her in leadership, should she speak within that church against the leadership of that church and what they believe or should she leave quietly and go to a church who would put her in leadership?

I have asked that question before and an egalitarian answered that of course, she should stand her ground and fight the leadership.


WordPress has "pages" that will stay in a hierarchy position (you can find it from the front page).  It seems to me that some of the communication problems that blog writers have is with definitions.  So I'm going to start a "page" that links to posts on "definitions".

The first one I'll define is "gender role".

I've heard a few egalitarians say, "male or female isn't a 'role', it's part of who we are." (or something to that effect).

If you (generic "you") are using the term in an acting (in a play) sort of way.  Yes, you are correct, being male or female isn't a role we play.  In fact, if you use the word "role" as a stand alone phrase, you would still be correct
HOWEVER...context, context, context.  When we write of "gender roles" we are not referring of acting. The term "Gender role" consists of two words used together that have a specific and  SOCIOLOGICAL  meaning.

When we write "gender roles", we are  referring to an "SOCIOLOGY" term.


From Answers.com

A gender role is a set of perceived behavioral norms associated particularly with males or females, in a given social group or system. It can be a form of division of labour by gender. It is a focus of analysis in the social sciences and humanities.  Gender is one component of the gender/sex system, which refers to "The set of arrangements by which a society transforms biological sexuality into products of human activity, and in which these transformed needs are satisfied" (Reiter 1975: 159). All societies, to a certain effect, have a gender/sex system, although the components and workings of this system vary markedly from society to society.


So we read here that "gender roles" are not a "faked" or "acted out" part in a play.  Gender roles (at least in history) have played a part in meeting the needs of society.

In a Biblical worldview, the gender debate surrounds "complementarian" (although I may choose to use a more descriptive term for what I believe is correct) and "egalitarian" beliefs.

What I read in Genesis 1 and 2 is that God created male and female differently and He treats them differently and (where instruction is given to specifically men or specifically women) He many times gives them different instruction.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil is not mentioned in Genesis 1. In Genesis 2 we are told that Adam is given instruction independently of Eve - before she is even created. This infers that Eve was dependent on Adam for instruction. This was before the fall. The first recorded instance of a woman learning from her husband is from before the fall.

Also before the fall - God proclaimed: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Eve was created differently - out of man. Man and woman are created to be two parts of the whole.

In Ephesians, Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) writes,

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This reference to before the fall comes at the end of one of the longest passages in Scripture instructing (specifically) husbands and wives.

In that last sentence that I quoted, the word for "respect" is φόβος - phobeō. From which we get the word "phobia" - to fear. Strong's also gives the definition: c) to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience

Does the context of the word indicate that wives are to live in "fear" of their husbands, or that they should treat them with deference?

Especially give that a related word, φόβος - phobos is used in the same chapter of Ephesians.

...submitting to one another out of reverence (φόβος ) for Christ....

The "mutual submission" clause. We need to decide whether this statement rules out what follows, or whether this statement is explained by what follows. I believe that the statement is the instruction, what follows is the application.

We see that a general instruction of "submit to one another" is here, but then there are the specific instructions to husbands and wives that are different. Husbands and wives are instructed differently.


...it refers to Christ and the church ...