Hard Conversations Blog Part 2: Complementarianism

Dave Goffeney / August 12, 2019
authority, gender, hardconversations, marriage, power

The two-part, min-series, “Hard Conversations”, comes from a strong desire to be as loving, pastoral, and clear about what it looks like to grow as a follower of Jesus at Redemption Tucson. Read part 1 of the blog here. As part of what we do week-in and week-out, we take time to pray for other churches around Tucson who affirm the Lordship of Jesus and are committed to spreading His gospel as part of His work. We get to be part of that same work, and we are quick to recognize, pray for, and serve alongside other churches who are part of the work God is doing in our city.  We also need to recognize that our understanding of what it looks like, specifically, to be faithful witnesses of His gospel, upholding and submitting to His Scriptures, looks very different from congregation to congregation. We humbly seek to structure everything we do at Redemption Tucson under the overall vision of growing together as faithful, Spirit-dependent, gospel-centered witnesses of the Kingdom of God. Two aspects of our discipleship that are very important, though absolutely not central to personal, saving faith in Christ, have to do with God’s Sovereignty over all things, and His intentional and beautiful design of men and women as His Image Bearers and stewards of His creation. The theological terms for these subjects are “Calvinism” (or Reformed Theology) and “Complementarianism”:  Thus the sermon series “Hard Conversations: Part 1 (Calvinism) & Part 2 (Complementarianism).   

The vision behind this series is to lovingly and pastorally shape and inform conversations that are already going on all around us.  Whether we recognize it or not, outside culture is speaking into what it means to be women and men and how we relate together as gendered people, as well as whether there is purpose, control, or intentionality around every aspect of life. More directly, conversations are happening about these two subjects.  Even just the presence of the two terms, calvinism & complementarianism, tend to incite all sorts of emotions and presumptions. Engaging these things neutrally is not really an option. But stepping in to help redefine and steer us forward as a church family, has been our prayerful expectation leading into this sermon series.

Rather than exhaustively defining and explaining the respective subjects, I have sought to remind us of the greater call(s) of the gospel, to honor God and love one another. It seems so simple, but in most of our experiences honor and love rarely define such hard conversations. While explaining what calvinism and complementarianism mean in general, we have wanted to be most clear about what it looks like here, at Redemption Tucson. I gave a simple definition of complementarianism as we understand it and operate within:  

God has chosen to reflect himself in us, men and women, as His co-image bearers and co-stewards of His creation, through inter-dependant (or complementary) roles within the church and the home.

While seeking to love our church well by being clear about the lenses through which we understand the Scriptures, and consequently lead (disciple) the congregation, the greater goal has been re-orienting ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ, serving together under His gracious and purposeful headship. By His grace I believe we have achieved that goal.  Rather than walking away with everybody in our congregation able to check off all the right theological boxes, we are better equipped to continue learning and growing together under the authority and care of Christ. We are more clear about what we mean as a church when those terms are used, and reminded of the relational trust and commitment to one another where questions can be asked and hard conversations can be confidently and lovingly entered into.

RESOURCES:

The following resources are just a few helpful places to see how faithful leaders are navigating and pressing into what it means to be the church: Men and Women, co-image bearers and co-stewards together. In addition to the resources below, you can find our 3 sermons on marriage/gender from Ephesians 5 here and our sermon on Elders from Titus 1 here. A couple of things should be said about engaging with these resources below, and any other resources (other than the Bible): these are written by imperfect people and we cannot and should not fully endorse everything that is said, or how it is communicated. There are many other resources with different perspectives, and these are just a few to help quickly engage in the conversation. Some of the resources don’t necessarily speak to complementarianism & egalitarianism directly, but they have helpful engagement on the larger conversation.

COMING SOON: A very helpful article is being written and should be out this week, that is a necessary ‘first-read’ about starting at the beginning, Creation, and carrying a heart-posture that is fiercely committed to Christ-liken love.

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