The complementarian movement has long implied that the reason women feel the temptation for feminist envy and rebellion is that men aren’t loving enough. Feminist rebellion is seen not as a sin of women, but as proof of sin by men. In the past few years complementarians have gone from implying this to stating it outright. Acts 29 President Matt Chandler goes all in with this idea when teaching about women’s sins. You can also see the same argument by Mary Kassian in a video on a page explaining complementarianism at The Gospel Coalition. The video comes with the Editor’s Note:
Learn more from Mary Kassian in this interview with Jennie Allen as they discuss the freedom of boundaries and the difficulty of submitting to sinful men.
In the video Kassian compares men’s leadership in the Church to a husband’s leadership in marriage. She says if men’s leadership is functioning well you will see unity in both a church and a marriage. Allen counters that the problem is that it rarely functions well, and because of this women are frightened and feel that men being in authority “steals something from them”:
And I think that the problem is that it rarely functions well. Just really honestly. And I think that that is where it feels scary is women feel like that authority that often gets put upon men steals something from them. And so what would you say to those women that maybe have been hurt by either men or the church and feel like it is just really difficult, even if biblically they can see that view, to regard that as something they would ever live out.
Kassian confirms that she has experienced the same resentment as a “strong woman who has leadership giftings”, and the cause of this feeling is sinful men who aren’t loving enough*:
Well I don’t think there is any woman who hasn’t bumped up against it, and particularly if you have a strong woman who has a leadership giftings and teaching giftings–as I do– and so I have bumped up against that. I have been hurt by it. I have encountered men who are sinful men and who do not interact with me in a godly loving way.
It is of course true that men are sinful, and also true that unloving men can increase a woman’s temptation for feminist rebellion. But the temptation exists either way; they are both denying this by framing it as strictly a reaction to sinful men, and overlooking the fact that it is rebellion either way. In fact, Christian men (and women) are far more likely to encourage rebellion today by pretending it doesn’t exist than by being harsh and authoritarian. The love we are failing to show is overwhelmingly the failure to rebuke women for a sin our culture teaches is a virtue.
This blind spot for complementarians, the inability to recognize the temptation driving feminist rebellion, is astounding given that we live in an age defined by feminist rebellion. Women’s envy for the role of men is causing us to dramatically reshape our entire society with disastrous results, and the group of Christians who are ostensibly trying to counter feminism can’t even identify what is going on. From the complementarian perspective, all that has happened over the last forty or so years is men suddenly and mysteriously became more authoritarian.
As one more example of this profound blind spot, in August of 2012 TGC founders DA Carson and Tim Keller discussed the importance of complementarianism with CBMW co-founder John Piper. Piper explained that complementarianism is important because:
“We live in a culture where for the last 30 or 40 years, the collapse of the meaning of biblical masculinity has not produced a beautiful egalitarian society,” Piper observes. “It has produced a brutal masculine society.”
*Kassian goes on to explain that even when authority is sinful her attitude to authority should reflect her heart towards the Lord:
But how do you deal with it when you’ve been hurt by it, when you’re feeling the sting of that and not experiencing it as something good. I think that for me its important to remember that the way I live my life out, and the way the decisions I make, how I choose to live, how I choose to approach relationships, how I choose to approach my relationships with those in authority, all is a reflection of my heart towards the Lord.
This part of her answer is quite good, but it doesn’t change the fact that she is claiming the reason she feels feminist resentment and rebellion is because men are sinful. You can watch the video below for the entire exchange.