As I’ve noted before complementarians use an especially cynical term to deny headship. The term is servant leader, and while the individual words are right, the meaning of the phrase is not headship. But the cynicism of the term goes even farther. Complementarians use the term servant leader as a way to con men and women who have servant’s hearts into rejecting biblical roles in marriage. The reason this is so cynical is the complementarians themselves have disdain for men and women with servant’s hearts.
The term involves a subtle bait and switch that begins with the implication that anyone who objects to the term doesn’t believe that leaders can be servants. Complementarians know that would-be biblical husbands believe that there is no contradiction in a leader also being a servant. By coining this new term to replace biblical headship, complementarians are challenging traditional Christian men to affirm that leadership and service can coexist in the same role. The cynical brilliance of this strategy is that complementarians themselves don’t believe this. Complementarians don’t believe that leadership is a form of service. They see leadership and service as a zero sum game. They think at any given time a husband can either be leading or serving, but not both. This is why complementarians talk of a servant leader being 99% servant, 1% leader. It is also why if anyone brings up the topic of leadership, they will say a husband needs to focus instead on service.
Less subtle is the complementarian disgust for Christians with a servant’s heart. Being servile, or being a servant, are disgusting things in the eyes of the complementarian. This may seem counter intuitive given the complementarian focus on husbands-as-servants, but this is due to complementarians adopting the mind frame of the ugly feminist. Complementarians want men to serve not because it is godly, but because they imagine that being a servant is humiliating, and they want to humiliate men. You can see the truth of this when complementarians use the same terms in reference to wives. Suddenly the mask slips, and complementarians admit their disgust for one who has a servant’s heart.
As Pastor Doug Wilson likes to say:
If a wife is a servant or a dominatrix, the husband needs to confess his sin
The same sentiment is expressed in the CBMW founding statement, albeit with slightly different terms. According to the Danvers Statement, a wife must forever be on her guard not to become servile.
Related: It tastes better that way.