November 10, 2015

Limited Free Will In Gender Roles

I wonder, do Complementarians have free will? Those pesky two words have brought forth no end of debates about other aspects of salvation - but the complementarian teaching that women are first and foremost followers, wives and mothers and that men are leaders, husbands, and fathers tends to limit what both groups have the option of doing and being.

Could a Complementarian opt to remain single and therefore decide not to fulfill their gender role? Or would they be living in a less than ideal existence, like a Christian who never goes to church or a church that's been abandoned and fallen to ruin? Must real, true complementarians marry and have children to be accepted and approved?

I remember reading in one of my books about a family whose baby was born with a serious birth defect. She had a hole in her brain that left her blind, deaf, and unable to speak. Her skull had not fully formed, so that hole was actually visible. They had instructed their church nursery workers how to cover the hole and keep it dressed with clean bandages. But as the girl miraculously grew older, their church decided to tell her parents to not bring her back to the nursery. You see, they all knew that she might die. In fact, she did die before she was old enough to go to kindergarten. But the church's infinite wisdom was so worried about traumatizing the nursery workers that they hadn't realized that they traumatized that family when they rejected her daughter.

Complementarianism says be a wife and a mother, no matter what it takes, and you'll be a fulfilled Christian who pleases God. Then God allows for things like birth defects, childhood diseases, and infertility. Complementarianism doesn't have an answer for why or a comfort for the sorrow when the worst news hits home. It doesn't allow for free will - for a woman to chase her dreams and fulfill her potential because these things take her away from her all important gender role.

Same for the guys really, if a young man has any dream or skill that takes away from his role of being a husband and father in the providing realm, then he's a failure of a man. He could be the guy that has his children's complete confidence but because he's a stay at home dad, then somehow God's angry at that - even though Scripture tells men to be there to teach their kids. Because we have allowed our cultural ideas to fill in the gaps where the Bible is less than clear - and that means that only a 1950s Leave It To Beaver lifestyle is the one that God really approves of.

I think complementarians have limited free will, men can do anything that advances manliness and women can do anything that advances womanliness, but outside of that, questions of free will turn out to have answers of 'oh, that's just sin'. Which means that the common ground of Christ-likeness is a no man's land that neither side is supposed to take. Women can be gentle, but men can't. men can be angry, but women can't. So when Jesus was gentle, he wasn't being as much of a man as he could have been. And when women were angry in the bible, why that's just sinful on their part trying to be like men. Now we have a Christianity without Christ-likeness. That can't bode well for our future.

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