Complementarianism Gone Crazy

July 18, 2012

Just to be clear. I am not a complementarian. I am an Egalitarian. The Complementarian believes that God ordained that men rule over women in the marital relationship. This position points  to Genesis 3 and the Fall of Man where God tells Eve that her desire will be for her husband and he will rule over her. An Egalitarian believes that the Death and Resurrection of Jesus changes many of the relationships broken by the Fall. And that includes the marriage relationship.

I respect the Complementarian position, but I don’t subscribe to it. I believe that God gives both men and women in a marriage the same mandate to love one another, the same command to submit to one another and the same Holy Spirit to live in harmony with each other. Equal. Together. Holy.

And even though I respect the other position, sometimes it is hard to do so. In a recent article from the Gospel Coalition (a mainstream Complementarian group), Jared Wilson talks about one area that has always been seen as equal ground by both the Complementarians and Egalitarians: Sex and Sexual Pleasure.

Here is the article, and here is a selection of what he says (it is not taken out of context):

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

This is outrageous! He is basically saying that sex is all about a man conquering and taking charge of a woman. The other side he calls “egalitarian pleasure party”. What he is saying is that the desire of a man to pleasure his wife is unbiblical.

Apparently, he is forgetting that the Apostle Paul is the one who says,

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife” (1 Cor. 7:3-4).

Many of my complementarian friends will be outraged by this article and how badly he portrays their position, but I need to point out one thing. This is where all of the Complementarian philosophy logically  ends: Men are in charge and women have to submit. That adheres completely to Genesis 3 and does not recognize the power of the Cross to change human relationships broken by the selfishness of Humankind.

I am not presenting this man’s teaching as a Straw Man argument on why Complementarianism is wrong. I am presenting it as a caution to where this teaching is often applied. And as a counselor, I do mean “often”.

This idiotic article may help some of you to rethink your position. I hope it does.

UPDATE: Jared has published an apology. Read it here. His original link no longer works…he has taken down the article. What is interesting is that the person he was quoting in his egregious statements about sex is now angry at him for taking down the quote.


  1. This ought to be good!

  2. O M Goodness!!! that garbage is still out there?!?! if the sexual part of your marriage is all about the man conquering, that sounds more like rape than love! what the HELL is wrong with these people!

    • Amy, that is exactly why this article is so heinous. Even though the author penned an update to his original article in the beginning (stating he didn’t have “rape” in mind) that is certainly a logical conclusion to draw from his rhetoric. At the very least, he is very loose and free with his wording. At worst, he is scandalous.

  3. It seems like picking the most tendentious, overwrought reading of what he actually wrote says more about your problems with complementarianism than it does about ACTUAL complementarians. Rape “is certainly a logical conclusion” to draw from an article decrying the fact that a wrong view of human sexuality will lead to perverted and twisted outcomes like bondage and rape fantasies? Really? That seems to be nonsense on stilts. His article is a warning that a PERVERSE view of sexual relations will lead to the very things you accuse him of having in mind. Accusing him of playing fast and loose with language, or even being deliberately provocative in his word choices, fine. But don’t lose the thread of the argument over diction.

    One more thought. “This is where all of the Trinitarian philosophy logically ends: The Father is in charge and the Son has to submit. That adheres completely to Luke 22 and does not recognize the power of the Cross to change all relationships.” I’m guessing you wouldn’t agree that the voluntary subordination of the Son or the Spirit in the Trinity are problematic for the idea that we worship a Triune God. So why does a similar understanding of the voluntary submission in the male-female relationship inexorably lead to abuse and domination? Can it do so in practice? Of course, because we are fallen (as are all the egalitarian marriages that also end in abuse, hurt, and divorce). But why must it do so in principle?

    • that’s where my mind went because I lived it. it feels exactly like rape when your husband demands sex ‘because the Bible says so’. especially when he has not been living up to the rest of the Bible, particularly the ‘love your wives as Christ loves the church part’. also the ‘commit adultery in your heart’ part. also … well, you get the picture. (I hope.)

      in the years since he divorced me, I have had much healing, not just regarding my marriage, but also in my understanding of who God really is. and one of the most foundational things He has changed is my understanding of who and where we are in Christ: we have been restored to the position that Adam and Eve were in before the fall – without sin (see I John 4), and therefore without the curses it brings. so whatever God said in Gen. 3 no longer applies to the ‘new creature’ we have become. Thank God!!

    • Omilitis. I never said my objection to this writing is that it leads to rape or violence. My objection is that it suggests the sexual act has anything to do with domination and subservience. That is ridiculous.

  4. I’ve noticed the article has now been removed, did anyone save it by any chance?

    • I just noticed this morning that Jared removed the article and published an apology. Here is the link for the apology. Thank you Jared for seeing how harmful your quote was.

  5. The will/desire of the flesh (male rule or rule based on the flesh/gender) to rule the saved (those with a NEW nature!) is, umm, beyond wordly, umm, I’ll just say – no wonder Jesus came.

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