War is Upon Us
Glen Campbell, I think it was, once crooned, “Adios, Adios, adioooooos…”
That is what I shall now say to Complementarianism. I once thought it was a helpful term to describe biblical manhood and womanhood. It is now clear, however, that we are not only besieged by those who hate God and His creational order, but the enemies are well within the gates. Whether the term originated with harmless intent, I do not know. What is as plain as “Epstein didn’t kill himself” is that “Complementarianism” was either a Trojan horse all along, or it was a supply truck which the jihadists of feminism coopted in order to lace our rations with anthrax. In reflection, we should have known better, the term itself was gentle, tender, and not at all ready for warfare. Shoulda seen it sooner.
But warfare is what we face. Golly, some of you haven’t read your Milton or Bunyan and it really shows. They tried to tell us that history is a long warfare both for the Kingdom and for the individual saint. Thus, as the Apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthians, “Andrizomai.” Quit You like Men. Be strong. We are at war. Our warfare is with principalities and powers, and those who have sided with those powers. Following the nature of their father the devil, they want babies torn from mothers’ wombs in order for women to truly experience empowerment. They want to tear their genes apart as if they had the power of creatio ex nihilo.
In the midst of this warfare, we had those in the echelons of Evangelicalism calling for panel discussions on gender roles. Revealing they were either simpletons, or double-agents. When at war, you must carry only that which will render the troops effective in the successful execution of their assignment. So, let us jettison Complementarianism; it didn’t fit in the ruck sack anyway.
So I will from here on employ a new term, economintarian. I invite you to do the same, and here’s some of the reasoning.
Whereas Complementarian sought to emphasize how male and female “complemented” each other, it left vague one key thing: who carries the melody? In other words, where does the authority (and thus responsibility) reside, particularly in the marriage relationship? Complementarian thought morphed into a strong call for men to ever only exercise “servant leadership.” Which, let’s be honest, meant perpetual capitulation to their wives. Complementarianism subtly turned authority within marriage into a sort of fairy dust which magically fell upon whoever secular culture told us we should side with. It emphasized cooperation, collaboration, coddled wives, and cowardly husbands.
As Complementarian thought came to dominate Evangelical views of gender roles, it left up for interpretation who had the melody line in the music. However, Scripture indicates that a man’s leadership should be real leadership, carry real authority, and––to keep the metaphor going––the bass has the melody. The concern with abusive husbands––a very real concern which no sane pastor would downplay––does not permit us to gladly embrace overweening wives, who take offense the old Protestant marriage vows which had the wife vow to obey her husband.
That is why the term economintarian is necessary. Within it we have two things connoted. First, the Greek etymology points us to view proper gender roles in relation to the oikos (the household). The implication here is that of order and authority (more on that in a second). Paul plainly teaches this when he instructs wives to be keepers of the oikos (Tit. 2:3). But before the screeching of the methodist bishops drowns out my next point, let me just say that economintarian has the added benefit of carrying the more modern connotation of the hustle and bustle of an industrious economy. Husbands are like the head of state, the wives are like the free market. He protects her from foreign powers which would disrupt her productivity, and he provides fertile land for the her (and their cute little citizens) to turn a profit on.
All of this comports with the fact that God, Himself, is building a house. This is not merely a nice theme throughout Scripture, it is essentially the story of Scripture. God’s house started as a garden sanctuary, with a wilderness left to be subdued. Then it looked like a boat on floodwaters. Then an old, barren couple leaving Ur, staring at a star-filled sky being promised that their offspring would be as numerous. Then His house was a tent in the wilderness, surrounded by 12 tribes numbering millions. Then His house was a tabernacle of music, followed by the most glorious temple of ancient times. Then, in the fullness of time, His house was the body of the Incarnate Son. Now, all in Christ are stones in that eternal temple.
God is still building a house.
The family is a reflection of God’s ordering of the universe. He is in heaven, we are on earth. Christ is the head (nourishing, protecting, directing, providing), the church is His Bride (busy with His industry, fruitful in bearing His seed, glorious in beauty). So, Husband and Wife are shadows of this hierarchy in their marriage. Sons, then, should learn to rightly wield authority to protect and provide through hard work, nerves of steel, joy in every storm. Daughters, should learn to respond to authority with virtue and wisdom through robust industry, hospitable kindness, and then wield authority in the spheres over which they are placed.
A Naughty Word
Now, I’ve said some naughty words already. Not the sort of naughty words which fill the latest Netflix binge-worthy series. Rather, the naughty words which will get me cancelled. Hierarchy, authority, obedience. But this is the charm and beauty of employing the term economintarianism. Order and industry flourish or fail as the hierarchy is good or bad. A bad head will result in a bad body. This is the built in immune system which God installed in Biblical gender roles. An abdicating and abusive head will result in failure of their whole organism. A loving, responsible, strong head will result in a flourishing home/oikos.
Men and women are endowed with various work to be accomplished; man to keep and tend, woman to be a help. Man is to protect and provide, a woman is called to beautify. But remember, we are not doing these tasks in the void. Rather, we do them within a network of other hierarchies. They both must submit to governmental authority, as well as ecclesiastical authority. If the husband’s employer gives him an assignment, he must submit to his superior. None of these authorities are absolute, and in some instances they provide checks and balances for each other. Hierarchy within marriage is not a naughty word. It is an inescapable reality. There will be some sort of hierarchy within marriage, which was the real cleverness of the complementarian term. It made it so that authority could slosh around wherever the culture needed it to.
Well, let’s just run a hypothetical. Hypothetically, if I were to post something to Twitter along the lines of “Wives need their husbands to lead them,” I’d be called mysoginistic by all the “pronouns in bio” people. But if I were to posts, “Husbands need their wives to lead them,” I’d be hailed as a most forward thinking champion and ally of women’s rights. The complementarians over at TGC might even let me write an article for them about how Mary Magdalene first proclaimed the Gospel, and how we should more readily “listen to women.”
The problem is, God already told us to listen to women. He told boys to listen to their mothers. And godly mothers are like queens, their words of wisdom are like precious jewels, and they have numerous servants doing their bidding. But good queens are placed under the headship of good kings. The faerie stories make all this quite plain. The White Witch always calls herself queen, but she does so because she’s thrown off the rightful head and King of Narnia.
So…Adios Complementarianism. Hola Economintarianism.