why I am egalitarian

Why I Was a Complementarian

This is what a complementarian looks like.

Before I arrived at an egalitarian viewpoint, there were basically two things keeping me complementarian.

  1. I thought the so-called “plain meaning of Scripture” was in my favor.
  2. I thought gender stereotypes were therefore normative.

Now, my view was perhaps a little more nuanced and involved, but most of the arguments in my head fell into these categories.

Why I’m Now an Egalitarian

This is what an egalitarian looks like.

There was a radical shift in my thinking. Here’s why I changed and why I’ve stayed egalitarian.

  1. The “plain meaning of Scripture” that I thought was so plain, well, wasn’t.
  2. Because kephalÄ“ doesn’t mean “authority.”
  3. Because Ephesians 5:22 can’t stand without Ephesians 5:21.
  4. Because ezer kenegedo doesn’t mean submissive helper.
  5. Because women did teach, exercise authority, and hold offices in the early church.
  6. N.T. Wright, Gordon Fee, John Stackhouse, Greg Boyd, Stanley Grenz, Catherine Clark Kroeger, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Gilbert Bilezikian, Timothy T. Larsen, Mark Husbands, Stephen Spencer, Roger Olson, Philip B. Payne, William J. Webb…
  7. John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Paige Patterson, Don Carson, Doug Moo, Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Wayne Grudem, Paige Patterson, Dorothy Patterson, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul…
  8. Because the whole sweep of Scripture points toward a radical acceptance of women as full partners, not as submissive, passive assistants.
  9. Because I realized that, as a complementarian, I was going straight from reading to application, and that’s no way to treat the Bible.
  10. Because partnership makes much more sense in my own marriage.
  11. Because it’s good for men, too.
  12. Because the church has only been taught half the story God wants her to hear.
  13. Because God makes more than two kinds of people.
  14. Because I don’t fit the mold.
  15. Because I was introduced to fantastic female leaders, preachers, and overseers.
  16. Because the complementarian arguments always seemed defensive, like they’re reaching and stretching to make their points.
  17. Because patriarchy leads to all kinds of abuse.

For these reasons, I can never go back, and I want to bring as many people with me as possible.

Click here to check out the CBE Bookstore, where you can find all kinds of good stuff, including an article written by myself and my wonderful, capable wife Kelsey. It’s in the current edition of Mutuality.

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About thejaigner

I'm Jonathan. I am a Christian, husband, dogfather, brother, uncle. I'm a musician, singer, egalitarian, educator, reader and minister. Of course, there is more than that. Please read to find out more.
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11 Responses to why I am egalitarian

  1. EricW says:



  2. Kris Martinez says:

    THank you for all of your reasons!

  3. The church of my upbringing never limited my out reach but it did have Gods # 1 rule as it’s solid foundation>>>> don’t be vulgar!

  4. Thank you. A nice (and humorous!) summary. I especially like points 1, 7 and 16.

  5. leeh says:

    I am just curious. You listed John John MacArthur in the list of names above. The last thing I read by John on women was far more conservative that egalitarian.

    • John says:

      Look at who else is in #7 along with John MacArthur: other hierarchicalists. These were the people for whom encountering them and/or their ideas pushed him away from their position, as opposed to those in #6 who drew him toward them.

    • thejaigner says:

      John is right. The poeple in point 7 are those who, in some way, helped push me away from patriarchy with their theologies and attitudes.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love your reasons – concise and comprehensive.

    I have many friends, though, who say we shouldn’t push the egalitarian position on couples who are happy to have the husband take charge and feel like that’s his role, and she loves being “looked after” that way. Some people also say that’s the way God created men, or they would feel left out in the home. Others say if you take away the husband’s leadership, the woman will take charge and be too emotional/illogical/easily swayed. I know the arguments sound ludicrous but they are genuinely believed by many in the evangelical circles. How would you respond?

    • thejaigner says:

      That’s a good question, Anon. Can I call you Anon?

      Anyway, I saw much of this growing up and I know a lot of couples like this right now. I think it’s still important that we stick to our guns because, regardless of how people feel about their own relationship structure, the negative effects are still there and are pervasive.

      Of course, I think we’d both agree that we can’t go around pushing some sort of agenda on others, especially those we’re close to. I have one very close, long-time friend who feels differently about this issue. It really pains me to see how patriarchy affects him and his family, but it would be completely unhelpful for me to hound him about it.

      We can speak in love when necessary and show by example.

  7. np says:

    Brother, thank you for this post. I disagree with you, but I am thankful for your honesty. With respect, may I suggest that these reasons aren’t at all persuasive.

    For example:

    -> Numbers 1, 11 & 12 are just mere assertion, nothing more. I know you’re trying to grandstand with these, but this ultimately serves to weaken your case.

    -> Number 2 doesn’t make sense of the NT use of ‘kephale’. Are you seriously suggesting that when Paul described Jesus as the ‘kephale’ over the Church having put “all things under His feet” (Eph 1:22), that he did not intend ‘authority’ to be at least *part* of the meaning? Is Jesus a *non-authoritative* head over the Church?

    (More to the point, you don’t seem to have properly considered the patristic witness to this subject. The early Fathers referred to the NT kephale passages in no uncertain terms. Clement of Alexandria, for example, wrote that “the ruling power is therefore the head” [Stromata 4.8], and Tertullian wrote that “the head [Paul] has here put for authority” [Against Marcion 5.8].)

    -> Number 3 wouldn’t be denied by a Complementarian. The husband and wife are to submit to one another, for sure – but the *nature* of that mutual submission is not necessarily equivalent. (Of course, the complementarian would say that the most natural exegesis of Eph 5:22-23 denies exactly that sort of equivalence.)

    -> Number 5 is to be substantiated and subordinated to a discussion of the NT Church’s habits.

    -> Numbers 6 + 7 are – with all due respect – rather upsetting examples of academic celebrity and snobbery, respectively.

    -> As for Number 8, surely there’s a more important ‘general sweep of Scripture’, namely, the submission of the Son to the Father on the cross and the corresponding call for us to mirror Christ in all we do? Complementarians would say that husbands mirror Him in acting as a self-sacrificial leader (as Christ is for the Church), and wives mirror Him in trusting their husband in submission (as the Church trusts + submits to Christ).

    -> Number 17 sounds good, but is a complete red herring. Complementarianism is definitionally distinct from misogyny and every complementarian i’ve ever met despises the abuse and mistreatment of women. If you’re trying to insinuate that complementarianism leads to abuse, the complementarian would offer two responses. First, this sort of ‘slippery slope’ argument has been made against egalitarianism (you treat scripture badly via egalitarian exegesis, thus making it more likely to abandon the true faith). Second, this sort of reasoning is hardly watertight according to the history of Christian thought. Just because X position is ‘close’ to a really bad conclusion Y, it does not follow that X endorses Y. The Arians would have said that Dyophysitism is ‘close’ to Docetism, but that doesn’t make Chalcedonian Christianity Docetic.


    Anyway brother, hope none of this sounds rude or disrespectful. Just sharing some thoughts.

    *Much* love in Christ,

    NP :)

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