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Tableof Contents


Definitionof Complementarianism and Egalitarianism……………………………………3 Complementarianposition ………………………………………………………………..4

Evidencethat God`s design was for male/female role differentiation………………….…5 Objections to the ComplementarianPosition……………………………………………………………..6

Egalitarianposition ………………………………………………………………………..7

Evidencethat God`s design was for male/female equality…………………………………………..8 Objections to theEgalitarian Position……………………………………………………..9


Egalitarianand complementarianism viewpoints are timeless tussles that havegrappled humanity concerning the roles of men and women in churchministry, homes and the society in general. To seek the truth, thecomplementarianism and egalitarian viewpoints have been advanced toshed light on the boundaries on gender-defined roles. This paperdiscusses the biblical basis of the two viewpoints concerning womenworking in ministry. It provides the comparison between the twoviewpoints, what each viewpoint stand for and the pros and cons foreach. It draws support for its claims from the Bible, both attemptsto argue their stands from God’s perspective. This is becauseGod’s word seems to support the viewpoints and thus has elicited anageless debate across the genders.

Definitionof Complementarianism and Egalitarianism

Complementarianismis a type of viewpoint which accepts the belief that women arerestricted from the leadership duties in the church. It believes thatfrom the biblical account, God has not given women provision to servein church ministry. But instead, God made women to serve in otherequally important roles which are complementary to that of men. Thisview supports the fact that both females and males complement eachother with regard to their different aspects of duties and roles1.It holds the view that men are to be leaders both at home and inchurch whereas women are not. Women are expected to assist theirhusbands in church ministry and children upbringing. Christian whosupports this view do not consider women to be inferior or men to besuperior, but instead view them as identical in nature but differ intheir role and function.

Egalitarianismis the viewpoint that supports equality between the genders. Withthis view there is no gender-based restrictions concerning churchministry2.It supports equality to a certain degree. Humanity across the gendersare the same, and somewhat ought to be accorded similar treatment andrespect. Egalitarian view incorporate that all genders of the humanrace are unified in moral status or fundamental worth. It operates onthe biblical perspective that God loves human souls equally3.

Complementarian position

Complementarianview essentially believes in the equality between men and women aspersons4,that is, they are both created in the likeness of God. But on thecontrary, they advocate for functional distinction between thegenders concerning their roles in the church, home and society. Godcreated both male and female with equal dignity, essence, value,human nature, but on the same measure, God gave them differentresponsibilities. The male was mandated to love and head the femalewhereas the female was given the responsibility to offer submissiveand glad hearted assistance to the man.

ThenGod said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, sothat they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky,over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all thecreatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind inhis own image, in the image of God he created them male and femalehe created them5.

Thisbiblical account shows that male and female were equally made in thelikeness of God, a design by God that indicates they are fully andequally human. But their common humanity is seen to be expresseddifferently in Gen. 2 and in Paul’s Epistles6,these accounts puts the female position to be essentially submittedunder the authority and leadership of the male.

Followingthe fall of man from the creation account7,it marked the beginning of sin reign which disrupted the intendedGod’s creation including the effective role relationship ofman/woman. As advanced by the majority of complementarians, Gen.3:15-16 proposes that the female/male relationship from henceforthdue to sin was affected by mutual enmity8.As such the woman developed a desire to unsettle man ordainedauthority given from creation, which in effect made man to be rulerover the woman in what can be either wrongfully-abusive orrightfully- corrective ways.

Fromthe letters of Paul9,depict a role differentiation through Christ redemptive plan. Ithighlights the reality that God’s original creation of preordainedmale authority and leadership was fully affirmed in Christ both inthe church and home. The passages stress that wives are to submit totheir husbands in total conformity to the model of church expectedsubmission to Christ. Also women are called upon not to participatein any authoritative role of teaching in the church according toEve’s created association to Adam. And as a result these scripturesdraw the concept of Christ association with the church to clarify thestand that male are the head and clearly made leaders according toGod’s intended creation.

Evidencethat God`s design was for male/female role differentiation

FromGen. 2, there are four distinct aspects given in the chapter whichconfirm the idea of male authority and leadership- male God-givenauthority over female- 10.First, from the order of creation (male was created first) highlightsGod’s original plan positioned male to have priority and dominanceover the female. Secondly, God instructed Adam, to abstain fromeating the fruits from the forbidden tree long before the creation ofEve11. This statement implies that Adam was given the responsibility toinstruct and lead his wife from violating this command.

Thirdly,from the onset God created Eve as the helper to Adam, which isemphasized further by Paul that a woman should remain under theauthority of man (see 1 cor. 11-9-10) &quotman was not created forthe woman`s sake, but woman for the man`s sake. Therefore the womanought to have a symbol of authority on her head&quot12.And the fourth aspect in the chapter is the naming of Eve by Adam,which according to the Old Testament cultural tradition signify thatAdam had a rightful authority over his wife Eve. As a matter of fact,Adam named his wife two times, first was the time she was formed fromhis flesh (2:23) 13secondly after the time they had both sinned (3:20)14which reiterate the fact Adam continued to have authority over Eveeven after the fall.

Objectionsto the Complementarian Position

Theunderstanding of Complementarian position is essentially hierarchicalbased, where women are treated to be subordinate to men. This viewcontradicts the freedom envisaged in the gospel. While it tries touphold an essential equality of the two genders, in reality it depictwomen to be second-class citizens and inferior having less importanceto God in comparison to men. The interpretation of Gen. 2 by mostcomplementarians is wrong. This interpretation does not factor in theidea that, inherently there is no difference in who is created first,because anyway one had to be created first which luckily happened tobe Adam. To emphasize this point, During creation God created all theanimals first before He create human beings , but this order does notindicate that animals are superior to human beings. Though Eve wascreated as a completer of man, this on the hand refers to herequality to the male and not a junior being15.


Egalitarianview essentially believes that there are no gender disparities fromthe fact that we are all united in Christ16.Rather, women and men can exchange their roles equally both in thehousehold and leadership positions in the church and the society.From Gen. 1:26-27 God created both female and male as equal in allaspects, drawing on the fact that both are formed in the image ofGod, as well they were given the same mandate to take care of God’screation.

God’soriginal order of creation was disrupted by sin, which corrupted allthings including relationships .The chief manifestation of sin wasthe creation of an illegitimate disruption of an equal relationshipbetween man and woman. Gen. 3:16 mentions the curse given to thewoman. This curse a result of sin, suggests that the woman role wasreduced to be subservience before that of man, and in contrary theman was made to have supreme authority over the woman. Therefore, theoriginal God’s intended relationship between male and female wasdisrupted by sin17.But in essence, the two are equal being.

Theegalitarianism view largely draws its basis from Gal. 3:28. WherewithPaul asserts that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neitherslave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one inChrist Jesus.”18Itis a powerful statement by Paul which has demystifies the truth, inthat the effect of sin advanced by the complementarians to havecaused the hierarchical nature of Male/female relationship was doneaway with in Christ. Now in God’s kingdom no distinction of anykind is perceived between male and female. The full equality of maleand female is restored, their rights and dignity are given back towomen and servant hood perception is labelled for both female andmale alike.19

Evidencethat God`s design was for male/female equality

FromGen 1:26-27, it is a clear indicator that woman and man have commonhuman nature, in the sense that both have been formed in the likenessof God and were given the same mandate from God to rule over theinhabitants of the earth. In this passage, the overriding equalitynot only implies their nature but more importantly it also showstheir equality of task, that is, God gave them the same command torule, and there is no provision in this command that man will besuperior than the woman20.

InGen. 2:18, the woman reference as the helper should best beunderstood to mean the one that complements the man. Which in essenceimplies the woman completes the man who by himself is not complete21.Therefore, it is inappropriate to label the woman as subordinatebeing to man, yet the man is indebted to the woman. Amazingly, thesame word for helper (ezer) in Hebrew is often used to refer to God,which by no chance implies that God is subordinate to those He help22.In essence the need for woman and man to be together underscores thatthey are equal partners in their relationship. Also drawing the sameconcept from Gen. 2:22-24, there is an emphasis of one flesh, whichshows the two are equal23.

Objectionsto the Egalitarian Position

Thisview is not valid basing on the biblical basis that religious andpolitical structures of Israel exhibited an exclusive leadership ofmales following God’s command and calling. For example Adam,Abraham, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, 12 sons of Jacob who became 12 tribes ofIsrael, stress on first-born son, Male priests and male kings. Jesusexclusive selection of the male disciples with no women disciples,Himself endorsed and suggested male tradition of leadership as seenin the Old Testament. As seen from Paul’s writings, he stronglyinstructed women to be submitted to their husbands. If this is hisstand, why then does he claim hierarchy was the result of sin and yethe still advocate Christ abolished it24.


Itis apparent from the discussion that the two views,Complementarianism and Egalitarian, contrast sharply. That is, itderives support for its claims from the biblical account.Complementarians believes that women should not be given leadershippositions in the church, claiming that men were given exclusiveauthority to lead not only in the church but also at home andsociety. In the other hand, the egalitarian Christians hold the viewthat women have equal roles with men. Egalitarians based their standon the fact that both men and women are united in Christ, that theyare one flesh and are made in the image of God.

Whilethis may be true, the complementarians viewpoint throws wide open thepossibility that men were solely commanded to rule and have authorityover women. This stand is supported biblically in that Man wascreated first before the woman. But it is Paul’s writings thatindicate man is the head and a leader both at home and in the church. He advocates women ought to remain submissive to their husband andhe further asserts that they are to remain silent in the church andnot to participate in leadership duties. It is quite complicated toreach a common consensus concerning the issue but Complementarianismseems to have a strong evidence base concerning the role of men andwomen.


Arneson,Richard. `Egalitarianism`. Plato.Stanford.Edu. Last modified 2002.Accessed August 6, 2015.

Brei,Andrew. `Complementarianism: An Apology Of Sorts`. SouthwestPhilosophy Review 30, no. 2 (2014): 55-56.

Brown,Alexander. `An Egalitarian Plateau? Challenging The Importance OfRonald Dworkin’S Abstract Egalitarian Rights`. Res Publica 13, no.3 (2007): 255-291.

Bryant,Alyssa N. `Negotiating The Complementarian Gender Ideology Of AnEvangelical Student Subculture: Further Evidence From Women`sNarratives`. Gender and Education 21, no. 5 (2009): 549-565.,.`Summaries Of The Egalitarian And Complementarian Positions | CBMW |The Council On Biblical Manhood And Womanhood`. Last modified 2015.Accessed August 6, 2015.

Khader,Serene J. `Development Ethics, Gender Complementarianism, AndIntrahousehold Inequality`. Hypatia 30, no. 2 (2015): 352-369.

Miller,Clint. A Comparative Analysis Of Wayne Grudem`s ComplementarianPosition And Gordon Fee`s Egalitarian Position Within The GenderDebate, 2011.

Ministry,Christian. `What Is Complementarianism?`. CARM – The ChristianApologetics &amp Research Ministry. Last modified 2015. AccessedAugust 6, 2015.

Ringer,Thom. `Freedom In The Space Of Equality: A Response To CertainLiberal Egalitarian Objections To Amartya Sen`s CapabilitiesApproach`. SSRN Electronic Journal (n.d.) 2007.

1 Christian Ministry, `What Is Complementarianism?`, CARM – The Christian Apologetics &amp Research Ministry, last modified 2015, accessed August 6, 2015,

2 Richard Arneson, `Egalitarianism`, Plato.Stanford.Edu, last modified 2002, accessed August 6, 2015,

3 Ibid

4 Andrew Brei, `Complementarianism: An Apology Of Sorts`, Southwest Philosophy Review 30, no. 2 (2014): 55-56.

5 Gen. 1:26-27

6 1 Cor. 11 and 1 Tim. 2

7 Gen. 3:1-24

8 Gen. 3:15-16

9Eph. 5:22-33 and 1 Tim. 2:8-15

10 Serene J. Khader, `Development Ethics, Gender Complementarianism, And Intrahousehold Inequality`, Hypatia 30, no. 2 (2015): 352-369.

11 Gen. 2:16-17

12 1 cor. 11-9-10

13 Gen. 2:23

14 Gen. 3:20

15 Alyssa N. Bryant, `Negotiating The Complementarian Gender Ideology Of An Evangelical Student Subculture: Further Evidence From Women`s Narratives`, Gender and Education 21, no. 5 (2009): 549-565.

16, `Summaries Of The Egalitarian And Complementarian Positions | CBMW | The Council On Biblical Manhood And Womanhood`, last modified 2015, accessed August 6, 2015,

17 Gen. 3:16

18 Gal. 3:28

19 Clint Miller, A Comparative Analysis Of Wayne Grudem`s Complementarian Position And Gordon Fee`s Egalitarian Position Within The Gender Debate, 2011.

20 Gen 1:26-27

21 Gen. 2:18

22 Alexander Brown, `An Egalitarian Plateau? Challenging The Importance Of Ronald Dworkin’S Abstract Egalitarian Rights`, Res Publica 13, no. 3 (2007): 255-291.

23 Gen. 2:22-24

24 Thom Ringer, `Freedom In The Space Of Equality: A Response To Certain Liberal Egalitarian Objections To Amartya Sen`s Capabilities Approach`, SSRN Electronic Journal (n.d.) 2007.