The Problem For Complementarians Will Come From The Right

It seems clear that the real challenge which patriarchy poses is going to be for the complementarians

“Radical ideological movements typically operate in an environment where extreme polarization is taking place in a manner which can create eery similarities between opposites.  Thus, Communism and Fascism both fed off each other in the early to mid twentieth century, both pushing towards totalitarianism even as they sought to destroy each other.  Feminism and patriarchy look to operate with a similar dynamic.”

 

MoS will have a spanking new podcast out this Wednesday, when the Ref Pack spends time with Rachel Miller discussing one of the latest trends to emerge from the Reformed movement, that of patriarchy.  It seems that we have tapped in to what is likely to be a significant topic of conversation and source of controversy, as Slate magazine ran an article just a few days ago on the sad story of an escapee from the Quiverfull movement who is now an atheist.  Rachel has a typically gracious yet pungent reply at her blog, A Daughter of the Reformation.

A couple of thoughts come to mind.  First, radical ideological movements typically operate in an environment where extreme polarization is taking place in a manner which can create eery similarities between opposites.  Thus, Communism and Fascism both fed off each other in the early to mid twentieth century, both pushing towards totalitarianism even as they sought to destroy each other.  Feminism and patriarchy look to operate with a similar dynamic.  The beliefs that ‘All men are rapists’ and ‘All women are chattels’ have a certain affinity, after all.

Second, it seems increasingly clear that the real challenge which patriarchy poses is going to be for the complementarians.  I have little personal interest in complementarianism beyond the issue of office bearing in the church.  As long as the women concerned can shoot straight, balance a budget or (as in the case of Mrs Thatcher) stop trade unions overthrowing democratically elected British governments, I am not worried about whether they fight for their country, run a bank, or hold elected office.  But it does seem to me as something of a bystander in the debate that the complementarian movement’s ability to distinguish itself from positions such as that represented by Quiverfull is going to be critical in the near future.  Given the language about sex, relationships and women which some high profile figures in the YRR movement have used, most notably Mark Driscoll, the time may well be right for the leadership to start focusing on problems on the right and not simply on the left of the issue.

Carl R. Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary. This article is taken from his blog and is used with permission.