Sunday, July 25, 2010

When Theory Meets Practice: What Happens When Complementarians "Practice What They Preach"

Just this past week, I stopped by a local bookstore. I enjoy spending time “lusting” amongst the shelves, loaded with nothing but academically-delicious books (yes, I just made that phrase up!). While in there, I talked with a woman who is a higher-up in the bookstore, second in command only to another manager. She runs the day-to-day work in the bookstore, and everyone who works the cashiers and all take orders from her. Needless to say, she’s the “right-hand woman” around the place.

We talked some days ago about the manager, who is supposedly retiring sometime in the near future. In any case, the man who owns the place will need a new manager to run his store...and there she is, a qualified businessperson to run it, with about 15 years of experience in the store itself (the manager has worked the store for 25 years). Sadly enough, though, she probably will not be placed in charge of it guessed it! She’s a woman!

Some of the owner’s friends played golf with him one day and expressed that their sons needed jobs. Since they and the bookstore owner are such good friends, they figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask the owner for jobs for their sons; and the owner found it no trouble at all to grant their sons the jobs. The owner told the friends, “They don’t even need to interview for the positions; just tell them to be in the bookstore Monday at 9am, and the jobs are theirs.”

Monday morning came, and the sons found themselves in the bookstore. Just as the sons were putting on their uniforms, the woman (the good friend I talked with) told them, “Now, after you get your uniforms on, I need you to start stacking the new books for the new semester courses on the shelves in the back room.” All through the day, the sons found it hard to work; they were little inspired, and everything seemed to come hard. All they wanted to do was see 5pm roll around so they could go home and relax after what they believed to be a “hard day.”

As 5pm rolled around, the sons were relieved to clock out. What they wanted to do, though, was have a little chat with the store owner. Evidently, something grieved them to the point where they needed to talk about it for some time.
As they were in the office talking with the store manager, the assistant came in and overheard the conversation. “I’m glad you wanted to give me a job,” one of the sons said. “But I didn’t know that I would have to work for a woman; I thought I was working directly for you. I thought I was taking orders from you.”

“What’s wrong with my assistant, Linda?” The manager said.
“Oh, nothing’s wrong with her.” At this point all the sons chimed in.

“We think that she’s great; she helped us find all the shelves, showed us around the store, helped us with price labeling and everything. She’s great.”

“Well, then, the problem is...” At this point, the manager began to turn serious.

“Well...she’s a woman,” one son reluctantly said.

“Well, of course, she is,” the manager exclaimed. “Don’t you think I see that?”

“Don’t you have a problem with that?” One of the sons asked.

“The Bible itself teaches from 1 Timothy 2 that the man is over the woman--- ‘Adam was formed first, then Eve.’ By right, one of us should have the assistant manager’s position, and she should be reporting to us.”

The manager responded with a firm but dedicated tone. “Linda will work here as the assistant manager; and if you gentlemen don’t like that, find somewhere else to work.” The manager walked out and closed the door behind him, leaving the sons to their shame. The next day, the sons took his advice, turned in their uniforms, and left the store.

In the account above, we can see that the sons had a problem with reporting to a female. In their minds, 1 Timothy 2 entitled them to rule over a woman. No woman, regardless of experience and qualifications, should be a leader in anything; rather, she should report to a man and have a man over her. And why? Because “that’s her place.”

Funny though, but isn’t that discrimination? And yet, when it comes to the church, suddenly, discrimination isn’t all that bad. When discrimination revolves around the church, isn’t it striking that it is so highly tolerated, taught, and promoted?

This, my friends, is the result of what happens when complementarians “practice what they preach.” And, in my opinion, I think we should see it more often---prayerfully, one day, complementarians will wake up and understand how biblically incorrect, theologically-damaging, and Lord-disdaining their theology of women really is...


  1. I wonder if those sons find it hard to take orders from their mother... or do they expect their mother to report to them based on their interpretation of 1 Tim 2.

  2. I wonder the same. What is most shocking is that they actually had the nerve to tell the manager of the bookstore that by Scripture, they were commanded to "rule over" the woman, who was the assistant manager of the bookstore.

    I think that this controversial chapter in 1 Timothy has been fully taken out of context to serve some ego-dominated, male chauvinist agenda. I think it shows us as well what happens when the church teaches something incorrectly for this long. The sons in the account above were only carrying out the implications of their interpretation of the biblical text. And when someone acts in this manner, it should make us wonder about the interpretation. After all, orthodoxy (right teaching) will result in orthopraxy (right practice).

    Thanks so much for commenting. Continue to read and pray for the blog. God bless.


Comments should only be made related to the passages and issues discussed on the site. Biological arguments against women and men, name-calling, or violent religious language (or violent language in general) will not be tolerated.