I originally wrote this series of posts on the creation order in April 2011. At the time, I was on a personal journey out of complementarianism. Nine years later, I find myself at the completion of a MDiv degree and being denied ordination by my local church body because of the created order of men and women. This old series has become hauntingly redundant.
Complementarianism is a theological position that God created the sexes not only different physically, but positionally. Men were created to lead and women were created to support. As a result, God does not want women in leadership roles over men in the home or in the church. There are varieties of flavor to this position allowing women to do different roles, depending on how simply one interprets certain passages.
The core of the complementarian theological position is the creation order. Because God created man first, then woman through man, it is concluded that God designed men to always take the top leadership positions. Women who seek to lead are in rebellion to God’s created order and are out of God’s will. A document I have from a local complementarian church words it this way. “God had an intentional design for men and women that extended beyond the simple human anatomy that would most easily identify them, and that plan pre-dated the fall of man.” (Source available upon request.)
This series of posts written in 2011 on the created order found in Genesis 1 and 2 was me searching for the logic that shapes this argument. I never found it. And so, I became an ardent egalitarian. Egalitarianism is a theological position that God created men and women biologically different, but alike in terms of authority. Men and women alike can share authority equally in the home and church. I hope to update each of these posts over the next few weeks to bring my story full circle. And again, I ask the text, did God give different roles (outside biological functions) to men and women?
My journey to becoming an advocate for women in leadership began with a simple reading of the very first statement God made about men and women. These words I wrote nine years ago reveal a simple, yet profound declaration that at the very beginning, God had something to say about role and authority. But, I can find no distinction of role and authority between the man and woman.
Original Post (April, 2011)
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that 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 the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Separate gender roles at creation?
God said, “Have babies. Master the earth. Rule. Both of you. Together.” Good!