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Why *wouldn’t* you want to be an egalitarian?

In reply to a tweet thread the other day, I posed a question that’s been on my mind lately:

The responses to my tweet asked and presumed that this was a rhetorical question. And while it could sound that way, I didn’t really intend it that way, and I’d like to toss the question around a little bit more. Because I know and love and worship with a bunch of complementarians, and it would be uncharitable and unrealistic to presume that those who hold complementarian views do so for bad reasons.

Now, I’ve given away my own position with the question. I think there’s more than just room for the egalitarian position – I have come to see it as the position that most fully magnifies Christ’s work of reconciliation and restoration.  In addition, fully embracing women serving in any role to which God has gifted them, including leadership roles, brings many practical benefits to the church. So if scripturally we could go either way, and the result is beneficial, why wouldn’t we go that route?

I suspect most of my evangelical complementarian friends would start from a different premise. While I would favor a Wesleyan interpretative framework that incorporates reason and experience along with Scripture and tradition, they would lean exclusively on Scripture. Then they would say that the clear position from Scripture is complementarian. And that would basically be that. And while some of the hard line complementarians would elevate it to a gospel-level issue – Denny Burk saying that the “egalitarian hermeneutic has the potential to undermine… the gospel itself” – most of the complementarians I personally know would acknowledge it as a secondary issue. 

I’ve seen enough bad behavior online the past days (weeks, months, years) to believe that there is some subset of complementarians who are by their actions revealing that they are motivated by power and control more than by a particular Scripture hermeneutic. But I think it’s worth saying plainly that I don’t believe that’s common to all complementarians. 

I have recently really benefitted from Bruxy Cavey’s teaching on egalitarianism from an Anabaptist perspective. But even further than that I appreciate and want to adopt his attitude that those who disagree with my egalitarian views are still my dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. I just believe they’re wrong on this issue!

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