Recently, someone in the twitter world called me an “uber-complementarian.” They threw out the term “complementarian” derogatorily, like an ugly handful of mud – akin to calling someone a “racist,” “fascist,” “sexist,” or something scary like that. I had to smile, since I remember sitting around a table with John Piper and Wayne Grudem and others, wracking our brains to come up with an apt label to describe the historic Christian teaching on gender. Oh how quickly labels turn into stereotypes!

The Historic Christian Position on Gender

Since New Testament times, Christians believed that the Bible taught that God created male and female with complementary differences and roles. There was no word to describe this position, since no one had ever questioned it. But about 50 years ago, feminism changed all that. And by the mid-eighties, when Egalitarians and Evangelical Feminists eagerly jumped on the feminist ideological bandwagon, it was necessary to come up with a label to identify this traditional, orthodox, historic belief. That’s when we came up with the term “complementarian.” It simply means someone who believes that the Bible teaches that God created men and women with equal, yet distinct roles. We are equal, but different.

Straw Women

And that’s when I started to be called a gender traitor. And misrepresented by scary straw women. A straw woman is the female version of a straw man. A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position, knocks that position down, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted. It’s a common, but faulty way to argue against an idea. Anyway, since the term “complementarian” now conjures up such scary stereotypes, I thought it would be fun to parade some of the most popular straw women out across the stage so they could take a bow—and hopefully bow out. Here they are:

(Strike up the scary organ music please!) . . .

Dora the Doormat

Dora the Doormat wears a “step on me please” sign around her neck. She’s a passive, quivering, opinion-less servant who can’t and won’t do anything without being told what to do. Dora can’t even get dressed in the morning without finding out which dress her husband wants her to wear. And she likes it when her husband acts like a domineering boor. Dora has absolutely no goal in life except to serve her man. She invites him to wipe his dirty, grimy, patriarchal feet all over her, so that she can happily clean up the mess. Dora’s sister, Co-dependent Clara, goes as far as to say that complementarians endorse abuse.

Since when does telling men to love their wives as Christ loved the Church support or promote women being docile doormats? Since when does the Bible’s view on unity, partnership, indivisibility, co-dominion and the dignity of male and female as complementary reflections of the image of God even remotely lend itself to this straw woman stereotype? Even the unbelieving, soon-to-be-married young lady working out with me at the gym exclaimed, “Wow, that’s incredible!” when I told her what God expects of Christian husbands. Complementarians do NOT invite, advocate, or endorse that men treat women in a sinful fashion! Complementarians instruct husbands to push for ever-increasing levels of holiness/Christ-likeness. And in my experience, they are the first to step in to protect women from harm. The claim that complementarity breeds doormats and encourages abuse is both false and reprehensible.

Dipstick Danielle

Dipstick Danielle doesn’t have a brain. She threw it in the trashcan when she embraced complementarity. Obviously, only women who have experienced the proverbial feminist “click” and had their consciousness so “raised” have the capacity to think. The rest of us are mindless minions of patriarchy–unenlightened to our repressed condition, party to our own servitude. Dipstick Danielle is close friends with Bobblehead Betty – the straw woman who doesn’t have any thoughts, ideas, or opinions of her own, but mutely nods “yes” to everything her husband says. Scary indeed!