Complementarians and egalitarians are not as divided as some think,” wrote Gordon P. Hugenberger for our April collection of cover articles. For some, his exegesis of key passages about women’s roles in churches and marriages in 1 Timothy and elsewhere was much appreciated. “This article was THE article I have been waiting for someone to write for what feels like ages,” wrote one Instagram user. And a pastor with “egalitarian sympathies” serving in a complementarian denomination appreciated Hugenberger’s tone.

But the division identified was evident in other messages. Responding to a reflection by Danielle Treweek—a complementarian wondering about the term’s increasing “cancellation, co-option, and cannibalization”—email writers and social media commenters called her complementarianism “distressingly naive” and a form of “patriarchal ideology.” Kelly Pelton in Kerrville, Texas, wrote, “Devaluing of women within the church tragically misrepresents the God who is impartial and who elevates the weak and marginalized.”

In response to Gaby Viesca’s article on churches moving to egalitarian leadership structures, Facebook commenters said she was “rejecting the biblical standard” of male leadership. “The author says, ‘That a woman preaches at all is something to celebrate, no question about that,’” wrote one commenter. “Yes, there are questions about that.”

Complementarians and egalitarians may agree, as Hugenberger put it, on the “inherent worth and giftedness of women.” But disagreements over whether women are permitted to preach and teach are still provoking strong feelings.

Kate Lucky
senior editor of engagement and culture

Complementarian at Home, Egalitarian at Church? Paul Would Approve.

How one labels each side of a debate frequently determines the outcome. Of course, men and women complement each other in numerous ways. But what is concealed by the label complementary—when used as a biblical concept and not inherent in the word—is the substantive assertion that, in certain biblical respects, females are inferior and subservient to males. Let’s stop the misdirection and talk honestly about what we’re talking about—biblical equality versus biblical subservience. I respect both positions.

Roland Wrinkle
Newhall, CA

I’m a complementarian in that I believe God’s ideal for marriage is for the man to be in attentive submission to Christ and in loving authority (and responsibility) over his family. At the same time, I have 52 years experience reading and exegeting the Greek New Testament, so I appreciated the refreshing accuracy of Hugenberger’s exegesis, which is justified by linguistics and context. I would translate [1 Timothy 2:12] as “I do not permit a married woman to instruct or dominate [her] husband, but to be quiet-spoken.” This is still a complementarian statement, but it’s limited to marriage.

Article continues below

Richard Brown
Durham, NC

Those Whom God Evolves

I was dismayed to see the “Small Stat” stating, “Most people believe that evolution provides an adequate account of human origins.” Whether or not most people do, certainly Christians should not. Jesus said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matt. 19:4, ESV). This is from Genesis 1:27, stating that God created man “in his own image,” which Jesus apparently took quite literally. If he did, so should we.

Thomas F. Harkins Jr.
Fort Worth, TX

Heaven Isn’t Our Eternal Escape from Work

My happiest job was volunteer electronics tech on the Mercy Ship Anastasis. But nothing comes near my plans of praising the Almighty for all eternity.

Richard Brewster
Cutchogue, NY

What Kind of Man Is This?

Does Isaiah 53:2 not speak prophetically into [Jesus’] appearance? “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” A crucifix is one thing; a handsome, at times eroticized white male quite another.

Wout Brouwer
Fort Langley, British Columbia

Fractured Are the Peacemakers

Learning the history of Israel/Palestine and listening to stories of the Palestinian Christian community is viewed by some as a betrayal of our Jewish brothers and sisters; you make clear it is not. I am so glad that the leading evangelical publication in the US is willing to give voice to those in the Holy Land who do not see the conflict in geopolitical or apocalyptic categories. Instead, these Palestinian residents are shown to be victims of a tragic loss of homes, land, and life that must grieve all of us who love Jesus.

Todd L. Lake
Nashville, TN

Churches Shouldn’t Outsource Apologetics to Slick Conferences

I agree that apologetics should be done in the local church. However, it needs to start earlier than high school or college. I recently finished a series of lessons to the second-through-fifth-grade children in my church. Topics came from questions the children asked, including “How do we know God exists?” “Why does God let bad things happen?” and “How do we know the Bible is true?”

Article continues below

Wesley Portinga
Rosemead, CA

Behind the Scenes

The word theology may conjure visions of old white men in leather armchairs examining dusty tomes. But the field of theology (the study of God) today looks more like men and women of all ages gathering at conferences like the Evangelical Theological Society’s annual meeting (ETS), presenting their latest research, answering questions, countering objections, and leaving with new ideas to further their work.

I attended ETS, reporting on trends I saw in “Why Your Favorite Theologians Are All Talking about Theological Anthropology.” And I saw that theology looks like thinking about God and learning from other God-thinkers, both living and dead. Aren’t all believers called to this? As former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said, “Any Christian beginning to reflect on herself or himself within the body of Christ is … doing theology: making Christian sense of their lives.”

That’s a great summary of CT’s purpose—to help people make “Christian sense of their lives” in community—which is why it’s vital for us to be at ETS and everywhere this work is happening.

Stefani McDade
theology editor

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Issue: