J. Ligon Duncan III, Ph.D. is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of CBMW and Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi.
Just prior to last month's historic True Woman conference, CBMW sponsored a brief pre-conference featuring Rev. J. Ligon Duncan and Mrs. Susan Hunt. Several hundred women and a tiny handful of men, heard these excellent messages live. Here's a brief summary of Duncan's talk. Look for Mrs. Hunt's tomorrow. Hopefully these will inspire you to listen for yourself.
Rev. Duncan outlined six reasons why complementarianism – the full biblical witness of God's glorious design for manhood and womanhood – remains vital for strong local churches. First, he said that complementarianism affords an advantage to Christian discipleship. By that he means that helping to answer the most important spiritual questions for men and women in Christ begins by acknowledging how God made the sexes differently.
Second, Duncan taught that our owning up to the God-designed complementarity of the genders frees us to read the scriptures faithfully and without twisting their meaning. All the narratives, events and relationships in Scripture come alive when we understand them as functioning within God's plan for distinction between male and female.
He went on, thirdly, to affirm that complementarity is the only faithful way to understand and defend the biblical vision for marriage in our culture. He referred to the many political attacks that seek to topple a biblical view of marriage – the union between one man and one woman till death – in this cultural moment.
Fourth, Duncan suggests that the antidote to the vast majority of worldliness in matters of sexuality and gender necessarily includes the complementarian structure found in scripture. The sin of homosexuality is not countered well by egalitarianism's emphasis on flat mutuality. It is in fact, in direct violation to God's glorious design found only in complementarity (Romans 1:26, 27).
Fifth, Duncan asserts that complementarianism allows us to preserve the authority of the Bible in all matters of life and practice. "If we can make Paul say he permits a woman to teach and exercise authority over a man, when in fact Paul says "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man" (1 Timothy 2:12), we can make Paul say anything!"
Finally, Duncan said that complementarianism holds an important advantage in that it alone reveals to the world the gospel in the lives of married persons. He spoke of how the grace Christ won at the cross receives its echo in the grace hurt spouses give to each other. At the point of their greatest marital pain, they have the opportunity to signal the immense grace purchased for us through Christ's blood. When this grace displays itself in godly marriages, the world takes notice and Christ's gospel becomes plain. This is nothing other than an excellent exposition of Ephesians 5:21-33.
Duncan calls complementarianism, "not something to be ashamed of or apologized for" but something to be "studied, pondered, celebrated and lived."
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