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Getting to Know Young Complementarian Leaders: Jonathan Leeman

June 28, 2013

From Executive Director Owen Strachan: As CBMW is seeking support for our $30,000 matching campaign, we thought we would take this opportunity to introduce our readership to some evangelical leaders who support complementarianism and CBMW. Today, we interview Jonathan Leeman, a young theologian who’s done great work on the doctrine of the church through 9Marks Ministries. Thanks for reading, and please join us in our campaign!


Jonathan Leeman is the editorial director for 9Marks. After doing undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science, Jonathan began his career in journalism where he worked as an editor for an international economics magazine in Washington, DC. Since his call to ministry, Jonathan has earned a master of divinity and has worked as an interim pastor. He is also working on his Ph.D. in ecclesiology. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanDLeeman.

1. When did you become a complementarian, and what did that look like?

I grew up in a Christian home in which I imbibed a default complementarianism, though I don’t recall discussing it. In high school, college, and graduate school, I did not run in Christian circles, and so this topic was never something I really cared about. If anything, I might have felt a certain cultural sympathy with egalitarianism. I remember attending a church once in college with a female pastor, and feeling sightly proud of that fact. (I will say, this was one of maybe 3 times in all college that I attended a church at all).

In 1996, I began attending a church (Capitol Hill Baptist) that preached expositionally. And it was over the following years, sitting under the preaching of God’s Word, that I gradually become more aware of complementarianism and began to consciously embrace it.

I think I became most aware and articulate concerning this topic sitting in Bruce Ware’s Sunday School class in my seminary years. His explanation of the distinction of roles between divine Father and Son, coupled with their ontological equality, was very helpful for my understanding. Jesus submitted to the Father, yet no one dare say Jesus is not worthy of the same glory and honor as the Father.

2. What role, if any, has CBMW played in your life and ministry?

The first CBMW resource that I encountered and that played a role in my own thinking was Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.Piper’s chapters in that book have affected how I think about what it means to father daughters, and how that is different than fathering sons. Which is to say, it helped me love my daughters better (I have no sons, so it didn’t help me there at all!). In fact some of that material made its way into our church’s parenting curriculum.

The chapters on that book on women’s roles in the church have been useful to the elders of our congregation (Capitol Hill Baptist) as we though through women’s roles in the church. Different memos were drafted by elders for elders as we debated these issues. And this book was a main resource for that discussion.

3. Why do you support CBMW, and encourage others to do the same?

In light of how helpful CBMW has been to church, it shouldn’t surprise readers that our church (CHBC) has given to CBMW over the years, as resources have permitted, to help in this kind of work. There have been some years we were unable to give, but we put it in the church budget whenever we can.

So, yes, put it in your church budget! Give individually if you can.

Why? Because this is a contested area of our culture. Church leaders and members need access to good resources that help them think through this issue. Honestly, please understand this: if no one writes and teaches about complementarianism, it will gradually fade from sight. Even among those who presently embrace it, taking it for granted, in our present cultural winds, means the next generation will more likely lose it.

4. What have you written of late that would be of interest to CBMW readers?

My own writing does not really venture into CBMW’s orbit. That’s why I need CBMW to do what it does best! The closest I got was an article on The Gospel Coalition a couple months ago called Love and the Inhumanity of Same Sex Marriage.

If you want to support CBMW’s $30,000 “GO BIG” matching campaign, we’d love to partner with you. Thanks for reading!


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