Monday, March 9, 2015
For the last 30-years, complementarianism has been a movement. Where is it headed in the near future, especially as it concerns manhood, womanhood, and marriage?
Complementarianism as a movement found its genesis in the late 1980s when complementarian leaders realized that they needed to clearly articulate and defend what the Bible teaches on biblical manhood, biblical womanhood, and marriage. The movement has been sustained now for almost thirty years.
That being said, I have recently been thinking about the future of the complementarian movement in twenty, thirty, or even fifty years. I hope and pray that in fifty years there will be a solid core of complementarian leaders, churches, and institutions that are passionate about God’s design for men, women, and marriage. I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that such a committed, core group of complementarians would be the orthodox anchor of the evangelical church. The reason I say this is because I think that only biblical complementarianism preserves the proper gender distinctions of biblical manhood, biblical womanhood, and biblical marriage, which will be the foundation needed to anchor the church throughout the next half century and beyond. If that is to be the case, I think these things will happen along the way.
The Goodness and Importance of God’s Design
The first defining characteristic of the complementarian movement over the next fifty years will be complementarians who are passionately gripped by the goodness of biblical complementarity in marriage. These complementarians will not be ashamed about what they believe to be God’s good design for human flourishing, but will instead champion complementarianism, both in their personal lives and public ministries. Over and against the culture’s perspective on sexuality and marriage, they will model biblical masculinity and femininity, because they have tasted and seen that the Lord is good in his design for gender and marriage. These complementarians will be driven by:
Speaking of a commitment to the Word of God, I also believe that the complementarian movement will be sustained over the next fifty years by unwavering, uncompromising complementarians. These complementarians, based on the theological convictions I just mentioned, will refuse to give up or modify their beliefs.
I recently read a short statement by Dr. Tom Schreiner, where he said that the publishing conundrum of complementarianism is that the theological foundation has largely already been written, and since complementarians are not modifying their theological commitments, there is not as much new foundational, theological material to be written. Schreiner is surely right and happily so. I think many complementarian authors have now turned their attention to writing books and articles fleshing out the implications and applications of complementarian doctrine rather than developing its core doctrines.
The point I am making is that historically over the past thirty years, complementarians have not modified their doctrine. They have remained committed to the original Danvers Statement, in as much as they have believed the Danvers Statement correctly espouses what the Bible teaches.
The same must be true going forward. The reason this must be the case is because the complementarian movement has always been a doctrinal movement. In other words, the movement at its essence has been to teach and persuade the church that the Bible teaches the complementarian view of men, women, and marriage. Thus, to radically diverge from or compromise complementarianism’s core beliefs is to compromise the movement altogether.
A Myriad of Different Leaders
Finally, I think if we look back in fifty years upon the complementarian movement, we will see different types of leaders who were pioneers of the movement. We will see:
There is not much more to say other than it is time to get busy. It’s time for complementarians to understand our gifting and boldly pursue God’s call on our lives for the honor of God, the declaration of the gospel, and the flourishing of our marriages and churches.
Grant Castleberry is the Executive Director of CBMW. He and his wife GraceAnna, and their three children, live in Louisville, KY. You can follow him on Twitter @grcastleberry.
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