An Accidental Misrepresentation?

An article in CT the other day told the story of a woman’s acceptance of complementarian gender roles. She said,

I found a defense for the holy beauty of submission when I hadn’t gone looking for it. Jesus Christ, obedient to his Father, went willingly to his death—for me. Was I to argue against the disposition that saved me? Running, I was caught.

The assumption seems to be that egalitarians are committed to arguing against submission in all its forms. But they are not. They like submission so much that they implore both men and women to submit to one another mutually! Nor do egalitarians find submission to pastoral leadership, the governing authorities, or the requirements of one’s employer to be ethically problematic (unless they are abusive). Nor do they believe inequality is intrinsically bad. They can fully agree with the conclusion of the following argument Alex Pruss gives:

  1. There is nothing intrinsically bad in heaven.

  2. There is inequality in heaven (God is in heaven and humans are in heaven, and there is infinite inequality there).

  3. So, inequality is not intrinsically bad.

So the article, I think, misrepresents egalitarians. What they actually believe is that maleness neither qualifies one for authority, nor does femaleness disqualify one for authority. That is to say, roles of authority and subordination that are ontologically grounded in maleness and femaleness do not exist; therefore patriarchy is to be rejected. It does not follow from this, however, that there are no ontologically grounded hierarchies; Jesus is worthy of obedience precisely because he is the Son of God. Part of that obedience is imitation; he “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” If the greatest possible being can give up his divine rights, then so can men who (wrongly) believe they have patriarchal rights over their wives. In any case, the Christian gospel undermines patriarchy.

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