Complement: In the Flesh

The concept of “One Flesh” in Genesis 2:4-25 has long held a central place in the theology of complementarian thinkers.  These thinkers believe the text bolsters their claims about the 7 day creation narrative and affirms the centrality of their beliefs about Sex, gender, marriage, and procreation to God’s design.  Though I have already discussed the dubious nature of their claims about Genesis 1-2:3.  I must consider whether a complementarian treatment of Genesis 2 undermines my previous arguments.

One of the most influential books published this year, among evangelicals and especially complementarians, has been Kevin DeYoung’s What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?  Here, DeYoung insists that any attempt to plumb the depths of Christian theology will reveal the understanding of marriage, sexuality, and gender inherent to complementarianism to be the undeniable teaching of Scripture.  Of the utmost importance to the truth of complementarity, according to DeYoung, is proper interpretation of Eve as “helper” and parsing how the words “one flesh” relate to the union of the first couple in Scripture.

Thus, in the first chapter of his book, DeYoung sets out to engage the text of Genesis chapters 1 & 2.  In doing so, he presupposes that the creation of Adam and Eve in 2:5-25 is the same incident depicted in 1:26-31.  That is, he believes Adam and Eve were the only humans created on Day 6.  He supports this assertion through a series of logic exercises combined with brief Scripture citation – asking the reader to envision how God would create a world bent towards a gender binary through a one man, one woman marriage relationship centered in procreation.  He asserts the most probable way would be to create a man then, realizing that man was alone and without a suitable helper, create a woman.  These two would be commanded to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28) through a “one flesh” (2:23-25) relationship in which the woman was created to be the man’s “helper”, which he sees as establishing a patriarchal gender binary.[1]

While it seems to me he is simply begging the question, DeYoung claims this is the clear reading of Genesis.  He supports this by a number of passages throughout the OT and NT.  First, he argues from Genesis 29:14 and 2 Samuel 5:1 that the word “helper” implies “fittedness”.  That is, it implies the ability of one to serve as subordinate, helping another fulfill their God-given goal.  The goal given the man is to “be fruitful and multiply”, which he sees as a procreative command.  Thus, the woman is fitted to help the man in his mission to create offspring.[2]

This is further supported by an appeal to the ESV translation of Malachi 2:15, which he claims is a translation representative of virtually all English translations, including the KJV, NLT, and NRSV.  As such, because this translation uses the terms “made one”, “union”, “offspring”, and “wife” it is meant as a complementary passage to Genesis 2:23-25.  He also argues the centrality of procreation is found within the Deuteronomy 25:5-6 requirements for Levirate marriage. Lastly, he supports his claims with NT passages, such as 1 Corinthians 6:15-16, Matthew 19, and Revelation 19.[3]

The question is,

Does DeYoung’s presentation of central complementarian beliefs fit the texts he uses?

I say no!  For starters, inGenesis 2:4-3:34, we have a second creation story standing entirely outside the timeline of Genesis 1-2:3.  This creation narrative is decidedly different in style, language, content, and chronology from the Genesis 1 account.  Genesis 1-2:3 introduces themes that will be fleshed out later in the OT in Sabbath laws, the tabernacle/temple establishment texts, and the Sinai event. In contrast, Genesis 2:5-3:34 deals with the themes of covenant and exile.

Also, the Genesis 1 epic depicts creation as taking place over seven days with the focus being on God’s indwelling of his creation and its centrality to the concept of imago dei.  Genesis 2-3 takes a different approach all together.  Eschewing a strict timeline, this text states only that it took place “In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens”.   The question is, are we to think of this as a literal day -thus fitting DeYoung’s reading – or is the word “day” here figurative?

I propose a figurative reading for a number of reasons.  First, the phrase translated “in the day” implies a meaning similar to the way certain elderly people say, “In my day, that never would have happened!” Of course, we know these persons are not referring to a literal 24 hour period, but are using day in a figurative sense.  This on its own, however, cannot be enough to make a definitive claim.  According to the text, the order of creation is land and water, underground springs, the man from the dust, the Garden of Eden, vegetation, animals and finally the woman from the man.  This leads to a second observation: it seems virtually impossible to squeeze all of this narrative into one day. The arrangement of the text is such that a Day 6 reading is narratively dishonest.  In 3:8 we are told that Yahweh visited the Garden in the evening, after Adam and Eve had sinned.

A quick glance back to Genesis 1-2:3 will reveal that each day is described as “evening, morning, day X”.  This is because the Jewish day began/ended at dusk, not sunrise.  Thus, when Yahweh walks around looking for the human pair in the cool of the evening, he would be doing so on a new day, Day 7.  God’s rest on Day 7 would seem an odd root for Sabbath if his creation had just been corrupted.  Thus in the Genesis 2-3 narrative, there is significant cognitive dissonance with the 7 day account.  However else one seeks to read the text, it seems fairly straightforward that the author is not expanding on the details of a single day within the 7 day creation event.

Next, we must examine DeYoung’s claim that “be fruitful and multiply” is a command to procreate.  I have already addressed this in a previous post so it will do here to summarize the previous argument. Genesis 1 is a poetic passage whose literary form points towards Day 7 as the focus of the text.  This emphasizes strong linguistic ties to both Sabbath and the temple/tabernacle.  In fact, the building of the tabernacle in Exodus is prefaced with seven divine command statements.  As such, we are able to see that God has established creation as a macrocosm of the temple/tabernacle, the place where God dwells among his people.

The call to embrace imago dei, the call to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue uses language of priestly stewardship, suggesting Yahweh is commissioning a holy group intended to participate in God’s rule as he establishes his kingdom.  This is parallel to the call of Israel at Sinai in Exodus 19 and indicates that Israel was beginning their sacred history (the Pentateuch) by explaining how they were the fulfilment of God’s original purpose for the world, the way in which God was working to set the world to rights.  All of this ties into the notion of Sabbath that is expanded past a day of rest to include the notions of Sabbath Year and Jubilee which are central to OT theology.

All of this precludes a reading of Genesis 1 rooted in prescription of a normative gender binary whose expressed purpose before God is marriage and procreation.  The work of humanity is to mirror the creation purposes of God, to join in community after his example.  This is not about clear, hard set definitions or commands, it is about participation and relationship with, in, and because of who God is.

Moving on, we must examine his definition of “one flesh”.  A close look at the text of Genesis 2:23-25 will prove insightful.  DeYoung insists that the combined power of Genesis 1 & 2 makes a gender binary a given in the text.  Sadly, he has confused gender with Sex.  To state it briefly, gender is about what defines masculine/feminine and Sex is anatomy, the issue of being male, female, or intersex.  Thus, while the text does assume that all created beings are either male/female in Sex, it has nothing to say about gender.

Further, a male/female division is simply not the case amongst all animals.  If we are take the text at face value we are left in the precarious position of affirming that, despite scientific evidence, an earthworm possesses a single gender identity.  Or, we can accept the less difficult view that hermaphroditic earthworms exist, some animals reproduce asexually, and the Bible is really not concerned with establishing a clear cut delineation regarding issues of Sex and gender.  It certainly isn’t trying to establish the absurd concept of gender binaries, embracing the late 19th/early 20th century concern for creating universal norms for what is masculine or feminine.

Recognizing this frees us to attempt to read the text on its own terms, bringing some interesting themes to the foreground.  First, the man is created from both dust and water.  It is often overlooked that God first causes water to spring forth and wet the ground, then he uses the mixture (the word for dust, adamah, more likely means clay) to form the man.  This is a traditional origin paralleled in Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek mythology.[4] More importantly, it parallels the birth of the nation of Israel from water (Red Sea, Ex 14-15) and dirt (wilderness, Num 32).  As the narrative of Chapter 3 plays out, it will become obvious that this narrative is a creative, theology driven exploration of the themes of covenant and exile.

It is no stretch to say the man is being fruitful and causing multiplication by cultivating the garden and naming the animals, a sign of priestly authority in ancient Israel.   However, as Carolyn Custis James points out in her book Malestrom,  Adam has been tasked with both maintaining and guarding the Garden.  This duty, depicting the work of a military sentry, serves to introduce Eve as “suitable helper” (p. 51).

In fact, the word for “helper” in Hebrew, ezer, is most commonly used for divine intervention, but can also depict military aid.  With this is mind, what is being implied is the woman’s ability as an equal partner, to work together to accomplish the task of stewardship in covenant.  This directly undermines the notion of “helper” as subordinate (Malestrom, 52-53).

This is further evident in both how the woman is created and how the man responds to her.  Yahweh creates the woman from the man’s side, creating a female counterpart from his own flesh.  The word rib, it has long been noted, is an inaccurate rendering.  Instead, the image is of Adam’s torso being split, with Eve created from the removed half.

When Adam sees her, he poetically declares she is in fact “from” him, made of his own bone and flesh.  The man and woman are literally made from “one flesh”.  The author then uses this poem to seek out a deeper truth.  Just as the man’s flesh had to be severed for the woman to join him in partnership, so when a man and woman marry, they must sever their former flesh (father/mother) and seek to be of “one flesh” with each other.  What is implied here is not procreation specifically, but the intimate reality of marriage as a kinship – they become of the same flesh and bones – and partnership towards the covenant purpose of serving Yahweh and his kingdom.  As such, “one flesh” cannot be read as having a specifically sexual connotation.

Nor does the command to “leave father and mother” support the claims of a universal,patriarchal gender binary.  To the contrary, the commandfor the man to “leave” and “cling” stand as a stark contrast to patriarchal traditions.  In the ancient world in which Israel wrote their Scriptures, patriarchal societies demanded the woman leave her family and join the family of her husband.  This family would have been ruled by a patriarch, the eldest male.  Instead, the man leaves his family and joins his wife in the beautiful vision that is the “one flesh” of Adam and Eve.  As Custis James notes, “Only cultural eisegesis will lead to [patriarchal] conclusions.” (p. 54, cf. 49-50)

Neither Genesis 29:14 – in which Laban recognizes that Jacob is his own family by stating he is “my bone and my flesh – nor 2 Samuel 5:1 – where the tribal leaders of Israel remind David that he is a ” flesh and bone” Israelite – making an appeal to kinship as motivation for royal stewardship – diminishes this reading.

Malachi 2:15 also fails to diminish this reading.  An appeal to procreation as the normative definition of male/female, masculine/feminine rooted in marital sex/procreation only fits if one applies an inerrantist reading, wholly taking the passage outside its relevant context.

In contrast to DeYoung’s claim, this passage is part of a larger discussion about Israel’s lack of covenant faithfulness by analyzing the cultic failures of priests and people in their worship practices.  Among the accusations in Chapter 1 is the charge of making and receiving offerings that do not meet cultic standards – physically injured animals and those obtained by violent means (1:7-8, 13-14).  In these actions Israel has betrayed their father, Yahweh (1:6).

The author, in Chapter 2 separates the priests and people out for individual messages from God.  The theme running through both halves of this chapter is the abandonment of covenant through unacceptable worship practices.  The Levitical priesthood, because of the offenses described in Chapter 1, are accused of betraying their covenant with Yahweh.  Because they have failed this covenant, they are being exposed as frauds.  According to 1:10 Yahweh would rather close the temple all together than abide their unfaithful representation of him before the people.

The second half of Chapter 2, then, hones in on why the offerings of the people are being rejected. Judah has committed abomination (2:11), an accusation given context in the understanding of sexual immorality as concomitant with worship of foreign gods introduced in Leviticus 18 and 20. They have abandoned the covenant they have made to their wives before Yahweh by marrying foreign wives while taking up their gods.  They have desecrated the altar of Yahweh with profane, disrespectful offerings.

Making a linguistic connection to the accusations in 1:6, the people are told they all have “one father” in Yahweh, the “one God” who created them.  Identity as the child of Yahweh is rooted in the covenant of Abraham and the exodus.  In Exodus 4, Yahweh instructs Moses to demand that Pharaoh release his “firstborn son” Israel.

The author, in calling Yahweh father, is making an allusion here to the command to be “one flesh”.  In Genesis 2, the man is “one flesh” with his father and mother until marriage.  Then, he is to sever that “one flesh” relationship in order to establish a “one flesh” relationship with his wife.  Thus, in marrying the “daughters of foreign gods” they have forsaken their relationship with their own God by becoming one flesh with pagan deities through sexual participation in pagan cult, they have committed both idolatry and adultery.

Yahweh thus stands as witness against the unfaithfulness of Israel (Judah).  This leads to an interesting point in DeYoung’s argument.  He claims the ESV translation represents the normative approach of all translations.  However, the NRSV text of verse 15 is worded decidedly differently (and more consistently with v.10’s emphasis on Yahweh as “one God”).

Did not one God make her?  Both flesh and spirit are his.  And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth.

Yet the ESV says;

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

As I see it, the word “one” has heretofore been a referent to Yahweh.  Thus, when it occurs twice here, it seems best to take it as a reference to the “one God”, a consistent usage with 2:10.  In regards to the words “flesh and spirit” or “a portion of the Spirit”, I find the ESV closer to original language in translation, but not in usage.  The actual Hebrew says “a remnant of the breath is his”.  The word “breath” can also mean wind or spirit and is the word used in Genesis 1 for God’s presence over the waters, in the flood account for the wind which pushes aside the waters, and is used to depict God breathing life into both humans and animals in Genesis.  Given the command later in the verse to “guard yourselves” (lit. your breath) many scholars believe “spirit” is the most accurate rendering.[6].  In other words, Yahweh is saying, through the author, that he holds the power to cut them off, either literally through death or figuratively by casting them from his presence (consistent with his actions in Eden).  By betraying the “one flesh” of the marriage covenant, they have abandoned their covenant with Yahweh through adulterous and idolatrous practices.

Now, the audience is asked, what does “the one God” desire from them?  DeYoung sees this, then as a call simply to procreate.  But the question has to be asked, how do ungodly, unfaithful parents produce godly children?  More honest to the context, the notion of Godly offspring is to be read as part of God’s identity as father of all Israel.  Further, this statement leads to 3:16-18, where Yahweh promises to preserve all who are faithful as a parent rewards an obedient child.  And further, in Malachi 4 the author says that a coming future messenger (represented by the return of Elijah) will turn the parents of Israel toward their children and the children toward their parents, thus avoiding the curse of violating the covenant.

These connections help us to see that the passage is not about procreation, God is not through the author saying, “Make me more babies!” Instead, the emphasis of the passage is a return to God by the parents (Yahweh’s children) which will lead also to their children being a new godly generation, returning the nation to faithful worship of Yahweh.  The concern is not procreation specifically, but rather a larger discussion of the corruption of cultic practice and the promise of Yahweh’s faithfulness to restore them to covenant through future generations.

The theme of divorce also surfaces in Matthew 19, where DeYoung sees an undeniable presentation of gender binary – rooted in the Genesis creation narratives – as central to Jesus’ argument.   However, as I have argued elsewhere the tendency to see such concerns in this passage is purely eisegetical.

When Jesus quotes Genesis 1 (created as male and female) and Genesis 2 (for this reason…one flesh), he is not talking about gender binaries, but arguing that what has been joined in marriage by God cannot be separated by humans.  The concern of the passage is whether a man can divorce his wife for any reason, as long as he obeys Deuteronomy 24.  Jesus argues that the Mosaic Law is a consolation to human weakness, not the full will of God. Instead, the marriage covenant is one made before God and can only be dissolved if one partner has violated said covenant before their partner or God.

We can further see the weakness of DeYoung’s position by considering how the treatment of “one flesh” in 1 Corinthians 6:15-16 is similar to Malachi 2.   Because the text uses the phrase “the two shall be one flesh” in relation to prostitution, DeYoung believes this supports his claim that “one flesh” is tantamount to sex.  This is dubious at best.

Just in these verses, without further context, Paul is saying that the Corinthians have chosen to be “one flesh” with Christ, a member[7] of his body.  It is a contradiction, then, for anyone who is a member of Christ’s body to attempt to be also a member of prostitution.  They cannot be, in the proper sense of the term, “one flesh” with Christ and also be perverting the notion of “one sex” through engaging a prostitute.  It would seem the Corinthian church of the 1st century C.E and post-exilic Israel had similar struggles.

Immediately, the use of the word member in both situations – participation in the body of Christ and with the prostitute, should raise a flag that something specific is going on here.  The idea of being a “member of Christ” carries the notion of taking one’s identity from participation in the corporate embodiment of Christ for the world.  This is precisely Paul’s point in the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians and in Galatians 3.

The fuller context connects this specific passage to discussion of idolatry.  Beginning in verse 12, Paul sets out to address concerns the Corinthians had expressed in response to a previous correspondence (a letter from the Church to Paul is explicitly mentioned in 7:1).  Paul has conceived Chapter 6 as a preface to Chapter 7 and in verses 12-13 includes a handful of quotations to set up the argument he makes about men and women in1 Corinthians 7.

Most translations, thus, render verses 12-13 in the style of diatribe, with an objection or statement representing the audience in quotations followed by Paul’s response.  It should be read as a discussion and not as if all the words are coming from Paul’s own lips.  Quoting verses 12-13 will help highlight this:

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

The discussion Paul begins here, by including the word fornication (pornea), roots the discussion in the prior half of Chapter 6 as well.  Paul is making an argument about whether there is a permissible form of pornea (better rendered sexual immorality) in the Church.  This roots Paul’s discussion in his understanding of OT law.

Without rehashing a long argument here, Leviticus 18 and 20 in the Greek of the LXX are both rendered as discussions of porneia.  According to the OT author, sexual immorality is rooted not in action but orientation.  That is, in participation in pagan culture as participation in pagan cultic practice.  To take identify outside covenant in Yahweh by practicing sex in pagan culture was blasphemous, the severing of relationship with Yawheh and the cleaving to another deity (cf. Mal 2).

Thus, when Paul references porneia he has idolatrous actions in mind.  This can be seen by looking at 6:9-10 where Paul states:

Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers— none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.

This list is echoed in the Romans 1 discussion of idolatry as worshipping creation (God’s temple) instead of the deity to whom it points.  It is also notable that Romans 1 is rooted in commentary on Genesis 1-2 and Leviticus 18 and 20.  This further links Paul’s discussion of sexual immorality (fornication) to considerations of idolatry and allows us to return to the specific passage at hand.

Christians, according to Paul, are called to be one body, “one flesh” with Christ (Eph 5:25-30).  This One Flesh relationship is also to extend to our love of others through the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” as the “fulfilment of the all law (Gal 5:13-15, Rom 13:8-10).  Thus, our notion of “one flesh” is rooted in being a member of the body of Christ, relating to him in an organic relationship rooted in the radical love and grace of the cross, and then extending that love to others.

As such, when Paul speaks against being “one flesh” with a prostitute he is speaking against joining to the culture and cult of Roman society.  When the Corinthians took part in acts of prostitution, they were abandoning the “one flesh” relationship of being a body of Christ, severing their current flesh, to cleave to the perversion of flesh as idolatrous participation in an identity inconsistent with faithful worship of and participation in “the death of Christ” for the world (cf. 2 Cor 4:7-12).  Thus the claim that “one flesh” as sex in 1 Corinthians 6 seems fallacious at best.

Thus, I find it interesting that DeYoung keeps returning to the idea that God’s purpose for marriage is sex – that the calling of humanity to “be fruitful and multiply in Genesis 1 and to be ” One Flesh” in Genesis 2, Malachi 2, Matthew 19, 1 Corinthians 6, and Ephesians 5 are rooted instrictly sexual statements.  He has, in the most perplwxing fashion, formed a theology tha (1) ignores the centrality of “be fruitful” command to creation in the “image of God” and (2) assumes that “the image of God” renders all humanity as sexually motivated individuals.  In his post “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”, question 17 asks “Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional or sexual fulfillment?”  His answer, it would seem is “Yes, it points to the imago dei as procreation.” (see here for my response)

This has certainly affected his reading of Deuteronomy 25:5-6.  The passage itself is concerned with how a man’s family should treat his widow if the two did not have a son.  Already, the concern here is for the preservation of the man’s name through his son, the establishment of his legacy (v. 6).  In ancient Israelite society, lineage/family name were of the utmost importance.  What we see as insanely boring genealogies in Scripture were actually quite exciting.

Also, the concern was for protection of the widow.  Because Jewish society had little protection for single women outside their male relatives, a woman living apart from her family was very vulnerable.  She was not only vulnerable to attack, but also to people who were looking to con her out of her money/estate (cf. Mark 12; Acts 6).

As such, Deuteronomy makes provisions for the woman’s protection if she is without a son.  It is notable here that the text specifically says “son” (v. 5).  This does not preclude that the man and his wife had female children.  The issue of the text, then, cannot be on sex or procreation specifically – that the couple failed to have sex or children together – but that the name of the husband be preserved and the woman be protected.  While procreation is depicted in the phrase “go into her” it is phrasing consistent with the story of Abraham and Hagar and makes no mention of being “one flesh”.[8]

Procreation in Deuteronomy 25 is presented as necessary as a means of preserving lineage and protecting the wife, and indeed this passage affirms this as acceptable practice.  The passage, however, is not a comment on sexual practice but societal protections.  This may seem to be mere nuance, but the nuance is important here.

Likewise, it is important to consider nuance in any reading of John’s Apocalypse.  In Revelation 19, the “marriage feast of the Lamb” is hardly supportive of gender hierarchy.  Instead, the imagery is consistent with Jesus actions in the Gospels.  Jesus upset the social order by associating with tax collectors, sinners, and even praised Samaritans and Gentiles for their faith.

In Revelation, those who have been martyred and persecuted by oppressive powers for the name of the “Lamb who has been slain” are exalted to royal status themselves by being included in the family of the Lamb (Rev 7).  In fact, the conquering of the Lamb is a symbol of ironic strength demonstrated in humility and sacrifice (Rev 5).   Those who follow him are not victorious through violent conquest, but in ironic defeat which undermines the power systems and establishes God’s kingdom (Rev 20).  In their humility they have been chosen to partake in the wedding feast and are exalted in their supposed weakness.

This leads to the reign of the Lamb in the new creation (Rev 21-22).  It is a far cry to argue that John, in the midst of his apocalyptic commentary on first century Roman society, decided to shift his focus from who Christ is and the promise that the persecuted will be rewarded to take time to define masculine and feminine roles.

At this point, it seems safe to assert, despite the popularity of DeYoung’s teachings, his argument has zero biblical support.  Instead, his influence as a pastor, speaker, author and blogger shows that I am not choosing straw men, but rather I point to a larger problem within Evangelicalism’s claim to be guardians of Christian morality, particularly when it comes to sex and marriage.

We have thoroughly sought to expose any and every speck in our neighbor’s eye, rather than address the plank in our own. Yet, according to a recent article in Christianity Today conservative estimates place the number of pastors, church staff, and elders exposed by the Ashley Madison hack is no less than 400.  Consistently, statistics have shown that sex abuse, pornography addiction, and divorce rates are all rampant problems in the Church.  We have protected leaders with a wide range of moral failings, including sex predators (here and here), proud men that promote discord (here), and those who abuse Scripture to denigrate certain people both within and without Evangelicalism (here , here, and here).

All of this leads to the conclusion complementarianism is the cancer eating away at Christian witness, particularly within Evangelicalism.  It convinces men they possess all the power, that they are chosen by God to hold the highest authority, and entitled to rule in all their domains.  That the imago dei in men is discovered by recognizing that in order to be “male” we need to embrace the cultural trappings of masculinity and eschew all things “feminine”.  It results in hypersexualization of the masculine identity.  Most importantly, it sells masculinity as power maintained through spiritually abusive practices aimed at browbeating women into submission by forcing them to abdicate their God-given abilities and gifts in order to preserve delicate male egos.

As Evangelical men, we have sinned before God, before his daughters.  We have taken our identity in ourselves, apart from the revelation of God.  We have decided being a heterosexual, masculine Christian male is defined against the feminine identity of God’s daughters.  We have abandon the sisters of our youth and become “one flesh” with the bastardized, hypersexualized teachings of quasi-Christian complementarian teachings.  We must repent.

We must respect the voices of women who have experienced the abuses of power inherent to complementarian belief.  We must  heed their stories of being silenced and subjugated in the name of Christ.  We ought to be honored to hear their story. We must strive to be humble, to encounter God through the experience, wisdom, and insights of strong female voices.  We must be taught by women, we need their witness, their voice, if we are to properly hear God’s voice and discern his will. 

[1][1] Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015) pp 25-27.

[2] ibid, pp. 27-28.

[3] ibid, pp. 27-32.

[4] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, vol. 1 in World Biblical Commentary, ed. John D. W. Watts and Ralph  P. Martin (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987) pp. 59-60.

[6] M. Daniel Caroll R., “Malachi” pp 730-735 in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, ed. James D.G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

[7] Here meaning body part and not club membership.

[8] In Genesis 16, the concern is also for having a son and preserving lineage, in this case by seeking to work around Yahweh’s promise.

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10 thoughts on “Complement: In the Flesh

  1. Another great article. So many complimentarians want to overlook the order of the command – Leave, Cleave, and Be one. When in reality, NONE of them are about sex.


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