Monday, 15 April 2013

Why I am a Complementarian (pt2) - Creation

I'm not 100% sure how to order this series, but I thought starting with Creation is always a good place to start. If you are looking for an accumulation of evidence pointing to one argument throughout this series you will be disappointed. Posts in this series will merely be a scattering of different points. I am reminded by what G. K. Chesterton said about why he believes in Christianity in his book Orthodoxy:
If I am asked, as a purely intellectual question, why I believe in Christianity, I can only answer, “For the same reason that an intelligent agnostic disbelieves in Christianity.” I believe in it quite rationally upon the evidence But the evidence in my case, as in that of the intelligent agnostic, is not really in this or that alleged demonstration; it is in an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts.
 It is these "small but unanimous facts" that I see in the Bible that makes me lean towards being a complementarian.

There are two creation accounts at the start of the Bible and it is best not to conflate the two otherwise you may run into problems.

Genesis 1:1-2:3 gives a wide angle shot of God creating everything. It is in this account we have God acting in each day of the week saying "it was good", "it was good" until the sixth day when "it was very good" and so he rested on the seventh day.

In Genesis 2:4-24 there is another creation account, but this one is more focused on man. It is in this story you have things like Eve been taken out of Adam from a rib. If you mash these two stories together you have a very long sixth day, as in that day you would have Adam been created first, feel lonely, name all the animals, be put in a deep sleep and then have Eve introduced. I'm not saying that is impossible, I'm just saying maybe we should read each account for their own purpose and not conflate the two. (This series is not about about my position on the literal or not-literal days in Genesis, but you might guess my position here.)

In this post I am only going to look at the first creation account in Genesis 1:1-2:3, my next post in this series will look at the second creation account.

In summary, Genesis 1:1-2:3 is split into different days where God speaks and things get made. What is evident in this creation account, and comparative religious theologians go nuts about, is the absents of evil or bad things in this account. Unlike every other creation account in the ancient world, the universe is made without war, or someone killing something else, or from some sort of good vs evil balance. Everything has its place and it is good. In each day we see at least two opposite things that are made, but these opposites are not against each other, these opposites are good and have their purpose. You could almost say that these opposites complement each other...

Here is my quick summary:

Day 1 (Gen 1:1-5): God separated light from darkness calling them "Day" and "Night".
Day 2 (Gen 1:6-8): God separated the water to form an expanse calling that "Heaven".
Day 3 (Gen 1:9-13): God separated the water to form land calling that "Earth" and the waters "Seas". God calls forth forth vegetation to grow on the earth
Day 4 (Gen 1:14-19): God calls forth lights in the sky. There are two great lights one for the Day and one for the Night.
Day 5 (Gen 1:20-23): God calls forth animals to swim in the water and birds to fly over the Earth.
Day 6 (Gen 1:24-31): God calls forth animals for the Earth. God then makes man in His own image to have dominion over all the animals and the Earth, "male and female he created them".
Day 7 (Gen 2:1-3): God rests as everything has been completed.

Here we see that light and darkness were made together. They are different but related and neither is bad. Their differences are needed to perform different good functions. The sky and water are different but needed and neither is bad. Both are needed. The sea and earth is needed but they are different but related... The land and plants are needed... The sea animals and birds are different but related.... Animals and people are different but related...

So maybe, just maybe at the end of all this we could say that Male and Females are different but related. Neither is bad, in fact both are "very good". Their differences are needed to perform different functions. Now what functions am I talking about? What the text has God saying to both sexes:
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Both male and females are needed to get this done. Especially in the first part of multiplying the males will have a different role to the females in this task. They will not be doing the exact same equal task. I won't expand on this part, but if you are unsure, go ask your parents.

Males and females are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27), but they are not exactly the same. If they were exactly the same then they would both be males, or both females. Instead they are different and yet both are equal and "very good" (Gen 1:31).

So in this creation account we have lots of things in our universe being equal in nature but different in roles. This is not a knock down argument for the complementarian, but I think in the context of this account you see lots of two's that complement each other, and it would be silly to exclude males and females in this.

I think the purpose of this creation account is to show that despite there existing two different but related things, like night and day, water and earth, sun and moon, fish and birds and even males and females, that everything is good and has its purpose in this universe.

The second creation account will bring about the sexes differences more explicitly.

Related links:
Why I am a Complementarian (pt1) The Issue - Pointing out what this issues is about
Why I am a Complementarian Calvinist Amillennial Christian - The bigger intro to this whole series


  1. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

    Owen here. Good post!

    A few thoughts...
    I also think being made male and female is part of being made in God’s image. Reflecting (somewhat) the trinity.

    Now to jump ahead a bit,
    Yes, men and women complement one another. Does this mean male headship in every married relationship? I don’t think so. Could the way men and women complement one another vary relationship to relationship; depending on personalities, time (as people age and change) and ... culture?

    All of which might raise questions: How exactly do I understand the trinity? What about unmarried men and women? What about women teaching? If anyone’s curious (or concerned) about my thoughts on these topics, talk to me.

  2. Hey Owen,

    Thanks for posting.

    You have jumped ahead a bit :)

    The issue of marriage will be brought up in this series don't be alarmed. I would like to hear your (Biblical) reasons why male headship doesn't apply in every marriage. In my thinking I don't think I have approached it in a universalised manner to every single marriage full stop, but the way I approach it this that it is the normative, standard, common, most clearly position of marriage in the Bible. I would like to know your exceptions and reasons.

    I have been waiving on my position of the Trinity argument. My hesitation is to anthropomorphise God to apply to a human relationship, but on the other hand (as pointed out to me by someone recently) 1 Cor 11:3 does say that the head of Christ is God, who I take to mean the Father...

    Woman teaching will mostly come up in this series as well. I think, right now I agree with Dickson's conclusion in his Hearing Her Voice book, but maybe not his argument (which is based on 1 Timothy 2:12)

  3. What about all those things in creation working in a team? Sun and moon team etc......

  4. Does male headship mean that the male makes all the decisions? What decisions does he make and what decisions does she make? What if the husband makes a decision that is unbiblical does the woman let it go unchallenge but suffer the same consequences like Ananias and Sapphira.

    Some women are gifted as money managers and some men not? Some women provide for the family while the man looks after the kids. Some women are the spiritual teaches in the family as the man can be too busy and too tired to pray and read to their children. What happens to shift workers who don't see their children at night?

    Then there are single parents both men and women who take on both roles and do a marvellous job. What do we say about headship to them?

  5. Hi Anonymouses (or is it Anonymi... I have no idea),

    Anon (20th April): I am not sure what you are asking. Yes things are created in a team, they complement each other, they do not compete against each other. Both sides of the debate would agree to this. One side would be minimise that even on teams, you have captains, team leaders, rank...

    Anon (23rd April): Like Owen, we might be jumping ahead a bit. (It seems everyone has their hangups on his and merely mentioning the issue brings up their issues, regardless of the relevance to the current point.)

    Most of your questions come down to your own discernment. The Bible sets a framework, but it doesn't answer every single question, some things are up for you to make your own decision withing that framework. Yes Christianity forces you to think.

    Maybe latter in this series I might make a post giving my own answer to all the random questions I have so far gotten asked on this topic (regardless of the point in the main post).

    Your mentioning of shift workers is a real example for me, as my Dad worked shift work since I was in high school. He would rotate working one week of each day, afternoon and night. When he was working afternoon and nights I wouldn't see him a whole heap. In some circumstances you have to do what you have to do.

    Like I said to Owen "In my thinking I don't think I have approached it in a universalised manner to every single marriage full stop, but the way I approach it this that it is the normative, standard, common, most clearly position of marriage in the Bible."

    Everyone wants to be an exception to the rule, my challenge is for you to first consider that you are actually the norm, not the exception and then provide some sort of Biblical reason for those exceptions, rather than some sort of cultural reason why male headship in marriage is wrong.