Missing the Point
Sometimes I think that there are more “conflicts” within evangelicalism than there are between us and “the world.” Recently I’ve been following an online discussion that started between John Piper and Warren Throckmorton on the subject of Calvinism vs Armenianism, and in particular the tension between divine sovereignty and free will . Both of these men have strong evangelical credentials, both clearly love God; yet they differ on this point. The sad part is that, after they each stated their positions, followers of the two views immediately launched an acrimonious “war” on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
I’ve often wondered where the church could be if the emotional and spiritual energy, to say nothing of the time, that we put into these conflicts could be directed to the actual mission we have. Yet instead of setting them aside we seem to constantly develop new ones.
Over the last 25 years or so one area of conflict has been between complementarianism and egalitarianism. While much has been written by and about people in these two camps I’ve never been fully comfortable with either term. Although you would never know it from the attack articles written about them, no complementarian denies the equality before God of men and women and no egalitarian says there are no differences between men and women.
For this reason I’ve pretty much given up using either term, so muddied are they by smears and attacks. In the home, between husband and wives, these two positions essentially devolve down into a belief in male authority or equal partnership. Is the husband the final authority? Or do husbands and wives share that authority equally?
You would think that if either of these choices was right, or to use Christianese was “biblical”, you would begin to see evidence of this as millions of Christian marriages play out. The marriages in one camp or the other would be happier and this would be evident to all who knew them. Conversely, in the “wrong” view, you would see patterns of marital failure. And, in fact, both sides say that those patterns are there. But the evidence they offer tends to be anecdotal, not statistical. The stories are true, sometimes horrifyingly so, but the contradicting stories are equally true.
Over the years I have seen good Christian marriages in both camps. I’ve also seen marriages fail in both camps. I can’t help but think, in this particular argument at least and perhaps in other squabbles we have, that we are missing the point entirely. Is it possible that, regardless of whether you believe in husbandly authority or equal partnership, there is something else that is the deciding factor in a good marriage?
I think there is. I tend to think that a good marriage is based on the love, respect, and consideration the spouses show to each other. Wouldn’t it be funny if, when we get to heaven, we found God entirely uninterested in which marital model we chose? If the structure we hashed out through hours and hours of Bible study was of no interest to Him? My advice to both camps is that, when you stand before the throne, prepare yourself to see Jesus to shrug his shoulders when you bring it up.
In the meantime, go ahead and chose your model. My wife and I have and we are happy with it. I suspect that so long as love, respect and consideration are there, you will be too.