Complementarian or Egalitarian

Those are two “high-dollar” words! Actually, we have to briefly address them because these two words are used by theologians to describe two different interpretations of the roles of women as taught in the Bible. Both of these views have representatives from across the evangelical community who embrace either one respectively. In other words, competent and Godly men and women, who love the Bible and are committed to its authority, disagree about the roles of women in the church and society. Consequently, we will approach the topic with grace and humility!

Here is a summation of these two views:

         COMPLEMENTARIAN: This view espouses the belief that God created human beings in His image – both male and female. They are equal before God as individuals. God created them to live in complementary relationship to each other. The proponents of this view maintain that the husband is to be the head of the wife in a marriage relationship. Further, the theologians in this camp teach that there are certain leadership, governing and teaching roles in the church that are only available to men.

The best source I know of to assist you in better understanding this interpretation is an organization known as The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Its website is and it contains many sources to assist anyone in exploring this particular view.

The CBMW has both a board of directors and a list of council members. These two entities include folks like Albert Mohler, Dorothy Patterson, John Piper, Daniel Akin and Russell Moore.

         EGALITARIAN: This view also espouses that God created both men and women in His image as equals before Him. The proponents of this view maintain that the passages in the Bible that have been traditionally interpreted to place limitations on the role of women have been misunderstood and/or misinterpreted. It is their view that men and women alike may serve God in any capacity in the church based upon spiritual giftedness and a calling from God. This view espouses the equality (hence the designation, egalitarian) of humanity, regardless of gender.

The best representation of this view that I have found is an organization known as Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE). Its website is – and it contains many resources that further explain this particular view.

The CBE has both denominations and institutions as members. For example, its membership list includes: Fuller Theological Seminary, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, George Fox Evangelical Seminary, American Baptists, Church of the Brethren, Reformed Church of America, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Christian Reformed Church, Church of the Nazarene, Salvation Army, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of America and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The statement of faith adopted by the CBE has been affirmed by conservative biblical scholars like F.F. Bruce, Todd Still, Gilbert Bilezikian, Gordon Fee, Richard Foster, Stan Gundry, Catherine Allen, Alan Johnson, Walter Kaiser, Scot McKnight and Sally Morgenthaler.