A Real Complementarian Stands Up

Yesterday I wrote in response to Rachel Held Evans’ post “Will the real complementarian please stand up?”

She has since added a few more questions to her list, so here’s my further thoughts:

I don’t think that’s a good measure at all. And to make it the primary one? It’s not only highly subjective, but the relevant connection necessary to justify making a negative sensation like feeling “threatened” the measuring stick of appropriate leadership and authority, is not at all clear to me.

Adam and Eve

Good question. Again, for Catholics there isn’t a problem, since the difference between the way a priest or bishop teaches and the way any layperson does, whether a man or a woman, is pretty clear. [At least, this is clear to me. I apologise if anyone is reading this and just going, “This priesthood thing solves NOTHING! What’s she on about?!]

It doesn’t teach this. Perhaps the best quote I’ve ever heard about how masculinity and femininity differ goes something like this:

Both men and women are called to strive for virtue (with love of God as the pinnacle of this obviously), and, depending on whether the individual person in question is male or female, those virtues as lived out by them, as appropriate to their particular circumstances, will take on a masculine or feminine hue. ~ Dietrich von Hildebrand

Ok that was massively paraphrased, sorry Dietrich. But I guess this question is really digging a little deeper into the profound mystery of what it really means, metaphysically, at the most fundamental level, to be male and female. Something I might go into more another time.

Stay posted: totally planning a (highly provocative) post on why Catholics are the only ones truly able to be “real complementarians”.



3 thoughts on “A Real Complementarian Stands Up

  1. Julia Smucker says:

    The complication here is that Evans is involved in a fundamentally Protestant debate. What she is responding to is a certain right-wing strand of Evangelicalism that is no less divergent from Catholic teaching than her own view. That’s why pretty much all your answers to her “Why do you say this?” questions are, “Um, we don’t.”

    By the same token, though, I like that you are showing how the Catholic tradition cuts through those left/right dichotomies to what I think in this case is a happy medium (not that there isn’t a wide range of perspectives within Catholicism itself, but that’s another subject).

    • Monica says:

      Hi Julia.

      Yes, this was exactly my aim! One could do the same with many inter-denominational disagreements.

      In this case what I arrived at was a position that affirms the equality in dignity that egalitarians are so focused on upholding, and that also affirms the uniqueness of men and women, such that, hopefully, one can see that the word “complementary” is one that we would like to use in reference to men and women, insofar as it does not entail all the dodgy interpretations brought up in the questions.

      PS Julia Vox Nova looks awesome. Keen to do some reading!

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