My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” James 2:1-4
In spite of the principle clearly laid out in James 2:1-4, complementarians teach respect of persons based on sex. All we need to do is change a few words in James, and it is easy to see that the principle fits for gender, too.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with strong muscles and male equipment, and there come in also a dainty woman with female equipment; and ye have respect to him that hath the male genitals, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the dainty woman, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” James 2:1-4
By putting women in a secondary place, they, too have become judges with evil thoughts. Only, they excuse it by calling it roles; rightful, God-decreed roles. I suppose the wealthy could say that, too. Because they are wealthy, they deserve greater respect, and they have a different role than the poor or the middle class. The wealthy should make the rules, after all, they are smarter than all the poorer folk, how else could they have amassed so much money? After all, doesn't Proverbs 22:7 say “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”? Aren't those God-decreed words, too? Why haven't churches made a doctrine out of them, and decreed that the wealthy are to rule the poor?
Yet, that is exactly what they have done to women. Just as is prophesied to Eve in Genesis 3:16 “thy desire to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” is what pastors and husbands are doing to wives, and decreeing that it is to be so by the command of God. And they add to it by twisting the scripture and claiming that a passage that indicates that Eve would crave the cherishing she at one time got from Adam, actually means she wants to rule over him, and therefore all husbands should take control over their wives. They sound quite Ahasuerus-esque.
Yet, they do not make absolute rules and insist that the rich shall rule the poor, even though that pronouncement is in the Bible, too. In fact, they could bolster their teaching with Proverbs 18:11a “A rich man's wealth is his strong city” and Proverbs 18:23b “but the rich answereth roughly” and Proverbs 14:20b “the rich hath many friends,” just as they bolster “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” with “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” and by head they mean authority, in spite of the fact that the context of the passage does not convey that meaning, and instead conveys the meaning of sacrificial servant or source who pours himself out for his wife's benefit, which is spelled out to husbands just a few verses later. And the verse that introduces the passage tells all Christians to submit to one another. Just like the verses I quoted from Proverbs, they ignore the phrase directly before or after the one they choose to emphasize, as well as other verses in the same passage.
And they definitely ignore the many verses that are commands from God, even those spoken by Jesus, that we are NOT to take authority over others like the Gentile sinners do.
“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them, But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”Since they insist on exercising dominion and authority over their wives, according to Jesus, they are like the “princes of the Gentiles” and not disciples of Jesus. I realize that sounds harsh, but Jesus said it, not I.
Jesus also said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words...He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” John 14:23-24. Are men who claim to follow Jesus actually going to follow a twisted interpretation of Paul's words, instead of following the straightforward words of Jesus?
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See www.wanetadawn.com A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.