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Should Women Preach Or Lead In The Church? Maybe…

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While being interviewed by key leaders for a teaching pastor position, an elder asked me whether I was a complementarian or egalitarian. I confidently stated that I was a complementarian, and then began down the long list of women pastors on my spiritual journey. The group looked more and more uncomfortable the further I went until the lead pastor finally interrupted, “Are you sure you are complementarian?” I immediately realized my mistake: “Oh, I’m sorry, I meant egalitarian.”

You could feel the air turn to lead in the room. It would have been better if I’d have said I was a satanist. Elders suddenly remembered they had urgent appointments elsewhere, and staff had an urgent need to get back to their offices. Soon the group dwindled to me, the lead pastor and one clueless staff member who was still hoping for a free lunch. The pastor, who’d invited me to the interview, looked like I’d kicked him a few inches below his gut. He gave me a quick tour of the building and then invited me back to his office. Once inside, I tried to ease the tension with a joke. “Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” He apologized profusely and admitted he should have vetted my theology of women (Is that a thing? Feminology?) before dragging me through the inquisition. We agreed to remain friends, knowing we’d never work together at a church. 

And that’s how I learned the difference between complementarian and egalitarian.

My views have continued to morph, however, in the years since. After a lifetime of study, experience, thinking and prayer I have finally decided I am both complementarian and egalitarian. I’m a  complegalitarian.

Complegalitairan: In some contexts and cultures women are gifted, qualified, and called to lead, preach, and exercise authority in the church. In other contexts and cultures those roles are better served by men.