Is “New Wave” complementarianism really new?

3 May

From Kevin DeYoung:

I’ve watched with great interest over the past few weeks as a constellation of blog posts have come out calling for a fresh complementarianism. The articles seem to be advocating for a third way between complementarianism and egalitarianism, or at least for an awareness that traditional complementarians have many weaknesses and egalitarians are asking a lot of good questions. The message often has an apologetic edge: we are complementarians, but not the ones you’re used to.

The most explicit post along these lines is Wendy Alsup’s article on new wave complementarianism. The piece struck a nerve, prompting many women to write comments to the effect, “I agree with everything you’ve said. I’ve been wanting someone to say this for years.” Alsup’s article, and others like it, have been recommended and retweeted by some of my good friends. There is something about the idea of a “new wave” of complementarianism that some—I’m not sure if it’s few, several, or many, so I’ll stick with some—find attractive.

I’ve been wrestling for a couple weeks now about how to respond to Alsup’s post (or if I should respond at all). I don’t want to turn something small into something bigger than it needs to be, and I don’t want to discourage new complementarian voices (often women) from being heard. And yet, something about these posts, and Alsup’s in particular, leaves me unsettled. With that in mind, I’d like to ask one specific question and raise one general caution.

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