On the topic of “women in ministry,” we typically discuss two viewpoints: complementarian and egalitarian. Like a good Westerner, there are of course two options. Whenever I hear there are two options, it makes me nervous. I wonder if we are squeezing the topic into a western mold.
Let me use a different example. In the old days, when I was a young minister (and dinosaurs roamed the earth), we said there were two Baptist views on the Lord’s Supper: Open and Closed. “Open Communion” meant anyone could participate. “Closed Communion” meant only members could participate. The problem was that for some “closed communion” folks, members meant only members of that specific local church. Others meant only members of another Baptist church or a church of like faith and order. Thus, there were really three positions: open, close, and closed communion.
Now to go back to the complementarian and egalitarian debate.
I have lots of female students who believe God has called them to ministry, but they insist (in strong terms) that this never meant a senior pastor. Some of those students call themselves complementarian; some of them call themselves egalitarian. Interestingly, my staunch complementarians don’t want them because they insist God has called them to ministry. Some of my staunch egalitarians don’t want them because they have excluded senior pastor from their list of options. The egalitarians insist these women are complementarians while the complementarians insist they are egalitarian.
So, perhaps there is a third option. I have decided to call them complegalitarians.