Complementarian Questions

I am a theologically reformed complementation. And if you define those terms like I do, I’m unashamed of those labels.

But I have a lot of questions. I’m doing what I can to answer these questions, but it’s been difficult to find good answers, and to be honest, I still have far more questions than answers. Here are some of my questions:

1) What does it look like in a complementarian marriage, when the wife has more of a inclination toward theology? Is it wrong for the wife to pursue theological education beyond what her husband has?

What I think is the right answer, but am not sure of: I think that no, it is not inherently wrong. But, it might be if it makes the man’s job of leading more difficult. It seems that it’s a wife’s responsibility to aid her husband – which means not being intentionally difficult. So education might fall into that category in some marriages.

2) What does it look like in a complementarian marriage, when the wife has more of an inclination toward learning in general? Is it wrong for the wife to pursue education at a level beyond her husband?

What I think is the right answer, but am not sure of: No, with the same qualification as number one.

3) What does it look like in a complementarian marriage, when the husband is the “feeler” and the wife is the “thinker?”

I honestly have no idea what this should look like. Sometimes it feels like we’re doing everything wrong. We’re learning slowly, though I think.

4) What does it look like when a complementarian wife struggles to feel competent and excited to keep up a household?

Possible Answer: I don’t have an answer. But what I think it looks like is to at least make an effort. Do what you can, and accept help when it’s offered. I’m thankful for a gracious husband. 

These are hard questions with difficult answers. But let me close with a list of people and resources that have helped me with some of these questions.

  • Margaret Kostenberger. The wife of a New Testament professor at Southeastern Seminary, she holds a Ph.D. in Thelogy and Women’s studies from a seminary in South Africa. She’s currently piloting Women’s Studies program at Southeastern. Her very existence is inspiring to me – a conservative, complementarian, woman, scholar?? Unheard of.
  • Mary Kassian. Also pursuing a Ph.D. from the same seminary that Dr. Kostenberger received her degree from. She’ll be professing at Southeastern as well, I think.
  • Carolyn Mahaney wrote a book called Feminine Appeal. I didn’t find all of the book helpful, but there was one part where she describes the authority that women are given over the home. It helped me begin to see the home as something not to manage in a “chore” sort of way, but as a sort of kingdom under my rule. I’m not sure what it says about me that it helped me so much, but it really did help, and I feel much more excited about taking care of my home now.
  • Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. I can’t even begin to express my appreciation for this brave woman. She’s smart, with conviction borne through an intense struggle. I can’t wait to see how her ministry develops over the next several years. I bought two copies of her book, Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert, just so that I could lend one out. I’ve never done that before.