I originally started writing a comment on the post Praying with women pastors but then I couldn’t figure out how to comment on that blog and so I grew this into it’s own post. This post mentions how the issue of how complementarians should interact with egalitarians can impact missionary outreach, in making it harder to cooperate. But I would like to mention also, we should not overlook the advantages of the complementarian view. People from more traditional non-western cultures sometimes have the impression the accepting western culture, or accepting protestant christianity, means you get egalitarianism shoved down your throat. If the idea is present that disregarding all gender differences (but the most undeniably ones) is fundamental to western thought and western christianity, then complementarians need to be open and vocal about the fact that there is a stream of thought within western society that does recognize deep gender difference and values unique gender roles. I think it is important to model valuing and cherishing women without erasing an understand of their different and distinct role in society.
I grew up in a culture where the wider society was egalitarian in many ways. I’m comfortable with that and I’m not above taking advantage of some of the benefits that gives me. (Though I do think that monkeying with things like physical requirement to encourage women firefighters or women infantry soldiers is ridiculous.) But I don’t think the approach of civil society here in the US is the only one the Bible allows for. Genders being equivalent before the law works fairly well in the context of American culture and American economic conditions. But a cookie cutter duplicate of that system will not necessarily work as well in a different culture of different economic conditions.
Too often when I hear stories of women being abused or routinely mistreated in foreign cultures, The only ideas I hear being offered for how to address this are based on the idea of importing American notions of gender relations, or perhaps an even more extreme version of gender equality. The message these women need is not “Come on, you can do it, stand on your own two feet.“ the message they need is, “You deserve protection, you deserve care, the community has an obligation to recognize your vulnerability and make provision for you in light of that.” I think complementarians should be coming forward with calls to chivalry. We should be calling for efforts to protect rather than penalize women. We should be advocating for ways woman's unique gifts and be pursued and nurtured.
And just today I found this wonderful post about a complementarian outreach. This is the sort of thing I hope we will not only continue to do but extend.