What We Can Teach Our Kids about Complementarianism
What can we teach our kids about complementarianism?
Teach them the truth. Teach them that through a series of divine commands, God—the Master Artist—created everything seen and unseen. He made light out of darkness. He made the earth and sky, the sun and the moon, the land and the sea, the plants and animals, and he made us, humans—male and female. Everything was beautiful and everything was perfectly complementary. Harmony and peace filled creation and God’s shalom graced all that he had made. God smiled over his creation and called what he created “very good.”
Teach them that to biblically understand their identity, it’s necessary to view maleness and femaleness first as expressions of the imago dei and second in juxtaposition to each other. You can offer them the following definitions:
Masculinity is the essence of manhood that reflects a man’s imago dei through a disposition to responsibly embrace his God-given roles to fulfill the creation mandate (Gen. 1:26–28). This generally includes pursuing and assuming the role of spiritual leadership, serving as provider and protector as a husband and a father. Men also ought to have a disposition to fulfill the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16–20), which assumes they will also embrace the responsibility of spiritual leadership in the church as it seeks to make and mature disciples of the nations.
Femininity is the essence of womanhood that reflects a woman’s imago dei through a disposition to embrace her God-given roles to fulfill the creation mandate, which generally includes but is not limited to accepting the role of helper as a wife and nurturer as a mother, and the Great Commission, which assumes she will use her God-given spiritual gifts in the church to help make disciples of the nations.
Also teach them that since God made everything, there is an objective reality to creation. What really is really exists because God really made what really is. Reality isn’t subject to our feelings, perspective, or orientation. The sun isn’t the moon and the moon isn’t the sun. The sun and moon are what God made them to be, and so too are we what God made us to be. Tell them that Aristotle was right when he explained, “To say of what is, that it is not, and of what is not, that it is, is false; while to say of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not, is true.”
All truth, therefore, is God’s truth because God made everything that is. Yet teach them that the Creator gave us special revelation—the Bible—to know the truth about who he is and who we are as the crown of his creation. The Bible reveals that God created all humans in his image, according to his likeness. Teach your sons and daughters that this positional reality is not gained by their utilitarian competence. They are over and above everything else in creation like God by virtue of simply being humans—male and female.
And yet, teach them that in order to fully reveal what they truly are, they need to fully depend upon God. Teach them that by God’s design, as both sons and daughters, they share equally in honor and dignity as His representatives in creation. Teach them that their understanding of masculinity and femininity and their God-given roles starts on the clear footing of this equality. They must never move away from it.
Teach them with conviction that while men and women share equally in dignity, men and women are intrinsically different by God’s design and intent. He made two sexes, only two! (Gen 1:27) Tell them that Jesus confirmed this when he says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matt. 19:4) So teach them that God determines the ontological reality of their sex from conception. Then explain how in our fallen world sinners establish cultures that promote false notions of masculinity and femininity. Then affirm how God made maleness and femaleness to ontologically express masculinity and femininity over a range of traits.
In summary, teach your sons and daughters that complementarianism faithfully teaches the biblical view that God made humans male and female to equally reflect his honor and dignity with differing roles (in the home and church) that cohere in such a way that the man leads and the woman helps. God designed us for these gender-based roles so that we would fulfill the creation mandate to fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over it (Gen 1:28); and to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples of the nations (Matt 28:16-20).
As a parent, aim to faithfully teach your sons and daughter the truth about God; teach them the truth about who they are both in and of themselves and in relationship to others. Also strive by God’s grace to model what you are teaching your sons and daughters to be—radiant beams of God’s spectacular glory as masculine men and feminine women. Teach them to love all their neighbors well, especially those who struggle with these truths. Tell them that we have a real enemy, Satan, who deceives the nations, and that the heart of the lost is deceitfully wicked.
At the same time, boldly affirm to them that the Bible’s story is a redemptive story—that God sends Christians into the world to proclaim that Jesus died and rose again on behalf of sinners, and he saves all who turn from sin to trust in Him. Confidently teach your children that if they trust in Jesus, he will progressively transform them into the men and women that he created and died for them to be.
And after you’ve taught them all that, pray and trust God with the outcome.