Trevin Wax recently wrote a blog post entitled The Crazy Culture of Complementarianism. He leads off with the pithy observation that “Right beliefs do not always lead to healthy cultures” and then goes on to discuss some of the “crazy” results of complementarianism that he’s noticed, such as the “unexpressed expectation that the godliest women have quiet and introverted personality types, and cannot be assertive and outgoing.”
I applaud Wax for pointing out some of the problems that have become associated with complementarianism. But he concludes that “It’s the culture of complementarianism that needs to be renewed and restored. Because there’s nothing crazier than taking a beautiful picture of the gospel and making a new law out of it.”
Maybe so. Or maybe it’s the complementarian position itself that gives rise to these problems. Wax is blaming the cooks in the kitchen for a failed recipe, but sometimes it’s the recipe itself that’s to blame. For example, here’s an actual recipe for Mud Pie from a school booster club fundraiser cookbook:
No matter how hard you try to follow that recipe down to every exact detail, you’re going to run into problems, starting with the first ingredient and ending with the not-so-detailed instructions.
Here’s a recipe for the Strawberry Cream Cake from Cook’s Illustrated:
If you follow those step-by-step instructions, taking the necessary time and putting forth the necessary effort, making sure to use the right ingredients and following all the hints and tips, you’re practically guaranteed to end up with something amazing.
Wax and many of his fellow complimentarians think that they’re following a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for gender roles — that each step and guideline is clearly described and carefully annotated, and that if you just follow the instructions carefully enough, you’ll end up with a delectable dessert.
But when your dish fails to turn out time and time again, it might be time to reconsider the recipe you’ve been using. Maybe it’s time to reassess the ingredients and the steps involved in putting them together. Maybe it’s not your fault that the plan isn’t working, maybe it’s just time for a new plan. Because there’s nothing crazier than following the same recipe and expecting different results.