Part 3 of a 7-part series on Complementarity & Mutuality

This is the third of a 7-part series on Complementarity & Mutuality. Though our Coach has assigned husbands and wives complementary positions, He has common expectations of all His players. Complementarity AND mutuality are part of His game-winning plan for the team.

I don’t know. Chalk it up to the fact that I married an athlete, birthed boys, and have spent countless hours in the bleachers cheering for football teams, hockey teams, and volleyball teams—but I have absolutely no problem with the complementarian claim that leadership and teamwork are compatible concepts. Every winning team has a team leader. Good leaders encourage and facilitate teamwork. Every athlete knows that a team with a good leader makes for a better team than a leaderless one. Hence, why some people can’t fathom how a marriage can be characterized by both complementarity and mutuality is, quite frankly, beyond me.

Team Assignments

In His playbook, our Coach has given us some sex-specific assignments. He instructs me to respect my husband as the team leader of our family unit. He instructs my husband to be a good leader—a self-sacrificial, loving one who looks out for the best interests of his wife and family. But He also gives us both a host of instructions about His expectations of all the players on the field. Though we’ve been assigned different positions, there are many common “do’s and “don’ts”—clear responsibilities my husband and I have toward one another as members of God’s team. Our Coach says:

  • Love one another (John 15:12)
  • Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
  • Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
  • Have the same care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Be humble with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Be gentle with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
  • Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Be tenderhearted toward one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
  • Sing truth to one another (Ephesians 5:19)
  • Admonish one another in all wisdom (Colossians 3:16)
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Exhort one another every day (Hebrews 3:13)
  • Stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
  • Confess sins to one another (James 5:16)
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16)
  • Use your gifts to serve one another (1 Peter 4:10)
  • Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5)
  • Regard the other as more significant than yourself (Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Look out for the other’s interests (Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Do good and share with one another (Hebrews 13:16)
  • Don’t bite and devour one another (Galatians 5:15)
  • Don’t provoke one another” (Galatians 5:26)
  • Don’t envy one another.” (Galatians 5:26)
  • Don’t grumble against one another (James 5:9)
  • Don’t seek your own good, but the good of the other (1 Corinthians 10:24)
  • Don’t be motivated by selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3-4)
  • Increase and abound in love for one another (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
  • Love one another with a love that
    • is patient and kind
    • does not envy or boast
    • is not arrogant or rude
    • does not insist on its own way
    • is not irritable or resentful
    • does not rejoice at wrongdoing
    • rejoices with the truth.
    • bears all things
    • believes all things
    • hopes all things
    • endures all things
    • never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)

That’s quite the list! It certainly doesn’t sound like the Coach allows for one player to dominate, repress, or abuse another, does it?

The Game Plan

All of our common responsibilities are to be carried out in the context of relationships in which the Coach has delegated some players—like the husband of each family unit—the additional responsibility to provide loving team leadership in their respective corners of the field.  (Ephesians 5:21-32)

How anyone can read through this list of responsibilities, including the sex-specific responsibility of husbands to love their wives in emulation of Christ’s love for the church, and conclude that complementarity is bad for women, or that it doesn’t support mutuality, is, again, beyond me.

Yes, it’s true that some Christian men don’t take their assigned responsibility seriously. Yes, it’s true that men fail. But the same could be said of women. When I read the list, I am conscience-stricken about my own short-comings.

The fact that some players don’t carry through on the game plan doesn’t mean the plan is a bad one. Nor does it mean that we should hold a collective mutiny and declare a free-for-all on the field. It just means that we need to work harder to execute the game plan in the way our Coach has designated.

It’s absolute nonsense to say that complementarity means that men and women can’t be team players. Complementarity and mutuality are both important parts of God’s game-winning plan.

(Stay tuned. My next post is entitled: Covenant Sex—where Complementarity and Mutuality Kiss. In it, I’ll get down to some of the nitty gritty questions that prompted this whole series.)

This Post is Part of a 7-Part Series

Are authority and  submission an erotic necessity?  Does complementarity create one-way relationships? Is sex something a man does to a woman? Those were the hot questions that prompted this 7-part series on complementarity and mutuality. You can browse through the articles on the post slider below, or head over to see all the posts in the series.

Complementarity: No One-Way Relationships Here [Intro]

Does complementarity create one-way relationships? Is sex something a man does to a woman? Those were the hot questions that prompted this 7-part series.

Complementarity: Mutuality is the Cha Cha [Part 1]

Complementarity fosters mutuality. Complementary male-female roles take us from doing a march to doing a dance. Cha Cha Cha!

Complementarity: The Red Pill or the Blue Pill? [Part 2]

Complementarity versus mutuality is oft presented as an either-or scenario. But that’s a false dilemma. It’s a pill we don’t have to swallow.

Complementarity: The Game Winning Plan [Part 3]

Though different, men and women have mutual obligations toward one another. Complementarity AND mutuality are part of God’s game-winning plan.

Complementarity: Sex in the Shadowlands [Part 4]

Living in the shadowlands means that everything good -like sex- points to something even better. So just imagine the fireworks that are still to come!

Complementarity: Necessities for God-Glorifying Sex [Part 5]

Christ’s ideal for sex is exceedingly stringent. So stringent, that it left his disciples’ jaws dropping on the floor. So what are the “erotic necessities” for God-Glorifying sex?

Complementarity: More Necessities for God-Glorifying Sex [Part 6]

Complementarity provides the context for the best pleasure-filled fulfilling sex a human might experience. It’s the winner. Bar none. Hands down.

Complementarity: Seeing the Forest for the Trees [Part 7]

When it comes to complementarity, it’s important not to miss the forest for the trees, but it’s also important to keep the thesis nailed to the church door.