Love First, Disagree Second
(By Celeste Chute)
Editors' note: Below is part one of a four part blog series on one person's thoughts and journey about gender and gender roles.
It seems to be human nature to first look for what makes us different from each other before looking for what unites us. Titles, like complementarian and egalitarian, only make it easier to point at someone else and label them as wrong, different, or offensive. While I now hold complementarian beliefs, I’ve been both a non-Christian and an egalitarian in the past. I’ve felt from all sides the hurt and judgment that flies when these terms are brought up. So before I can talk about complementarianism and how I’ve come to see its beauty, I have to first bring up the fact that deciding on this issue isn’t ultimate; it’s not our salvation, and while I think that it’s important - I know that it is not as important as loving and calling Christ our Savior.
We are saved by grace alone. I think we forget the magnitude of that sentence. We, lowly we, sinners, grumblers, complainers, hypocrites, we. Are saved, rescued, redeemed, sanctified, glorified, justified, loved, protected, are saved. By grace alone, by God alone, without our help, despite our inadequacy, regardless of our differences, by grace alone. On one hand we forget how significant that is for our own lives; how if we really truly understood and appreciated the meaning of that sentence we would want to do nothing but praise God. On the other hand, we forget how amazing it is to find other people who have this same glorious fate!
"Regardless of what side of this issue you’re on, or I’m on, I want there to be a mutual celebration between us - a deep, true rejoicing that we are both saved by grace alone."
Regardless of what side of this issue you’re on, or I’m on, I want there to be a mutual celebration between us - a deep, true rejoicing that we are both saved by grace alone. That alone unites us, strengthens us and makes us the Church. We forget that all too often. I’ve experienced it for myself on both sides. Egalitarians have made comments to me about complementarians oppressing women. Complementarians have made comments to me about egalitarians not loving the Bible. Now, both of those comments can be true and in some cases they are, and those extreme cases should be rebuked by both complementarians and egalitarians alike. But most often, they are not true. And we are doing a disservice to ourselves, to the Church, and to the Trinity by digging trenches between us when there ought to be conversation, community, and respectful disagreement.
Whenever an issue has two sides, and someone else is on a different side than us, we tend to imagine them way on the other side. And they imagine us way on our side. Through many conversations I’ve found that most people are actually much closer to the middle. I’m still on my side, you’re still on your side, but we’re within reach. There are things we can agree on. We can still value and respect each other. We can appreciate the other view even if we don’t agree. And we can remember that we all get front row seats in heaven. We’re all doing our best to understand and interpret the Bible. All of us are going to get some things right and other things wrong. Luckily, God doesn’t hand out A+’s and C’s at the gates of heaven. You don’t get an extra hour of play time with Jesus if you figured something out better than me. I don’t get a better singing voice if I figured out something better than you. We are saved by grace alone. And I adamantly believe that we will never have healthy conversations about egalitarianism and complementarianism if we forget that. So I will say it over and over. So that you don’t forget. And so that I don’t forget either. We are saved by grace alone.