Thou Shalt Not Wear Pink: Kevin DeYoung and a Call for Clarity in the Church’s Discussion of Gender Roles

A week ago, neo-Reformed writer and church leader Kevin DeYoung weighed in on the controversy surrounding Mark Driscoll and his facebook post about effeminate worship leaders.  Instead of getting bogged down with the specifics of this particular discussion, however, DeYoung steered clear, and instead offered his insights on the larger issues of gender and cultural conformity facing the church today.

Although I firmly disagree with DeYoung’s complementarian position, I would like to draw attention to one of his points which I think seems to often get lost in this debate.

… wise faithful pastors should not be closet complementarians—who believe and do the right things when push comes to shove—but candid complementarians…. Most importantly, Christians must affirm and teach and model that men and women are different—biologically, emotionally, relationally.

Some egalitarians have seen this statement as an attack on the faithfulness of egalitarian Christians and criticize DeYoung for using this issue to further divide the church.  Instead, I see his words as an important call for clarity.

I would love to see complementarian pastors stand up and state unequivocally the scientifically verifiable biological, emotional, and relational differences between all men and all women.  If they don’t have this kind of evidence, they must loudly declare that too.

Without this clarity, as DeYoung admits, the church relies on stereotype, which undermines the real truth of Scripture and harms men, women and the gospel.

Unfortunately, DeYoung stops short of providing the clarity he calls for.  While he asserts that “Little boys need to know what it means to be a man and not a woman,” he doesn’t offer any prescription for how to identify that difference in the specific ways that the complementarian position so frequently calls for.

If more complementarians were as bold in labeling these distinctions as Driscoll has been (especially if they do it with more tact and grace), I believe we would see a shift in the way the church thinks about gender: either a large majority of complementarians would be revealed as bullies, misogynists, and ignorant bigots, or the practical truth of the complementarian philosophy would emerge from behind the confusing and seemingly illogical rhetoric.

Or, perhaps many would realize that the Bible is less clear than we would like it to be on this issue, and that the best response is permissive grace where we see evidence of God’s Spirit at work.


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