• Gender Complementarianism Does Not Adequately Address, or Address At All, Incompetent, Loser, Or Incapacitated Men

Gender Complementarianism Does Not Adequately Address, or Address At All, Incompetent, Loser, Or Incapacitated Men

That gender complementarianism plays a role in domestic violence and cannot effectively deal with it should be beyond dispute at this point, but arguing on those grounds would require another post or two all on its own (or visit A Cry For Justice blog to see numerous examples, and at least one former post of mine for more).

That gender complementarianism is meaningless to divorced, never married, and widowed women, as well as to childless and child-free women (and perhaps to single men as well), should be quite obvious, but is, also, I feel, deserving of a post all on its own, possibly some day.

For now, I want to direct your attention to cases that don’t pertain to domestic violence.


I, Daisy, was engaged to a few years to a guy I shall call “Burt” (which was not his real name).

Burt managed to get a high school diploma but never went on to college.

In the first few months when we first began dating, Burt did tell me that he had been tested in school and it was determined that he could not read past a junior high school level.

At the time, I didn’t quite know what that meant, or did not fully appreciate what it meant.

I had gone to college once with a guy who had dyslexia, and though that guy was a slower reader than I was, he was of average intellect. So, I thought, my ex was maybe just telling me he was slower at reading than most people. Did I ever under-estimate things.

Turns out that my ex, Burt, was as dumb as a box of rocks and pretty laissez faire about paying bills on time.

Here is a story or two I shared at another blog before about my ex, and other stories I read about:

My ex, “Burt,” was, in all seriousness (I am not saying this to be cruel) an idiot. The guy could barely read.

I didn’t realize just how dense he was until a few years into our relationship. (I think I was in denial about his very low intellect the first few years we were together, or I had a hard time accepting anyone could be as slow as he was.)

Sometimes my ex would approach me with a letter he got in the mail, or he’d point to a sign on a store’s door, and ask me to read it to him, because he could not read it for himself.

So. To the complementarian in this thread who is promoting complementarian “male headship,” I ask you:

How exactly is it a woman is supposed to have a man lead her and read Scripture to her, if the dude can barely read?

I had to read to my ex, because he was slow. I was more intelligent than my ex.

Please explain to me how it is you think a guy who is so dim-witted should be in charge of, or lead, or teach his girlfriend or wife the Bible – or to do anything else in a leadership capacity?

Is there something inherent in a penis that bestows leadership abilities magically into a man?

(I’m not seeing the “why” explained by complementarian for any of this, the ones who don’t dare run to the “chicks are more easily deceived” rationale – that one no longer plays, for various reasons, such as this one.)


Then, there are men who are in car accidents or who develop dementia.

There was a story online a few years ago about a married couple, where the Marine husband came back from Iraq or Afghanistan literally drooling and in a wheelchair because he had been hit by an I.E.D.

He came back home partially paralyzed, couldn’t talk, and was brain damaged.

When this man came back home, his wife had to take over ALL responsibilities, because the husband was incapable of doing anything anymore.

If I am not mistaken, the story about the Marine who came back home paralyzed and in a wheelchair was promoted on a complementarian site.

The complementarian site was promoting this marriage as a wonder of complementarianism, because even though the wife took over all roles and duties of a stereotypical, traditional husband and wife couple, the complementarians at the site were dishonestly, and strangely, pointing to that marriage as a case of ‘male headship’ done right.

This was even though, in spite of the fact, the wife in that marriage had to take over the “male headship” role, because the husband was mentally and physically incapable of doing so.

I ended my post on the other blog by pointing this out:

One clue to you that complementarianism is unbiblical and is not God-designed, and is rather a misinterpretation and misapplication of the Bible by Christians, is that complementarianism cannot and does not fit every scenario or life stage a man and woman may find him or herself in.

Then there are realities such as this:

The lonely generation: Late-life divorce. Husbands lost to dementia. Or marriages that are just empty shells


The 64-year-old [Angela Townshend] from Bath [Great Britain] describes the loneliness she feels as ‘so intense it makes me impossibly sad to remember how idyllically happy we were’.

Angela is not, however, a widow.

Her 70-year-old husband is still very much a physical presence and huge responsibility in her life.

But serious illness means that the man she married 14 years ago — a second marriage for both of them — is long gone.

In 2006, Ned was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and, four years later, with Lewy body dementia, which is closely associated with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Since then, the Townshends’ lives have changed beyond recognition and fallen into a familiar routine.

‘Every morning a carer calls at our home to wash and dress my dear husband, but by 9 am he’s asleep again in the chair, leaving me with just my thoughts for company,’ explains Angela.

(end article snippets)

I have never seen complementarians address these issues.

If a woman married a man who ends up with brain damage, dementia, or some other sort of health problem like that, she will have no choice but to take over the “male headship” role that complementarians say God bestows to husbands, or that complementarians imply that men are more gifted, talented, or whatever more, at.

If a woman ends up married to a man who is very uneducated and dim-witted, she will have to, of necessity, end up being the “man” and the “woman” in the relationship.

Had I married my ex, Burt, and had we had the complementarian- approved type marriage, where Burt was the “leader” with the “tie braker vote,” it would have ended in disaster, and probably divorce.

Burt, my ex, was not only stupid but also irresponsible, and I would have ended up being nude, hungry, cold, and living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.

In order to avoid being evicted from homes or apartments and going hungry, had I married Burt, I would have had to have been the responsible one in the relationship, the one who kept tabs on the finances, learned more about investing, balanced the checkbooks, and made sure all the bills were paid on time.

Burt, my ex, was too stupid and irresponsible to be able to carry out even routine “male headship” tasks. 


In my long hours skimming articles and Tweets on the internet, I have come across comments by men who are physically handicapped, or who have other physical health problems, that render them incapable of holding down a full time job outside of the house, or bodily defending their wives, should an intruder break into their home.

Such men have said that when they hear or read sermons or articles by complementarian men saying that part of being a “male head” is protecting one’s wife, being a manly-man who can fight off intruders, or holding down a full time job and paying all the bills, they feel marginalized, hurt, and/or offended by such teachings.

These men say that, by complementarian standards, they are not “real” men.


There is obviously something very, very wrong with complementarianism in that it does not apply fully across the board to all persons in all situations and life stages.

One does not need to even consult the Bible and argue with complementarians over the koine Greek of some word or another in the New Testament, or dissect and analyze 2,000 year old verses to understand their meaning, to see that complementarianism is riddled with illogical, inconsistent, unfair, or sexist teachings, practices, and assumptions, some of which even conflict with other biblical principles and teachings (such as Matthew 20: 25, 26).

Which in turn makes one realize that complementarians have misapplied the Scriptures: they take a small number of Bible verses and assume that they are timeless directives for all Christians at all times in all societies, when in fact, many of the Bible verses complementarians like to uphold to defend their positions were not intended to be timeless commands but were particular for their own era and culture for which they were written.

If complementarians would acknowledge this, a lot of these inconsistencies would vanish, every one would be at a level playing field, and people – such as wives caring for husbands with brain damage, or paralyzed, married men who live in wheelchairs, or single adults, or  domestic violence victims  – would not feel and be marginalized or overlooked.

See Also:

The Flip Side of Toxic Masculinity: Conservatives and Anti-Feminists Have a Desire and Tendency to Depict All Women as Needy, Weak Vessels In Need of Perpetual Rescuing By Big, Strong, Capable Men

From Roger Olson: A Challenge to Evangelical Complementarians

When Your Spouse is Mentally Ill, from Christianity Today

Gender Complementarian Trinitarian Analogies Do Not Work

The Shifting Goal Posts of Complementarianism Show How Bankrupt It Is

The Semantic Games of Gender Complementarians

Why Arguments Against Women in Ministry Aren’t Biblical by Ben Witherington

Yes, Complementarianism Infantilizes Women – and the Complementarian Tie-Breaking Vote Doctrine

Contradictory Expectations For Both Sexes by Christian Gender Complementarians

Even Warm and Fuzy, True, Correctly-Implemented Gender Complementarianism is Harmful to Women, and It’s Still Sexism – Yes All Comps (Refuting “Not All Comps”)

A Response to the Complementarian ‘The Beauty of Womanhood Essay’ by Abagail Dodds

Christian Gender Complementarian Analogies Do Not Work

Housework, Dirty Dishes, Complementarianism and Personal Anecdotes

Christian Gender Complementarianism is Christian-Endorsed Codependency for Women (And That’s Not A Good Thing)


4 thoughts on “• Gender Complementarianism Does Not Adequately Address, or Address At All, Incompetent, Loser, Or Incapacitated Men

  1. I’ve thought of some of the issues you mentioned before. One couple I know in real life, the man has been wheelchair bound for a couple decades I think. I have no idea if they are gender comps or not. The man just had no appreciation though for his wife’s physical or mental limitations in caring for him. At a certain point, I think she is about 70, she just had to start saying no to some of his whims when she hadn’t before,

  2. Good post Daisy.
    The comp position just does not fit real life. It’s a contrived , supposed, biblical dogma.
    I am a senior citizen. I have women friends whose husbands have Parkinson’s disease, are wheel chain bond from strokes, etc. Guess who pays the bills, drives the men to medical appointments, brings in wood for the wood stoves….of course their wives.
    Should one be married, our spouses are our partners, helpers to each other. To single divorced women like my daughter, she takes care of herself. ( and dies it well )
    Comp doctrine needs to die….it hurts people much more then it helps.

  3. Years ago I knew a young couple who bought into comp doctrine hook line and sinker. She didn’t work and played the perfect comp wife “role”. One Saturday he went up to inspect his roof. You know the end of the story. He is a parapelegic in a wheel chair who needs help with basic needs. In his 30’s.

    She had to go back to work with benefits asap and their perfect ideal of him being the family leader was shattered. Resentment all around. All because of that ridiculous unrealistic false doctrine. They could no longer play their scripted “roles”.

  4. According to the radicals of the Complementarian movement, all would be well if men’s egos were sufficiently inflated. Where in the Bible is a well-inflated, puffed-up ego a Spiritual gift? Is there some tenth fruit of the Spirit that only men can have–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and a healthy, enormous ego (if you’re a man)?

    And if it’s a Fruit of the Spirit, why do men need women to keep pumping up their incredible shrinking egos?

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