As evidenced by the General Synod speech of Church Society General Secretary, the view was one of the rationales upon which those opposing women bishops grounded their votes. Similarly, Pope Benedict grounded his opposition to equal access to civil marriage for same sex couples in complementarian terms
The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation.Equal marriage, to Benedict, is an attack on the structure of the family, and those who do not conform to their "natural" roles are flouting their own nature.
There are several observations to be made about this viewpoint:
1. It assumes, absent any data, consideration, or analysis, that the cultural components of gender and gender roles are as predetermined as any physical or physiological aspects. (Oh, is there science suggesting the opposite? Why, oddly enough, there is!)
2. It also, of course, abjectly fails to address individual differentiation. I mean, at all. Men are men, women are women, and if you're a woman whose interests and abilities happen to fall on the "male" side of the biblical/traditional divide--or for that matter, a man whose sphere of interests and abilities happen to fall on the "female" side--well, tough. Now, complementarianism has been read to include male "headship" in the home, too, and so those roles are prescribed, as well, even if neither party has the slightest interest in playing as cast.
3. Complementarianism does not meet individuals where they are; it tells them where they are required to be, and actually tells them that, to the extent that they are not conforming, they are not living an authentic life. This is the worst kind of false consciousness--an authoritarian demand that the individual eschew her or his own experience and feelings as "intrinsically disordered" for failure to conform to a promulgated"true consciousness" that is axiomatically defined as self-realization. It's a psychic Bed of Procrustes. It's a sad reflection on the hidebound nature of complementarian thinking that it has failed to learn the lessons of Procrustes as well as has secular management:
It's important when faced with a problem to consider it carefully and find a solution that fits it, rather than forcing it into a premixed solution, a Procrustean bed. Templates and models are useful, but it is they that must fit the empirical circumstances, not the other way around.Ultimately, complementarianism is a way of asserting dominance and compelling obedience by shaming others into not fitting in with the cultural presuppositions of the ancient world. It's cruel, in that it requires those who do not fit the presumed norm to maim themselves in the name of self-actualization. In short, another example of Christianity on the Cheap.
A skillful manager makes the bed—the solution—fit the wayfarer's needs. That takes a lot of knowledge, but more. It also takes craft and art. Making the bed fit the sleeper means listening carefully to the dimensions of the wayfarers' problems. What are the real dimensions? Have we obtained enough measurements? Have we made the right measurements?
....Sometimes the bed fits. But be careful, because often it doesn't, and the results of trying to fit the facts into our preconceptions can be misleading and dangerous to our companies, our jobs, our co-workers, and ourselves.