“… And that brings today’s lesson to an end. Who would like to say the prayer?” The leader said, taking a moment to look at each of the boys in the youth group.
Mary’s hand shot up and she said, “I’d be happy to pray, if that’s okay.”
The other Mary nodded and added, “And I would like to pray, too.”
“God really wants to hear from one of the boys this time. John? Peter? Would one of you pray for us?” The leader responded.
This exchange played itself out any number of times while I was growing up. At any meeting, there were two or three girls for each boy present. It apparently wasn’t a problem for the girls to lead the prayer while they were all middle schoolers, but apparently when the youth group are high schoolers, God wants the boys to pray.
My brother did not attend the same church as me for his youth group, but he also remembers that there was always a similar exchange. The boys were always pressured to step up, speak up, and take the lead. The girls were always chastized for stepping up, speaking up, and taking the lead.
Which was why the core of Complementarianism sounded backwards to me, surely if girls showed an aptitude and willingness to lead, then that must have been an example of God’s design working as it should. My church called that the “Womens’ tendency to usurp the Men’s God-given authority.” Likewise, men not taking the lead was “sinful passivity” on their part. The issue with public prayer was that it was akin to the pastor’s wife shoving him aside from the pulpit, throwing the Bible open to somewhere in Corinthians and preach to a roomful of men and their women. Had they separated the boys from the girls, then it would not have been a problem for the girls to pray because there would be no boys there to usurp authority from.
So now that the question of singleness has been rasied among Complementarian circles, there’s been quite a bit of controversy. Complementarianism states that marriage is a picture of the gospel message. SIngleness, therefore, would be a picture of an incomplete gospel. A puzzle with missing pieces (and conversely, pieces with a missing puzzle). Two parts that will never be a whole. Girls that grow up into young women who lead themselves and boys that grow up into young men who lead no one. Which only causes trouble – because if a young woman does what a young man does, then she might as well be a young man. Distinctions; male from female, masculine from feminine, leader from follower, authority from submission; must be maintained at all costs.
1 Corinthians 15 is a great Biblical summary of the gospel: “3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. ”
Unless we’re referring to two different gospels, I have no idea how one can get a picture of marriage from that. But single people are incomplete gospels. They’re like Jesus on his second day of death. They’re like the women that were just too sad to go to the tomb. They’re like the angel that didn’t roll away the stone. They’re like the twelve that missed their appointment with the Holy Spirit.
And that is why the boys must pray, the girls must not pray, marriage is the gospel, and single people are only half-complementarians.