UPDATE on the Paige Patterson controversy:
Paige Patterson issued an apology here.
You can read more about the issue here.
Paige Patterson has since been removed as the President of SWBTS. You can read Al Mohler's article on that here.
Complementarianism: The position that men and women are complementary to one another. Equally created in God's image, equal in nature, equal in value and worth, yet distinct in relationships and roles. These distinctions are found in (1) the home, with the husband leading spiritually and the wife submitting to his headship; and (2) the church, with men and women serving in all its ministries except for elder responsibilities, which are reserved for qualified men. (Definition adapted and modified from the The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms)
You can check out a two-minute video describing Complementarianism here.
As we approach the topic of complementarianism, we should acknowledge that this doctrine has not only been abused itself, but has also been used to abuse others.
However, misuse of an item or an idea should not mean we reject it entirely. Instead, we advocate all the more for a proper use and a correct understanding of the thing in question.
For instance, we do not reject the use of automobiles or planes simply because they have been misused to cause harm. In the same way, we should not reject complementarianism because others have misused it.
Complementarianism is meant to lead people into flourishing as they embrace God's design (Geneses 1:27; 5:2; Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-20; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). When men and women submit to God's design in the home and the church, it leads to a few things:
A more robust and fuller version of marriage.
Men and women flourishing within marriage and within the Church as each God-given role complements and contributes to the other.
The Church being more fully quipped with men and women exercising their spiritual gifts in a way that will benefit God's people most.
Although we have [rightly] seen the painful repercussions of Paige Patterson's comments, Christians can still respond in helpful ways:
First, let us pray for Paige Patterson, our brother in Christ. No doubt this is a trying time for him and his family. Although his comments have been widely rebuked by us and others, let us respond with grace and love, and pray that God would use this season draw him closer to Jesus.
Second, let us dig deep into God's word to better understand what he says about the roles of men and women. Our final authority is always God's word as revealed in Scripture.
Third, let us be aware of abuse of any kind within the home or within the church and be willing and ready to report it immediately to the proper authorities.
Fourth, let us ask God to reveal to us any hidden sin that we may not be aware of, and to lead us into repentance.