Words Matter -- By: Anonymous
It is helpful in the discussion of manhood and womananhood to consider the fine but significant distinction between complement and supplement. A complement is “something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection.” For example, one might say, “His tie complements the suit he’s wearing.” The suit in itself is a complete unit, as is the tie.
On the other hand, a supplement is “something added to complete a thing, to make up for a deficiency.” This usage is reflected in the statement, “Bob works nights to supplement his income.” Obviously, the earnings from Bob’s day job are inadequate to meet his financial needs.
The application of this distinction in theological discussion can be seen in the fact that men and women as individuals are image bearers. A single man or a single woman fully bears the image of God.
In marriage, then husband and wife as male and female complement one another; they are equal in terms of their dignity, personhood and value. One is not superior to the other, though they have different functions. Since they are individually complete before God as bearers of His image, they do not supplement one another in this way at all.
In CBMW, we have chosen the term complementarian to represent our position. The careful choice of words makes a difference in how we express and understand Biblical, theological and practical concepts.
Words do matter.
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