Difference is important - we aren't clones. But the difference of the new complementarism is not one that makes two equals one, such as 1 (strawberry) + 1 (banana) = 2 (great smoothie). It is a difference that makes to unequal entities one. But how does it really work? How are men and women different in such a way that the woman can be perpetually subjected to the man, and yet be his equal while being unequal?
Equality cannot contain inequality, but it can contain differences.
So how are men and women different, and most importantly, how does sin distort these differences in ways that make it difficult for us to see the harmony that is created when the differences meet?
The new complementarism have concluded that men and women differ in the following ways:
Mature men are strong/ immature men are weak.
Mature women are good/ immature women are evil.
When these differences meet, we get these combinations:
When a strong man meets a good woman, magic happens. The man's strength complements the woman's goodness and we get the heavenly ying and yang in which the man loves the woman like Christ loves the church, and the woman happily and joyfully submits to the man, and they live happily ever after.
But when a strong man meets an evil woman, bad things happen. The woman's evil saps the man's strength, unless he subjects her to himself by force. Hence the belief that one of the consequences of sin is the woman's desire to rule over the man - although men have always ruled over women, but let's ignore that for now.
Yet again, when a weak man meets a good woman, he will either be passive, forcing the woman to take his place as the ruler (think Deborah), or insufferably dominating which causes the good woman to suffer (think Bathsheba). We would assume that the woman should have a way to do something about the man when he treats her poorly, but because the man has already been given authority to keep the evil woman in her proper place, the good woman has no recourse to save herself from the weak man, unless she is particularly cunning (think Jael), but most good women aren't because they are taught to obey.
So finally, when a weak man meets an evil woman, we get Ahab and Jezebel. And Jezebel, as we all know, was the worst of the worst. She was so bad that we have created a demon that bears her name, because when a woman is evil, she is truly evil. Hence poor Ahab couldn't help himself, for although he was bad, his wife was worse, and had she been a good woman, she would have influenced her husband to become good, or at least gone behind his back to get the job done, because submission doesn't mean that a woman has to do what the man says if the man isn't smart enough to ask for the right thing, which is why Abigail (a good woman) is praised for going behind Nabal's (a weak man) back. And as a reward, she got to marry King David.
But what if we tried to be the original complementarists and said that men and women are equally strong/weak/good/evil? What kind of pairing would we get?
When a strong man meets a strong woman, we get a healthy relationship based on mutual respect, love and submission. The man loves the woman as Christ loved the church and the woman loves the man as the church loves Christ, and their mutual love brings them together through mutual submission (as submission in the New Testament refers to coming near).
But when a strong man meets a weak woman, we get a less healthy relationship, but one that is still functional, depending on whether the woman tries to use manipulation or whether she decides to become a martyr, or a little bit of both, or something entirely different (add any "feminine" stereotype of choice).
And when a strong woman meets a weak man, we get a less healthy relationship, but one that is still functional, depending on whether the man tries to control the woman, or whether he decides to abdicate and become passive, or neither (depending on the stereotype the man chooses the follow).
And finally, when a weak woman meets a weak man, we get dysfunction, and there are plenty of therapists out there who can tell you all about it.
So how do we complement each other? In more ways than can be described simply because we are all different, yet alike, which makes every relationship different, and therefore interesting. In other words, there are no complementary cookie cutters that can be used to squeeze people into pink and blue molds. And it's about time we stopped trying to find them.