Gender Roles

Love and Marriage (without the Horse and Carriage)


He did it with just a touch of his big toe.

My husband and I were having coffee with friends, sharing our spiritual highs and lows of the previous week when he saw the warning signs. It was subtle: a rise of my shoulders, an intake of air, leaning forward, my mouth beginning to open, and he knew. He knew what I was thinking and what I was about to say. He knew that I was prepping myself to be argumentative and to say something unnecessarily controversial.

So he nudged me under the table. Just once.

In full disclosure, we’re not the stereotypical conservative couple—we simply don’t fit the personality paradigm. He’s type B; I’m type A. He’s quiet; I’m outspoken. He actually enjoys cleaning and after ten years, I think I finally believe him. (He says he likes bringing order to chaos, which on further reflection shines significant light on why he fell for me in the first place.) But there in that moment when he expressed his disapproval with the slightest nudge of his big toe, I immediately stopped.

Most conservatives would hail this as a great victory, that this is exactly how marriages should function. Husband directs, wife obeys. But I have to admit, my response to him in that moment had little to do with an immediate understanding of headship and hierarchy. It wasn’t mapped out by a complementarian flow-chart. It wasn’t because of a role.

It was because I love him.

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Book Review - Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart

Image of Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart
by John Ensor
Crossway 2007
Paperback 160

You truly cannot judge a book by its cover or its title. In John Ensor’s book, Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart, I would suggest that neither the cover nor the title do justice to this outstanding book. Neither does the title fully relay its critical contents. Based upon the title, I assumed that this book was another nouthetic counseling book about the heart. Instead, I found a profoundly well-written “heart surgery” book on the roles of men and women as it relates to real life, both before marriage and in marriage. In his book, Ensor declares that his objective “is to provide a winsomely radical alternative to the prevailing ideas, almost absolute doctrines, that guide our current thinking about manhood and womanhood and define our actions and expectations when pursuing matters of the heart.” (p. 15). In a footnote, he likens his book to a user-friendly, basic version of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Piper and Grudem (p. 20).

Ensor approaches this with a somewhat unique background of twenty five years of pastoral counseling, including twelve years as a pastor, and fifteen helping to establish pregnancy help centers in the Boston area, and at the time of publishing, he was helping to start five pregnancy centers in the neediest neighborhoods in Miami. Repeatedly he has seen the results of lives pursuing what the world demanded they pursue, only to come up empty-handed, hurt, diseased, ashamed, broken, and unfulfilled. He is not writing from theory. Ensor’s approach examines Scripture as it clashes with the heart of culture today from a firsthand experience.

In the first section of the book, Ensor attempts “to get to the heart of manhood and womanhood according to the Bible. What does it mean to be a man and not a woman? What is distinctively meaningful about being a woman and not a man? What marks the mature man? What does it mean to be, dare I say, a godly man? What marks the mature and godly woman and makes her attractive and fulfilled? How do we complement and fit together?” (p. 20-21) He offers that our culture’s “forced upon” solution to its underlying thirst is precisely opposite to what the Creator actually designed. Further, what the Creator designed is ultimately what the world craves after its solutions leave it broken and shattered.

732 reads

Won't wrestle girl: "As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner."

Iowa high school wrestling standout refuses to face girl, relinquishing shot at championship

Northrup’s father, Jamie Northrup, is a minister in the Believers in Grace Fellowship, an independent Pentecostal church in Marion that believes young men and women shouldn’t touch in a “familiar way,” said Bill Randles, the church’s pastor.

939 reads

Book Review - The Masculine Mandate: God's Calling to Men

Image of The Masculine Mandate: God's Calling to Men
by Richard D. Phillips
Reformation Trust Publishing 2010
Hardcover 163

Ever see a sign that said “Men Needed”? Probably not, but we certainly should see them. In his new book The Masculine Mandate: God’s Calling to Men, Richard Phillips says this is exactly what we need—men. Phillips contends that we don’t merely need the kind of men that like to hike, camp or hunt, but the kind of men that God has called men to be: godly, manly men. Phillips believes that both the secular and Christian cultures have watered down and miscommunicated God’s idea of a man. Using both exegesis and application, Phillips explains the “masculine mandate” and how it applies to the life of a man.

In the first section, Phillips starts in Genesis 2 and identifies four essential aspects of a man.

  1. Who man is: He is created by God from the dust of the ground and in His image.
  2. Where man is: God placed man in the garden.
  3. What man is: As mandated by God, man is a lord over creation and is God’s servant.
  4. How man obeys God: Man obeys God by working and keeping the garden.

It is the fourth aspect of man—obedience through work—which Phillips concentrates on during the first section of the book. With Genesis 2:15 as the foundation, Phillips says, “We are to devote ourselves to working/building and keeping/protecting everything placed into our charge” (p. 12). The two concepts of working and keeping are the basis around which God gives man his calling and purpose. Similarly foundational to these concepts is the fact that man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-17). From this, Phillips states the purpose of man:

[It is] revealing the glory of God to a sin-darkened world so that He will be praised and that lost sinners will be saved by coming to know the Lord. The great purpose of our lives is to reveal the glory and grace of God both by what we do and who we are. (p. 34)

1086 reads

Congratulations! It's a Boy...We Think

Reprinted with permission from Baptist Bulletin, May/June, 2010. All rights reserved.

My older daughter is pursuing a degree at the local extension of one of our state universities. Not surprisingly, the course offerings are more limited than at the main campus, and since she is pursuing a career in social work, she signed up for one of the required courses in Women’s Studies.

Women’s Studies

Women’s Studies is a relatively recent and notoriously doctrinaire addition to university departments, and I had warned my daughter about what she was likely to encounter: the most shrill, angry, and even irrational fringes of the feminist movement. Indeed, some of the more extreme apologists for Women’s Studies have claimed that rationality is a male way of thinking and should not be imposed on females. Still, we were both taken aback at the unbending and unapologetic polemics of the course, which turned out to be primarily a barrage of propaganda in support of all manner of nonheterosexual identities and behaviors: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual (those who through surgery and hormone treatments have tried to alter their gender). There was little of what would normally be called scholarship, and, in any event, scholarship—the discovery, examination, synthesis, and application of information—was not the aim of the course. The aim was the propagation of a set of attitudes about the subject, and the acceptable set was not simply tolerance, but approval and advocacy. It was a course that violated everything universities claim about themselves: places where truth is pursued and disseminated objectively and fairly, and where differences of opinion are welcomed as part of this pursuit. In point of fact, dissent was bullied into silence, and probing questions were shuffled off as inappropriate to the course’s aims—as, of course, they were. Small wonder, then, that my daughter came to refer to this course as an encounter with the Lesbian Gestapo.

2327 reads

Book Review - Just How Married Do You Want to Be?

Paperback, 178 pages
IVP Books (September 2008)
ISBN-10: 0830833935
ISBN-13: 978-0830833931

Jim and Sarah Sumner knew from the start of their relationship that they were an unlikely match. A former male stripper and the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School were just not meant to be together—or so many people thought. But twelve years (and many counseling sessions) later, Jim and Sarah are still married, minister beside each other, and have recently released a book together. Just How Married Do You Want to Be? is the theology and story of how they’re overcoming massive differences to become one in Christ.

As the subtitle, “Practicing Oneness in Marriage,” suggests, their book aims to move beyond the classic stereotypes that characterize most Christian marriages. Instead of discussing gender roles within marriage, the Sumners focus on the biblical concept of “one flesh” union and its resulting implications. This approach allows them to attempt a middle road between the complementarian/egalitarian debate that has been raging in broader evangelicalism.

Theological Shift

Because the Sumners are attempting to establish what they term a “new paradigm,” a significant portion of the book is given to a theological overview of the concept of headship, especially as it is expressed in the head/body metaphor of Ephesians 5:22-33. In these chapters, they contribute an interesting, if somewhat novel, perspective to the current discussion. Rather than emphasizing hierarchy, the Sumners argue that the headship imagery of Ephesians 5 is primarily teaching the intrinsic “oneness” of a married couple.

3122 reads

"Wayne (Grudem)'s usefulness in opposing feminism would be enhanced if he would be ... more honest in his description of evangelical feminists... they're not all Christians."

“Wayne (Grudem)’s usefulness in opposing feminism would be enhanced if he would be less aspirational and more honest in his description of evangelical feminists. They’re not his friends. Nor are they friends of Scripture. Finally, they’re not all Christians.”
David Bayly addresses “Squishy Anti-Feminism….”

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