Last week I wrote a post on “The top ten most difficult doctrinal/theological subjects that contemporary Christians need to address.” Today I want to invite readers to leave a comment recommending books on these topics that you have found to be helpful. The seventh item on my list was that of gender roles and equality about which I wrote:
While I am concerned about women having the freedom to serve in their church according to their calling this is just the tip of the iceberg. As we’ve seen in recent debates over contraceptives there is a great divide between many forms of conservative Christianity and women’s rights movements. While we could argue that abortion rights are a distinct matter I think it is fair to say that you can’t separate that subject from this one.
What is a book (or books) that you recommend for someone wanting to think through this subject?
While we could argue that abortion rights are a distinct matter I think it is fair to say that you can’t separate that subject from this one.
Wait, what? That’s absolute nonsense.
I think you read more into that statement than is present. I’m not making a claim either way on whether abortion rights lead to equality or not. I am saying that it is a subcategory of the broader discussion on gender equality and one cannot discuss gender equality without discussing how abortion rights relate.
A qualifier on this issue. First of all, I don’t usually read a whole lot on the subject of gender roles, because I get very zealous about this issue, which, if I am not careful, can foster strife, which I am trying to cut back on in my life in every area.
A second qualifier. I am of two minds on the subject and do not share a very popular opinion on the matter. I am an advocate of headship in the home, but egalitarianism in the pulpit and ministry. Again, this is not a popular opinion or view, but scripturally justifiable and defensible to me.
The book that I have been recommended which you might find useful is “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals” by William J. Webb. That book floated around my seminary when I was attending, and though I have never read it myself, I know of several colleagues whose opinions I trust, have recommended this book. Hope this helps.
Why I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership: Compelling Stories from Prominent Evangelicals
The Last Chapter in Blue Parakeet
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women
Man and Woman: One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters (very long)
Why I changed My Mind About Women in Leadership is where I tell people to start. Doesn’t go deeply into the issues, but is a good overview (although clearly is egalitarian in outlook.)
I am actually at a conference this weekend. It was sparked by the book Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions by Dan Brennan. It is concerning the role of cross gender friendship in the church. I almost didn’t post this one, but if men and women can’t be friends (without being married) then that would tend to say something pretty strong about where the role of gender is at in the church.
Another book on the story of women in leadership is the Resignation of Eve by Jim Henderson. I think it could have been a bit better, but it has a pretty wide range of interview of women and where they are in regard to the concept of women in leadership. Jim is clearly egalitarian, but interviews women across the spectrum. My main complaint is that he had some research mixed in with the stories and I thought that the research added very little.
I have read a number of books on gender roles in marriage and frankly I am not sure I could recommend any of them. None that I know of really delve adequately into the role of culture on gender roles and make far too many assumptions. But I say this as a husband that is a full time nanny for my wife’s 2 nieces, so maybe I have a chip on my shoulder 🙂
I am egalitarian but I didn’t find Blue Parakeet all that convincing. It was ok, but not great. But it has been a while since I read it. So maybe I am mis-remembering.
Your view of male lead in home, but both genders can lead on the church, is one espoused by Kenton Sparks in his work God’s Word in Human Words, which I know Brian is reading.
And, yes, though I’ve not read the book yet either, I’ve heard good things about Webb’s book.
This is an issue I’ve been deeply investigating lately. I come from a complementarian background, but over the last couple years have slowly ended up staunchly in the egalitarian camp. Regardless of one’s current or future position, here are some thoughtful resources from both sides:
Man and Woman, One in Christ: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Woman-One-Christ-Theological/dp/0310219884/
Paul, Women, and Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801046769/
Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0830818626/
Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0830828346/
Complementarian (I only include one because it’s such a HUGE exhaustive resource):
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism: http://www.amazon.com/Recovering-Biblical-Manhood-Womanhood-Evangelical/dp/1581348061/
Good list Laura! 🙂 Adam that is a good point about men and women being friends but not married… we don’t handle that one well do we? there are so many things that could be talked about with that one. whew. Brian, I am not going to recommend any as I think the good ones have been listed! 🙂
i do want to ask a question though, could this issue be one that is an intersection between both exegesis and theology (systematic theology)?
I have read Webb’s work and I did find it very helpful. I find headship in the home to be an interesting proposal, but I think most of Paul’s language creates such demand of the husband that when taken to its logical conclusion demands (especially in a society where women can be educated) that men show their love by refusing to be dictators in the home. Eventually this will lead to mutual submission out of love.
I want to read Man and Woman, One in Christ. I have heard positive things about that book.
Interesting. All of these books about gender issues are written by men.
And what woman would not want to submit to a man who treated her after the manner of Christ? What woman wouod not voluntarily give the man the option for final say if he truly were treating her with that deep kind of love and respect?
Very good point. I read some of what Mimi Haddad puts online as well as Rachel Held Evans, but I haven’t come across a book on the subject. I know in a previous discussion on this blog I did receive some good recommendations. I will have to look those up.
A woman with her own soul, mind, will, and insight. We men may do our best to love like Christ and we could be dead wrong about an issue. If we use the “I’m a male” trump card I think we fail to honor our women, at least in our society where women are allowed to be educated and informed. We don’t live in the Graeco-Roman world where many women did not have these opportunities.
I almost recommended Evolving in Monkey Town, even tho it’s not really on topic. Just that Rachel Held Evans deals with being female right along with all the other things she talks about in that book. It just is AN issue for women, not THE issue. So maybe we just haven’t really approached it that specifically. Or maybe I just need to write a book! 😀
You should! 🙂
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