Summary and Info
Out of eleven pastors, theologians, mentors, and a preacher's wife contributing to the thirteen articles (or addresses from "Building Strong Families in Your Church" conference in 2000) in this book, no one comes close to the depth, weight, intensity and wealth of anthroposensitive theology of Prof. Wayne Grudem's article. Even though his is the longest paper (62 pages), it is worth spending your time on, as he systematically explains the theology of man and woman. He begins with Genesis to come to the conclusion that men and women are created with equal value and dignity, yet different roles. Grudem gives then ten evidences of God-ordained headship of man at the Creation, which means that this headship is not a result of the Fall, but God's design; as we note the order of creation, the representation of humanity (humanity is often referred to as mankind, not womankind), the naming of the woman, the naming of creatures, the accountability (God called Adam, not Eve after both sinned), the purpose (woman is called to be a helper, not in a pejorative but honorable sense), the conflict (as a result of the Fall that introduces distortions of roles), the restoration (the reversal of the curse, through the New Testaments directives as those found in Col 3:18-19 or 1 Pet 3:1-8), the mystery of the complementary union of man and woman in marriage, and finally, in the parallel with the Trinity that Grudem later elaborates further brilliantly.
Next, Grudem warns about the dangers of the distortions that seem to be prevalent not only in the West, but in many parts of the world, where man, instead of being responsible in his humble, loving role as the leader, is drawn into the extreme left of passivity; which Grudem calls "wimp", or the extreme right of tyranny. Similarly, women face the risk of resigning to the extreme left into what Grudem calls "doormat" or the extreme right as usurper, instead of the God-ordained role as a joyful-intelligent helper with equal value and dignity, who serves their husband with glad submission. Despite the biblical God-ordained headship of man, Grudem openly denounces the abuse of women, not only in marriages or relationships in general, but also in the abominable practice of female infanticide, of which he commented,
"This is a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. In addition to the harm of these lost lives, we must think of the destructive consequences in the lives of those women who survive. Form their earliest age they receive the message from their families, and indeed from their whole society, "Boys are better than girls," and "I wish you were a boy." The devastation on their own self-worth must be immense. Yet all of this comes about as a result of a failure to realize that men and women, boys and girls, have equal value in God's sight and should have equal value in our sight as well. The first chapter of the Bible corrects this practice, and corrects any lurking sense in our own hearts that boys are more valuable than girls, when it says we are both created in the image of God" (p.79-80).
From here, Grudem launches a counter-argument, that to me sounds like a check-mate to the feminists' propositions that often argue that first; in Gal 3:28, the role distinctions in man and woman are abolished, second; that "be subject to" (hypotasso) spoken of in Eph 5:21 nullifies male headship in marriage and family because the word means "mutual submission", and third; the word "head" (kephale) in Eph 5:23 does not mean leader or imply authority, but "source". The counter argument against the first one is that the context of "one" means, "... that we are united, that there should be no factions, or division among us, and, that there should be no sense of pride and superiority or jealousy and inferiority between these groups, ... men should no longer thing themselves as superior to women... when the Bible says that several things are one, it never joins things that are exactly the same. Rather, it says that things that are different, things that are diverse, share some kind of unity (e.g, in purpose)" (p.50).
In regard to the argument that male headship is nullified in Eph 5:21 as implied in the words "be subject to," Grudem refutes it, not only by using the commentary from Daniel Doriani who pointed out that the words mean, "that those in authority should govern wisely and with sacrificial concern for those under their authority," but also through an extensive analysis on the root of the Greek word "hypotasso" and its uses at different passages of the Bible, all of which indicate a uni-directional, not bi-directional or reciprocal submission, as evident from (p.53):
- Jesus was "subject to" the authority of his parents (Luke 2:15)
- Angels and other spiritual beings are "subject to" Christ (1 Cor 15:27, Eph 1:22)
- Christ is "subjected to" God the Father (1 Cor 15:28)
- Wives are told to be "subject to" their husbands (Eph 5:22,24; Col 3:18, Titus 2:5, 1 Pet 3:5)
- The church is "subject" through Christ (Eph 5:24)
And finally, in regard to the word "head" (kephale), Grudem argues there has never been an interpretation that says the word "head" to mean "source", but always "leader" or "one in authority". There are many other excellent lessons that Prof. Grudem teaches, that I should not reveal here because otherwise, unless checked, I could not resist to give you the entire content of his paper in this review. For example, the parallel between the equality of man and woman, yet different roles, to the Trinity is simply mind-boggling and why the issue of manhood and womanhood is huge because it is not merely about men and women, but the repercussions reach out not only to the family, society and most importantly our understanding about and obedience to God himself.
The other two addresses that are worth learning are from John Piper and Bob Lepine. Observant readers and those who are familiar with Pastor John will note that his paper is similar to his second talk at 2004 Desiring God National Conference, in which he points out that marriage is not to be lived out for marriage sake or for man and woman's sake but the ultimate priority is the glory of God. Amen. Bob Lepine gives an excellent treatment on the role of a husband in a family as prophet, priest and king, parallel to that of Jesus Christ to the church. As a priest, the husband is responsible to pray for his wife and family. As prophet, he should understand solid theology, establish doctrinal foundations in the family, teach them and confront sins in their lives (and I should say in his own life as well). The husband as king leads, provides and protects his wife and children, as well as establishes strategic planning.
Something that would immediately be evident to the discerning readers is that there are two groups of speakers with two different concerns, at least from the impression I received by reading their articles; one with the family or country or both as the uttermost concern, and the other one is God and his glory as the primary concern. The first group barely touches the Scriptures (with some exceptions, such as Mahaney), since what they seem to care about is to how to teach men to be truly masculine or how to raise "healthy" family through a successful self-help program or through some magic formulas. One author clearly embraces the seeker's sensitive approach while running his man's program as evident from the following,
"Since the outreach to seekers is a definite purpose of Men's fraternity, the first ten to twelve sessions are as non-religious as possible. So the music you hear playing in the background is popular secular music. Here are two more tips to help your Men's Fraternity a winner: 1. Find the right host... 2. Use technology. Tehnical bells and whistles that are familiar to men can reduce the resistance of those not comfortable in church. In the early sessions, I don't even open a Bible. I will say, "Just like the Scriptures say," and the Bible verse will come up on PowerPoint behind me." (p. 200, 202-203)
I would not say the same about the lectures about woman because Susan Hunt talks about raising feminine girls and mentoring young women in the context of honoring God, living a life pleasing to Him under the covenant of grace, enabled through the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore, she falls in the second group; the God-centered group. She does a better job in her second paper that deals with mentoring young women where she uses Titus 2:3-5 as the basis of women mentorship. Some noteworthy lines that she wrote are:
"What is the purpose of this mandate? (i.e., Titus 2:3-5) The emphasis of the book of Titus is sound doctrine and godly living. God's glory is the overriding purpose of the relationships being discussed. This is not a self-enrichment program (note the difference here). These are covenant relationships that are centered on glorifying God by reflecting His grace to one another. Spiritual mothering: When a woman possessing faith and spiritual maturity enters into a nurturing relationship with a younger woman in order to encourage and equip her to live for God's glory.
What kind of training is involved? ... The training would involve the cultivation of sound judgment and prudence. It suggests the exercise of that self-restraint that governs all passions and desires, enabling the believers to be conformed to the mind of Christ. This is a teaching of a way of life as we live in relationship with one another. It is passing on to younger women a biblical worldview that includes a biblical perspective of womanhood" (p.185).
Here is the grade I would assign to each author. To me personally, and hopefully to the readers as well, the authors who receive A and B teach me some valuable glorious, God-ho
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