A comprehensive defense of biblical manhood and womanhood, this handbook provides readers with an invaluable “encyclopedia” of responses to 118 evangelical feminist arguments against traditional gender roles.
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About the Author
Wayne Grudem (PhD, University of Cambridge; DD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, having previously taught for twenty years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, the general editor of the ESV Study Bible, and the author of over twenty-five books.
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A Biblical Vision of Manhood and Womanhood as Created by God
Most of this book contains answers to 118 claims that have come from evangelical feminism. But before I can interact with those claims, I must first present a clear statement of what I stand for. Just what is a "complementarian" view of biblical manhood and womanhood? How does it work in the home and in the church?
In this chapter, I consider six key issues related to a complementarian view of men and women in creation and in marriage. In the next chapter, I present a complementarian view of men and women in the church.
Key issue #1: Men and Women are Equal in value and Dignity
On the first page of the Bible we read that both men and women are "in the image of God." In fact, the very first verse that tells us that God created human beings also tells us that both "male and female" are in the image of God:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
To be in the image of God is an incredible privilege. It means to be like God and to represent God. No other creatures in all of creation, not even the powerful angels, are said to be in the image of God. It is a privilege given only to us as men and women.
Any discussion of manhood and womanhood in the Bible must start here. Every time we talk to each other as men and women, we should remember that the person we are talking to is a creature of God who is more like God than anything else in the universe, and men and women share that status equally. Therefore we should treat men and women with equal dignity and we should think of men and women as having equal value. We are both in the image of God, and we have been so since the very first day that God created us. "In the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). Nowhere does the Bible say that men are more in God's image than women. Men and women share equally in the tremendous privilege of being in the image of God.
The Bible thus corrects the errors of male dominance and male superiority that have come as the result of sin and that have been seen in nearly all cultures in the history of the world. Wherever men are thought to be better than women, wherever husbands act as selfish "dictators," wherever wives are forbidden to have their own jobs outside the home or to vote or to own property or to be educated, wherever women are treated as inferior, wherever there is abuse or violence against women or rape or female infanticide or polygamy or harems, the biblical truth of equality in the image of God is being denied. To all societies and cultures where these things occur, we must proclaim that the very first page of God's Word bears a fundamental and irrefutable witness against these evils.
Yet we can say even more. If men and women are equally in the image of God, then we are equally important and equally valuable to God. We have equal worth before Him for all eternity, for this is how we were created. This truth should exclude all our feelings of pride or inferiority, and should exclude any idea that one sex is better or worse than the other. In contrast to many non Christian cultures and religions, no one should feel proud or superior because he is a man, and no one should feel disappointed or inferior because she is a woman. If God thinks us to be equal in value, then that settles forever the question of personal worth, for God's evaluation is the true standard of personal value for all eternity.
Further evidence of our equality in the image of God is seen in the New Testament church, where the Holy Spirit is given in new fullness to both men and women (Acts 2:17–18), where both men and women are baptized into membership in the body of Christ (Acts 2:41), and where both men and women receive spiritual gifts for use in the life of the church (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11; 1 Peter 4:10). The apostle Paul reminds us that we are not to be divided into factions that think of themselves as superior and inferior (such as Jew and Greek, or slave and free, or male and female), but rather that we should think of ourselves as united because we "are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
Whenever husbands and wives do not listen respectfully and thoughtfully to each other's viewpoints, do not value the wisdom that might be arrived at differently and expressed differently from the other person, or do not value the other person's different gifts and preferences as much as their own, they neglect this teaching on equality in the image of God.
Speaking personally for a moment, I do not think I listened very well to my wife, Margaret, early in our marriage. I did not value her different gifts and preferences as much as my own, or her wisdom that was arrived at differently (often, it seemed, quickly and instinctively) and that she expressed differently from how I expressed things. Later we made much progress in this area, but, looking back, Margaret told me that early in our marriage it felt as though her voice was taken away, and as though my ears were closed. I wonder if there are other couples where God needs to open the husband's ears to listen, and needs to restore the wife's voice to speak.
A healthy perspective on the way that equality manifests itself in marriage was summarized as part of a "Marriage and Family Statement" issued by Campus Crusade for Christ in July of 1999. After three paragraphs discussing both equality and differences between men and women, the statement says:
In a marriage lived according to these truths, the love between husband and wife will show itself in listening to each other's viewpoints, valuing each other's gifts, wisdom, and desires, honoring one another in public and in private, and always seeking to bring benefit, not harm, to one another.
Why do I list this as a key issue in the manhood–womanhood controversy? Not because we differ with egalitarians on this question, but because we differ at this point with sinful tendencies in our own hearts and with the oppressive male chauvinism and male dominance that has marred most cultures throughout most of history.
Anyone preaching or teaching on manhood and womanhood has to start here — where the Bible starts — not with our differences, but with our equality in the image of God.
If you're a pastor and you don't start here in your preaching on biblical manhood and womanhood, affirming our equality in the image of God, you simply will not get a hearing from many people in your church. And if you don't start here, your heart won't be right on this issue.
There is yet one more reason why I think this is a key issue, one that speaks especially to men. I personally think that one reason God has allowed this controversy on manhood and womanhood to come into the church at this time is so that we could correct some mistakes, change some wrongful traditions, and become more faithful to Scripture in treating our wives and all women with dignity and respect. The first step in correcting these mistakes is to be fully convinced in our hearts that women share equally with us men in the value and dignity that belongs to being made in the image of God.
Key Issue #2: Men and Women Have Different Roles in Marriage as Part of the Created Order
When the members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood wrote the "Danvers Statement" in 1987, we included the following affirmations:
1. Both Adam and Eve were created in God's image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood.
2. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.
3. Adam's headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin.
The statement adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in June 1998 and affirmed (with one additional paragraph) by Campus Crusade in July 1999 also acknowledges God-given differences:
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
By contrast, egalitarians do not affirm such created differences. In fact, the statement on "Men, Women and Biblical Equality" published by Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) says:
1. The Bible teaches that both man and woman were created in God's image, had a direct relationship with God, and shared jointly the responsibilities of bearing and rearing children and having dominion over the created order (Gen. 1:26–28).
5. The Bible teaches that the rulership of Adam over Eve resulted from the Fall and was, therefore, not a part of the original created order....
10. The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them (Matt. 20:25–28, 23:8; Mark 10:42–45; John 13:13–17; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 5:2–3).
11. The Bible teaches that husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life and that they are bound together in a relationship of mutual submission and responsibility (1 Cor. 7:3–5; Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:1–7; Gen. 21:12). The husband's function as "head" (kephale) is to be understood as self-giving love and service within this relationship of mutual submission (Eph. 5:21–33; Col. 3:19; 1 Pet. 3:7).
So which position is right? Does the Bible really teach that men and women had different roles from the beginning of Creation?
When we look carefully at Scripture, we can see at least ten arguments indicating that God gave men and women distinct roles before the Fall, and particularly, that there was male headship in marriage before the Fall.
A. Ten arguments showing male headship in marriage before the Fall
1. The order: Adam was created first, then Eve (note the sequence in Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 2:18–23). We may not think of this as very important today, but it was important to the original readers of this text, and the apostle Paul sees it as important: he bases his argument for different roles in the assembled New Testament church on the fact that Adam was created prior to Eve. He says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man. ... For Adam was formed first, then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:12–13).
According to Scripture itself, then, the fact that Adam was created first and then Eve has implications not just for Adam and Eve, but for the relationships between men and women throughout the church age.
2. The representation: Adam, not Eve, had a special role in representing the human race.
Looking at the Genesis narrative, we find that Eve sinned first, and then Adam sinned: "She took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate" (Genesis 3:6). Since Eve sinned first, we might expect that the New Testament would tell us that we inherit a sinful nature because of Eve's sin, or that we are counted guilty because of Eve's sin. But this is not the case. The New Testament does not say, "as in Eve all die," but rather, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).
This is further seen in the parallel between Adam and Christ, where Paul views Christ as the "last Adam":
Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. ... The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. ... Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:45–49; see also Romans 5:12–21, where another relationship between Adam and Christ is developed.)
It is unmistakable then that Adam had a leadership role in representing the entire human race, a leadership role that Eve did not have. Nor did Adam and Eve together represent the human race. Adam alone represented the human race, because he had a particular leadership role that God had given him, a role Eve did not share.
3. The naming of woman: When God made the first woman and "brought her to the man," the Bible tells us, "Then the man said,
"'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.'" (Genesis 2:23)
When Adam says, "she shall be called Woman," he is giving a name to her. This is important because in the context of Genesis 1–2, the original readers would have recognized that the person doing the "naming" of created things is always the person who has authority over those things. Some egalitarians (such as Gilbert Bilezikian and Stanley Grenz) deny that Adam gives a name to his wife in Genesis 2:23.14 But this objection is hardly convincing when we see how Genesis 2:23 fits into the pattern of naming activities throughout these first two chapters of Genesis. We see this when we examine the places where the same verb (the Hebrew verb qara', "to call") is used in contexts of naming in Genesis 1–2:
Genesis 1:5: "God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night."
Genesis 1:8: "And God called the expanse Heaven."
Genesis 1:10: "God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas."
Genesis 2:19: "So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name."
Genesis 2:20: "The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field."
In each of these verses prior to Genesis 2:23, the same verb, the Hebrew verb qara', had been used. Just as God demonstrated His sovereignty over day and night, heavens, earth, and seas by assigning them names, so Adam demonstrated his authority over the animal kingdom by assigning every living creature its name. The original readers would have easily recognized the pattern and they would have seen a continuation of the pattern when Adam said, "she shall be called Woman."
The original readers of Genesis and of the rest of the Old Testament would have been familiar with this pattern, a pattern whereby people who have authority over another person or thing have the ability to assign a name to that person or thing, a name that often indicates something of the character or quality of the person. Thus, parents give names to their children (see Genesis 4:25, 26; 5:3, 29; 16:15; 19:37, 38; 21:3). And God is able to change the names of people when He wishes to indicate a change in their character or role (see Genesis 17:5, 15, where God changes Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai's name to Sarah). In each of these passages we have the same verb (qara') as is used in Genesis 2:23, and in each case the person who gives the name has authority over the person who receives the name. Therefore when Adam gives to his wife the name "Woman," this indicates a kind of authority that God gave to Adam, a leadership function that Eve did not have with respect to her husband.
Linda Belleville objects that naming in the Old Testament "was not an act of control or power." But this misses the point. The point is not that in the act of naming the person controls or exercises power over someone else (in a sort of magical way). The point is that the authority to give a name in itself assumes that the person giving the name already has authority over the person or thing receiving that name.
We should notice here that Adam does not give the personal name Eve to his wife until Genesis 3:20 ("the man called [qara'] his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living"). This is because in the creation story in Genesis 2, Adam is giving a broad category name to his wife, indicating the name that would be given to women generally; he is not giving specific personal names designating the character of the individual person.
4. The naming of the human race: God named the human race "Man," not "Woman." Because the idea of naming is so important in the Old Testament, it is significant to notice what name God chose for the human race as a whole. We read,
When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. (Genesis 5:1–2)(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth"
Copyright © 2012 Wayne A. Grudem.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Crossway Reprint Edition,
How to Use This Book,
Chapter One: A Biblical Vision of Manhood and Womanhood as Created by God,
Chapter Two: A Biblical Vision of Manhood and Womanhood in the Church,
Chapter Three: Evangelical Feminist Claims from Genesis 1–3,
Chapter Four: Evangelical Feminist Claims from the Rest of the Old Testament,
Chapter Five: Evangelical Feminist Claims from the Gospels and Acts,
Chapter Six: Evangelical Feminist Claims About Marriage from the New Testament Epistles,
Chapter Seven: Evangelical Feminist Claims About the Church from the New Testament Epistles,
Chapter Eight: Evangelical Feminist Claims About the Church from 1 Timothy 2,
Chapter Nine: Evangelical Feminist Claims About How to Interpret and Apply the Bible,
Chapter Ten: Evangelical Feminist Claims from Theology and from Ideas of Fairness and Justice,
Chapter Eleven: Evangelical Feminist Claims from History and Experience,
Chapter Twelve: Evangelical Feminist Claims That the Complementarian View Is Harmful,
Chapter Thirteen: Is Evangelical Feminism the New Path to Liberalism? Some Disturbing Warning Signs,
Chapter Fourteen: The Current State of Evangelicalism Regarding Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,
What People are Saying About This
“The major strength of this work is that it engages with the best egalitarian writing over the past twenty years. This is a massive work which is unique in its breadth and detail.”
Sharon James, Evangelical Quarterly 78 (2006): 65–84. UK.
“Though the [book’s] contents reflect Grudem’s commendable scholarly research and clear thinking, he also presents the material in an extraordinarily well-organized format and in highly readable prose. . . . Grudem proves masterful in his refutation of the arguments [of egalitarianism]. Yet, he maintains an unusually irenic and charitable spirit in so doing, for which he is to be commended. . . . [This book] should be read by anyone who wants to understand both Scripture and the current debate on this theme. I highly recommend this new volume by Dr. Grudem as the appropriate follow-up to and extension of the discussion in the earlier volume, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.”
Richard Mayhue, Research Professor of Theology, The Master's Seminary
“Impressive. . . . Leaves no stone unturned. Grudem deals with every question imaginable that is connected with the biblical texts on the topic from Genesis 1 to 1 Timothy 2. . . . In all cases Grudem tries to argue in the best way possible, taking into account the most recent research and literature on each topic. . . . The book is meant to be used as a reference book when looking for answers to a specific argument in the debate.”
Jürg Buchegger, Evangelical Review of Theology 32 (2008): 275–77. USA.
“In this day and age, any serious student of the Bible must wrestle with its teachings on the role of men and women. Featuring meticulous research in an easy questions-and-answer format, Wayne Grudem’s book is an invaluable resource.”
Mary A. Kassian, author, Girls Gone Wise
“After the Bible, I cannot imagine a more useful book for finding reliable help in understanding God’s will for manhood and womanhood in the church and the home. The practical design of this book will help laypeople find answers without having to read eight hundred pages. But the rigor of scholarship, the amazing thoroughness, and the unparalleled clarity (which Wayne Grudem is justly famous for!) will make this book the standard complementarian manifesto for many years to come. I thank God and stand in respectful awe of Grudem’s achievement.”
John Piper, Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary; author, Desiring God
“The entire body of Christ owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Wayne Grudem for his effort in producing this outstanding, comprehensive work; for his courage in taking on what has become a Goliath within the camp of modern-day evangelicalism; and for his noncombative, gracious spirit in doing so. Those who love the truth will find here an invaluable resource in a user-friendly format that is both scholarly and accessible. They cannot help but appreciate this fair, thorough, warmhearted treatment of one of the most significant issues facing the church today.”
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author; Teacher and Host, Revive Our Hearts
“The gender issue may well be the critical fault line for contemporary theology. Controversies over these issues involve basic questions of biblical authority, God’s order and design for creation, and Christ’s purpose for the church. Wayne Grudem cuts through the confusion, making Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth an important book that is urgently needed. This book belongs in the hands of every pastor, seminary student, and thinking person.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“In a troubling debate, resolution of which is currently out of sight, this extended monograph is a must-read for all who care about biblical authority, Christian relationships, and well-ordered church life. Laboriously and exhaustively, with clarity, charity and a scholar’s objectivity, Wayne Grudem sifts through 118 current challenges to the Bible’s apparent teaching on men and women. This is the fullest and most informative analysis available, and no one will be able to deny the cumulative strength of the case this author makes, as he vindicates the older paths.”
J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College
“Wayne Grudem has produced an invaluable resource for refuting the confusing and tortured arguments evangelical feminists are using to redefine women’s roles in the church and home. His masterful work helps clarify what is at risk in this life-and-death issuenothing less than the doctrine of God and the doctrine of Scripture. I highly recommend it.”
Barbara Hughes, author, Disciplines of a Godly Woman; coauthor, Disciplines of a Godly Family
“Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth is a tour de force. Over the last twenty years, no one has articulated, clarified, specified, and defended the Bible’s teaching on male and female role relationships in the home and church better than Wayne Grudem, and he once again shows that he is master of this field. Grudem faithfully and carefully sets out God’s instruction on this important aspect of Christian discipleship and then answers the whole range of questions and excuses that are raised against the plain teaching of Scripture. His analysis is trenchant, his presentation persuasive, his scope comprehensive, his grasp magisterial. In the old days, mathematicians and logicians would often place three letters at the end of a completed equation or proof: QED, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum (literally “that which was to be demonstrated”) indicating that the problem had been solved and the matter settled definitively. Well, you can write a QED at the end of this book. The debate is over. The only question now is whether we will bow our hearts to the authority of the Lord’s inspired, inerrant, perspicuous Word on the matter of biblical manhood and womanhood.”
Ligon Duncan, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
“If you love truth more than feminism, you will treasure this book. If you love feminism more than truth, you will despise it.”
“In his exhaustive treatment of the evangelical feminist debate, Wayne Grudem proves that the Word of God is still authoritative for all issues of faith and practice. His through scholarship, combined with a direct approach in an easy-to-read style, makes this work a vital reference for every Christian library.”
Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
“Forty years of feminist indoctrination has replaced a sound Christian worldview in many of our churches and seminaries. Wayne Grudem explores some of the most contentious issues in the church today and bases his studied responses upon Scripture and sound Christian doctrine. I recommend this book highly, especially to those women who have endured feminist studies in our colleges and universities and are trying to evaluate that teaching in light of their Christian profession of faith.”
Diane Passno, Executive Vice President, Focus on the Family; author, Feminism: Mystique or Mistake?
“As an evangelical woman dedicated to standing under Scripture, and more especially as a professor of theology in women’s studies, I am deeply indebted to Wayne Grudem for his careful research, clear exegesis, and faithful theological foundations. In Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, he has provided another valuable resource for women and men who want to remain faithful to biblical guidelines while keeping their hearts turned to humble service to Christ. I will be adding this volume to my personal desk resources, recommending it to my students to consider in their spiritual journeys, and encouraging anyone seeking answers to difficult questions to examine the proposals found in this timely work.”
Dorothy Kelley Patterson, Professor, Theology in Women's Studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“With diplomacy and world-class scholarship, Wayne Grudem has taken on not just some of the thorny questions, but the entire briar patch! This book will be used and referenced by scholars, church leaders, and laymen and laywomen for decades.”
Dennis Rainey, President and CEO, FamilyLife; Host, FamilyLife Today; author, Stepping Up
“While our culture is careening out of control in its understanding of what it means to be a man or a woman, the winds of change have swept into evangelical circles and caused no little controversy. Many are confused by the streams of books and articles from evangelical feminists. In this magnificently clear and comprehensive work, Wayne Grudem calls the church of Jesus Christ back to the Scriptures, showing that the Bible itself prescribes different roles for men and women. Remarkably, almost every question a reader might have on this subject is answered here. This book is a treasure and a resource demonstrating that the complementarian view is biblical and beautiful.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“This book is the most thorough refutation of evangelical feminism you can get. Not only is it well organized and easy to navigate, but it provide the most up-to-date research on nearly every conceivable argument being put forth by egalitarians. And it is written with the superior precision and clarity we have come to expect from Wayne Grudem. Every Christian who is concerned about the negative impact of evangelical feminism, or who just wants to get up to speed on the debate, should take advantage of this great resource.”
Randy Stinson, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration and Provost, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The evangelical world has waiting a long time for such a comprehensive work on what has become, sadly, a controversial topic. This is the most thorough, balanced, and biblically accurate treatment of feminism and the Bible I have seen. It also exudes kindness and grace, qualities sorely needed for meaningful dialogue on this foundational issue.”
Stu Weber, author, Tender Warrior
“This is an indispensable reference work. Wayne Grudem’s repeated call for upholding the equal worth, sanctity, and spiritual giftedness of both sexes should be welcomed by all sides. A major contribution to an increasingly crucial discussion.”
Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary