Recently, I heard a Christian leader claim that women and men are unequal in being. His conclusion seems to follow from at least two premises: (1) women are physically weaker than men; (2) women are less rational. Together, these make up the material (body) and immaterial (soul-reason) parts of a person.
“For millennia,” wrote Owen Strachan, “followers of God have practiced what used to be called patriarchy and is now called complementarianism.” Others have made similar statements, and so we might not be surprised that Beth Allison Barr identifies complementarianism with patriarchy, which Barr understands as a system of male power and female oppression.
How does she make this connection between patriarchy and complementarianism? First, Barr discusses a taxonomy of patriarchy and highlights this definition of it: “A society that promotes male authority and female submission” (13). She then explains, “Both the tradition of male church leaders and the authority of male household heads function within cultures that generally promote male authority and female submission” (14). In other words, male-only pastors and male leadership in the home exist as instances of a larger patriarchal society.
Although Barr may allow for good in hierarchies, she does not explain if or how that might be the cause. And she argues that “gender hierarchies oppress and damage both women and men in the name of Jesus” (9). If I understand her argument correctly then, gender hierarchies as such indicate patriarchy, and patriarchy by definition creates a system of power and oppression that privileges men and devalues and damages women. [Read more…] about The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr (A Review)
At the end of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul exhorts the church to, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor 16:13). In particular, the phrase “act like men” has led many to assert that the apostle makes a positive case for acting in a masculine manner.
This misconstrues the phrase’s meaning. The phrase “act like men” translates a single Greek word (ἀνδρίζομαι) which means to act in a courageous and virtuous manner. To understand the meaning of the verb translated above as “act like men,” we can refer to its dictionary definition, its use in contemporary sources, and its contextual meaning in 1 Corinthians. [Read more…] about What Does Paul Mean When He Says, “Act Like Men”?
A primary metaphor for our union with God in Christ is marriage. God is the groom, and we are the bride. Actually, this union does not merely use marriage a metaphor—it’s the reality that human marriage mysteriously imitates (Eph 5:32). Before all ages, our bridegroom planned to marry us so that we might become the bride of Christ.
But this is different than saying that Christianity as such is distinctively feminine! The Christian faith also has many masculine characteristics as we are all often called sons of God regardless of sex. God primarily reveals himself as Father and Son, not Mother and Daughter. Still, at other times, God reveals himself in secondary ways with distinctly feminine characteristics: as a mother eagle (Deut 32:11) or even as a mother comforting her child (Isa 66:13)
Therefore, along with masculine characteristics, there is a feminine characteristic to Christianity that often (at least in contemporary writings) lies forgotten. We are the bride of Christ. Consider how the Bible develops this spiritual mystery from Genesis to Revelation. [Read more…] about Is Christianity Feminine?
I want to define something that at one level is quite simple yet at another level can be hard to grasp. I want to define sex. No, not that kind of sex. I mean male and female—sex. Gender, in our modern discourse, often refers to the accidental and sometimes wished-for properties of humans. Sex, however, points to a concrete reality on the basis of biological and metaphysical norms for males and females. [Read more…] about What Is Sex?
Since human nature exists, sex does not amount to either biological or chemical properties in us; nor does it amount to a fluid identification of gender.
Human nature encodes capacity and purpose into humanity. Biology and chemistry can describe our constituent parts but insufficiently do so. We need to also define our capacity and purpose.
This means somewhat controversially that whether we have an xy, xx, or xxy chromosome pattern, these biological and chemical compositions do not tell the whole story. [Read more…] about What Gender Is the XXY Chromosome?