Being Biblical About Men and Women

If two giants among Evangelical thinkers wrote a book about gender roles and dedicated it to their wives that would be enough to pique my interest. Add to this fact that the two thinkers in question are John Piper and Wayne Grudem and now you’ve really got my attention! However, they didn’t write the book—they edited it. And it’s not new—it was published by Crossway way back in 1991. But it’s still timely.

I had a brief online chat with my nephew this morning—a budding theologian—in which we discussed the prevailing egalitarianism on the campus where he is studying. Egalitarianism is the currently popular label for “Evangelical feminism”—the view that there is no role difference prescribed in the Bible for men and women. So, we should not think that the Bible tells men to lead and “head” their wives and families. We should not think, according to this view, that only men should be pastors or elders in our churches. Regardless of what label we apply to this view, if you walk around the campus of a Christian Bible college or seminary and ask students what they think about male headship in marriage, family and church, you will probably get an earful. This is still a timely issue.

However, in the many, many conversations I’ve had about this with men and women—some of those conversation were quite heated!—I always hear the same old arguments against the biblical view of gender. I won’t repeat the main arguments here, but if you are opposed to male headship in marriage, family and church, then you’re probably thinking one or two of those tired old arguments right now! What frustrates me personally about this is that for Bible-loving egalitarians, the work has already been done that shows that each of the key Bible passages on this topic really mean what it seems like they mean. And not just for that time in the first century, in the Roman world, but for now and here and all time and all places and all cultures. The common challenges have been answered. The typical arguments have been refuted. The key Bible passages have been thoughtfully and sensitively examined and explained.

And all this has been published in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway, 1991), edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. They dedicated this book to their wives, Noël and Margaret. This past year, Piper took a year off from his pastoral responsibilities to dedicate himself to his marriage and family. He loves and cares for his children and wife. He’s not looking to dominate them any more than he dominates Bethlehem Baptist Church. In fact, as he exemplifies fairly well, I have seen my own wife thrive more the more I worked at leading her well in the way the Bible teaches. Not as controller but as protector; not as abuser but as lover; not to be served by her but to serve her. I don’t do these things as well as I would like and as well as I long to. But the more I strive to do them well, the more she blossoms. Go ahead: ask her!

If you still struggle with what the Bible has to say in the famously debated passages like 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 2-3 and Ephesians 5, then please read this book. It will apply the Bible to your struggle. It might even change your mind. You can buy it here or download it for free here.