Recovering From Un-Biblical
Manhood and Womanhood:
A Response to Evangelical Patriarchy
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) do not like to use the words "patriarchy" or "hierarchy" when describing their theology. Yet, their theology sounds and looks remarkably like the hierarchy that exists within patriarchy with its insistence that men should always be in charge and women should always obey. But how solid are the arguments in favor of the man’s rule over the woman, and how well do they hold up under scrutiny? “Recovering From Un-Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Patriarchy” examines the main arguments in an easy-to-read dialogue format that allows the reader to reach his/her own conclusions while enjoying a deep, yet lighthearted, theological discussion.
Counselor: How can I help you?
Christian: I’ve been feeling confused lately, and I’m not sure why.
Counselor: Has something happened that could have caused this feeling?
Christian: Well, I’ve been reading a book called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Counselor: And did this feeling of confusion begin after you read this book?
Christian: I think so.
Counselor: Perhaps there is something in this particular book that caused the confusion?
Christian: It’s funny that you mentioned that, for I did notice that there was something strange about this book.
Counselor: What do you mean?
Christian: Well, the book is a collection of essays, but the different writers don’t always seem to agree.
Counselor: I see. Do you think the disagreements are causing the feeling of confusion?
Christian: Perhaps. But if that is the case, how can I get rid of it?
Counselor: The best way to get rid of confusion is to remove that which confuses.
Christian: But how will I do that?
Counselor: By talking to someone who can help you sort out your thoughts, and I know just the person.
(The next morning)
Theologian: Good morning! I understand you have some questions for me.
Christian: Yes, um, I read this book called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood--
Theologian: … and now you feel confused.
Christian: How did you know?
Theologian: Because it happens to a lot of people. It’s quite simple really; contradictory information creates the feeling of mental discomfort caused by an attempt to accept inconsistent cognitions.
Christian: Eh… can you say that again….
Theologian: [Laughs] Of course. If you attempt to accept contradictory beliefs without choosing one over the other, you will experience mental discomfort. It occurs because your mind cannot accept the contradiction, and this discomfort is called cognitive dissonance.
Christian: So you’re saying I have this “cognitive dissonance”?
Theologian: I believe so.
Christian: But how do I get rid of it?
Theologian: By deliberately choosing one belief over the other.
Christian: But how can I choose one belief over the other if I don’t know which belief represents the truth?
Theologian: That’s a good question. Why don’t we go through the book together and see if we can’t find the truth?
Christian: Sounds great, when can we start?
Theologian: How about now?
Christian: Works for me!
Theologian: Okay. Let’s begin with some definitions. In your own words, how would you describe biblical manhood and womanhood?
Christian: Husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership, and grow in love and care for their wives, and wives should give up resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership.
Theologian: So it applies only to married people?
Christian: No, it applies to all humans.
Theologian: But not all humans are married to each other. How do people relate to each other outside of marriage?
Christian: Well, according to the Foreword of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, all people relate to each other as men and women.
Theologian: Does the Foreword say in what way?
Christian: I really don’t know. I never thought about it.
Theologian: Let’s see who wrote it… Ah, John Piper. What do you remember him saying on the subject?
Christian: Well, he quoted lots of different people—which I appreciated—but I thought it was strange that he said marriage will no longer exist after the resurrection, because he wrote also that there would have been no singleness if there had been no fall. I don’t understand how it is possible that everyone would have been married if this world had remained perfect, but in the New Earth everyone’s going to be single.
Theologian: Well, the New Earth is not going to be an exact replica of this world because of the resurrection.
Christian: So, you’re saying God has changed his mind?
Theologian: Not changed his mind—just altered the plan a little to accommodate for the existence of death and resurrection.
Christian: But if God has modified the plan, and all of us are going to be single for all eternity, why were men and women created to marry here and now? As far as I can tell, Genesis 2:18-24 clearly says the woman’s creation from the man is the foundation for marriage.
Theologian: Does Piper have an answer for you?
Christian: Well, he quotes an anonymous person who writes, “I believe that Genesis 2:18 extends beyond the principle of marriage.”
Theologian: Does this anonymous person explain how this verse also extends beyond the principle of marriage?
Christian: No, but, uh, Piper writes, “We are persuaded from Scripture that masculinity and femininity are rooted in who we are by nature.”
Theologian: I wonder how Piper can be persuaded about such things since the Bible doesn’t mention masculinity or femininity.
Christian: Are you saying Piper confuses masculinity and femininity with who men and women are?
Theologian: Clearly he does. The terms themselves are not the problem, for they can be very useful in describing cultural stereotypes. The problem is how Piper uses them; he claims men should be masculine and women feminine, yet all of us are a little bit of both.
Christian: Are you saying that masculinity and femininity are based only on cultural stereotypes?
Theologian: Well consider, where do we get our ideas about masculinity and femininity from?
Theologian: Precisely. And most of these cultural stereotypes we are dealing with here have been around for a very long time, for people have just kept on teaching them to their children, generation after generation.
Christian: But if we all adhere to these cultural stereotypes, how can we find out what is biblical and what is not?
Theologian: By studying the Bible.
Christian: But don’t we all interpret what we read?
Theologian: You’re right, we do.
Christian: So how can I know if the Bible really says what I think it does?
Theologian: That’s an important question, but unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple.
Christian: So then there is no hope!
Theologian: But there is. You see, our theology helps us read the Bible correctly, and our reading of the Bible corrects our theology as we go along. Hence, by examining the arguments presented in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and comparing them to the Bible, we can either affirm them or reject them. And by doing so we are able to find the beliefs that represent the truth, which will in turn help you with your cognitive dissonance.
Christian: So, where do we begin?
Theologian: Why don’t we go to chapter 1 and see what we’ll find?
 John Piper and Wayne Grudem, ed. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991].
Affirmations, # 6.1 http://cbmw.org/core-beliefs/ [accessed 6/30/2014]
 Foreword xvii-xxviii
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