Friday, April 20, 2012

Primary responsibilities, according to Grudem

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Wayne Grudem, although before I dive in I want to assure you that I’m positive he’s a lovely man and I don’t have anything against him per se (loving the sinner, hating the sin and all that*). I mention his name in particular a lot in relation to the gender issue for the simple fact that he’s one of the more vocal anti-egalitarians, and therefore bothers to write the books that I can then disagree with. I’ve mentioned Biblical Truth and Evangelical Feminism briefly in a previous post; I didn’t get far through it, as the opening chapters did such a wonderful job of infuriating me that I found no need to read the rest. Besides, I had borrowed the book from the college library and feared being fined if I was to return it looking as though it had been thrown across the room multiple times, as indeed it would have been had I continued reading.

There was one particular section that I’ve thought about over and over since reading it for college and again last year; I’m finally writing about it here so that I can let it go in order to move on in this journey (to return to the image from this post). Early on in his book, Grudem spells out what complementarians believe, part of which is that “the created order” supposedly shows us that men and women have different roles in marriage: “The man’s responsibility [is] to provide for and protect, and the woman’s responsibility [is] to care for the home and to nurture children.”

Grudem then goes on to suggest a list of obviously-culturally-bound verses as evidence for this notion (for men, Deuteronomy 20:7-8: “Men go forth to war, not women, here and in many Old Testament passages,” he explains; for women, 1 Timothy 5:3-16, because it says that “widows, not widowers, are to be supported by the church”*). Presumably Grudem doesn’t approve of daughters being sold to men for marriage or discarded for/shared with newer wives, though we can find examples of these in the Bible too; I guess we should only follow the parts where women cook and have babies and men do the leader-y things...

Apart from his complete disregard for the patriarchal culture of Bible times, I have a couple of problems with these responsibilities as Grudem sees them: First, there’s the stuff he says about men, and second, there’s the stuff he says about women. Seriously though, folks, I wholeheartedly believe that what Grudem says here is not only wrong but can be/has been incredibly harmful, and it has implications not only for husbands and wives but for all women and men in the church. I’ll stop here, fully aware that this post is only an introduction, but what follows is too long so I’m splitting the whole thing into three. Because I love you. 

#2: A man's primary responsibility, according to Grudem
#3: A wife's primary responsibility, according to Grudem


* Please imagine an emoticon smiling cheekily here.
** All quotes are from page 44.


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