Margaret and Andreas Kostenberger recently fielded questions addressed to them by Matt Smethurst of The Gospel Coalition regarding their new book God’s Design for Man and Woman. Here is an excerpt of their interview:
In the book you survey the Bible’s theology of man and woman. What do you understand God’s design for man and woman to be?
In our biblical-theological survey from Genesis to Revelation we identify a pervasive pattern of male leadership as well as a pattern of male-female partnership. Far from flowing from a few isolated, debated passages, the pattern of male leadership... Read More
For many decades, feminists have characterized the Old Testament’s teaching on gender roles in terms of patriarchy, the control and domination of the father in exercising an authoritative, if not oppressive or even abusive, rule over his wife and family. What is more, feminists have often alleged that the Bible is laced with a patriarchal bias that they must “uncover” by a hermeneutic of suspicion and correct with a sort of “affirmative action” through which women’s rightful place in Christianity and in the world is reclaimed, restored, and recast. But is the underlying premise of... Read More
When it comes to gender, we live in confusing times. For many, gender has become merely a subjective reality. We are male or female because we perceive ourselves as such. As a result, we can alter our gender identity at will, because our perception of ourselves may change over time. In addition, gender is often viewed as socially constructed. We are male or female because we were raised as boys and girls according to certain stereotypes of what it means to be a boy or girl. But again, these stereotypes are changing, and so may our gender identity.
Where do we turn in this age of rapidly... Read More
We believe that most labels are of limited value in describing any given topic or position, including the biblical terminology surrounding manhood and womanhood. Labels typically limit the description of a subject to a certain oversimplified caricature. The debates surrounding gender roles are no exception in that the discussion has been burdened with a simplistic kind of partisan, polemical, and politicized verbiage. As we’ve sought to elaborate in a recent post, the label “patriarchal,” for example, carries with it mostly negative baggage in our culture because of a heavy feminist... Read More
Christianity Today has an article on the recent Proposition 8 ruling that includes many different evangelical voices. Here is my response:
The ruling shows that as Christians, we should not look for a political solution to the crisis surrounding marriage and the family in our culture. The only true and lasting solution is found in a return to our spiritual foundations. The Bible makes clear that marriage is God’s idea rather than a social contract that we are free to renegotiate based on changing social trends. But we can’t expect the unbelieving world or any government or... Read More
My findings regarding the syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12 in the first edition of Women in the Church were widely accepted even among feminist scholars (though, of course, they still don’t agree with the book’s overall thrust on other grounds). There has been a recent exception, though, in the case of Philip Payne, who recently published an article in the journal New Testament Studies. In my 1995 essay in the first edition, I provided a thorough critique of Payne’s earlier unpublished 1988 paper on the subject. Now Payne, in turn, has responded to my study, claiming that 9 of the 100... Read More
Before returning to the important kingdom business of changing diapers, Debbie Maken has, in her own words, endeavored to “dissect” my reply in my previous post. As we will see, “dissect” my reply she did, but very selectively, and in many places misleadingly.
The opening salvo is that I and those in my “camp” (?) are “talk[ing] out of both sides of” our mouths. This is a surprisingly inflammatory way to start her critique, especially in light of her previous post objecting to my tone. Is this the tone she wants to use to model proper discourse? As to the substance of her... Read More
My post on the gift of singleness has generated many responses, some favorable, some negative. Of the latter, some said I misrepresented Debbie Maken’s book; others took issue with my proposed biblical trajectory regarding singleness. I should clarify that my post was not intended as a book review of Maken’s book; I mentioned her only in the first and final paragraph to relate my comments to the contemporary scene. My primary purpose was to set forth the biblical teaching on singleness by way of a digest from the chapter on singleness in my book, God, Marriage & Family. I should also... Read More
“30 and Single? It’s Your Own Fault”—a Christianity Today review summarizes the message, at least in part, of a controversial book, Getting Serious About Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness, by Debbie Maken. The author herself got serious about getting married at age 28, signed up with a Christian web agency, and shortly thereafter entered marital bliss. Maken’s contention, however, that women who are in their late 20s or in their 30s and still unmarried have only themselves to blame for listening to erroneous evangelical teaching on the subject has created quite a... Read More
You’ve heard it said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, the same is true with regard to scholarship. Those who are unaware of the most recent scholarly work on a given issue will be greatly handicapped in discussions of that issue. This is true, among other things, regarding the proper interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12.
In our book Women in the Church, originally published in 1995, my collaborators and I set forth the proposal that the passage means exactly what it says—imagine that!—which is, Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or have... Read More
The opening chapters of Genesis narrate God’s creation first of Adam, then of Eve from and for Adam as his “suitable helper” (Gen. 2:18, 20). The notion of Adam’s “headship,” that is, his position of ultimate responsibility and authority for his marriage and family, is supported by a series of factors:
Adam’s creation prior to the woman
Adam’s naming of the animals prior to the creation of Eve
Adam’s naming of Eve subsequent to God’s creation of her
God’s holding Adam—not Eve—responsible for his and Eve’s sin even though Eve had sinned first
the woman’s... Read More
In 1 Timothy 3:11, we read, “In the same way, women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” In context, the word “women” (Gr. gynē) refers either to women deacons or deacons’ wives. Translations are non-committal: the NIV has “the women,” with a footnote, “Probably women who are deacons’ wives or women who are deacons.” The NASB likewise has “women,” with a footnote, “either deacons’ wives or deaconesses.”
On the whole, “women deacons” is more likely, for the following reasons:
The absence of... Read More
In 1995, Tom Schreiner, H. S. Baldwin, and I edited the book Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 (soon to be published in a 3rd edition). The focus of the book is a thorough exegesis of 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says he does not permit women to teach or have authority over a man in the Church. Subsequent to the release of the book, when I participated in forums on the “women’s issue,” the question invariably came up what I thought 1 Timothy 2:15 meant. At that time, my honest answer was, “I don’t know,” because I hadn’t studied the passage in depth... Read More