Friday, October 26, 2012

Women, Slaves and the Gender Debate by Benjamin Reaoch

One of the things I read before sleeping (while randomly googling on my phone), would be about Christian Patriarchy and Complementarianism and Gender Equality. Basically, it all boils down to one question - is the guy superior to the girl? Patriarchy says "yes", Complementarians say "we are made for different roles" and Egalitarians (Gender Equality) say "we are equal." This book is supposed to address that.

Now, seeing as I was the girl who used to pick fights saying "Girls are better than boys" and (less controversially) "Girls can do anything boys can do", I naturally lean towards Egalitarianism. And depending on what Complementarianism is (I'm still not sure what it's about), I may or may not support it. And I shouldn't need to state my position against Patriarchy.

In Christianity, there are a few key verses that people have been debating over with regards to this subject. This book aims to deal with these verses and conclusively determine what the Bible says on this position. Because the whole "wife-submit-to-your-husband" verses are closely tied to the "slave-submit-to-your-master", the author tries to make the case that the slave verses are cultural-specific, but the wife-verses are a timeless principal.

First off, throughout the book, the author has never defined male headship. He mentions the whole leading thing, but he does not define the limits. If he does, it wasn't marked out clearly enough, and I missed it.

Secondly, this book is pro-complementarian and more-or-less against egalitarianism. I say this because the bias behind the book is very important. Speaking as someone who has attempted to write a thesis before, I can tell you that your position is going to influence how you interpret things and how receptive you are to facts that disagree with you. So while the author is really polite towards the theorists he disagrees with, you can see that he thinks their wrong.

Thirdly, and this is really a fault on my part, I couldn't understand the book. I have no knowledge of Hebrew or the Biblical languages, so even if you tell me that what this particle mean, I have no way of knowing if you're telling me the truth. In addition, I found the argument hard to follow. I think I understand the basic gist of what this book is saying (I know what the conclusion is though), but it's an understanding so tenuous that I can't put it down in words.

But really, with all the different opinions floating around claiming to be the true interpretation of God's Word, what's a girl to believe?

Strangely, I'm absolutely confident that the Bible is the inspired and true Word of God, but I'm very murky on the details. I find it easier to understand apologetics than theology. So to me, this book was harder to understand. Although strangely, from what I understood, I ended up agreeing with the arguments of the ones he tries to discredit rather than his arguments.

In my opinion, I would disagree with the author, but not on the basis of his arguments. My reasons for disagreeing with the concept of male headship is that I believe that God gives people different gifts, and that he does give some women the gift of leadership. Just look in Judges, where Deborah lead the people of Israel. I believe that people who say that women should not have authority over men are denying women who are gifted by God with the gift of leadership.

Personally, I found this book hard to read and understand. But it may be that I'm simply not familiar with this topic, and hence, find it difficult to grasp. I would recommend this to people interested in the patriarchy debate, who are fairly knowledgeable about the topic and can follow along academic arguments.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. With regard to the whole slaves submit to your master/ wives your husbands thing. He is correct. Slavery has taken many forms over the centuries, for sure the slavery of the New Testament era was much different than the kind we have seen in America in the past. Whereas something like the institution of marriage, and the guidelines that God has set down for marriage are the same. maybe that helps clear it up?

    Also, your aplogetics vs theology comment is confusing, apologetics is so tied up in theology both Biblical, and systematic. It is a natural offshoot of those two disciplines, that you cant have apologetics without theology.

    1. Hi,

      Um, so you're saying that his argument is correct? Although I do think slavery is the same no matter what time you're in.

      Hmm... I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't very clear. I meant to say that in matters regarding the accuracy of the Bible (like what it says about the age of the earth and such), I tend to understand the arguments better, while I get more confused about the interpretation of the Bible. Perhaps that is because for every interpretation, there is an opposite one.



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