“Equal in Being, Unequal in Role’: Exploring the Logic of Woman’s Subordination” (Ch 18) by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis -- By: Dorothy Patterson

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 10:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role’: Exploring the Logic of Woman’s Subordination” (Ch 18) by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis
Author: Dorothy Patterson


“Equal in Being, Unequal in Role’:
Exploring the Logic of Woman’s Subordination”
(Ch 18) by Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

Dorothy Patterson

Professor of Women’s Studies
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

What is the Battle?

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, not only the author of the chapter under review but also one of the editors of Discovering Biblical Equality, sets the tone for her chapter as well as for the volume as a whole in an interview in which she brushed aside “exegeting a few controversial biblical proof texts. .. or proof words” and indicated that she wanted to show that “biblical equality makes sense from every angle.”1 In so doing she immediately puts herself at odds with a large segment of the evangelical world who would see careful exegesis of pertinent texts, together with linguistic analysis of the words within those texts, as the bedrock of any search for understanding what God is saying in setting his guidelines and establishing his mandate for women and men in how they should live, serve, and interact with one another. The issue remains that divine guidelines and paradigms must be primary and foremost and the molding factors for individual choices.

Groothuis must be an extraordinary woman. According to her on-line biography, with a B.S. degree in psychology, she has been lecturing at Denver and Fuller seminaries, while through personal study equipping herself to do research and write in biblical studies and theology, disciplines other than those she formally studied. In the author information of her publications she is identified as “a free-lance writer and editor.” Perhaps her decision to change venue from her formal study to her avocation of writing on topics in theology and philosophy accounts for the lack of biblical and theological references in her allusions to passages of Scripture and her lack of direct interaction with those whom she considers her opponents.

Interestingly, Groothuis not only defines the terms of her own position, but she also redefines the terms describing the positions she is critiquing. Such casuistry may give one a bit of an edge when trying to defeat an opponent and her position, but it does smack of a less

than scholarly approach to academic debate. The pressure is then upon the reader not only to read what Groothuis has written but also to be careful to read the words of those whose positions she seems to be maligning and systematically redefining in the process. For example, in footnote 25 of her chapter, she alludes to Piper and Grudem as arguing that “just as the animal...

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