Preserving Biblical Gender Roles In A “Pre-Adult” Culture -- By: Phillip Bethancourt
JBMW 17:2 (Fall 2012) p. 46
Preserving Biblical Gender Roles
In A “Pre-Adult” Culture
A Review of Kay S. Hymowitz, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys. New York: Basic Books, 2011.
Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management
Assistant Professor of Christian Theology
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
In Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, author Kay Hymowitz tracks the emerging gender shifts and confusion that result from the rise of “pre-adulthood” in modern society. Hymowitz observes that pre-adulthood has introduced a period of delayed adolescence that provides a “contemporary stage for young men and women to deal with the big questions about their lives” (7-8). The book comments on how “pre-adult” men and women have coped with this transformation caused by the emergence of the knowledge economy in ways that have upended traditional cultural (and, more importantly for our purposes, biblical) norms about gender.
Capturing a cultural buzzword that is generally used in situations calling for courage in the midst of crisis, Manning Up discusses how the rise of women has coincided with the delay of adolescence among men. Along the way, Hymowitz documents the ascendance of the “alpha girl” and the fall of the “child-man” who is the “cultural antithesis of the alpha girl” (14). While the emergence of pre-adulthood and the knowledge economy has enabled women to reach new heights, the reverse has happened to men. As a result, questions about gender roles, gender distinctives, and vocation have shaped the search for identity among pre-adults. Though Hymowitz writes from a largely secular feminist perspective, Manning Up calls for a reflection on the impact the knowledge economy has had on both sexes in a way that can help evangelicals reconsider how they preserve gender roles in the church and the home.
Several ideas that shape Hymowitz’s discussion of the contemporary gender revolution can help evangelicals think through how to preserve biblical gender roles in the church and the home. First, Manning Up recognizes that a root issue for gender confusion is a crisis of identity. Hymowitz observes, “As a mass phenomenon, a largely open-ended what-should-I-do-with-my-life question is a cultural novelty, one that has fundamentally transformed the life script for a good chunk of the American population” (21). For contemporary pre-adults, work, career, and independence are “the primary sources of identity today” (45). Instead, Christian men and women are able to find their identity in their faith-union with Christ who anchors them amidst the upheaval of modern gender expectations. Hy...
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