Evangelicals And Gender Roles In The 1990s: 1 Tim 2:8-15: A Test Case -- By: Ronald W. Pierce

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 36:3 (Sep 1993)
Article: Evangelicals And Gender Roles In The 1990s: 1 Tim 2:8-15: A Test Case
Author: Ronald W. Pierce

Evangelicals And Gender Roles In The 1990s:
1 Tim 2:8-15: A Test Case

Ronald W. Pierce*

I. Backlash In The 1980s

In her analysis of recent developments in the women’s movement in the United States, Susan Faludi has rightly labeled the 1980s the “backlash decade.”1 With this in mind the present study focuses specifically on North American evangelicalism, one of the many important expressions of the broader phenomenon, especially as it appeared in the context of the 1986 national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. A milestone in the modern debate, the conference chose as its theme “Male and Female in Biblical and Theological Perspective.” As many expected, the topic generated more heat than light, more reaction than response, resulting in a schism within the Society and the formation of two opposing yet nationally influential organizations, one called the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood2 and the other Christians for Biblical Equality.3 It is not an overstatement to say that these groups, which represent the hierarchical and egalitarian4 sides of evangelicalism, also define the opposing sides of a civil strife that has continued full strength into the 1990s.

Despite pleasant rhetoric about mutual commitment to the authority of Scripture and unity in Christ, the intensity of the conflict has been fueled

* Ronald Pierce is professor of Biblical studies at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

by insinuations and accusations from both sides. For example, in their Danvers Statement the hierarchical camp charges “Biblical feminism” with contributing to widespread uncertainty and confusion regarding gender roles in our culture, the deterioration of home and family values, legitimizing of perverse sexual relationships, physical and emotional abuse in the family, crippling the witness of the Church, the appearance of “hermeneutical oddities devised to reinterpret apparently plain meanings of Biblical texts,” and undermining the authority, clarity and accessibility of the Scriptures for the average Christian.5 For them “Biblical feminist” is an oxymoron. Similarly egalitarians have countered with charges of “hermeneutical gerrymandering,”6 of choosing to defer to the traditions of men rather than to take Scripture at face value,7 of having been unduly influenced by...

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