Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 12:2 (Fall 1991)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism.Wheaton: Crossway, 1991. xxviii + 566 pp.

In a society that celebrates gender neutrality, a culture in which political correctness demands inclusive language, and a legal community that condemns any gender-based role differences as discriminatory, one simple question begs for an answer: What does it mean for a boy to grow up to be a man and not a woman? And what does it mean for a girl to grow up to be a woman and not a man? Clearly this is a topic of increasing confusion, as the fog of public opinion has only thickened during the last decade.

Some champion the androgynous ideal, arguing that the only differences between men and women are physiological. The biological givens of sex have no intrinsic relationship with the culturally bound customs of gender, and therefore manhood and womanhood can only be defined in terms of tradition. The terms “mother” and “father” are out; now “parents” are all children need for healthy development. Gender is irrelevant to our identity as human beings.

Increasingly, however, even among those of a more radical stripe, differences of a more significant sort are being acknowledged. (Consider the popularity of Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation [1990].) Our gender is an essential aspect of our personhood, reaching to the core of our being. Yet even with such an acknowledgement, few are willing to speak in positive terms about how manhood and womanhood are to be defined. So the question remains, What does it mean for a boy to grow up to be a man rather than a woman (and vice versa)? Seeking at least in part to respond to this question John Piper and Wayne Grudem have gathered twenty-two authors to join in discussing this hotly debated topic.

This book is a project of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood which came into public view in 1988 with the publication of its “Danvers Statement,” setting forth ten affirmations on the value and roles of men and women. The editors have included that statement in an appendix, and the book is intended to be an exposition and justification of it.

It is interesting that a book addressing the subject of sexuality should begin with an essay on singleness. John Piper’s foreword on this theme sets a pastoral tone, demonstrating a concern for this growing segment of our population that is often neglected in Christian writing. Marriage is not a prerequisite for personal wholeness, he contends. Singleness gives opportunity for service and does not prevent anyone from achieving maturity in manhood or womanhood.

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