Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gender & Grace

I was first introduced to Mary Stewart VanLeeuwen in the early 1990's through a Presbyterian journal. Although I wasn't quite ready for her ideas, I was impressed with her attitude of humility and her gracious tone.  

The distinguishing marks of prominent feminists at that time, were anger and denigration of men, NOT humility and grace!  I found Ms. VanLeeuwen antithetical to my views of feminism.  I also found her theological views antithetical to mine…or at least too much of a stretch for me to assimilate at that time.  But her attitude and tone struck a basic chord in me and caused me to remember her.  

In particular, her call to women to wait patiently and humbly for the Spirit of God to do a work in his people that would lead to greater respect for and incorporation into the "important" aspects of civic and church life, was powerful.  Though she sincerely believed that things were askew in the church, she also sincerely believed that being assertive, angry, and demanding were not Christian avenues to fomenting biblical change. 

I am just now…nearly 25 years later…getting around to reading her books.  My respect continues to increase based on her scholarship and her honesty.  She holds tightly to the foundational truths of the Scriptures, holding them in higher regard than American cultural norms…something MANY of us are hard-pressed to do.  We perceive the interpretations of our own time and place as representative of The Truth, and sometimes refuse to see the distorting effects of the Fall on our own application of God's creative and redemptive work.  She assigns responsibility to both men and women for the current state of gender perception and roles.  She considers multiple anthropological studies, philosophy of culture, created design, nature, nurture, biology, psychology, etc. as influences on our perceptions of gender in the narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.  

Because of her wide-reaching approach and her reverence for God's Truth and creative design, I commend her writing to you as worthy of consideration. 

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