Gender and Grace: Love, Work and Parenting in a Changing World, by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen (InterVarsity, 278 pp.; $9.95, paper). Reviewed by Michael W. Mangis, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois.
In her latest book, Gender and Grace, social psychologist Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen once again proves she is a leading figure in the integration of faith and the social sciences. Concerned that many Christians approach gender roles with little knowledge of the issues, she has prepared a comprehensive introduction. Van Leeuwen argues cogently that Christians should be interested in the knowledge to be gained from natural revelation and suggests ways it can help us build on a scriptural framework.
Many discussions about gender roles begin, and immediately bog down, in battles over interpretation of Pauline passages, leaving other questions unanswered. Saving “headship” until the final chapter, Van Leeuwen begins at the beginning, with the opening chapters of Genesis. She asks, Which gender differences were intended by God? And from there she goes on to explore other questions: How do gender differences come about? Which are genetically inevitable and which are more cultural? What are the costs, to men and women, of the current gender distinctions?
Van Leeuwen grounds her arguments in Scripture. She proposes that Adam and Eve sinned differently, each overstepping the bounds of part of God’s cultural mandate, resulting in a similarly differentiated curse. Our interpretation of gender roles, Van Leeuwen suggests, must begin with an understanding that much of what we consider the “natural” order of things is not what God originally intended. The fallen state of gender roles ...1
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