Male and Female Complementarity…? Part 2


If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you won’t be surprised to hear that I read most of this essay by Bruce Ware with my mouth open.  (I had to do this to keep from swallowing my teeth.)  After plowing through the entire tome – it’s quite lengthy – my initial response was to draft a plank-by-plank repartee.   Naw.  Thankfully, that’s already been done by a number of quite capable others. Among the best is A Challenge for Proponents of Female Submission to Prove Their Case from the Bible, by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian.

It is beyond the scope and intent of this blog to offer a comprehensive critique of  Ware‘s essay  – mostly because I really do have a life and I’m not looking to take on any additional mammoth loads at the moment.  However, I was so stunned by some of the claims and dogmas proffered – claims and dogmas routinely lapped up and widely circulated within the “Bible believing, Evangelical community” sans second thought – that I felt a review and discussion of some of the salient points was in order.  So, here goes.

Ware begins his essay with this opening salvo in the third paragraph.  The remainder of his work is devoted to answers to the questions posed here:

What does it mean, though, that man as male and female has been created in the image and likeness of God? What does this tell us about the nature of manhood and womanhood as both male and female exhibit full and equal humanness as the image of God while also being distinguished as male (not female) and female (not male)? And, what relevance do these truths have for complementarian male/female relations with God and with one another?

In the “answer” portion of the essay that follows, sub-headings include:

Male and Female as the Image of God

– Male and Female Equality as Image of God

– Male and Female Differentiation as the Image of God

– Male and Female Complementarity as the Image of God

Ware missed the part about “Spiritual Apartheid According to the Bible.”  I’ll leave that for later.   (Sorry.  Couldn’t resist.)

Anyway, Ware offers a thoughtful discussion of what constitutes “the image of God” from several facets (functional, structural, relational, “functional holism,” etc.)  I’m not reproducing the whole nine yards here.  If I tried, I’d lose you to a snoring fit before the next paragraph, so I figure I oughtta leave well enough alone.  If you’re inclined, read it for yourself at the link provided.  I suggest sitting down with a really thick slice of raspberry (or strawberry) white chocolate cheesecake or a full bottle of extra-strength Tylenol.

Ware’s “image of God” discussion is thorough and includes “traditional understandings” from Irenaeus, Augustine, Acquinas to Calvin.  A lengthy reference to Hoekema’s definition and development of the concept/phrase is reviewed.  It winds down with:

The image of God, we found, describes not just something that man has, but something man is. It means that human beings both mirror and represent God. Thus, there is a sense in which the image includes the physical body. The image of God, we found further, includes both a structural and a functional aspect (sometimes called the broader and narrower image), though we must remember that in the biblical view structure is secondary, while function is primary. The image must be seen in man’s threefold relationship: toward God, toward others, and toward nature.[12]

Still with me?  If not, grab some No-Doze and stayed tuned.  You may also want to buckle up.  We’re in for quite a ride.


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