In his introduction, Kevin DeYoung says, ‘I have often wished for a book… that explained the Bible’s teaching about men and women in the church in a way that the interested layperson could understand, that is a size that he or she could read in a few hours.’ This book is the result and it meets the author’s wish admirably.
As a complementarian, DeYoung argues that although men and women were both created in the image of God and are of equal worth and dignity, God has given them different primary vocations. Beginning in Genesis, he shows that the man’s primary vocation is ‘naming, taming, dividing, and ruling’, whereas the woman’s involves ‘filling, glorifying, generating, establishing communion and bringing forth new life’ (p.33).
Moving through the Old Testament, the author brings out the pattern that only men exercise official leadership, providing for and protecting their households. From the New Testament, he shows how Jesus affirmed women’s worth and gladly benefitted from their ministry; yet Old Testament principles were confirmed as Jesus chose only men for positions of authority. A whole chapter is spent in 1 Corinthians, considering the matters of hair length, head coverings, and women being silent in the church.
DeYoung argues convincingly from Scripture that, as women should not teach or exercise authority over men, they should not hold positions of leadership or preach in the church. He addresses the more common objections to this viewpoint, and the appendix is devoted to a more thorough argument against women preaching.
As a woman reading this book, I was encouraged to see DeYoung affirming throughout the book the importance of a woman’s role in the family, the church, and in society in general. He is at pains to point out that submission in no way suggests inferiority (as shown in the Holy Trinity as the Son submits to the will of the Father).
He directly addresses those who have been hurt by the misuse of complementarian teaching as an excuse to mistreat others. ‘The truest form of biblical complementarity calls on men to protect women, honor women, speak kindly and thoughtfully to women, and to find every appropriate way to learn from them and include them in life and ministry – in the home and in the church’ (p.17).
Throughout the book, the author emphasises the valuable roles which women can play in the church. He notes that many spiritually-minded women have ventured into areas of teaching and authority because men have relinquished their God-given mandate to lead, protect, and provide. So rather than his message being ‘Women, sit down’, it is ‘Men, stand up’.
A well-balanced book which encourages both men and women to consider and live out their God-given calling.