The Biblical Manhood/Womanhood Movements Meet Andy Crouch’s Five Questions


Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making developed five questions that can be asked to apply the significance of any cultural artifact we encounter. I’ve found that these five questions force me to slow my emotional responses and to think more objectively about subjects that are initially alien or even offensive to me.

I thought this morning that I’d apply the five questions to the Biblical Manhood/Womanhood Movements that are currently enjoying popularity within Evangelicalism.  I’ll confess from the start that I have a low appreciation for these movements and that this will certainly color my responses. So by all means, add your perspective in the comments. My only request, besides the basic call to civility is that your responses are in the form an answer to one of the five questions. Of course, these are my responses to the questions and not Andy Crouch’s.

What do the Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Movements assume about the way the world is? 

  • That God has designed set roles for men and women that are not bound by culture.
  • That these roles are knowable through a careful study of the Bible.
  • That the Bible was intended to provide humanity with a comprehensive moral code.
  • That many of the problems in our workplace and marriages are a result of society ignoring these roles.
  • Moral knowledge is clear and self-evident.

2. What does the Biblical Manhood/Womanhood Movements assume about the way the world should be?

  • Men and women should be eager to subscribe to the prescribed roles.
  • Christians everywhere should read the Bible and agree that there are prescribed roles for gender and agree to what those roles are.
  • The Bible should be read moralistically.

3. What do the Biblical Manhood/Womanhood Movements make possible? 

  • They provide scaffolding for men and women who grew up without role models and help them develop their own style for being men and women.
  • The reinforcement of patriarchal thinking.
  • Bible based rationalization of chauvinism (notice the questions says “make possible” and not “make inevitable.” I’m not calling all complementarianists out as being chauvinists).
  • Parallel men’s and women’s ministries.
  • Book genres designed to support these ministries.

4. What do the Biblical Manhood/Womanhood movements make impossible (or at least difficult)? 

  • Women having places to use leadership gifts in meaningful ways in their congregations.

5. What new culture is created in response?

  • Biblical egalitarians use the Biblical Manhood/Womenhood movement as a foil against which to form their own positions.
  • A dechurched population that views the church as being anti-women.

So have at it, what would you add to this list? Feel free to challenge anything I’ve written. But do so in form of a response to the questions. And remember, this is a sociological look at the issue and not a critique of theology. 

  • Ann Lee

    Q4: what does it make impossible?
    It makes it impossible for me (and a lot of other women) to fully use any of our gifts. Why? because it means that God intentionally created half of the population to be subjugated and inferior to the other, thereby never intending for the holy spirit to be able to use us fully. If my “highest calling” is to be wife and mother (helpmeet, ick) then I will have to downplay or ignore my real highest calling of being a fisher of people! Love God. love other people. That’s my purpose. Oh, and I am also blessed with a  brain that can assimilate facts and come to rapid (and frequently right) conclusions which helps me be a pretty darn good doctor. God didn’t just accidently make me smart! There was a plan!
    I really feel that it makes it impossible to accept that God loves us all equally. And If I can’t hold on to His love, and his righteousness….. what’s the point.

    • Larry_Shallenberger

      Thanks for weighing in! 

  • henryjz

    Oh my… where to begin!?!

    The Biblical Manhood/Womanhood movements assume a functionalist understanding of sociology and culture. It assumes that there is a universal “right way” and a “wrong way” for culture to work. If something isn’t quite working in culture, it’s because a certain aspect of society isn’t performing it’s role correctly. Inequalities of economics, social standing, race, gender, etc. have to exist because everyone has their “set role” to play in order for society to work. The obvious problem with this viewpoint is that it always works in favor of those who are in authority. These movements also assume that there is some sort of hegemonic historical (“traditional”) archetype for family and gender roles (which there isn’t… Historian Stephanie Coontz has done quite a bit of research into this…)

    This view assumes that there should be an in-born desire for men and women to fulfill the roles as prescribed by those in these movements. Any desires otherwise are deviant and not “natural.” Gender roles are coded into our DNA, therefore any deviation from these prescribed gender roles must be policed and regulated in order for “natural order” to be restored. It also assumes that there should be no contradictions in understandings of what the Bible says… not just regarding the roles of men and women but of everything including views on grace, salvation, baptism, etc. (i.e., there should be only one denomination). These movements also think that we should get back to more “traditional” roles for men and women (depending on how far back in history you want to go, “traditional” will look different in different time periods and cultures).

    These movements make it possible for men to have Divine justification to assert dominance over women. It makes it possible for those men who are in authority to claim a monopoly on the “true” understanding and interpretation of the Bible. It makes it possible for the view that one gender is inferior simply because one gender has a Y chromosome and the other does not. These movements pave the way for institutionalized stratification of society based on genetics… think of the caste system.

    Since these movements claim the supreme and definitive understanding of scripture, they make it impossible/difficult for there to be civil discourse about gender roles. These movements make it difficult for men to not become misogynistic narcissists (I admit this is harsh, but that is what this kind of discourse can ultimately lead to.) These movements make it difficult for women to be seen as more than unpaid domestic laborers.

    These movements create a socio-genetically stratified culture based primarily on sex as the determining factor in what one is and isn’t allowed to do. In response, Christian culture becomes polarized even further. Broader culture see these movements as dangerous towards women and children.

    • Larry_Shallenberger

      Henry, your comment is more thorough and more brilliant than the original post. Thank you.

      • henryjz

        Thanks Larry. Gotta put my sociology training to use 😉

        I love these five questions from Andy Crouch. Great way to put some legs on cultural analysis.

        • Larry_Shallenberger

          Henry, You’d dig his book on culture.

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