The Table Podcast

A Biblical View of Masculinity

In this episode, Darrell Bock, Andreas Köstenberger, and Carolyn Custis James discuss how the Scriptures communicate and portray masculinity and the leadership role of men.

Timecodes
0:45
Bock introduces Custis James and Köstenberger
1:51
Custis James shares her work in Biblical Masculinity
8:31
Köstenberger shares his work in Biblical Masculinity
12:44
How does the creation account affect our view of masculinity?
21:32
How does the New Testament affect our reading of the creation narrative?
25:08
How does Ephesians 5 communicate men should lead?
38:08
Bock summarizes how the Scriptures are communicating the role of men
42:35
Bock summarizes how men and women can relate in relationships
Resources God's Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical Theological Survey by Andreas and Margaret E Köstenberger   Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World by Carolyn Custis James
Transcript
Dr. Darrell Bock
Welcome to the table, where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at The Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And our topic today is biblical masculinity. We’re gonna try and discuss how scripture portrays the role of men in scripture, and as a result, of course, the relationship between men and women in the design of God.

And I have two wonderful guest. I have Carolyn Custis James, who is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Missio Seminary, or formerly Biblical Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And she also serves as a consulting editor for Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary series on the New Testament.

And then with here … and they’re both on Skype, so this is kind of a new gig for us. We normally have someone in the studio … Andreas Köstenberger is Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, as well as director of the Center for Biblical Studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s the only person I know who’s title is almost as long as mine.

So greetings to y’all from Dallas. Andreas is in Kansas City, and Carolyn is in Philadelphia or at least a suburb of Philadelphia. So thank you for being a part of the table.

A. Köstenberger
Hey, great to be part of the conversation, Darrell. Great to see you again.
C. C. James
Thanks for the opportunity.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Glad to do it. Let’s dive in. And I’m from the South, so ladies go first. Carolyn, talk about how you got interested in this topic, and some of the work that you’ve done in relationship to it.
C. C. James
Well, my work was all about women to begin with. And it began in a very personal way, because I grew up with very clear ideas of what my calling was as a woman, as a Christian woman. And I found through my circumstances that I couldn’t get onto the map. I was single for ten years after college, so I didn’t get married and start a family. And when I did get married, my husband was in his seminary training, which turned out to be finishing a masters degree and then two doctorates. So I was the bread winner, and at the same time fought the battle with infertility and lost.

So I couldn’t be what I thought I was called to be as a woman. And I began to struggle with the fact that the message for women that was coming out of the church was talking about a season of our lives, and it was excluding a lot women. When I read the Genesis creation narrative and it was about in Genesis 2 about the creation of marriage, I was on the outside looking in.

And so I started … I went back to scripture with bigger questions, looking for a message for women that would begin when we begin, and that would last until our final breath, and that wouldn’t leave anyone out, and that was global, not just in the Western, prosperous America.

So my questions were bigger. They were very personal. I felt like a lot was at stake. So as I studied, I focused a lot on Genesis 1 and 2, ’cause that’s only pre fall information that we have. But I looked at the narratives of women in the Bible and began to see how God was calling his daughters out in all different kinds of ways. And I came up with a message for women that is just changing lives. I’ve met with middle school girls who are just on fire, and elderly women who say, 96 year old saying, “I’m asking what God wants me to do with the rest of my life.”

So it has been very empowering, and it has also been very good for relationships with men. It hasn’t been women at the … in some kind of competition with men, or in some kind of battle with them. It’s not a zero sum game. It’s about the flourishing of women and the flourishing of men as women flourish. But as I studied the stories of women, I started coming across a lot of stories of men in the Bible that we just sort of push to the side. They get eclipsed by somebody bigger in the story, like in the New Testament, Joseph sort of gets eclipsed by Mary and Jesus, which there’s no shame in that, but there’s a powerful story in Joseph. And he’s the lead story in Matthew’s gospel.

And I wanted to tell those stories, which is what got me interested in it. But as I started investigating, it just got bigger and bigger, and the questions that were surfacing in the 21st century, we needed to engage for men. And I found that men were … a lot of men were as lost as I was and a lot of other women. So that’s how I got interested. I think that I would say the women led me to the men. And we sort of focus on the more powerful stories of men in the Bible, the leading figures, David and Goliath we love, and Joshua and Jericho, and Daniel and the lions, and these very manly stories. And there are other stories in the Bible of men that are just jaw dropping in the kind of … a different kind of man that God creates when he really works in the soul of a man.

So that’s what I did. And as I studied I zeroed in on patriarchy, and I can talk about that later, and how important that became. So. But anyway, I think women led me to the men. I could see that the same kinds of struggles that women were going through, there was a parallel kind of struggle that men were going through. It’s the gamut.

One of the things that I talked about with women was that trafficking of women, and are you completely demolished as a human being, or is your identity, meaning, and purpose intact because of what God has done? And I found that 30 percent of humans that are trafficked are men and boys, which they’re trafficked for sex or for forced labor, or to be soldiers. And I asked a friend who works for the US Census Bureau to give me a sense of what that was. And she came back to me and said it’s roughly the population of New York City proper.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Well thanks, Carolyn, for letting us know the background to your story. And Andreas, how did you manage to get into this topic, as well?
A. Köstenberger
Well, to get one thing out of the way, Darrell, I’m certainly not a world-renowned expert on masculinity. So, I’m primarily a biblical scholar who loves God’s word, and certainly affirm that who we are as men and women is as foundational and is as an integral part of who we are, and it’s simply too important a topic to ignore or to neglect. I was converted fairly radically in my early 20s, and started reading the Bible for the first time at that time, and came from a broken home. My parents were divorced. And so in many ways, I lacked role models. My father was an absentee father, and so I certainly … moving toward marriage, and having a family, and as a new Christian, I desperately searched God’s word just for what God’s design for man and woman was.

Now, looking back, my wife Margaret and I have been married for almost 30 years. We have four children, two girls and two boys, who are mostly grown. I say mostly grown. We still have a 17 year old who’s a senior in high school right now. And so, as a husband, and then as a father, I had to ask myself how do I love my wife, how am I a good father, both to my girls and to my boys? I discovered that’s a little bit different in both cases, especially my boys are younger, how to encourage them to be spiritual leaders in relationships with girls, and how to be responsible, how to learn to walk in the spirit, and so forth.

You mentioned my wife and I wrote a book together, God’s Design for Man and Woman. We actually met in seminary. And so from early on in our relationship we started having those theological conversations. I’m more in … directly in biblical studies, especially the New Testament. She’s more interested in systematic theology and apologetics, and hermeneutics. She has a ThD in the area of systematic theology. So we’re partners when it comes to writing and ministry, and we really enjoy that together. We most recently wrote a book called Equipping for Life, which is a book on parenting. And so it’s very much a part of who we are.

Like Carolyn, we like the stories in the Bible. But I think what we do in our book, God’s Design for Man and Woman, is it’s a biblical theological survey. So we basically go from Genesis through Revelation and pretty much look at it’s God’s design in four stages. First of all, as Carolyn mentioned, Genesis 1 and 2, the pre fall creation design of God. And then, of course the second movement in salvation history, the fall, and the way in which God’s design was in some ways distorted or corrupted, and then later, in Christ, redemption, the very important question. So what happens to our gender identities, our generals when we become Christians? What was Christ’s purpose in redemption, in terms of restoring the original design for which we were created. And finally consummation, which is still the future.

So we found the four spiritual laws. When we talk about God’s design for man and woman, we have those four movements in scripture. And we’ve found it’s helpful to explain to people, God’s design based on those four movements.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. Well that lays the groundwork and actually makes up for a nice transition. So let’s talk about the early chapters of Genesis. And here is the question I want to ask. And that is, when we look at the creation … and I’m gonna make some statements. I’ll let y’all react to them. When we look at the creation, what we see in chapter 1 is the idea that the image of God is reflected, both in the creation of the man and the creation of the woman, that they together, male and female, are made in the image of God. And so we get that in the first chapter.

And we see this element of design that seems to have them both together as stewards. I like to say that one of the words that I didn’t come to appreciate until I was 20 years into teaching New Testament, was the idea that we are called to steward the creation well together, and that actually the point of design is to be able to do that. And you come to chapter 2 and you get almost a zoom in on that element, because the creation doesn’t finish, and it certainly doesn’t finish well until the woman’s created. That the man is created and the entirety of created beings are paraded before Adam, looking for someone who can be a complement and a completer of what it is that God has created in Adam. And he goes, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” And then Eve is created and he goes, “Wow. What just happened?”

And so … and we get to a very good creation as a result. So when we come to the end of chapter 2, and of course the term “help meet” is a very much discussed term in relationship to the creation of the woman, that … and it’s not a weak term. I think that’s an important thing to understand. This is a term that’s used to describe how God is involved in the creation.

And so we see this team, for lack of a better description, that is created at the beginning. And that’s phase one. So that’s all I’m gonna say about the pre fall. And I will let whoever wants to step into that and fill in whatever you want to fill in with, do so. So. And this is, I guess, may the first person step forward. We’ll see who speaks up. But Carolyn, I see a smile on your face. So, what do you want to add?

C. C. James
So I, as I was in this struggle myself, I went back to those chapters with a different game plan than I’d ever had before. And I wanted to ask, I wanted to look for answers that were universal. I didn’t want to leave anyone out, anywhere in the world. And I wanted to pay a special attention to what God was saying, and I didn’t want to make jokes about the man or the woman, which is often what happens when we hear sermons on these texts.

So I found three things that are part of who we are as women. I was looking at first, as a woman. And the imago dei is more than a description of commonalities between human beings and God. We see human beings can love, and they can be compassionate and show mercy and kindness, and it ends up being a list of qualities. But I see it as a mission, that our first calling as human beings is to know the God who created us, and to see the world through his eyes, and to learn to love what he loves, and to join his mission in the world. So, for me, when I see the creation call and the mandate that God gives in Genesis 1, it’s calling us to everything that humanity is doing, the exploration of the earth’s resources, the stewarding of the earth’s resources. But first and foremost, the call to know the God we are created to be like.

I often use the example of Hollywood actors who are image bearers, especially when they’re called to portray somebody we all know, like Queen Elizabeth Helen Mirren did, that that’s image bearing, and that they study the person that they’re to emulate. And then they practice being what that person is like. So that was the first thing.

The second thing that you read in chapter 1 is that when God commissions his sons and daughters to this global mandate, that he blesses them, and he sends them out to do the work together. And I’ve called this the blessed alliance, that God created his sons and daughters to do his work, and to do it together. And in the creation of the woman, I became especially focused on the language for the woman, that the ezer connecto. And I think it’s important to make the point that God is not fixing something, that there’s nothing wrong with the man, that the man is a masterpiece. He’s created him at the climax of his creative activity, and he’s just finished naming the animals, which is the beginning of science.

So there’s nothing wrong with the man. But God is teaching us something about human relationships when he says, “It’s not good for the man to be alone.” And he doesn’t say, “It’s not good for the man to be alone when he wants to start a family, or when he wants to be married.” It’s a blanket statement that men and women need each other. And the ezer connecto language is very powerful. And when I looked it up, they already discovered that, and the debate was going on about, this word is used 21 times in the Old Testament. 16 of those times it’s used for God as the helper of his people.

And so, in the debate about women and men, they were deadlocked on what do we mean by … she should be a strong helper, but what do we mean by strong? And I looked up all those words. And every time you find the word ezer in the Bible, it’s used in a military context. It’s used for God as the shield and defense of his people. And he stands sentry watch over them. He’s better than chariots and horses. It’s used for three nations Israel summoned for military aid, “Send your armies.” And you go back to the garden in Eden, and if you look closely at it, it’s a war zone. There’s an enemy getting ready to attack. And God creates the woman to be a warrior with the man in the battles of life … this is what I have concluded … and that men need women everywhere, in every aspect of life.

I would argue in seminary, men need women. You’d need a female perspective that’s missing when you only have men. So somebody like I am, I build on the work of men. I couldn’t do what I do without the work of men. But I bring a different point of view, because I’m a woman, and I’m asking different questions. But I can tell any woman that she’s an ezer, that she’s an ezer warrior for God’s purposes, that her brothers need her, that she needs to be a strength for them, a champion for what God is calling them to do, and she needs to answer God’s call herself.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So the third area … and I’m gonna ask you to be a little bit briefer, so we can get to Andreas. So what’s the third?
C. C. James
The blessed alliance. The three things are that you’re God’s image bearer, that you are called to be an ezer warrior, and that you are … you belong in a blessed alliance.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. And that’s a nice foundation, Andreas. Tell us what else you see in that pre fall condition.
A. Köstenberger
I know you want us to talk about Genesis 1 and 2 right now. But, of course, as a Christian, I, like you, I’m, interested in hermeneutics, and in biblical theology. So I want to properly read the Bible the way we ought to, and to also give it the authority that it deserves to have in our lives. And so, in this case we happen to have New Testament authors that shed some light on how we, as Christians, we ought to read Genesis 1 and 2, and I think primarily of Paul here, who said that there’s a reason why Genesis 1 and 2 talk about us being created male and female. He alludes to that in Galatians 3:28 possible. But then also he talk about the fact that the man was created first, and then the woman. And he draws from that, and in I Timothy 2:12, also in I Corinthians 11:8 and 9, certain implications with regard to the male and female identity, individually, in relation to each other, the roles they have. And perhaps another important factor there is that he refers to Christ as the second Adam. And so we see that there’s a connection there with Adam being the head of the human race, the representative, ultimately. And so you see this biblical, theological connection that Paul establishes between Adam being the first head, and then Christ being the one who dies for the sins of all male and female.

So, in our book, God’s Design for Man and Woman, Margaret and I discuss the fact that you have a dual track. You have, on the one hand, some teaching on male/female partnership. And we see that clearly in Genesis 1. They’re jointly called to multiply, to fill the earth, to subdue it, and for God, as his representatives, being created in his image, which I take to mean primarily that they represent him, and exercise representative stewardship in role. And then secondly, I see this … and we see this pattern of male leadership that’s all so pervasive.

So the way we read the Bible, you see it going from Adam to the patriarchs, and the deliverers, the national deliverers like Moses or Joshua. You see the Levitical priesthood. You see the kings. You see Jesus being incarnated as male. You see the 12 being men. You see the elders being required to be faithful husbands, implying they’re men. And then even the 24 elders in Revelation are representing the Old and New Testament leadership.

So I think the problem that we often get into is we focus too much on the one side of that track, and maybe not enough on the other. And I think we see in Genesis 1 and 2 that scripture teaches both. Genesis 1 focuses more on equality. And then chapter 2 focuses more, like a zoom lens, on the role differentiation between the man and the woman.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. So let me pick up where you’ve raised, and I want to raise a passage that’s bothered me. And it’s Ephesians 5, because there I think you see the role distinction. It’s pretty … it’s laid out in one level very, very clearly. And the passage, of course, is wonderfully controversial in our time, because it uses a word that many people struggle with in our time. It’s uses the word submission. And then, alongside that we get the passage on love. And here’s the question that I have. And I’ll lay out what I’m thinking, and again, I’ll get the reaction. And I’ll start with you, Andreas. It has to do with are we defining the way in which men and women are to relate to one another in the way in which the Bible does, or in the way in which the culture does? That’s the question I want to raise as I raise this passage. So let me lay out what I struggle with.

So I look at Ephesians 5, and I think it’s clear that there is a distinction between how the woman is asked to respond in the marriage, vs. the responsibility of the man in the marriage. One is told to submit, the other’s told to love. I think, at least in terms of the terminology we’re agreed about what’s going on in the text.

But then I have an exercise that I have my students do. The exercise I have my students do is I have them pull out a yellow sheet, or a white sheet and draw a line down the middle. On one side I haven them put rank, and on the other side I have them put service. And I ask them to read through the section where the man is called to love the wife. And I say, “Everywhere you see something that relates to rank, put a check on one side. And everywhere where you see something related to service, put it on the other.” And I give them time to go through this exercise, to walk through the passage.

And what inevitably happens is that … and you all know this. What inevitably happens is is that the service side is literally cluttered with checks and phrases. And the rank side basically has the one, the term head. That’s basically, if anything shows up on that side, that’s the check that shows up. And the question that I ask is this. And this is the question I’m gonna ask you. And that is, in the midst of talking about how we tend to talk about leadership and direction and all those kinds of things, rank and hierarchy and all those terms, how is the hierarchy and the exercise of the hierarchy, how’s it supposed to function according to the way scripture lays it out? Because the example is the way Christ gave himself for the church, that he nurtures the body that he’s one flesh part of, et cetera.

So how do we balance? You talked about two tracks, Andreas. How do we balance … and this gets into our question of biblical masculinity, it seems to me, pretty directly. How do we balance the role that at least many in evangelicalism see the man as having with the detail of the way in which that is described when it’s actually laid out for us?

A. Köstenberger
Yeah. First of all, I certainly resonate with your caution and my own understanding that we tend to, especially in an area like this, read our experience into scripture, or our culture, obviously as you mention, it’s a very controversial issue. And so it’s easy to do, to profess belief in biblical authority, but in fact, maybe even without intending to, we tend to read our preferences and our culture into those controversial passages. So, as much as possible, I think it is important for us to recognize that, and to consciously counteract that.

So in this case, I think one thing that’s important to remember is that this is part of what is often called the house table, or household code. And so the context that places the male/female relationship or the marriage relationship in the context also of other relationships, such as children and parents, or even servants and masters in the ancient extended household, is they were still part of the household. And so you see that same pattern that first addresses the people who are called to submit to authority, and then the people in authority.

So I think part of why there’s not as much emphasis on the exercise of authority is because that’s implicit in the household code, and is largely presupposed and assumed. And I think then what Paul is trying to do is he’s trying to show that Christianity in many ways flavors and shapes those types of submission/authority relationships in a Christlike manner. And that’s the way you talked about the fact that we see in Christ the perfect example of someone who genuinely was the head. And so that’s undisputed. Paul didn’t feel a need to argue for that. He’s the head of the church.

And looking at Ephesians, one thing that transformed me is to read Ephesians 5 in the context of the entire letter, because there’s a lot already, you mentioned the word head. Well, that’s first mentioned in chapter 1, so I certainly would challenge and encourage our readers to not start in chapter 5, to start in chapter 1, and read chapter 5 in light of that.

So, and there, your students are right. The passage implores men to use their God given privilege as leaders in the marriage relationship to serve their wives, to nurture them. Certainly, for myself, I try to reciprocate my wife supporting me through seminary by supporting her, and watching the children and being her research assistant so she could get her PhD and explore and reach her full intellectual and spiritual potential. So I think there’s plenty of us, for us men to learn that masculinity in many ways means servanthood.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Carolyn?
C. C. James
Yeah. I think that’s really important. And I love what you’ve done for your wife. One of the things that has become really important to me is to look at the cultural context of the time of Paul, and the culture that he’s writing to. Like you speak of the household codes, and the power of the man over his wife, his children, and his slaves. But in the first century, you would have had a very … I think this points out that what Paul is doing here is so radical.

And I always think, just imagine giving this message to the Taliban, and telling them to sacrifice themselves for their wives, because the background is a patriarchal culture where you had child marriage. There was a push to produce sons. And so as soon as a girl reached puberty, she was marriageable. And here they’re telling the husband to lay down his life for her? And there’s an education differential, there’s a power differential. And Paul is calling them to each other, and in a way that would have been radical in that culture, way more radical than it would be in our culture.

I think the call in marriage is like Philippians 2 where we are called to put the interests of one another ahead of each other, that we’re not called to be, “I’m gonna fight for my rights and whatever,” but that we’re called to each other in a beautiful way. And I think the gospel does that.

One of my, a colleague, Roy Chapa, is a New Testament professor, talked about identity mapping, that when we read these texts we think husband and we think of our husband, and we think wife and we think of ourselves. But he said, “These were child marriages. This wasn’t somebody marrying his college sweetheart, or his wife who gets a PhD. This was … girls weren’t educated.” It’s like the Middle East today. So to take the gospel into that culture was a radical thing.

But I also like to think about the bride of Christ in this discussion because that brings men into the conversation as part of the bride. And when you read in Revelation, “Come and see the bride,” and she is celebrated for the dress she’s wearing. It’s woven of her deeds of justice. She’s been in the battle with him. She’s embraced Jesus’ mission. She’s the ezer next to Jesus. I think we’re called to lay down our lives for each other. We’re called to care about that other person in ways that nobody else cares, and to love them in deeper and more sacrificial ways. I think that’s important in any generation.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So what I think I’m hearing maybe both of you say is, in the midst of the distinctions that exist in scripture, there is this commitment to mutuality … if I can say it that way … even in the midst of those distinctions. And in the midst of that mutuality there is a consideration … I’m trying to find a word … a consideration given to the other in the midst of that, that communicates care and concern and love. And that the other thing that I do think I’m hearing from both of you as well is that there is a kind of reconfiguring of what the culture does with the category vs. what scripture is trying to do with the category. And in the midst of that there is, even though the household code that’s very naturally in first century culture, there is something counter cultural going on simultaneously in the way the roles are being presented to people in the church as to how they should live out the calling of God. Andreas, is that … I’ll start with you … is that fair?
A. Köstenberger
Yeah. I think there are some real differences here. As a result, I think the application will be different also. I think it’s important to have clarity as to what God’s design in the first place was. I do interpret Genesis 1 and 2, as I mentioned, through the lenses of Paul’s words in the New Testament. And so I do see that term that’s translated as helper as the woman being a partner, but still under the man’s overall leadership. But I do agree that even though the man was created as the leader, which I tend to think refers to him also as the provider, as the protector, that the fall distorted that.

And the culture sometimes picks up on the distorted image of masculinity as aggressive, or as robbing the woman of her dignity and of transgressing those boundaries. And so they are … Christ and redemption him, challenges the sinful distortion of God’s original design. And so we need to be careful to distinguish between what’s cultural, or even what’s traditional on the one hand, and what’s truly biblical. And so I think that’s probably something that we can all agree on, that Christ dignifies really the role of both the man and the woman. And so again, as Christians, we have this incredible privilege and opportunity. Remember in Ephesians 5, before it ever gets to marriage, he talks about be filled with the holy spirit. There’s a spirit filled followers of Christ, we can relate to each other the way God originally intended it. And that’s a beautiful thing.

To give you one example, the other night there was a dog. Our neighbors dog invaded our territory and attacked out dog. And so we wake up and I get on my slippers. And I, first of all, protect our dog. And then secondly, I walk over to the neighbor’s house, and then I talk to him and I say, “Excuse me. Could you try to restrain your dog and respect our boundaries?” And so it’s the kind of thing my wife did not resent me doing that at all. And then she was not the one who felt like she wanted to do that. So there was this instinctual reaction on my part to protect my family, and to draw certain boundaries. And I think it’s a beautiful example of how leadership can actually be service, and can be a God honoring and Christlike thing to do.

Dr. Darrell Bock
Okay. Carolyn, your take on where we are right now?
C. C. James
We’re talking about marriage, and the bigger issue of masculinity is universal. So little boys and elderly men and men who never marry. So there are bigger questions to deal with here. When I look at what it is to be the imago dei, I see that implicit in that is a call to leadership, that some of the language that women hear in the church is a call to hold back. It’s a call to be less. I expected, when I got married, that I would pull back, and that we would do his story, that he was the husband, he was the head, and he was the leader, and that I was gonna help get him through school, but then I was gonna take care of the home front, and he would take care of everything else. And he said to me, when we got married, he said, “You need to find out what your gifts are, and what God is calling you to do with your life. And I’m not the answer to that question.” And I didn’t expect to hear that.

But what my husband has done … and you can call this headship if you want … but what he has done for me is swing open doors, is challenge me to my stewardship before God, is to push me through those doors that open. I wouldn’t be doing anything I’m doing if it hadn’t been for him. I thought, “I’m done.” When I got married to him I thought, “We’re doing … this is the story we’re doing.” And he would have none of it.

He grew up in the same kind of broken home that you talked about, Andreas, and watched his mother go through a divorce to save their lives, ’cause there was a lot of violence, and never get a break, never have anybody advocate for her, never have anybody look and see, what are the gifts that are here? And I got all of that from him. And it has been utterly life changing for both of us. And I do the same for him. I want him to flourish. I want to know, when he walks in the door, is he okay? What has his day been like? I want to be his best friend, his strongest advocate. And if he heads down a wrong path, I want to be the first roadblock. I want to bring everything to this relationship.

And women hear that they are to bring less, that they are … And we often hear we’re to let the man lead, which is not the same thing as him really being the leader. So I … And this is just the marriage arena.

Dr. Darrell Bock
I think … let me break in here, ’cause we’re running short on time, and I want to do some summary work. Let me tell you what I’m hearing. What I’m hearing is is that … and I’m hearing two levels of the conversation. One is the generic male and female discussion that is operates inside and outside of marriage. The other thing that I’m hearing are internal marriage dynamics in both of what you’re saying. And what I’m hearing is is that the couple in their relationship are called to work out between themselves how their internal dynamic is gonna work. And I hear Andreas describing a marriage in which he takes a certain role, his wife is comfortable with that role. They march accordingly, if I can say it that way.

And I hear in your marriage, Carolyn, at one level a similar dynamic, where you all have worked it out between each other, and you have marched forward. And in both cases you’re getting a mutually supported team functioning that is designed in both cases, even though the details are different, in both cases to try and make sure that both participants are able to be all they can be before God.

A. Köstenberger
Yeah. If I can maybe just interject, something Carolyn mentioned earlier, that we live in the broken world. And so we do talk about God’s creation ideal and design. But there’s, of course, many who might be listening who do struggle, maybe single parents or couples struggling with infertility, or even temporarily, where one of the two goes to grad school or college or seminary, and the other supports them during that time. And so I think I want to be clear that things in this world, in many ways we struggle with making things work as best as we can, in light of what scripture teaches, and that may not always be perfect, or even doable in a given situation. So in many ways this is more something that’s aspirational, or something that we strive toward rather than we have arrived.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And the additional level on top of that is, is that as Christians, of course, what we’re striving towards is the example of a redemptive relationship, in which Christ has come into the space dealing with sin and fallenness and coming short, and challenging us to be all we have been created to be. And so, in the midst of certainly what is not a perfect world, and we do all struggle, there is this aspiration that is set for us that is the target that we’re aiming after and what we’re trying to draw ever and ever closer to.

Well, believe it or not, our time has gone. And we actually … I feel like we just barely got started. But I do want to thank you all for coming in and sharing your take on this topic. I think it’s interesting to have seen the give and take on the one hand. And yet, on the other this recognition that what Christ is doing among believers is ultimately designed to make sure that men and women are able to flourish before him in ways in which we are able to live out the way God has designed us and called us, in terms of who we’re supposed to be.

So, let me thank you all again for helping us with this discussion. If you’re on the other side listening to this, I know we just got started in terms of talking about it, so give us some grace, because it is a complicated topic, and it’s become more complicated, I think. And yet, I think the aspiration, the goal is so important that it’s an important discussion to be engaged in, and to be reflecting about. And hopefully, that’s what we’ve been able to do for the listener today.

So, thank you Carolyn, thank you Andreas for helping us with this.

A. Köstenberger
Thank you, Darrell, for moderating this very important discussion. I know you’ve had a burden for this for many years.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. And I want to thank you for joining us on the table. We hope you’ll join us again soon.
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Andreas J. Köstenberger
Andreas Köstenberger is Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology and Director of the Center for Biblical Studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also the Founder of Biblical Foundations,™ an organization devoted to encouraging a return to the biblical foundations in the home, the church, and society. Dr. Köstenberger is a leading evangelical scholar and prolific author. He has authored, edited, or translated close to fifty books, including God, Marriage, and Family; A Theology of John’s Gospel; Excellence; and the commentary on 1-2 Timothy and Titus in the Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series. He also serves as editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.
Carolyn Custis James
Carolyn Custis James (BA in Sociology, MA in Biblical Studies) is an award winning author who thinks deeply about what it means to be a female follower of Jesus in a postmodern world. As a cancer survivor, she is grateful to be alive and determined to address the issues that matter most. She is an adjunct faculty member at Missio Seminary (formerly Biblical Theological Seminary) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a consulting editor for Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament. In 2013, Christianity Today named her one of the 50 evangelical women to watch. She speaks regularly at church conferences, colleges, and for other Christian organizations both in the US and abroad and is a guest lecturer at various theological seminaries. She has been interviewed by the Associated Press and National Public Radio.
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
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