Tim Keller, Allender and Longman need a refresher course in biology.
This passage is from the Redlands Community Church When You Say “I do” pamphlet by Timothy Keller and Jeffery White, 2009, page 48. They cite Allender and Longman’s book, Intimate Allies, 1995. So, first off, I want to admit that this is a little dated. But it does closely represent the attitude of Larry Crabb in recent interviews from this past summer. BTW, I think these men identify more closely with egalitarians, so they might not realize the effect of what they are writing. Nonetheless, it is out there and needs to be dealt with.
Allender and Longman’s analysis are helpful: Men tend to reflect more of God’s power, strength and holiness. Women reflect more of God’s tenderness and mercy. A man often moves into chaos to create order, while a woman tends to shape order into a connected beauty that reflects the relational heart of God.
Their sexual acts reflect these tendencies. A man is a planter. A woman is a receiver. A man tends to see the chaos in the world and enter it in order to create, shape and form. He enters the world with strength and courage that form a new being. A woman is created with the physical and internal makeup to receive, gestate, and shape relationships out of the beauty of form.
“A man is to plant his stamp on ideas, objects, and institutions. A woman is to incubate relationships. She is to make connections. A man takes chaos and forms it into a distinct, different, ordered idea, object, or institution; a woman takes his work and draws it into a context that honors the higher principle of love. A man courageously creates, and a woman creatively shapes his creation into a lovely, relational enhancing beauty.”
Women are warriors of relationship. While men certainly desire relationship and are called to cultivate it, women are more likely to cultivate relationship both inside the marriage with their spouses and as a couple with other people.
This was written by Keller and White, citing Allender and Longman. Clearly, they have missed a basic point in biology. The man does not “form a new being.” He does not create a life form that he places in the woman so she can incubate it and gestate. This seems to be Keller’s view of sex, encouraged by Allender and Longman. Women do not exist on earth to take the work that a man had done and shape it into a thing of beauty. Women are not magicians for one thing!
Basic, freshman biology teaches us that the woman has an ovule and the man has sperm, and the sperm fertilizes the ovule so that it becomes a new life form. We can talk about the relationship between men and women in three ways:
1. Men plant the form in the woman and she incubates it.
2. Men fertilize the form which already exists in the woman, and she is then able to bring it to life.
3. The ovule and the sperm fuse to create a new life form.
Clearly, I think only the third is acceptable, although the second one is close. But none of these are an analogy for Christian community. Many all female or all male groups have done wonderful things. Many single women and single men have created works of art, beauty and utility. It does not take both a male and a female to produce material or spiritual forms or make them beautiful. It takes a male and a female to reproduce physically, and ideally, to raise a family, so each child has a parent of both sexes to attach to.
Not only am I concerned about the alienation of women from work and creativity, but also the alienation of men from beauty.
Larry Crabb’s contribution to this, is that not only does he remark on women as “capable of being entered”, but he also constrains women in very awkward ways. He writes, when asked if he is egalitarian or complementarian,
That question doesn’t lead one to be either egalitarian or complementarian but it does lead me toward recognizing that the opportunities for a woman are not limited, other than by her relational style. And the opportunities for a man are not limited, other than by his relational style.
I think my relational style is feminine, but what if it isn’t? What if I don’t make myself all soft and inviting and nourishing. I don’t feel like nourishing men. So then what?? What if I don’t want to be entered by a man? This language is sexual harassment already.
What is needed here is a guide book and sensitivity sessions, put on by Christian publishing houses for authors, men or women, writing about women. We are not boxes with a hole bored in the lid, we are not incubators and gestators, we are not planted by the male with a new being, we do not exist for the single and dedicated purpose of nurturing men, and shaping their creations. Something is desperately needed here. Even Dan Allender admits this need, as he writes about women, in a work pamphlet for his course,
Dan mentions one of the biggest challenges women sometimes experience is failure to utilize their voice, becoming silent in the midst of conflict or to the other extreme, becoming cruel.
How on earth can a woman do anything else, when confronted by the notion that she exists purely to shape male creations while the man makes order out of chaos, and puts his stamp on ideas, objects and institutions? And if a woman does not accept this, she is not relationally feminine?
There are very serious problems about the way these men have expressed themselves in the past about women. Someone needs to let them know that it is time to send out signals that they recognize that women are fully human, just like them. The work a woman does is as important as the work a man does. (For goodness sake!) Its sad because there should not be this enormous, gaping chasm between men and women in the Christian community. But there is. (Except here on this blog, of course, where we all love each other!)
Soon it will be time for women to make a case of sexual harassment against men who write in this way. I feel my whole body recoil as I read this kind of thing. If these men have progressed in their thinking recently, and no longer hold these views, that would be great. I hope they let us know.