Book: ‘Feminine By Design’ – Married People (supposedly) Fully Reflect God – Singles Do Not (?) / When Christianity Looks More Like Islam and Less Like Christ
–REMINDER TO MEN WHO MAY BE READING THIS POST–
As a reminder, I’d like to mention to any un-married men who may be reading this:
Arguments and teachings used by ‘biblical gender complementarians,’ who believe it is wrong for a woman to lead or teach men, and who believe that husbands are in authority over their wives, use the same arguments and pre-suppositions about a woman’s role in life, to teach that un-married men are not as fully “Christian” or as “mature” as married men are, and that un-married men are not as fully in God’s image as married men are.
This is not just a “woman’s issue.”
–Book: FEMININE BY DESIGN, BY JOHN GARR–
I saw a male author, John. D. Garr, interviewed by a Jewish believer in Jesus on his show. I think the show is called “Jewish Voice” or “Believer’s Voice.”
The book by Garr is entitled “Feminine By Design: The God-Fashioned Woman.” Garr claims to uncover God’s true meaning for women by going back to and re-examining the Old Testament.
I do not own a copy of this book, nor have I read it, but I would like to.
I did watch the last several moments of the interview with Garr by the Jewish host, so I heard some of Garr’s views about women and what he discusses in the book.
I always get a little nervous when a male author writes about women, or opines about them, especially when he claims to be Christian (or a “believer in Jesus”) and is discussing his views about why and how he believes God created females.
In my previous post, I touched on the fact that more extreme elements of Christian conservatives (e.g., the Christian fertility cults such as “Quiverfull,” the Rconstructionists, etc) are now teaching that a lone Christian, a Christian who is un-married, does not reflect God’s image. (These views also seem to be permeating into more “normal,” less extremist Christian groups, such as the Neo-Calvinist biblical gender complementarians).
To them, an un-married man is not a man. An un-married woman is not a woman.
Both un married males and females are considered to be “less than” their married counterparts, not fully human, and not fully made in God’s image.
(More on this point in a moment.)
In this interview, Garr used terms or concepts that raised red flags of concern with me, such as “complements” or “God’s role(s) for women.”
In the portion of the interview I saw, Garr mentioned that he thinks God created women with an innate sense of modesty and beauty.
What about all the males who also have an “innate sense of beauty?” (And why is discussion of “modesty” among Christians almost always considered a female-only concern?)
As far as males appreciating beauty, or having an innate appreciation thereof, there are homo- and hetero- sexual males, both Christian and Non Christian, who appreciate sun-sets, flowers, nature, and who work as artists, photographers, interior designers, fashion designers, and sculptors and painters.
I do agree that secular culture goes way too far in dictating to American women that the “normal” or supposedly “empowering” thing to do is to behave like your average, vulgar, promiscuous, American secular male, and that this is not necessarily a good thing. I agree with Garr on that.
However, whenever a Christian man starts throwing out terms like “complementary” (as in women supposedly “complement” men, what qualities men lack, women tend to possess and vice versa), and when a religious male begins tossing out terms such as “modesty,” particularly in regards to discussion of gender, I assume he’s a “biblical gender complementarian” which is just as, if not, more dangerous than secular messages aimed at women.
At least most secular women know they can pick and choose which messages they can accept and reject from secular media.
Within Christianity, though, females are taught from a young age by Christian authors, parents, and pastors that they have no choice:
if God says to do or believe “X” in the Bible, and you are a good Christian girl who sincerely tries to please God, then you have no choice but to believe and do “X.”
–Please click on the “Read More” link to read the rest of the post–
At one point in this interview, Garr told the show host that “it takes two [people] together to reflect God – husband and wife, or women in society.”
If Garr only means to say that it takes both genders in general to reflect God, I don’t have much of a problem with that.
If, however, Garr was suggesting that male and female together reflects God only if the male and female are married, not only do I disagree, but this teaching is not supported in the Bible, where Paul wrote that singlehood is to be preferred, in some sense, to being married.
Paul does not say that an un-married woman is not as much a woman as a married one.
Paul does not write that an un-married woman is less in the image of God than a married one, and no where does the Bible teach that woman is only “indirectly the image of God” and therefore not as much in God’s image as males (this is a heresy taught by some Christian groups today).
God may have used a rib from Adam in making Eve, but God still formed Eve personally Himself – and God says in Genesis that both male and female are in His image, not just the male; nor does God qualify this to say anything such as, “Adam is more of my image than is Eve.”
I went to a book site’s page for Garr’s book “Feminine By Design.” In the description for the book, it says,
- Despite millennia of misguided efforts by men to control and dominate them, God originally designed women to be coequal with men and to have complete freedom to use any gift and to fulfill any role that he has given them. Women are designed to be feminine.
They are designed for beauty, purity, and modesty.
They are designed for sexual fulfillment. They are designed for nurture and relationship.
And they are designed for freedom. Whatever your race, ethnicity, gender, faith, or social status, this book will literally set you free from misconceptions that have restricted the roles of women.
As you are reconnected with the Hebraic foundations of your faith, you will clearly understand God’s original design and purpose for women, and you will begin to help remove obstacles that have kept women from assuming their God-given roles in the family, in society, and especially in the community of faith.
It’s possible this Garr author is an egalitarian, or at least rejects “biblical gender complementarianism,” but when he focuses on terms and concepts such as “complementary” and “modesty” and supposedly that all women are built for or want “relationships” and “to nurture,” it raises red flags and suspicion.
I say that because often, the biblical gender complementarians, who really espouse sexism under a veneer of Biblical-sounding jargon, actually box women in and keep them down, while simultaneously trying to tell them that being kept in a box and repressing their rights, placing limits on them and their needs, is actually liberating for them.
Sexism, repression, obsessive focus on a woman’s looks and demeanor (e.g., modesty, beauty, endlessly opining that females supposedly care only about relationships – and never addressing their intellects, minds, accomplishments, and thoughts), and discrimination against women, are passed off as being Christianity’s version of women’s lib, empowering, or freeing, when they are no such thing.
If this Garr author is sincerely trying to defend women in his book, great. I applaud him – but I fear from his perspective that “defending” women is the same old, same old, based on what little I’ve seen and read so far: dressing up patriarchy and discriminatory concepts under the guise of defending female equality.
Telling me I can find true purpose or God’s meaning for my life only in being married (which I have never been, and may never be), motherhood (which I will probably never experience), wearing long skirts (i.e., “being modest,” not conforming to the hyper sexualized secular culture), being domestic, baking cookies, and thinking about how swell Jesus is, doesn’t really do anything to liberate me or help me as a woman.
I’ve not read Garr’s book myself, and I would like to, but I can’t buy every book I see. I can only go by the reviews I read of it online (and there’s very little available online), and the interviews he gives about his book and his views. I’m just a little concerned based on what I have seen that he may be teaching the same old Neo-Calvinist / conservative Christian “biblical gender complementarian” muck, but through a Hebraic filter.
The Judaism of Jesus’ day was highly, highly sexist, so for an author to say he has re-discovered God’s “true intent” for women by going back to Hebraic roots is worrisome.
Jesus treated women of His day with respect, He broke the cultural and man-made religious rules of His day by speaking in public with women, associating with prostitutes, and by TEACHING women (rabbis in that day did not teach women, not in private as Christ did).
Christ, by the way, held each woman personally accountable – He did not hold their husbands (if they had husband) accountable for the woman’s sin(s), which is the opposite of biblical gender complementarian teaching in some kooky Christian quarters today, which teach an extreme form of “male headship” which says husbands are accountable for their wives to God.
When talking to the woman at the well, Jesus talked to her directly. He did not ask to speak with, to, or at her boyfriend or father. Jesus was quite satisfied to speak to her alone and not appeal to any males in her life.
Today’s extreme forms of “biblical gender complementarianism” as taught by John Piper, Neo Calvinists, Mark Driscoll, Quiverfull, Reconstructionists, etc, resembles Islamic beliefs and teachings about women more so than they do the teachings and attitudes of Jesus Christ.
And Jesus, of course, did not think or teach or act as though that un-married men or un-married women, or childless men or childless women, were less of God’s image than married people or parents. He Himself was un-married with no children. Jesus Christ told His followers that to love your wife or husband or son or daughter more than He means you are not worthy to follow Him.
Related post at this blog:
(Link): Why Un-married / Single Christians Should Be Concerned about the Gender Role Controversy (i.e., Male Headship, Female Submission, Should Women Be Allowed to Lead/Teach Men, etc)
2 thoughts on “Book: ‘Feminine By Design’ – Married People (supposedly) Fully Reflect God – Singles Do Not / When Christianity Looks More Like Islam and Less Like Christ”
Great perspective. I also happened to catch the last 10 minutes of this Interview on JVMI, which I had never heard of before. I searched for reviews on Dr. Garr’s “Feminine by Design” and found few, the book is not yet on Amazon – at least that I found. Thanks for the perspective and commentary. It’s appreciated.
You’re very welcome.
I hope I am wrong about my suspicions about Garr’s book.
Maybe Garr is not supportive of bilical gender complementarian views in his book, and sincerely defends the equality of Christian women – but all I have to go on was the last ten minutes of his interview on that TV show, and blurbs on book selling sites.
Just some of the words and phrases he used, and that he brought up topics like “modesty,” that women supposedly only or mainly care about relationships and beauty, and so forth set off warning bells in my mind, because gender complementarians often harp on those topics.
I could be wrong about the guy and his book, in other words. It’s hard to discuss it when so little material about it appears online.
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