By Sam A. Andreades
Weaver Book Company, Wooster, Ohio 2015
252 pp | $17.99
Of the many books and articles I have read on the roles of men and women in the church and in the home, this book is unique in grounding the discussion on the concept of gender as a divine gift providing “asymmetry” to human relationships. The author, Sam Andreades, serves as senior pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, PA. He is also the founder of Higher Ground, a New York City ministry serving those with unwanted same-sex attractions. He is a graduate of Yale University (B.S.), Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Covenant Theological Seminary (D.Min.) where he wrote his dissertation on gender distinction in marriage.
enGendered is essentially a theology of gender demonstrating the importance of and biblical basics for gender in relationships. In a culture that is moving rapidly toward the elimination of gender distinctions, this is an important message. Andreades moves beyond the obvious (“we are gendered”) to show that gender is “part of the image of God in us” (p. 10).
Andreades suggests that “a man, properly oriented toward the Giver of his life, should arise in the morning singing loudly in gratitude that he is a man, the image of God. A woman should exult in being a woman, as if it were the best thing in the world to be, the image of God.”
Andreades sees gender as more than our individual sexual identity—male or female. Beyond biological differences, gender reflects how human beings uniquely bear and reflect the image of God (p. 37). And since our gender differences make us like God, our genders should inspire celebration. Rather than seeing our gender as a matter of embarrassment or regret, Andreades suggests that “a man, properly oriented toward the Giver of his life, should arise in the morning singing loudly in gratitude that he is a man, the image of God. A woman should exult in being a woman, as if it were the best thing in the world to be, the image of God” (p. 39).
In chapter 4 of his book, Andreades emphasizes that men and women are “equal in power and glory.” He bases the spiritual equality of men and women on numerous biblical texts. In chapter 5, he emphasizes the importance of distinguishing gender in marriage. Men and women are spiritual equal but each are distinguished by their gender and contribute uniquely to developing the other person in their marriage by their gender. In chapter 6, Andreades provides scientific evidence for the differences between males and females based on significant differences in their genomes. Men and women are different. The idea of “uni-sex” is clearly not a biblical concept.
Having established a theology of gender, Andreades proceeds in “Part 2” of his book to emphasize the importance of “embracing asymmetry for the other.” Here he discusses many biblical passages that are usually considered in defining the roles of men and women in marriage and the church. The emphasis is very positive. Rather than pointing to gender based limitations in ministry and relationships, Andreades shows how gender contributes to and enhances the well-being of others.
Discussing the concept of a woman’s “submission” to her husband and church leadership, Andreades uses the word “promotion” interchangeably with “submission” (p. 112). Promotion is viewed as the positive work of helping another person grow in assuming their own gender based responsibility. Such promotion actively engages us with those we love and helps them to become all that God meant them to be. In such contexts, people grow and intimacy flourishes. Chapter 14, “The Purpose of Genders: A Gift to Foster Intimacy,” is worth the price of the book.
enGendered includes an outline of “A Theology of Gender” as an appendix. The book contains extensive notes documenting research and providing additional information. A bibliography and Scripture index are also included in the book.
I found enGendered to be a refreshingly different approach to gender issues. Although I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, Andreades has presented a solidly biblical study with many helpful insights from his own research and ministry experience. I look forward to reading the book again and to allow time for these new thoughts to simmer.