The 7th chp (and chp 8 ) of Sarah Sumner’s Men and Women in the Church begins with this statement: “If Christian women have a tendency to pretend they are inferior, the opposite is true for Christian men” (81). This statement sets the assumption and the theme of the chp — that cracked Eikons mess up their genderedness (or sexuality).
Here’s the question: What does it mean to be a Christian man/husband?
Men (and women) are wondering what it means to be a man. Sumner begins with manhood in “worldly” terms — where it basically means “to be above,” to be higher. She states that “be a man!” is a powerful challenge (and a fear if the challenge isn’t met) for males.
She next turns to John Piper’s view: “a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women” and “to affirm, receive, and nurture the strength and leadership of worthy men” is the design of God for women (85 — from Grudem/Piper, Recoving Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, pp. 36-52). Sumner says this about it: first, it’s a definition, but not from the Bible. “Nowhere does the Bible say that God designed men to be the leaders, providers and protectors of women” (85). She questions whether the Bible teaches women to discern the worthiness of a man’s strength and leadership.
Sumner suggests the Bible is more open than this; that this is OK and it is good; but that there are other themes possible for men and women.
She doesn’t think the Bible teaches men to be masculine or for women to be feminine. The Bible calls us to be like Christ.
Piper, Sumner argues, is not calling men to be macho; he’s calling them to be responsible. His view of manhood fails women and men because it teaches men to assess themselves over against women (90). It teaches men to identify themselves by a feeling (91).
Sumner contends that “what is manhood/masculinity?” is not a biblical question. She thinks this question is about wondering how to “acquire a more vital and prestigious identity” (94).
Sometimes, she says, men lead; sometimes women do.
Sumner does a study with students about what the world expects of women and men and what the Church expects of women and men and concludes that the Church’s vision of men is significantly at odds with the world, while culture’s view of women and the Church’s are not as much at odds. Thus, men have more to give up to enter into the Church (100-103).