Far Above Rubies: Today’s Virtuous Woman, edited by Herman Hanko; Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1992; 187 pp., $9.95, paper. [Reviewed by Rev. Dale H. Kuiper.]
The1atest offering of the R.F.P.A. is a compilation of eleven sermons, speeches, pamphlets, and magazine articles by five ministers and three professors from the Protestant Reformed Churches. Editor Hanko has also included four articles of charming simplicity by Abraham Kuyper from his popular book, When Thou Sittest in Thine House. As the subtitle of the book indicates, the subject of all this writing is the woman – more particularly- today’s virtuous woman. ”
Several words come to mind as one reads through these chapters: timely, biblical, consistent, practical, and positive. Timely because the place of the woman in marriage, the home, the church, and society needs definition today. Biblical because only God may, can, and does define these important roles. Consistency is itself a ruby because it is rare that across a denomination and its seminary a unified, certain sound is sent forth. The great need is for the practical application of the Scriptural givens, so that a woman’s daily problems are addressed and she knows where to turn and how to behave. Believing women are not only informed what they are not to be doing, but are in every chapter encouraged positively in the calling whereunto God calls them. A few chapter headings will whet the appetite: “A Virtuous Woman,” “Children in Marriage,” “The Calling of the Truly Liberated Woman,” “Women in Church Office.”
A couple of criticisms come to mind. Perhaps it is inevitable with a compilation such as this that there is a degree of overlapping or repetition in the articles. In several chapters the same biblical passages are treated, identical arguments are made, and the same examples employed. While this results in some reinforcement of the reader in the biblical positions, it does become tedious if several chapters are read in one sitting. Perhaps it would be best to read the book over a period of time.
The second matter that we question is the elevating of the place and work of the woman to such exalted heights that the labors of others are made all but insignificant. For example, the work of “mothers in the home is an everlasting work. From a certain point of view, it is the only work that will ever endure” (p. 72). The work of artists and craftsmen, etc., will not endure; “there is one great work that will not be removed, but shall endure, and that is the life of the child who has been formed and molded by believing hands” (p. 82). We are of the conviction that all the labors of every child of God are kingdom labors, that none of them are in vain, and, that God is faithful to reward every one of them in time and in eternity. Among those labors of the faithful are those performed by believing women in the home. With the thoughts that a mother’s work is of great significance, and that the work is one which only she can perform, we heartily concur!
This book ought to be in every Christian home. The older girls and young women should read it to learn what they are called by God to be. The older women should read it to discover what they should be teaching by word and example. The young men must read these things to know what to look for in a wife. The older men should also read it, that they might know what to guard against and what to stand for in the home and church. A profitable book, then; one that the Holy Spirit will surely use to bring forth fruit in the home and in the church of Gods Son.
Women in the Maze: Questions & Answers on Biblical Equality, by Ruth A. Tucker. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1992. 276 pages. Paper. $9.95. [Reviewed by the Editor.]
When evangelical and conservative churches ordain women as preachers and elders, one reason will be books such as this one. Ruth Tucker makes every effort to avoid the radical extremes of feminism and persuasively argues for full equality of men and women. For her, full equality means especially two things: women in every office that is open to men in the church and stripping husbands of authority over their wives in marriage. She has a passion for the cause: …”we must seriously address the women’s issue. Indeed, this is one of the most critical issues that confront the church today” (p. 10).
Women in the Maze takes the reader through all the areas of the feminist debate: the implications for the doctrine of God;’ the issue of headship at creation; patriarchy in the Old Testament; the teaching of the New Testament, including exegesis of the crucial passages; church history; and contemporary issues.
Like its cause, the book founders on one stubborn fact: Scripture forbids female officebearers’ in the New Testament church and requires the husband’s authority in marriage and the family. I Timothy 2, 3 is decisive on the issue of female ministers and elders; Ephesians 5:22-33 is conclusive on the issue of the wife’s being under her husbands authority in marriage.
There are two ways for “evangelical feminists” to resist the authority of God the Holy Spirit speaking in these passages. One is to charge the apostle with being mistaken, as a child of his time. This was the way chosen by Fuller Seminary’s Paul K. Jewett. Ruth Tucker chooses the second way of resistance. Professing allegiance to inspiration in the passages, she explains away the clear, obvious meaning with appeal to “hermeneutics.”
Tucker’s “interpretation” of I Timothy 2, 3 (pp. 112ff.) and of Ephesians 5:22-33 (pp. 126ff.) is pathetic. I Timothy2:12 is said to mean that Paul temporarily forbade the women of the congregation to teach until they had learned more about the faith. When this had happened, he gladly suffered women to teach. His prohibition against the woman’s “usurping authority” over the man in church was merely directed against her “domineering.” As long as the woman would rule the man in the right way, the apostle had no objection. Headship in Ephesians 5 does not refer to authority at all. The husband is head of his wife only as her source. Besides, Tucker assures us, marriage has greatly changed since Paul’s day.
When a feminist exegete will show me that a headship that is comparable to Christ’s headship over the church (Eph. 5:23) and that demands subjection (v. 24) and reverence (v. 33) is, nevertheless, devoid of authority, I will begin to consider taking the feminist position seriously. When this exegete demonstrates that it is possible in Ephesians 5:22ff. To strip the husband’s headship of all authority without robbing Jesus Christ of His authority over the church, and every member of the church, I will consider becoming a feminist myself.
As Ruth Tucker’s high-handed, or cavalier, treatment of Holy Scripture indicates, it is impossible for anyone to be a moderate feminist. The movement is, essentially, a radical deviation from biblical Christianity. Despite her efforts to distance herself from her extremist sisters (and brothers), Tucker admits that she does not think it sinful to address God as “Mother”; alleges that the God who bars women from office only because of gender is a “chauvinist,” that is, a sinner; and advocates a new view of the Christian family in which it is not the calling of the wife and mother to be a worker at home.
I recommend this book to our readers on the principle, Know the enemy.”