|Publication Date: 20 Mar 2014|
|Publisher: SPCK Publishing|
|Author: Jenny Baker|
Equality, Jenny Baker suggests, is intrinsically related to the desire to see people flourish. Jesus was not averse to challenging cultural stereotypes in his encounters with others. His model of liberating relationships can be a great encouragement to us, as we seek to find the generosity of spirit we need to enable those we love to thrive and, ultimately, to reflect more fully the image of God.
In this book Baker address the question of gender and gender equality for a wide audience. Baker explores what equality is and what it is not; the science of being masculine or feminine; and the experience of inequality. The second half of the book then seeks to offer what equality might look like at home, in marriage, as parents, in work and within the church. This is an excellent example of practical theology.
The book would be a useful one for those getting married or who are married to both think through the issues of living together, decision making and parenting and to provide examples of how it might be differently. The chapter on church would be useful to be read by those in leadership in the local church, but also those who hold wider roles, especial those involved in planning conferences and workshops.
Having recently read Joanna Jepson’s story in A Lot Like Eve, and aware of friends who are women in Baptist ministry and conscious of still the wide readership of Grudem, Piper and Driscoll, there is still a task to do in overcoming the unbiblical and theological views of the place and role of women that are presented by those in the church. One story Baker tells is of women vicar who arrives in a new parish and makes contact with the local Baptist minister who was male. When they meet, the Baptist minister’s wife is present, because on principle he couldn’t meet someone of the opposite gender on his own! As Baker notes this views women as persons to be afraid of that make it difficult for women and men to work together and they give the impression that male ministry is the norm and allow men to hold control of who is allowed power and opportunity (p.127). At the same time there is a wider issue of gender stereotyping that takes place in society, for example in the area of children’s toys.
Jenny Baker’s book is a call for those who are Christians, especially those of us who are men, to not pretend this is not an issue or perhaps not an important enough issue. This is a matter of the gospel. The strength of Baker’s book is she offers stories and examples of how we might live differently. If you don’t have a church library, start one, for this is a book worth making available and encouraging our congregations to read.