An updated reading list on sexuality...

Here's a reading list of thirteen books on the meaning and purpose of the two sexes created by God—man and woman. It's been slightly reworked since it was last published.

1. Scripture, starting with these texts
2. Henrik Ibsen: A Doll's House
3. Paul King Jewett: Man as Male and Female
4. Stephen B. Clark: Man and Woman in Christ
5. Walter Neuer: Man and Woman in Christian Perspective
6. Steven Ozment: When Fathers Ruled
7. G. K. Chesterton: What's Wrong With the World or The Thing
8. Doug Wilson: Reforming Marriage

9. Bill Mouser: The Story of Sex in Scripture

10. Elisabeth Elliot: Let Me Be a Woman
11. George Eliot: Middlemarch
12. Ivan Turgenev: Fathers and Sons

13. CBMW: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Now, thirteen explanations:

  1. Scripture: Some may quibble with my selection, but this is my own list of the texts I think should be carefully examined in order to come to a right understanding of the meaning and purpose of sex.
  2. Ibsen: Historian Paul Johnson said Ibsen's play "really started the women's movement." The play's protagonist, Nora, is as weak and narcissistic as every feminist. Try reading it aloud one evening with a group.
  3. Jewett: A Fuller Theological Seminary prof, Jewett's work serves as the locus classicus of the feminism that purports to honor Scripture. Of course, it’s a fool's task. As the late feminist Mary Daly put it, "Christianity is hopelessly patriarchal." Still, I recommend this book because Jewett was one of the few honest enough to say Scripture said it and Scripture was wrong. Don't waste your time on any other feminist tracts, especially those written by the liars claiming the Apostle Paul didn't say it, or that until now, no one has properly understood him.
  4. Clark: If you read nothing else, you simply must read Clark. He's far and away the best on God's Creation Order of man and woman. Nothing comes close. Buy your own copy and mark it all up.
  5. Neuer: A translation from the German, Neuer is shorter than Clark, but also helpful as a Biblical theology of sexuality. Don't read Neuer unless you've first read Clark.
  6. Ozment: Today's men who claim the Reformers as their theological heritage have little to no understanding of how central the restoration of the dignity of fatherhood was in the work of the Reformation. Ozment's fascinating work provides the historical goods on the battle for fatherhood at the heart of the Reformation.
  7. Chesterton: If you're discouraged by our culture's despising of motherhood, reading Chesterton will go a long way to restoring joy to your life. Read it aloud to your daughters, especially if they're young mothers. Chesterton will change their lives.
  8. Wilson: If I get one go at a man who claims the Name of Jesus while despising work, authority, marriage, and children, it's Wilson for sure. There's no better book for reforming unbiblical marriages and men. Our church has always had multiple copies on hand and yours should, too. But be warned: Wilson's perspicuity and manliness in controversy has blessed him with many enemies.
  9. Mouser: Father Bill Mouser is a dear friend and longtime contributor to Baylyblog who, with his wife Barbara, has developed a church curriculum titled Five Aspects of Man/Woman. In his The Story of Sex in Scripture, Bill gives simple and direct explanations of the meaning and purpose of sexuality across God's creation.
  10. Elliot: Every godly woman who has read Betty's books—particularly this one—has testified that she is a great help to those desiring to stand against the pressures of this world that seek to turn every woman into a man. Betty responds, "let me be a woman!"
  11. Eliot: This is a long and detailed introduction to the world of women. Men who are insensitive brutes or disembodied intellectuals would do well to read Eliot for a better understanding of their sisters, mothers, and wives.
  12. Turgenev: For a literary picture of what Freddie Mercury was talking about when he sang "father to son to son," read this by Turgenev. Across the life of man, rebellion and father-hunger are constants.
  13. CBMW: A work from the mainstream evangelical world, RBMW has the strengths and weaknesses all compilations of essays by different authors have. This work is best understood as an exercise in dialog with feminists claiming to be evangelicals. Two chapters are particularly helpful: Piper and Grudem's "Questions and Answers" and Vern Poythress's "The Church as Family."

What other books would our readers recommend?

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

If I may be so bold as to offer a caveat: I read Ibsen's "Doll House" several years ago, after having marinated in a feminist culture for most of my childhood, and I found Ibsen to be yawn-inducingly boring. Which is to say, it is an excellent showcase of feminist propaganda, and was surely revolutionary in its time; but I think that feminist propaganda is so ubiquitous today as to render Ibsen boringly pedestrian. I think that "A Doll's House" will only be helpful as a corequisite to some of the other books listed here, as a benchmark of sorts.

My two additions, which you have referenced in the past, Tim:

Paul Quay, The Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality

Steven Goldberg, Why Men Rule

and my own recommendation for women:

Alice Von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

Dr. Alice's little book is a short, sharp shock to women in our culture who have been trained to take a gnostic view towards their bodies. 

I second the recommendation by Clark, Man and Woman in Christ.

I read it a bit over a year ago and it was simply brilliant. Spells it out clearly and beautifully.

I had a bit of trouble finding a copy that wasn't too expensive. The hard back is out of print and Amazon sellers were charging a lot for 2nd hand copies. However, I found out that as of 2006 it was back in print (though not on Amazon) and can be found brand new here for $22:

http://www.sos-nar.com/tabor.htm

The new edition is not hard back, but probably has bigger text and is larger and thinner. It is now 584 pages instead of the 768 or so it was before. There is probably more space to scribble in the margins also. I think they forgot to update the page numbers in the endnotes though.

My one quibble would be that in chapter 13 he relegates to the endnotes a number of church fathers who speak for the much despised plain meaning of 1Cor14:33-36. Namely, the men Didymus, Jerome and Chrysostom - the latter whose words I think he bends. (Though to his credit he does allow Tertullian a few brief words on the matter). But the solution is just to read the relegated endnotes, there is loads of great stuff in there. I also think that the verse 'Scythian and barbarian' undercuts his interpretation of Gal 3:28, some of which I think is odd and unnecessary. And he ends up with a bit of a fuzzy conclusion on the practical application of 1Tim2:12. But those chapters are still excellent.

But never mind all that, it does not detract significantly from the book's awesomeness. It has such a delightful tone to it and really paints a beautiful and wholesome and desirable picture of God's wonderful creation of the two sexes.

In addition to the beautiful picture he paints, he also has some much wider thoughts that are superb concerning questions such as legalism, what the church fathers statements on women as 'inferior' meant, headcoverings, the Victorian woman, a great outlook on society under the ills of feminism, problems for manhood and womanhood in technological society, the need for church structure to be reformed before it is possible to obey some of the apostles commands, chapter 20 - principles of applying scripture is fabulous, and many other excellent bits.

It is worth investing 2 months to slowly go through this book, a bit each day. As Mr Bayly says, nothing comes close.

p.s. the new edition is *not* abridged. It is the full thing. My previous flatmate bought the hardback version so I have seen both.

p.p.s Tim I was not trying to passively undercut your comment on a previous post - I didn't read it until after I posted this. If you don't know what I'm talking about that's great, carry on as normal!

Dear Henry,

No worries, dear brother. 

Love,

Dear Tim,

Thanks for updating this list. It's excellent. I've especially benefited from Clark and Neuer. Though it's 30+ years old now, there is nothing to match Clark. I don't have a problem telling people to read Neuer first, though. Neuer hits several themes (motherhood, for example) in a way that is particularly helpful. And, given it's small size and cheap cost, people who wouldn't tackle Clark may read it instead. 

Three other books that I've benefited from over the past few years are:

1) Manliness by Harvey Mansfield. A politics professor at Harvard and a longtime Conservative, Mansfield tackles the question of manliness as both a natural quality and a virtue in the Western tradition. His book lacks a proper Christian grounding, but I've found it insightful, nonetheless. The second chapter of a book has a summary of recent social scientific work on sex differences and is a helpful update to Neuer's treatment of that area. His political analysis of the last 200 years (and why, for example, modernity is hostile to manliness) seems spot-on to me. It can be dense in places, but the first two chapters and the conclusion are worth the time.

2) The Church Impotent by Leon Podles. Excessively psychological at times, Podles' book is nonetheless useful in looking at how the church became feminized. I believe I first heard about the book from you (though, my memory may be faulty on that point). It's available free online, too, at podles.org.

3) On the Meaning of Sex by J. Budziszewski. Philosophy professor at University of Texas--Austin and Roman Catholic convert, Budziszewski's book is short but punchy. He stresses the themes of fatherhood and motherhood as central to understanding masculinity and femininity. The book includes a discussion of chastity and birth control, but it's all centered around the meaning of sex. Direct discussion of the creation order is absent, but everything else is a massive poke in the eye of of our 21st century culture. 

I would recommend Clark, Neuer, Wilson, Chesterton, and chapters of RBMW before these three, but these have all been helpful to me in reinforcing and understanding the Biblical view. 

With much love,

David

I'm reading Karl Stern's "Flight from Woman" right now and am wondering:

Has anyone here read it? Thoughts?

Add new comment