Kevin Giles (What the Bible Actually Teaches on Women) repeatedly complains that Andreas and Margaret Kostenberger (and other complementarians) accuse evangelical egalitarians of teaching undifferentiated equality between the two sexes.
‘Evangelical egalitarians do not deny male-female differentiation, they affirm it.’
‘Yes, in Gal 3:28 Paul speaks of the equality of the sexes in salvation but this does not negate male-female role differentiation.’
‘The Köstenbergers and all complementarians argue that evangelical egalitarians reject the authority of Scripture, embrace cultural relativity, and deny male-female differentiation, arguing for “undifferentiated equality.” All of this is just not true.’
‘On male-female differentiation we (the Kostenbergers and Giles) are both emphatic. God has given the two sexes different bodies and different chromosomes and the results of this are far-reaching.’
‘The Köstenbergers repeated charge is that egalitarian evangelicals teach “undifferentiated gender equality,” and that in Christ all male-female “distinctions have been abolished.” This is not true. I do not believe this and I have never met an egalitarian evangelical who denies creation-given male-female differentiation. If these accusations are true, some reference to those who teach these things should to be given. None is given because no informed evangelical egalitarian denies male-female differentiation.’
‘What Gen 1:27 teaches is that humanity is male and female. God created one species, humankind, in two sexes. This means sexual differentiation is creation-given and good. And it implies that the two sexes complement each other.’
‘To conclude that Gen 2:18 is speaking of the woman as man’s equal helper in no way questions male-female differentiation.’
‘What the text of Gen 2–3 explicitly teaches is the substantial equality of the two creation differentiated sexes.
‘Genesis 1 and 2 teach the substantial equality of the two differentiated sexes.’
‘I also agree with [the Kostenbergers] that Paul is definitely not denying racial, social, or sexual differentiation.301 Evangelical egalitarians, like them, do not interpret this verse to be teaching “undifferentiated equality,”302 or that all gender distinctions “have been abolished in Christ.”303 To claim this is what evangelical egalitarians teach is just polemic, without any factual basis.’
[On 1 Cor 11:2-16] ‘We agree this passage affirms male-female differentiation.’
[On v6f of the above passage) ‘What Paul is affirming is male-female differentiation. God has made us men and women.’
‘God has made us man or woman, gender differentiation is God-given and good.’
‘Gen 1–2, which with one voice teach the substantial or essential equality of the two differentiated sexes.’
‘It is his (the writer of Genesis’) view that in creation before the fall man and woman, two differentiated sexes, are substantially and essentially equal.’
‘Complementarian theologians say they cannot consider the egalitarian position because it is a denial of male-female differentiation. The Köstenbergers make this claim repeatedly in their book. Egalitarians, they say, teach “undifferentiated male-female equality”; “they have abolished all male-female role distinctions”; “they deny that Scripture teaches distinct and non-reversible male-female roles”; and like secular feminists, they “start out with a presupposition of undifferentiated male-female equality.” If this is what evangelical egalitarians are teaching, they should be condemned, and we can understand why egalitarian teaching is so threatening to men and women who are told by their leaders this is what egalitarians are teaching—but it is not. We egalitarians believe without any caveats that male-female distinctions are God-given and good. No egalitarian I have ever heard or read denies male-female differentiation. We unequivocally affirm it. No evidence from the pen of an evangelical egalitarian for this complementarian charge can be given. What we deny is that the subordination of women is the creation ideal, that men are to lead, women obey. In saying this the picture comes into focus. When evangelical egalitarians deny male leadership and female subordination is the God-given ideal, complementarians hear male-female differentiation itself being denied. For them, what makes a man a man is that he is a leader; what makes a woman a woman is that she submits to male leadership. This is a very unsound way to primarily differentiate men and women. Surely a woman is still a woman if she is the president or prime mister of her country? Surely a man is a man even when set under a woman at work? To primarily ground male-female differentiation on “role” differences is even more problematic. Do not the roles of men and women differ from culture to culture and change over time?’
‘We evangelical egalitarians must constantly, strongly, and publicly deny the charges that we reject biblical authority and male-female differentiation. We must win on this matter because this accusation is blatantly false.’
‘The time has come: if complementarians cannot answer me or other informed egalitarian scholars in an open debate then they need to in all honesty concede and admit they were wrong. Continuing to vehemently reject what evangelical egalitarians are saying the Bible says by accusing them of denying biblical authority and male-female differentiation is becoming very tiresome. It is simply not true.’
I will set aside for the moment the question of whether Giles has fairly represented the views of the Kostenbergers.
What I want to ask is this: If Kevin Giles so repeatedly and emphatically insists that he (along with other egalitarians) believe in some kind of God-given differentiation of the sexes, in what (in his view) does that differentiation consist?
Negatively, Giles detests the idea of any kind of differentiation of role:
‘No evangelical egalitarian denies God-given male-female differentiation and none holds to or advocates “undifferentiated male-female equality.” True, evangelical egalitarians do not speak of “male-female role distinctions;” because “role” distinctions are never mentioned in the Bible and nowhere in the Bible are men and women differentiated by their supposed “roles.” The word “role” is not found in any of the most common translations of the Bible. The complementarian use of the word “role” is a disingenuous and deliberately obfuscating way of saying men and women are differentiated on the basis that men rule, women obey. We evangelical egalitarians do not endorse this way of differentiating the sexes. We believe God has differentiated the sexes…not by giving them different “roles.” If “roles” can change, as sociologists insist, this is a very inadequate, if not dangerous, way to differentiate men and women.’
Postively, then, how has God differentiated the sexes? He has done so
‘primarily by giving them different bodies.’
We should differentiate men and women on the basis of
‘our different bodies and our different chromosomes.’
To this may be added another brief comment, quoted above:
‘God has given the two sexes different bodies and different chromosomes and the results of this are far-reaching.’
Is that it? Is there nothing more to be said on the matter?
As far as I can see, Giles’ entire argument has been blown away by his unexplained, unexplored concession that the physical differences between men and women have ‘far-reaching’ results. If he cannot tell us what these results are, then, despite his protestations to the contrary, the Kostenbergers’ charge (that many egalitarians teach undifferentiated equality of the sexes) has not been refuted.