Lois Gunden Clemens. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1971. 158 pages.
Women, says Mrs. Clemens, should not be the unheard sex but should be allowed in policy-making positions, both in the church and outside it. She bases her strong statement of freedom for women partly on her basic definition of woman as the female counterpart of generic man: “they are made to be one dual being in a totality consisting of two distinct persons, one male and the other female.” She finds further support in Christ’s acceptance of women, and in Paul’s words “in Christ there is neither male nor female.”
Woman’s role is therefore not secondary but complementary. Her fulfillment does not pose any threat to man, but the contrary: “the more each sex can act in unconscious self-possession, the taller it causes the other one to stand.” Woman makes her best contribution, not by competing with man, but “on the basis of herself as an individual person.” A society often expects too little of women simply because of its traditions, not because of the biological order of things.
Mrs. Clemens, herself on the Goshen College Board of Overseers, feels strongly that women should be allowed a voice in the decision-making processes of church and country. She observes that women have different ideals and insights than men, and that these are needed to balance the otherwise lop-sided program put up by the male world. After sketching the contributions of women in the Bible, the early church, and the missionary movement, she complains that nowadays “the church has not yet made use of even a tithe of the vast reserve of talent and devotion to be found in its female members.”
In 150 pages Mrs. Clemens manages to cover many aspects of the woman’s role, from her relationship to her husband to God’s purpose in creating male and female. The reader will find some of his traditional views challenged. The book suffers from a preponderance of general statements; one feels that a few true-life incidents would both lighten and enlighten.