Alan Garrett’s book UNSilenced thoroughly explores all of the major questions, issues, and arguments presented by evangelicals who have a distorted view of gender and the Bible. While some books that explain biblical equality are considered too academic or complex, Garrett has produced a book that is both accessible and well-reasoned in answering complementarian arguments and presenting a case for egalitarianism.
Garrett begins with the fundamental questions regarding gender in Genesis, discusses biblical women in leadership positions, and concludes with a study of the opaque passages regarding women in the New Testament.
Garrett analyzes Genesis by discussing the biblical nature of creation, the meaning of “helpmate,” the fall and the curse. The chapter summary states that “God’s intention for woman is for her to rule alongside man in harmony as she did in the garden before the fall of man.”
Next, Garrett presents examples of female leaders in the Old Testament that have been overlooked and/or discounted. By detailing stories of women in authoritative spiritual leadership, UNSilenced provides clear evidence of God’s appointment of women to leadership in an era of patriarchy.
Garret continues with examples of female leaders in the New Testament. He reflects on both Jesus Christ’s example with regard to women as well as the way in which the apostles and the early church utilized women in positions of spiritual authority. Lastly, he dives into two of the most contested passages (1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15) in the New Testament.
I have often heard it said that a “text without a context is a pretext.” This seems to be the case with a number of complementarian arguments (e.g., scripture directed to specific churches in the epistles should be generalizable to the church universal). Garrett, however, provides a brief cultural context that creates a framework from which to analyze the scriptures written in the first century.
The book concludes with a discussion of the word ‘head’ that is used as a metaphor in the New Testament. Although as a metaphor, (a figure of speech which applies a word or phrase to something to which it is not literally applicable) the word ‘head’ is an indirect comparison, it has become a touchstone of complementarianism to demonstrate male hierarchy. Garrett is able to unpack this misnomer and shed light on a serious linguistic misdirection.
Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with Alan Garrett’s UNSilenced, a relatively short book that offers the perspective and scriptural analysis of a much longer and involved book. With an approachable format, this book provides a compelling argument for women in leadership. In a world struggling against darkness, the church dilutes its ability to counteract the effects of the fall by discounting half of the people God has called to his work. Garrett offers evidence that the resources we have available in our sisters in Christ should be used in the healing of a broken world.