Reviewed by Iris M. Yob, assistant professor of education, State University of New York at Geneseo.

If heresy falls short of the complete truth, Sexual Paradox is an heretical account of the respective roles and contributions of men and women in our congregations! But who can write in one slim volume the complete truth about any complex issue?

Celia Allison Hahn offers a summary explanation and description of women's and men's different approaches to understanding, valuing, and acting. This alone makes the volume informative for church leaders and members. Hahn goes beyond description, giving helpful suggestions about how these approaches differ in faith practice and enhance our individual and corporate lives. The author does this with full respect for the marvels of male and female creation--their differing ways of being human and how the mystery interplays between the sexes and speaks of the mystery of the God in whose image they are made.

The book makes a contribution in describing how essential femaleness differs from and complements essential maleness. Such knowledge will certainly impact positively on the home, work place, and the church. However, Hahn misses providing a persuasive account of the equality of the sexes. We assume equality because God made human beings, and what God makes is "very good." But Harm does not discuss why women's acting from "the heart" is no more or less valuable than men's acting from "the head." She does not say why we need to cherish vulnerability as much as power; ecstasy as much as ethics; diffusion as much as focus. She does not give serious consideration to nontypical cases (the 40 percent of people who depart from the male and female approaches); thus, she opens the door for stereotyping. Although Hahn carefully notes these exceptions, the reader needs to look elsewhere for fuller discussions of these departures and what they mean in personal and public life.

Nevertheless, if readers can hold the tensions between differences and equality and the typical and stereotypical, they will find this a valuable volume in the work of ministry.


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Reviewed by Iris M. Yob, assistant professor of education, State University of New York at Geneseo.

February 1993

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