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We Can’t Go On Together with Suspicious Minds


Ever since the Fall, we have experienced gender division and alienation. Whether throughout human history we have improved or are going backward in this area, depends upon what one views as the end or telos. Certainly, there are plenty of stories about this divide at the political level today. But that would be the wrong end by which to evaluate our progress.

I contend that the mutually self-sacrificial love that imitates the mutually self-sacrificial love of the Trinity is the goal for which we should strive in our gender relationships. However, I would add that the full range of Divinely-demonstrated Christian virtues such as humility, self-control, wisdom, gentleness, submission to one another, forgiveness, etc. are also important in these relationships as well.

In that respect, the most important example of gender reconciliation and redemption is always a wonderful marriage. It is where we hopefully return to the garden—showing agape love while being naked and unashamed. Marriage also helps us realize that both genders are made in God’s image and have equal value but that godly forms of virtue practice do not necessarily result in equality regarding how we do things.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that my wife and I have never had a financial fight (which is true). One of the reasons is that we created a budget together. As part of that budget, we each gave each other a set allowance for things like clothes, going out to eat with friends, etc. At the start of this process at the beginning of our marriage, I offered to give my wife more allowance than I received, because women’s clothing and accessories cost more. In this case, I thought equity (i.e., an allowance of the same $ amount) was unfair to my wife. Yet, she refused (and has continued to refuse), mainly because she is a great steward and values simple living, which I admire. We both engaged in mutually self-giving sacrifice.

Yet, I contend that both in marriage and academia we also need other models of gender reconciliation that capture something else—something that is not simply moral but also beautiful. That’s why I love watching excellent dance couples perform together. Here is one of my favorites in two versions: (original); (set to different music). Here we see a man (Stephen) and a woman (Chanzie) dancing in rhythm, and often mirroring each other, but yet they are not always doing the same thing (btw, they are professional dancers and not married). Each one is fully masculine and feminine but still joined together in a common endeavor in ways that are often alike but are also very different at key moments (especially with anything involving strength or allure). They also highlight each other’s individuality at certain moments but within the context of a beautiful partnership with a common end.

A key challenge before Christian academics today is how can we foster similar mutually self-giving, focused gender partnerships—partnerships that are necessary both for gender reconciliation and redemption in academia but also for advancing and representing the beautiful Kingdom of God. I now realize that professional gender redemption, like most good things, does not simply happen. Both contemporary academic and Christian social media cultures nurture gender grievances and alienation. I could give plenty of examples from those who build whole personal brands on this endeavor, but I will refrain. Instead, I want to call Christian academics to funnel our creativity into cultivating theological perspectives and partnerships regarding redemptive gender relationships.

We cannot offer each other our strengths if we do not build one another up. You do not benefit from weak or timid male or female colleagues in the same way you do not benefit from a weak or timid spouse. For instance, when my wife and I first got married, I quickly learned that my wife shut down amid conflict. She had developed this habit in response to her father’s destructive and unbridled anger at home. Yet, through patient love amid conflict, my wife eventually grew comfortable resolving conflict and voicing her opinion (which I needed to hear for my own sanctification). She could not do that by being timid in conflict. Now, she is very, very comfortable sharing her voice in conflict, which I do not always appreciate at the moment, but I know I need it.

The same proves true in academia. A higher percentage of my female graduate students are more likely not to think they are qualified to give me feedback just as they are more likely not to believe they are qualified for certain jobs.1 My goal as a male professor is to build their skills and confidence so that they eventually feel full freedom to offer me and others critical feedback on our teaching and scholarship. For both my female graduate students and professional colleagues, I try to pay attention to and repeat the praises of other students and faculty to them to foster this confidence as well.

After all, similar to dancing, if we are in a common intellectual project that requires excellence, it is important to encourage each gender to speak directly into our lives. I have appreciated those various women academics who have boldly sought me out to confront me or resolve conflict with me in their effort to further the Kingdom of God.

I should note that I also think it is important for each gender to be sensitive when the other gender is only doing this indirectly for a variety of cultural, personal, or power reasons (e.g., being from the South or another culture where cross-gender confrontation has implicit rules, being an assistant professor). For example, I recently enjoyed and teased a Southern female professor on our research team who was gently and indirectly trying to warn me about taking a particular approach to a topic (she did not at first direct her comment at me, but I knew it was for me). She was absolutely right to caution me since she knows my character and its possible weaknesses. I also loved and embraced how she sought to do it indirectly and gently. Of course, I also want to make sure she feels she can direct it to me as well without indirect mental gymnastics.

Along these lines, the uneven emphasis upon a particular gender to adopt certain kinds of Christian virtues (e.g., meekness, gentleness) fails to recognize two things. First, both genders are called to these Christian virtues. Second, if the call is made without first affirming a person’s strength, as well as an understanding of the larger story and its ends, it may reinforce some vices. Jesus did not sacrifice out of simple passivity, a sense of worthlessness, weakness, or aimlessness, or bowing to the requests of other humans without consciousness of His strength and identity. Jesus set his eyes on the cross or as Luke 9:51 shared, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (italics added). The triune God actively and courageously modeled redemptive virtues from strength.2

Finally, I have found several practices helpful in fostering gender reconciliation in academia. First, I think it would be helpful to every faculty member to be in a co-ed prayer group together. When you seek the kingdom by praying together as faculty, you are reminded that we are intimate allies together, but our flesh, the world, and Satan wish to drive us apart. I have found that when I have experienced some lingering gender frustration, praying together with female colleagues reminds me of our alliance together.

Second, I discovered that doing common academic scholarly projects together, when exercising Christian virtues, nurtures gender reconciliation (similar to doing a budget together). Just as C.S. Lewis noted that friendships flourish when two people pursue the same end together so do cross-gender friendships flourish when you’re undertaking a common scholarly research project together. These partnerships are even more important when the topic you are writing about has different gender implications. For example, my colleague and fellow blogger, Julia Hejduk, and I recently wrote a chapter together about the biblical view of the body for an edited collection on stewarding the body.3 We have different bodies and must share our efforts to encourage bodily stewardship.

Third, I try to invite female professors or staff into the classroom when the subject matter turns to subjects that need dual-gender perspectives. When I’m talking about sex, Title IX, bodily stewardship, and more, I find it important to have a female with equal power status in the room.

Again, all of this takes extra work, but it is the positive, transformative exertion we need to be doing to model the Kingdom of God. Living among and perpetuating the gender wars in academia is the exact opposite of that. We can do better.

I dedicate this post to one of the early models I observed who consciously engaged in practices fostering cross-gender partnerships for the Kingdom, Shirley Roels, the current leader of the International Network for Christian Higher Education (INCHE).


  1. Katherine B. Coffman, et al. “Whether to Apply.” Management Science, 2023,
  2. For what I mean by redemptive virtues see Perry L. Glanzer and Nathan F. Alleman, The Outrageous Idea of the Christian Teacher (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).
  3. Perry L. Glanzer and Julia D. Hejduk, “The Body in the Biblical Narrative: Foundations” in Stewarding Our Bodies: A Vision for Christian Student Affairs, eds., Perry L. Glanzer and Austin Smith (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2023), 17-32.

Perry L. Glanzer

Baylor University
Perry L. Glanzer, Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Foundations and a Resident Scholar with Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.


  • Perry, seeing the title of this CSR blog post with your authorship, I opened it promptly. While reading, I nodded to affirm your comments about female-male relationships in Christian higher education. We need each other in our teaching and scholarship as fellow pilgrims who dance today toward the tomorrows to which God calls us. I was surprised and grateful for the dedication at the bottom of the blog. Thank you, Perry.

  • Marie Lindley says:

    Perry, I wish others would follow your lead in this area. Yet, if I may challenge academics to do this not only is marriages and with other faculty but with staff in academia. Staff in academia are often not routinely treated as equals. Yet, it is only with working with our staff that we can more easily find success in our academic lives. As one who works in a field that is dominated by one gender, it is often that same gender that does not treat staff with that agape love. Thank you Perry for your thought-provoking post!