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Review: “The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them” by Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock

Next week marks the biennial Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Ky. Thousands of ministers will gather in downtown Louisville for the event, and many of those will attend the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood preconference, The Beauty of Complementarity.

Completed just in time for the CBMW preconference, Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock recently authored, The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them.  I was pleased to provide an endorsement for the book, and even more pleased to see it released. Here is why:

The Grand Design offers a thorough, yet digestible, overview of biblical complementarity and why it matters. Rooting complementarity in the created order, the authors first describe complementarianism in terms of its physicality. They write,

“The sexes are complementary—that is, they are different but fit together. The man and woman did not have the same form; their bodies were designed with notable differences. But they were not so different as to be unworkable. God made these distinct physiques so that the man and woman could join together in sexual union.” [1]

Though physical complementarity is obvious to the honest observer, they set forth gender distinction biblically and theologically, tracing it throughout Scripture.  Beginning with the creation narrative, the authors argue complementarity is not a result of the fall, or some subsequent social construct, but rooted in the creation order itself. This is a display of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Strachan and Peacock write, “The complementarity of the sexes is based in the monumental first chapters of Scripture.”[2]

Reviewing the creation account, the authors write,

“Here the concept of ‘complementarity’ really clicks into place. Adam, like the vast majority of men, was not made to walk alone throughout life. He needed a woman ‘fit for him,’ suited to him. This means that the helper needed to be like him as a human (and not a beast or a flower) but distinct from him. This is the essence of complementarity: one suited to us, who fits with us, but is not precisely the same as us.”[3]

Moving beyond the broad brushstrokes, the authors outline what complementarity looks like for both male and female, in both form and function.  Next, the authors overview how complementarity should look, operationally, in the family, church and culture. This section, chapter four, is the money chapter. In it the authors knock down strawmen and construct a healthy, biblically pattern.

Chapter five adds a pastoral touch, explaining how the church should engage topics of gender and sexuality, and how it can equip members to think biblically. The task is a daunting one, with the average church member awash in our cultural moment—one marked by ubiquitous pornography, sexuality, and perverse innuendo.

Lastly, the book concludes with the authors assessing the importance of biblical complementarity and framing up how it should fit into the broader schematic of Christian theology.

As mentioned, the book will be formally released next week at the CBMW conference. For more information about the event, or to register for it, you can go here. I look forward to speaking on “Complementarity and the Disappearance of Men” at the preconference, and I hope to see many of you there.


[1] 26.

[2] 40.

[3] 29.

topicsBook Reviews

One Response to “Review: “The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them” by Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock”

April 07, 2016 at 1:52 pm, Olumide O. Agboghoroma said:

This work is useful for my dissertation.

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