Van Leeuwen pens new book spelling out Lewis’ views on gender

It all started in 2004 with a lecture on C. S. Lewis at the University of Tennessee.

After speaking about Lewis’ opinions on gender relations, Dr. Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, head of the Eastern psychology department, began the process of writing her sixth self-published book, “A Sword between the Sexes?: C. S. Lewis and the Gender Debates.”

“A Sword Between the Sexes” became a reality in 2005 when the editor of Brazos Press asked Van Leeuwen to submit her proposal for a book discussing Lewis’ thoughts about gender.

The book explains how Lewis changed his views on gender issues throughout his life as he responded to the concerns of Christians on both sides of the fence.

Van Leeuwen puts it best in the introduction to her book:

“The purpose of this book is to trace the route by which Lewis moved slowly … from an often-polemical defense of gender essentialism and gender hierarchy to a much more gender-egalitarian view.”

The first book of its kind, “A Sword Between the Sexes” accounts not only for Lewis’ regular canon of books but also his letters.

“People say things in their letters that they don’t in public,” Van Leeuwen said. “With a very private man like Lewis, it’s important to read his letters because he’s not the kind of man to wave a flag and say, ‘I’ve changed my mind.’ He just starts writing differently.”

Fortunately, a volume of Lewis’ letters were published in 2006, just as Van Leeuwan was beginning work on her manuscript, so she was able to use them extensively in the book.

In the end, Lewis’ letters and texts brought together in this book give a new perspective on his opinions on gender relations and his recognition of “a sword between the sexes” that will be there until “an entire marriage reconciles them.”

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