Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Part of a series on
|Four major positions|
|Church and society|
|Theologians and authors|
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (born 1935 in Pittsburgh, PA ) is an independent scholar, writer, and freelance editor. She has authored or coauthored nine books, the most well-known of which are All We're Meant to Be and Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? Scanzoni specializes in the intersection between religion and social issues.
From 1994 until her retirement in December, 2013, she served as editor of both the print and website editions of Christian Feminism Today (formerly EEWC Update), the publication of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus.
- Youth Looks at Love (Fleming H. Revell, 1964)
- Why Am I Here? Where Am I Going?: Youth Looks at Life (Fleming H. Revell, 1966)
- Sex and the Single Eye (Zondervan, 1968). Reissued as Why Wait? (Baker Book House, 1975)
- Sex Is a Parent Affair: Help for Parents in Teaching Their Children about Sex (Regal Books, 1973; revised updated second edition published by Bantam, 1982).
- All We're Meant to Be: A Biblical Approach to Women's Liberation, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty. (Word Books, 1974). Second edition (Abingdon, 1986), with a new subtitle, "Biblical Feminism for Today." Revised, expanded, updated third edition (Eerdmans, 1992).
- Men, Women, and Change: A Sociology of Marriage and Family - a college textbook coauthored with John Scanzoni (McGraw-Hill, 1976; second edition. 1981; third edition, 1988).
- Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? Another Christian View, coauthored with Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (Harper & Row, 1978. Revised, updated, expanded edition, Harper Collins (HarperOne imprint), 1994. In the 1994 edition, a new tag line, "a positive Christian response," was added after the title. This second edition also features an expanded preface telling the book's backstory. ISBN 0-06-067078-9
- Sexuality, a volume assigned by Westminster Press and written as part of its "Choices-Guides for Today's Woman" series, each volume addressing a single topic and given a one-word title (1984).
- What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage (with David Myers, HarperOne, 2005, 2006) ISBN 0-06-083454-4
Biblical Feminism and All We're Meant to Be
Numerous scholars, whether they agree or disagree with the book's basic premise of gender equality, consider All We're Meant to Be to have been a major catalyst in launching the biblical feminist movement. It was preceded by two earlier articles Scanzoni wrote for Eternity magazine in 1966 and 1968.
Randall Balmer calls the book a "landmark manifesto,"  Leora Tanenbaum says Scanzoni and Hardesty were "the first to offer alternative biblical interpretations to mainstream evangelicals." Sociologist Sally Gallagher claims that All We're Meant to Be established its authors as "two of the most prominent voices in second-wave evangelical feminism." Pamela Cochran, In her book Evangelical Feminism: A History, refers to All We're Meant to Be as the "most influential work in helping launch the evangelical feminist movement" In As Christ Submits to the Church: A Biblical Understanding of Leadership and Mutual Submission, Alan G. Padgett speaks of a "new hermeneutic" for interpreting the Bible "regarding the place of women in church, home, and society" and asserts that "by all accounts, the first major book on this topic by neoevangelicals was Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty's All We're Meant to Be: A Biblical Approach to Women's Liberation."
One of the conservative critics of evangelical feminism, Wayne Grudem, states that the book reflects a "liberal tendency to reject the authority of Scripture" and that "while egalitarian positions had been advocated since the 1950s by theologically liberal Protestant writers, no evangelical books took such a position until 1974 . . .[when] freelance writers Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty published their groundbreaking book, All We're Meant to Be" Arguing similarly, another critic, theology professor Jack Cottrell, has posted an online article titled "How Feminism Invaded the Church" in which he writes: "The major feminist writings during this period began with All We're Meant To Be: A Biblical Approach to Women's Liberation, by Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty (1974, then later editions). This was the early 'bible' of Evangelical feminism; it was called 'ground-breaking' and 'epoch-making.'" And, in Cottrell's opinion, it, along with other books following such an approach to Scripture, falsely interpreted what the Bible teaches. According to the Encyclopedia of Women in Religion in North America All We're Meant to Be "became in many respects for evangelical women what the Church and the Second Sex (1972) by Mary Daly was for mainstream religious women" (p. 469).
Honors: All We're Meant to Be has received numerous honors. Designated as Eternity Magazine's "Book of the Year" in 1975, it was later listed among the 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century, named by Christianity Today for its 50th anniversary issue as one of the "Top Fifty Books that Have Shaped Evangelicals" (2006), and included in Besides the Bible: 100 Books That Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture (2010)
Homosexuality and Christianity - Is The Homosexual My Neighbor and What God Has Joined Together
When Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? Another Christian View, coauthored with Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, was published in 1978, the publisher reported that "some 16 different titles on evangelical Christianity and homosexuality [were] currently being published, with the Scanzoni and Mollenkott volume being the only one which takes a positive stand.
Scanzoni’s most recent book is What God Has Joined Together: A Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005, 2006), coauthored with psychologist David G. Myers. In an added feature for the 2006 paperback edition, the authors interview each other and tell how they came to hold the views presented in their book- views that have been both praised and criticized.
Taking issue with Myers and Scanzoni's views, Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declares, "Their book offers positive proof that what drives proponents of same-sex marriage is a psychological worldview that is directly at odds with the worldview of the Bible."
Voicing a more moderate opinion, Dr. Randall Balmer, Barnard College, Columbia University claims "What God Has Joined Together is one of the few books that sheds more light than heat on the contentious issue of gay marriage. The authors' conclusions may stir controversy in some quarters, but their arguments should not be ignored."
Dr.Rosemary Radford Ruether sums up the book's arguments and concludes: "Scanzoni and Meyers [sic] argue that accepting gay marriage, far from threatening marriage, will confirm and strengthen the ideal of marriage itself for all of us, heterosexuals and homosexuals."
Letha Dawson Scanzoni received a B.A. with high distinction, honors in religious studies, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa from Indiana University (Bloomington) in 1972. Earlier, she studied at the Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester, NY), 1952-1954, and at the Moody Bible Institute (Chicago), 1954-1956. She married John Scanzoni in 1956. They were divorced in 1983.
Scanzoni is the mother of two sons, Stephen and David, and is the grandmother of five (three grandsons and two granddaughters). She lives in southeastern Virginia.
- Letha Dawson Scanzoni's web site
- Letha Dawson Scanzoni's blog
- Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus
- The Gospel On Gay Marriage article by Letha Dawson Scanzoni published in Alternet
- Randall Balmer
- Contemporary Challenges for Religion and the Family from a Protestant Woman's Point of View Address presented at the "Conference on Religion and the Family," Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 1984, a social science conference sponsored by the BYU Family and Demographic Research Institute.
- A Religious Approach to Homosexuality Keynote address presented at the "Faith beyond Boundaries" conference, sponsored by People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, held at the Holocaust Museum, Richmond, Virginia, Sunday, September 25, 2005.
- Liberating History (with Kimberly B. George), Sojourners, June, 2010
- Conservative Christians and Gay Civil Rights This Christian Century article by Scanzoni was written about an Indiana college town's struggle over an anti-discrimination ordinance during the time just prior to singer Anita Bryant's campaign in Miami, Florida, Save Our Children, to overturn an anti-discrimination ordinance there, a campaign that led to a national attempt to halt gay civil rights. It was also the time when gay activist Harvey Milk was leading efforts to increase gay and lesbian visibility and civil rights. This period marked the beginning and growth of widespread debates over the rights and human dignity of LGBT people, continuing into the present.
- "Letha Dawson Scanzoni," in Randall Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, 2004; also see Who's Who of American Women, 13th edition, 1983.
- http://www.harpercollins.com/cr-102901/letha-dawson-scanzoni)%20. "Discover Author Letha Dawson Scanzoni," Harper Collins website.
- http://www.eewc.com/Articles/letha-dawson-scanzoni-retirement "Announcing Letha Dawson's Retirement as CFT's Web Content Manager," Christian Feminism Today, December 9, 2013.
- Perhaps because of Letha Dawson Scanzoni's coauthorship of this college textbook, some scholars mistakenly assumed that she was a sociology professor, and they have identified her as such in their writings. In the prefaces to all three editions of Men, Women, and Change, however, she is described as a professional writer who specializes in the study and communication of sociology. It is John Scanzoni who is identified as a sociologist, teaching and conducting research and theory-building at Indiana University-Bloomington (first edition), the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (second edition), and at the University of Florida-Gainesville (third edition). They were invited by McGraw-Hill to coauthor the textbook as a team. See the section on "Misunderstandings about the Biographical Information," in "Backstory: Women's Place: Service or Silence?" on Scanzoni's official website, http://www.lethadawsonscanzoni.com/2010/03/backstory-womans-placesilence-or-service/
- Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? Another Christian View, coauthored with Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (Harper & Row, 1978). Revised, updated, expanded edition, Harper Collins (HarperOne imprint), 1994. In the 1994 edition, a new tag line, "a positive Christian response," was added after the title. This second edition also features an expanded preface telling the book's backstory.
- See "Women's Place: Silence or Service?" and "Christian Marriage: Patriarchy or Partnership?" (published as "Elevate Marriage to Partnership"). See also Daniel K. Williams "Gender Issues, the Sexual Revolution, and Abortion in the 1960s," in Axel R. Schafer,ed. American Evangelicals and the 1960s (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), p. 107.
- Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism, 2004, p.237.
- Taking Back God: American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009. P. 105.
- Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life, Rutgers University Press, 2003. See also The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Theology, ed. by Susan Frank Parsons (Cambridge University Press, 2002).
- Evangelical Feminism: A History, (New York University, 2005, p. 25).
- As Christ Submits to the Church," Baker Academic, 2011, p. 8.
- Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? 2006.
- Encyclopedia of Women in Religion in North America, Indiana University Press, 2006.
- William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen, 100 Christian Books That Changed the Century (Fleming H. Revell, 2000). pp. 181-183.
- Dan Gibson, Jordan Green, and John Pattison, Besides the Bible: 100 books that Have, Should, or Will Create Christian Culture, InterVarsity Press, Biblica Books imprint, 2010.
- Clayton Carlson, Harper & Row Publisher, press release at the launch of Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, CA, June 20, 1978.
- Book Jacket Endorsement http://www.davidmyers.org/Brix?pageID=98
- Rosemary Radford Ruether, "Why Marriage between Homosexuals Is Good for Marriage." Patheos, July 7, 2009. http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Why-Marriage-between-Gays-is-Good-for-Marriage?showAll=1
- See "Backstory: Women's Place: Service or Silence?" on Scanzoni's official website.
- Scanzoni wrote about the divorce under the title, "A Long Time Grieving: Recovery from Unwelcome Midlife Divorce," in Daughters of Sarah magazine (January/ February, 1989), which was reprinted in Reta Halteman Finger and Kari Sandhaas, The Wisdom of Daughters: Two Decades of the Voice of Christian Feminism (Innisfree Press, 2001), pp.171-175.
- Who's Who of American Women, 13th edition, 1983; also Scanzoni's official website, http://www.lethadawsonscanzoni.com