23 June 2010

Apologetics, Women and Theology

I have been thinking about why women have difficulty with theology and do not seem to be great apologists. I do know several women who are excellent theologians but I cannot think of a single female who is a formal Christian apologist- an orthodox Christian woman apologist. Well, there is Summer. She masquerades as a barista but she has a first class apologetic mind just like her dad. And, like her dad, she's an intellectual anomaly. She also had the benefit of growing up and knowing an apologist as Daddy and not just a lean, mean debating machine.... but I digress. Yesterday I read an exchange that occurred on a young woman's blog and I began to understand why women and apologetics don't seem to mix well. It's the male apologists they encounter who unwittingly scare them away.

Before I explore this further and before I am accused of being a man-hating, male bashing feminist who blames men for every sort of evil under the sun.... I want to go on record as saying that women have responsibility before God to study and show themselves approved. No ifs, ands or buts. Women have the responsibility to measure their beliefs and behaviors by the standard of God's Word. Men are not at fault when women shirk this responsibility. Also, let it be known that I am for apologists. I love apologists. Some of my best friends, mentors and teachers are fabulous apologists. This isn't an anti-apologist article. Just as you apologists would beg your audience to consider the context of Scripture, this article is a plea for you to consider your audience.

Brothers, you are intimidating to us. Peter exhorted men to dwell with their wives in an understanding way. This should be a clue to men that you will have less frustration if you approach women differently than you approach men. Generally speaking we are fearful creatures. We shy away from confrontation, terseness, and things that seem unnecessarily rough. I know you want to respond by saying you are not terse, merely succinct! And you want to charge women not to respond with emotion to what is an intellectual pursuit. I get it. You must also concede God made us respond differently than you guys.

It has taken me a lot of time, work and repentance to come to my complementarian position. I am finally OK with saying that woman were designed to hold a different role than men. I am not saying that we are not as smart as men. It's not that we aren't as capable as men. It is that we are different. Our minds work differently. We receive and process information differently. The way you approach us for exhorting, correcting and encouraging is going to determine how safe we feel to sit and your feet and listen or if we should fight or take flight.

I would also ask you to consider that we may not know that we don't know. I suppose that's true of men as well, but sadly the chances are greater that a woman will have less theological background and no real idea of her doctrinal position. We may use the wrong vocabulary to convey our thoughts because we are repeating what we hear and don't know the classical definitions that you do.

And now for my sisters. Please do not be afraid of learning theology and doctrine. Please do not be afraid of apologists nor the field of apologetics. I know it seems that these men of God are constantly going for the throat. They do hone in on error. For them it is like wounded fish signals to a shark. Unlike sharks their aim is not to rip you to shreds. Quite the contrary. They want to separate you from incorrect ideas and beliefs you hold. They want to give you the truth because freedom lies there. Most of all, do learn to be able to discern truth from error so that no matter who approaches you or how they approach you, you can be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within you.

2 Tim 2:15
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.
(NAS)

John 8:31-32
31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine;
32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
(NAS)

5 comments:

Moe Bergeron said...

Dear Rosemarie,

As a long time moderator on a discussion list where theology is at the heart of things I must say that you have hit the nail on the head. Sisters listen to Rosemarie. Study the Word of God as intently as your brothers. There is no role of "second banana" when it comes to edifying one another or in the pursuit of godliness and truth. It's also comforting to know that God does not sanctify one gender above the other.

Mark | hereiblog said...

Sister, I love this post.

Thank you!

graceb4me said...

So well said, Rozie! You are a blessing to me :)
I have had these same thoughts recently, and have not been able to express them as well as you did here. I realize that, at the moment, I have failed at being diligent in study, but this post is encouraging me that my heart is in the right place. Please keep posting!

Zao Thanatoo said...

A wise and prescient admonition to us all. Thank you.

Victoria Lynch said...

Very well said Rozie!
Thanks.