“Just be careful. You don’t want women becoming spiritual leaders in the home or, even worse, wanting to become pastors.”
This was the response from a pastor friend of mine when he heard about a theology blog for women that I had recently launched with some friends. My heart sunk.
My love for theology began only five years ago. I became a Christian my freshman year of college. As a voracious reader, I devoured any books handed to me. With limited knowledge of Scripture, I looked to these books to guide me as I navigated the depths of God’s Word. Unfortunately, not every book was helpful. Throughout the first two years of my Christian walk, I was tossed around by every wind of doctrine that came my way.
I remember when I was first introduced to biblically sound writing. My husband, who was only my friend at the time, introduced me to authors like Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, and Tim Keller. I remember being brought to tears as I read through Desiring God wondering, Why have I never heard the gospel explained this way before?
A right understanding of God’s Word helped me become a better friend, a better daughter, a better employee, a better neighbor, and so on. Even more, these books encouraged me to love the Word, to devour the Word, to sing the Word. Never in my life had I been so overwhelmed with joy.
So naturally, I was devastated by my friend’s comment. Why did he wish to dissuade women from pursuing a better understanding of Scripture? Don’t we believe “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16)? And are we to discredit a passage like Titus 2 that calls older women to teach the younger so that God’s Word is not reviled? Can an older woman effectively disciple another if she doesn’t know his Word herself?
I wondered if it was only my friend who had this perspective, so I did a little digging. I conducted several interviews in which I asked female Christian authors if they’d heard anything like this before. Unfortunately, it was unanimous. They all shared a similar experience.
Where does this thinking come from? Is theology really just for the men?
I Love Complementarianism
Before I continue, I should be clear: I am a complementarian. In fact, I not only think complementarian theology is helpful, I also think it’s necessary. Among other things, it responds to a massive idolatry issue in our culture. We are told that true happiness is found in self-definition, which has led to widespread uncertainty about God’s intention with gender. Perhaps more than ever before, the church must speak up and preserve a biblically robust view of gender. So I do not think women should be pastors or spiritual leaders in the home, and I would be devastated if anyone used this article to argue such points.
But we also need to be careful about application. “As with any movement that gains an audience and influence,” Elyse Fitzpatrick notes in her recent book Good News for Weary Women, “the gender roles movement has also produced unfortunate misunderstandings and excesses.”