3 reasons why women should learn theology
Growing up I was always interested in reading the Bible. My Bible from throughout my high-school and early college years can attest to that. Its earmarked pages, notes scribbled in the margins, and rainbow highlighting screams of one little girl’s desire to know that book very well. I read it, memorized it, and practically breathed it—all in the language of a by-gone century. Despite having a great love for the Bible, I didn’t have a very good grasp on theology. In recent years, I have become convinced of the central need for Christian women to become more aware, engaged, and fluent in discussions around theology. Here are three reasons why I think this is the case.
1. Women are followers of Jesus, not someone else
You cannot claim to follow someone if you have no idea what they are about. It’s simply not enough to read devotionals and listen to sermons (please do not hear me say however that these are inherently bad or have no place). You are experiencing God through someone else’s lived experience. I have often observed that women in churches know very little of theology. We do know how to cook a stellar pot-luck meal, create a nursery roster, and meet the needs of everyone in the room. This can be praiseworthy and admirable, but this does not sum up the fullness of what it means to follow Jesus. Following Jesus means you are going to need your thinking hat and serving hand. One cannot be sacrificed for the sake of the other. If you are serious about following Jesus, you need to engage in understanding the teachings and tradition of the church and how that plays out in our modern contexts.
2. Women are invited and encouraged to do so
Women are recorded all throughout the Biblical narrative making meaningful contributions to the formation of the believing community. God identifies right at the beginning that men and women are to be partners in fulfilling God’s given mission to humanity. Miriam leads the women in celebration after Israel is delivered. Deborah is a trusted judge in the land who co-leads an army. Josiah, an Israelite king, seeks out a female prophet named Huldah to deliver a message from God. Mary, the mother of Jesus, contributes her own theology to the Scriptures with a song in the opening chapters of Luke. Jesus welcomes Mary to sit and learn at His feet, a place reserved for male disciples in that time and culture. Women are the first to proclaim the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul instructs that the women in the churches must learn. Time and time again, the overarching narrative of the Bible invites women (and men) to know God and declare God’s character. Simply put, that is the work of theology!
3. Women's perspectives and voices need to be heard in theological dialogue
Okay, I think I heard you just take a sharp inhale. Before you dismiss me and my seeming cultural relevance, hear me out on this one. Everyone comes to the table with their own perspective, ideas, and biases. Where you were born, how you were raised, and yes what gender you are all impact that way that you approach life and therefore by default your theology. I actually don’t think this is a bad thing if we acknowledge it for what it is. All of that to say, that women have unique perspectives and gifting that we bring to the table. In order for the conversations and the theology at the table to be balanced and true, the voices that are at the table must be balanced and true also. God’s image is reflected in both male and female, therefore theology (and theological discussion) that reflects the fullness of God must also by nature be such.
There are many more reasons why I think that it is crucially important for women to learn and participate in the formation and continuation of Christian theology, but for now I give you these to think on. If you go back and read each of my points again you will discover that these three ideas are actually true for all of us, not just women. Part of faithfully following Jesus involves the study of theology—the practice of knowing and declaring who God is. What are your thoughts? Why do you think theology is important for women? Do you think that it is? I would love to hear your thoughts below!