This is something that has been nagging at the back of my mind for awhile…
Most (but not all) of the people I have good theological discussions with are guys. I have no problem with this — they are all fabulous men whom I respect and love. I have had some of the most fun conversations with them, discussing different scriptures and points of theology, arguing different viewpoints (of course, all in good humor and with open minds), and searching out the truth together. Some of my best guy friends are people I routinely hash out theology with.
Yet sometimes, I stop and wonder… where are all the women? I know a few pretty intense theological ladies around here, so I know they exist. But overwhelmingly, as I’ve read theology books and entered into discussions, both in person and online, it’s a field of mostly men. I would not conisder myself a feminist by any means, but I do find myself a bit perplexed by the lopsided ratio.
I deifnitely don’t think it’s a case of a prejudiced society stifling the voices of the women in our nation. Perhaps in the past it has been that, but today, even most conservative complementarians don’t have issues with reading a woman’s work and insight into the Word. There are very few people left in our culture who would stop a woman from learning or writing theology (teaching is another matter, but I’ll leave that alone for now 🙂 ). So I still have to wonder where we all are in this field of study. It seems like I find myself all too often being the only girl in the middle of a theological discussion.
I’m not even worried about getting the ratio up to 50/50. If the simple fact of the matter is that disproportionately more men are drawn and called to theology than women are, that’s well and good, and I will not complain about that in the least. But I have a suspicion that there are a lot more ladies out there with a lot more depth in the Word than we know about yet.
I remember one time at a women’s conference, Shelley Hundley spoke of the difference between how men and women approach studying eschatology together. She described how the guys would be huddled around the whiteboard, trying to calculate the speed, height, and angle of descent of Jesus when He’s coming back to the earth. I loved Shelley’s remark on this point: “It’s not that I’m stupid; I just don’t care!” She went on to explain how, as the guys are postulating the numbers, the women are asking questions about how Jesus feels when He’s coming back.
Neither one of these approaches is higher or lower than the other. And they’re not mutually exclusive, either (I know several girls who would have a blast figuring out the numbers, and a bunch of guys who would love to know what Jesus’ emotions are like). But all the same, it’s a good depiction of how men and women generally have a little different angle from which they approach the scriptures. Rather than comparing these views and passing judgments, saying that the men are too calculative, or the women are too emotional, we should view them as complementary. We need each other to get the fuller picture. Hence, I wonder again where the lady theologians are.
I think part of the shortage is because it generally just doesn’t occur to us to become theologians. Because theology has traditionally been a fairly male-dominated field (the motives behind that are, at this point, irrelevant — leave the past in the past), it seems to me that a lot of women who are passionate about a life of ministry simply don’t consider theologian as one of their options. When we think ministry, we tend to jump to women’s Bible studies and Sunday Schools and serving in soup kitchens. All of these things are fantastic, noble callings, and mega kudos to all the women who serve faithfully in these areas. Keep doing it and keep recruiting other people to join you in it.
But I would like to put out a call to whoever might be relating to this post — I think it’s time that some of us ladies step it up in the area of theology. There are brilliant women out there who really love Jesus and devour the Word, and the rest of the body of Christ can totally benefit from what they have to say. We are in need of women who approach the scriptures as women, thinking and expressing themselves as is natural for them to do as women. We are in need of women who write and speak the Word without either a shrinking violet kind of intimidation, or a feministic defensive agenda. Whether or not these ladies ever turn out multi-volume theses or extensive lecture series (although some undoubtedly will), I believe it’s time for the female theologians to begin expressing the deposit of grace that rests upon their lives.
Eschatology, Christolgy, Pneumatolgy, Soteriology, or whatever stirs your heart — ladies, have at it. Jump in and study it, meditate on it, and pray over it like crazy. Then give it voice in whatever genre and sphere of influence the Lord has given you.
I know you’re out there. 🙂 And I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.