July 15, 2011

Theology (is) for Girls

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is I Corinthians 14:33b-35a: “As in all the churches of the saints the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home.”

Is anyone still reading?

This is a great verse to raise the hackles of our inner Eve and has been the starting point for much contemporary argument. But the silence and submission are not the real shocker in these verses. Many years ago, I heard Dr. Philip Ryken, now president of Wheaton College, comment on this passage by encouraging his listeners to turn their eyes momentarily away from what is prohibited here and take another look at what is directed.

The prohibition (women are “not permitted to speak”) is what Paul calls the practice “in all the churches of the saints.” He wasn’t saying anything radical. But when we look at the rest of the verses, and what is commanded there, we discover something truly unusual:

Theology is for girls.

The Spirit, through Paul, is telling the world that women can (and should) be theologians. How radical these verses must have been to the church at Corinth! God is commanding women: if you are curious about the Scriptures, about theology, about Biblical studies and systematics and hermeneutics and Hebrew; if you want to know more about Me—go and learn. Study up, ladies! (And, in a side application: husbands, you better hit the Scriptures, too, because your theologian wife is coming, and she’s got questions!)

All Christian women should be theologians. And just because, in ministry, we often live with a degreed, licensed and ordained theologian, it doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. We each must be diligent students of God Himself.

The temptation for me is to be lazy. I skip class in the school of God because I figure I can always look at my husband’s notes. I don’t do the reading because I hope Rob will tell me what I need to know for the exam. I passively defer to my Theologian in Residence.

That’s why I love I Corinthians 14—it reminds me that the books I read, the sermons I hear and my meditation on Scripture are all required items on God’s theology school syllabus. Whatever I do at home or in ministry, I do as a theologian.

Friends, from one sometimes truant to another: get yourself to school. The Lord requires it.

I had these verses in mind when I made the (online) acquaintance of Marian Greene. She is a fellow pastor’s wife and girl theologian who blogs at Uprooted and Undone. We “met” when I wrote a comment disagreeing with her take on the Law.  Marian and I do agree on the big stuff but thought we might press on another on (“as iron sharpens iron”) by exploring a topic of theology in two perspectives. Next Friday, we’ll both post about the impact of Adam's sin and link to each other. You are invited to read mine, read hers, add your thoughts, and go ask your husband.

Because, after all, theology is for girls.

UPDATE: Marian and I posted a new "two perspectives" post on 10/14/2011.  Check it out: God's Promises (a perspective)


  1. Great write up, Megan! We are too funny because just this morning I was reading commentary on these verses regarding women, and (again) come at it from a different side! I end up in the same place -- that as women, we have a responsibility to study, learn, know, think, ask, and study again. How funny to me the complex mind of the body of Christ. It's refreshing, challenging, and fun. I look forward to our 'talks'!

  2. Meagan, I so enjoy reading your blog ~ you encourage and sharpen me. It's funny because my parents are from the south and moved up to Maine ~ my dad is a pastor ~ going where few southerns go..."down east" :) They have been up there a little over 10 yrs. and love it. :) I love this post because my husband stresses this over and over to his flock ~ the importance of every believer being a theology! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  3. Megan- great post!

    What a privilege it is to be able to go to my husband and freely ask questions! And on the flip side, what a privilege it is for him to have been given a wife who asks questions! I think my husband would credit me for nurturing many profound insights into scripture due to a thoughtful line of questioning. It's also a huge blessing in our marriage to be able to engage in a mutually edifying conversation-to share not only our hearts with one another, but also our minds!

  4. Any hints for single women who have questions?

  5. Mom, single women actually have the opportunity to be BETTER theologians than women with husbands. Paul makes this point in 1 Corinthians 7:34, "the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband."

    Singleness can be a trial for the one who desires a husband, but it can also be a blessed semester in God's theology school.

    If your question is, Who does the single woman ask? (1 Corinthians 14:35) I'd think any mature Christian in her church or family would be happy to be a resource.


Join the conversation!
All comments become the property of Sunday Women.

COMMENTING HINTS: If you are baffled by the "Comment As_____" choices, you can simply select "Anonymous" and include your name in the comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...