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Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Biblical Education for Women

There was a series of off topic comments at Pyromaniacs concerning how far a woman should take her Christian education that was of interest to me. Should a woman attend seminary and if so, how far should she go? Part of Dan's answer to this question was,

'MDiv's have for a long time been viewed as "a professional degree" — by which is meant only that it is a pastoral degree. It's a degree a pastor would earn. So why would a woman earn one, since "female Christian pastor" is a contradiction in terms?'

I agree. The pulpit is no place for a woman, no matter how articulate or well educated she may be, even if her abilities exceed those of the men at hand. I recall reading of how the wife of a missionary who died understood the importance of this truth. At the time, there was no man available who understood God’s Word well enough to take over for her husband. In order to carry on the work until God provided a replacement, she would write the sermons to be preached, but have a man in the village present them to the people. (I cannot recall who she was, but perhaps someone else will recognize the story and remind me. She was the wife of a well-known missionary and it frustrates me that I can't remember the particulars.)

What a picture of humility and obedience! Clearly, the woman had studied Scripture and was ready to explain the hope within her, and she certainly could have made a nice case for how God had taken her husband home and must be making an exception to the 1 Timothy 2:12 mandate, but she didn’t. She found a way to obey.

My own words convict me. I know the sinful leanings of my heart and I also know that it is deceitful and cannot be trusted. I pray that God will help me to be quiet when I need to be. The curse God pronounced upon Eve, and her daughters by extension, ...your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you" changed the dynamics of marriage (and, it seems, the relationships of men and women in general). When God created Eve for Adam their relationship was perfectly harmonized and beautiful, but with the curs, a battle for dominion ensued.

A woman wants to be in charge; she wants her own way; she believes she knows what is best and really
should be in charge. She will use whatever weapons she has in her arsenal to achieve her goals. The man, on the other hand, will be in control, and he has brute force on his side.

This may seem to take the application of the curse to an extreme, but there have been countless cultures and couples for which this has been (and is) the norm. There have also been multitudes of the same for which the curse has played out in more subtle ways...but sin is sin, even if it is subtle sin.

This tug 'o war (sorry, off topic) between husbands and wives, men and women, has resulted in much anguish throughout history. It is the stuff that wars, rapes, murders, emergency rooms, safe houses, barroom brawls, game shows, divorce courts, hyphenated-names (Jane Smith-Doe) and elections are made of, not to mention the plot lines of a plethora of songs, novels, plays, and films.

A Christian woman's duty and desire should be to reverse the curse by pursuing the truth of God's word and (by the grace of God and the help of the Holy Spirit) applying that truth to her life. To achieve these worthy goals, she needs to obtain a solid understanding of proper Bible interpretation.

Home schooling my children left me with a far better education than that which my own afforded and I know that with diligence it is possible to learn outside of the standard classroom setting and there are many good materials available to assist one to that end. There are also some excellent Christian colleges which offer solid biblical courses.

How far should a woman go with her education? As far as she is able. Saying that, I would qualify as she is able by referencing back to the quote I gave at the top of this post. In other words, she should not work for a MDiv, because of the implications of that degree. Motive is key here. Why should a woman desire to further her education? A few reasons:

So that she can grow spiritually by gaining a better understanding of Scripture.

So that she can impart truth to others and fulfill the Great Commission within her sphere of influence.

So that she can recognize error and not be blown away by it.

So that she can earnestly contend for the faith.

So that she can glorify and enjoy her God.


emmaus said...

Very timely. I just had Samantha read this as she wants to take some classes on line from Master's but is struggling with what is 'right' in this reguard.

Becky, a slave of Christ said...