"I just don't think I could study the bible that way. My mind doesn't work like that," a friend said to me recently. "It seems like a lot of work," she added, revealing an underlying lie that so many women believe as truth: we aren't smart enough to understand the word of God on our own.
Now, we would never say that out loud, but how does our approach to studying God's word portray this? When we flip to random passages and directly apply it to our lives in 15 minutes or less, when we rely on devotionals rather than the Bible, or when we park in the New Testament and only read Ruth or Esther in the Old Testament, what does that say about what we believe about ourselves?
Leave the theology for the guys! Give us a floral devotional with encouraging passages about how we're "wonderfully made."
Having been content with this mentality for a little while, I've discovered there's so much more for us, ladies! And it’s right at our fingertips.
Theology is For the Christian
Biblically, men are leaders of the family, and elders are leaders of the Church. The elders of a church shepherd the flock, and husbands shepherd their wives as Christ does the universal Church (Titus 1:9; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 5:2; 1 Peter 2:25; Ephesians 5:28-32).
While this does mean men are the primary teachers in the body of Christ, Scripture never says women are excluded from a deep study of the Bible. Therefore, theology isn't just for men…it's for the Christian.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)
In Ephesians, Paul's main message to the church is that we are in unity—Jews, Gentiles, men, and women. His reminder to us is we are all included in the body of Christ, and women are a part of the saints being equipped for ministry. The "all" Paul desires would attain the unity of the faith, the knowledge of the Son of God, and grow up into the fullness of Christ. And how do we do this? We fellowship with others and study God's word. The implications of not doing so are detrimental to the growth of the Church.
Women who are not immersing themselves in Scripture will be "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about be every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." Also, they will be parts of the Body that aren't working properly which stunts the growth of the Church.
Women Are Teachers, Too
Furthermore, women are called to teach other women (Titus 2:3-5). This is not a task we should take lightly—we have to cultivate a love for Scripture and the God of the Bible now. Every word that comes from our mouth is teaching something. Those who are rooted in the word will have lips that utter truth and wisdom.
Titus calls older women to teach the younger, but none of us are off the hook. Whether we have a young woman in our life to mentor or not, wisdom doesn't kick in at a certain age. We must be pursuing a deeper knowledge of the Lord now.
We Are Smart Enough
Majority of women believe it’s impossible to understand the Bible, and many are unwilling to put any effort into it. Let's be honest, our quick-fix ears are more drawn to devotionals written by another than mulling over a passage ourselves. But we can and must strive to understand God's word in full context. Through the Holy Spirit, we are granted the ability to understand the Bible…something unbelievers do not have (1 Corinthians 2:14).
If we are in Christ, we can understand the word of God! But in order to do so, we have to seek it out remembering that “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We cannot teach something that’s not understandable. Reproving is impossible if we cannot understand the warnings in scripture…and we certainly won’t grow in Christ-likeness if we don’t truly know what Christ is like. The statement that women can’t understand the Bible is a lie straight from Satan. He accomplishes much when he disables us from using the living and active word of life to teach, reprove, and for our sanctification. If the Gospel isn’t upheld, the Church becomes inactive, and the children of God grow stagnant.
The Church Needs Women
The Church needs women who study theology. It needs women who recognize they have the capacity to understand deep truths in Scripture. It needs humble, teachable women…women who submit to God's word even when they don't understand. The Church needs women who reach out, research, and ask questions. Not for wisdom's sake, but simply to know and love God more. The Church needs us to be rooted and grounded in love through faith in Christ, so we may be filled with the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19).