got me a college girl

in celebration of formal education in the life of the Christian girl

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

a theological education for women and the application thereof (Karen)

As we have mentioned several times on this blog and as I have long suspected, one of the real reasons that men do not want to see women educated is that they think we will not be content in our roles as wives and mothers if we least content in what they believe it means to be a wife and mother. The ideas that some women will be widows at a young age or that women may remain single for a longer period of time in this culture (or even remain single their entire lives) are of little concern. One size certainly must fit all, we have observed.

Along these lines, there has been quite the discussion going on over at the BaylyBlog, owned by two brothers who are PCA pastors, regarding women who have attended seminary and their place in the church once their educations are complete. There has actually been little profitable discussion regarding actual application of said degrees. Rather, it has centered around the criticism of the woman who wrote this article for a Presbyterian Church of America publication and comments she made at a conference on gender and the church held recently at Covenant College. A first hand recap of the conference can be found here and here and is quite interesting. It should also be mentioned that no one at the conference or in these discussions is advocating the ordination of women. This is a discussion of women using their education within the church after they have been to seminary that has somehow taken on a life of its own and participants are accusing, by default, those who found something good in her article of not loving God's word. PCAer's beware.

There is also a PCA pastor in Arizona who has taken it upon himself to write a catechism for women which I will share here, as it does relate to the women and college issue. I would agree that, as women, we must seek to live to God's glory. However, what this actually means, I believe, is still a matter worthy of discussion.

Q: "What does it mean for a woman to be theologically trained?"
A: A theologically trained woman is a one, who, in the fear of God, does not disdain her sex for something more sophiticated such as writing books or speaking at conferences or translating Hebrew.

Q: "What would we call such a disdaining woman?"
A: Such a woman is, ironically, a Martha not a Mary.

Q: "How can [a woman] use [theological] instruction for the betterment of the church?
A: The church is bettered and strengthened when her women do not, as we would expect women of the world to do, for the sake of worldly acclaim or domestic ease, cast off their sex and play the man.

Q: "What are gender-specific roles and how and why are they defined?"
A: Christians shouldn't speak of "gender-specific roles" since the calling of womanhood and manhood is not a role in a stage-play; nor is maleness or femaleness some "gender construct" but a chromosomal, creational, existential reality.

Q: "What then should Christians speak about?"
A: Christians should think and speak in terms of how God has called each sex to live to His glory.

Q: "How should each sex live to His glory?"
A: The calling of the sexes is articulated in the Word of God; it is defined by the Holy Spirit; and the reason for these callings can be found in the mind of God Himself.

Q: "Is there nothing more than what Scripture says?"
A: If, in seeking novel applications of God's Word, you avoid applying God's word, you are either a fool or being paid. If you do this and call it wisdom, you are an enemy.


  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger Light said…

    The Bayly Brothers are pretty "out there." Fortunately, those of us in the PCA have other role models as well. While the PCA is in theory complementarian, you'll find many PCA members are living in marriages that are egalitarian in practice. Many in leadership embrace the egalitarian position for church offices as well. If you go here: and download the free article called "Man and Woman at Creation" you'll find outstanding scholarship by a PCA theologian who takes the opposite point of view from the Bayley Brothers.

  • At 1:48 PM, Blogger prairie girl said…


    I have long enjoyed the works of Susan Hunt who has written several books that have been used as the core curriculum in women's ministries within the PCA. I am not an egalitarian. I believe the Bible does teach submission of women to their husbands. But it is interesting that there is also the admonition to submit to one another,which leads me to believe that both Scriptures are correct at the same time. How does this work? I don't know. But Mollie made the correct point that submission is something one willfully does, it is not something you can make someone do. And as I said in response to Matthew on the bayly blog, if a husband one anothers his wife, she will one another him. I beleive that most of the Scripture is directed at how we treat each other universally and in comparison there is not much less is gender specific.

  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger Light said…

    I also believe the Bible teaches submission of women to their husbands. But in light of Eph 5:21, I also believe that husbands are to submit to wives. I also agree with you that scripture talks about how we as human beings are to behave; little is gender specific.

    Perhaps you will enjoy Carolyn Custis James' new book. I've only read bits of it from a borrowed copy, but I am intrigued and excited by her concept of the "Blessed Alliance" of men and women created in God's image.

  • At 4:11 PM, Blogger prairie girl said…


    After all the hullabaloo over her, you bet I want to read her book!

  • At 5:00 PM, Blogger TulipGirl said…

    Grrrrrr. . . I have seen *more* respect for women, their intelligence, and the importance of theological learning for women within the PCA than in any other church I've attended. I've seen the emphasis on the "meaty" parts of Scripture, and not just Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 for women. (As important as those are. . .)

    So it really grates on me to have someone within the PCA say these things, not simply because it's my denom but also because I've seen much more thoughtful, respectful attitudes towards women, theology, learning, and living out the Gospel from the majority of elders within the PCA.

  • At 7:56 PM, Blogger elissa said…

    I like what you ladies are about. Thanks for your thoughtful, honest writing about a topic close to my own heart as well.

    - elissa

  • At 10:15 PM, Blogger michele said…

    I was really surprised by the comments I have read on the Internet on this subject. I guess I have been spending waaaay too much time on the political blogs and not enough time on the Christian blogs.

    Are those two passages the ones that they use to support the domestic only option for women? Are there anymore? Because it seems to me that if you are going to have a catechism for women that flies in the face of societal trends then you should have a very strong exegetical reason.

    The use of the Proverbs 31 passage would be weak since she doesn't support the position held by the domestic only people. She appears to be a capable business woman and wise teacher (you can only get wisdom through experience or education), not a person who is only concerned with domestic chores (I don't want anyone thinking that I am looking down on those who chose to be homemakers since I am one myself, well at least part-time when I am not driving somewhere or writing digests). I think the use of this passage undermines their case.

    BTW, I just looked at his catechism again and I noticed that he doesn't use any passages to support what he is saying. Why would he expect anyone to accept his opinion?

  • At 10:24 PM, Blogger greenemama said…

    yikes, that catechism is just . . . gross. i'm mostly curious as to why he feels the need to write such a thing? i feel sorry for the daughters who are forced to memorize and recite such craziness.

  • At 2:23 AM, Blogger Camille said…

    Just as a clarification. . . .

    It's not either you're an egalitarian *or* you believe the Bible teaches submission. :/ I believe and practice both. As Light says, they are far from mutually exclusive, and I know that we can avoid such broad-brush painting in this little circle.

  • At 6:04 AM, Blogger Light said…

    Michele said, "it seems to me that if you are going to have a catechism for women that flies in the face of societal trends then you should have a very strong exegetical reason."

    Folks like the Bayly boys and that Phil guy have two fatal flaws in their approach to scripture. First, they use a double-standard hermaneutic. They say, "to see what women are allowed to do (in church and society), we have to look and see what women in the Bible did, and if they did it, then you can, too." In other words, they take women of the Bible as a binding template for how women of all time should act, not taking into account a) that the Bible is not a "rule book" but rather the history of God's relationship with individual people in individual cultures and b) that culture changes. But they don't apply the same standard to men. They assume that because men are, well, men, they are not bound to how Bible-times men lived. They can forge ahead, build, create, and fashion their lives however they want assuming they love God and don't sin. But women are not afforded the same privilege in their little world. Yet, if they really were applying the same hermaneutic, we wouldn't have music ministers, youth pastors, etc. (because they weren't in the Bible).

    Their second fatal flaw - which I believe drives the first one – is that they totally ignore the implications of Genesis 1:26-28: God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every living creature that moves on the ground." The Baylys and their ilk completely sever women from the creation account. They think men get to have dominion over the earth, but women's dominion is limited only to the home. Yet nowhere in scripture does it say that. The NT verses about women being busy at home describe just one of womankind's dominion mandate; they should not be taken as limiting. It makes no sense for God to give women and men equal dominion, and then remove a huge chunk of it for women a couple thousand years later in the NT.

    I believe that men like these, are, sadly, simply using the Bible as a weapon to unbiblically rob women of their inheritance as coheirs with Christ. For many, it is a pride and control issue. Satan got between men and women in the beginning, and this is a very real consequence of that. Thank God there are many men who do believe in the full humanity of women, in the full use of their gifts, and the full inheritance and responsibility of women in the dominion mandate.

  • At 4:13 PM, Blogger givengrace said…

    Light, you make some good points with that last comment. The argument about men not applying the same principle to modern men is particularly interesting. I never thought about that before!

    Does anyone understand why the man said a theological woman is a Martha, not a Mary? I'm trying to at least understand where he's coming from.

  • At 10:19 AM, Blogger Megan said…

    My husband (who is a seminary student at a PCA seminary, as am I) overheard this conversation between two fellow male students the other day:

    "Be careful of women who go to seminary."


    "They either want a man or they want to be one."

    Grrrrr is right. This attitude is so frustrating. And for the record, I already have a man and I CERTAINLY don't want to be one!!!

  • At 1:36 PM, Blogger Light said…

    Does anyone understand why the man said a theological woman is a Martha, not a Mary? I'm trying to at least understand where he's coming from.
    He is trying to equate women who study theology with the inappropriate busy work of Martha, at a time when Martha should have been fellowshipping with and learning from Jesus. He also by implication then suggests that if a woman wants to be a Mary, she must keep to her place - in the home, not studying theology or other pursuits. Of course, this analogy is completely flawed.

    Read through all the blog postings of these guys. Have you ever seen anything uglier, meaner, and more unkind? Basically, if you do not believe exactly as they do, they will attack you. There is no grace in them. They are still under law.

    They clearly believe that men have a spiritual entitlement and privilege that women do not. Fortunately, we know that scripture teaches otherwise.

  • At 11:00 AM, Blogger flacius1551 said…

    Martha not Mary: you'd think the woman who is studying would be like Mary b/c she is studying rather than keeping house. I think he's trying to say essentially that people shouldn't be deceived by the act of contemplation and learning as that which is prized in the woman. Instead, the learned woman he criticizes is focusing on the wrong thing (like Martha). [Not that I agree]

    It's easy to point our fingers at men who make these statements, but I find more disturbing women who seem to support them (Buried Treasure Books, which I often read with pleasure, had a long series this week on why daughters should not be encouraged to go to college.

  • At 1:59 PM, Blogger michele said…

    You know what's interesting in light of this debate and about the attitude exhibited by these pastors and the men that Megan is talking about, is the way the Professors at Westminster (in PA) treat their female seminary students. The Professors have never made me feel like a second class citizen. The do look at the topic they are teaching from the pastor's angle but that is to be expected at seminary. No one has questioned my right to be there. I think the seminary really tries to make their female students fell welcome and a part of the community. They even give the wives of the mdivs a free education. That is why I am surprised that pastors in the PCA church would have a problem with women studying theology and reading the Bible in the original language. (That is the one I find the most humorous).

  • At 5:39 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    The Mary vs Martha debate....

    I have spent the past few days asking various people what Jesus was saying when he admonished Martha to be more like Mary. Not one person came up with the translation that the Tucson Divine handed down to us.

    So, I believe that he is saying that in our culture today, his application of Martha being the true Mary is the right one, which begs these questions:

    Is he contradicting Jesus? Where is the Scripture to back up this assertion?


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