This is the essence, I believe, of a question that a commenter left on my last article. He asked, “Do you believe it is okay for a woman to think and write about theology, given she will also be read by men such as myself? If so, why is not allowed for a woman to preach?”
I will start with the first part of the question. Every person is a theologian, whether they are a man or a woman. To use a double negative, I can’t not think about theology. Theology is the study of God, knowing God. If Jesus really prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent,” (John 17:3, emphasis mine) then I had better be serious about being a good theologian. My eternal life doesn’t depend on my husband’s relationship with God, but my own.
I’m not sure what background my commenter is coming from regarding the stance of women’s roles, but I have been upfront with the fact that I fall in the complementarian camp. There are many roles for women in the church, but Scripture makes it clear that the office of elder and pastor is not one of them (1 Tim. 2:12). Not only that, most men are never called to this position (1 Tim. 3:1-7). I believe God has ordained this for our good. I know that I have some very sharpening and wonderful egalitarian readers, but I do want to be clear about the platform I am coming from. With that said, I believe that if complementarians are serious about the distinctiveness of male and female roles, if we really do believe that women are created as helpers, then we above all should want to equip strong, theologically-minded, thinking women. This could be an article in its own, but I’ve got to answer the main question.
Is there a difference between preaching God’s Word and reflecting on it, explaining it, writing about it, and even teaching it in a different setting? Yep. I would say that if done faithfully, we are talking about a difference between the authority of the Word of God and the word of man.
Could I compose and deliver a sermon-worthy exposition of Scripture that would enlighten those listening? Sure I could, along with many other women. But this is not our calling. And besides, delivering a good exposition of Scripture is not the only element of being a preacher. Paul explains to the elders of the Ephesian church that they are shepherds, not just sermon-deliverers (Acts 20:28). But when they do preach, this comes with the authority of the Word of God to his people. I am not leading authoritatively from a pulpit. My view of the office of pastor is different from any other teaching. They are set apart by a special calling to proclaim God’s Word (1 Thess. 2:13) in a context that God himself promises to bless us in Christ.
So as for men not learning from women, this has to do with the authority of the position of an elder. Outside of this, we are foolish to think that men do not learn from women. How can we be helpers if we are not all teachers of some sort? And with all the influence that women do have in the church, the home, and the world, we should want them to be very good theologians.
I am the product of the effects of God’s Word being received. I take that closing benediction seriously, and I am so enthralled by what I have received that I can’t keep quiet during the week. I must reflect on it. I must learn more about this amazing God. And I want to share that with others. God gifts many people to be teachers. And he gifts many of those to write. But praise God for the ministerial office of preaching! I’ll leave that to whom he calls.