What’s the Difference Between Women Preaching and Women Blogging?

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.

What do you think?

  1. Good word, I agree with your overall view.Your statement, “we are foolish to think that men do not learn from women,” is obvious to all but the most legalistic. Paul in Romans 12:1-8 is speaking to both men and women when he writes if God has given you a gift use it.Yes, there is still an order of things in the church but the majority of laborers are needed in the field not the barn.

  2. You can also add that when I join a church, I am under the authority of the pastor/elder(s) of that church. I don’t have a choice in that matter, because of the very nature of the office of Pastor. When I read this blog, or your book, I choose to do so for encouragement, enlightenment, etc., but I don’t have to put myself under your pastoral authority to get these things from your writing. The same is true of (for example) Bible commentaries written by women.

    I’ve even attended a Wednesday night Bible study that was taught by a woman. After the first night of the class, she pulled me aside and asked about this very issue (she was concerned that she was in authority over me). I explained that my attendance was for my own learning and that I was not placing her in a pastoral-authority role, that she was not assuming such a role, and then she was OK with it.

    In my opinion, men who place women in pastoral roles violate an important principle in God’s word. Men who won’t learn from women who God provides for the benefit of the church do the same.

  3. Wait a sec … you’re a comp … a complem … complementarian? [splutter, splutter] Why that’s just … just … oh yeah, I already knew that. Never mind.

    Well, suffice to say that his egalitarian learns tons from you and is grateful for the blessings God has given me in not only being a reader of your blog and now book, but also in the encouragement and guidance you have given me in my writing.

    You’re aces in my book, Aimee.

    Tim

  4. Yes, and amen. I have wanted to articulate this often before when asked why I teach women and write for men and women, and yet won’t preach to men and women. You articulated this so well – thank you! I am definitely sharing this :-)

    P.s.congratulations on your new book! From the excerpts Tim shared earlier this week, I can’t wait to read i.

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  6. I have had…and do have…..one of the best preachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear speak. She is a woman. I appreciate your honesty, however, but will agree to disagree:)

    • Sharon,
      There are many women gifted speakers. Sometimes I win when I give a speech at Toastmasters, a secular organization. However, I want to be biblical, not incidental, in my theology. Dr. Henrietta Mears at one time was called the “best preacher in Southern California”, but she did not consider preaching her calling. She was a church educator at Hollywood Presbyterian Church and influenced many men who became church leaders. Furthermore, speaking and taking responsibility for a congregation are two different matters. I want to listen to and read Aimee any day, but I would not vote for her as my pastor who is called to shepherd me and accountable to God for doing that.

  7. I got into blogging in 2009 to think theologically as I blogged with two men. My elder and my cousin disagreed with each other and both did not want to post any more. One was “Amil” and one was “Post”. So I was left with a blog and the writer in me couldn’t let it go until January of this year when caregiving for my husband took over my blogging on another blog. Thinking theologically has taken a very practical turn as I care for him. I love Aimee’s emphasis that theology is practical in the real world and love the prayer support that my blog allows.

    Often I am upset with the emphasis on Orthodoxy over Orthopraxy, or the practice of our faith. Men (and women) can be uncharitable in theological debate. The question for the blogging world then becomes who is the elder monitoring that blogging discussion? For me, my elder stayed on as an administrator of the theological blog until recently when I learned from my pastor that he had no interest in monitoring what I wrote.

    When I wrote a book, I had my pastor read the theological sections. Now I am writing a counseling dissertation on the theology of being a caregiver if you will. Theology has invaded my days, I suppose you would say, Aimee, although I think of Scripture as God’s encouragement for the rough road ahead that I face.

    So busy here, but did receive your book and will read it and interact with it.

    • P. S. Recently two local newspapers picked up one of my posts from Plant City Lady and Friends. Consequently my blog has gotten a lot of hits and I am reaching more secular people than I would ever reach on a theological blog, yet this blog speaks theologically of my faith struggles.

  8. How about the clear commandants from 1 Timothy 2, Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 14 regarding the women behavior and duty? Yes, you are permitted to admonish and exhort younger women in your church and train your children in the culture of the Lord but top go beyond that point means to stretch the command of God. Why this desire to go worldwide and earn recognition just like the woman of this world? Modesty and submission was something that characterized Sarah which is praised by the apostle Peter in his epistle although no words of wisdom from Sarah are recorded for posterity.

    • Those verses have absolutely nothing to do with going “worldwide”. If they did, they’d apply equally to your ability to leave a comment on a public blog. But God’s word prohibits neither your comment not Aimee’s blog.

      Blessings,
      Tim

    • Aimee’s passion and goal has always been to encourage “women” to know the one true God. Men who read and benefit from her say, “Right on, sista!! I love the encouragement from all the wise men that read her blog. Keep up the good work, Aimee!

    • I don’t get the impression from Aimee that she has “a desire to go worldwide” or to “earn recognition”. I see a woman who has been gifted with a lot of wisdom from the Lord and has a desire to share it with anyone who would choose to read what she writes. The Berean Christians were said to carefully search the Scriptures each day to verify what they were being taught. We are wise to do the same. I really appreciate the insight I receive from so many teachers, male and female (living and those already with the Lord, also). But I really love all that I am learning right now from women who are teaching me to live in God’s kingdom, worthy of my calling.

  9. This is an excellent post, Aimee! I particularly love this line: “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.” Every single one of us, men and women, are theologians…but not all of us are “very good” theologians. As Christians, we all ought to be striving to know God more. This is a great word.

    Your post really struck a chord with me as I frequently write on my blog, am complementarian, and know quite a few men who read my writings. Thank you so much for your encouragement! I’ll be sharing this post with others.

  10. A person who blogs, whether man or woman, is sharing their thoughts, ideas, experiences, etc. In my opinion, a pastor would be the person representing our Lord in the pulpit as he teaches the congregation about the word (assuming that he is anyway). You as the blogger have no control over who will essentially read your posts. It’s not like you can kick all the men out of the site. Besides, you have presented yourself as a woman, so any man who stumbles onto this site can see that and decide whether it’s appropriate or to move on.

    In my area, I probably could preach circles around the pastors at our local church, because of my passion for the word. Mr. Rogers has invaded this church as well as a few others, if you get my drift. I don’t preach though, because I am a woman who hasn’t been called to do so. I have no problem with that.

    When I read blogs by christian men and women, though, I need to be discerning of what I read. Not everybody speaks the truth. I do admit that I tend to be more critical of other women bloggers, though. I’ve seen too many that have raised a lot of red flags with me. So far, you’re the first woman blogger that considers herself a theologian and from what I can see can back it up. I do love your quote, “I can’t not think about theology.” That’s exactly how I feel. Thinking theologically should be a way of life, no matter what gender you are. If you want to share what’s on your mind in a blog, go for it. There will always be people who don’t agree. Simple as that.

  11. I do not blog, but I do teach a mixed Sunday school class. I also consider myself a complementarian who periodically finds myself under the burden of reexamining whether I should even be given the privilege of teaching men. Your thoughts on this matter are, therefore, greatly appreciated.

    This is my present rationale (and a biblical one I pray it is). I have first submitted myself to the authority of God’s word and His truth; obedience as the expression of my love for Him is of the utmost importance. Secondly, I have submitted myself to the authority of my husband; he has been an advocate and supporter of this calling from the beginning. Thirdly, I am submitted to the authority of my pastor; without his explicit approval I would not teach. And lastly, no one who attends our class is there by reason of coercion (not even my husband).

    Teaching the word of God is a privilege and one to be taken with the seriousness the word of God is due. I have to know that I am rightly submitted to that word. Any wisdom (or correction) is welcome.

  12. While there are different functions a pastor performs, such as defending his flock, comforting etc.. everything he does must be centered on scripture and in accordance to what the Bible teaches. While a person can teach without preaching, you can not preach without teaching. There are many verses that seem to be overlooked when it comes to the role of women in the home and the church. Sadly, for most of us today we have let an ungodly culture influence our thinking when it comes to what the Bible truly teaches.

  13. Dear Housewife Theologian,
    Thanks for your encouraging and edifyng response to a provocative question. I was helped by you explaining the different role of a male preacher in church who is a pastor-teacher given as a gift to the church by God as Paul explains in Ephesians 4. I too am a thoroughly biblically convinced complimentarian. Thanks again.

  14. Thank you Aimee for your insightful thoughts. I have a serious question that I hope you will comment on.

    What about those of us women (probably only in the 2.4 percentile) who are somehow hard-wired to think like theologians? We love research, love God’s Word, think in the abstract and probably spend waaaaay too much time happily arguing with our brethren over the details of the scriptures.

    There should be a twelve-step program for our afflication: “Hello, my name is Amy and I am addicted to theology.”

    How would you classify my propensity to writing a biblically sound sermon, but having my pastor deliver it? Who has spoken here, me or my pastor?

    • Amy,
      Likewise, I feel very hard-wired in the theological department. And I am thankful that God has given me many avenues of influence in this area. Why not explore and utilize all of those instead of seek an area that he has not called us? He will bless the passion and gifts he has given us in this way, I am confident (Heb. 10:23).

  15. Liviu makes a valid argument if you read it. Walk out your front door or browse the web at some other christian women blogs. They are also some “christian women” organizations empowering christian women to become proud to be a woman and just throwing the name christian onto it.

    I’m a woman, but I don’t encourage or empower other christian women. I encourage other Christians (or potential Christians) who happen to be women. We need to be Christians first and women second. Yes, we need to be careful to do what we have been called to do, but I am not something special because I’m a woman. Just like men aren’t special because they’re men.

    I did not put an order into God before I was born to give me a female body with a long list of skills and abilities attached (could I get some fat-free fries with that?). If I did, I didn’t exactly get it my way. But it’s a good thing, because God knows what’s best, not me.

    Liviu’s comment doesn’t specifically refer to Aimee, but it might be possible they’re lumping her into it. So far, I don ‘t see Aimee as contributing to it, so I would disagree with that point only. As for the modern woman, though, I agree because I see it everywhere. In my local church and on the web. Don’t be so quick to judge comments such as that. It just may be a reflection of yourself. It’s also not a good reflection on Aimee’s blog either.

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  18. Thanks for that. I can understand the question and have wrestled for an answer for myself since I have started blogging about theological content. To be honest I think the question is a cop-out…Men feel intimidated by women who know their theology and dare open their mouths/spill their ink in a public arena. Besides, blogging is a way of processing one’s thoughts and getting feedback from a wide variety of readers, including accepting correction. If someone is offended that they may be receiving “teaching” from a woman they have the freedom to ignore the bog post or not read the book, though, to me, it seems less like a matter of principle than an issue of basic humility. Why would it be wrong to learn from a woman? The context is neither that of a church nor is it about establishing the doctrine of the church, or being in authority over anyone. There is a certain amount of “one-anothering” that takes place in the Christian community based on the priesthood of all believers. Thank goodness for women like you, with a strong theological head on their shoulders and who are using their gifts in submission to Christ, hIs church and His word!

  19. 1 Timothy 2 teaches that women should not teach or exercise authority over men. Writing can be a medium of teaching, and if a woman writes instructively when she knows her audience will include men, she ought not to do that, to obey the Lord. Instead she should embrace the other areas where she is gifted for teaching other women and children. God bless.

      • Challies.com points specifically to this article with the controversial title. Men and women alike are going to be curious of how this topic unfolds. Besides, the title doesn’t indicate that it’s going to contain instruction.

        • I’m glad Tim Challies has shown support for Aimee’s writing. I bet if you ask him he’d say he learned something from Aimee. Aimee’s been writing well about theology for years, and many of us men have been edified by it for the sake of Christ’s kingdom. The Spirit is working through her.

          As for the title of Aimee’s post, if that doesn’t suggest she’s going to answer her own question by way of instructing the reader, I don’t know what would. Any thinking person – man or woman – who clicked over here from Challies’ site should have seen it coming. To criticize Aimee (as Seth implicitly did) for writing in a forum that men may visit is disingenuous and unfair.

          Cheers,
          Tim

          • Where is the criticism though? Was he not allowed to state his opinion? Is everyone wrong because they happen to disagree with Aimee?
            I can no longer recommend this blog to any woman in my group because all they’re going to see is people who slam others for daring to speak against Aimee
            It seems to me she opened it up to receive comments of all kinds without fear of repercussion for it, regardless of where they stand. I guess I was wrong. I’m all for disagreeing on issues, but use your words to defend and glorify God, not Aimee.

          • Wendy, Aimee and I happen to disagree on one of the hottest of hot button issues in evangelical circles today. She’s complementarian and I’m egalitarian. We discuss this plenty in our respective blogs and comments here and there. We do it respectfully and earnestly.

            In light of Aimee’s proven track record, to say that one cannot recommend Aimee’s blog because contrary views are criticized or discouraged is unfortunate. The bottom line is that there is no comp/egal “divide” between us, because in Christ all are one.

            I hope you keep coming back, Wendy. You’ll find robust discussion, as iron sharpens iron.

            Cheers,
            Tim

          • Tim, Thank you for the explanation. I should’ve seen the egalitarian view within your comments. You do surprise me though by saying she’s a complementarian. I would’ve guessed her to be more of an on the fence egalitarian, rather than a complementarian.

  20. I agree with this article! I write about faith and theology all the time. In fact, sometimes I write biting critiques of male pastors. But that doesn’t make me a “pastor” (or “pastrix” — ewwww). As you correctly point out, a pastor is supposed to be a leader and a mentor in addition to a scriptural expositor. Men need male leaders and mentors in their lives. A “spiritual mother” isn’t enough.

  21. I don’t know too much about present day female teachers, but I know of those of another generation, when they were looked on even more frowningly. For example, there is a Ruth Paxson, and a Jessie Penn-Lewis. They spoke to big crowds, with mostly men, about the deep things of God and were incredibly used by the Holy Spirit to convey these things that afterwards became much read books, like Rivers of Living Water by Paxson, and The Cross of Calvary by Penn-Lewis. Others could be mentioned, like Corrie ten Boom, whom I knew personally.
    It is crucially important to understand that the two passages in Corinthians and Timothy which, on the surface, seem to tell women to be silent, are in fact exhortations to wives and their husbands. In both cases Paul refers them to Adam and Eve, with the wife (same word in Greek as woman) having to be subject to her husband. There is no text in “the law” which tells her to be submissive to “men in general”. And, of course, there are the prophetesses – counting Hannah and Mary, there are exactly seven. Huldah was wonderfully used by the Lord to give His Word to King Josiah, though Jeremiah had already been ministering for 5 years…

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