Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Should a Christian Woman Think?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)

According to the Great Google, among the Top 10 New Year's resolutions are getting fit, losing weight, getting out of debt, spending more time with family and friends, helping others, getting organized, and learning something new. Any of these on your list of priorities for 2011?

The cold, rainy January weather here in the Pacific Northwest keeps lots of us indoors in the winter months. But apparently we like it! We're well-known for our latte-drinking and love of fine books, and that suits my personality quite well. (At least until February!)

Did you know that Seattle is the most educated city in the United States? (Not bragging, just saying.) I think it's because there's nothing else to do when the color outside is flat gray. Exaggerating of course, and I can't explain that one, or the way liberal bent of the local population.

Let's leave those questions on the back-burner for now, and move on to an article that struck a chord with me some time ago. I'd love to hear your reactions in the comments. Please speak up!

Minding Your Mind
by Rosalie De Rosset

Walk into any Christian bookstore and case the shelves of books on women’s issues, family living, and patterns of leadership. You will be hard put to find little or anything written on the role of the mind or the importance of the intellect in developing and maintaining a sturdy, healthy faith in and walk with God. Go to any women’s retreat or women’s leadership conference. Speakers and seminars appealing to women’s hearts and souls and talking about spiritual disciplines abound. Discussion of women’s roles as mothers, daughters, single women, keepers of the home, and as home-schoolers dominates the teaching hours. But is there much or any focus on the importance of the mind, of the crucial role that good reading and responsible study play in its development? Is there much mention of becoming an intellectual as well as a spiritual disciple of Christ?

Sadly, many women are probably intimidated by the word intellect (I always define the word carefully when I use it), even though what it means is the power to know as distinguished from the power to feel and to will. Yet, every one of those women would agree, at least in theory, that
we must know the word of God as well as feel it. Knowing involves the use of the intellect.

As an example, in the two or more decades I have been speaking at women’s conferences and retreats, I have often chosen to address the importance of good reading and solid Bible study in the Christian life. Often, the leadership has been hesitant when they hear my choice of subject, wondering if perhaps something more practical, more mainstream (dare I say predictable) would be a better subject—something like how to have devotions or how to discern the will of God or how to pray more successfully and consistently.

Some women’s ministries leaders have seen the significance of what I want to teach, but they have also understood that my seminars will have to be titled carefully to get numbers. In other words, I must artfully design a title that suggests something “more interesting,” “more user-friendly” than thinking about the mind implies, something that, in a sense, cons the women into going to such a session. Somehow a consideration of Christian thinking seems so much less a priority and far less spiritual than subjects to do with Christian behaviors, even though the mind is what processes what we feel and will and can lead to a more thoughtful and deliberate Christian lifestyle.

In an articulate book called
When Life and Beliefs Collide, Carolyn Custis James argues that all women are called to be theologians—in other words, to have knowledge of God. She notes that the Bible, not to mention church history, “records the stories of countless women whose theology led them to make significant contributions at home, in the community, and in the church” (p. 19).

When people—in this case, women—neglect the use of their minds, they may get caught up in idle activities, too many activities, silly reading and leisure habits which lead, finally, to a shallow understanding of what it means to live the Christian life. Their faith may also be too thin to sustain them in the hardships that invariably accompany the average existence.

Their Christian understanding, undeepened by knowledge, may become boring whether they admit it or not. As J.I. Packer says in his popular book
Knowing God, “The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life, blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction, and understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life, and lose your soul” (pp. 14-15).

This article by Rosalie De Rosset has been quoted from
Gifted For Leadership, a women’s group blog from

Photos: Girls at Greenlake in Seattle by Wonderlane; Nutmeg (Flickr)

Up Next—Video: The Beauty of Mathmatics

What think you? Do you agree with the author?


Faith said...

absolutely agree...there's a reason I have a Master's pastor has put in our church membership covenant pledge that we have to sign if we want to be covenant members that EACH member (people who have gone thru the 2 required classes plus interview, plus signing) must agree to be actively pursuing personal Bible Study, in a small group, and also reading other Christian material as study/devotionals to grow. Very important to use our minds!! it is one way we pass down the legacy of our Christianity to our children!! good stuff here, emom!

Tami Boesiger said...

When I read the title of this post, everything in me went, "YES!" My favorite thing about going to Bible study is picking the brains of other women. I don't understand why a discussion on developing the mind wouldn't be welcome at a women's conference. I'd be for it.

GlowinGirl said...

You know I love a good Bible study. And by good, I mean one that makes you think and pick your brain and LEARN! One that goes beyond mindless "Do this and you'll be a better person" or just scratches the surface of what a verse might mean. Yes, I also like the relational side of Bible studies. I like to consider experiences and emotions, but I don't like just that.

We are emotional creatures with minds, and I like to use mine! But I'm a nerdy bookworm. :)

A Stone Gatherer said...

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your MIND and with all your strength! Your whole person is to love the Lord! I do believe people have a warped since of what is intellect. They see the extremely intelligent people and think that it only includes them.

One of the definitions of intellect is: the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will : the capacity for knowledge.

The power of knowing. That is what God wants of us to know Him so that involves our intellect.

Make sense to me!!

Sandra said...

I agree! John Piper has said wimpy theology makes wimpy women. In women's ministry we must touch the hearts and the minds!

GlowinGirl said...

I just read a small article about John Piper's book, Think. I'm not sure if you've read it or not, but it sounded right up your alley!

Alicia The Snowflake said...

I agree completely. I think that is one of the things I have enjoyed about homeschooling, learning right along with my son. I have learned more about history than I ever knew before. I take that approach with the Bible as well. I love to know the history behind it. It brings life to the scriptures. Thanks for sharing! Blessings to you my friend!

e-Mom said...

Faith: I like your pastor's attitude. You certainly are a thinking woman when it comes to the Christian faith!

And yes, teaching our kids the Word is so key. James Dobson once said, "If you educate a woman, you educate a whole family."

Tami: Thanks for your thoughts, Tami!

I have a hard time understanding the author's experience too. Seems like most of the Christian women that I know are in favor of serious Bible study. Maybe it's because we live in "highly educated" Seattle?

BTW, our son, a UW Husky fan mentioned the bowl game in San Diego last week. Funny that the "Huskies" faced off against the Nebraska "Huskers." I thought of you and your family!

GlowinGirl: I admit, I'm a "nerdy bookworm" like you.... LOL. Keep on thinking about Scripture, my friend!

Fun that we both like to cook too. My Hebrew THEO prof has written two scholarly articles, "Jesus the Great Host" (on John 2) and “Divine Hospitality and Wisdom’s Banquet in Proverbs 9:1–6."

I thought it was awesome to think of Jesus/God as a Great Host. The Last Supper is another example of our Savior's love of entertaining guests.

Thanks for the book suggestion. I really like John Piper. Reformed theology attracts many good minds.

Sadly, though, Piper is a cessationist. Seems like lots of "thinkers" have difficulty reconciling the supernatural works of the Spirit with their theology. For that (and other) reasons, I admit, I'm in the Methodist-Arminian camp.

A Stone Gatherer: Awesome thoughts, Kim!

Theology is made up of two Greek words "theos" (God) and "logos" (knowledge). For Christians, the study of theology is defined as "faith seeking understanding." First, we know God by faith in his revealed Word, and then we know about God by studying his Word-- and everything else. Works for me!

Sandra: I so agree with Piper, Sandra... he's certainly on the forefront of encouraging women to think deeply about faith and Scripture.

Alicia: I'm completely with you! I love history too, and majored in Art History in college.

In some ways, I wish now that we had homeschooled our kids. Not really an option "back in the day." Enjoy your son and the fine education you're giving him!

Bobbi said...

I know I'm late on this thread today but I wanted to think about it a little bit more.

I have no problem with women thinking and being intellectual. This is probably why I love BSF and it's deeper study of God's Word and the required discipline it entails.

I did have one uncomfortable feeling from this article though. De Rosset isn't clear in her article but I know Piper and Packer are both very clear on the roles of women in church. I know not all bloggers agree so I'm not trying to be divisive here...but for myself personally I don't believe women should be Pastors so...that's where this whole "biblically intellectual" thing gives me pause...because if you're studying homiletics and so on...what is your purpose? Is it to instruct other WOMEN or....? Are you following me? I wonder if THAT is the reason we don't see more writing on that subject. I'm not saying we shouldn't see more on deeper thinking, Bible study etc. I detest this new "raising homemakers" thing where daughters are encouraged to do NOTHING BUT grow up and be good mommies and wives...ick...Anyhew...I'm rambling now!

Constance said...

God created us with a brain and with the ability to think and choose for ourselves. To waste one of God's gifts is a shame since we are called to pursue holiness!

Myself personally, I am always reading and striving to learn new things and not just from the Bible either. I think once we stop growing intellectually and being challenged not only does our brain's abilities decrease, we become stagnant!

When I am in a group setting, i always gravitate to those who are well read and can carry an intelligent conversation. Sadly, I think the number of well-informed individuals is diminishing...

April said...

After a year of working in women's ministry, I have to say I agree with the heart of the article, but cringe a bit at the generalization that women balk at using their minds. Within my church, there are a few women who want nothing to do with women's ministry because it is too "girly", a few who want nothing to do with it because they are "not into Bible study" and a few who stay away because they are simply too busy. I would love nothing better than to see them participate, but only God can change hearts. The group of women who do participate has steadily grown, keep me on my toes and bless my socks off! I strive to keep the studies and activities meaningful and substantial, but most of all I want to serve God to equip these women to deepen their own relationship with the Lord - which in turn strengthens the whole body of Christ.

e-Mom said...

Bobbi: I hear you! I'm in total agreement w/ you viz. women's roles in the church. From Scripture, I see that women are called to a plethora of ministries--except preaching and teaching adult men.

(However, motherhood gives us the responsibility and privilege to teach boys who ultimately grow up to be men. Think of Susannah Wesley and her lasting influence on sons John and Charles Wesley.)

As for studying the Word (and theology) women like you and me... 1. enjoy it for its own sake, and our personal growth 2. and, yes we are called to teach other women.

Each week at BSF, your teaching leader gives a "sermon" (homiletics) of sorts, expounding the Word to women. Other speakers like Beth Moore & Kay Arthur do the same. Not all women are gifted to teach and preach, but some ARE. What about you? Do you feel drawn toward this kind of ministry?

Constance: I agree Connie. Conversation that goes beyond women's feelings (though very valid) is what stimulates me the most. Thank goodness for smart Mom bloggers, eh?

Sounds like you could have a wonderful ministry to younger women. I assume you're involved somehow already.

April: Since you're involved in women's ministry, it would be helpful to learn something about our natural motivational gifts. (The author of this piece doesn't seem to have a grasp of the diversity of temperaments within the body of Christ.)

Have you read "Discover Your God-Given Gifts" by the Fortunes? In a nutshell, some women are thinker- speakers, and some women are practical-feelers. The former group love all deep thought and study (like you and me). The different categories of women you've described in your church reflect God's own choice of variation among believers. Glad to know you have a nice balance!

Shelley said...

Oh I loved this post and all the comments - it makes me giddy inside - all I can say it - I want more - I want to be able to hold those deep rooted theological discussions and speak with passion, knowledge and understanding - I'm pursing the deep things of God and it gets me all excited.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

I totally agree..while smiling since I just came back from the library, but I am in Texas and it is 66 degrees, so I will walk first before I stop to read.

I love just brings me joy and satisfaction. I am not a fiction reader so I prefer learning more than dreaming.
Good post ...and good reminder for the new year.

e-Mom said...

Shelley:I love you my giddy friend. I'm completely with you... it's the deep things of God that excite me the most. It's good that God makes us dig through his Word for them isn't it? Don't we love a good challenge? I think He knows that!

Janette Amen to this: "I am not a fiction reader so I prefer learning more than dreaming!"

Enjoy your walking--and your weekend.ღ

Ozjane said...

I am with Faith.......a Masters degree or higher is not won according to the sex of the participant. When I did my Art degree I did it to relieve boredom as I had been taken 300 miles from city and friends to care for my Father who had only a few months to live. I was given a compassionate transfer in my teaching position and remained living with my Mother and I needed a life. I did a psych major and a sociology sub major which I am thankful for was it is so useful in coping with intellectual jargonese....or verbiage. But I met the man I later married on that course and it was very interesting to see who got what marks. He had a life consuming passion (almost lead to his death) to be a psychologist, so he took his study very seriously whereas it was a part of my life, not the whole, however when we came to core subjects such as Australian studies, which really interested me and I started to use photography and to present my assignments as books (back in the mid to late '70's) would love to have the tools I have now but suddenly the don't care so much person got all the A's and the student went back to the B's. I had been quite happy with B+ and the occasional A....this was back when we were scored A_F which was fail. But he was far from happy and could not understand why.
He just did not get the creativity which came into play when my interest was totally engaged.
I loved theology in Bible College. It was my favorite subject and I wish women would do more off campus course work than attend all the girly conferences with the glitzy speakers, song leaders and singers. These are not wrong, but to me they are dessert rather than main course.
Of course we should think. We are told to have the mind of Christ and that was not a gender related comment. I actually have always preferred to study in mixed groups whilst I had the experience of taking a ladies group last year...I can see the value, but I love the balance that we give together. the soap box now.

PhoenixPhire said...

It's been a long time since I have been here, lots of things going on in my life. But I love the fact that God always seems to send answers to us in the most unusual way. That is what He has done for me with this post as I have been struggling with some dilemma's in my life for which I could not find a clear answer.

Reading this post, and the comments by the other ladies, really helped me a lot. And it led me to one of my favorite passages in the Bible concerning women, Proverbs 31:10-31 and particularly to verse 26 which says, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."

I guess you could say that what you describe as "intellect" I consider to be wisdom. So my answer to you is an unequivocal "YES, Christian woman should think!!" In fact I believe that we must if we wish to be effectual in our walk with God.

e-Mom said...

Ozjane Sounds like you and your husband shared some similar gifts, but differed in others.

You might have an interest in reading my older post about the 7 kinds of intelligence. The list includes:

and kinesthetic.

You certainly have a good mind.

PhoenixPhire: Thanks for visiting! God is faithful to meet our needs. It's apparent that you have a deep love of God's Word.

I like your verse from Proverbs 31. Did you know Scipture says that Jesus is Wisdom personified? Generally, I think of wisdom as applied intelligence, or knowledge-in-action.

To speak wisdom is to share Truth. But always, we must remember to season the Truth with love and kindness, so it will be received by our listeners with gladness.

Jesus spoke in parables to sneak past the defences of his listeners, and drive home his important points. Some closed their hearts and refused to hear.

We must always allow our listeners the choice to refuse Truth, just as Jesus did. In such cases, prayer is our ally, and it's often more effective that our many words of wisdom.

God bless you!

The Thinking Christian Woman said...

As you can guess from the title of my blog, I favor women being MINDful of the things of God.

While thinking is not the end of all things, and, like a ladder, reason only reaches so high, intellect is a gift that we are called to steward and multiply.

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