Why on earth do I read blogs and even want to spend time writing one? Am I listening to valid podcasts and online sermons? Why do I buy so many non-fiction books and invest so much time reading them, not to mention working hard to express deep spiritual truths while adding clever or beautiful, but always, carefully constructed posts on social media?
These are the questions I have been asking myself lately and why I have struggled to write. I have been reading books about women, our role in the church and in society in general, and have been convicted about some of my answers to the above questions. It's taken me a little while to wrap my head around it all and to once again find my voice. I guess it's always good to have to step back and evaluate what drives you.
I have been especially challenged by a book written by Aimee Bryd called "No Little Women".
First of all, I am a physically little woman and I haven't always enjoyed that fact. I've always felt a little small emotionally and socially because of it--although I rock in airplane seats! When Aimee started out her book quoting the passage in 2 Timothy 3:6-7, I found myself defiantly fighting against the idea of being small and weak, as I have found myself doing most of my life. This time though, the stakes are much higher than my own ego and self-image.
In 2 Timothy, Paul was warning Timothy about false teachers infiltrating the church and causing problems. Here's what he had to say:
"For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth."
After reading this I was both outraged and concerned because this is obviously a problem that we have to look at in our own time and culture as well. I surely don't want to be a weak woman and I really don't want to be led astray by my passions. I know that as a woman, I have a huge impact on my family, as well as my church and community, so I would be taking a lot of people down with me.
Aimee goes on to make the strong argument that "everyone in the church needs to be a good theologian" so what does that even mean?
Theology is defined by "the knowledge of how to live in the presence of God." If we are to learn how to live this way then we need to know all we can know about His handbook for living. As women in the American Christian environment, this has been a bit of a controversy with arguments back and forth about what that role looks like for women (both married and single), what roles we are scripturally allowed to live out, and what our place in the church actually is (not to mention outside of the church).
There are a lot of issues to look at, and Aimee addresses the importance of being true to the Word of God, while also being called to more diligence in being "necessary allies" in the church, which is one translation for "helpmate". She says that: "We are called to serve our churches and families as necessary allies-ones who sharpen the theology of others and maybe even challenge it sometimes. If women have a respectful attitude toward the officers in the church and the headship of their husbands they are going to want to facilitate these roles by working alongside them as thinking women, fellow worshippers of God."
She points out dangers in Women's ministries (that it often stands alone and is separate), that we are often reckless in choosing materials that are not Biblically sound, and that we need to work towards a solution of how we can fill our God-given roles in ministry.
She states that "We are to recognize that women are created in the image of God as necessary allies to men in carrying out His mission. Because of this, women are to be good theologians with informed convictions. We are to take this call seriously and invest in the context of our local church as a foundation for our service and contributions to the church, our families and society."
How do we serve as necessary allies to men?
- By warning them to turn away from evil (1 Sam. 25:1-42)
- As cobelligerents against evil enemies (Joshua 2)
- By mediating the Word of the Lord (Luke 2:36-38, Acts 21:9, 1 Cor. 11:5)
- By giving wise instruction and counsel (Prov. 7:4, Titus 2:3-5)
- By collaboration in service to others (Ex. 38:8)
- By responding to God as examples of faithfulness (1 Peter 3:2)
- By influencing men from a gift of empathy and relatedness
If we take this role seriously, then Aimee encourages us to hone our skills. She calls women to (1) be equipped with an understanding of God's Word, (2) to have resolve to align ourselves as allies instead of as opponents, and (3) to be discerning. Self-examine and repentance are vital.
She goes on to teach how to be careful when choosing books, blogs, podcasts, and everything that we expose ourselves to that is teaching us whether we realize it or not. She even gives sections of books to practice on by comparing them to the truths in Scripture.
Since reading this book, I've been challenged to go through my own library and sort out books that have probably tended to lead me astray in my theology. It's called me to be more diligent in spending time in the Bible as well. Because I love books so much, I was convicted when I realized I could probably quote more authors than I could Scripture. That's a problem.
I highly recommend that women read this book and hope it creates a motivation to become better students of the Word, to take their role in the family, church, and community seriously, and to become much more discerning on what we take in and how we spend our time.
I would also encourage men to read it since much of their success in all aspects of life is affected by the women around them. God created us for that very purpose. It makes sense that men would want to pour all the energy and encouragement they can into helping shape and mold this very important group of people.
Men and women both were addressed as Paul wrote to the Corinthian church:
"You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." (2 Cor. 3:2-3)
The hope of all of us should be to serve as the best letter of recommendation as possible, as we represent the One True Living God. Amen.