Mar

26

2013

Lore Ferguson|12:01 AM CT

Who Will Teach the Women Who Want to Be Taught?

It may be better to sleep on the corner of the rooftop than live with a quarrelsome woman, but friends, educate that woman and there is hardly a limit to what she can do with her mouth and mind—for good or evil.

God created woman as a helper knowing Adam would need help. What that help was exactly will be up for debate for centuries; we only know that the command to both man and woman at that point was to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth. A friend of mine confesses that at times he fears exposing his weaknesses to women in his life for various reasons. To which I replied that a woman was born to see a need, to come and encompass that need, nurture it until the time is right for it to be birthed into something more beautiful than he could imagine. We are built to help in ways men will never be able to help. That is our good design.

Disciplers on the Rise

Another friend and I were talking recently about the droves of women coming out of seminary in the coming years. These women have or will have studied biblical texts, learned Hebrew and Greek proficiently, interacted with scholars, and written theses. They have a deep and true abiding love of God's Word, and a respect for the inerrancy of it. Women make up more than 51 percent of seminary students, and we can probably expect that number to grow.

These women have taken the command to be fruitful and multiply seriously, and for many, in the absence of their own children, they have become incubators of God's Word. They meditate on it, murmur on it, pray it, speak it, and teach it. They are poised for a gracious reception of hungry souls, souls weary of milk, starving for meat. They are disciples.

And even more, they are disciplers.

They may hold a collective Master of Divinity, they may give their brothers a run for their money in both their drive and grace, but over all of it, they see a distinct need in the world and want to help it. They are like the hen who gathers her chicks, finding the odd ones out and pulling them close, covering over, receiving the broken and disillusioned. And brothers, they should not be a threat to you.

Send Me, I'll Go

These women are perfectly situated to teach other women. They are the Naomis, the marginalized taking the faces of future women in their hands and saying, "Here is how we see the kingdom built, and it will take daring women who trust and believe the Word of God, who will do beautifully vulnerable things to see the birth of a King brought forth."

As secular feminism rises, more and more women within the church will be looking for strong female voices. They are not looking for poor theology, but many of them haven't been taught how to study their Bibles, or how to discern good theology from bad. More women than ever lack husbands or godly fathers, so there is great opportunity for us to be like the women Paul wrote about in his letter to Titus: teaching what is good (Titus 2:3). Culturally it may look different from what first-century Christian women looked like, but the message is still the same: the gospel comes in, fills out, changes us, and sends us out to make disciples.

  • Has God given you the opportunity to learn the biblical languages? Teach other women so they might rightly discern what is true.
  • Have you studied church history? Teach women so they might help change history.
  • Have you been given the gift of a discerning eye and mind? Teach women to exegete the Word, instead of the proof-texting all too common in studies meant for women.
  • Has God radically transformed your heart in regard to the gospel? Extol his name to others in everything you say and do.

The question should not be, "Why can't we teach men?" but, "Who will teach the women who want to be taught?"

And our response should be, like Isaiah, "Here am I, send me!"

This article originally appeared at ProjectTGM.com.

Lore Ferguson is a writer whose deepest desire is to adorn the gospel in everything she says and does. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and is a covenant member at The Village Church. Lore writes regularly at Sayable.net, and you can follow her on Twitter @loreferguson.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    "The question should not be, "Why can't we teach men?" but, "Who will teach the women who want to be taught?"

    Amen. And amen.

  • Angela King

    Amen! I am in seminary because I want to be better equipped to teach the treasures of the Bible and to help women to recognize their femininity from a Biblical perspective in the face of a secular world. We were not created to be at odds with men in regard to our roles in the Church. Men and women were made to compliment one another. Our unique roles within both church and home should be embraced and used to build up the body of believers for the glory of the One Who made us to do so! God bless!

    • Ruth Li

      to be more exactly men and women are created and matched together to complement each other and compliment each other in the faith of God.The unique role that women were designed to play is wonderful,nice and complete in God and even a luck husband's eyes.

  • http://www.emilyktyler.wordpress.com Emily

    Excellent, excellent piece! Thank you for this! I am shouting "amen"! I so desperately want to be a woman like this and see others rise up who are passionate about the truth of God's Word and aren't asking why they can't do certain things in the church but are embracing what they CAN do and being faithful to that.

  • Aleah

    Can you recommend a female voice out there now to turn to? I have been dying for some quality Bible studies that are geared toward the thinking Christian, but aren't seminary texts that will break my brain. So far, all I seem to find are the "proof-texting" studies you mention! I'd love to hear a good recommendation.

    • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

      Aleah,

      GREAT question! I'm so glad you're asking. One of the FINEST female expositors of the word I know is our own Jen Wilkin. You can listen to several years worth of her teaching through James, Genesis, Matthew, Exodus, and 1 Peter on her website here: http://jenwilkin.blogspot.com/. Jen teaches exegetically, but also in such a way that everyone can understand and glean gospel truths. My life was significantly impacted by her ministry here at my church in Texas. Hope that helps!

      • Heather

        I love learning for Elyse Fitzpatrick as well!

    • Steph

      Aleah - take a look at the studies by Nancy Guthrie or Kathleen Buswell Neilson. They are hard-core, but very solid.

    • http://www.michellelesleybooks.com Michelle

      Aleah and Ashley-

      You might find my women's Bible study, "Jacob: Journaling the Journey" to be a fit for what you're looking for. It's a gospel centered study of the life of Jacob in a journaling format so that you can really dig in to God's word. You can click on my name ^^^ for excerpts and more info. if you think you might be interested.

      Blessings!

    • Melissa

      You could try Nancy Guthrie...she has an excellent series on seeing Jesus in the Old Testament.

  • http://littlepiecesofordinary.com/ Ashley Haupt

    Amen! Also, could you recommend some studies for women that are exegesis instead of proof-texting?

    • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

      Ashley, the comment I made in response to Aleah has the best answer I know to that question! And if there is a lack, well, we have our work cut out for us don't we!

    • Jane-o

      I've been studying inductively thru the Precept Ministry's Precept Upon Precept Bible studies since 1997. They are the best and you discover truth for yourself by digging into the text inductively to let the Bible teach you, not others. Only after you've gotten all you can (depending on how long you've studied this way and learned to use the tools of inductive study) THEN go to commentaries/audios/etc. When you dig it out for yourself, IT'S YOURS!

  • Kelly

    I agree we need to have women to teach the women who want to be taught. However, the article seems to imply that only women who have gone to seminary are qualified. I disagree. All believing women are called to make disciples. Such an emphasis only serves to either discourage a woman who hasn't or can't attend seminary, or excuses them from doing anything because they haven't.

    • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

      Hey Kelly! Wow. I'm very sorry that it came across that way, especially because I am not a woman who has completed a seminary degree! I cited those statistics mostly to say we as the Church need to be making a way for the onslaught of women who are coming out of seminary these days. I absolutely believe that all believing women are called to make disciples and can do it just as well as those who've gone to seminary if they apply their minds to it =) Thanks for reading!

      • http://www.michellelesleybooks.com Michelle

        Hi Lore-

        I got a bit of the same feeling as Kelly, but wanted to add something on another note. There is a tremendous amount of liberal and false teaching going on in seminaries of all denominations these days. We must be discerning when we decide to learn from someone even if (or maybe, "especially if," unfortunately) she has a seminary degree. As I often tell my readers, we are way past the time when we can take for granted that someone (including me!) is orthodox just because he/she has a seminary degree, or is a teacher, pastor, or Christian author. We MUST make sure everything we believe and teach matches up with God's word no matter how seemingly trustworthy the source.

    • Jen Wilkin

      Hi Kelly, I don't think that's what Lore would say. She has graciously noted my studies above, and I am self-taught. Her bullet points at the end of the post are questions directed to all of us. In my experience, a woman with a teaching gift will allow herself neither discouragement nor excuse if seminary is not an option. She will do the thing the Lord has given her to do, using every tool at her disposal and every ounce of energy she can give.

      • T.Newbell

        Kathleen Nielson, who is the director of women's initiatives for TGC does not have a seminary degree. She is wise and rich. You can search her here or find her at her site: http://www.kathleennielson.com/

        And of course, Jen and Nancy are also wonderful. Enjoy!

  • http://tobringhimjoy.blogspot.com Brenda

    Thank you for this piece.

    Aleah, I would recommend "Because He Loves Me" by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Actually, just about anything by Fitzpatrick. She is now doing an online study of Romans.

  • http://awell-wateredgarden.blogspot.com Annette

    Kelly----"to make disciples", and to be a mentor, and most importantly be a witness for Christ Jesus.
    It may not be correct to teach men in a classroom setting. But, I've taught my husband, 2 grown sons, and now my grandson. If not, then it wouldn't have been done.

  • http://www.transformingwords.org/wordpress Don Sartain

    Reading this (again) makes me all the more grateful for the Theologically solid women I have as friends and know as bloggers. Definitely a sign of God's grace.

  • http://stayoffbalance@blogspot.com Jean Amico

    Liked the article. I am a teacher of women at our church and speak often to women who rebel against complementarianism for the reasons given in your piece of extensive schooling and experience. I also know of the great need to pull women up out of the "women's" studies. Light and fluffy is not the gospel I know.
    But the citing of Is 6:8 may not be encouraging if you read the rest of the chapter...

  • DL

    Wonderful article, Lore!

    Two thoughts: First, with reference to Isaiah 6 - Here I am, LORD, Send me: I'm also remembering that before the Lord commissions him, Isaiah falls on his face and declares: Woe to me for I am a man of unclean lips. This is particularly insightful for me as a woman with the gift of prophecy (not foretelling, but forthtelling). In the flesh, I can be very prone to using the tongue in ways that cut down and do not edify. However, as an Ezer and life-giver, along with being willing to be sent to speak forth the Truth of scripture to women and the lost, I must always remember the power of the tongue and our words is much greater than sounds coming from my mouth or words being typed on my keyboard. A calling to proclaim God's Truth from scripture is a gift with many responsibilities. May I continue to pray for discernment and wisdom in doing so.

    Second item is one which I love to get some feedback on, if anyone can point me to scriptural guidance on this: What about women teaching in missions settings or evangelistic contexts? The passages prohibiting women to exercise authority are chiefly found in epistles relating to the operation of the church, or with their husbands in the home. It has always been my understanding that women are able to teach unbelievers within a properly supported ministry that receives oversight from a church body. But I haven't studied it extensively yet, so if you have any references, I'd apppreciate that!

    Thank you so much for this article!

    • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

      DL,

      There seems to be some evidence of women in the NT Church who ministered to unbelievers. Lydia and her household believed and were baptized, so I assume she had much sway there (two interesting things to note about her: when she's first mentioned, it's in a place of prayer, yet there seem to be no men present, but near the end of the chapter there are "brothers" in the church that was raised up, and the second is that after she and her household believed, she begged Paul to come and teach). Also Aquilla and his wife, Priscilla, taught Apollos. I'm sure there are others, if anyone else wants to chime in =)

      I think we also recognize that the gospel ought to always be in our mouths to believers and unbelievers. We ought to be people whose feet are shod with the gospel of truth. If an opportunity rises for us to extol the name of Jesus, we take it.

      Far better scholars than I have have tackled the intricacies of what men and women are permitted to do in the context of Church leadership, but the bible is clear on this: we're all called to spread the gospel and make disciples!

  • Elaina

    Good article. I'm applying for my MDiv soon, so this is very timely. Thnx.

  • http://lisaspence.com Lisa Spence

    Yes, yes, and yes. And amen. I loved this post in its original publication and I am glad to see it reposted here at TGC. I am a Bible teacher passionate about encouraging women in the study of God's Word and I am thankful for this plea for women to see their call to teach as important and critical in the life of the church. Strong theology makes strong women Piper has said and I pray that the Lord will continue to raise up many strong women armed with the power of the gospel and the strength of the Spirit!

  • http://philippians314.squarespace.com Kim Shay

    Great piece, Lore!

    Even more than a desire to teach, going to seminary should be motivated by a desire to first of all LEARN! Even if a woman never sits in an "official" teaching position, the amount she learns at seminary, sanctified for God's use, will be time well spent!

  • Rachael Starke

    YES and AMEN. I am convinced that one of the main reasons for the decline of the church, the rise of post-modernism and a host of other societal evils is because churches have failed to teach women how to really know God's Word for what it is and what it says, and how to teach it to their children at every stage.

    And +100 for both Nancy Guthrie and Kathleen Nielsen's studies. They are rich, hermeneutically sound and (I think) totally accessible for women who want to learn more than prooftexting.

  • Kim

    Such a good post, Lore! Grateful for women that are called to seminary & praying that the Lord will continue to raise up humble, gifted teachers among them. And...that the rest of us "non-seminary" women would be diligent to study His word & willing to disciple the women He has brought into our lives.

  • Annonymous

    My only concern with this is that one doesn't get the impression that the churches of the NT were segregated. if God truly designed men and women to complement one another, than I have a hard time thinking that we should have a lot of "men's" or "women's" Bible studies. Also,the Bible is the Bible regardless of your gender. There is no "women's" angle or "men's" angle about it. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I feel as if articles like these are just trying to make women feel better by making up a place for them to use their gifts.

  • Mimi

    I absolutely loved this article! I am a seminary student at Westminster Theological Seminary and I have a heart for discipleship and the Word of Truth. It is vitally important that we as women teach other women how to rightly divide the Word and discern false teachings. Equal to that in importance is the need to show off the glory of our God given role as a "helper/help-mate". In doing so, we will fend off the cries of our feminist counterparts that say "I can do anything a man can do and do it better!" Lets continue to honor God and the roles He has given us, there are many women who are starving for the meat of the Word so lets feed them.

  • Jason Price

    Beautiful. I am a Pastor and a father of three wonder young women of God. This article gives me great encouragement to train my daughters well.

  • http://tbrainerd@wordpress.com Tom Brainerd

    Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I note that the only Scripture cited is Titus 2:3, given, I assume to back up that the older women are supposed to ‘teach good things.' The actual Scripture passage is followed by Paul's listing of what good things those older women are supposed to teach:

    "...that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."

    The cite in the post, on the other hand is followed with what appears to be a disclaimer of Paul's list:

    "Culturally it may look different from what first-century Christian women looked like..."

    None of the 'teaching' referenced in the post seems to otherwise point to the Pauline list. So, Lore, perhaps it would be useful to explain what you mean by the 'cultural different-ness' you refer to.

    Christ's blessings on you.

    • http://sayable.net Lore Ferguson

      Tom,

      Thanks for your question. I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and attend a church that, from what I can tell, is about half single men and women (3000+ but don't quote me on that). I am also a single woman myself. I have no husband or children to love or to be obedient to. So when I say "culturally it may look different," I'm simply saying that we're not first century Christian women, married in our teens and mothering throughout our lives (that was the preface to my reference to Titus 2:3 in the article above). However, I have women in my life I disciple, teach, and nurture. My home is made with an open door and a hospitality. I trust I'm being discreet and chaste in whatever ministry opportunities the Lord brings across my life.

      We don't shape the Bible around culture, but we do fill the cracks left by culture with an overabundance of the life Christ offers. I am not limited by what I do not have (husband, children, being the primary breadwinner), instead I let the freedom of my singleness be "about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. (I Cor. 7:34)"

  • Heather

    I so agree and I so love them. Women are starving for meat. I unfortunately see to many women reading female emergent, unorthodox authors who are filling in the gap.

  • Barbara Hannum

    Praise God for this encouragement sister! I've been asking God what shall I do with the 2nd half of my life ;-) Bless you!

  • Missy

    Thank you, Lore, for writing this post.

    After being a Christian for many years, for the first time I am being discipled by a friend at my church, along with a few others. It has been a wonderful experience of community, accountability and instruction. Now I am praying for the Lord to show me who I can disciple.

    Jesus calls all of us to "make disciples" - men and women - lay people and those with degrees. I used to think that I didn't know enough in order to disciple someone. But we don't have to know EVERYTHING; we just have to know Jesus. His Spirit is our teacher and His word is Truth. May the Lord lead ALL of us to multiply disciples for His kingdom. Blessings to you for encouraging us to be deliberate about discipleship. It is a wonderful way for us to love one another and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

  • Manders

    Also, don't forget that there are a ton of women learning so they can be counselors--who can, in turn, equip other women to go out and help other people. We need good theology, absolutely, and we also need that good theology to fuel good practice in the world. We need educated women to be counselors, missionaries, teachers, artists, good businesspeople, and everything in between. And, depending on your church's teaching, we need good deaconesses!

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