Sunday, January 25, 2009

lessons learned from boys

So it's late, but I have to write this blog. I am reading a book, an excellent book, called when Life and Beliefs Collide (by Carolyn Custis James). It is my bedtime book this week. I have read a plethora of other books for my thesis, but this book is a personal fun one. It's about women and theology. The chapter I am on right now is exploring the reasons women stay away from theology and I have to say, it has struck a chord. The Lord has placed me in a season of life where I am truly learning what it means to be a theologian. A woman theologian. And not to fear being a theologian. It's odd to me that I would even hesitate to be one. Being raised by my feminist mother, I can't imagine much that men can do and women can't.

But this season, I have been confronted by people, friends even, who seem to espouse the idea that women should be wives and mothers and that having any dreams that are larger than that means you must be called to singleness. As I was reading the book tonight and working through these excuses for staying away from theology, I felt a knot deep in my stomach. I realized that this season of confrontation is teaching me about men. I've always said that I wanted a husband who loved studying theology and whose theology I could respect. But I am realizing another side to this coin: I need a husband who is okay with, no, actually one who wants a wife that loves theology.

The past 5 years have been filled with lessons and this is another one. I feel like I can look back and see the men that God has brought in and out of my life and I see the lessons I have learned from them. Some of these men have been examples of true godliness. Some of them have encouraged me and taught me that it is okay to be who I am, nerdiness and all. Other guys though, have crushed my spirit. Telling me (usually in essence, not words) that I can't be a theologian and a woman. That the desires I have are wrong, or they make me ineligible for being a wife or mother. Or that my strength is a bad thing. Or that I shouldn't be so concerned with theology- it's a boys' game.

Well, I am here to tell you that the Lord has taken this broken, self-righteous sinner and made her His own work. He has enabled me to serve the body of Christ and by His grace (AMEN!) I will do so. This may come off sounding proud, which honestly would not be surprising since I struggle greatly with pride. But I feel like recently there has been such an attack on my womanhood. I can't be a strong and intelligent theologian and a woman.

Oh Lord, restore us women to a place of seeking your face. Of wanting to know you more deeply (which by the way is theology!) and give us strength to love you and know you intimately as women.


tws said...


You and I must talk more about this! One of the hardest things (for me) about you moving away from the WTS campus and student life was the fact that you were one of the women who actually cares about theology and about looking at it together - you were quick to discuss the theological ideas we have and the consequences of those ideas. Most women, when we get together, want to talk about people (which is good too), but most are uncomfortable discussing theology and are surprised at the thoughtfulness and passion (hotheadedness??) behind some of my theological convictions. In some circles, it is acceptable and even expected to be a woman with dearly held theological convictions. In our circle, it is not often popular or even normal. I do not think that your ambitions or strengths would preclude being a wife or mother - such arguments are cultural, I think, and not biblical. The book you're reading is a good one - it should help with this. I'll dust my copy off and try to finish it so that we might be of mutual encouragement to each other. We shall discuss more, my sister!

tws said...

did I mention that I miss you :) It's true...and we must make good on our coffee date...and I have something for you, so send me your NYC address!

Carolyn said...


If there was a hope I had in my heart when I wrote When Life and Beliefs Collide, it was that women would end up saying the kinds of things you've written in this blog. I think a woman's deep theology ought to be the first thing a man finds attractive about her. How can it detract a man for a woman to be pursuing a deep relationship with God? When a man is struggling himself, he learns the value of a wife's good theology or he suffers from her lack of it. And so far as I can tell, men like Moses, Samuel, King David (through his grandfather Obed), and even Jesus were nurtured and strengthened for God's calling on their lives by the theology they learned from their their mothers.

If you want encouragement, come to or And when you finish reading this book, I have two more waiting.

Carolyn Custis James

Margaret said...

Becka - I think that it is great that you're wrestling through these issues now, and I get frustrated by the same things. For me, it's a little different because I am a wife and now a mom-to-be, and I find myself looking into the future and wondering how my education will fit into this. Will I want to keep going to class in the fall? Will I be able to use what I'm learning outside of the stereotyped mommy circles, being relegated to the "women and children" part of church? I think the thing that stops me from going down these roads too far is that I am God's child before I am a mom, a wife, even a seminary student. I am scared of the stereotypes, but even as I am becoming one of "them", I realize that my thoughts run much deeper than which diapers to use or how to cook a great meal. So it's just one day at a time over here. My priorities might shift from BC (before child) to after, but they'll continue shifting day by day, sometimes even hour by hour.

I pray that you find a man who will value your heart and mind and the place that God has called you. I guess my encouragement is not to fear the future (since this is my struggle). And let me know how NYC is going!