The Pastor’s Wife and Theology
Confession time: When my husband was in his second year of seminary, he had a horrible class schedule.
Somehow he ended up taking three classes that all required a ridiculous amount of reading.
I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I know in one class he had to read NINE full books and do ten-page papers on each of them. And that was in addition to regular class attendance, tests, quizzes, and a big paper at the end.
Halfway through the semester, he got sick. He missed a week of class (he only went on Mondays) and was never going to catch up. So I took a sick day from my job, read a book from his reading list, and typed up a summary for him. It was horrible. Truly one of the worst books I’ve ever read. But here’s the wild thing, after reading it, I felt kind of proud of myself.
See prior to that day, I’d always felt sort of unequipped to learn theology. Not like I was incapable of learning it, but more that it wasn’t necessary for me to learn theology.
After all, why should a pastor’s wife learn theology? Couldn’t I just ask my husband all my theological questions? But after reading an awful book about Adinoram Judson, I realized that I could learn theology.
I was totally capable of studying religion.
Today, Megan Dickerson, from TheWinsomeHome.com is guest posting to share why every pastor’s wife should study theology.
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Without further ado, here’s Megan:
For several years, my husband was a student pastor. Nothing will make you search the Scriptures quite like leading teenagers. They will ask the questions that adults are afraid to ask, and they want an ANSWER. They won’t let you get by with a cliché. They want to know what the Bible actually says about things!
Teenagers want to know theology!
While he was a youth minister, we lived in a TINY town in the middle of the Bible belt. Half of the teachers in the public school, it seemed, were members at our church.
Our town was the definition of rural America with its traditional views. We thought we were far removed from the radical culture wars we saw on Netflix.
Needless to say, we were SHOCKED when our students started coming to us confused about gender and sexuality.
One young lady in their school had decided to transition to identify as male, but she wasn’t the only one and bathrooms became battlegrounds. Everyone was confused and nobody seemed to have answers. Adults would talk but only among themselves.
Our students came to us.
Their parents came to us!
We needed answers.
And while that moment sticks out most to me, it wasn’t the only time girls came to me asking REALLY BIG questions.
My friend is pregnant, what do I do?
My friend used the “n word” is that ok?
My friend wants to date someone of another race, what do I do?
Someone is being really mean on social media, how do I respond?
What will happen to my friends who don’t know Jesus?
How can we know the Bible is true?
Is God selfish to expect us to worship him?
These questions may seem scary and in some cases impossible to answer. I too often wanted to send these girls to my husband (their youth pastor) but I knew that I needed to be equipped to give them answers.
Why was I scared?
Because all of these questions come down to understanding theology. And theology can be scary! Most pastors’ wives don’t have any formal theological training. We know these are big questions and we’re scared to get it wrong. But what happens when the pastor’s wife doesn’t know theology?
- She doesn’t disciple well.
- You can’t bring people into a deeper understanding of God than you have. If you don’t know God, you can’t help others to know him.
- She doesn’t have answers or know how to find them.
- We’ll never know the answer to every question we’re asked! But when we don’t study theology, we aren’t able to find the answers we need.
- She can get it wrong.
- It’s no secret we’ll all make mistakes, and we will continue to make mistakes until the Lord returns! But when we don’t study theology, we will give people answers that do not properly reflect the character of our God.
This is heavy.
This is important.
This can feel scary, but sisters it doesn’t have to.
The thing is, we can know God. We can know the things of God!! They are not too hard for us! You see, the Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures dwells in every believer. Part of what he does is to help us understand the Bible and the truths of theology.
How does our theology shape our view of gender and sexuality?
If we truly believe that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, as Paul described, anything outside of a Biblical understanding of marriage distorts the gospel.
How does our theology shape our view of race and racism?
If we truly believe that God created all men and women in his own image, we offend God when we look down on any of his image-bearers. Do we dare demean another those who bear the image of our God?
I hope that you agree that knowing theology is important. (If not, email me and we’ll talk more!) But maybe you don’t know where to start. I have a few tips for you:
- Study the Bible.
- God has revealed himself through his Word. Do not neglect it. Read widely (for example, through the Bible in a year) and study deeply (maybe one book for several months). Pick one of these at a time and set a goal. If you don’t know how to study the Bible, Jen Wilkin’s book Women of the Word is a fantastic place to start.
- Pick a Systematic Theology textbook.
- They’re all huge. You won’t read it all. Pick one you can trust. I have enjoyed one by John Frame, and I’ve read Wayne Grudem’s lighter version called Bible Doctrine with women and we’ve grown a lot. Pick ONE chapter.
An alternative to this would be to pick a book on a single topic. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves is wonderful and very easy to read. You could commit to reading 2-3 pages a day.
Jen Wilkin also has 2 books about theology, None Like Him and In His Image.
AW Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy would be another good place to start. Each chapter describes one character quality of God in 2-3 pages.
Even if you’re not a reader, there are several podcasts that you can turn to. TGC has some great episodes to help us understand various topics. Risen Motherhood and Journeywomen are two of my favorites to help me understand the things of God and apply them to my heart. Knowing Faith is another you don’t want to miss!
- After you have read that one chapter (or book or listened to a podcast), you may have more questions.
- Write them down and start looking for answers. This is a precious step. In the textbook or book, you will find many other resources having to do with that topic. Start in the footnotes or bibliography. As you’re studying and reading your Bible, make a way to note every time you see this doctrine! You’ll start seeing it everywhere!
The important thing is to start somewhere.
You won’t know the answers to all of your questions. That’s okay! You’ll NEVER know all of the answers. We get to keep learning until we are with the Lord.
So what would you tell teenagers who had questions about gender and sexuality? Would you be scared and push them off? Or would you be confident that the Lord had satisfying answers for them?
As I studied God’s Word and let it shape my theology, in time I was able to tell them that God’s design is best.
I could show them that God is good and trustworthy.
I could tell them that his creation is good but that it is fallen, and we feel the effects of sin deep in our souls.
I could tell them that Jesus has won, and He will come again and restore all of creation to himself.
This is theology.
What do you think about the necessity of pastors’ wives learning theology? Tell us in the comments!
About the author: Megan Dickerson wants to share the truths of God’s Word with winsome clarity. She blogs at TheWinsomeHome.com where she writes about Bible Study and Theology in everyday life. Megan is married to Drew, and they are both graduates of Southern Seminary and current students at Southeastern Seminary. Together, they have 2 sons and 2 daughters.
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