Theology, that is pursuing the all-satisfying knowledge of and relationship with the Triune God, has brought such balance and dignity to my life. As a woman, I find there are many voices in my culture vying for my allegiance, including the feminist who has openly had her say here.
But in many cultures women are suppressed. India has been one such place. A passage in the Puranas, one of the Hindu's sacred books, reads “Let a woman who wishes to perform sacred oblations wash the feet of her lord and drink the water, for her husband is her lord, her priest, her religion. Wherefore abandoning all else she ought chiefly to worship her husband."
Culture in India also practiced “suttee”, an observance whereby a widow was burned alive on the funeral pyre of her dead husband. Many other atrocities abounded in regard to India’s females before the early twentieth century, including infanticide for unwanted daughters and temple prostitution for small girls, some as young as three and four years of age.
Imagine then the wonder with which the women there received the teachings of Christianity. One Hindu woman was noted to say, “Surely your Bible was written by a woman.” When asked “why?” she replied, “Because it says so many kind things for women. Our pundits never refer to us but in reproach.”
Christ restores balance and dignity for women whatever their culture promotes. For the Christian woman in India, dignity is restored in the midst of a culture that dehumanizes her.
But looking at another imbalance, in America, feminists seek to glorify women beyond their God-given place. The goal is supremacy, not equality, and herein we see the opposite extreme. This woman, out of a motive of retaliation, would like to rule over man the way he has ruled over her since and as a result of the fall.
But reiterating, in Christ we find a true balance where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) It is a paradox that in Christ, woman finds her dignity, yet there is no distinction between male and female. In the pages of Scripture she discovers an ally who so understands her that she could easily mistake Him for a woman.
But this is the One who “…being found in appearance as a man…” personified the goodness of God (Philippinas. 2:8a). This is the One who spoke to an immoral woman, considered a mongrel by the Jews (Samaritan), the epitome of human outcasts and gifted her a royal position when He made her a child of the King. When the rest of society shunned her, Jesus revealed God to her, in all His goodness, and she was changed forever in an instance. (John. 4:4-45)
Spurgeon said, “My beloved sisters, you owe much to the Gospel, for it is only by its agency that you are raised to your proper place. Jesus has lifted you up to your true place, side by side with man.” But really He has lifted us much higher than that -all the way to the third heaven where He reigns. We dwell with Him there even in the midst of the storm or in the mire of a fallen culture when we truly know Him.
Do women need theology? Can we rise above our circumstances to find peace in the midst of a storm-tossed life? Where is the balance in a culture which seeks to either denigrate or deify us? Perhaps Jesus can best answer these questions. To every nation and tribe, to every people of every tongue, to men and women the mandate is still set forth. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Theology is not only essential for the woman of God, it is a command from its Author that we must embrace.
May we, as women of God, look to the apostle Paul as an example of what theology is all about. May we take to heart his passion for knowing Jesus:
I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death... (Phil. 3:8-11)
Oh, may we know Him! That is what theology is all about!