I am passionate about women living out their faith with their minds fully engaged. Having grown up in church, I’ve attended more women’s conferences and retreats than I desire to remember. The common thread through most of them was the elevation of emotion over the mind. The teaching is usually dull and lifeless, and the entire event centered around eliciting a certain emotional response from the women in attendance. It’s icky and heretical.
God still used these retreats in my life for which I am thankful. But the cumulative effect of them is that I began to think you couldn’t be female, intelligent, and a Christ-follower. As I am female and bookish, and I desperately wanted to live a life honoring to Christ, I was at a bit of a loss. By the grace of God, I came across some wonderful books — all written by men — that demonstrated to me it was possible to think more deeply about God than I knew was possible.
Despite the norms for women’s conferences, thinking about God is not only for the guys. So why should we love God with our minds?
1) We’re commanded to. Matthew 22:37: “And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” There it is. We are to love God with all our mind. Our mind’s job is to think thoughts. So loving God with our mind means those thoughts should be thoughts about God. A. W. Tozer said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” We should discipline our minds and allow them to be shaped by scripture (Rms 12:1).
2) Knowing God through the Bible will cause us to love the God of the Bible. In college, I remember being told to be careful when I studied the Scriptures because, my heart might grow cold to God. This makes no sense. If I am studying the scriptures because I want to know the God of the scriptures, then how can I help but delight in him as I get to know him? If studying scriptures makes you less in love with God, then you’re doing it wrong. God incarnates himself in his word. The Bible is one of the ways God reveals himself to us, along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we seek to love God more, we need to know him through his word more. It is in knowing him more that our love for him grows.
3) We don’t have to discount our intelligence because we’re female. Why am I focusing on speaking to women here? Because all around us, including in the Church, we receive the message that we are less than men, especially in our intelligence. Women are culturally permitted to be book smart and make good grades in school, but its weird if women sincerely loves to learn and geek out and go down rabbit holes of learning simply for the delight of it.
Think of a stereotypical geek. Now think of a professor. Did you picture a woman? Probably not.
What does this mean for our walks with Christ? Since this is the air we breath in our culture, we have to be proactive in making sure it doesn’t affect the way we engage the word of God. Do all of us need to become seminary professors? No, of course not. But some should. All of us should discipline ourselves to engage the Lord with our minds and seek to use all of the intelligence he has given us to know him more. We need not discount our abilities simply because our society — and often our church — expects us to.
4) I hesitate to include this one, because much of what is written for women is about how to be a mom, as if that is the pinnacle of existence and meaning if you happen to have a uterus. However, a lot of us are moms or hope to be moms. (Though by no means all of us!) If we want to raise babies who will become adults who follow Jesus, we need to be able to point them to Christ at all stages of their development. If we remove our minds from the hard questions our life throws at us, we won’t have the tools to help our kids navigate those questions when they get there. Right now, I am chasing a tiny toddler around the house and changing diapers. But my little boy won’t stay little forever. If I stop learning, stop engaging hard questions, if I let my state of motherhood consume my whole identity, what will I do when he’s a teenager. What tools will I have? How will I help him become an adult capable of living effectively in the world?
Where do we start in loving God with our mind? The obvious answer is studying Scripture, though many of us lack the tools to do so. I would encourage you to first look to your local church for resources and training. Do they have a class about Scripture study? If not, ask your pastor or other church staff if they can teach a seminar on how to study the Bible: not going through another Bible study, but how to work the text like he was taught in seminary. Then invite a bunch of women to attend it with you.
If your church can’t or won’t, I encourage you to use other resources. Dallas Theological Seminary has a free online class, How to Read the Bible like a Seminary Professor, that’s been incredibly helpful for me. Also, Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word provides practical tools in Bible study. Any of these resources would be great to go through with a group of women to learn alongside. Finally, Desiring God has a feature called Look at the Book in which you can watch a video of one person’s process of Bible Study.