Often the idea of doing apologetics evokes the image of men debating on a stage, or speaking to or teaching an audience. Because of a misunderstanding of what apologetics is, some Christians who believe scripture passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 do not permit a woman to speak in the church worship setting, or to teach or exercise authority over a man in the home or church argue that these passages also prohibit a Christian woman from doing apologetics.
But do they really?
My purpose here is not to debate the correct interpretation and application of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 or 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, but to point out that if these passages do prohibit these ministries for Christian women, it does not follow that women cannot do apologetics. Here are a few reasons why.
1. The command of Christ calls Christian women to disciple-making (Matt 28:19-20). If every woman is called to share the Gospel message with her family members, her friends, and her co-workers in order to obey Christ’s Great Commission of Matthew 28, then every woman is also called to share the rational evidences for her faith in Christ as a part of that evangelistic message. Apologetics enables her to explain why a rational person should consider the truth claims of Christianity and has been characterized as pre-evangelism, since it entails sharing logical, historical, scientific and philosophical reasons for believing Christianity is true in order to dismantle objections (2 Cor 10:4-5) and open hearts to receive the Gospel. Multitudes of godly women throughout history have died as martyrs alongside their brothers in Christ for their defense of the Gospel, and we mock their sacrifice if we fail to bear witness to the evidences supporting the truth claims of Christianity.
2. The heart of apologetics ministry beats within one-to-one relationship. Though on-stage debates and conference or church classes certainly fill an important place in the overall apologetics ministry, most apologetics interactions take place in one-to-one relationships with family, friends and co-workers. Even if a Christian woman never taught in any assembly of believers, she would still have numerous opportunities to share good reasons for believing Christianity is true and also would be held accountable to God for the stewardship of that knowledge.
For example, when a co-worker asks me how I think the world began and I say I believe God created it, he is likely to ask me why I believe that. He may think my belief is unfounded and expect me to respond with, “You just have to have faith.” As a Christian man or woman I should be prepared to share the evidence supporting my assertion in order to earn a hearing regarding the Gospel’s claims about Jesus Christ.
3. The reach of a Christian woman’s apologetics ministry is vast. If a Christian woman never teaches a conference or church class in which men are present, her potential audience still consists of the majority of the human population: all other women and children. Since Paul in Titus 2:3-5 commands mature women to mentor younger women, teaching younger women apologetics is a legitimate pursuit to equip younger women to love their husbands, their children, and their neighbors as themselves. The women she mentors return home equipped to share with their unbelieving husbands the reasons belief in God makes sense based on evidence and are able to answer their college students’ questions about whether truth is relative and evolution is supported by evidence.
It’s not a matter of whether she is permitted to do this sort of ministry, but that she is commanded to do so, as verified by Paul. In 2 Timothy 1:5 Paul commends Timothy’s grandmother and mother for taking seriously the task of passing on the rich heritage of their faith to their children and grandchildren. Christian women answer to God for the stewarding of their knowledge of the Gospel and the evidence supporting its truth claims.
So, regardless of one’s interpretation of passages discussing the woman’s role in the home and church, a Christian woman not only can do apologetics, but must, in order to obey Christ’s authoritative command to make disciples.
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