An invitation to women apologists: Join the dance floor!
By Leslie Keeney
I am not the first person to say that men and women are different. Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. Guys are Waffles and Girls are Spaghetti. (Although my daughter recently told her older brother that he needed more syrup).
When I was first married, I read a book called You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen. In it, she persuasively argues that women communicate primarily to establish intimacy, while men communicate primarily to establish hierarchy (this, apparently, explains why a man will never ask for directions—because he won’t willingly admit that someone knows more than he does).
In doing my research for this article, I read blog posts from several women who travel around the country actually doing apologetic workshops for women. According to them, a lot of women have to be convinced that apologetics is important. In fact, Mary Jo Sharp’s most recent book, Defending the Faith, is written with the sole purpose of convincing the church that women’s ministry should include apologetics.
My question, however, is not whether apologetics itself has value. I think the fact that I belong to a group called the Christian Apologetics Alliance answers that question. My questions are rather: (1) whether women need a different environment in which to learn apologetics, and (2) whether they’re likely to actually do apologetics differently than men?
The answers I came up with are: (1) it depends on the woman, and (2) mostly, yes.
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Do Women Need a Different Environment in Which to Learn Apologetics?
There are plenty of women like Mary Jo Sharp, Holly Ordway, and myself, who don’t care whether a man or woman is teaching them; we simply want the most well-researched, thorough information available. As Mary Jo Sharp recalls in her new book, she was surprised when a friend asked her why a woman would want to attend a session on apologetics:
Though I’m certain I gave her quite a list of reasons for why any person, regardless of gender, should be able to defend their beliefs, she was insistent that we needed to figure out a way to get women, specifically, in the door of an apologetics session. I was puzzled by this. During my time as a graduate student in apologetics, I read many books on the topic, and I had never taken special notice of the authors’ genders. There was never a time when I thought, “Oh drat! Another book by a male! Where are the women?”
Personally, I also don’t mind if my teachers choose to use words like “ontological” or “existentialism” or take the time to explain how a basic syllogism works. And I know other women who also want to make sure they get the deepest, most complete explanations of theology and philosophy they can wade into. How else can we best use our minds to serve Christ?
But I also acknowledge that there are women who don’t feel this way…
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