Intellectual/Emotional Composition of Men and Women

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Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'll be honest with you - I'm not so sure that men are more theologically oriented than women are. Women are often the more faithful when it comes to being at Sunday School and are often more teachable and reliable than men. There are obvious exceptions. There is a drive in males that, if you get them passionate about theological studies, they are typically more motivated and focused on the single task of study but such men are few and far between. I always note, in fact, that men will complain about theology being difficult to understand but then you can get most guys to prattle off a million statistics about their favorite football team or a variety of sports. It's not a matter of not having any knowledge or passion but where those passions are typically directed.

In Reformed Churches, I think there are many reasons why women seem less interested in theology than men. One of those reasons, frankly, is that a lot of stuff that should be accomponied with passion is treated as if it were just so much theory. In this, I'm not saying that theological presentation has to manipulate emotions but, frankly, it's sort of a male thing to think that theology is supposed to be monotone and staid or it's not really theology. If you teach theology in the way that Job cries out to God or David marvels in his love for God, or Paul speaks with passion against the Judaizers then, not only do you demonstrate that to be male isn't to be without passions, but you also interest many of the women who might otherwise not be interested in these things.

I think men and women need theology that cares about them with the love of Christ. Men are composed in such a way that they sometimes will learn anyway out of the hobby of it all. Women can too but I really think the nurturing and caring character of women makes a dry theology too hypocritical for them to pay attention to.

You said what I was thinking. Women tend to draw their experiences into situations. They want to know "how can I apply this truth to my life?" That is what God wired us to do. I love this quotation by The Earl of Lytton (1831-91):

"It is a wonderful advantage to a man, in every pursuit or avocation, to secure an adviser in a sensible woman. In woman there is at once a subtile delicacy of tact and a plain soundness of judgment which are rarely combined to an equal degree in a man. A woman if she be really your friend, will have a sensitive regard for your character, honor, reupte. She will seldom counsel you to do a shabby thing; for a woman friend always desires to be proud of you."

This quotation implies two things that I find important in this discussion: 1) Women are equal but different for a good reason. They help balance out and compliment men. 2) A man who does not carefully consider the value of a good woman in his life is foolish.

So, should women study theology and be included in theological discussions As I already said in a post above: "YES!" However, our approach will be different, and we will add a different perspective to any discussion, and that is a good thing, not a bad thing. What we need to learn in the church is appreciate those differences and work together to grow our knowledge of Christ and build His Kingdom in the world.


Puritan Board Senior
I know you were not meaning to offend, but I think you are missing part of the equation: calling. Plus, there is an appropriate time for each thing put before us.
Hi Vic,

I guess I wasn’t clear enough in my post but I did feel I dealt with the idea of callings. My point is basically this; the primary role of each Christian, male or female, is to love God. We have secondary (but important) duties that differ between men and women, but those callings are still secondary to the first one. So in 1 Corinthians 7:29-32, Paul tells the Corinthians that the married must in some respects be like the unmarried – they cannot let their marriages so consume them and take up all of their time and energy. They must strive to still be like single people in the sense of having a devotion to God, despite the practical duties marriage brings. Likewise he tells them in verse 32 ‘I would have you without carefulness’ and again, he is referring to marriage, for Christians should not let their marriages take up so much of their time and energy that they have no time left for God.

Now obviously to build up your marriage one of the greatest ways to serve God, but Paul still draws a distinction – verses 32 -34 distinguish between caring for the things of the Lord and caring for your husband/wife. Serving your spouse is a great Christian duty, but it seems to me Paul is still saying here that if a Christians spends all their time and energy on their spouse, this is an unbalanced situation.

Again, I acknowledge there are differences in callings. My point is that those callings must still be subservient to loving the things of God. I was not saying it is always wrong to say I have no time for this discussion now I have something to attend to. I was saying it seems to me conservative Christians are quick to jump on men for being too preoccupied with their calling – being more interested in their jobs or professions than in spiritual things. But for some reason it is sometimes considered commendable for women to do the same. Please note I said ‘too preoccupied’. We all have practical duties in this world we need to fulfill. Men can’t be reading their bibles 24/7 because they need to go out into the world to make a living. Likewise women have domestic duties to attend to. These different duties are ordained by God and I believe he understands completely that they will necessarily take up much of our time. They just should not be the be-all-and-end-all of your lives.

For example, it's approaching dinner time and the woman, who has the task of planning and preparing dinner, knows that she needs to get things done in certain order by a certain time. If she leaves the theology discussion to do that, she is doing the right and honorable thing.

If my duties require that I check the stock market, or answer the phone at work, or spend 6 hours studying something entirely worldly, it is the right thing to do at the time.
I agree 100%.

Theological discussions have their time and place. Many people, women or men, chose to do those things elsewhere.
I am not saying people need to be on the puritanboard or reading theological books. I do think men and women equally need to be interested in the bible, and knowing it and applying it. But you need to know it before you can apply it.

For instance, my wife has read more of the Puritans than I have, she writes about what she has learned, and thinks about these things constantly. We discuss theology more than anything else.

But she doesn't want to be on something like the PB because she perceives it as cutting into her other duties and meditations. She'd rather knit than post here. I support that completely.

So, we are faithful to deal with the tasks at hand and to learn as much theology as we can, but not always the same way as others may do it.

BTW, I should add that my wife is both a lawyer and has a master's degree, has learned Greek, Italian, French, and Spanish, is a published author, and my intellectual peer if not my superior. Yet she is the one who asks my guidance on theology. It is a blessing to be challenged in such a way.
Again, I can’t see a single thing here I disagree with.


Puritan Board Senior
I was struck by the point Rev. Winzer made: it is a life effort of faith for a Christian woman to have and to rear children. Her faith is in most cases going to be very geared around that effort. Her theological concerns will be grounded in it. She is practical and passionate (Kipling says she's more deadly than the male). This will often be her approach to theological discussion, and it is worthy of her high calling. In the list where Paul is talking about those women who are rich in good works he speaks of those who have brought up children.

(the following is personal example)

I have no children to talk about; I don't have enough health to throw myself into any physical activity: I don't know how to relate on a host of practical scores to the daily experiences of other women. I don't have much interest honestly in many of the things that daily consume many other women's lives. I enjoy theology: indeed learning to approach it outside of practical concerns (not having many) has been the biggest help and joy to me. But I find it absolutely appalling to suggest that *I* should be considered closer to some kind of ideal for women: that I, abstracted as I am from practical things and so more interested in whether or not Grotius was an Arminian am superior to my own mother who brought me up with faith and grace and worked out our weekly budget literally to the nickel, taught us not only all the bible stories but how to clean the bathroom and cook: who was a source of comfort and happiness: and has never heard, nor could she probably work up much interest in, John Brown of Haddington. My dad taught us doctrine for an hour every evening, and in my opinion the burden of doctrinal teaching for the family does lie with the man. But my mother showed me Christ all day every day.

She told me the other day that when we were in Korea they were living on an income insufficient for a single person -- we ate cornmeal and noodles and tomato sauce without meat daily -- in an unheated house, without hot water or any kind of machines for laundry in the winter in Seoul, us four kids constantly sick. They were without a car and she was taking five or six busses daily to and from language school. She dropped out of language school because it was more important for her to take care of us and her home than to be able to talk -not just theology but at all- with the women in the seminary where my dad was working. Evidently this was very hard for her. I watched her during that time from the outside and never knew she struggled with any of these things. She was always selfless and happy. I have only two memories of her ever even raising her voice with me, though she never let me disobey. I rise up and call her blessed, honorable: I don't pray that I can instruct her from the Institutes but that I can learn from her how to be a godly woman. Indeed this discussion has forced me once again up against the fact that I know very little about that. I've been concerned to defend those women who do against any idea of a more 'intellectual' man or woman being, in terms of human value or of godliness, 'superior'; but I'd probably best leave it to better (more theological or experienced) defenders (smiles). I hope that clarifies in spite of my undeniably feminine approach to theological discussion. All the best.

Like I said before, inasmuch as you were trying to defend the type of women you describe here, I am in complete agreement with you. They are not lesser Christians simply because they cannot engage in ‘theological’ discussion.

I guess I will try to summarize my point again. Men and women have different callings. Men should not be so obsessed with their role as providers that they concentrate on their professions to the exclusion of interest in spiritual things. Likewise women should not be so obsessed with child-rearing or domestic concerns to the exclusion to interest in spiritual things. When I say ‘spiritual things’ I don’t mean fancy theological words or the intricacies of church history. All I mean is being interested in their bibles, wanting to know their bibles, wanting to know about God and Jesus Christ. That’s all I mean.

I’am sorry this is a short response to your long post. But I hope it makes what I was trying to say a little clearer.


Puritan Board Doctor

"It is a wonderful advantage to a man, in every pursuit or avocation, to secure an adviser in a sensible woman. In woman there is at once a subtile delicacy of tact and a plain soundness of judgment which are rarely combined to an equal degree in a man. A woman if she be really your friend, will have a sensitive regard for your character, honor, reupte. She will seldom counsel you to do a shabby thing; for a woman friend always desires to be proud of you."

This quotation implies two things that I find important in this discussion: 1) Women are equal but different for a good reason. They help balance out and compliment men. 2) A man who does not carefully consider the value of a good woman in his life is foolish.
Something our pastor discussed with my husband and I before we married were these differences..women being able to look at a given situation and 'see' the emotional effects on everyone involved..where as men process the logical and tend to ignore the emotional the best situation is where the husband and wife sit down together looking at every logical conclusion adding the information the wife see's from the various emotional aspect's to see which works best for them as a couple and family.

It's brings about the best balance..the problem comes when one or the other try to push aside the other..because they see it as either to logical or to emotional..and they basically discard the spouses input..

I have found my husband has done that on a few occassions, discarded my input on the emotional effects, and everytime he's done so, it didn't have a good outcome..because he was only looking at self and how he would personally benefit..

the most recent issue on this I refused to submit to him in the situation, knowing the outcome would be hazardous to our marriage and my feelings towards him. I stood firm and allowed God to do battle in his heart, where he was putting self first, and it was awesome to watch God bend his heart towards Him and me in the situation. As he let go of self, his entire demeanor changed, and it was if I watched God literally step in and fill that place in my husbands heart with Himself..

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
The thing about theological inquiry that strikes me is the number of logical steps required to get somewhere. It requires a step by step approach that is extremely detail oriented (and I'm actually a big picture kind of person, so I have had to learn this). As with any logical system, it takes a step by step kind of mind.

Most women I know have a more intuitive kind of logic. Notice I use the term "logic" in the same sentence as "women." This is not an accident, I assure you. What I mean is that women tend to want to get to the point. It is not as if they are illogical. It is just that they get there faster, skipping over the steps in between. To men, this seems illogical. All it really means is that the woman intuitively saw what it would take many steps for the man to see.
This is interesting and may have some bearing, from the Pensees:

[edit: incidentally, Rev. Keister, I've sometimes wondered whether the FV debates don't have something to do with a 'mathematical', as defined below, approach to theology over against an intuitive one? I think the argument/presentation of the FV is often strong in 'poetic appeal' but lacks precision - whereas our responses tend to be more precise but often without 'poetry'. Perhaps some of the famous 'misunderstanding' is the gap between the two approaches. I do believe precision is necessary to theology by definition. The reformers and Puritans seem to have had both?][SIZE=+1]

1. The difference between the mathematical and the intuitive mind.
-- In the one, the principles are palpable, but removed from ordinary use; so that for want of habit it is difficult to turn one's mind in that direction: but if one turns it thither ever so little, one sees the principles fully, and one must have a quite inaccurate mind who reasons wrongly from principles so plain that it is almost impossible they should escape notice.
But in the intuitive mind the principles are found in common use and are before the eyes of everybody. One has only to look, and no effort is necessary; it is only a question of good eyesight, but it must be good, for the principles are so subtle and so numerous that it is almost impossible but that some escape notice. Now the omission of one principle leads to error; thus one must have very clear sight to see all the principles and, in the next place, an accurate mind not to draw false deductions from known principles.
All mathematicians would then be intuitive if they had clear sight, for they do not reason incorrectly from principles known to them; and intuitive minds would be mathematical if they could turn their eyes to the principles of mathematics to which they are unused.
The reason, therefore, that some intuitive minds are not mathematical is that they cannot at all turn their attention to the principles of mathematics. But the reason that mathematicians are not intuitive is that they do not see what is before them, and that, accustomed to the exact and plain principles of mathematics, and not reasoning till they have well inspected and arranged their principles, they are lost in matters of intuition where the principles do not allow of such arrangement. They are scarcely seen; they are felt rather than seen; there is the greatest difficulty in making them felt by those who do not of themselves perceive them. These principles are so fine and so numerous that a very delicate and very clear sense is needed to perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are perceived, without for the most part being able to demonstrate them in order as in mathematics, because the principles are not known to us in the same way, and because it would be an endless matter to undertake it. We must see the matter at once, at one glance, and not by a process of reasoning, at least to a certain degree. And thus it is rare that mathematicians are intuitive and that men of intuition are mathematicians, because mathematicians wish to treat matters of intuition mathematically and make themselves ridiculous, wishing to begin with definitions and then with axioms, which is not the way to proceed in this kind of reasoning. Not that the mind does not do so, but it does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules; for the expression of it is beyond all men, and only a few can feel it.
Intuitive minds, on the contrary, being thus accustomed to judge at a single glance, are so astonished when they are presented with propositions of which they understand nothing, and the way to which is through definitions and axioms so sterile, and which they are not accustomed to see thus in detail, that they are repelled and disheartened.
But dull minds are never either intuitive or mathematical.
Mathematicians who are only mathematicians have exact minds, provided all things are explained to them by means of definitions and axioms; otherwise they are inaccurate and insufferable, for they are only right when the principles are quite clear.
And men of intuition who are only intuitive cannot have the patience to reach to first principles of things speculative and conceptual, which they have never seen in the world and which are altogether out of the common.

(from "Section 1: Thoughts on the Mind and Style")
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Cheshire Cat

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think the practical/speculative theoretical distinction is better than the emotional/intellectual one, although the latter does hold true as well. I am a student of philosophy. In my experience thus far, men are more prone to be sucked into speculative metaphysical disputes than woman are. I am a prime example of this. Again, there are exceptions to the rule, but women on the whole seem to be more of a practical mind. They have the same capacity for discussion of such topics, it just usually doesn't appeal to most of them. And this isn't a bad thing either. Btw, some guys are the same. Its just that more guys are prone to such speculation than woman are.

On a side note, in my Classical Pragmatism class, there are about 20 guys and zero girls. Its kind of pathetic and sad, but it is a good example.
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