Resolving the Question: Should Women Teach Other Women Theology?

by Dale Partridge

In April of 2023, I released a podcast series entitled “Should Women Teach Other Women Theology.” Because of the natural course of developmental clarity, I suggest reading or listening to this article which intends to offer maximum clarity on the content.

As you may know, this topic has caused a significant discussion regarding biblical boundaries for women and women’s ministries. During this public discussion, several influential women made comments. Some were helpful and respectful, while others were slanderous and sinful. As expected, my message has encountered resistance, particularly from women who have established platforms for teaching theology to other women (e.g., Haley Williams and Phylicia Masonheimer). In essence, for them to align with my position would necessitate a reforming of their ministries. Allie Beth Stuckey, who I respect, addressed my podcast but misrepresented my claims. Like other critics, she failed to deal with the substance of my position and chose to address a mischaracterization of my argument. Additionally, a few pastors thoughtfully engaged with my content, while others, like Nick Campbell or Anthony Wood, distorted the argument I made and refuted positions I never took. Unfortunately, this is common in theological discourse. As sinners, we often fail to put in the time to understand our opponent’s arguments and deal with them in a fair and respectful manner. 

However, despite the resistance, I have been inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of messages, comments, and social media tags from Christian men and women expressing their agreement and gratitude for initiating the broader conversation within the church.


As for this article, I want to remind you that my effort is to express the biblical ideal. I understand we live in a fallen world with fallen families, unqualified pastors, unbelieving fathers, spiritually immature husbands, and passive men. This, of course, often leaves women and children with less-than-ideal circumstances when it comes to theological shepherding. Having said that, I believe the biblical ideal for theological instruction is to come from men (fathers, husbands, and pastors) and that we, as Christians and churches, should work diligently toward this ideal.  

Furthermore, my argument in this article and both podcasts is systematic. Namely, there is no passage in Holy Scripture that says, “Women shall not teach theology to other women,” nor is there a passage that says, “Women shall teach theology to other women.” Therefore, I will draw from biblical, theological, and historical evidence to demonstrate why I believe women are not to be regarded as the proper or preferred source of theological instruction for their female counterparts. 

What I Am Not Saying

As I have communicated in both episodes:

  • I am not saying that women cannot learn theology.
  • I am not saying that women cannot read their Bible. 
  • I am not saying that women cannot have theological conversations with other women. 
  • I am not saying that women cannot learn biblical womanhood, motherhood, marriage, or homemaking from other women.

I’m presenting the question, “Should women teach theology to other women?” or, in the inverse, “Should women learn theology from other women?”

Please note my question began with “should” not “can.” Again, I am talking about the biblical ideal. Can a woman learn theology from another woman? Certainly, women are capable. But I’m asking whether a woman should learn theology from other women. That is, does the Bible thematically and theologically push for women to teach other women theology? Is that the biblical ideal? Or does the Bible thematically and theologically push for men to teach other men, women, and children theology?

Furthermore, I understand that terms like “theology” must be defined since theology, in a sense, bleeds into every area of the Christian life. For that reason, I clearly define how I’m using “theology” in subsequent paragraphs. 

Built on Biblical Patriarchy 

My stance on this matter is founded on my unwavering belief in the doctrine of Biblical Patriarchy. I have observed that many Christians lack a thorough understanding of this doctrine and, as a result, default to a complementarian perspective. However, like many others, I have come to recognize significant flaws within complementarianism, a term coined by the founders of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 1988. These flaws have contributed to detrimental effects on the church’s overall state concerning sexuality, roles, marriage, family dynamics, and gender distinction.

While this article is not intended to exposit the doctrine of Biblical Patriarchy, it is vital to provide a brief summary as my view on women teaching theology to other women is intertwined with the tenants of this doctrine. 

Biblical Patriarchy simply means “father rule.” It emphasizes the God-ordained authority of men as the heads of households and leaders in the church and society. This conviction is rooted in the clear, thematic example and teachings of the Old and New Testaments. Namely, the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) are male, the prophets are male, the priests are male, and the kings are male. In the New Testament, the Apostles are male, the scribes are male, and the elders in the church are male. Unlike complementarianism, which limits male rule to the home and church, biblical patriarchy upholds male leadership in all spheres of life—including civil life. 

I believe Complementarianism reveals its central flaw in its inconsistency. Namely, it allows women to rule over men in certain contexts, such as politics, law enforcement, and business management. However, if a woman cannot rule over her church or household, how can she rule over a city, state, or country of churches and households? In Isaiah 3:12, God acknowledges the tragedy and disorder of Israel’s nation-state. He says, “My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you, and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.” Because of the failure of men, the influence of young people and women had become Isreal’s source of leadership. Unfortunately, with the influence of pop culture and feminism, it’s not too different from today.  

I believe complementarianism’s inconsistency is seen in its view of ontology (the study of being). According to Scripture, male and female roles are rooted in creation (1 Cor. 11:2-16; 1 Tim. 2:11-15; Gen. 1-3). The question that complementarians must face is why men’s and women’s roles should change when in the political or professional sphere. Are men, all of a sudden, designed to submit to women in this context? Are women, all of a sudden, designed to be leaders instead of helpers and keepers at home? Are women to be the head in certain contexts and to be subordinate in others? Biblical patriarchy thinks not. Instead, we affirm that God has uniquely and beautifully designed men and women differently, not just in roles but in our very being. That is, men are to be leaders because they are made to be leaders. Women are to be helpers because they are made to be helpers. Because Complementarians believe our differences are rooted in roles and not being, they think women can interchange roles based on different circumstances. On the other hand, Biblical Patriarchy recognizes that men are to be pastors, preachers, shepherds, leaders, and kings because God designed men for these very duties. Women, by virtue of their distinct design, do not share the same duties as men because it is not part of their being. 

Furthermore, because Biblical Patriarchy is based on being and not roles, it universally lays the responsibility for women and children on the shoulders of men. That is, a father is responsible for his family in a way that his wife is not (Eph. 5:26-27; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 5:8; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21; 1 Peter 3:5-6). He is the answerable party to God for his family’s spiritual health and moral actions. We see this as far back as the Garden of Eden. Adam was not guilty of Eve’s sin, but he was responsible for it. After their disobedience, God did not call Eve; He called Adam (Gen. 3:6-9). When they were banished from the Garden, He did not banish Eve, but only Adam knowing that Eve’s banishment was included (Gen. 3:22-24). In a similar way, Christ was not guilty of the Church’s sin (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15), but He took responsibility for it (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22-24, 3:18; Gal. 3:13) paying for it on the cross. This model of male rule, responsibility, and love is the Bible’s explicit instruction to men (Eph. 5:22-33). 

Ultimately, biblical patriarchy upholds order in the home, church, and society. But more than that, it does so in a manner that represents the supreme Patriarch—Jesus Christ. That is, it rules from love, compassion, and wisdom aiming to glorify God in everything. 

From this position, grounded in my profound sense of being and responsibility for the moral state of my wife and children, my conviction regarding women teaching theology to other women emerges.

The Heart of the Problem

We are witnessing a trend where more and more women are taking on the task of providing theological shepherding exclusively for other women, from women’s theology conferences and biblical workshops to female-focused podcasts and video courses dealing with systematics, soteriology, eschatology, and other vital doctrines. Furthermore, there is an alarming increase in women who actually prefer to receive their theological teachings from other women and not men. This shift is telling in three ways. 

  1. It informs us that Christian women are assuming the biblically and historically male role and responsibility of theological shepherding of women. 
  2. It expresses that more women are rejecting the biblical and historical channels for theological guidance from their God-given shepherds (fathers, husbands, and pastors).
  3. It demonstrates that men are failing to provide sufficient theological education for their wives and daughters. 

All that said, a man’s concern for a woman theologically shepherding his wife, daughter, or parishioner is not without merit. 1 Timothy 2:14 speaks to this issue within the church. Paul says, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” This text has several clear commands: 

  1. A woman is to learn quietly and with all submissiveness
  2. A woman is not permitted to teach to the church
  3. A woman is not to exercise authority over a man

Paul anchors the reasoning for these commands in both creation order, appealing to the male-to-female flow of leadership, and to the events of the fall, appealing to the woman’s susceptibility to deception. 

The late theologian Henry Morris said of this verse, “The many daughters of Eve share the trusting nature of their first mother, and so (in general, at least) are more easily deceived by those evil spirits who can masquerade as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Although there may be exceptions when, for want of masculine leadership, a Christian woman may be forced to assume the spiritual leadership in the home (for example, Timothy’s own mother and grandmother) or even in the family of God (Deborah—Judges 4:4,8), this is not the divinely ordained way. There is no New Testament example of a woman serving as an elder or bishop or pastor of a local church, with the possible exception of the false prophetess, Jezebel, in the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:20), who was, evidently, herself also deceived by Satan.”

In his commentary on this verse, Matthew Henry says, “This verse emphasizes the vulnerability of women to deception and as a basis for the teaching that women should not have teaching authority in the church.”

Since the inception of the church, an ecumenical consensus has been reached regarding the interpretation of women’s authority in teaching the Bible. This consensus maintains that women are not to exercise teaching authority in the church, extending to both men and all communicant church members. Once more, it is important to clarify that this position is not based on the inability of women, but rather on their inherent nature (or being), their greater susceptibility to deception, and the teachings of Scripture.

Church history provides ample evidence to support this truth. When examining the more recent history of women who have self-identified as “theologians” and engaged in the theological shepherding of others, it becomes apparent that a significant majority of them have succumbed to heresies, emotionalism, and unorthodox practices. Therefore, Christian men have a legitimate concern for refusing to place their wives and daughters under the theological instruction of other women. 

As I mentioned in both podcasts, much of this shift has been built upon the modern psychotherapy fallacy that a person cannot speak into what they have not experienced. In other words, in many churches, “experience” becomes the authority for teaching rather than Scripture. As a result, men are disqualified from speaking into women’s issues because they are, of course, not women. 

Therefore, male pastors often avoid shepherding women in theological issues and, instead, outsource this duty to a woman they call the “women’s pastor.” This, of course, is not a position ever found in Scripture or a practice ever found in church history. Instead, we are witnessing a reversal of the biblically prescribed pattern where men are instructed to provide theological shepherding to women within the family and the church.

This reversal sits at the heart of my argument. Like Christ to the church, husbands are to be their wives’ primary, earthly spiritual shepherds. According to Scripture, husbands have two responsibilities regarding the theological development of their wives. First, they are to model Christ by lovingly sanctifying or cleansing their wives “by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:27). Second, because women are to learn from other men (pastors) in silence and subjection (1 Tim. 2:11-12), a wife’s husband is solely responsible for clarifying and interpreting biblical and theological questions that arise from their wives (1 Cor. 14:35). The same is true with children. According to Scripture, a father is the primary spiritual shepherd of his children (Eph. 6:4; Prov. 4:1-4; Josh. 4:21-24). Therefore, when a woman seeks to theologically shepherd my wife or daughter—the females whom I am responsible to before the Lord—I am very concerned. 

This concern extends further to pastors. Pastors are also uniquely accountable to Christ for female congregants’ spiritual state and theological beliefs in a way that other women are not. Acts 20:28 tells pastors, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” This degree of responsibility is further expressed in 1 Peter 5:2-3, 1 Timothy 4:16, and Titus 1:9. 

For example, in a biblical congregation, a member (male or female) commits to that particular church’s Statement of Faith and theological convictions. In many churches, they even take membership vows. Therefore, when a woman moves into theological positions (e.g., Calvinism, Paedobaptism, Patriarchy, Open Theism, Postmillennialism, Molinism, Theonomy, etc.) without the awareness or support of her husband and pastor, she puts herself in a precarious position. She pits her conscience and newfound convictions against her husband’s spiritual authority in their marriage and her pastor’s spiritual authority in her church. The husband has to either follow his wife into this new doctrine (which is not the ideal order for theological development in a home) or shepherd her back to the position he believes is sound to maintain oneness in their marriage. As for the pastor, depending on the circumstances, he may need to revoke a woman’s membership or, like her husband, shepherd her back to orthodoxy. 

This is the fundamental issue I have with women teaching theology to other women. By doing so, these women assume a spiritual authority that does not rightfully belong to them. They take on the role of guiding the wives, daughters, and parishioners of husbands, fathers, and pastors who alone bear the responsibility for their spiritual and moral well-being.

A similar dilemma can be illustrated in the relationship between parents and their children. Parents are responsible for their children in a way that other adults are not. If there was a group of adults interested in parenting your children in a way that only you should (e.g., the public school system), you would be right to be concerned. You should be even more concerned if your children begin to prefer to be parented by those other adults. In a sense, this is parallel to the issue at hand. Just as parents are uniquely called and equipped to care for and guide their own children—fathers, husbands, and pastors are uniquely called and equipped to care for the spiritual development of their wives and children. Deviating from this biblical structure not only raises concerns about the distortion of spiritual authority but also highlights the potential consequences that arise when individuals seek guidance from sources outside of the God-ordained channels.

Women Teaching Theology in Church History?

One of the key reasons I hold so firmly to my position is the lack of historical evidence showing women teaching theology to other women. When examining the accounts of influential women throughout Scripture, such as Mary (the mother of Jesus), Mary Magdalene, Priscilla, and Junia, there is no biblical record of them engaging in theological instruction with other women.

While Priscilla and her husband Aquilla are mentioned in Acts 18:24-26 as offering clarification on the Gospel to Apollos or Mary telling the disciples about the resurrected Christ (John 20:1-18), it is a stretch to cite these as supportive evidence for women’s theological ministries. Instead, it demonstrates a specific instance of providing guidance or conveying information to an individual rather than serving as an endorsement for widespread women’s theological teaching ministries. 

Even when exploring notable women in later centuries, such as Perpetua and Felicity, who were martyred for their faith in the 3rd century, there is no indication of them functioning as theological teachers. Kassia, a renowned 9th-century hymn writer, is recognized for her musical contributions but not for her theological instruction. Argula Von Grumbach, the first Protestant woman journalist in the 16th century, focused on promoting and defending figures like Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, but she did not have a ministry of theological instruction to other women.

While remarkable women like Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, played significant roles in advancing the Protestant Reformation, and figures like Elizabeth Melville and Susanna Wesley contributed through their poetry and piety, there is no evidence of them engaging in formal ministries teaching women theology.

Instead, throughout church history, we witness godly women renowned for their reverence, commitment to mercy ministries, service to local churches, love for their families, and passing on practical skills and wisdom to future generations. These women exemplified virtues that were integral to their faith, but there is a noticeable absence of documented instances of women teaching theology to other women. In fact, before the 20th century, the concept of a local evangelical church commissioning a woman to teach theology or biblical exposition to the women within that congregation was utterly nonexistent.

Considering this historical context, it is crucial to acknowledge that either every generation of the Christian church has failed and improperly restrained women from participating in theological teaching ministries or that our generation has been so influenced by the feminist movement that we have permitted women to take up roles of theological shepherding that are out of alignment with Scripture. Ultimately, I agree that women have played vital roles within the Church, but historically, their impact has been more focused on practical aspects, compassionate service, and nurturing the faith of other women and children, not theological shepherding. 

Defining Theology

We live in a time when people want to homogenize and equalize everything. They say men and women are the same, adults and children are the same, and pastors and parishioners are the same. It’s an unfortunate fallacy. Dr. Anthony Wood, in his critique of my position (starting at timecode 30:25), falls prey to this fallacy when he says, “All theology is… is “God logic”… We’re all theologians…And God wants us to know who He is—and that’s theology. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t help other people grow in theology.” Sure, in a sense, we’re all theologians. But let’s apply that way of thinking to other spheres. “We’re all scientists,” or “We’re all doctors,” or “We’re all engineers.” In a sense, we’re all those things, too. But Dr. Wood is attempting to standardize or neutralize this term to support his bias. The truth is, we’re not all theologians. Webster defines a theologian as “Someone who is an expert in theology.” Chat GPT defines a theologian as “A scholar or an expert in the field of theology who engages in critical analysis, interpretation, and reflection on religious texts, traditions, and philosophical concepts.”

That is certainly not the description of every Christian. In fact, many pastors don’t even consider themselves “theologians.” They aim and labor to that title, but to call yourself a “theologian” is a matter of specialization and expertise that is not common in the more broad realm of pastoral ministry. 

Even our Christian publishing industry understands what Dr. Wood seems to miss. If you look on Amazon, there are over 50 categories of Christian literature, one of which is theology. The subdirectory of the theology section includes Angelology & Demonology, Anthropology, Apologetics, Christology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Ethics, History, Liberation, Mariology, Pneumatology, Soteriology, and Systematics. In other words, yes, in a sense, we’re all theologians, but in the context of this discussion, we’re not all theologians. This brings us to several foundational questions, “What type of theology am I talking about?” and “What type of theological instruction am I referring to when I pose the question ‘Should women teach other women theology?’” 

Categories of Theology

In both podcasts, I emphasized the importance of breaking down the concept of “theology” into practical categories that relate to everyday life. This approach aims to provide women with a clearer understanding of the limits within which their ministries to other women can operate. I understand the Bible does not give us explicit categories of theology and that all theology overlaps. However, we do see this categorization in our Christian life. For example, the type of theology at Seminary is distinct from the theology preached on Sunday, and the type of theology required to make a good sourdough is distinct from the theology required to teach your five-year-old to stop lying. Therefore, I present these categories merely as general markers knowing that every person’s situation will be unique and that these categories will require individual discernment. But for this discussion, women will encounter three general categories of theology:

  • Biblical Womanhood: Focusing on issues surrounding the practical development of Christian women. 
  • Devotional Theology: Focusing on the core tenets of the Gospel and the general orthodox truths of the Christian faith (e.g., the content seen in historic confessions of faith and catechisms).  
  • Academic Theology: Focusing on the scholastic doctrines that often lead to denominational divisions and are generally studied by men called to pastoral ministry.

Categories of Teaching

To assert that all forms of teaching are equal would also be unwise. The act of theological instruction occurs across a spectrum of formats, ranging from casual conversations among Christian friends to structured lectures in rigorous four-year Ph.D. programs. Even Scripture recognizes a distinction between formal teaching and ordinary conversation. For instance, James 3:1 states, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” This passage indicates that God has appointed certain teachers (identified as “brothers”) within the church to build up the body, and these men will be held to a higher level of accountability for the weightiness of their role. 

However, Scripture also encourages all believers to talk about Christ, proclaim Christ, and defend Christ in their everyday lives (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:5-6; Ps. 105:1). Recognizing the difference between formal and informal modes of teaching is helpful as it provides Christians with boundaries that determine what is appropriate according to their being, calling, and role within the body of Christ. Therefore, I have categorized these two types of teaching and outlined several characteristics that help distinguish between them.

  • Informal Teaching: Non-Pastoral, non-authoritative, non-systematic, but informative:
    • Examples: Casual conversations, group discussions, social media discourse, interviews, testimonies, worship music, biographies, and many Christian books.  
  • Formal Teaching: Pastoral, authoritative, and systematic:
    • Pulpit preaching, Bible studies, Sunday schools, conference lectures, classes, courses, workshops, training programs, Seminary, mentorships, and academic publications. 

In our current generation, we must constantly fight against the inclination to blur boundaries and treat everything as equal. As we know, establishing boundaries will often be viewed as legalistic and discriminatory. It’s not. We must be willing to confine ourselves to our God-given being, roles, work, and responsibilities. In truth, this generation would benefit from a clearer understanding of these limitations within their respective stations. 

The Ultimate Solution

While this article may offer some clarity and practicality in restoring the biblical boundaries of theological shepherding for both men and women, it alone is not a comprehensive and lasting solution. The ultimate remedy lies in cultivating a generation of biblical, godly, loving, and willing men who will assume spiritual responsibility for the women under their care.

That is, fathers and pastors, must earnestly strive to raise up men who are ready and eager to shepherd. It requires equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills to lead their wives and children in the study of God’s Word. It demands fostering a continuous hunger for theological growth and maturity.

To achieve this, we must emphasize the importance of intentional discipleship, providing resources and support for men to develop their spiritual confidence and authority. In addition, we should encourage and facilitate opportunities for men to engage in theological education, mentoring, and accountability.

By focusing on developing strong male leaders within the Church, we can create an environment where the desire of women to seek other women for theological guidance can be reduced and where they can flourish under the loving guidance and protection of their fathers, husbands, and pastors. This approach aligns with biblical principles and promotes the biblical order of authority and care within the family and the church.

Dale Partridge is the President of and holds a Graduate Certificate from Western Seminary. He is the author of several Christian books, including “The Manliness of Christ” and the bestselling children’s book “Jesus and My Gender.” He is also the host of the Real Christianity podcast and the lead pastor at King's Way Bible Church in Prescott, Arizona.

More by Dale

After reading this article, what is your opinion? Do you have any questions or comments? Maybe you have something to add to the discussion? If so, let us know in the comments below.

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