This topic is very close to my heart as I am, that’s right, a woman who completed seminary. During my years of working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Missions (now known as cross cultural studies) I found that being in a church planting organization’s college, the main focus was on pastors. A good percentage of the women in my degree plan were only seeking out a husband who was a pastoral or missions major to marry. I, on the other hand, wanted the education.
My first two years, as with most college experiences, were mostly gen eds and I found that the majority of fellow mission’s classmates had the same classes that I did. Naively I assumed that once getting through my so called “bone head” classes, I would then only have classes with mission’s majors. Come the end of my sophomore year, I found out that this was not true. The men in my courses were now taking the ologies, angelology, pneumatology, hamartiology, Christology and so on. The women, on the other hand, had doctrine I and II. That was when I first discovered what seemed to be a prompting to get married or continue on with a lesser education. I fought the school board on this very topic to no avail. I did end up taking hermeneutics and continued on to take advanced hermeneutics (one of two female students in my class) but no one really understood why.
After graduation, I applied for graduate school (still unmarried I might add) and found that, after a few courses in; I was much more interested in going to school for my M.Div. I took my questions to the head of the graduate school to see what the potential of my switching up my degree would be and he seemed shocked. No woman had ever asked him to be a part of the program. I assured him that I was not looking for a place as a pastor but he told me that it didn’t matter, women were not allowed. This confounded me as I, at this point, had graduated with my degree in Missions which also requires preaching and teaching. Needless to say, I dropped out of the program (other reasons having to do with a heavy emphasis on predestination defined as us 4 and no more).
All this to say, from a woman’s perspective, the school was basically saying, “You didn’t get married, you actually want equal education, you are pushing the envelope, and actually want to make a difference with your God given talents? Yeah, I don’t think so”. This, verses what Paul says in Galatians, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (NIV, Galatians 3:26-29).
Do not let anyone discourage you even if while in seminary you are put down for your major, views, gender, or just being different. Through all of the things I have faced in seminary and beyond, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons, mainly in seeking out God’s worth and not man’s version of what I should be. Sure I got married in my late 20’s, sure I waited till my early 30’s to work through a Master’s degree, but in the in-between God has used my hurts and frustrations to show me that seminary was well worth the fight. Learning about the Bible, how to study it, and immersing oneself in the ethics and morals found therein, I now see that knowledge was and is put into practice in my everyday life to make me a stronger advocate for Christ. Don’t give up! Press on humbly for education as you can never outlearn yourself.
By Robyn Towler Robyn is currently working towards finishing up her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. She lives with her husband and two furry babies: Lleywn, a one year old Welsh Corgi and Calvin, a three year old tabby cat, in Sunny Colorado. She is passionate about working with children and families and plans on adopting cross culturally someday.