Should Christian men expect a wife / mother candidate to know how to defend the Christian worldview?

C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you
C.S. Lewis has some words to live by for you

Over the weekend I debated with Christian feminists about marriage on The Transformed Wife Facebook page. At one point, I asserted that Christian women ought to have some knowledge of how to defend their faith using scientific and historical evidence. Some women asked me: “are you joking?” In this post,  I’ll explain why I’m serious, and then I’ll ask them some questions of my own.

Let’s start with Jesus. Jesus set an example by showing the importance of knowing how to answer questions and challenges from skeptics in the New Testament. His favorite way to answer a challenge was by using evidence to support his truth claims.

So, take this story that’s in Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:1-8 and Luke 5:17-26. This story is accepted even by skeptical historians because it’s in three different books, and one of them is early (Mark).

In each version of the story, there are 4 steps:

  1. Jesus forgives the sins of a paralyzed man
  2. The Pharisees say that he doesn’t have authority to forgive sins
  3. Jesus miraculously heals the paralyzed man
  4. Jesus explains the evidence of the healing supports his claim that he has authority to forgive sins

And this is an example that you will find repeated in many places in the life of Jesus. You can see it in the Old Testament as well, where God performs miracles so that people who don’t believe in his existence or respect the Scriptures can still be convinced.

Christian apologetics is the skill of being able to give a defense for the Christian worldview when presented with a challenge from a non-Christian.

So, who has to be ready with a defense?

Look at 1 Peter 3:15-16:

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

This passage applies to every one who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, whether they like to prepare a defense or not. How much work must you put into it? It depends on the sophistication of the challenges you get. In the mountains of Pakistan, you don’t need to know much because there might not be a sophisticated challenge. In an American society filled with college graduates, the challenges are more difficult. So you will need to prepare a lot more, because the challenges will be a lot harder.

Those who take this passage seriously are doing something difficult, and time-consuming, in order to serve Christ. Buying books costs money. Reading books takes time. Debating with non-Christians can make you look bad to others. But the Bible commands us to be ready with answers for the people around us. Sometimes, doing what the Bible says makes us feel bad, or look bad to others. But we have do what the Bible says anyway. Part of being a real Christian is being obedient even if it feels bad or makes you look bad.

William Lane Craig on apologetics and the culture
William Lane Craig on apologetics and the culture

What’s in an apologetics book?

So, with that said, let’s look at the table of contents of my favorite introduction to Christian apologetics, which is “Is God Just a Human Invention?” written by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow.

In that book, you will find 18 topics.

  1. Is Faith Irrational? (Commentary by: Gregory Koukl)
  2. Are Science and Christianity at Odds? (Commentary by: John Warwick Montgomery)
  3. Are Miracles Possible? (Commentary by: Gary R. Habermas)
  4. Is Darwinian Evolution the Only Game in Town? (Commentary by: William A. Dembski)
  5. How Did the Universe Begin? (Commentary by: R. Douglas Geivett)
  6. How Did Life Begin? (Commentary by: Fazale R. Rana)
  7. Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Commentary by: Jay W. Richards)
  8. Has Science Shown There Is No Soul? (Commentary by: Dale Fincher and Jonalyn Fincher)
  9. Is God Just a Human Invention? (Commentary by: Garry DeWeese)
  10. Is Religion Dangerous? (Commentary by: Douglas Groothuis)
  11. Does God Intend for Us to Keep Slaves? (Commentary by: Paul Copan)
  12. Is Hell a Divine Torture Chamber? (Commentary by: Frank Turek)
  13. Is God a Genocidal Bully? (Commentary by: Clay Jones)
  14. Is Christianity the Cause of Dangerous Sexual Repression? (Commentary by: Kerby Anderson)
  15. Can People Be Good Without God? (Commentary by: Mark D. Linville)
  16. Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians? (Commentary by: Randy Alcorn)
  17. What Good Is Christianity? (Commentary by: Glenn S. Sunshine)
  18. Why Jesus Instead of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Commentary by: Darrell L. Bock)

Prominent atheist scholars are quoted in each chapter to introduce the challenges, and then scholarly arguments and evidence are presented to defend the Christian worldview. The language is simple enough, but the material is solid enough to use in a real debate. I would say that introductory books like this one are more than enough to equip you for everyone who will challenge you.

Why are these 18 topics important? Because these are the questions that atheists ask. These are the questions that cause Christians to leave the faith. These are the questions that your children will face in high school and college, which might cause them to leave the faith.

Let’s start with chapter one. One of the most prominent arguments by atheists is that faith is irrational. This chapter allows you to define faith using the Bible’s definition of faith, which relies on logic and evidence.

Atheists also say that Christianity is at war with science. In chapter 2, they discuss the history of science and how Christianity provided the framework that allowed scientific method to take root and flourish.

Atheists like to claim that miracles are impossible. Chapter 3 defends the view that God, if he exists, is capable of interacting with his created world.

Atheists love to put forward Darwinism as means to deny that God is the designer of life. Chapter 4 explains the concept of intelligent design, and why intelligent design is a better explanation for the history of life.

Atheists love to talk about how the universe has always existed, and there’s no need for a Creator. Chapter 5 contains a philosophical argument that is supported by mainstream science to argue that the universe had a beginning, just like the Bible says.

Atheists love to argue that life can emerge from non-life, and the process is simple. Chapter 6 is written by a biochemist, and it takes a look at the real complexity of the simplest living cell.

Atheists like to argue that the universe itself is just an accident, and there is no need for a Designer. Chapter 7 introduces the scientific evidence for fine-tuning and habitability.

Atheists like to say that there is no soul and no afterlife. Chapter 8 gives some arguments for the existence of the soul.

Atheists like to argue that Christians invent God because God makes them feel good. But chapter 9 explains that having an all-powerful God who can hold humans accountable is the last thing any human would want to invent.

Atheists like to talk about how religion, with it’s habit of teaching to believe in things that can’t be tested, causes religious people to do a lot of harm. Chapter 10 takes a look at the real record of Christianity as a force for good in the world.

Atheists like to talk about slavery in the Bible. Chapter 11 talks about what the Bible really says, and provides some rational responses to the accusation.

Atheists like to talk about eternal punishment in Hell isn’t a just punishment for just getting a few questions wrong on a theology exam. Chapter 12 provides an explanation and defense of the concept of Hell.

Atheists love to talk about how God commanded the Israelites to attack their enemies in the Bible. Chapter 13 explains who their enemies really were, and what was really happening in those wars.

Atheists feel that unrestricted sexual activity is very healthy and normal, and that the Biblical prohibitions outside of male-female marriage are repressive and unhealthy.  Chapter 14 explains why God has these rules in place, and supports his rules with evidence.

Atheists love to assert that they don’t need God, because they can behave morally on their own. Chapter 15 explains how to answer this claim by talking about how well atheism grounds objective moral values, objective moral duties, free will and moral accountability: the minimum requirements for objective morality.

Atheists think that the mere existence of natural disasters and human immorality are incompatible with the God of the Bible. Chapter 16 explains why this argument doesn’t work, and why even the concept of evil requires God to exist.

I have an atheist friend in my office who can’t defeat my scientific arguments for the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning and the origin of life. But still, he says to me, even if God exists, why would that matter to my life? Chapter 17 explains what difference Christianity makes in a person’s life.

Atheists think that the life of Jesus has no relevance to their life, and that he has nothing to offer them anyway. Chapter 18 explains the uniqueness of Jesus and explains why his resurrection is relevant to our lives today.

It’s important to understand that this book is not on the level of A. W. Tozer, G.K. Chesterton, Francis Chan, John Piper, etc. Those authors write for a Christian audience and therefore they do not equip you to answer realistic challenges from non-Christians. But the apologetics book we looked at actually equips you to answer challenges from non-Christians using logical arguments and evidence from mainstream history and science. You can use the material in that book in discussions outside the confines of your home and your church.

Dr. William Lane Craig says churches aren't preparing Christians to give an answer
Dr. W. L. Craig: churches don’t prepare Christians to answer skeptics

Wife candidates ought to know apologetics

So, back to my original point about how some Christian feminists responded when I said that during courtship, I ask women questions about how much preparation they have done to answer objections from atheists, like the ones answered in this book. Am I joking?

Well, I think the problem is that Christian feminists don’t understand how Christian men view marriage. Christian men are interested in marriage because they think that their marriage will be an enterprise that produces a return for God. They like the idea of having a clean, comfortable home to host debate viewings and discussions over dessert with skeptics. They like the idea of raising children who will be effective and influential. Men don’t see marriage a means of making us feel better, or having fun, or getting our peers to approve of us. We see it as a way to promote Jesus’ agenda in the world. A Christian man loves his wife precisely because she is his partner in serving God.

So, some questions for all the Christian feminists out there. Are you aware of the actual objections that non-Christians have to the Christian worldview? Have you ever put in any effort to prepare to respond to these objections? Have you trained yourself to be calm and persuasive during discussions about Christianity?

Reading devotions or authors like Rachel Hollis, Beth Moore, and Jen Hatmaker won’t teach a Christian woman anything useful about defending the Christian worldview against atheist objections. And those books also won’t teach you how to evaluate a man to see whether he knows how to defend the Christian worldview, either. You have to study apologetics to know how to evaluate how much a candidate for husband and father roles knows about defending his faith. You have to protect yourself from men who lie about being Christians.

Having a rationally-grounded Christian worldview is essential to the roles of wife and mother. A Christian man cannot be confident about the trustworthiness of a Christian woman’s convictions unless she demonstrates her ability to defend those convictions to non-Christians in the ordinary way that she can surely defend other truth claims in areas where she does have the knowledge. If I ask a Christian nurse to defend the claim that germs are real, she will appeal to logic and evidence. I expect her to have put in as much work into defending the claims of Christianity, and to use the same methods: logic and evidence.

15 thoughts on “Should Christian men expect a wife / mother candidate to know how to defend the Christian worldview?”

  1. Thank you for this very interesting post. You have convinced me to seriously consider getting a copy of “Is God Just a Human Invention” just so that, if nothing else, I can be better prepared against some of the mentioned arguments.
    Mind you, I’m not looking to convince anyone to adopt my way of thinking (as a Catholic) through clever rebuttals but rather to give them something to think about so they can hopefully start to change their own mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is getting into the debate between presuppositionalism and evidentiary apologetics.

    I’d narrow the question to: should we expect a woman to give a biblical defense of her faith. Including doctrinal specifics.

    Let me know when you find a modern woman under the age of 30 who is knowledgeable of doctrinal matters.

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    1. “…should we expect a woman to give a biblical defense of her faith”
      In the patriarchal manosphere, the answer is “No” because women are not permitted to teach (because they are easily deceived by false teachings or otherwise incapable). So any women who defends her faith doctrinally would be violating her duty to submit to the men in her life on those matters. Apologetics being the domain of both men and women implies a complimentarian or egalitarian framework.
      FWIW, I discussed and negotiated a number of doctrinal questions with my to-be-wife when we were dating, but she is not equipped or interested in apologetics. Apologetics are what I do. It would be weird if she were interested in that, and I wouldn’t expect it.
      Moreover, not everyone (man or woman) is equipped for the intellectual pursuit of apologetics. There is a reason we have pastors to pastor. Each person has a role to play in the body of Christ, and not everyone is equipped for an apologetics ministry.
      But what about defending your faith? Each person has their own reason for believing. Some believe due to personal miracles that have no apologetic purpose. Anyone can share their reasons, but they are not necessarily doctrinal, apologetic, or even ‘rational’.

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    2. Although WK’s posting is framed asymmetrically (man’s expectation re a woman) I want, desperately perhaps, to make it symmetrical. That is, to claim, out of a sense of fairness and in recognition of some intelligent and thoughtful women I have known (and with a nod to Galatians 3:28), that its essence applies, mutatis mutandis, equally to a woman’s expectations of a man. Regarding Lexet Blog’s “Let me know when you find a modern woman under the age of 30 who is knowledgeable of doctrinal matters.”, this seems at first blush to be unnecessarily gender asymmetric, although appropriate in the context of WK’s framing. But I have to admit, from my experience of being on a teaching team for an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program, which is significantly doctrinal in content, that the asymmetry, statistically, has some empirical validity. Attribute it to gender-related leanings to thinking vs feelings if you like; but, as always, treat people as individuals over any group membership.

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  3. “But I am in the patriarchal manosphere!”

    Which is the source of my confusion. If you were complimentarian or egalitarian, I’d expect this. But it doesn’t make sense for patriarchal wives to spend time on apologetics. What’s the point?

    “…because it works…”

    In the context of patriarchy, but outside the context of marriage, in what way does it work?

    From either the complimentarian or egalitarian framework, one or both spouses should be knowledgeable in apologetics to at least some extent. Apologetics is 100% compatible with women in these frameworks.

    However, in the patriarchal framework the only purpose of apologetics knowledge is to prepare for and support her husband and marriage, since she is forbidden to use it for teaching or doctrinal purposes. There is no point to doing apologetics otherwise.

    With this framework in mind, why does she have to have this knowledge prior to engagement for marriage? Sure it is helpful if she was raised with such knowledge, but nothing is preventing her from waiting until the dating/courtship phase. It is during this phase that a man and woman should determine if they are compatible. I would argue that it’s better this way because the two of you will grow together like new lumps of clay being formed into shape. If you found a woman who had never touched apologetics but agreed to read an apologetics book with you, discuss it with you, and found it compelling, you’ll have won the day IMO. You might even consider marrying such a woman on the spot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree with you on the reading together, but even getting them to do that is a problem.
      The woman has to know apologetics in order to impact neighbors, the community and the children. I will be at work when all the interesting stuff is happening.
      Patriarchal Christian men require their wives to be as good as they are about things that matter, like apologetics. We want women who can defend the faith. We don’t want women who can’t disciple others. We don’t want children who won’t have an influence because they lose their faith.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the discussion is confusing authority, the assembly, and small scale interactions (Priscilla/Aquila).

        At the end of the day, we as Christians must be able to give a defense of our faith.

        In scripture, Weak women are described as prone to manipulation. That means strong women aren’t prone to strange doctrines.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Lexet Blog,
          Strong women aren’t prone to manipulation by potential suitors who cherry pick and pervert the Gospel either…or so they think.

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          1. I’ve seen it happen where the guy paints a picture of himself with words, but he can’t argue his way out of a paper bag in a real debate situation. Hence the importance of demonstrated actions,and having a record and references.

            Bottom line, never let feelings override the need for facts.

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  4. I tend to agree with Brother Derek Ramsey’s assertions, in spirit…

    Not to mention that I don’t know many women, Christian or otherwise, who truly have convictions about such things that are at least articulated, if they have any convictions at all.

    Ironically, there are some women that I do know who can somewhat competently defend “their” truth as it concerns the faith, but it’s mostly based on their “feelings” instead of a concerted understanding and application of Scripture. As long as it’s not outright heresy, or make my job hard as her spiritual guardian and head, then I’m okay with it as long as she’s teachable and doesn’t rebel against my covering. I personally don’t expect a woman to be on my level in that regard.

    And since most Christians, in general, are extremely limited in being able to pose a defense of the Gospel, much less apologetics, the women who are allegedly versed in those matters simply are not presented with a man from which they can choose anyhow, since it’s WOMEN who do the choosing. The women who are vocationally suited to take on this task tend to be low-key usurpers as well.

    No. I don’t expect a woman I’m vetting to be versed in apologetics. My expectation is for her to be the trusted and willing vessel through which I can pour my water, and who is teachable. Still, this is easier said than done given how women are empowered and validated in their rebellion against the commandments, statutes, law, and charge of The Most High.

    Liked by 2 people

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