Could we be witnessing a wave—a theological tsunami, perhaps? 🙂 The rapid growth in popularity of Summer White’s podcast and blog, Sheologians, proves that Christian women are eager for passionate female champions who love theology. Full of wit and laughter, Summer’s warm personality is infectious and her content is fun to follow. Not to mention, everything her daughter, Clementine, says is pure gold! I was delighted and honored when Summer agreed to answer my humble questions. I hope you’ll learn from her fresh insights on saving faith, biblical child-rearing, and the lies of feminism.
>j: Growing up Christian, it was easy to think of myself as a believer just because I had Christian parents. Describe the time in your life when your parents’ faith became your own. At what point did you realize that your faith was genuine?
SW: So, there is a way in which our faith definitely starts out as our parents’ faith, in that it is a faith that is handed down. But that doesn’t bother me. I hear all the time that the only reason I believe the way I do is because of how I was raised, as if this were an insult. It’s such a blessing to have Christian parents! That being said, growing up specifically in a household and a church that preached the whole counsel of Scripture, including the sovereignty of God in salvation, there was never a point in my childhood that I believed I was saved when I actually didn’t have a saving faith. I knew from the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper that the only way to be right with God was through repentance and faith, which wasn’t something my parents could do on my behalf. I always intellectually assented to the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful God. I always believed that what was found in the Scriptures was true. It wasn’t until God granted me true repentance, brokenness over my sin, and a faith and peace with God that my intellectual beliefs became a saving faith. So maybe it’s a boring answer, but I knew my faith was genuine when God granted me a genuine, saving faith.
“The gospel is needed every hour. All things, whether it is our worship on Sunday, how we conduct ourselves in our homes, how we treat other drivers on the road, what we do with our “free time”—all of it belongs to God. There is no such thing as neutrality.”
>j: Although nobody is perfect, I have more than a thousand reasons to be thankful for how my parents raised me, and there are many things they did that I want to do with my children someday. What are you doing to impact your children’s’ lives that your parents did with you?
SW: My favorite thing about growing up in my household in terms of our faith was just that our faith was never relegated to Sundays. It is easy to get your church clothes on every Sunday and shed them when you leave, but go about your way during the week as if what happens on Sunday morning, your behavior on Sunday mornings, or the message preached on Sunday mornings, is just a part of your Sunday. The gospel is needed every hour. All things, whether it is our worship on Sunday, how we conduct ourselves in our homes, how we treat other drivers on the road, what we do with our “free time”—all of it belongs to God. There is no such thing as neutrality. My children are really young—one can’t even walk yet—but I’ve been going through a shorter catechism with my toddler. That’s fun, and a worthy pursuit, but what I feel really strong about is taking every opportunity I’m afforded to bring all things under submission to Christ. What that looks like with a three-year-old will look differently than when she is older, but for now it means dealing with tantrums and big, scary toddler feelings with Scripture and with prayer. When she’s scared I take it as an opportunity to talk about God and his strength, why we as Christians have no reason to fear, things like that.
All that said, faithfully attending church on Sundays was a huge part of how I was raised, and I do hope to pass that on to my girls. I don’t remember a time my parents skipped church, barring special circumstances such as illness or traveling. A commitment and special treatment of worship on Sundays is, I think, necessary to the Christian life. It was modeled for me and I hope I am also modeling it for my children.
>j: I love your passion for theology. Specifically, you have a passion for sharing that love of theology with others. How do you plan on raising your kids to not just know theology, but to also love it? How can other young mothers do the same?
SW: Children copy their parents. Our faith is a faith that is made to be handed down. The best thing we can do for our children is to not be hypocrites—if I tell my three year old not to be fearful because God is with us, I can’t turn around and live in fear. She will notice. It won’t be lost on her. My words about God will become hollow. Obviously, none of us can do this perfectly, and we have to be in constant prayer to avoid living our lives this way. But, seriously, I think it is that simple. You can’t preach the gospel to your children if you’re not preaching it to yourself.
“Ultimately, a love for theology that is not rooted in a love for God will out itself.”
Ultimately, a love for theology that is not rooted in a love for God will out itself. I might be able to train my children how to study Scripture, but it is only God that can change their hearts. My hope is that my girls will see not just that I know a bit about theology, but that I know a bit about theology because I love the object of my study. It would be worthless and vain to know anything about Scripture just for the fun of studying some ancient literature. I want my children to know that the Scriptures are fascinating—the living, breathing word of God that feeds my starving soul.
No mother has to be a studied scholar to pass on a love for God and a love for learning more about him. The best thing mothers can do is cultivate a love for God in their own hearts, since our kids are watching us so closely, and to live out that love for God in all the daily details of our lives. No one buys a hypocrite.
>j: Feminism appeals to the strong woman concept. From my observation, many young women are led astray into feminism because they do not believe it is possible to be a strong and important woman without it. However, the Bible models otherwise. In the book of Acts for example, Luke seems to go out of his way to mention many prominent and influential women, such as Dorcas, Lydia, and Priscilla. How does the concept of being a strong woman fit in with complementarianism? How can we dispel the myth that feminism is the only way for women to be influential and important?
SW: It’s actually the feminists that limit women’s abilities to be influential. There are plenty of things that each and every person is just not built for. But that doesn’t mean we should sit on the sidelines and be grumpy about it. For example, I have nearly failed every single math course I have ever taken. It’s embarrassing, really, but I don’t waste my time being upset that I will never be a mathematician. I have other gifts and things that I can do, and plenty of ways I can use my abilities to be influential. God has made me a mother. That is my first and most important circle of influence. He has given me other gifts as well. Some people say I’m good at writing, so I attempt to use that to glorify God. What feminists do is they start with the assumption that their God-given gender role is holding them back, which is a faulty assumption, and starts you off on a foot that is severely going to limit your ability to be useful.
“Scripture is not demeaning to women, and neither are the roles that God has given us. What is demeaning is considering the many tasks and abilities that women are naturally given, being sour about them, and wishing for something else.”
Adam was created, and given a huge task. He was told to work, name the animals, and take dominion. But God didn’t leave him alone in that. In fact, Adam couldn’t do it alone, so God gave him Eve. Eve wasn’t created as an afterthought, or a nice little decoration that was supposed to sit off to the side. She came alongside Adam and made taking dominion possible. 1 Cor 11 calls women “the glory of man.” There is nothing demeaning about that. I know plenty of feminists that find complementarianism to be demeaning, but they certainly aren’t getting that idea from Scripture. Scripture is not demeaning to women, and neither are the roles that God has given us. What is demeaning is considering the many tasks and abilities that women are naturally given, being sour about them, and wishing for something else.
We know, even just from the few examples of women in Scripture that you gave, that God does view women as important and influential. He views them this way while at the same time defining specific roles for women in marriage and in worship. If you want to be influential—as a man or a woman—glorify God with the gifts that He has so mercifully given you!
>j: For the young women reading who have a growing desire to learn theology, but do not know where to start, what books or other resources would you suggest that they study?
SW: Oh man, this is the hardest question! I’m absolutely enchanted by Rebekah Merkle’s book, Eve in Exile, which I think is an excellent place to start to study the roles of women and what we are designed for. I regularly peruse Paul David Tripp’s YouTube channel for quick, digestible encouragement in Godly living and parenting. I recommend his devotional, New Morning Mercies, as well. R.C. Sproul’s book, The Holiness of God, is an excellent grounding in Reformed thought and has made a huge impact on me. I recommend all of Keri Folmar’s inductive studies. Seriously. If you’re starting a women’s Bible study, go with her!
Tweetable Thoughts from the Interview
- Not until God grants repentance, brokenness, faith, and peace w/Himself does intellectual belief become saving faith.
- Genuine faith is not given to us by our parents. It is given to us by God.
- You cannot preach the gospel to your children if you are not preaching it to yourself.
- No mother has to be a studied scholar to pass on a love for God and a love for learning more about Him.
- Ultimately, a love for theology that is not rooted in a love for God will out itself.
- Feminism limits a woman’s ability to be influential.
- If you want to be influential—as a man or a woman—glorify God with the gifts that He has so mercifully given you!