Apologists have a reputation for being obnoxious know-it alls.

I should know. I am one.

An apologist is a person who defends something. I've sat next to apologists for veganism and rode horse-back with apologists for fashion. You might sleep next to someone who's an apologist for a belief you've privately rejected. For example, my husband has been a faithful apologist for the beneficial pleasures of video gaming. Bless his heart.

We all have ideas, beliefs, and rituals we want to defend, ideas we think are better for all people, at all times, and in all places. And we can argue our beliefs with the innocence of doves or the brashness of WWF wrestlers.

Like women wrestlers, women apologists are curiosities.

I didn't grow up wanting to be an apologist. I grew up longing to be a librarian (the thought of all those books still makes my heart skip). But I got sucked in at age 17, when I left my private high school of 500 to become a missionary to the big bad public high school of 2,000. I was crazy for Jesus. But I was not crazy about the confrontations I faced: with the atheist guy in my AP English class or the girl who partied all weekend while making God look outdated.

I remembered them mocking the Bible together.

What did Jesus have to do with them?

Then I met Frank Pastore and J. P. Moreland (they were teaching local classes) and learned that a whole branch of knowledge was devoted to understanding and defending Christianity on philosophical grounds. I learned of Dorothy L. Sayers and heard Eleanor Stump. I decided to get my Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics. I learned that it was a religious philosopher, Elizabeth Anscombe, who gave C. S. Lewis a run for his money. I also realized that biblical women defended the God of Israel and paved the way for women like me, the daughters of Zelophedad, reluctant apologists like Naomi in the Book of Ruth, Esther convincing the King of the Persian empire to spare the Jews, the Samaritan woman at the well convincing her entire village to come hear Jesus (John 4:39-42).

I also learned that my concerns were often different from my profs' and colleagues' at my seminary, where women composed less than 2 percent of the graduating class. Not only did I never wait in line for the bathroom, but when I brought up apologetic issues that interested me (e.g., Are women's souls different from men's souls?), I got raised eyebrows and no distinct guidance. I felt like no one else was studying gendered souls or comparing the way Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad treated women.

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There's a pesky rumor circulating among religions folks that women are more spiritually sensitive than men and therefore don't want or need intellectual reasons for the Christian faith. "Women are just naturally full of faith, they'll naturally believe in God."

But there's evidence that suggests otherwise.

First, the majority of churchgoers, Bible study attendees, and church volunteers are women (Barna Group, 2010). But, as Jim Henderson pointed out in The Resignation of Eve: What if Adams's Rib is No Longer Willing to be the Church's Backbone?, if women do not hear compelling, culturally relevant, valid reasons to attend church, they will stop.

Second, there is a growing segment of women atheists now blogging about their dramatic turn from faith. For example, check out WhyiLeftChristianity's post "Female Atheist Bloggers Who Rock My World" or cruise through the female bloggers at the Religious Portals at Patheos. And since many female apologists for other religions were once Christians, I cannot overstate the need for women to consider Peter's beckoning to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15).

Take Vyckie Garrison, a one-time Quiverfull follower, now single mother of seven who runs No Longer Quivering. Garrison explained in a June 2011 interview with Politics USA:

My life as a devoted fundamentalist Believer had become a living hell of physical, mental and spiritual abuse. For all our efforts to know God, to love him, discern his will and live out his precepts for a godly home according to the Holy Bible, our family was going crazy. We hated ourselves and we hated each other and we all wanted to die … I have met dozens of women who have left, or are in the process of leaving, the Quiverfull lifestyle. Not all become atheists, but none escape without serious modification of their faith.

Garrison is an influential atheist who tweets to 13,000 followers @NoQuivering and writes extensively with a team of women at NoLongerQuivering.com (250,000 views per month). Her conclusions about the place of Christian teachings have found her more convinced that God does not exist than that he does and is good.

Thousands of intelligent females argue daily for everything from atheism to Islam without hearing an articulate reason to believe otherwise. Because of this, we need more women on the cultural laywoman level (check out the list of women in philosophy of religion) dedicating their minds to understanding the cultural persuasiveness of non-Christian arguments, so that we can "always be ready to give an answer (Greek apologia) for the hope that is in us."

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We need women who can understand and articulate what Jesus thinks about N.O.W., about Buddhist mums who seem to offer more compassion than Christians, about Fifty Shades of Gray. We need women to speak about a better way to educate youth groups about sexuality than, "Men are animals and women need to be modest." We need women to weigh in on why and what to do about Christianity's ability to both mend broken families and tear others apart.

As apologist Mary Jo Sharp explained in a recent interview, "We need philosophically and theologically sound women to debate and challenge organizations that seem to presuppose all women should naturally be in agreement with their philosophy and actions."

In 2010, Sharp debated a Muslim woman in a Toronto mosque where both men and women were allowed to attend. This was a rare opportunity. Muslim women are often prohibited from dialogue with men outside their family or mosque. "Christian apologetics," Sharp explained, "will need women skilled in Islamic apologetics to speak with Muslim women, to go where Christian men cannot."

Where will you go boldly defending the faith in places that your brothers in Christ cannot?

Jonalyn Fincher is cofounder of Soulation, where she works as a speaker, writer, and philosopher. She has written for Her.meneutics about women's sexuality. A graduate from Talbot School of Theology and the University of Virginia, Jonalyn loves writing about women and sexuality at RubySlippers.org, where you can read more on female apologists.