Thoughts on John MacArthur’s Words About Beth Moore
There are a lot of things in modern culture that make my blood boil or rend my heart into pieces. As a practice, I take these things inward – pray & process – but then usually keep my mouth shut unless prompted to speak up & out. I choose my battles, as it were.
As a woman that feels called not just to speak, but to actually preach (*gasp!), I’m choosing this battle.
After seeing articles flash across my social media feeds regarding John MacArthur’s stinging words about Beth Moore over the last couple of days, I decided to actually listen to the audio myself.
Let me give a little context to that first. I braced myself for a personal sting. I knew I’d be walking in to something that feels very personal, something that would potentially trigger hurt & pain & oppressive “upper hands” memories from my past in regards to using my voice for His purposes.
What I discovered, unfortunately, was exactly that. Several things struck me about this whole situation:
- The audio I listened to had a picture attached. It was a shot of all white, grey-haired men watching a stage of all white, grey-haired men talking on a stage. It felt like being a fly on the wall to a special men’s (only) club where the laughter is coarse & the jokes are demeaning. The tone in the room punched me in the gut. Not the good kind of punch when truth strikes you, but the kind where you feel devalued just because you’re you.
- Before John MacArthur answers the question fielded by Todd Friel, he says “I feel like I’m being set up.” Maybe he was. But here’s the thing – he bantered back & forth & then took a long pause before he uttered two graceless words that triggered a charged reaction from the crowd when he spoke his pithy response to the name Beth Moore: “Go Home.” His words were chosen. Selective. And felt all too similar to the antiquated demand to women: “Go back to the kitchen.”
- This all happened at a conference called “Truth Matters” by Grace to You at Grace Community Church. Do you notice the repetition of the word “grace” here & the fact that in the snippet of this panel discussion, that “grace” was obsolete? I did.
- As the conversation continues, Phil Johnson calls Beth Moore narcissistic. He says, “This is what it looks like to preach yourself rather than Christ.” He then goes on to say that “She has said, ‘I read the Bible & put myself in the narrative.'” I don’t know about you, but when I meet with God on the pages of His Holy Word, I often find myself in the narrative as well. That doesn’t take away from the original meaning, it enhances it & gives me a practical way to live out my life of sanctification with & before Him.
I could go on with more thoughts on this, but my intent is not to bash these men. It’s really not. I recognize that they actually believe what they are saying & that’s why they are so passionate.
My intent here is to speak on behalf of women called by God – to partner with Him in building His kingdom – who’ve lived under this level of ridiculous oppression in the Christian world over & over again.
This isn’t about women wanting to be at the same table as the men. It’s not about gender equality or even egalitarianism. It’s not about submission. It’s not about feminism in the burning bras kind of way or the “I am woman, hear me roar” kind of way. It’s about freedom to be who God called us to be as women on a mission with Him… for His purposes of building His kingdom (not ours) on earth as it is in heaven. And sometimes that means using our voices to speak His truth… to women AND men. (Again, *gasp.)
A friend of mine actually posted this on Facebook yesterday – “Church: The only place I feel like a feminist.” It’s funny &… sad.
For me, being a woman called to use my voice starts here with Him:
“But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” ~ Jeremiah 20:9
I’m choosing to speak out as a woman, called by my Father & Maker, because I know where my identity lies. In Him. And I can’t hold it in. It’s like a fire shut up in my bones. And I know that He called me & He values me as a woman called to preach & to speak & to shout His name from the rooftops & to whisper it in the quiet. Wherever that is, whatever it looks like. He invited me to partner with Him & He values me (& you!)… radically.
But guess what? I’m tired. We’re tired. We’re exhausted from this battle. Our hands are weary, our bodies bruised. We’re over fighting to be heard. We’re done with being stomped on & overlooked because of our gender. And not because we “need” the eyes of man on our lives & our calling to empower us, because we actually KNOW that we’re empowered & championed by Jesus (who also happened to be a man), “The Great Equalizer” (as Cara Meredith calls him here in her article on this John MacArthur hoo-ha).
But here’s where it lands for me. As I’ve listened to the words of these men & their chaffing tone in the way they’ve presented their thoughts, I’ve ruminated relentlessly on those two pointed words: Go Home.
And here’s what I say: I will go Home. Gladly. Because for me, the true definition of “Home” is the Presence of God.
Where He is, that is Home. I long for that place. Every day. I can’t live or be or breathe without being at Home with Him.
That longing leads me to sit at His feet, pouring out the oil of my heart to my Best Friend. It leads me to adorn Him with worship & songs, deep breaths & silence. It leads me to meet Him in that secret place, to soak-in every Word He infuses into my heart… To let Him sing His poetry over me. Day by day. Moment by moment. Word by Word. Breath by breath.
So this is not about theological conviction or opinion. It’s not about learnedness or a mastery of Greek & Hebrew. It’s not about holding a fancy degree or certificate of completion in specialized Biblical training (though I have a few of those). It’s about presence, engagement with Him as He is with us. It’s about leaning in to the fact that Jesus values women (always did), just as He values all people – black, white, slave, free, male, female, etc. He values you. He values me. And we find our true Home in Him.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28 (NIV)
So, to John MacArthur, I simply say: I will go Home. But my question is, will you?
Because then & only then, can we have a constructive conversation about a woman’s true place & a man’s true place: at Home.