Yesterday, I stood on stage at a Covenant church in Santa Cruz, California and preached the gospel.
Three days ago, I led a conversation on talking to kids about race with a small group of women and men on the San Francisco Peninsula.
Today, I listened to an audio recording of conservative theologian John MacArthur deliver a succinct two-word statement when he was asked to respond to to the name, “Beth Moore.”
His response, in addition to further interpretations of the Bible? “Go Home.”
He went on to remind the audience that women are never allowed to preach on a stage, throwing caution to the wind with further thoughts of culture wars and feminism at large. When he mocked Moore, the audience laughed. When he said he didn’t have anything to add, “period, paragraph, end of discussion,” he added just one more jab for good measure.
It was one of the most tasteless conversations I’ve ever heard.
Now Moore, if you don’t know, has been a renowned Bible teacher and author for more than forty years now. A longstanding member of the Southern Baptist denomination, she long held to a complementarian point of view, which in “church speak” means that men can preach to a mixed audience, but women can only speak to women. From the outside looking in, ever since the 2016 election, it seems as though the needle has started to move on Moore’s belief systems – including whether or not she, as a woman, should be allowed to preach to both women and men.
All of this, of course, is speculation, because I don’t know Moore personally.
But I sure as hell respect her faithfulness.
I’m so grateful she didn’t heed the advice to “go home” in 1978 when she dipped her toes into the waters of ministry, or in 2019 when she published her twentieth Bible study. Even if she and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, it matters not in the least: Beth Moore doesn’t need my approval.
She never needed my approval, just as she never needed MacArthur’s approval (or, in the case here, lack of approval) to keep on heeding the invitation to just be faithful.Instead, over and over again, she said yes …not to the people reading her books but to God. She responded to the call …not to keep on teaching women, per say, but to keep on using her words for good. And if Beth Moore and I were sitting in a room together, I imagine she’d more than gently remind me that it matters not what the naysayers have to say (just as she’d probably remind me that it matters not what I have to say about her or about MacArthur’s comments, in general). None of this matters, because it’s not about those who loathe her or even those who adore her.
But it’s about God …period, paragraph, end of discussion.
For me, when I listened to the audio recording, I also took note of my body: I noticed when my pulse started to increase, when my eyes began to grow wide with disbelief, when my head silently started shaking from side to side.
I noticed how feelings of anger and sadness welled up inside of me, but then I also noticed that I didn’t start to cry, nor did I start to pummel my fists on the back of the couch cushions.
Instead, an image from twenty-four hours ago came to mind: standing on stage, I held a microphone in one hand and a pocket-sized Bible in the other hand. After all, this is standard preaching fare for me – I look not at my notes, nor even at the written sermon, for the words have already cemented into my brain and into the very marrow of my bones.
And yesterday, one-third into my sermon, a single verse popped up:
“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Just as I reminded the audience of the exhaustive nature in each of those three phrases – that in Christ, the Great Equalizer, we need not even have this conversation in the first place – I remind myself that I too am simply being faithful to the call.
I am not questioning whether or not I can or should preach to both men and women, but I am being faithful to God’s invitation on my life.
I’m being faithful to the gifts God has given me.
I’m being faithful to the stories God has woven into the ordinary, everyday parts of my journey.
And I’m being faithful to the invitation to not “Go Home,” but to keep on preaching the Good News – lipstick, jumpsuit, heels and all.
So, see ya, John MacArthur. We women aren’t going home anytime soon.
Is there really a discussion to be had here? Please, positive comments only.
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