We’re from different worlds, theologically speaking. We don’t agree on everything, politically or otherwise. But I am on Beth Moore’s team, and I’ve got her back. Because she’s got a bunch of men trying to shut her up, and we can’t be having that.
Beth Moore, the popular Christian author and teacher, has always pushed some boundaries, simply by being a woman with a public platform. In her tradition, the Southern Baptist Church, women are not permitted to preach in church, nor are they allowed to teach biblical principals to adult (male) audiences. She’s edged over those lines for years, speaking to packed conventions, selling books and garnering a huge following on social media. But now she’s really gone and done it: recently, she came right out and said that women should be allowed to preach in church. Needless to say, all hell broke loose.
I’m not going to post a single quote, or link to a single article from the voices that are trying to silence her right now. I don’t want to give them any more exposure than they deserve (which is none); I only want to voice my support for her, bravely speaking her truth to a very large room that doesn’t want to hear it—and to a larger, unseen audience that desperately needs to hear it.
Any woman with a public platform of any kind deals with the phenomenon of men trying to silence her. That voice of patriarchy is especially emboldened in religious circles, and even more so in the Southern Baptist tradition. But in my own experience, those who try to silence me are typically strangers on the internet, calling me names and calling me a heretic from behind the safety of their screens. In Beth Moore’s case though, it is very different. It is her own church trying to silence her.
Like I said, I’m not going to share any of the ugly pushback she’s gotten just for daring to say that women have a place in the pulpit. You can get the gist without me giving those guys a platform. What’s important to know is that Moore valiantly, persistently pushes back against the wave of vitriol. And really, she doesn’t have to. She’s got her platform, she’s got her following; she preaches in all these places whether they say she can or not. But she recognizes this is not just about her. She is voicing this freedom—a freedom that she finds in her own faith in Jesus Christ—for the countless women who have never once seen a woman preach in the pulpit. For the untold number of girls who feel that Holy Spirit nudge towards ministry, only to have the church tell them “no,” again and again.
Here’s something else I’ve noticed in this conversation. Many have said, in an effort to be supportive, “why don’t you just become a _______ instead, we would love to have you preach!” These are well-meaning invitations to jump ship; to join any number of denominations that would welcome her voice in the pulpit, from United Methodist to Disciples of Christ to PCUSA. But that’s not what she’s after. Again, she already has her pulpit. She can lead and speak, with or without permission from a denominational body. What she wants is for her church to be transformed. The church that she loves, in all its imperfection. She wants that body to know the gift of women’s voices, and all the growth and grace those voices can bring. And above all, she wants to model for girls and women everywhere that their voices and vision matter.
This series of Tweets from her is a sermon in itself. But the one that grabbed me most powerfully, that spoke to me a gut-and-spirit level, was this one:
It takes an astounding measure of grace to show such devotion to a body that thinks YOUR body disqualifies you from leadership. So like I say, I’m getting her back. I’ve sent her words of encouragement this last week, and I hope you will too. Without inviting her to join another church–as though some of our churches are somehow more perfect and free of their own baggage. Her message is that a woman should be able to preach where she feels called, without having to defect to another brand and leave a long trail of silenced women behind her. Her message is that she will fearlessly open the door for the countless others whose experience has been nothing but shame and silence from the church that they love.
The backlash she’s experiencing is only another loud death cry of the patriarchy. That seems to be going around lately. But it’s sure an awful racket. If the SBC doesn’t want her voice after all, that’s on them. But it’s their loss entirely. She has spoken her gospel, and she has already won. That good news can’t be unheard.