Waking up to John MacArthur’s “Go Home” response to Beth Moore’s name weighed heavy on me. It was reminiscent of similar words said to me several years ago as I shared my call to ministry with a male Christian leader. The words to Beth were personal to me as I inserted my name and heard the snickers, laughter, jeering, and comment after comment about her/me/all women in ministry.

The words and behavior were not of God. The fact that the name of someone was used in a public panel discussion with the intention to provoke controversy and negative feedback was ungodly. It’s what kids do on the playground or adults do in the office, but at least they do it behind the person’s back or in private conversations.

Not in front of others, especially as leaders proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ.

MacArthur and others on the panel cited that those who allow or agree with women speaking or preaching to mixed groups are denying the inerrancy of Scripture. Yet, Proverbs 18: 21 says “Death and life are in the tongue.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says love is kind, not rude, is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:1 says, “If I speak in the tongue of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or clanging symbol.” I could cite dozens of other passages describing how we as brothers and sisters in Christ are to treat one another.

And more passages for leaders.

What the panel and Mr. MacArthur were doing it objectifying Beth, their sister in Christ. They were taking the way of the world by vilifying her, making her the source of a coarse joke that others laughed at. That’s not of God and does not reflect Christ, nor goes it draw one person to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are image bearers of Christ. These leaders valued the power they have according to their interpretation of Scripture more than bearing the image of Christ. They seemed not to care about their witness to the masses who heard their discussion, to their fellow Christians, to sisters in Christ. They did not care for Beth.

She’s a person.

When any of us in leadership use doctrine or Scripture to intentionally harm others or bear a false witness of Christ, we are wrong.

The Crisis

The leaders on the panel cited that feminism has won and that Beth, like others, are after power, not equality. This grieves me deeply.

I’m one of many women in the middle. I don’t agree with radical feminist theology. I don’t march with a uterus on my head. I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture because I believe the Bible is God’s living Word. I respect male leadership in the home and in the church.

But leadership doesn’t mean lordship. Godly leadership reflects Christ, whether you’re male or female. Nowhere does Jesus use His power of authority as the Living Word to ridicule, exclude, or objectify anyone, which is what happens to women when we are treated as Beth was this week.

I’m a woman called to ministry. I have a pastor’s heart. I don’t have a place at the table in conservative, organized religion because of my gender. My call to ministry has been wounding and hard. When I see other women in ministry diminished and our stories minimized, it’s personal. I’ve learned to be silent and small so I don’t become THE NAME, like Beth’s, that is called a heretic or trouble maker.

I’ve learned the rules and know who has the power, just like in grade school. As a therapist and former teacher, I know the ethics of power in fiduciary relationships. We are held accountable to them in these professions. I know the damage they cause when being mishandled.

But I can’t be silent anymore. I’ve learned through discussions with dozens of women leaders that my story, like Beth’s story, is the story of hundreds of women who love God’s word, love Jesus Christ, love the church, and respect the men with whom we serve with, are married to, and parent.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we deserve to be treated equally, with respect, according to Christ’s character, and cultural standards of 2019.

The Fruit of the Spirit

As a professional educator and counselor, I’ve worked with men in secular professions where I have equity. My intelligence, training, experience, expertise, and gifts are included, invited, validated and respected. I am treated as an equal. So should my sisters in their respected places of work and service.

To be excluded, uninvited, invalidated, disrespected, and treated with inequality in faith communities is confusing, damaging, sad, wounding, and simply wrong. We are supposed to reflect Christ to one another and the world. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ includes freedom, love, grace, and mercy.

In healthy relationships, there is reciprocity, freedom to be oneself, equal power, trust, and respect. My hope and expectations is that within the family system of churches and Christianity as a whole, that we treat one another in these ways. These are the ways of Christ. This is the character of God. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 says the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things is no law.

The behavior of John, the panelists, and church leaders at this conference is not of the Holy Spirit. There wasn’t love. Nor kindness, goodness, gentleness, or self-control. I wonder which portion of Scripture is more important. The one giving power to exclude women or the one bearing witness through the fruit of the Spirit?

Intentional exclusion of women, our gifts, and calling in leadership is not the way of the Lord Jesus Christ. Or the character of God. Or the fruit of the Spirit.

A friend of mine recently said, “Brenda, we probably won’t see it in our lifetime, or on this side of heaven.”

I know she’s being honest with me. But I continue reaching out for a place at the table with belief and hope that people are capable of change. I want to believe the best in my brothers in Christ. I risk sharing my voice because my husband and I raised our sons to treat women with equity, respect, and a place at the table. We raised our daughter to follow Christ’s calling on her life as a missionary to orphans.

I don’t want her name to be called out to a panel only to be ridiculed by other male leaders. I don’t want my name there either. Or Beth’s. Or anyone else’s.

Our names are all written in the Lamb’s book of life. Because at the foot of the Cross, the ground is level.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3: 28.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.

 

 

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