Beth Moore, John MacArthur and the Body of Christ

I can’t be silent on this one. I wanted to be, believe me. I will tell you, the back and forth going on in the public sphere, regarding women pastors/preachers, needs to be happening privately. Because of the publicity it gets, due to the people involved having high visibility and an inability to enact some self-control, it is all out in the public and it is nasty. It is doing nothing but tearing apart the church, from the inside out. It definitely isn’t shedding light into the dark world, that’s for sure. The tearing down of other Christians needs to stop. We are not acting like the body of Christ and scripture is not being represented correctly.

So I am entering the fray, but not because I want to prove anyone right or wrong. I feel I need to enter the fray to start pointing people back to scripture. It’s not just the people online that I am referring to. It’s also our leaders. The people who are supposed to be above reproach. The ones that are suppose to run from the ways of the Pharisees but seem more and more to be running to those ways. It has to stop. I am here to correct what is Biblically wrong so that Christians can understand how to properly debate and keep themselves out of sin. I am doing this is a public forum because it was done publicly. It needs to be done publicly in order to reach the people, both believer and non-believers, who were affected by the misrepresentation of scripture and the un-Christlike behavior. I also want to show how debate is not about your opinion. It is about what the Bible says. So whatever your position, before spouting off, you need to make sure your argument is Biblical and your heart is pure.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:12-17 ESV (emphasis mine)

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

I am using the Christian Post’s coverage of John MacArthur because that is the medium in which much of the information is getting to the public. I will go point by point. You can access the article here.

1) “Today, I want to address a very important issue that has been stirred up on the internet with me kind of in the middle of it.”

There was no stirring done on the internet unless MacArthur is referring to himself. After all, people were responding to the comments he made in very public forum. It was a conference being held at his church celebrating the 50th year. There were a lot of people there. Also, he was not “kind of” in the middle of it. He was sitting high and mighty in the middle of it. He put himself there and felt pretty good about being there, as his laughter and cavalier attitude portrayed. His comments were rude and disrespectful, at best. Definitely not encompassing the love that Christians are suppose to have in all situations. After all, we are told to love one another so that the world can tell we are his disciples. That definitely didn’t come across, in my opinion.

However, in contrast, despite the flagrant disrespect shown to her by MacArthur, and despite all the cruel backlash it created online, Beth Moore showed a much more Christ-like attitude. She did not lash out at him. She pointed back to Christ.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:31-35 ESV (emphasis mine)

2) “I do not like to give short answers. I don’t like to get put in a position to do that, because I feel like that just escalates confusion, so I want to take the opportunity to address the issue of women preachers this morning and to give you a more thorough answer from the Word of God on this very, very important subject.”

Well, for not wanting to give short answers to anything, the whole controversy that was stirred up was over MacArthur’s very short answer, “Go home.” His answer was part of a game where the panelists had to give a 1 or 2 word answer to a phrase. His phrase was “Beth Moore” and his response was “Go home.” This answer has all sorts of wrong in it. It’s rude. It’s not loving. It starts controversies because of the public forum. It’s not following the Biblical practice of going to a person in private. It’s borderline gossip. In addition, for some, it is interpreted as misogynistic. Thus, it gives a bad image of Christ. After all, no matter which side of this debate you fall on, Jesus NEVER implies that a woman is less than a man. Jesus never says that a woman is to stay at home. In fact, Paul’s first convert, Lydia, was a business woman. There are several Old Testament women who did not stay at home. There are many women in the New Testament who followed Jesus… literally… followed him everywhere. That sure isn’t staying home. This idea that a woman has to be at home, and isn’t allowed elsewhere, is not grounded in Biblical theology but in man’s social ideology.

To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people

Titus 3:2 ESV

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:3-4

I applaud MacArthur’s willingness to deal with the subject in a sermon. After all, we should be going back to scripture to discuss this issue. However, all hopes of having an actual debate on the issue were soon squashed.

3) “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.”

Wow. First, what a way to introduce dialog and help others understand your position. Just turn them off completely. What a good way to be a good listener.

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Proverbs 18:13 ESV

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:2 ESV

Second, if there is no case for a woman preacher, what would MacArthur say to Mary, who ran to the disciples and testified to them the resurrection of Jesus? What would he say to the Samaritan woman, whose testimony resulted in the conversion of her town? What would he say to Lydia, who preached to her household and all believed? What would he say to Huldah the prophetess, who was asked for counsel under King Josiah’s reign? Her preaching led to a revival in the nation of Israel. Or Deborah, the judge? Let’s take this into the modern era a bit. What would he say about all the people who came to faith through Lottie Moon, a missionary to China? The fact is, there are woman preachers, and that is Biblical. There is a case to be made for and against women pastors (yes there is a difference), but not for preachers. In fact, the Bible even tells us that all people are given spiritual gifts, and quite a few of them are based in talking. (There are more verses than I linked to in this section.)

Third, if he meant to say “pastor” instead of “preacher,” he is wrong. There is a case for the other side. As I stated previously, this discussion has merit on BOTH sides. (I may turn this issue into a blog entry later, but there seems to be plenty all over the place already. Just google the issue and read blogs from reasonable people who aren’t acting angry. Make sure to read both sides of the argument).

4) “Women are to maintain submission to men in all churches in all times,” MacArthur maintained. “Women pastors and women preachers are the most obvious evidence of churches rebelling against the Bible… Women who pastor and women who preach in the church are a disgrace and openly reflect opposition to the clear command of the Word of God. This is flagrant disobedience.”

Let’s break this down a bit. I truly hope that MacArthur doesn’t mean ALL churches in ALL times. I don’t need to explain the troubles that wrack the church all over the world in regards to sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, criminality and more. It’s getting so bad that I’m trying to write a book on it. Are women to submit then? Those horrendous actions are included in ALL. Let me be clear on that issue, just in case there is confusion. No matter if the leader is male or female, if they are advocating going against the scripture, you are NOT to submit to them. You do not submit to the authority of a failed leader. You do not submit to practices that go against God’s word.

The second part of that statement goes back to what I said before, the issue is not as clear as he makes it. If it were, there would be a lot more unity amongst the church. Just take some time to think about the things that most denominations agree upon, and you will see that there are quite few issues that are crystal clear. This one is not among them.

5) “Women should remain silent in the churches,” shouldn’t be “hard to understand.” … “You don’t say anything,” he stressed, later adding: “Women need to get themselves under control and realize they are not to speak in a church.”

If MacArthur truly believes this, then he hasn’t fully read the Bible or he is dismissing many parts of it. The matter is that even if women aren’t to be pastors, they are still given spiritual gifts that require talking. Several of those gifts are given in order to edify and correct the church. So how can a woman with that gift use it if she is never to speak in church? In addition, as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of Biblical examples of women speaking. Huldah is front and center in that one.

In addition, if women are truly not to speak at all in church, then I hope his church reflects that by not having women teachers, administrators, elders, deacons, volunteers, or even grounds people. After all, all those positions require speaking in some degree. I also hope that all the women of his church cover their heads. After all, that is also required.

I would also like to stress that the women aren’t the ones acting out of control here. His behavior has been quite out of control, hateful, self-righteous, and misogynistic. If he is in total control of his actions, then I would point out that there is nothing Christ-like in his behavior. Even if he is right, he didn’t follow any Bible-based method of dealing with the issue.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 18:15-18

There was nothing private about what he did. He gossiped by bringing in more people than were involved. He stirred the pot he created.

6) “When women take over a culture, we become weak; when men become weak, they can be conquered,” he said. “When all the men have been slaughtered, you [women] can sit there with all your jewelry and junk. You’ve been conquered, because you overpowered your protectors…. Don’t misunderstand this: This is what we are living in today,” he warned. “Empowering women makes weak men. Weak men make everybody vulnerable to danger. Let me tell you something, if children are in charge, we’re in trouble. If women are in charge, we’re in trouble. And if you look carefully at our nation, you would have to agree that it’s childish, young, inexperienced, ignorant women who are ascending into power. When you overthrow the divine order, the results are always disastrous. And again, it’s not anti-women any more than it’s anti-children. But it’s a divine judgment on a nation that it’s young and its women are in power.”

Wow, there’s a lot in that section! First of all, not only is MacArthur Biblically inaccurate with his statement, he is also historically inaccurate. Deborah was in charge during a time in Israelite history. She was appointed to be the judge of the nation. This was before God started appointing kings. She, not a man, was the one who saved the nation of Israel because of her devotion to God. The flip-side of this is that there are MANY instances in the Bible where the kings (not queens) of Israel led their nation to ruin because of all the sins they committed. Just read the Old Testament and it is replete of this.

I also said that MacArthur is historically inaccurate. There are plenty of kingdoms that had queens ruling them that were not destroyed or fall into ruin. Let’s name a few. Catherine the Great who defeated the Ottoman Empire and led Russia into its golden age. Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt is regarded as one of the most powerful and successful rulers. Queen Elizabeth I is considered one of the most powerful monarchs in English history. She defeated the Spanish Armada and was so successful that she has an era named after her. It was also her cultural changes that led to the Renaissance and pushed England to become a Protestant nation.

I could go on. Suffice it to say that I really think this argument he has put forward is nonsense. God judges the way he sees fit. Whether man or woman, kingdoms rise and fall. Whether the ruler is Godly or worldly, God uses them. God sees to it the way he wants it. This is very apparent in the book of Daniel. God uses multiple kings from different empires to enact his judgment on his people, to fulfill prophecy to his people, and to bring mercy to his people. All those kings were idolators. Let’s chalk it up to God is in control of kingdoms. He uses people the way he sees fit, whether that fits our ideas or not.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:1 ESV

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him

Daniel 2:20-22 ESV

7) MacArthur also touched on “typical women’s sensibilities,” which he identified as “compassion,” “mercy,” and “kindness,” and “care.” Because of these “sensibilities,” he explained, women are “more vulnerable” and susceptible to deception. He pointed out that Eve sinned because she was “deceived” by Satan, while Adam sinned knowingly. “Eve got out from the protection of Adam, she was vulnerable, she was deceived,” he explained. “He sinned because he couldn’t live without her. She had become everything to him. When the roles are reversed, the women are deceived, bad things happen, the men are made weak, worse things happen. The whole human race went down with Adam. You tamper with this order, chaos is unending.”

Whoa. That was a snowball effect if I ever saw one! Let’s first talk about the “sensibilities” and then we will move on to Adam and Eve. First of all, these sensibilities are God-given. Second, the Bible tells us that all people are to have these sensibilities. So if women have them more naturally than men, then men should be working harder to obtain them.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12 ESV

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:36 ESV

(Speaking about the father seeing his prodigal son return)
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20 ESV

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”

Luke 7:13 ESV

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:27 ESV

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

Zechariah 7:9-10 ESV

Believe me when I say that I could go on and on regarding this statement. The Bible is full of God telling humans (yes, men and women) to be kind, compassionate, and merciful. He tells humans to care for each other. There is NO distinction that only women should have it. The expectation is that ALL believers should exhibit these traits. So, if these traits make you susceptible to deception, then both men and women are susceptible. So let’s move on to Adam and Eve.

I encourage you to read the accounts of Adam and Eve in the Bible. They can be found in Genesis 1-4 with the account of the Fall being in chapter 3. Let’s start with the facts:

  • Eve was deceived by Satan. She knew wrong but allowed him to talk her into it.
  • Adam decided to follow Eve’s prompting to eat the fruit. We do not have any indication as to why he did this.
  • Satan went in to the ordeal with the sole intention of getting both Adam and Eve to sin. Why he chose Eve first is not explained.
  • God held both Adam and Eve accountable for their actions. Their punishments were different but both were held accountable. (Side note: this is the start of the debate about roles between genders.)

I want to first point out that I think MacArthur was correct in saying that Eve was deceived and Adam sinned knowingly. However, the scripture clearly shows us that Eve knew what God had said. She stated it to Satan. However, throughout the conversation, she allowed herself to be deceived because she saw the fruit was good and would make her wise. Adam did not have this issue. We do not know why he decided to follow in Eve’s footsteps, but he did. Let me be clear, there is NO indication in scripture that states the why behind Adam’s actions.

According to scripture, the hierarchy that MacArthur speaks to would not have happened until after they sinned. There was no protector status assigned to Adam at this point. Both Adam and Eve were equally vulnerable and equally protected. God blessed them both equally, as stated in chapter 1. There is no indication in the scripture that either one of them had any responsibility over the other. To be a protector implies that you have responsibility over another person’s safety. In fact, at this point, outside of Satan, there was no threat. Animals did not become a threat until after sin. There was plenty to eat, so starvation was not a threat. We do not know why, but God allowed Satan into the garden. Adam and Eve, both, were equally vulnerable to his wiles.

MacArthur speaks to the roles of men and women. Whether you espouse to this interpretation of scripture or not, the fact is that before sin, there were no roles. Even the most strict fundamentalist in all Christendom points to the sin leading to gender roles. So there were no role reversals in the garden. MacArthur, himself, says this very thing in his sermon when he states that authority and submission were established in the fall.

I would also like to point out that women do not make men weak. There are countless instances where women propel the men into greatness. They inspire, encourage, and support. I know many would also point to instances where a woman’s involvement made a man lose. Think Samson and Delilah. I would point out that it is not the woman that makes the man weak, but the sin he allows into his life; just as Satan did not make Adam and Eve weak, it was their sin.

8) After stating the comment “Go home,” MacArthur also stated “Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV sales channel doesn’t mean you should be preaching. There are people who have certain hawking skills, natural abilities to sell, they have energy and personality and all of that. That doesn’t qualify you to preach.”

Let’s talk about common decency here. It is ok to have different interpretations of scripture. No one understands perfectly every thing in scripture. However, it is VERY clear in scripture how we are to treat fellow believers. This is NOT it. This statement is demeaning. It is mocking. It is making assumptions into things that he is not privy to. All in all, it is not of God.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

Proverbs 15:1 ESV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 4:6 ESV

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

James 1:9 ESV

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

James 3:10 ESV

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1 John 4:20-21 ESV

There is nothing about this exchange by MacArthur that has been Godly. Whether or not his stance on women’s roles in the church is right or wrong, everything about his behavior and attitude has been ungodly. In addition, he is inappropriately using the word of God to bolster his position. He reads into scripture more than is actually there and then expects everyone to fall into step with his theology. This is dangerous.

So what should MacArthur have done? First of all, he could’ve answered the question at the conference any number of different ways. Even if all he said was “woman.” That would’ve been fine. Secondly, he should’ve done what the word of God tells us to do. He should have gone to Beth Moore privately. If it was so important that they come to agreement and they didn’t, he should’ve gone to her with witnesses. Then if that didn’t work, take it before the church. Since they don’t attend the same church, I think that would be pretty difficult. So he could go to her pastor and discuss it with him. There are plenty of ways this could’ve played out.

But I want to make a point here. Nowhere in scripture does it say to take an issue and make it public before the entire world: believers and non-believers. In fact, the Bible says quite the opposite. We are not to go to court (a non-believer’s forum) over issues with another believer. We are not to spread rumors or gossip. Things are to be handled internally until there is a consensus. God’s will is for unity, not division. That can look different depending on a lot of things. But it is clear in the Bible that these things are not to be played out in a public setting.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21 ESV

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV (emphasis mine)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:16 ESV

Lastly, what MacArthur should be doing is praying. We pray for our enemies and we pray for those we love. As a sister in Christ, MacArthur should be praying for Beth Moore. If he truly thinks she is on the path to ruin, he should be interceding for her. He should be on his knees praying that she would return to God’s ways. If he thinks that she is not a believer and is a heretic or an apostate, he should still be praying for her. Note what the Bible tells us: no matter who it is, pray. Pray to the God that can do anything. What is MacArthur doing in his power right now? He is stirring up dissension. He is sowing discord. He is being proud and haughty. He is slandering, mocking, denigrating, and being just plain mean.

Beth Moore’s final statement (so far) on the matter has been to say “Hey, ya’ll. Let’s cool it on the slander toward JMac et al. Doesn’t honor God. Let’s move on.” That is definitely a more Christ honoring way to deal with a difference in interpretation and a better way to build up the Body of Christ.

Let me be clear, the debate over women in authority or leadership in the church is a valid debate. Both sides have valid reasoning and I am not going to tell you where I fall on this issue. It would probably surprise you! That is not my point in writing this, however. Why would I do this in such a public manner? After all, I just said it needed to be done privately. I will tell you. It is because his response was done publicly and it was done in the pulpit. I believe what he said completely misrepresents the Bible and what God calls Christians to be. This type of disregard can lead others away from Christ. It definitely doesn’t bring people to Christ. Because of that, I am entering the public foray, but only to point to scripture, so that Christians can make their own decisions about what scripture says. In today’s society, social media has made every thing available and everyone seems bent on “discussing” their viewpoint. Let’s face it. Most aren’t out there for dialogue and debate. People get out there to slay, to win, to fight. However, as the Body of Christ, we are not to be that way. It is important to have debates and to stand our ground, but the way we do it is just as important as what we are standing for.

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