So amid all the other circus events, this last weekend, Christian Twitter erupted with shrieks of horror when Pastor John MacArthur told a conference audience that his thoughts on Beth Moore could be best summarized as “Go home.”
In response, the current SBC President JD Greear assured Mrs. Moore that she was most welcome at his home any time. And various feminists and egalitarians clutched their pearls, while a number of conservatives who don’t think Mrs. Moore should actually be preaching made various throat clearing noises about Christian love and kindness, and how sad they were about how mean some “leaders” can be, and while they had their differences, they were still thankful for her ministry. And others warned breathlessly that this is how evangelicalism will continue to lose the next generation.
Meanwhile, NPR tweeted out some idiocy about “people” menstruating.
A Preliminary, But Related Rabbit Trail
Now in order to address this business, I’d like to draw upon a matter of considerable concern and discussion in my community, a matter that faces most communities in these dark days of ours, and that is the matter of girls showing up to play contact sports with our sons. From wrestling to lacrosse to football to hockey, it’s a real issue since we are committed to teaching our sons to honor all women as sisters and mothers, and the culture we live in is committed to the opposite. In some instances, the honorable choice is clear and obvious: our sons will not wrestle a girl. It’s immodest, dishonorable, and shameful. Period. Full stop. So our boys who wrestle forfeit any match with a girl. But when it comes to lacrosse and football there are a number of complicating factors, and there are real wisdom calls to be made. The first principle remains in place: our boys are instructed not to tackle or body check girls. Of course in these confused days, it is not always possible to know if there is a girl on the field. But to the best of our ability, we will avoid any and all roughness with girls.
Depending on the circumstances, what position a girl is playing against our boys, this is sometimes fairly easy to accomplish (like if the girl is a goalie or kicker), and sometimes it is nearly impossible (like when she’s playing running back). Our general commitment is to play hard and play as much as we can without compromising our Lord’s requirement to honor all women. At times, this has proved impossible, and we have cheerfully forfeited games or pulled off teams where we could not function within our principles. On occasion, our boys are having to learn how to push a girl out of bounds as gently as possible. And some parents have given their boys slightly varying instructions depending on the situation, and we’re committed to supporting one another as we navigate this minefield with our sons. At the same time, we have determined in general not to merely roll over and quit the field. Our coaches and athletic directors are fairly vocal about our principles with other coaches and league officials, and our longterm hope is to win others to our convictions. But these problems are certainly not going away any time soon, and we (and our sons) need to learn how to fight, sometimes how to fight with one arm tied behind our back, and how to fight as honorable Christian men.
All of this is a rather lengthy preliminary rabbit trail to my cheerful and robust support of Pastor MacArthur’s comments regarding Beth Moore. But I hope they prove a helpful rabbit trail. My support of MacArthur’s comments do not come from any sort of animus to women, any delight in dishonoring women (and certainly not Mrs. Moore), but from my commitment (which I assume Pastor MacArthur shares) to honor all women and to fight honorably for the cause of Christ. I take Pastor MacArthur’s comment as the unfortunate but necessary push out of bounds that a Christian gentleman is sometimes duty bound to give when a woman has gotten out of her lane. [Let the shrieks begin!] But your complaint is not with me or with Pastor MacArthur. Your complaint is with God and His clear word.
I’m not even addressing the content of Mrs. Moore’s preaching. I am merely speaking of the fact that she openly and defiantly claims to preach. This is shameful. She ought to be ashamed of herself. Her husband ought to be ashamed of himself. Her pastor and elders ought to be ashamed of themselves. But apparently none of them are. They openly flout the word of God. When the Bible says that a woman must not have authority over men or instruct them in the Word but to be silent in church – Beth Moore sneers at the God of Heaven and says she knows better. But what is worse are all the cowardly men around her who have flattered her and refused to actually love her in the truth. Pastor MacArthur said out loud in public what her husband and Christian brothers closest to her should have been saying for years, “Go home.” And yes, this is Christian love because love is treating others lawfully from the heart, and God’s law is clear at this point.
Much of our problem in this area is related to the fact that modern Christians have become accustomed to soft men and soft preaching and viscerally trained to hate and despise all masculine preaching. For example, if John the Baptist showed up one day in modern America he would no doubt be burned at the stake by noon with several PCA and SBC pastors leading the proceedings. But it is a shameful fact that many women, no doubt Mrs. Moore included, would give more hearty sermons than your average seminary graduate these days, as seminaries, with very rare exceptions, are places where men go to get neutered. And if you’re going to have a biological man stand up in the pulpit and mince his words and lisp and share his feelings for an hour and try to relate to everyone in the room with stories and illustrations and clever jokes, you might as well get a real woman to do it. She’s a lot better at all of that, and plus she’s a whole lot easier on the eyes.
The reason NPR has the audacity to talk about “people” menstruating without fear of getting laughed out of existence (as it should) is because the evangelical Church has been led by menstruating people for a long while. What I mean is that we flouted God’s word a long time ago when we insisted on having therapists instead of preachers, life coaches instead of preachers, politicians instead of preachers, relatable stand-up comedians instead of preachers, anything but men declaring God’s word authoritatively. We insisted we knew better, sneering at God’s requirement that preachers and pastors be men who ruled their own households well with believing children. We wanted CEOs and TED talks and pep rallies and rock concerts, various and sundry, generic people, but absolutely no authority, no masculinity, no plain speaking about the holiness of God, the reality of Hell, the substitutionary atonement, and the necessity of repentance unto life and church discipline to that end. Of course none of that is popular work among the masses, and it doesn’t make a pastor particularly relatable or approachable, especially to a certain class of ambitious woman – as it most certainly shouldn’t. But God insists on male preachers and pastors because the Church, and the Pulpit in particular, is a battlefield.
The reason God calls men to preach is the same reason he requires that only men engage in military combat. And the reason is at least twofold. First, he requires men to go to war because he made them physically strong. Women have many glorious strengths, but God made men to be naturally physically strong. This is our glory, and it takes considerable physical strength to preach faithfully, to pastor consistently, and to rule your household all while ruling the people of God. If that seems strange and unlikely, welcome to the impotent modern church and witness the many pastors who struggle with depression and suicide — most of them should have been weeded out in basic training. Second, God requires men to go to war because He requires men to lay their lives down first. This is the oldest code of honor, as it began in the garden of Eden when God pictured that code of honor in the creation of the first woman from Adam’s bloody side. The same standard of honor was codified in Israel’s law, and it was ultimately accomplished in the gospel when Jesus died for His bride. But it is for all of these reasons and more that God has commanded His Church to be led by men. Men are to be heralds of the gospel. Men are to lose their lives by dying for their flocks, their families, their nations. Jesus calls that love. And yes, the Lord is free to raise up the occasional Deborah in the face of masculine cowardice, but that will always be to our shame and never to our glory, just as Deborah herself said.
And speaking of things you can find in the Bible, I’m a little concerned about what will happen if the evangelical Twitterverse actually reads the Bible sometime. I mean, they might come across Isaiah talking about the wanton daughters of Israel, and that might, uh, what do they call it? Oh right, it might trigger them. Or what about when Jeremiah describes armies fleeing in fear as becoming fearful like women? Did that get deleted from the ESV yet? I’m sure someone is doing a Hebrew word study on it presently. Or what about Jesus Himself? I mean, he had the audacity to nearly say the same thing to the Samaritan woman as Pastor MacArthur said to Beth Moore – Go and get your husband? I mean, seriously, what kind of heteronormative, patriarchal toxicity is that? Did he even have authority to do that since he wasn’t her local pastor? And then there’s Titus 2 [gasp], and even Peter got in on the misogyny in his first letter — submitting to disobedient husbands, quiet and gentle spirit, calling a husband lord?! What was God thinking? Well, Peter always was a hothead. And then all that Jezebel whoredoms business in Revelation. Hopefully, they just stick to their Twitter bites of Bible, all the happy verses that stroke their egos and self-deceptions. Otherwise, they might find themselves agreeing with that recent British court’s ruling that the Bible is “incompatible with human dignity.”
But the real tragedy in all of this is Mrs. Moore’s abandonment of her real glory – the glory waiting for her at home. She and her husband and pastors scorn the glory of womanhood, of homemaking, but her own home, not JD Greear’s home, or anyone else’s home, is where her glory waits. And one day she will stand before the Lord of the Universe, and all the baubles of human glory and all the Greek word studies and clever arguments will flee away, and the Lord will ask what she did with the glory of her home that He gave her. I don’t know the answer to that question, but John MacArthur’s two word response was one of the best I could imagine. He blessed her even as he gave her a brotherly shove. Get off the field, Mrs. Moore. You are a lady. Your calling is higher. You have a different glory. You deserve better.
No one but God knows all the hearts of the folks in the congregation listening to Pastor MacArthur’s answer. Was the laughter mere scorn? Was the laughter mere malice? I supposed such fleshly impulses were no doubt scattered about the room, and perhaps even some of the godly laughter could be tinged with such mixed motives. But I have much higher regard for Pastor MacArthur and Phil Johnson. And when you parade yourself out on to a field of battle, demanding that you be treated as a pastoral equal, you’ll have to pardon us if we laugh at the silliness of the thought. No, ma’am, not a chance. Go home. And if you take that as demeaning and rude that is only because you have already demeaned your Maker and His Word and the calling of preaching.
Her Christian Brothers
It wasn’t too long ago, maybe a year or two ago, when Beth Moore published some kind of open letter to her Christian brothers recounting how she has been the butt of jokes, sexually objectified and harassed, and perhaps worse, throughout the course of her ministry. I have no objection to those sins actually being addressed, and in fact, my objection to that open letter was the vagueness, the fact that it didn’t really address the problems she outlines. Where were the names of the men who acted so shamefully? Where were the names of the churches, the dates of the incidents? Where is your husband? Your pastor? Have they offered to confront those men for you? Let me say this clearly: Mrs. Moore’s sin does not justify any other sin. Her refusal to submit to God’s Word and her insistence that she be allowed out on the field of battle to “preach” is high handed rebellion, but it does not justify any dishonorable conduct toward her at all. But I will say that she is a seething stumbling block to her Christian brothers and if she really cared about seeing her Christian brothers growing in holiness rather than just manipulating them to fawn all over her, she would repent of her insolence and go home.
Mark the Men
And to my three readers who are still reading, wondering what my next offensive remark might be, let me urge you to mark the men, the pastors in particular, who are standing around flattering Mrs. Moore right now and in various ways distancing themselves from Pastor MacArthur. Mark those so-called “conservative” “complementarian” men. They are not to be trusted as pastors or leaders in the church. I’m saying nothing about eternal destinies here, only that leaders must be trusted to lead. And when you have something this clear, this black and white, you have men who can see clearly on the one hand and you have men who are blinded by greed and envy and ambition and lust on the other. The days are dark and are not likely to lighten any time soon, and the need of the hour is men who will fix their eyes on Jesus heedless of the fallout, heedless of the complaints and shrieks of offense, willing to lay their lives down for their sheep, not able to be bought by any distraction, any fear tactic, full of joy in the glory of the cross.
Ok, last thing. Maybe this is all a bit confusing or convoluted, and you’re not sure what to think or who to believe. Let me suggest this little litmus test: of the parties involved in this little spat, which would give you the most biblical answer regarding boys and girls in contact sports or women in the military? Would Mrs. Moore and her supporters tell you in no uncertain terms that girls should not be playing contact sports and boys should not be clobbering girls on a football field, and certainly not manhandling them on a wrestling mat? Would you get a clear, straightforward answer or would you get caveats and exceptions and relativistic blather? Should women be mustered for combat service or not? Who are you most likely to get a clear, biblical answer from? And if Mrs. Moore and her supporters insist that girls can too get clobbered on a football field, and they can too get blown to bits on a battlefield, then what is everyone up in arms about? Why are the very same people objecting to what Pastor MacArthur said? By their standards, Pastor MacArthur might as well be Mr. Rogers.