John Macarthur, a well-known preacher, was recently asked what he would say to Beth Moore, a well-known Bible teacher. His response: "Go home."
What Macarthur implied was Beth Moore has no business teaching the Bible. She needs to stay home and do whatever women are supposed to do at home.
My Momma read me Bible stories when I was little. Momma read with expression. She made you feel the fear in Moses' voice, "Who am I to lead such a people?" When she came to the parts of the story where God said, "Go!" the way Momma read, you knew you had to go. She sounded just like God.
My Aunt Faye would tell my Sunday School class stories at church. In fact, I'm pretty sure all my Sunday School teachers were women until fifth grade.
When I went to college, our campus minister, Esther Burroughs, taught an eight-week series on Love, Sex, and Marriage. Those eight weeks introduced me to things I'd never thought of before, like the whole idea that sex in marriage could be joyous.
Esther would re-enter my life when I was in my 30s. I heard her speak to a group of pastors. I'll never forget these sentences: "Pastors, the church is the bride of Christ. Your bride is at home." I was beyond convicted.
At the Global Leadership Summit this year, I heard Liz Bohannon speak about taking a risk. After college she went to Uganda to empower young women, ended up founding a company and changed the lives of thousands. I thought about the times my fears kept me home instead of boldly going where the real needs are.
I was in a church meeting once when two men got into an argument. There were nine of us present. Six of us watching these men nearly come to blows. Then Pat Hobbs, one of the wisest women I know, spoke up, calmed the waters and got us back on track.
I'm glad these women did not stay home.
Sometimes people aren't sure if the Bible is for or against women.
OK, that might not be enough of an explanation. The Bible is not anti-women, not by a long shot. The Bible often describes events without approving of them. It tells us that Eve first succumbed to temptation. There was punishment. But it also makes clear that Adam succumbed, and he was punished also. In 1 Timothy 2:13-15, it does tell us about the order of creation (Adam first, then Eve) and the order of temptation (Eve first, then Adam). But Paul was relating this Christian conduct, especially in worship - women should learn in quietness and in full submission. Apparently, women were being loud and disruptive. It's the next verse that gives people trouble: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." Do you notice what's missing from this verse? The statement that a man must teach woman, and a man must have authority over a woman.
Paul also wrote in Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The point in the New Testament is that all must first submit to the authority of Jesus - He is the head of the His church. I believe the passages about women's conduct in the New Testament are simple reminders for women not to abuse their new freedom in Christ. The same would be true for men.
Christian faith has done more than any world faith system to elevate the status of women. Marriage was elevated from the idea of property and child-bearing to one of intimacy and love (see Song of Solomon). In the Old Testament, women were accorded rights - for the first time in the ancient world. If those rights are not what we would expect, we forget that all systems of liberty and rights begin with valuing the person - no matter the race, economic status, or gender.
I think John Macarthur really missed it. Beth Moore needs to use the gifts God gave her. I don't think the world needs fewer Bible teachers.
There is much more to say - but let's be clear - the Bible teaches that man and woman need redemption - and it is offered to both. That's the greatest equality of all.
The Rev. Dr. Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter.
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