Sunday, July 8, 2018

Adjust the Age

Good Sunday evening.

Sometimes I sit to write & I ramble about furniture or my hair color or something that, while it certainly means a lot to me in that moment, is ultimately inconsequential. Today when I sat to write there was no rambling. There are some things I need to say that are of some consequence, & I need to say them now so I can take a deep breath & move on with life.

A few weeks ago via the medium of Facebook I made a comment alluding to the fact that Trey & I share a mutual dislike of Beth Moore. Since then, I've received a handful of honest inquiries as to why we dislike her. Here, for the four or five of you genuinely interested, are my (our)* reasons. 

*I do not speak for Trey in an official capacity. While he'd likely agree with what I am about to share, he may have thoughts to add, & he would do so in an animated & fiery way. 

I read one of Beth Moore's books a few years ago when it was the subject of a women's Bible study of which I was a part. I wasn't overly impressed with the book, either the content or the writing, but my primary gripe with her is not her so-so ability to write books. Honestly when I hear praise for her books my first suspicion is that the person overwhelmed by her writing must not read much else (of the fiction or nonfiction variety). If you don't want to read fiction, I mean okay, fine, that's an argument we can have another day, but I would recommend you read all the nonfiction C.S. Lewis wrote before you read anything by Beth Moore. Actually Lewis wrote both fiction & nonfiction that is excellent. Also an excellent writer: the Apostle Paul.

I just feel we're so lazy oftentimes that the simplest thing wows us; we don't know any better because we've never read much else. If all you read is People magazine, Beth Moore, & your Twitter timeline, well, Ms. Moore's writing may seem revolutionary. 

Anyway, as I said, my primary gripe with Ms. Moore is not related specifically to her books, & my reason for writing this is not to convince you to read C.S. Lewis before you read her stuff. My primary gripe with her is that increasingly over the past few years what I see & hear coming from her, via her social media presence, her blog commentary, & comments made during her speaking engagements, is that she is more about Beth & less about Jesus. 

I think she has & continues to latch onto cultural trends she believes will further her own personal agenda; I believe the desired endgame of her personal agenda to be Beth in the pulpit, a reality at odds with scripture &, I believe, at odds with the beliefs & teachings of the Southern Baptist Convention of which I assume she still considers herself to be a part.

In an open letter she posted online in May of this year (which you can find ---> here), Ms. Moore explains her efforts to work within the "challenging dynamics" she clearly feels have been a constant source of frustration to her as a, "woman leader in the conservative Evangelical world." She jokes about wearing flats instead of high heels so as not to tower over a male whom she was serving alongside. She expresses her desire to make the following comment to male seminary students she claims talked down to her: "Brother, I was getting up before dawn to pray and to pore over the Scriptures when you were still in your pull ups." Her attitude is frankly haughty & unbecoming. Maybe the unnamed seminary students were wrong in their attitude toward or treatment of her; maybe, considering their status as seminary students, they know the scriptures well & thus have a gripe with her that is doctrinal in nature.

She maligns a handful of (unnamed) men who hold various positions within the Southern Baptist Convention who she claims were misogynistic in their treatment of her. She gives few specifics other than a general feeling she was ignored at times. She states she was the, "elephant in the room with a skirt on." I believe she was likely in a room with men who know the scriptures. They were uncomfortable with her presence in a visible leadership role, & rightly so, in my opinion. They were uncomfortable in the same way I (& likely many of you reading) would be if a woman stood up to preach on Sunday morning. Ms. Moore seems desperate to dismiss the idea that any ill feelings toward her might possibly be rooted in scripture; she insists anyone who is anything other than perfectly lovely to her is clearly a misogynistic pig. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the "challenging dynamics" of which she speaks are more about God's directives for the structure of the church as explained in scripture & less about men seeking to bully or demean her.

Ms. Moore paints herself as quite the martyr, having suffered for years within the "challenging dynamics" despite her efforts to do things like wear flats & refrain from making snarky comments to seminary students. She depicts herself as a martyr while demonizing male church leaders she refuses to name & whose supposed hurtful actions are referenced only in vague descriptions.

Ms. Moore claims she is speaking up now, "for her gender." She references "power structures of our Christian world" that she clearly feels feed attitudes of misogyny. I am certain there are men in positions of power within churches who say & do harmful things. I am not naive. I am also certain a healthy amount of negative feelings toward Beth Moore are rooted in her flagrant disregard for scripture & her insistence on standing before grown Christian men in a leadership role. She is attempting to conflate the #metoo movement with her personal aspirations to stand in the pulpit; anyone who opposes her, ignores her, or doesn't sit next to her at the leadership meeting becomes a male chauvinist instead of a Christian concerned with the honest application of scripture.

Ms. Moore's attempt at her own #metoo moment is sad & frustrating to me as a woman & a Christian. She suffered sexual abuse in her past, which is another reason it confounds me that she would even mention #metoo in the same letter as her complaints about men in leadership positions within the church appearing to be uncomfortable with her presence at their leadership meeting or ignoring her in an elevator (my preference on elevators is for men to ignore me, by the way). She could do a lot "for her gender," but instead she chooses to ride the coattails of a Twitter hashtag in an attempt to continue her years-long effort to gloss over important sections of the New Testament. 

I am old school, yes. I guess "old school" means I default to Paul & his inspired words rather than what's trendy on Twitter or all the rage in the megachurches. I genuinely believe women have no business in the pulpit or teaching in a classroom in which grown men are present, nor should they serve as church elders or deacons. I am uncertain how Ms. Moore feels about this, & this is because she has taken the road of least resistance that has lured so many others who position themselves as spokespeople for the cause of Christ (Jen Hatmaker comes to mind).

Not wishing to offend anyone (which might hurt book/merchandise sales), women like Beth Moore & Jen Hatmaker often avoid doctrine. When asked specific doctrinal questions, they give nonspecific answers that will not tie them to anything that might offend anyone (anyone except of course people who demand those positioning themselves as spiritual leaders answer doctrinal questions forthrightly using scripture). 

I recall a few years ago Jen Hatmaker was pressed on the issue of homosexual relationships. She finally publicly made some statement akin to, "love is love." Scores of Christian women were so relieved Jen gave them permission to continue avoiding difficult conversations with their homosexual friends & relatives; they praised her bravery on her Facebook page & stated they were so pleased with her answer. Her answer was the permission they needed to continue ignoring scripture. 

In the same way you ought to try & steer your friend who is committing adultery toward Christ & away from his sin, you ought to try to steer your friends engaged in homosexual relations to Christ & away from their sin. Everyone is fine with the part where you point people to Christ; it gets messier when you insist, as Christ does, that they recognize their sin, turn away from it, & sin no more.

Imagine if  Ms. Hatmaker had said, "I believe a Christian's first duty is to love. Be kind & loving to all, however, a Christian also has a duty to call a sin a sin. If we are not honest with our friends & relatives about the eventual, eternal consequences of their sin, if we don't encourage them to turn away from sin & toward Christ, we are choosing to ensure today is easier, for us & for them, while ignoring the eternal consequences of what is blatantly sinful behavior." Imagine how many women she may've emboldened to have hard but needed conversations with people in their lives if she had said that rather than posting a generic statement about, "love being love."

Do not think for a moment that what Jen Hatmaker posts online in any way absolves you of your responsibility to be honest about what scripture says about homosexual relationships. Do not rejoice that finally that old white guy Paul's words can be glossed over because Beth Moore wants to be the voice of the Southern Baptists. When those who profess Christ are saying & doing things that are out of line with scripture, you default to scripture, or you join them in their mockery of God's word. 

These women excel at making themselves known online. They share warm stories about their families & the occasional recipe. Unfortunately they both are also considered spokeswomen for the cause of Christ, & it is in this area I take issue with them because they embrace popularity over gospel truth too often for my taste. They avoid doctrine like the plague while falling all over themselves in a rush to make gushing, emotional statements about geopolitical matters about which they know little to nothing. I know how Beth Moore feels about President Trump. I know how she feels about our nation's immigration policy. I know how she feels about the #metoo movement. I do not know how she feels about women in the pulpit, or infant baptism, or any number of issues that ought to concern someone who purports to be a spiritual leader more than the current administration's foreign or domestic policies or the latest topic trending on Twitter. 

I believe Beth Moore is often more of a detriment to Christ & His kingdom than an asset. There is nothing inherently wrong with being popular & selling books, but it becomes a spiritual issue when popularity & sales are the endgame, or when hearing your own voice from the pulpit becomes the endgame, & if scripture gets in the way of that, scripture is sacrificed to ego.

This may not win me many friends. I am okay with that. I have Trey & my books & a lot of coffee. I figure at this point if you are still reading my blog you love me a lot &/or let what I say roll right off your back. This is something about which I obviously feel strongly. Demographically I  am classified as an "Evangelical Christian," & I, as should all Christians, take a keen interest in the views espoused by Christians with loud voices & broad platforms from which to shout. I suppose sometimes their shouting is so bothersome to me I feel obligated to at least whisper a warning into the void.

I think Christians sometimes unthinkingly desire our own celebrities. The actors & actresses who star in the television shows & films we watch are attractive & entertaining, but we know these people are not, for the most part, like us. They do not share our ideological values, & so we keep looking, desiring celebrities of our very own in much the same way the Jews clamored for a king. Sadly the majority of those claiming to espouse the word of God via television, social media, & other outlets, while they may initially have altruistic intentions, are eventually won over by the lure of money, the lure of their own voice, & the lure of their face on the screen. They increasingly ignore scripture that might hinder their celebrity status & their future goals.

There is no place in Christianity for celebrities. We do not need a spokesmodel, nor do we need someone to make the church for which Christ bled & died more palatable to those mired in the world's twisted gender politics.

God always has His reasons. He doesn't hate you, ladies. He knows what He is doing. You can trust Him, or you can do it your way & push your way into arenas in which you do not belong, but know that as you push, you drag others with you, others who look to you for spiritual guidance. The Bible is replete with warnings for those who drag others to sin with them. It grieves me to see the direction Ms. Moore & a handful of others are slowly dragging what is the largest Evangelical denomination in this nation. Is this how we'll teach young men to lead their family? To lead the Lord's church? With Beth Moore up on a stage with a microphone in her hand?

Ladies, you can become an astronaut & fly to the moon; you can become a lawyer & sit on the US Supreme Court. You can teach the children in Sunday school. You can be a VBS volunteer. You can offer food & companionship to the elderly & to orphans in a loving, warm way most men cannot. You can spend most of your time at home with the sons you are raising, & in so doing you can have a tremendous impact on the future leadership of the church.

The Lord wants you, & He needs you, ladies, but He does not want you in the pulpit. He does not need you standing before grown men & proclaiming His word. I don't care if you're on stage alongside your husband. I don't care if you are a fabulous public speaker. I don't care if you believe your testimony is just so powerful it simply must be shared from the pulpit. These attempted justifications ring as hollow & drip with as much selfishness as the adulterous couple proclaiming their union is clearly blessed by Lord, that He so obviously led them to each other. No. No He did not.

The Lord is not going to lead you somewhere that contradicts scripture. He is not calling you to the pulpit, ladies. He is not placing anything on your heart that He intends for you to share publicly before men, ladies. I promise. He is not. This is about you & your desires; it is not about the Lord & His desires.

We shall not adjust our Bible to the age . . .  we shall adjust the age to the Bible. At a time when the field is ripe for the church to show the world the goodness & forethought of God & the purposeful, precise way He created & designed everything, certainly including men & women, many instead choose to attempt to blur gender lines within the church. What a grave & tragic mistake.

If you live in the South as I do it's likely you can't drive a mile without passing a church. I encourage you to do two things. First, read your Bible. Read Paul's letters, which are filled with instructions to first century Christians as to how to structure the church & how to conduct worship services. There are some specifics in there that may surprise you. Read what it says & visit churches until you find one that is earnestly attempting to organize & conduct itself according to the scriptures. I will tell you if you sit down & a woman stands up to lead a prayer or begins preaching, well, you need to keep looking. This is not me being an annoying know-it-all telling you to read Twilight; this comes from a much higher authority.

I have no lecture planned for next week, but you just never know what might transpire between now & then. To those who asked, I hope I have sufficiently answered any questions regarding why Trey & I are not members of Beth Moore's fan club. To those who didn't ask, I hope you don't consider this a complete waste of the precious few minutes that remain of the weekend.

Have a wonderful week.


1 comment:

  1. Oh, if there were men in the local church (nationwide) with your conviction we would have fewer issues such as this to debate. You are absolutely correct in this blog, and I am most proud of you. FIL