John MacArthur was right, and John MacArthur was also very, very wrong.
First, for a renowned pastor such as John MacArthur to participate in a word association during a celebration honoring his 50 years in the ministry is tacky and unprofessional. During this word association, he replied "Go home," in response to the name "Beth Moore." As this was at his 50th anniversary celebration and the facilitator and the audience knew of MacArthur's public dislike of Beth Moore, this was highly inappropriate.
It was also mean, insecure, and didn't certainly didn't meet the Philippians 4:8 litmus test: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things," (ESV).
Another, unidentified man on stage joined in, declaring that Moore, a teacher and author of women's Bible studies, was narcissistic, This coming from the stage of a 50th anniversary celebration honoring John MacArthur, who was sitting right there, is nearly comical. I have personally participated in about 10 of Beth Moore's Bible studies, including one titled "Lit," which is about being a Christian communicator, and can say without hesitation that she does not give any indication through her books or studies that she is narcissistic.
No biblical basis for a woman to preach
However, John MacArthur was right on one point: there is no biblical basis for a woman to preach. The Church hierarchy is reflective of the relationship that she has with Christ. As Christ is head over the Church (His bride), so a preacher must be male to lead his congregation. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:2-5 (ESV) : "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?"
Now, granted, some of these qualifications Paul lists in his letter to Timothy disqualify MacArthur from leading a church based on his comments about Beth Moore, a sister in Christ and teacher of the Word.
Moreover, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:12, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet." Women are to teach other women and children, as Paul wrote to Titus. "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God," (Titus 2:3-5 ESV).
What did Jesus do?
While it is ideal for women to be "busy at home," we must also remember that the Proverbs 31 woman was well-thought of as a business woman who nurtured both her work and her family. We must also remember to whom Jesus first appeared after the Resurrection. He appeared to Mary Magdalene, who He had previously cast seven demons from her. He first appeared not to the 11 remaining disciples but to a woman. Jesus called her by name, to which "She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”)" [John 20:16b ESV].
This was a huge deal. Back then, women were no better than cattle. Property. They were not allowed to be taught in the Temple. As she cried out "Rabboni!" did Jesus correct her? No. Of course not. Just like Mary, Martha's sister, who hung on His every word at His feet, Jesus wanted the hearts of women to turn to Him, just like He wanted the hearts of men. Jesus in fact told Mary to go and tell the disciples, who were in hiding, that Jesus was alive.
In the early church, men like Peter and John preached and women supported them --financially and with hospitality-- but the women did not preach. Still, if the women had remained home as John MacArthur had word-associated Beth Moore, the disciples would have lost a key cog in the evangelism machine.
And that right there is John MacArthur's biggest mistake during this whole Beth Moore fiasco. Millions of women all over the world have grown deeper in Christ through her studies. I am one of those. Her love for the Word is infectious. Her love for Jesus and for the women who participate in the studies is tangible. In an age in which feminism, to make a point from the MacArthur video, is marching across the church landscape, we should not be alienating and degrading each other--for the world is watching.
Being a strong, biblical woman of God
How do you become a strong, biblical women of God? You study the Word. Don't just read it. Study it for yourself. Get a set of good commentaries (I like Matthew Henry's) and a good Bible handbook and study. Pray. Serve in your local church in a position that is aligned with your spiritual gifts. Minister to those in need. Realize that your family is your most important mission field and teach your children. Respect your husband.
Being a strong woman of God is not about being a pushover, for there are many abusers in the church who weaponize the biblical concept of "submission." It is about being strong with the strength only Christ can give and filled with the peace that only comes through submitting to His will.
Being a strong man of God means acknowledging that women have unique, God-given gifts that they use to reach other women in order to share Christ's salvation story with them. If women are alienated and disregarded as viable ministers of the Gospel, then all of Jesus' work to include women in His ministry is for nothing.
Peter wrote it best in 1 Peter 2:9. "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." All saved by grace in Christ are ministers, though with different jobs and positions within the Body, to declare His praises.
Petty backbiting and hurtful words, though, hinder the furtherment of the Kingdom here on earth.
(c) 2019 Terrie Bentley McKee
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