A Step Too Far

The spiritual madness of our times can be seen in current events. In a week when a Bible translator in Cameroon was murdered and his wife’s hand cut off, the talk in the USA is of a pastor sitting in the seat of scorn demeaning, denigrating, and dismissing a teacher of the Bible who happens to be a woman.

John MacArthur this week made a pithy statement about Beth Moore to “go home” before an room echoing with loud guffaws from those who understood the meaning of the remark. In fact, many who heard this understood its meaning to be that a woman’s role is to stay home, have babies, and run the kitchen. He then added unchallenged accusations of narcissism and equated her skills to those of a woman hawking products on a shopping channel.

I find statements like this to be deeply discouraging and an embarrassment to those of us who hold complementarian views. His tone evidences male bias and colors all of us with stains that make it hard for people to see the Spirit and the truth of what God has said. In a seeming effort to uphold the truth of God’s Word, his statement in fact undermines it. It is a step too far. It is not worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One way to recognize whether a person is speaking by the Spirit of God, by the flesh, or by the spirit of this world is that the Holy Spirit never goes a step too far. The Spirit of God never upholds truth at the expense of grace. It also never, as so many do today, upholds grace at the expense of truth. The church has always had the problem of people who step too far with God’s Word. John MacArthur is not unique in this. I have heard other Bible teachers who I respect go a step too far. They do it in ways that are not worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, I affirm the teaching that the role of teaching/ruling elder in the church is reserved for men. I don’t apologize for that, as it is God’s Word and not mine. However, the application of this truth is exclusive to weekly worship services and teaching/ruling elders. When the Apostle Paul instructs women who pray or prophesy in worship services to do so with their heads covered (1 Corinthians 11:4-6), it seems obvious to Paul that women in worship services were praying and prophesying. He addressed who was to oversee that the preaching of the Word was in accordance with truth, but did not exclude women from roles in public worship services.

The arguments given to support this by John MacArthur and others seem rooted in the idea that the ability to rightly handle, understand, or teach the Word of God is exclusive to males. As if woman have no insights to give the rest of us in understanding and applying the Word of God, because this is exclusive to male genes. This is a shocking step too far. It is not worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know from the Bible that every believer has an anointing of the Holy Spirit and thus is able to understand the Bible (1 John 2:20). We know that the one who illuminates our minds to understand the Word of God is the Holy Spirit, and that we all, male and female, have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). We know that in this age, the Holy Spirit is given to all disciples of the Lord Jesus. Peter preached in Acts 2:17-18, “… I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” As we understand from Scripture, another word for prophesying is preaching. Preaching is to declare the Word of God with authority. Clearly this gift of preaching is not exclusive to men but given to females and males. It is a step too far to declare that this is only for men. It is not worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ. The question is not whether women have been given this spiritual gift and calling, but where it is best to be used. I personally have benefited greatly from insights into Scripture by many women, including Beth Moore.

Another aspect of this which is a step too far is the spirit in which it is given. To demean, denigrate, and dismiss because you don’t agree with someone is such a violation of Scripture, it is shocking to hear it from a man who claims to know and stand for the Word of God. Ephesians 4:29-32 and 5:1-2 says, “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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”

Whatever may be said of words like “go home”, they do not build up. They tear down. The words do not give grace to those who hear, but give a kind of mocking and dismissive contempt. To compare a woman of God teaching the Word of God to a woman hawking things on a shopping network is not kind, it is not tenderhearted, it is not loving, and it is not true. It is not worthy of a man who offers himself as a teacher to pastors. It is a step too far that grieves the Holy Spirit. It is not worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even if we aim to correct an error in some aspect of teaching and application, it is always to be done in a spirit of humbleness, kindness, with an evident desire to correct and restore. The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy this way in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” I am not saying Beth Moore needs correction. However, if a fellow believer does, it should still be done in a spirit that is kind and gentle. It is hard not to see in these comments those who are quarrelsome and frankly joined in the Devil’s work in dividing, destroying and driving away. It is a step too far. It is not worthy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Another step too far is to presume to be able to accurately judge the heart and motivations of another. To accuse someone of being narcissistic is to judge and condemn a heart and to take a place no one should have in evaluating another (1 Corinthians 4:5). We should at times point out behaviors that contrast with Scripture (which I am trying to do in this post), but to judge the heart and motivation of another is a step too far. No one has the right to take this place but the Lord Jesus. All of this criticism of a narcissistic spirit comes from someone sitting in seat of judgment, making scornful comments to the guffaws of the audience, in clips that have gone viral and stand uncorrected. This raises the same questions of the one who gave them as those that he and his partners on stage raised about Beth Moore. It is embarrassing and not worthy of a man known for his teaching of the Word of God. It diminishes and demeans the Word of God that he aims to uphold.

This also points out the danger that Paul warns about in 1 Corinthians 8:1, “This knowledge puffs up but love builds up.” When knowledge becomes a club that we feel free to use to demean, denigrate, and dismiss others, we have left the truth of Jesus. It is a step too far. It evidences a male mindset of superiority, not from the seat of a teacher, but from the seat of scorn. It joins the spirit of the accuser of the brethren, which already has too many voices.

I pray this blog is not given — or perceived to be given — in the same spirit that I have said falls far short of a mature person of faith. I hope it brings reflection, correction and repentance. I pray that those who see this for what it is — the evidence of male bias and discrimination against women — will realize that this is not the truth of Scripture or the way it should be used. It is a step too far.

There is only one Lord in the church, and that is Jesus. There is only one who renews the minds by the Word of God, and that is the Holy Spirit. Every part of service and teaching in the church is important. In a week where a brother was murdered for his service of Christ and his wife’s hand cut off, let’s understand who the true enemy is. The church is to be a safe place. Teaching, correction is to be done in love, with a spirit of building up. Let us teach the Word of God as Jesus did in the perfect balance of grace and truth (John 1:17).

1 thought on “A Step Too Far

  1. I pray we can all learn from this unfortunate situation so that we as the Church shine
    brightly for Jesus Christ that others will know the way to salvation!!
    Thank you Pastor Byron for clearly explaining what Scripture says about these things.

    Like

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