Most Christians, especially women, are aware of the prolific Bible studies and speaking ministry of Beth Moore. I, along with thousands of other women (and men), have heard Beth speak on multiple occasions. She is a gifted speaker and has a passion for Jesus and God’s word that is evident in all of her studies. The first Bible study of hers I ever did was on the Tabernacle and I learned more about the tabernacle and how it pointed to Christ, than during any other tabernacle study I had done before (even in Bible college). I am always challenged by her studies, not to emulate her, but to follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Recently John MacArthur, a well-known Evangelical who has written multiple commentaries, literally skewered Beth Moore and went off on a tangent about female pastors, the “#Me Too” movement, liberalism, and the downfall of the church when it listens to culture. After hearing the actual tape and reading many of the comments following his diatribe I have to say, I am really disheartened that he felt not only free to make his comments, but seemed proud of himself for making them.
I did not have a problem with his stance of only male preachers, and although I hold a different opinion, he is entitled to his conviction on what he believes to be an accurate interpretation of Scripture. I am not even in disagreement that Scriptural interpretation should not be dictated by culture (although I think we have different views on what that means). I was, however, stunned by his blatant self-righteousness and petty spirit in making the comment that Beth should “go home,” and the laughter from his cronies following that comment.
So here are some of my thoughts on lessons we can learn from this encounter.
Disagreement does not have to be handled with callous disregard for others.
It is okay to be in theological disagreement with someone. I think most Christians will tell you they are not in total agreement with every scholar and Scriptural interpretation out there. That is where it is important to study Scripture, the context in which it is written, the culture of the time, and if you are lucky enough to know Greek and Hebrew, the actual nuances of the language in which the Bible was written. But we need to always treat others with a dignity and respect that should be inherent in the way we as Christians interact with others.
Being a reflection of Jesus includes more than being morally right.
Jesus was sinless–the only person who ever walked this earth without sin. And in his ministry he criticized the Pharisees and religious leaders more than sinners. And those self-righteous leaders actually were outraged by Jesus. You can be morally right, but if you do not love, have kindness, and treat others with dignity, it will certainly tell the world you are more concerned about being “right” than loving God and loving your neighbor.
A Christian can afford to be gracious in their words.
In response to this whole issue, on Twitter Beth Moore took the high road and made her twitter feed gracious and kind–and stayed true to her calling from God. When you are in a situation where criticism comes, and it will, how will you react? Will you season your words with graciousness or will you react with disdain and defense mechanisms? “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24.
Belittling others ends up belittling yourself.
The damage that John MacArthur did to his own reputation is immense. My problem with Mr. MacArthur is not that he was in disagreement with the view that women be allowed to preach (although that is a discussion for another day), my issue is that he belittled others who held that view. As a Christian I can disagree with a viewpoint another person has, but being derogatory and disrespectful in a world that watches carefully, does so much damage to the body of Christ. There are ways to state your opinions without belittling others.
There are so many more issues here I could address, but for today, I will stop here. I am including a thoughtful post that I found on You Tube by Laine Sebring on “Preaching Donkey” that summarizes a lot of my feelings. Remember folks: BE KIND!