American Christianity spends a lot of time debating things that, quite frankly, don’t interest me at all—I’ll leave it to the suits and ties.
But this morning, I find myself in protection mode. I’m pissed off. So I’m jumping in.
I’ve spent a chunk of my life studying what separates men from boys. It’s absolutely not age. I know 15-year-old men and 45-year-old boys. Unfortunately, some of the latter have been highlighted in media recently. What I saw in a recent YouTube clip, taken at a pastors’ conference, was a room full of predators. That’s exactly how boys act. They find the easy kill and take it. Men, on the other hand, are protectors. They come to the aid of the hurt, the ignored, the disparaged.
On that YouTube clip, a godly woman was run through the mud by a popular pastor, and all the boys in the room laughed and clapped and blindly fell in line.
Beth Moore is a best-selling author and well-known in Christian circles. Her teachings and studies have helped countless people know God and enter into a relationship with Him while toeing the line of orthodox Christianity. Recently, she’s come under fire from conservative evangelicals for challenging long-held gender roles in the church, suggesting that women are capable of teaching, preaching, and holding leadership positions.
At a recent gathering of pastors, originally meant to be a celebration of MacArthur’s 50th year in ministry, the well-respected pastor was asked what he would say to Mrs. Moore. His words: “Go home!” He then proceeded to say that just because she could sell jewelry on QVC doesn’t mean she should be teaching the word of God. He reasoned that women like Beth Moore don’t want equality, or there would be more female plumbers. Instead, he explained that women want power, they want to rule and dominate men, implying this was the real fire fueling the #MeToo movement.
We read this, and then wonder why increasing percentages of Americans believe those of us who call ourselves Christians are nothing more than jerks.
What was on display in that clip is embarrassing.
As a young seminary student, John MacArthur was one of my heroes. I read and owned every book of his, including the expensive commentaries. As I got older, I lost interest. His teachings had become increasingly bitter. His radio program was called Grace to You, but a more accurate title would have been Judgement Upon You. I’m learning that giving grace to people includes loving and bearing with people you disagree with, choosing to assume the best of them.
There are things I used to believe that I don’t believe anymore. Just because I used to believe something and now I believe something else, my new belief isn’t inherently the right belief. Maybe my old belief was right. I am very convinced through scripture and my conscience that God equips and calls women to have senior positions in the church including that of teacher. This is how the church I started and lead has operated for 23 years. I didn’t used to think that but I have respect for people who still hold to that position. They have a couple simple scriptures that require a complex response.
That being said, I can still respect people who disagree with me on this topic. Honestly, I find it refreshing that a church would be so concerned with not violating their understanding of scripture that they would make a counter-cultural decision to limit the role of women. I am not happy that women are limited, don’t get me wrong, but I also choose to be encouraged that people would place scripture above their personal or cultural preferences. There are a small number of us men who are okay being in the minority. I’ll gladly sign up to take the minority position of valuing scripture above all else—we just happen to disagree about what the Bible says on this topic. But the willingness to be unpopular is another mark separating men and boys.
But here’s what totally pisses me off—no one in that room full of “men” stood up and told John MacArthur to stop. Not one “man” came to the defense of a sister in Christ who was being publicly mocked and ridiculed. Is there no man present who thought it atrocious to compare Beth Moore to a TV saleswoman? Men would never listen to another guy combatively telling his wife or daughter to “Go home!” But a boy would. A boy would laugh along with the other bullies and leave the defenseless to fight their own battles. That room was room was full of boys, and not one of them was willing to tell the emperor he had no clothes. I’m disappointed in that room. And I’m disappointed in John MacArthur. He increasingly stokes judgement and indignation in his followers. Women deserve much better than he or that room full of boys had to offer them.
It is hard to imagine anyone telling the Old Testament leader Deborah or Lydia, who was a major financial and business force in the early church, to ”go home” because their words and leadership weren’t needed. Crazy what was said by MacArthur. Crazy how much applause was in the room. Crazy no man stood against the masses.
Christians need to take a long look in the mirror.
We need to understand how the rest of culture sees us—as jerks. We’re viewed as mindlessly supporting every move of a president who lacks character, and then viewed as a boys club who snickers at women who are taking risks to grow the church. Beth Moore is a positive and Godly influencer and John MacArthur should be ashamed of his words. The influence of Christianity in our culture is waning, and the reason just might be staring back at us from the mirror.
A man will protect those who need it. A boy never will. A man will walk the unpopular path alone if it’s the right one. A boy will only run where the crowd points.
Will the true men of our faith please stand up?
Every other Friday, thousands of people get unfiltered encouragement and challenge from me delivered to their inboxes. If you enjoyed or were challenged by this, subscribe for more at the bottom of the page or at briantome.com. To quote the great John McClane… “Welcome to the party, pal.”