Wow. My respect for Beth Moore just shot through the roof with the letter she wrote regarding how she has been treated as a female leader in the Church. My husband asked me this evening if I’d read some letter Beth Moore wrote to men in the church. I’ve been MIA from social media today and had heard nothing about it (that always seems to be the case when something significant happens in the world). Naturally, I Googled it immediately and read it. Not being super familiar with the substance of Beth Moore’s doctrine, I honestly didn’t know what I’d find.
This letter reveals the heart of a woman who chases after Jesus relentlessly, who is a dedicated and humble student of God’s word, who has sought to balance the precarious tension of the biblical principles of complementarianism and the high calling and equal value God gives to women, and who writes not with bitterness or selfish gain or a throw-it-to-the-wind departure from Scripture but with heart-wrenching, prayerful, beseeching plea for change that glorifies God and gives women the same dignity and freedom Scripture allows them. I can’t speak much to her teaching and theology, as I’ve never done any of her studies, but I can find nothing in this letter to disagree with, theologically or in tone and intent.
I was shocked to read how Beth has been treated. The vague pictures she painted only scratch the surface, no doubt. I realize with humility and gratitude that for much of my life, with few exceptions, I have been surrounded by men who value me, encourage me to use my gifts, listen to my wisdom, give weight to my opinion, and respect me as a woman and as a leader. That is a profound (and sadly unique) reality. So let me say thank you to men who, in various seasons and to varying degrees, have been those kind of men… Travis Hamm, Bill Bayer, T.J. Bayer, Bryan Bayer, Rob Baas, Gary Hamm, Jesse Hamm, Peter Assad, Roe Gammon, Chris Baker, Craig Dunham, Jason Rose, Jared Crabtree, Ben Wishall, Chris Klein, Jason Todd, Josh Moore, Phong Nguyen, Chad Brockmeyer…I am undoubtedly forgetting someone.
It is largely because of YOU that, in a world where being a woman is a constant uphill battle against deep-rooted oppression, misogyny, condescension, suppression, exploitation, and objectification, I am wholly content with the biblical picture of complementarianism, so much so that I do not feel the need to depart from it in search of liberation. I am beautifully free as I am. That I have seen and experienced the beauty and protective care of biblical submission and hence joyfully embrace it. That I have discovered, developed, refined, and used my spiritual gifts and skills within the body of Christ. Beth’s words remind me what a gift that is. It is a gift I must begin fervently praying my two daughters experience within the church as well.
I have studied Scripture extensively on the topic of male and female roles. I have studied Greek roots, dived into cultural context, read commentaries, written academic papers on it, the whole shebang. I have sought to disprove aspects of complementarianism in seasons when I didn’t particularly like my God-given role as a woman and wanted to find an “out”. Through all my study, prayer, and reading of both sides, there are two clear principles I simply cannot ignore, and they are:
- God gives women more value, purpose, equality, and true freedom than any other culture at any other point in time. In this way He is radically countercultural.
- God gives men and women different roles in the home, the family, and the church, meant for His glory and the good of all parties. In this way He is radically countercultural.
I could go into more detail on the latter, but that’s not the point. The point is that when men tangibly demonstrate the first principle to their sisters, like those I named above have in my life, the second point is FAR easier to accept and live out. No, not accept. That makes it sound like something bad we must resign ourselves to. The correct word is embrace. Those two principles MUST work hand in hand in order for women (and men, too) to flourish. I believe I’m a testimony of that, as are several of my dear friends whose husbands are named above.
Oh, church, how we need more men like these. How beautiful it is when men and women labor together for God’s kingdom, with different but equal roles, with dignity and respect and love for one another. For the whole point of God’s design for gender roles is that together we paint a picture, an imperfect sliver of the gloriously complete one, of our incredible God.
Men, when you rise up and treat your sisters in Christ with dignity, honor, and respect…when you encourage them to use all the gifts God has given them for the glory of God and the good of others…when you uphold biblical complementarianism not out of protection of your own sense of power and superiority but out of recognition of the wisdom and beauty of God’s supreme design…when you value the perspectives, opinions, experiences, and dare I say, emotions of your sisters as much as you value one another’s…when you give women as much freedom as Scripture does…when you seek to protect and care for them in a Boaz-kind-of-way in a world where they are exploited and discarded…then, as Elisabeth Elliot so powerfully titles one of her books, you help free us to joyfully rise up and say, “Let me be a woman!”
P.s. – that’s not to say women’s pursuit of liberation and power is all your fault, men and that if you just treat us right we’ll behave ourselves (hah!). We have our own sin issues, too, that complicate your calling and go right back to the Garden of Eden, but that’s a topic for another day. ? For now, let’s just agree that you can lovingly help us live our our role (point #2) by demonstrating God’s perspective on us (point #1).
P.s.s. – I have absolutely ZERO interest in debating complementarianism/egalitarianism online. All comments that seek to start such a debate WILL be deleted. Read your Bibles, pray with humility, flesh it out in your church community, and live out what the Holy Spirit leads you to through those steps. You can disagree with complementarianism and still agree with the heart of this post, so there’s really no need to debate, now is there?