I just read the Christian Post article on John MacArthur’s recent comments & clarifications about his views of women in the church. To be honest, his clarifications have confused me even more on what he actually thinks about women in the church.
In the past, I’ve listened to John MacArthur’s sermons regularly. I’ve been deeply impacted by his preaching ministry, as many others have. This is part of why I find it difficult to simply dismiss his comments, no matter how unnecessarily offensive they may seem.
I read the article, then thought it’d be best to listen to his whole sermon on the topic, just to be absolutely sure the quotations were given in context. I don’t think they quoted him out of context, but listening to the whole sermon certainly helps in understanding why he made such strong statements (even when unnecessarily insensitive).
But the reason I wanted to write this quick blog post is because I thought it worth making sure we realize that we don’t have be in a “John MacArthur” or “Beth Moore” camp. I’ve been asked multiple times in the last few weeks, “Do you agree with MacArthur or Moore?” My response has been, “With regard to what, exactly? They’ve said so many different things!” And more importantly, who says I have to agree with either of them?
I suppose I want to be sure we know that these are not the only two options. We don’t have to hold to John MacArthur’s views which seem to hint that women are literally not to speak a word as soon as they enter the doors of the church building. And we don’t have to agree with Beth Moore who claims to be complementarian, and yet preaches in churches.
This isn’t “either-or.” For me, I think the Scripture is clear that the role of pastor, and the responsibility of preaching to the gathered church, is limited to men (1 Tim. 2:12-15; 1 Cor. 14:33-35). However, I want women to serve the church in every other way. I don’t see the Bible limiting other roles and responsibilities to men alone.
With that, let me mention what I see to be the bigger issues:
The Problems with all this Fuss
- Many Christians will claim a strong opinion without reference to what the Scripture actually teaches. John MacArthur desires to be absolutely faithful to Scripture, no matter the cultural or social ramifications. This is a good thing, even if he’s wrong in how he says it, or wrong about the implications of what the Bible teaches. Because of the culture in which we live, so many just assume that what the Bible teaches on women in the church is merely cultural, without actually looking at the context itself.
- We’re far too quick to choose a side. Why do we have to jump to fully supporting one person over another? I can’t help but think some of this is to get in on the “excitement” and build our own personal platforms. Strong statements are not bad, but nuance is sometimes needed. I think you’d be surprised at how the Christian Post’s article does not communicate MacArthur’s calm and clear teaching on this subject. They quoted him, yes, but watching the sermon, it sounds like a different animal altogether (not in content, but in context & tone).
- We’re far too quick to categorize people in one camp or the other. Some of my friends lump me into the John MacArthur camp because I’m complementarian (yes, I do believe there are unique roles for men and women in the home and in the leadership of the church). A few others will lump me into the Beth Moore camp because I’m ok with women praying, reading Scripture, and even leading worship in the main church gathering. However, I don’t consider myself to be in the MacArthur nor the Moore camp when it comes to defining complementarity.
- We. must. treat. one. another. better. I mentioned being greatly impacted by John MacArthur. I still am being impacted by his ministry. But I’m convinced he could be just as clear and faithful to the text while not having such a mocking tone when it comes to particular issues. And I’m speaking mainly of his original “Go Home” comments weeks ago. When I listened to his full sermon, I found his tone surprisingly calm, collected, and straightforward (you may disagree). But when Todd Friel asked him for a “pithy response” to the words, “Beth Moore,” he could have refused to give such a short initial response. Or at least, the responders could have spoken about the issue without so directly attacking Beth Moore individually.
Let’s keep it simple: preach and teach the Bible unashamedly. Struggle with the Scripture where there might be gray areas (and don’t assume it is gray because other people tell you it is gray). And be faithful. Don’t take your cues from what’s blowing up social media, or from who’s popular right now (whether MacArthur or Moore or anyone else). Take your cues from the Word of God.