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MacArthur, Moore, and Gender

Bullying. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and sadly it occurs between siblings in the family of Christ. We are brothers and sisters first, and we are not loving each other well when we make disparaging quips about one other.

We are speaking, of course, concerning the recent remarks by John MacArthur about Beth Moore. (“Go home. . . . Just because you have the skill to sell jewelry on the TV sales channel doesn’t mean you should be preaching.”) We may not all agree with one another about gender roles in the church or how to interpret these Biblical teachings, but respect is required to engage in a healthy conversation.

I (Michelle) was not always a complementarian.

In my past, I was an elder in the Presbyterian (USA) Church. I was a young medical professional, that was raised to believed I could be and do anything as well or better than my male peers. Why would I believe that God would think any “less” of me than what my mom and my school counselors told me? I equated my value with being equal to a man in every way.

It never crossed my mind that the sexes being complementary could be better, healthier, and, most of all, Biblical.

After three years of serving, I rolled off of our board and went to a different church closer to my new home. As I matured in my faith and began asking God to show me where my views were clashing with an authentic Biblical worldview, He showed me that my egalitarian view was not in line with His plan for men and women.

As I (Julie) listened to MacArthur’s remarks this past weekend, I was incredibly disheartened to hear the way he spoke about a fellow believer.

And even more so to hear the cheers and laughs his words drew from the audience. It is important to note that those remarks, while stated by someone who claims to be a proponent of complementarianism, are not a true representation of this viewpoint! Complementarianism does not mean women are inferior, that they are “less” or incapable in any way. Complementarianism does not grant permission to demean a sister or brother in Christ, regardless of their viewpoint. Jesus showed us a better way.

Men and women were created by God to reflect the nature and character of God in the world.

God’s image manifests itself in male and female: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). This holds true in marriage and in the church. We serve as partners in the use of our gifts in ministry, while seeking to uphold New Testament norms which teach that the lead teacher/preacher role in the gathering church and the elder/overseer role are for qualified men.

The vision of the Bible is an equal partnership of men and women in creation, in marriage, in salvation, in the gifts of the Spirit, and in the ministries of the church, but exercised in ways that honor gender.

Renew.org recommends specific resources that can help everyday believers who want to understand these teachings:

  • See the free eBook at Renew.org by Renee Sproles, or buy it on Amazon.

We believe in the full empowerment of women in the church by their gifts. We also believe God created us for complementary roles, as men and women. We are both currently serving as full-time ministerial staff in the local church, as a Discipleship and Women’s Minister (Michelle) and a Children’s Minister (Julie). We share our opinions, the insights that God gives us, and hard truths with the other male and female ministers. Never have we felt less than or that our roles were not of great value to our congregation and the Kingdom.

We believe in a healthy complementarian position, but it begins with a Christ-like posture toward each other.

We are brothers and sisters in Christ. As such, we must treat one another with respect and love. But this is also the world and we are just people, each bringing our own personal baggage. We are going to disagree! It is absolutely going to happen. But disagreement does not have to turn to personal attack, especially when the person is not present.

When disagreements come (and they will!), we must follow Jesus’ example.

He would never have called His children to bully each other or hurt the body of believers by approving divisiveness.

Respectful discourse is vital! We must talk to each other, not at or about each other, all the while modeling the love of Jesus, assuming the best in the other person.

Jesus saves. He calls us to makes disciples who make disciples that trust and follow Him. Whether we are men or women, this is our calling as followers of Christ. The way we love one another will show our response to this call.

When disagreements come (and they will!), we must follow Jesus’ example.
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