My Dearest Brothers,
What a fall we’ve had. Last month, John MacArthur said some hurtful things about our sister in Christ, Beth Moore. He told her to “Go home,” as I’m sure you’ve already heard. But for many of us, it didn’t feel like just a message to Beth. This one cut us particularly deep for a number of reasons. His words were reckless, his tone was mocking, and his teaching was careless. I was reminded of the very wise words in James 3:5-6: “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.” A few spoken words, and social media was lit on fire.
Then emboldened women spoke up, stood up, and preached up—impelled and propelled by the Spirit—#NotGoingHomeEmboldened women spoke up, stood up, and preached up—impelled and propelled by the Spirit—#NotGoingHome Click To Tweet
Brothers, any time your sisters speak up I know that it can feel uncomfortable and possibly even threatening for some of you. I’ve been told that it sometimes even feel like we are trying to take over, shove you aside, and put you on the “bad guy” list.
I’ve noticed when gendered issues like this flair up, the temptation may be for those of you who are activated to go on either offense or defense and do battle. Perhaps it may feel like your position is threatened, or that we want to take something away from you. But we don’t. God’s table is pretty big, you know. There’s no need to double down or to be on your guard; rather, make room, lend an ear, and hear our stories. What you’ll discover are our aching and weary hearts, no doubt, as well as our longing to join you at the table.
Fear not, brother.
And then, more recently, yet another #ChurchToo story emerged involving a popular Christian comedian, John Crist. It’s just the latest of story after story hitting our newsfeeds of male pastors involved in church abuse scandals. Yes, it’s getting old, but the stories must be told, the hurt must be expressed, and shalom must be restored.
All of this is really hard, and I want you to know that I see you, brother. You don’t want to be lumped in with the “bad guys.” You’re not “like them,” so the temptation again is to go on the offense by pulling away from your sisters, believing that it’s safer that way. You see, there is a pretty common distortion these days: the belief that women are dangerous temptresses, so it’s better to just keep them at a distance. Usually, when there’s a moral failure on a male pastor’s part, the resounding cry is, “If he would have followed the Billy Graham Rule, this wouldn’t have happened!”
I’ll never forget the time another local pastor and I were arranging a time to meet up for coffee to talk ministry. I was really excited to pick his brain on some challenges we were dealing with at church, but once we found a time and location, he responded with, “That sounds great, but I can only meet with you if you bring along one of your male pastors or if I bring my wife.” Cue the record scratch, then shame, embarrassment, and disappointment.Scripture gives us a kingdom imagination of brothers and sisters partnering together in close proximity of one another. Jesus and Mary, Jesus and Martha, Paul and Junia, Deborah and Barack. ... the 'Blessed Alliance.' Click To Tweet
While boundaries are certainly necessary, the problem with this narrative is that it continues to sexualize your sisters. Scripture offers a better narrative. Scripture gives us a kingdom imagination of brothers and sisters partnering together in close proximity to one another. Jesus and Mary, Jesus and Martha, Paul and Junia, Deborah and Barack. Carolyn Custis James calls this the “Blessed Alliance.”
“What has the ring of something innovative and progressive is actually a remnant of humanity’s forgotten ancient past—an idea with primordial biblical roots that can be traced back to the Garden of Eden.
The notion that things work better and human beings become their best selves when men and women work together is found on page 1 of the Bible. When God was launching the most ambitious enterprise the world has ever known, the team he put together to do the job was male and female.
Adam and Eve faced a challenge of Mount Everest proportions that required a solid connection between themselves and their creator. As his vice-regents, together they were charged with looking after things on His behalf—wisely to steward and utilize the earth’s resources. Their goal together was to build his gracious kingdom on earth. No square inch of earth is excluded. No arena of life is beyond the parameters of their joint rule…
[God created] a Blessed Alliance between male and female. Having created his male and female image bearers, ‘God blessed them,’ then spread before them the global mandate to rule and subdue on his behalf. According to Genesis, male/female relationships are a kingdom strategy—designed to be an unstoppable force for good in the world.”
Brothers, we need you. We need you in close proximity, we need you with us, we need you to be for us just as we are for you, and we need each other to live out this mission God has called us to live.
We have been blessed by our creator God, we are equipped together, and we are compelled and propelled to be an unstoppable force to live out Jesus’s mandate to make disciples.Brothers, we need you. We need you in close proximity, we need you with us, we need you to be for us just as we are for you, and we need each other to live out this mission God has called us to live. Click To Tweet
Here’s the good news. It’s possible. All around the country, men and women are serving together, arm and arm, side by side, emboldening one another to live out their giftedness in this world. This is why we have been so excited about our recent Church Together online event and our forthcoming spring event on this same topic. This is more than events about women’s empowerment; these are invitations to lean in together and embrace God’s vision for a bigger table.
To access the full recording of our recent #ChurchTogether conversation featuring Tara Beth and many others on the topic of shared leadership, click here.
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.