The Answer is Never ‘Go Home’
As a fellow complementarian (more about why I’ve landed here in a future post), I was more than slightly dismayed as the reports of the events that unfolded last month during the ‘Truth Matters’ Conference at Grace Community Church in Simi Valley, California began to hit the presses. The conference was put on to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the preaching ministry of John MacArthur, who pastors at Grace Community Church. During the conference, there was a panel discussion on a host of topics and when the MC asked Pastor MacArthur for a two- or three-word response to Beth Moore, the Pastors’ reply was, ‘Go Home.’ His reply was a response to a larger issue happening now within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) where it has been perceived by many complementarians that the SBC is beginning to cave in the area of the women’s role in pastoral ministry. Traditionally, the SBC has landed on a very complementarian view that women are prohibiting biblically from pastoral ministry and serving as an elder at a church. Over the Summer, Beth preached at a church in Charlotte, NC on a Sunday morning and is being perceived as pushing the SBC boundaries and speaking out against a number of issues within the SBC. Personally, I’ve always found Beth to be very respectful of the complementarian view and very gifted in Bible teaching, and I can tell walking this tightrope is difficult for her, given the obvious ways God uses her in her teaching ministry.
While there are a lot of things to be commented on here, let me hit just two: First, while I would agree that Beth Moore is probably pushing some boundaries for those of us who land on the more conservative side of the issue of the role of women in ministry, the appropriate response to her is not ‘Go Home,’ which to me has the tone of ‘There’s nowhere for you to serve here,’ which is not the complementarian position at all. As I wrote in my personal statement paper on this issue, ‘A complementarian church should encourage women to use the spiritual gifts and natural abilities that God has given them to their fullest extent. This includes anything from leading a Bible study, overseeing a ministry, leading as a deacon, speaking in church in a way that is not preaching, leading worship music, serving Communion, entering into fulltime paid ministry as a member of the staff, and receiving formal theological education—basically every opportunity in the church except what the Bible and the elders deem elder-only duties. Therefore, the issue is not whether a woman can be in ministry, but rather what ministry a woman can be in and remain faithful to Scripture.’ I would argue that Pastor MacArthur’s response to the question was overtly harsh and harmful to the complementarian position. Secondly, as a complementarian, I always have an open mind to ways that God may want to change my take on this difficult issue, knowing that I have women in my life that I love (my wife and two daughters), and I would never want them to think that I’m against any area where they think God is leading them to serve. The question only becomes how they can serve in ways that both fulfill the call they believe they have been given and that is still faithful to Scripture. And the answer to that question is never ‘Go Home’