Yesterday I listened to men whom I greatly admire engage in banter on stage. It was a word association game. I will say a word, said one, and then the three of you will give a one-word, pithy response to the word. Are you ready? I could practically feel the audience in the room lean forward in anticipation to see what sort of fun this would be.
Beth Moore. He dropped her name lightly into the room, which was already poised to get the joke. Laughter broke out all over.
The first man who was asked to respond is one of my heroes. He and the moderator kidded back and forth for a moment before this great man of God paused, considering his sister in Christ, and responded simply, Go home.
The reaction in the room was electric. Laughter, hoots and hollers of delight, and applause broke out in unison, and the moderator was obviously thrilled by how this had all turned out, entertaining and truthful and a little bit mean. It wasn’t necessarily designed to be a serious conversation, but this was especially sensational, and he and the crowd seemed to be loving it.
As I listened to all of this happen, my heart sank a little. I wondered at the kind of environment we have created in this opinion-saturated culture, where men of great faith and character and wisdom will sit on a stage and turn their concerns about their sister into a joke.
My brothers, speak the truth. You should. Guide and shepherd within your realm of influence. God has called you to it. Rightly divide the word of truth. We need you to. But when dealing with your sisters in Christ, no matter the circumstance, be gentle. Show the world that they can know us by our love for one another.
As your sisters, we sometimes have a difficult time knowing where our gifts fit into the biblical structure of the church. Like you, we don’t always know what to do with our strong opinions or our not-so-gentle ways. Let us all acknowledge that while God has certainly called women to do good work within our homes, He also calls us to do good work outside of them. “Go home” is an especially difficult pill to swallow in light of how many churches would likely collapse if all of those faithful, godly women who do a huge bulk of the teaching, training, planning, ideating, and plain old working in our churches simply went home.
Now, I know they weren’t speaking about all women. They were speaking about one. One who has faithfully studied and taught God’s word for decades. One who doesn’t always say or tweet exactly the right thing. One who has issues just like the rest of us. But, she is a child of God. She is a joint heir with Christ just like the men on that stage. And that should count for something.
So, in the days to come, as debates continue to rage over what women should and shouldn’t be doing, I pray that we will all cling to the scripture and see it clearly. But, even when there is disagreement, even when we see godly women standing on platforms where they probably shouldn’t, and even when we hear godly men joking in ways that are unbecoming of trusted leaders, I have hope that through the power of the Holy Spirit we will still be able to abide by Paul’s words in Ephesians 4: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.