I was recently asked by an AP reporter to share some thoughts about Beth Moore and the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. His article can be found here. It’s a scary thing to hand your words to a reporter knowing that he can use them, or just small parts of them, to paint the picture he wants to paint. So I thought I would post my entire statement here as a matter of record. This statement isn’t about whether I agree with everything Beth Moore has ever said or done. It’s just the noting of a few of my observations as a Southern Baptist woman who is also a complementarian.
Like Beth, I was in diapers when my mother handed me across the threshold of a Southern Baptist church’s nursery, a move that marked a beginning of life devoted to my Savior and my denomination. I grew up with a strong sense of what Southern Baptists can accomplish for Christ when we cooperate, and as a teen I often wondered if God would send me to be a missionary in some faraway land. He didn’t, but He did call me to marry a man who would eventually wind up being an SBC pastor.
It’s been difficult to know what to think or say about Beth Moore announcing her departure from the SBC. I think many women in the Southern Baptist Convention would point to Beth as someone who has challenged us and made us better students of the Bible. For decades she has been a dynamic leader in our denomination, and it’s difficult to imagine that Beth would walk away from the wonderful Southern Baptists that I personally know and love, as the SBC is made up, after all, of people. Yet, when I heard that Beth was planning her exit, I understood it. Not because I have had a bad experience with Southern Baptist leadership or even just regular people in the pews, but because she has.
I saw a Southern Baptist woman on social media recently who seemed fairly giddy that Beth is leaving. She said that she has done fifteen to twenty of Beth’s Bible studies through the years. Fifteen to twenty. And then, she said, in 2016 she realized Beth was teaching unbiblical things. Good riddance to Beth, she said. It can hardly be coincidental that 2016 was right about the time when Beth was enduring daily vicious verbal attacks by thousands of evangelicals, many of them Southern Baptists, because she dared to have an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump.
Beth has also been outspoken about sexual abuse. It seems that any time she has an opinion that doesn’t set well with some in our churches, no matter how true or sincere or rightly-ordered that opinion may be, many men and women see it as an opportunity to pounce on her, to attack her ministry, and in the case of one extremely influential non-SBC leader, to tell her simply to “go home.” That comment alone seemed to kick open a door of permission and blessing for many to be cruel to her on social media, to write her off, and to discount all of the kingdom work she has done through all these decades of faithfully serving the Lord and the church in the best way she knew how.
No doubt Beth has faced much opposition. Do I think she should leave? No, I think she should stay and be part of solutions that are so needed in evangelicalism and in the SBC. We need more Jesus-adoring women in the SBC who express unpopular opinions, not because they are against our denomination (Beth isn’t), but because they love the SBC and want to see it flourish and serve Christ in an even more dynamic way. Southern Baptists are doing incredible, eternally significant things all over the world, and as an SBC woman I am more committed than ever to seeing those things through in my generation.
The SBC is always learning more about itself. I hope Beth’s departure will at least remind us that the SBC is made up of real people with real hearts and souls and hurts and histories. Beth seems to be a casualty of cancel culture, plain and simple, right here in the middle of the Southern Baptist Convention. How much of that opposition was due to the fact that she happens to be a woman? Only God knows. But we can’t fail to acknowledge that what has happened here does impact women in the SBC. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen evangelical men on social media repeating that awful command “go home” to Beth Moore, gifted Bible teacher. I wonder if they realize when they say those two words with such glee that they are sending a message to all women that our giftings and opinions and ideas may not be all that welcome in our denomination. I wonder if they understand what they are really saying to the women in the pews.