I received a private message on Twitter a week or so ago from an elder at a church. He reached out to me after reading Beth Moore’s letter to Christian men. You may recall that Beth Moore, in her letter, asked men to put away misogyny and act Christ-like towards women. Here are a few key paragraphs from Beth Moore’s letter:
As a woman leader in the conservative Evangelical world, I learned early to show constant pronounced deference – not just proper respect which I was glad to show – to male leaders and, when placed in situations to serve alongside them, to do so apologetically. I issued disclaimers ad nauseam. I wore flats instead of heels when I knew I’d be serving alongside a man of shorter stature so I wouldn’t be taller than he. I’ve ridden elevators in hotels packed with fellow leaders who were serving at the same event and not been spoken to and, even more awkwardly, in the same vehicles where I was never acknowledged. I’ve been in team meetings where I was either ignored or made fun of, the latter of which I was expected to understand was all in good fun. I am a laugher. I can take jokes and make jokes. I know good fun when I’m having it and I also know when I’m being dismissed and ridiculed. I was the elephant in the room with a skirt on. I’ve been talked down to by male seminary students and held my tongue when I wanted to say, “Brother, I was getting up before dawn to pray and to pore over the Scriptures when you were still in your pull ups.”
I’m asking for your increased awareness of some of the skewed attitudes many of your sisters encounter. Many churches quick to teach submission are often slow to point out that women were also among the followers of Christ (Luke 8), that the first recorded word out of His resurrected mouth was “woman” (John 20:15) and that same woman was the first evangelist. Many churches wholly devoted to teaching the household codes are slow to also point out the numerous women with whom the Apostle Paul served and for whom he possessed obvious esteem. We are fully capable of grappling with the tension the two spectrums create and we must if we’re truly devoted to the whole counsel of God’s Word.
Finally, I’m asking that you would simply have no tolerance for misogyny and dismissiveness toward women in your spheres of influence. I’m asking for your deliberate and clearly conveyed influence toward the imitation of Christ in His attitude and actions toward women. I’m also asking for forgiveness both from my sisters and my brothers. My acquiescence and silence made me complicit in perpetuating an atmosphere in which a damaging relational dynamic has flourished. I want to be a good sister to both genders. Every paragraph in this letter is toward that goal.
The man who contacted me told me that Beth Moore’s letter was read at their elders’ meeting. He asked me how men could practically put into place what Beth Moore was talking about. Yes!!! I will include his questions and expand them with some of my own. This is the kind of conversations we need to be having in churches.
- There’s a challenge – especially with some cultures within church that the issue stops at the question of sexual immorality and understanding that there were other issues about how men and women relate – especially how male leaders relate were maybe not so easy to grasp for some. How can male leaders engage in healthy relationships with sisters in Christ? How can men uphold integrity for themselves and women in their day-to-day dealings with women both inside and outside the church?
- That whole fear culture – how do we get beyond that?Is there a way to move beyond that in a healthy way?
- How can we talk helpfully and appropriately and honestly as churches in dealing with misogyny?
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