Not Going Home
John MacArthur, a prominent evangelical pastor, caused controversy when he weighed in on whether the Southern Baptist Convention should allow women preachers and said that Beth Moore, an evangelist and founder of Living Proof Ministries, should “go home.” That’s sparked a firestorm on social media.
Preaching and teaching the Word of God is a passion for me. I can’t imagine my life without the opportunities that God, through The Salvation Army, has afforded me. I am very aware there are faith traditions that do not give equal opportunity to platform ministry for women as they do for men.
When it comes to the topic of women preachers, often those opposed turn to 1 Corinthians 14:34, “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” (NIV). Some denominations have taken a very narrow view of this verse to mean women can’t preach. We serve a God who has embraced diversity and is the Champion of the individual. The Message paraphrase of the 1 Corinthians scripture reference says: “Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God’s Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking. Do you—both women and men—imagine that you’re a sacred oracle determining what’s right and wrong? Do you think everything revolves around you?” Women in Paul’s time entered into public worship with no educational background of the Torah and therefore had questions. It sounds to me like these women were so passionate about understanding what was available to them in their relationship with the Lord that they spoke up during times of public worship to try to get answers. Now, I’m not advocating talking back to the preacher during worship, but how refreshing that women were drawn to understand all that was spiritually available to them.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus modeled the importance of elevating women. The defining moment of Christ’s ministry, his death and resurrection were surrounded and supported by women. Women were last at the cross and first at the tomb! Those women had a sermon to preach, and they unashamedly brought the message to others! Jesus wanted to expand our thinking to include women (and the lame, the Samaritan, the leper, and any overlooked, underestimated faction) in every aspect of ministry.
We must continue to have open minds and hearts to the fact that the message is important…more important than whether the messenger is male or female. It is not a gender issue; it is an issue of giftedness. If we all will open our thinking to how God has uniquely gifted us all, then we will truly celebrate the advancement of the gospel. I’m not making a blanket statement that all women should have free access to the church microphone. Some women shouldn’t preach, but the same goes for some men. Serve in the realm of your giftedness.
I think Salvation Army women owe a debt of gratitude to Catherine Booth, who, along with her husband William co-founded The Salvation Army. In her day it was unheard of for women to speak in adult meetings. She was convinced that women had an equal right to speak. In January 1860, following the birth of their fourth child, at Gateshead, during William’s sermon, she asked to “say a word.” She witnessed to her timidity about claiming her calling, yet William announced that she would speak that night. It was the beginning of a tremendous ministry, as people were greatly challenged by her preaching.
Catherine, your passion to “say a word” sealed my destiny. I stand with my sisters in Christ to proclaim I’m “not going home”!
written by Major Lauren Hodgson, USA East SLD