Nearly three weeks ago, six Christian women (and nearly 500 subsequent signers) addressed An Open Letter to Beth Moore, asking five questions about her views on homosexuality:
1. Do you believe homosexuality is inherently sinful?
2. Do you believe that the practice of the homosexual lifestyle is compatible with holy Christian living?
3. Do you believe a person who dies as a practicing homosexual but professes to be a Christian will inherit eternal life?
4. Do you believe same sex attraction is, in and of itself, an inherently sinful, unnatural, and disordered desire that must be mortified?
5. Why have you been so silent on this subject in light of your desire to “teach the word of God?”
Since the discussion of the events and commentary surrounding the open letter have mostly taken place on Twitter, and many who have an interest in these events and comments are not Twitter users, this article is intended to be a timeline outlining the sequence of events, beginning with the publication of the open letter.
Several Christian news outlets, bloggers, and podcasters have reported on the story since the letter was released. For the sake of brevity, most of these have not been included, but if you’re interested, you should be able to find the majority of them by Googling “Open Letter to Beth Moore”. Notably absent in reporting on the open letter issue has been Baptist Press (the news outlet of the Southern Baptist Convention), even though they have been made aware of the situation and routinely publish articles on issues of far less significance.
Additionally, Southern Baptist Convention President, J.D. Greear, LifeWay (which carries Beth’s materials and promotes her and her events, and has removed previous authors for affirming homosexuality), newly installed President/CEO of LifeWay, Ben Mandrell, the ERLC, and ERLC President, Russell Moore have all been made aware of the situation, and none of them have responded. (For those who aren’t aware of the significance of this, read #3 here.)
Here is the timeline of events surrounding the Open Letter to Beth Moore:
Prior to Tuesday, June 18-
Original signers of the Open Letter to Beth Moore – Susan Heck, DebbieLynn Kespert, Michelle Lesley, Martha Peace, Elizabeth Prata, and Amy Spreeman – are asked to read the letter, offer input, sign, and publicize the letter.
Wednesday, June 19-
5:00 a.m.: Michelle Lesley publishes the letter on her blog with the option for other women who agree with the letter to add their signatures (continually updated).
11:01 a.m.: Beth posts this cryptically vague Facebook post. Due to the timing of the post, people begin to speculate on whether or not it is a response to the open letter even though it does not mention the letter, the signers of the letter, or homosexuality, nor does it answer any of the questions posed in the letter.
Saturday, June 22-
Amy Spreeman publishes the letter on her blog.
Four days after the publication of the letter, Beth still has not answered the questions in the letter or otherwise made her position on homosexuality clear.
Sunday, June 23-
Beth posts this Tweet thread, which seems to be responding somewhat more directly to the letter, but still doesn’t mention the letter, the signers of the letter, or homosexuality, nor does it answer any of the questions posed in the letter. Pertinent excerpts:
To date, Beth still has not answered this question asked by Michelle Lesley. (More commentary on this tweet thread here, #10.)
Monday, June 24-
Questions about the Open Letter to Beth Moore is published (to be updated as needed).
Wednesday, June 26-
One week after the publication of the letter, Beth still has not answered the questions in the letter or made her position on homosexuality clear in any other way.
Friday, June 28-
Beth is tweeted a link to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Article XV of which reads in part:
“In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography.”
To date, Beth has not responded that she affirms the statement of faith of her own denomination (nor have Russell Moore nor LifeWay, also tagged in this tweet, responded).
Saturday, June 29-
LifeWay, the ERLC, J.D. Greear, Ben Mandrell, and Russell Moore are again asked for a response to the issue. Again, none have responded to date.
Monday, July 1-
Still not responding to the questions in the letter or making her position on homosexuality clear in any other way, Beth blocks original signer of the letter, Michelle Lesley, on Twitter.
Michelle Lesley comments on being blocked by Beth:
(For further explanation of this comment, see #3 here.)
Southern Baptist pastor, Dwight McKissic, who last year suggested that Beth Moore be elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention as a way of righting (real and perceived) wrongs against women in the SBC, retweets Michelle Lesley’s comment and adds his response, unbiblically judging the questions in the letter as “inappropriate” and the motives of the signers of the letter as a “problem,” in the process:
(The “factual bases” for the for the questions were clearly stated in the open letter, namely, that Beth has not articulated an unambiguously biblical position on homosexuality in recent years, and that she maintains public, adulatory friendships with well-known homosexuality-affirming public figures, leading others to wonder if her current position on homosexuality is affirming. These are the reasons we deemed the questions “necessary.”)
Responding to Michelle Lesley‘s retweeted comment, “She doesn’t answer to me, but she does owe a clear public explanation of her views on homosexuality to the SBC and her fans,” Beth replies (actually on July 2) to Dwight:
Beth unbiblically judges the signers of the letter as “hunters, trappers” and not asking the questions in the letter in “good faith.”
Beth also declares that she owes the Southern Baptist Convention zero. She is the best known and most influential member of the SBC as well as its (LifeWay’s) best selling author. The Southern Baptist Convention, through the promotion of her conferences and materials has made her what she is both in fame and financially. Thousands of SBC churches use her materials. But, “I owe these folks 0.” And, apparently, she doesn’t feel she owes her millions of fans clear, biblical teaching on this issue either.
Tuesday, July 2-
(Tweet from Beth above, under July 1, is actually posted on July 2.)
Beth blocks original signer of the letter, Elizabeth Prata, on Twitter.
(Michelle Lesley did not say Beth had “never even shared the ‘clear gospel’,” only that she (Michelle) had never seen/read said presentation. Beth has repeatedly stated she has been a Bible teacher for forty years. Michelle, having only viewed/read a fraction of that forty years of material, was giving Beth the benefit of the doubt that such a presentation does, in fact, exist, only that Michelle does not happen to have seen it. Notice Beth provides no links to where one might find an example of her clearly presenting the gospel.)
Wednesday, July 3-
8:03 a.m.: Beth unbiblically judges the hearts of the signers of the letter as having the wrong reasons, wanting “public attention,” and wanting to “barbecue” a fellow Christian. She also accuses the signers of the letter of not going through the “right channels” to contact her (even though, as explained in #5&6 here, asking a Bible teacher questions about the Bible is not a Matthew 18 issue of confronting someone in sin in the local church, and dozens of people have confirmed that they have tried, over the years, to contact her/her ministry through the “right channels” and have been ignored – here’s just one example):
(Original signer of the open letter, Elizabeth Prata, discusses Beth Moore’s “right channels” here.)
At this point, two weeks after the publication of the letter, Beth still has not answered the questions in the letter or otherwise made her position on homosexuality clear. In two weeks of being asked her position on homosexuality from numerous people, she has not once pointed to anything she has previously written on the subject.
1:22 p.m.: A Twitter user named Carrie alerts Michelle Lesley to the fact that Beth has indeed addressed the topic of homosexuality in chapter 13 of her book, Praying God’s Word. (Unfortunately, Carrie later decides to delete her tweet.) Please note that Beth is not the one who pointed this out even though she had two weeks in which to do so.
Another Twitter user in the same thread posts a screenshot of p. 279 of the 2009 hard copy edition of Praying God’s Word, where Beth clearly calls homosexuality “a deadly sexual assault of the evil one,” a “sin,” something God can “deliver” someone from, and something that people should seek “forgiveness, fullness, and complete restoration in Jesus Christ” from. She says that “transformation” from homosexuality “is possible…because God’s Word says so,” and that she personally knows “plenty of believers who have been set free from homosexuality.”
(Keep in mind that for two weeks Beth knew she had written this biblical statement on homosexuality in her book, and revisit Beth’s comments above (under “July 2”). Why would any Bible teacher of 40 years who has correctly and biblically written about the sin of homosexuality and who says her “doctrine has not changed,” feel “hunted” and “trapped” when asked her views on homosexuality? If her doctrine truly has not changed, why wouldn’t she, herself, not a random Twitter user, have simply pointed to what she had written in her book?)
Other Twitter users begin tweeting this picture to Beth, asking if she still believes what she wrote in this book. No response from Beth.
Other Twitter users begin tweeting this screenshot to Beth asking her to comment.
Thursday, July 4-
Beth responds as to why the section on homosexuality was removed from later editions of Praying God’s Word:
Beth says her clear and biblical statements about homosexuality being a sin that requires forgiveness and that God can deliver people from “exceed Scripture” “keeps people from God’s words” and that she “over spoke“.
Beth Moore has taken a pretty central role over recent months as the earthquake in cultural thinking has flowed through evangelicalism. She has shown herself more than willing to back the “woke” movement and is plainly promoting the development of “soft complementarianism” which is another term for “not quite yet fully cooked egalitarianism.” And it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you are woke and pushing the “soft complementarian” perspective, there is another clear and obvious car in that social-justice train. It’s the homosexuality car.
So a few weeks ago a group of women teachers wrote an open letter to Beth Moore asking her for specific answers to specific questions…In any case, the questions were fair and, of course, perfectly understandable. No Christian teacher of any standing should be hesitant to take a stand on these issues.
But Beth Moore has chosen to not only ignore the open letters, but to impugn the character and motivations of those questioning her (a very common tactic, but one being utilized with consistency by those wearing the “progressive” label today). This has led others to look closely at her writings and to discover that a book she wrote many years ago has now been edited in its Kindle edition so as to remove a discussion about homosexuality.
But let’s think about what Mrs. Moore is saying here. To speak of homosexuality as a deadly sin is to “exceed Scripture.” To speak of deliverance and restoration from homosexual sin is to “exceed Scripture.” To claim that there have been many who have been set free from homosexuality is to “exceed Scripture.”
While she may wish to claim this did not involve a “doctrinal shift,” if you teach X is sin, but then conclude that X is not sin, or that to say X is sin is to “exceed Scripture,” that is a doctrinal shift…
I predict that within five years we will get a Rachel Held Evans/Jen Hatmaker/hundreds of others style article explaining how after prayerful consideration and growing in love for God’s people and getting to know so many wonderful LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in the Lord, Beth Moore has come to understand that we dare not exceed Scripture and we must follow the Spirit’s lead to recognize the need for their full inclusion in the life and fellowship of the body, etc.
Friday, July 5-
Commenting to a supporter as to why the section on homosexuality was removed from Praying God’s Word, Beth again declares that her biblical statements on homosexuality “overshot Scripture by a mile,” “made people feel demonized,” and “caused damage.”
Dr. James White adds further commentary on this tweet in another Facebook post.
Saturday, July 6-
Beth publishes a blog post further explaining why she removed the section on homosexuality from her book, Praying God’s Word: Why I removed some of my commentary from a chapter of Praying God’s Word.
Finally, after two and a half weeks of avoidance, reluctance, personal attacks and unbiblical judgments toward the signers of the letter, and knowingly declining to point to what she had previously and biblically written about homosexuality, Beth makes the clearest statement to date on her views on sexuality:
I hold firmly to a traditional Christian sexual ethic and continue to believe the Bible sets apart marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. But I also believe that Scripture clearly teaches that all sex outside of marriage is contrary to God‘s will.
She still does not plainly say, “Homosexuality is a sin that must be repented of,” (indeed, again, she does not use the word “homosexuality” or other synonymous terms in this statement) but it would be difficult for anyone to read this statement and believe there is “wiggle room” for Beth to publicly affirm homosexual activity (although she does not address same sex attraction, as the open letter asked her about in question #4, which does leave the door open for her to validate homosexual orientation, identification, lust, or anything short of sexual acts) . However, it is a good and biblical statement about sexuality.
It should be noted that Beth ends this article with yet another subtle swipe at the signers of the letter and all those who have called her to account over the past two and a half weeks (and this portion is worded with enough “wiggle room” for Beth to say anyone’s interpretation of it is not what she meant):
Here is what I no longer have the stomach for after the last several years: the hypocrisy burgeoning from hyper fundamentalist Christianity. I do not lack a Scriptural view of sin. I just believe in a longer list of serious sins than some.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
Beth characterizes biblical Christians asking her simple questions about the Bible as “hypocrites” and “hyper-fundamentalist.” Beth does not make clear her definition of “hyper-fundamentalist,” so there is no way for those she is accusing of such to defend themselves. But labeling as “hypocrites” Christians who have simply asked her, a Bible teacher of forty years, whether or not she believes homosexuality is a sin, when her response has been to drag her feet for two and a half weeks until forced by evidence and circumstance to answer is the height of hypocrisy.
She further implies that she takes sin more seriously (“I just believe in a longer list of serious sins than some.”) than the signers of the letter and those calling her to account, which is, again, hypocritical since any Christian who takes sin seriously would not avoid answering a question about whether or not something is a sin for two and a half weeks. That is not taking sin seriously.
And, finally, she implies, with the citation of Galatians 5:19-21:
•that she believes all of the things in these verses are sins and that the signers of the letter do not,
•that the signers of the letter – by politely asking her whether or not she believes homosexuality to be a sin – have committed one or more of these sins (probably enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, if not others) and that she has not,
•and that the signers of the letter, since they are guilty of these sins “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” In other words, that we are not saved.
Dr. James White responds to Beth’s blog post with one of his own: Beth Moore Sort Of Explains…But Not Really, raising several additional important issues and questions.
Bible teacher and theologian, Justin Peters, concurs with Dr. White and adds his own concerns in his blog article: My Thoughts on Beth Moore’s Blog Post. (Actually posted on July 8.)
After publishing this blog post, Beth announces she will be taking a short break from Twitter, thereby disallowing anyone from using one of her “right channels” to ask her any questions about her blog post or other questions about homosexuality:
Monday, July 8-
(Justin Peters’s blog post – mentioned above under July 6 – actually published.)
The fruit of Beth’s blog post is already evident. Here are just a few of the replies to her tweet alerting her followers to the release of the blog post:
These homosexual and homosexual-affirming followers of Beth do not have a fully-orbed biblical view of and/or practice regarding homosexual sin, and Beth isn’t calling them to repent and believe the gospel.
Speaking for myself, I am grateful for Beth’s biblical statement on sexuality, and I pray she will be encouraged in the future to take as strong and passionate a stand against the pernicious sin of homosexuality as she has taken on sins like racism and sexual abuse. It has always and only been our desire to see her rightly and unashamedly proclaim the whole counsel of God to her followers. We pray she will grow to do so more and more.
There remain questions and important issues surrounding the sin of homosexuality that must be addressed. This article will be updated with future developments.