Complementarianism

Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over

Originally published January 12, 2018

A while back I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and happened to catch part of an interaction between two women discussing a false teacher. I couldn’t come close to the exact wording if I tried, but the gist of it was…

Discerning Christian Woman: Divangelista X is a false teacher and preaches to men.

Non-Discerning Christian(?) Woman: How can you say she shouldn’t be preaching to men? So what! She’s out there helping so many people and charitable causes! People love her! I think she’s great!

Discerning Christian Woman: Well, I’m really not as concerned about the fact that she preaches to men as I am about the false doctrine she teaches.

I didn’t butt in because neither of them was talking to me, but what I wanted to say was, “Why?” Why, Discerning Christian Woman, did you back off the completely biblically valid point that this false teacher is rebelling against Scripture by preaching to men? If you had been discussing a male false teacher who was running around on his wife, you probably would have led your argument against him with his sin of adultery, with the false doctrine he teaches relegated to a level secondary importance.

Ladies…pastors…why are we so embarrassed to stand up boldly and say that women who preach to men are in unrepentant sin and disqualified from teaching regardless of what their doctrine might be?

It’s a simple little thing called the fear of man. Or, more specifically, fear of woman. We’ve seen women whose feminist ideals are challenged. Even feminists who call themselves Christians have been known to fly into a demonic rage, bent on destroying any person, pastor, or church who dares to topple their golden “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” calf. No one wants to be on the receiving end of that kind of vitriol.

We’re more afraid of the wrath of woman than the wrath of God.
And shame on us for that.

God doesn’t call us to be wimps, people. He calls us to stand on His Word no matter the cost. The great men and women of the faith who have gone before us have done just that, giving their lives rather than renouncing Christ, refraining from sharing the gospel, compromising the Lord’s Supper, stopping the translation of Scripture into the language of the people.

And we’re worried that feminazis might yell at us or make trouble at church.

We need to stop blushing ashamedly and stand unapologetically firm when it comes to denouncing female teachers who preach to men. Here are seven reasons why:

1.
Women preaching to men is personal sin.

When a woman takes it upon herself to disobey Scripture by preaching to men, she is sinning. If we’re the Christians we claim to be, how can we see someone mired in sin and not want to rescue her? It is not loving to ignore someone’s sin, or worse, affirm her in it. To do so is the ultimate act of selfishness, because we’re more concerned about the the consequences for confronting her and how that will affect me than we are about her soul and her relationship with Christ. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”. Sometimes laying down your life means dying to self and confronting sin out of love for someone else.

2.
Women preaching to men is public rebellion.

When a woman stands up in front of a group of men and women and unashamedly preaches to them, she is initiating a public act of aggression against Christ and His church. I don’t care how sweet and pretty and “aw, shucks” she is – that’s what she’s doing. She is leading a rebellion against God’s clear command for all the world, and the church, to see. This is a blot on the reputation of Christ’s Bride whom He wishes to be “holy and without blemish“.  Christians are people who submit to and obey Christ, not leaders of rebellions against Him.

3.
Women preaching to men is false doctrine

She may not say it with her lips, but when a woman preaches to men in defiance of Scripture, she’s teaching false doctrine through her behavior. What is the false doctrine she’s teaching? “I don’t have to obey God’s Word, and neither do you. If there’s a part of the Bible you don’t like, you’re free to disregard it.” Call it antinomianism. Call it whatever you like. But it’s one of the oldest and most fundamental false doctrines.

4.
Women preaching to men undermines
the authority of Scripture.

Christians are “people of the Book.” We are to live under the authority of the written Word of God breathed out by the Holy Spirit. Those who truly love Christ love His Word and want to be obedient to it. When a woman preaches to men in defiance of God’s Word, she is stating with her actions that Scripture has no authority over her. That she can do whatever she wants regardless of what God has spoken. Those who follow her learn, “I am the authority in my life, not God.”

5.
Women preaching to men is God’s judgment on the church.

My people—infants are their oppressors,
    and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you
    and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
Isaiah 3:12

The fact that God allows a thing to take place in no way indicates that He is pleased with it. When God allows people to persist in sin, it’s not that he’s blessing that person or church, but that He’s giving them over to sin in judgment.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God,
God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

Romans 1:28

(To the church at Thyatira)
But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart,
and I will give to each of you according to your works.
Revelation 2:20-23

6.
Women preaching to men undermines
God-ordained male authority.

Jesus Christ is the head of the church. That means He gets to make the rules for it, not us. And one of His rules is that men are to be the pastors, elders, and those in authority, not women. When women try to push themselves into positions designed for men, it waters down and cheapens the beauty of male leadership the way God designed it, just as it would if men tried to push their way into the roles God has designed for women. And just as a woman would feel disenfranchised if a man tried to usurp her position as an older woman teaching younger women (Titus 2:3-5), biblical pastors perceive the threat to their God-given authority as more and more women take the pulpit.

7.
Women preaching to men is
an indicator of further false doctrine.

I have researched dozens of female teachers, and every single one of them who unrepentantly preaches to men also teaches other forms of false doctrine (usually Word of Faith {prosperity gospel} or New Apostolic Reformation). Every. single. one. If you see a woman unrepentantly preaching to men, that is God’s warning signal to you to stay away before you’re engulfed in even more false doctrine. Refusing to speak out against women preaching to men is to put fellow Christians in a gasoline-doused house of straw without a fire detector. It forces them to stop and search for the fire or examine it to see if it really is a fire – which could end up getting them killed – whereas, if they had a fire detector they would know to make an immediate exit.

 

Every family has that one crazy relative that you just pray will act normal for once – or that you could lock her in the closet – when company comes over. (In my family, I’m pretty sure that’s me.) First Timothy 2:12 is not the “crazy aunt” of the family of God. There’s no need to be embarrassed about putting her front and center for the world to see. She is beautiful and precious and serves an important purpose for God’s glory and our good. Let’s let her out of the closet and be proud of her.

Christian women, Complementarianism, Ministry, Sin

Throwback Thursday ~ Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue

Originally published August 3, 2018

When it comes to Christianity, are the specifics of what people believe important?

I think most of us would answer a resounding “yes” to that question. Of course, the various concepts we believe are important. You can’t just believe anything you like and still be a Christian. There are certain things you must believe in order to become a Christian at all, and there are certain things you will come to believe because you are a genuinely regenerated Christian. But what are those things, and how do we know which is which?

Maybe you’ve heard the terms “essential doctrines” or “primary, secondary, and tertiary theological issues” or “first, second, and third tier levels of doctrine”? For years, theologians have been attempting to organize beliefs of the Christian faith – all drawn from the Bible, naturally – into nice neat categories in order to make things a little simpler. As someone who thrives on organization and categories, I’m grateful for their efforts. But if you begin to study this categorization of beliefs, you’ll find that we haven’t reached an across the board consensus yet.

Generally speaking, “essential”, “primary”, or “first tier” doctrines are those which you, biblically, have to believe in order to become a Christian and/or be considered a Christian. For example:

✢ Sin is a thing, and I am a sinner.

✢ God exists and is the supreme authority of the universe.

✢ Jesus was God in human flesh.

✢ Jesus rose bodily from the grave.

See how this works? If you don’t believe you’re a sinner, you’re not saved. If you don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, you’re not saved. Here’s how our friend, Pastor Gabe, briefly outlines essential doctrines:

 

(Gabe later tweaked the acrostic a little and added an “S”, which I think is helpful.)

The vast majority of brand new Christians have only the most basic understanding of most of these tenets at the moment of salvation. But it’s not an issue of fully understanding – or else we’d all have to be theologians in order to get saved – it’s an issue of believing. Someone who is genuinely regenerated may not completely understand how the Trinity works (honestly, no one does), but when she’s introduced to the biblical idea of the Trinity, she believes it, learns more about it, and does not reject it.

There is typically agreement among most reputable theologians regarding what constitutes first tier doctrine. Scripture is clear about these things, and several of these issues were settled long ago by the church fathers in assorted church councils (Nicea, Chalcedon, etc.)

Secondary issues are routinely defined as non-salvific but still extremely biblically important, if not quite as biblically clear-cut as primary issues. Doctrines surrounding baptism (credo versus paedo, affusion versus immersion), for example, are usually cited as a secondary issue. A disagreement on a secondary issue doesn’t mean one person is saved and another isn’t, but it normally prevents close partnership in ministry activities involving these issues. For example, my Presbyterian friends and I can join together in pro-life ministry, but we would most likely not plant a church together.

Tertiary issues are non-salvific, less immediately urgent, biblical issues in which the Bible is even less clear-cut and open to wider (yet still biblical) interpretation. These are issues over which Christians can disagree and still maintain close doctrinal fellowship, even in the same church, if they’re in agreement on first and second tier doctrine. Eschatology – the order and timing of events at Jesus’ second coming – is a doctrine that’s often considered third tier. Someone can hold a different eschatological view than mine, yet it doesn’t affect our ability to worship together, work together, or participate in the ordinances together in the same church.

Some theologians add a fourth category – issues of adiaphora, conscience, or Christian liberty. Usually these are issues of much less importance that the Bible either doesn’t specifically address, or doesn’t give commands about one way or the other. Individual Christians may use biblical principles to inform their consciences and decide for themselves. These would be things like whether or not to take your child trick-or-treating or deciding whether to dress formally or casually for church.

While theologians are largely in agreement about primary doctrines, there is wider spread disagreement on which doctrines are secondary and tertiary (many consider eschatology to be a second tier doctrine, for example) and whether or not there is a need for a category of adiaphora, since such issues are normally not considered to be “doctrinal” issues. In fact, there’s enough space for disagreement that pastors and theologians often wisely refrain from making concrete lists of secondary and tertiary doctrines.

But when we’re talking about the different levels of doctrine, what you won’t find is questions like these: Is murder a first, second, or third tier doctrine? What about gossip? Rape? Adultery? Lying? Gluttony? Pride?

And it’s not because these issues aren’t important or because the Bible doesn’t address them. It’s because they’re in a different category from the other issues: the category of sin. They aren’t doctrines upon which salvation hinges, they aren’t open to interpretation, and the Bible is clear that we are absolutely not to do these things.

In 2005, Dr. Albert Mohler wrote an excellent article about the different levels of doctrine entitled A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity. He carefully explains the importance of each level of doctrine and what it covers in a plea to keep each level’s urgency in its proper place of significance during discussion, debate, and decision-making.

It was a helpful article to which I always refer people who have questions about tiers of doctrine, and I agree with Dr. Mohler’s thoughts wholeheartedly (as I usually do) …except on one point:

“In recent years, the issue of women serving as pastors has emerged as another second-order issue.”

Women serving as pastors, women preaching, women teaching men Scripture in the church, and women exercising authority over men in the church is not a secondary issue. Nor is it a primary or tertiary one. It does not belong in the category of “doctrine” in the same way baptism and eschatology do. It belongs in the category of sin in the same way murder, gossip, and adultery do. Let’s take a look at the reasons for this.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:12

(The preponderance of Scripture supports and affirms this concept, so to keep things simple, we’ll use this verse as an exemplar.)

✢ The prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 is a clear command against a certain behavior. And when we behave in a way God has prohibited, that is called “sin”. All of the tenets in the three levels of doctrine are affirmative statements regarding beliefs (you must believe in the resurrection of Christ, we believe in baptism by immersion, etc.). None of them are commands, in the negative, against sinful behavior (Thou shalt not murder, I do not permit a woman to teach… etc.)

✢ Secondary and tertiary doctrines can be open – to varying degrees – to biblical interpretation. Every stripe of non-heretical eschatological thought can provide you with chapter and verse passages that can, depending on the angle from which you approach the subject, be biblically plausible and scripturally supported. There is no biblical support for anything God prohibits. No one can cite a properly handled, in context Bible verse in which God says, “It’s OK to commit adultery,” or “Women are allowed to preach.” There can be multiple views on a secondary or tertiary issue that can all be considered biblical, but there can only be one view of sin that is biblical.

✢ Differing beliefs on true secondary and tertiary issues are not sin. My Presbyterian friends have a different view of baptism than I do. That doesn’t mean either of us is sinning. I may think their interpretations of the verses they believe support paedo baptism are incorrect, but they are not breaking any of God’s commands. Differing behavior (again, we see the distinction between doctrinal belief and sinful behavior) on issues of sin is sin. If someone behaves differently from God’s command about lying, she is sinning. If a woman behaves differently from God’s command in 1 Timothy 2:12, she is sinning.

✢ Differing beliefs on secondary and tertiary issues are not born of disobedience and rebellion toward God. Usually, it’s quite the opposite. When someone has studied a theological issue enough to hold a particular position on it, it’s usually because she is striving to please God and to be biblical in her beliefs. Differing behavior on issues of sin is born out of disobedience and rebellion toward God. Someone who steals has already decided in her heart that her desires are better than God’s command. A woman who knowingly holds improper authority over men in her church is doing so because she has already decided to defy God’s clear command against such.

✢ Because different beliefs on secondary and tertiary issues are not born of rebellion and are not sin, they do not require church discipline. Sin does require church discipline. If someone in your church is openly dishonoring her parents, she is sinning and should be subject to church discipline. If a woman is pursuing a career as a pastor, she is sinning and should be subject to church discipline. 

Since the publication of Dr. Mohler’s article (and perhaps as a result of others teaching the same thing) the idea of the violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 being a “secondary doctrine” has spread in a most unhelpful way, leading many Christians to treat the issue in a c’est la vie, “We can just agree to disagree on this,” manner.

No, we cannot.

We would not say, “We can agree to disagree,” on lying or adultery or homosexuality or abortion, and we cannot say it about women preaching, teaching men, or holding unbiblical authority, either. We disciple and teach a sister in Christ who is unaware of what the Bible says on these matters, and if she is committing any of these sins, we begin the process of church discipline. But it would not be loving toward her, or honoring God, to allow her to continue in biblical ignorance or in willful sin.

Furthermore, the violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 brings with it dangers to the church that true secondary and tertiary issues, and even many sins, do not.

I have mentioned several times when dealing with this issue that women preaching to men is highly correlated with women teaching false doctrine. I have researched scores of women teachers. Every single one of them who unrepentantly teaches men also teaches false doctrine in some other aspect of her theology (usually Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation). In other words, if a woman teaches men, you can just about take it to the bank that she also teaches false doctrine. False doctrine and heresy are infecting the church – via female preachers – at an alarming rate.

We dare not simply “agree to disagree” on this.

The violation of God’s command that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures nor hold improper authority over men is a sin like any other. It is not a doctrinal issue in the same sense that other second and third tier doctrines are. If left undisciplined, however, it can lead to first tier doctrinal issues infiltrating a church and eventually destroying it. It is detrimental to the church to label and treat any sin as a secondary doctrinal issue.

Christian women, Complementarianism, Ministry, Sin

Women Preaching: It’s Not a Secondary Doctrinal Issue

When it comes to Christianity, are the specifics of what people believe important?

I think most of us would answer a resounding “yes” to that question. Of course, the various concepts we believe are important. You can’t just believe anything you like and still be a Christian. There are certain things you must believe in order to become a Christian at all, and there are certain things you will come to believe because you are a genuinely regenerated Christian. But what are those things, and how do we know which is which?

Maybe you’ve heard the terms “essential doctrines” or “primary, secondary, and tertiary theological issues” or “first, second, and third tier levels of doctrine”? For years, theologians have been attempting to organize beliefs of the Christian faith – all drawn from the Bible, naturally – into nice neat categories in order to make things a little simpler. As someone who thrives on organization and categories, I’m grateful for their efforts. But if you begin to study this categorization of beliefs, you’ll find that we haven’t reached an across the board consensus yet.

Generally speaking, “essential”, “primary”, or “first tier” doctrines are those which you, biblically, have to believe in order to become a Christian and/or be considered a Christian. For example:

✢ Sin is a thing, and I am a sinner.

✢ God exists and is the supreme authority of the universe.

✢ Jesus was God in human flesh.

✢ Jesus rose bodily from the grave.

See how this works? If you don’t believe you’re a sinner, you’re not saved. If you don’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, you’re not saved. Here’s how our friend, Pastor Gabe, briefly outlines essential doctrines:

 

(Gabe later tweaked the acrostic a little and added an “S”, which I think is helpful.)

The vast majority of brand new Christians have only the most basic understanding of most of these tenets at the moment of salvation. But it’s not an issue of fully understanding – or else we’d all have to be theologians in order to get saved – it’s an issue of believing. Someone who is genuinely regenerated may not completely understand how the Trinity works (honestly, no one does), but when she’s introduced to the biblical idea of the Trinity, she believes it, learns more about it, and does not reject it.

There is typically agreement among most reputable theologians regarding what constitutes first tier doctrine. Scripture is clear about these things, and several of these issues were settled long ago by the church fathers in assorted church councils (Nicea, Chalcedon, etc.)

Secondary issues are routinely defined as non-salvific but still extremely biblically important, if not quite as biblically clear-cut as primary issues. Doctrines surrounding baptism (credo versus paedo, affusion versus immersion), for example, are usually cited as a secondary issue. A disagreement on a secondary issue doesn’t mean one person is saved and another isn’t, but it normally prevents close partnership in ministry activities involving these issues. For example, my Presbyterian friends and I can join together in pro-life ministry, but we would most likely not plant a church together.

Tertiary issues are non-salvific, less immediately urgent, biblical issues in which the Bible is even less clear-cut and open to wider (yet still biblical) interpretation. These are issues over which Christians can disagree and still maintain close doctrinal fellowship, even in the same church, if they’re in agreement on first and second tier doctrine. Eschatology – the order and timing of events at Jesus’ second coming – is a doctrine that’s often considered third tier. Someone can hold a different eschatological view than mine, yet it doesn’t affect our ability to worship together, work together, or participate in the ordinances together in the same church.

Some theologians add a fourth category – issues of adiaphora, conscience, or Christian liberty. Usually these are issues of much less importance that the Bible either doesn’t specifically address, or doesn’t give commands about one way or the other. Individual Christians may use biblical principles to inform their consciences and decide for themselves. These would be things like whether or not to take your child trick-or-treating or deciding whether to dress formally or casually for church.

While theologians are largely in agreement about primary doctrines, there is wider spread disagreement on which doctrines are secondary and tertiary (many consider eschatology to be a second tier doctrine, for example) and whether or not there is a need for a category of adiaphora, since such issues are normally not considered to be “doctrinal” issues. In fact, there’s enough space for disagreement that pastors and theologians often wisely refrain from making concrete lists of secondary and tertiary doctrines.

But when we’re talking about the different levels of doctrine, what you won’t find is questions like these: Is murder a first, second, or third tier doctrine? What about gossip? Rape? Adultery? Lying? Gluttony? Pride?

And it’s not because these issues aren’t important or because the Bible doesn’t address them. It’s because they’re in a different category from the other issues: the category of sin. They aren’t doctrines upon which salvation hinges, they aren’t open to interpretation, and the Bible is clear that we are absolutely not to do these things.

In 2005, Dr. Albert Mohler wrote an excellent article about the different levels of doctrine entitled A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity. He carefully explains the importance of each level of doctrine and what it covers in a plea to keep each level’s urgency in its proper place of significance during discussion, debate, and decision-making.

It was a helpful article to which I always refer people who have questions about tiers of doctrine, and I agree with Dr. Mohler’s thoughts wholeheartedly (as I usually do) …except on one point:

“In recent years, the issue of women serving as pastors has emerged as another second-order issue.”

Women serving as pastors, women preaching, women teaching men Scripture in the church, and women exercising authority over men in the church is not a secondary issue. Nor is it a primary or tertiary one. It does not belong in the category of “doctrine” in the same way baptism and eschatology do. It belongs in the category of sin in the same way murder, gossip, and adultery do. Let’s take a look at the reasons for this.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:12

(The preponderance of Scripture supports and affirms this concept, so to keep things simple, we’ll use this verse as an exemplar.)

✢ The prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12 is a clear command against a certain behavior. And when we behave in a way God has prohibited, that is called “sin”. All of the tenets in the three levels of doctrine are affirmative statements regarding beliefs (you must believe in the resurrection of Christ, we believe in baptism by immersion, etc.). None of them are commands, in the negative, against sinful behavior (Thou shalt not murder, I do not permit a woman to teach… etc.)

✢ Secondary and tertiary doctrines can be open – to varying degrees – to biblical interpretation. Every stripe of non-heretical eschatological thought can provide you with chapter and verse passages that can, depending on the angle from which you approach the subject, be biblically plausible and scripturally supported. There is no biblical support for anything God prohibits. No one can cite a properly handled, in context Bible verse in which God says, “It’s OK to commit adultery,” or “Women are allowed to preach.” There can be multiple views on a secondary or tertiary issue that can all be considered biblical, but there can only be one view of sin that is biblical.

✢ Differing beliefs on true secondary and tertiary issues are not sin. My Presbyterian friends have a different view of baptism than I do. That doesn’t mean either of us is sinning. I may think their interpretations of the verses they believe support paedo baptism are incorrect, but they are not breaking any of God’s commands. Differing behavior (again, we see the distinction between doctrinal belief and sinful behavior) on issues of sin is sin. If someone behaves differently from God’s command about lying, she is sinning. If a woman behaves differently from God’s command in 1 Timothy 2:12, she is sinning.

✢ Differing beliefs on secondary and tertiary issues are not born of disobedience and rebellion toward God. Usually, it’s quite the opposite. When someone has studied a theological issue enough to hold a particular position on it, it’s usually because she is striving to please God and to be biblical in her beliefs. Differing behavior on issues of sin is born out of disobedience and rebellion toward God. Someone who steals has already decided in her heart that her desires are better than God’s command. A woman who knowingly holds improper authority over men in her church is doing so because she has already decided to defy God’s clear command against such.

✢ Because different beliefs on secondary and tertiary issues are not born of rebellion and are not sin, they do not require church discipline. Sin does require church discipline. If someone in your church is openly dishonoring her parents, she is sinning and should be subject to church discipline. If a woman is pursuing a career as a pastor, she is sinning and should be subject to church discipline. 

Since the publication of Dr. Mohler’s article (and perhaps as a result of others teaching the same thing) the idea of the violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 being a “secondary doctrine” has spread in a most unhelpful way, leading many Christians to treat the issue in a c’est la vie, “We can just agree to disagree on this,” manner.

No, we cannot.

We would not say, “We can agree to disagree,” on lying or adultery or homosexuality or abortion, and we cannot say it about women preaching, teaching men, or holding unbiblical authority, either. We disciple and teach a sister in Christ who is unaware of what the Bible says on these matters, and if she is committing any of these sins, we begin the process of church discipline. But it would not be loving toward her, or honoring God, to allow her to continue in biblical ignorance or in willful sin.

Furthermore, the violation of 1 Timothy 2:12 brings with it dangers to the church that true secondary and tertiary issues, and even many sins, do not.

I have mentioned several times when dealing with this issue that women preaching to men is highly correlated with women teaching false doctrine. I have researched scores of women teachers. Every single one of them who unrepentantly teaches men also teaches false doctrine in some other aspect of her theology (usually Word of Faith or New Apostolic Reformation). In other words, if a woman teaches men, you can just about take it to the bank that she also teaches false doctrine. False doctrine and heresy are infecting the church – via female preachers – at an alarming rate.

We dare not simply “agree to disagree” on this.

The violation of God’s command that women are not to instruct men in the Scriptures nor hold improper authority over men is a sin like any other. It is not a doctrinal issue in the same sense that other second and third tier doctrines are. If left undisciplined, however, it can lead to first tier doctrinal issues infiltrating a church and eventually destroying it. It is detrimental to the church to label and treat any sin as a secondary doctrinal issue.

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Karen’s Story

Karen’s Story

From the Pulpit to Repentance

Several have asked me to share my journey from the pulpit to repentance. Ten years ago, my husband and I were Charismatic ministers. We served together as Associate Pastors of a church in Texas. I was on the preaching schedule with the men, monthly. Yes, I got the accolades and approval of the church, and the association we were involved with until…. The grace of God reached down and pulled my husband and me both back to the Word of God and out of the fire.

Here is a snapshot of the journey, our journey. It is hard to share. In fact, I have shared our story with select few. Sure, this will bring fiery darts my way, but I really couldn’t care less. I trust that this will help open the eyes of those seeking Truth.

I met my husband in an evangelical church, he was a youth pastor at the time. Both of us were from very Biblically based churches. My husband was the son of a Baptist minister. As a student at Biola College, I remember the warning given to the students by my professor, Dr. Curtis Mitchell, against tongues and the unbiblical Charismatic movement. Truth is, I was curious as most college age young people. I found myself wondering if Dr. Mitchell knew what he was talking about.

I met my husband my sophomore year of Biola. He had a full time job and was a youth pastor. He had a ministry to teens and the kids loved him. He was everything that I prayed and asked God for. We were married one year after we met. I wish I could say we lived happily ever after. When you are on God’s team, attacks come, and they are very real. As a young couple, we found ourselves in two churches, both with serious issues.

After one year of marriage, he was offered a position as a youth pastor at the beach, one block from the ocean. It was an awesome church where we were both very happy. The youth group was growing, kids’ lives were being changed, and parents were grateful. All was well until . . . the senior pastor asked a friend of his to become the Associate Pastor. The new staff member immediately began to breed distrust between the staff. He had an agenda, to bring a copy of the Satan bible into the youth group and have the kids read it. We found ourselves in a spiritual battle that we had never anticipated. We did not want to cause a church split so my husband resigned. (We found out later that this man had a history of going from church to church and causing splits!)

Another local Baptist church contacted my husband. His youth pastor was being transferred by his full-time job, and Phil was asked to step in.

Things were going well at the new church. The youth group was thriving. Nine months in to the job, the senior pastor was asked to resign, the music director’s wife divorced him, and then the music director committed suicide. Upset, discouraged, angry at God were only some of my emotions. I wanted to quit the ministry. We both were so discouraged. It was at that point that Phil decided that he was through with the ministry. We were done!

The last two churches had taken their toll on us. We hardly read the Bible, only attended church. Our marriage was having issues and another baby was on the way. We were trying to keep ourselves together, no one knew the depth of our pain and discouragement. Looking back, I can see clearly that what happened to us was a direct attack from the enemy.

In the midst of the pain, I knew that the God was the answer. Not wanting anything more to do with the traditional church, I gravitated towards the popular charismatic movement. Some of my family had gone that direction, they seemed happy – so I thought maybe that’s what we needed.

Looking back. I now see now that it was all a trap. The discouragement with the church, the hurt, thinking that God let us down . . . we were slowly being destroyed. I got into the Charismatic movement first. I started by going to meetings, listening to TBN, talking to my family. Phil tried to warn me but being hard headed, stubborn and thinking I knew more than he did (he wasn’t reading his Bible so what could he say to me????) I took the bait and had my first experience. I say “experience” because everything seemed to be an experience from that point on. To be truthful, I did feel happier, read my Bible, (substituted the KJV with the Amplified version), and was nicer to live with. He decided that because I had made some positive changes that maybe I was on to something. He jumped in with me and we started attending a Charismatic fellowship. Please note as I write from this point on, the progression . . .

Discouragement, mad at God, feeling empty, Charismatic appeals, we take the bait.

At no time did we consult God’s Word on any of the teaching we were hearing. The Bible was used in the sermons with enough truth that we bought into the lie.

We moved our family to Tulsa. Phil enrolled in Rhema but half way through the first year, he left school. We look back and see the grace of God even in that situation. In the meantime, we had become friends with another couple and she and I were convinced we were supposed to be ministers. Women ministers were all the rage, and all were serving with their husbands, so why not us? We all continued in the Word of Faith churches in Tulsa, voraciously reading every book, attending meetings. At one point, we all decided to be ordained. After applying and being interviewed, we were ordained along with many other couples.

We found a church that was growing and we got involved. We thought we could use our “ministry gifts” there. We did become leaders in the church. I led a woman’s group and together we did a weekly care group in our home. We were being destroyed emotionally as the church was spiritually abusive. It was taking its toll on everyone, including our kids. We both began to see how the Word of God was being twisted from the pulpit to say things that were not there and there was no demonstration of the love of God.

One morning, while having my quiet time, I read an article about spiritually abusive churches and the signs of a toxic, abusive environment. Everything I read we were experiencing. It was clear that we had to leave.

I went to my husband with tears streaming down my face and shared what I believed God was saying. I trusted him to make a family decision. It was the next Sunday that the pastor stood up and said to the congregation, “If you are called to this church, you are called to me.” Walking out, my husband looked at me and said, “We are done.” We quit the fellowship with a resignation letter and never looked back.

A job change was in the air. We both got jobs in Dallas, TX. We left Oklahoma and never looked back. Our daughter moved to Seattle and within a few years, our son did the same. We were all out of Oklahoma!

After a couple of years, we decided to go back to church but did not know where to go. Someone had invited us to attend a little Charismatic start up church and we went. We fell in love with the Filipino pastor and his dear wife. We started going and helping them. The pastor invited us to be on staff and he submitted papers for our ministerial license. (We had rescinded our other ministry certificates years earlier). We became co-associate pastors. We loved the people and we both preached one Sunday a month. Phil and I had begun our personal studies at home, using the KJV Bible. We studied the Emergent Church and saw how it was infiltrating the organization. We read John MacArthur’s book, Charismatic Chaos, and scales began to fall from our eyes. Everything that John MacArthur wrote in his book was 100% accurate. We had experienced it first hand and had lived it.

When I saw that I had not held to the faith that was once delivered to the saints, tears of repentance gushed. I cried for weeks. I had wronged the Lord. I had been duped, taken the bait of Satan, and strayed way off the track. Phil had his own similar moment with the Lord. The beautiful part of this testimony is that each of us came to the same place at the same time using the same Bible. God, in his grace, had snatched us out of the fire. We now had a decision to make. We then drafted a letter of resignation to the organization and walked away.

We were done. We had each other, we had God’s Word. We had already walked away from Word of Faith in Tulsa, and now we walked away from everything Charismatic. The circle was complete. We went into Babylon but God brought us out. We found a Biblical church where women are in their place. I have never looked back.

If you are reading this, I plead with you to think Bible, read your Bible, stop listening to Charismatic/Word of faith/Emergent church and women preachers. We tossed books, tapes, cd’s, Bibles. Our library was quite large. Yes, we tossed our huge library in the trash.

Today we stand on God’s Word. I don’t need to preach to be fulfilled. God has given me a national platform in a dental organization. I influence women all over the country and as God gives opportunity, I share his grace. I found my place in Christ, in my marriage, and in my church. I am 100% fulfilled being the person God has called me to be.

Today I stand heart- broken as I look across Christianity and see the deception. With tears, I am humbled and grateful for God’s grace, His forgiveness, His love, and the Truth of His Word.

We have come full circle – back to the Bible and the roots we were raised with. I pray that you too will find the Truth. Seek and Ye shall find. Here is a clue . . . Truth is in God’s Word!


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Discernment, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Mailbag

The Mailbag: What did you think of Beth Moore’s “A Letter to My Brothers”?

Readers- Before commenting on this article, please familiarize yourself with my comments/e-mail/social media policies and my responses to objections about warning against false teachers. I will not be publishing any comments or responding to any e-mails that are covered by said policies or article.

 

Did you see Beth Moore’s recent blog post “A Letter to My Brothers“? What do you think about what she said?

The first thing you need to know about Beth Moore, if you don’t already, is that she is a false teacher who is living in current, unrepentant sin. She teaches false doctrine and twists Scripture to scratch the itching ears of her followers. She sinfully and rebelliously preaches to men, and she yokes in “ministry” with false teachers. These are not my personal opinions, these are verifiable facts. (See my article Five Reasons It’s Time to Exercise Moore Discernment for the evidence. You don’t have to take my word for it. Compare the things she says and does with Scripture (rightly handled and in context) and it will quickly become crystal clear.)

For years, I have repeatedly heard people try to brush these things aside as “everybody makes mistakes” or “no big deal.” These are not mistakes. These are sins that she not only has not repented of and stopped, she actually tries to justify. Sin is a big deal. It’s such a big deal to God that He sent His Son to be tortured to death for it.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20

We would not say, “It’s no big deal,” if we knew a pastor who was proudly open about his serial adultery or joyfully endorsed homosexuality. Beth Moore’s open, proud, and unrepentant sin is just as inherently sinful. Why Christians continue to support her is both grievous and a mystery to me.

The reason it’s important you understand, for the purposes of this article, that Beth is a false teacher, is that you should view any theological statements she makes with a high degree of suspicion and discernment. Whatever theology Beth espouses is a house built on a foundation of sand because she is not hearing and obeying the (written) Word of Christ. Yes, she may, at times, say things that are perfectly biblical. That is by design. But you cannot have a sound structure when your foundation is faulty.

It brings me absolutely no joy to have to say such things. I would much rather joyfully point my readers to Beth as a doctrinally sound resource as I have done on many other occasions with many other doctrinally sound teachers. But in order to be obedient to Scripture, these things must be said in loving warning to Beth herself and to her followers.

Now, on to her article…

First, I’d like to give my overall impressions, and then move on to a few particular statements.

If I had to sum up this article in one word, it would be “vague.” I have more questions than answers after reading it. How, exactly, does Beth Moore define misogyny? Who is this large swath of men committing this misogyny? What, precisely, are they doing that constitutes misogyny? What sector of women are they performing these misogynistic acts against? What does she want these men to do instead of whatever it is they are doing? What, specifically, is the church supposed to do in response to this nebulous accusation of misogyny?

How is anyone supposed to agree with or refute the facts of what Beth is saying unless she gives clear explanations and details? What Beth has done in her blog post is to throw out unsubstantiated, generalized accusations against a wide swath of nameless Christian men and churches and she expects us to take her word for it that there’s some epidemic of misogyny across the board in the church.

There’s no there there. And I think there are several reasons for that.

Certainly, there are individual Christian men, even pastors, of every theological stripe who have had moments, like the ones Beth cites from her personal experience, in which they’ve acted like pigs toward women, or might even have a chauvinistic attitude toward women in general. Let me be clear- that’s sin, and they absolutely need to be rebuked individually for those sins and repent.

But among Bible believing, doctrinally sound churches and genuinely regenerated Christian men, there isn’t this widespread, large scale, general attitude of condescension toward and disdain for Christian women (that’s my guess as to what she means by “misogyny”, since she didn’t define it) who are obedient to the roles God lays out for us in Scripture and who don’t teach false doctrine. There just isn’t. (This general attitude might be more pervasive among men who claim to be Christians and/or subscribe to false doctrine, but Beth Moore herself has helped build that category of “Christians” with her false doctrine and unbiblical behavior. You can’t build a shoddy wall and then complain when it falls on you.)

Get LifeWay on the phone and commission them to survey a thousand genuinely regenerated, doctrinally sound women who aren’t preaching to men or partnering with false teachers, and who attend generally doctrinally sound churches, and ask them if they normally feel oppressed, patronized, or diminished by their churches or Christian men as a whole. I can practically guarantee that the answer will be a resounding “no.”

I believe that’s one of the reasons Beth’s article is so vague. She thinks her personal experience is common to all Christian women. But it’s not, because she and her poor theology and behavior don’t represent all Christian women, or even most of us.

I think another reason her article is so vague is that she can’t clearly state what she really means because she knows it’s unbiblical. Over the last few years, more and more people – high profile pastors, “regular Joe” pastors, average Christian men and women – have begun to realize and to speak out about the fact that Beth is a false teacher, preaches to men, and yokes with other false teachers. And though some small segment of those folks might qualify as “hyper-fundamentalists” (whatever that means – another vague, undefined, and, this time, intentionally pejorative term), all the ones I’m familiar with who have warned against Beth are reasonable, humble, credible, doctrinally sound Christians, not a tiny bunch of wild-eyed crazies with pitchforks at a Beth Moore book burning.

And, interestingly, while the rebukes that have actually reached Beth’s ears have probably come mostly from men (because men are pastors and have larger platforms and a louder voice), at the grassroots, non-celebrity, average person in the pew level, the vast majority of people warning against Beth are women. Generally speaking, most pastors and Christian husbands have no clue about the problems with Beth Moore. They assume that because she claims to be a Christian and a Southern Baptist, and because LifeWay endorses her and has helped build her empire, she must be doctrinally sound. I know because I hear from women all the time asking how to approach their pastors about the fact that their church is using Beth Moore “Bible” studies. Does Beth consider the discerning women who warn against her to be misogynistic?

I would suggest that the majority of any “misogyny” Beth has received or thinks is pervasive in evangelicalism is largely the result of Christians who know their Bibles speaking and acting upon that knowledge. Men ignored her in elevators and at “team meetings”? She’s “the elephant in the room with a skirt on”? The Bible says:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 John 9-11

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Timothy 2:12

And in this day when the “Pence rule” is ridiculed and men’s lives are being destroyed with accusations of sexual harassment right and left for the most minor of real or imagined infractions, is it any wonder that any Christian man might keep his distance from any woman who’s not his wife?

I suspect Beth has been feeling the pressure – both in her “ministry” and financially – as more people become aware of the theological problems with her, and the sentiment behind her veiled accusations of misogyny is along the lines of, “I don’t like discerning Christians speaking out about my false doctrine, preaching to men, and yoking with false teachers. It hurts my feelings and is detrimental to my career. I want them to be quiet and let me continue to do these things in peace.” But she can’t come right out and say those things clearly because she knows what she’s doing is unbiblical, she’d be publicly admitting to it, and she’d lose even more followers and support.

Finally, I think a significant factor at play in the posting of her article is the popularity factor. Beth is riding the ebbing wave of the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements and using that platform to gain more supporters to replace the ones she’s lost. Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched her do the same thing with the issue of racism on Twitter and by being a last minute addition to the MLK50 Conference. Racism and abuse/misogyny are both hot-topic, trending issues right now. Getting on board that train as a celebrity is a cheap and easy way to get your name in the headlines, your face in the spotlight, boost your social media analytics, gain more followers, and, thus, more customers to buy your materials and attend your conferences.

Want to know how I know this? Because even someone with as small a platform as I have has experienced it. I know what topics to write about that will get me the most clicks and re-tweets (and I usually avoid those topics for that very reason – it’s too tempting). I know the kinds of things you have to do to market yourself and your books successfully to Christian women (which is why I don’t have any books on the market or a larger following – I’m not willing to do some of those things). Beth Moore is a savvy businesswoman with plenty of smart people to advise her. She knows about these things, too. With Christians waking up in droves to the fact that she’s a false teacher, and with the fact that Beth is getting older and a fresh new generation of young female “Bible” teachers is gaining traction and a share of her audience, she’s got to do something to build her following. Everybody with even the smallest parachurch ministry knows how the game is played.

In closing I’d like to interact with a few particular statements Beth made.

I had no personal aspirations to preach nor was it my aim to teach men. If men showed up in my class, I did not throw them out. I taught.

I had no personal aspirations, nor was it my aim to snap at my husband the other day or tell a lie last month. That doesn’t change the fact that I did those things and that they are sins Christ calls me to repent of and stop. Beth acts like teaching men is something that was thrust upon her and that she had no control over so it wasn’t her fault. She also suggests that the only way to handle men showing up in a women’s class is to rudely “throw them out”, implying that if a female teacher restricts her class to women, she must be acting horribly rudely to any man who shows up. Baloney. I’ve explained in this article (#10) how women can kindly and graciously prevent men from coming to their women’s class in the first place and keep them from staying if they do show up. If men rebelliously decide to show up and stay in a women’s class or at a women’s conference, Beth or any other woman can certainly sit down and refuse to teach until they leave. That’s not even resisting sin to the point of shedding blood, it’s just calmly refusing to participate in it. Frankly, doing so would teach both the men and women in the room an extremely important lesson.

The fact of the matter is that Beth is just fine with preaching to men in defiance of Scripture. If she were really trying to obey Scripture she wouldn’t attempt to justify her sin, accept numerous speaking engagements to preach at conferences and churches whose audiences she knows ahead of time will contain men, or preach to pastors.

male leaders/fellow leaders…serve alongside them 

Once again, these are very vague terms. What does Beth mean by “serve alongside” these male “leaders”? Is she talking about preaching alongside them at a conference or that she ought to be able to “serve” in the same capacities men can biblically serve in? Does she consider pastors to be “fellow” leaders because she views herself as equal to pastors?

Anyone out in the public eye gets pelted with criticism.

Anyone who becomes a Christian preacher or teacher gets biblically judged – by God and by people – with a stricter judgment, and Christians are called to reject false doctrine.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. James 3:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

He can put us out there and pull us back as He pleases.

Yes, He can, and the fact that He “puts Beth out there” and has allowed her to have a large following in no way indicates that He approves of her behavior or her doctrine. The size of a person’s platform or the number of followers she has doesn’t mean God is blessing her because she’s biblical. In fact, it can mean exactly the opposite.

Ours is to keep our heads down and seek Him earnestly and serve Him humbly

If Beth Moore were keeping her head down and seeking God earnestly and serving Him humbly, she would almost certainly not be the celebrity she is, just like the myriad of Christian women who are doing those things and aren’t celebrities. Her article is indicative of the fact that she’s not “keeping her head down” – she’s making a big splashy statement and reprimanding good churches and Christian men and women to elevate herself. She’s doing what she can to keep the wheels of her celebrity turning. And if she were “earnestly” and “humbly” seeking and serving God, the very first thing she would do is repent of her sin and stop it.

opposition and difficulties are norms for servants of Christ

Especially when you’re not serving Christ because you’re intentionally disobeying Him. Of course people who stand on the truth of God’s Word will oppose you. You should expect that. And if you’re truly a servant of Christ, you should also expect God to discipline you when you sin. These are basic biblical principles a Bible teacher should know.

An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
2 Timothy 2:5

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then
you are illegitimate children and not sons. Hebrews 12:7-8

Even criticism, as much as we all hate it, is used by God to bring correction, endurance and humility and to curb our deadly addictions to the approval of man.

This is true! So may I suggest, Beth, that you humble yourself, and be corrected from your addictions to the approval of man? Step down, repent, take a seat under some good biblical instruction from a doctrinally sound pastor, and learn and obey the truth of God’s Word.

Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these [key Christian leaders]. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19

What leaders? Where are your witnesses? What, specifically, were their sins? How were they being ungodly? This is just one more example of vagueness and unsubstantiated accusations.

The dignity with which Christ treated women in the Gospels is fiercely beautiful and it was not conditional upon their understanding their place.

This is a fallacious argument that, as a Bible teacher, Beth should know is fallacious, because we don’t see Christ interacting in the gospels with any women who “don’t understand their place.” Every woman we see that Christ interacts with in the gospels is either already living in obedience to God’s Word, or is at the point of repentance, or Christ instructs her to “go and sin no more.” We never see Him interacting with a woman who is in-your-face defiantly, continually, and unrepentantly persisting in disobedience to Scripture. If we had seen Him interact with a woman like that, I’m sure He would have treated her with the same “dignity” He treated the “brood of vipers, blind guides, whitewashed tombs” false teaching Pharisees who acted like that.

Furthermore, this sounds uncomfortably close to the popular erroneous argument, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, so it must have been OK with Him.” All Scripture is breathed out by God. That means when 1 Timothy 2:12 explains and commands women’s “place” in the church, that’s just as much the words of Jesus as the ones He speaks in the gospels.

I am…deeply committed to the authority of the Word of God and to the imitation of Christ.

Then imitate Him by obeying His written Word. Be under the authority of the Word of God by humbling yourself and submitting to it.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:4-6

 

Beth Moore may have experienced some terrible personal treatment at the hands of individual men. I hope all of them were rebuked for their sin and repented of it. But the truth of the matter is that any generalized opposition or difficulty Beth is experiencing is not because she’s a woman, or because Christian men and complementarian churches are misogynistic, or because she doesn’t have a seminary degree. It’s because she’s in sin.

And I dearly wish she would repent. I spent quite a bit of time in prayer for Beth, weeping over her situation before writing this article. Beth is a beautiful, kind-hearted woman made in God’s image who is in angst because she’s persisting in sin and resisting the discipline of the Lord. My heart breaks to see her or any other professing Christian go through something like that. The answer to all her difficulties is so close, yet she pushes away the hands that lovingly hold it out to her, reaching instead for something that will never satisfy.

Beth, I love you and I long to see you truly flourish in Christ. Consider that the pressure and anxiety you’re calling “misogyny” might actually be the grace of God disciplining you, calling you lovingly to repentance. Today, if you hear His voice, please do not harden your heart. Won’t you repent and be reconciled to Him in obedience today?


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.


Before commenting, please familiarize yourself with my comments/e-mail/social media policies and my responses to objections about warning against false teachers. I will not be publishing any comments or responding to any e-mails that are covered by said policies or article.