By Anna Sieges
The MacArthur Study Bible was one of my most prized possessions as a teenager. I used it to lead Bible studies, to prepare messages for mission trips, and to teach Sunday School. My mistake. Perhaps I should have gone home.
The MacArthur Study Bible with New American Standard Translation.I was saddened to hear of John MacArthur’s remarks during a panel discussion on Oct.17. MacArthur was asked to describe Beth Moore, a well-known Bible teacher and preacher, in only one word. He replied with two, saying, “Go home.”
To my shock, the audience at the event applauded and chortled. MacArthur then followed his snide quip with, “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.”
As a trained (cough cough) Bible scholar, I’m afraid I have to disagree. I can (and will) lay out my laundry list of biblical examples of women in ministry, but I am chagrined that such an exercise is necessary for a man who has dedicated his life to biblical interpretation and ministry!
And so, to my early mentor in the faith, Rev. MacArthur, let’s take a look at the Bible:
What would Jesus do?
What would have happened if the angel(s) at the tomb had told the women to “go home”? (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-1)
Perhaps Jesus meant to tell Mary Magdalene to “go home” instead of “go and tell my brothers.” (John 20:17)
Perhaps the many women who supported Jesus’ ministry and learned from him should have simply remained at home. (Mark 15:40; Luke 8:1-3; 10:38-41; 23:55-56; 24:1-12).
Perhaps the women disciples should have gone home instead of standing by, supporting Jesus as he died, while their male counterparts were nowhere to be found. (Mark 15:40; Matthew 27:55-56).
Indeed, perhaps Paul meant to instruct a male deacon rather than a female deacon to carry his letter to the Romans and read it to them (functioning as the first interpreter of Romans!). Instead, Phoebe, a deacon from the church at Cenchreae, carried the letter and read it to the conflicted church. (Romans 16:1-2).
Paul may have preferred that the many women with whom he ministered “go home”. But they didn’t. And, I think he was grateful that they did not. He needed Chloe, Prisca, Pheobe, Mary, Junia (outstanding among the apostles!), Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Lydia (and Dorcus), Euodia, Syntyche, Nympha, Apphia and countless others to carry out the Gospel mission. (1 Corinthians 1:11; Romans 16, Acts 9:36-39; Philippians 4:2; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2)
When Paul discusses the gifts, he doesn’t limit God’s grace to male Christians. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Romans 12:6)
Significantly, women were known to prophesy (one of Paul’s favorite gifts and often considered the early church equivalent to preaching). (1 Corinthians 11:2-16)
The Jewish Scriptures
Jesus and Paul knew the Jewish scriptures, with their rich history of women in ministry. I would have thought MacArthur would too.
Perhaps Jesus and Paul did not tell women to go home because they knew about the prophet Miriam, who boldly led the Israelites in song after the Red Sea crossing, not to mention the prophet and Judge Deborah who led the people of God politically, spiritually, and in battle. Likely, they remembered Hannah, whose prophetic prayer pulsed with a knowledge of the messiah.
I could go on talking about the biblical precedent for women in every area of ministry. But, perhaps the greatest testimony to the reality of the called-ness and gifted-ness of women in ministry is to watch the Spirit of God move through them. So, to Rev. MacArthur and any who agree with his unbiblical perspective; I invite you to sit under a woman’s teaching, to listen while a woman preaches, and to open your heart to the brilliant things that the Spirit of God is doing through these female vessels. You might just have the same reaction as the church leaders in Jerusalem, stunned that Gentiles received the Holy Spirit. After hearing Peter’s testimony, “They had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to the Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life!’”
I encourage you, go, and listen to the Spirit of God. I guarantee, She moves in mysterious ways—even and especially in women preachers.
Your proof texts (1 Corinthians 14:34-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-15) may not seem so hard to overcome if you just listen…to the Bible, to the Spirit, and to the women.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.