By: Jen Pollock Michel – christianitytoday.com – October 24, 2019
At his church’s recent “Truth Matters” conference, John MacArthur was asked to give a knee-jerk reaction to a series of words. The first was a name: Beth Moore.
“Go home,” MacArthur answered to the uproarious laughter of the crowd.
Predictably, social media exploded with responses to both castigate and defend MacArthur and Moore. Some delved into the larger debate context, started arguing for or against women preachers, and took a stance on MacArthur’s various derisive remarks on the topic. (His most notable one: “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph. End of discussion.”)
However, what concerns me has less to do with the egalitarian and complementarian conversation. The hermeneutic that MacArthur so virulently defends—“We can’t let the culture exegete the Bible”—runs in glaring contradiction to his public comments. Despite his commitment to faithfully read Scripture, MacArthur (and others) often mistake this truth: In the Bible, home has never primarily been a woman’s place. In other words, when he says “go home,” he invokes a paradigm that isn’t biblical. Any church teaching that solely consigns women to the responsibilities of home (while tacitly excusing the men) proves exegetically paper-thin.
Some will say, of course, that I’ve assumed too much from MacArthur’s remarks. When he told Beth Moore to go home, we might assume that he meant simply to forbid Moore and women like her from preaching. But to listen to the entire audio clip is to see that MacArthur’s concern isn’t simply that women open God’s word publicly and explicate the text. The real danger, he reminds, is that they’re aspiring to hold positions of cultural power. They want to be senators, for goodness sake. Given this context, “go home” reaches far more broadly in its prohibitions. “Go home” is reasonably interpreted as the forbiddance of women aspiring to any role beyond wife and mother. No, “go home” isn’t just a debate about female preachers. It’s about women wanting to be doctors and lawyers, painters and poets, even President of the United States.
As proof text for women’s primary calling to the domestic sphere, MacArthur would likely point to Paul’s admonition in Titus 2, that younger women learn “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home” (Titus 2:4-5). But this is not a culturally objective interpretation. Rather, the exegesis is western and modern.
To see the remainder of this article and subscribe to more like it, click read more.