An Open Letter To Beth Moore

Craig Toliver's picture

  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?”

We ask these questions to you out of genuine concern. As Bible teachers, all of us are held to a very high standard and will give an account for how we handle God’s word.  As you know, homosexuality is widely discussed and debated amongst evangelicals and society at large.

Jay's picture

That by phrasing the questions the way they have, that there is no way Moore could reply without appearing to put herself in a “preaching” mode, which is exactly the same firestorm that she just got out of.  So either she loses by not answering or she loses by agreeing with the questioner that she is “preaching”.

I wouldn’t respond to this if I were her.  

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

I uninstalled Facebook and Twitter from my phone last week and I'm now a much happier person. I don't care about the social media hatred onslaught against Beth Moore or the tweets about the dangers of social justice. 

Social media is a vehicle for evil. Moore will likely be SBC president within 10 years. I care, but I don't care. I got my own problems. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

GregH's picture

Beth Moore should not feel any need to respond to such bullying. Here is a news flash for the open letter people: she is not required to take a public position on everything and that includes whatever is currently on the hot plate in evangelical land.

Bert Perry's picture

It's worth noting that the letter starts with an "argument from silence" and proceeds to "guilt by association"--starts with "why haven't you written or spoken on this in the past decade?" and "what should we make of your friends who are homosexual or apologists for homosexuality?".   

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

That by phrasing the questions the way they have, that there is no way Moore could reply without appearing to put herself in a “preaching” mode, which is exactly the same firestorm that she just got out of.  So either she loses by not answering or she loses by agreeing with the questioner that she is “preaching”.

She could answer the questions without any appearance of preaching if we accurately define preaching. and if we recognize that the prohibition against women preaching involves men and church, not responding to women asking questions on the internet. I think one of the tactics today is to change the terms of discussion and then make a pronouncement (or refuse to make a pronouncement) about a situation based on a world that does not actually exist. This happened when Jay tried to say it would be preaching to answer the question. It very clearly isn't preaching to answer questions that someone asks. Or notice the attempt by GregH to call this bullying. There is no reasonable world in which this is bullying. That is an attempt to the essence of poisoning the well: If we call it an ugly name, we can marginalized the people who dared to ask. But let's be serious: It is not bullying to ask a public figure questions about issues.

Given this standard suggested by Jay, it would be impossible to ever question someone on their beliefs. Given the standard suggested by GregH, no one could inquire about a person's views without bullying them.

Beth Moore doesn't have to answer the questions. She can ignore them. But she could answer the questions unequivocally so that, if anyone is still listening to her, they will know where she stands. Perhaps we should wonder why she wouldn't answer the questions. 

Jay's picture

Larry,

If you feel that preaching isn’t the right word, then substitute “teaching”.  The principle is still the same - that we should be suspicious of Beth Moore because she either won’t expressly call out homosexuality or because she admits to teaching Biblical truth to people.

Either way she gets flack from the social media ankle biters, so the right response is along the lines of Nehemiah 6:2-4.  I stand my ground on not wanting to play this game with detractors, and I am so, so tired of this ridiculous urge within Christian circles to pose some question and then proceed to attacking them or their character because they refused to acknowledge or answer it.  Voldemort (you know who I mean) used to do that and we had many discussions about it.

Furthermore, as a moderator, you know full well that I have had zero compunctions about calling out bad or false teaching.  I have done it on this site several times. Give me a break.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

But she could answer the questions unequivocally so that, if anyone is still listening to her, they will know where she stands.

But if she doesn’t...

Perhaps we should wonder why she wouldn't answer the question.

Heads, I win; Tails you lose.  Therefore:

”A strange game.  The only winning move is not to play.” - WOPR, WarGames

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

GregH's picture

Yes, I think it is bullying. Of course it is fine to "inquire about a person's views." However, that is not what this is and Larry should be honest about that. This is a public attempt to strong-arm her into taking a public position that she may not be ready to take. And, as Larry suggested, of course people will come to conclusions if she does not answer the question. They should not but they will. Unless she handles this exactly right, she has far more to lose than gain here.

Whether you accept the term "bullying" or not, it seems these days that everyone in the public eye feels pressure to go on the record on virtually every hot button issue. I think that is a bad thing especially in today's world of gotcha politics and social media. 

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

Jay, It's not whether you call it preaching or teaching. It is what it actually is, whatever name you attach to it. I am not saying we should be suspicious of Beth Moore. I have never heard one word from her or read one word from her. But asking a prominent Bible teacher what she believes about a subject is entirely appropriate. 

I have no idea who Voldemort is, and I know you have called out bad and false teaching. You have also called out things that weren't bad teaching. None of that matters here. 

If you think Beth Moore shouldn't respond, fine. But why wouldn't she respond? It's not like this is controversial. It's a straightforward question it seems to me. If there is room for doubt, then it is easy enough to answer the question. To appear to avoid it raises questions unnecessarily. 

I could easier understand refusing to answer if this was a question of nuance about which good faithful Christians could differ. It isn't. But her refusal to answer will distract from whatever ministry she might have. It is easy enough to answer, so answer.

Larry's picture

Moderator

GregH, How can someone be a recognized Bible teacher who is viewed as an authority not be ready to take a position on a clear cut matter of biblical truth? It is not bullying in any sense to ask her to answer it. That is a disservice to actual bullying.

This appears to be a question that has been raised about her views based on a number of factors. Let's be honest about that. It isn't a random question about a disputed matter. 

Perhaps the "lot to lose" is her fear. And isn't that a bad indicator? We cannot have teachers who refuse to be clear about truth because of what they might lose.

Could this turn into bullying? Of course it could. But it is not that now. It read like a very respectful, well-reasoned, and tempered request for clarification.

GregH's picture

Larry wrote:

GregH, How can someone be a recognized Bible teacher who is viewed as an authority not be ready to take a position on a clear cut matter of biblical truth? It is not bullying in any sense to ask her to answer it. That is a disservice to actual bullying.

This appears to be a question that has been raised about her views based on a number of factors. Let's be honest about that. It isn't a random question about a disputed matter. 

Perhaps the "lot to lose" is her fear. And isn't that a bad indicator? We cannot have teachers who refuse to be clear about truth because of what they might lose.

Could this turn into bullying? Of course it could. But it is not that now. It read like a very respectful, well-reasoned, and tempered request for clarification.

First of all, I see the letter as snarky. That they brought up the Covington issue says a lot. I don't think these people are being respectful. I think they are just part of the evangelical attack squad that mobilized after Moore called out evangelical hypocrisy during the last presidential election.

Second, I get that most evangelicals consider the homosexuality a hot button, hill-to-die-on issue. However, not everyone agrees with that. Some people have different ministries or areas of emphasis. They might actually think there are more important things to focus on than whatever is the hot issue of the militant evangelical masses. I don't know but I suspect that is where Moore is. She also probably believes that her mission would be endangered if not swallowed up if she gets pulled into all the hot button issues. It is not like there are not plenty of evangelicals talking about homosexuality already.

Stating that she should just answer the questions is over-simplifying this. If you walked in her shoes, you would know that. You can't just answer questions like those posed to her and it not cause problems. First of all, those questions are not simple. In fact, some of them have been hotly debated here on SI. The answers are complex and require nuance. If she just answers the questions in a way that the masses will accept, she has to give up the nuance. If she answers them correctly and completely, the masses will pick her apart and continue in their attempts to destroy her. There is simply no way for her to win.

I don't think Moore has to take a public position on everything. I certainly don't think she has to take a position on something just because the masses demand it, especially when it is pretty clear that the masses are currently engaged in an effort to discredit/destroy her.

So no, she should feel no obligation to answer those questions.

Mike Harding's picture

Do you believe homosexuality is inherently sinful?  Yes

Do you believe that the practice of the homosexual lifestyle is compatible with holy Christian living? No

Do you believe a person who dies as a practicing homosexual but professes to be a Christian will inherit eternal life? No  (there is some subjectivity here as to the word "practicing")

Do you believe same sex attraction is, in and of itself, an inherently sinful, unnatural, and disordered desire that must be mortified? Yes  (this is more than likely the most debatable of the questions as has been seen in the PCA).

Why have you been so silent on this subject in light of your desire to “teach the word of God?”  This is a major theological issue of the day according to Dr. Al Mohler.  He argues that we cannot be silent on the on-going moral and sexual revolution in America.  Eventually there will be no where to hide.

Pastor Mike Harding

josh p's picture

Not to sidetrack too much but I think Christians would be a lot better off if they just focused on defending the truth and less on changing the culture. Personally, I couldn’t care less if the culture thinks homosexuality is a sin. I do however care what prominent evangelicals believe (especially those I’m connected with). I realize that we must involve ourselves in the political process but I hear a lot more about cultural shift than I do about doctrinal shift in evangelicalism. That seems exactly backwards. 

Jay's picture

Not to sidetrack too much but I think Christians would be a lot better off if they just focused on defending the truth and less on changing the culture.

^

That is right.  We also have to stop making homosexuality the major sin of our day....adultery and pornography are also real issues but we only ever talk about the homosexuals.  I would like to see someone tear into sexual sin in the mind and porn the way they do Romans 1.  We don’t have a petition for her to address heterosexual sins, do we?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Stating that she should just answer the questions is over-simplifying this. 

How is this oversimplifying? I can't imagine the argument for that but I would be interested in reading such an argument. Can you explain that? 

I think Mike Harding has indicated how easy these are to answer. How else could a faithful Christian answer them?

Perhaps the fear you mention is the big thing. Perhaps Beth does fear that if she takes a clear view it will marginalize her in other areas. The question is, Is that okay? 

Without being too direct against Beth, sometimes nuance is the dress of cowardice. To refuse to be clear where Scripture is clear is not a virtue.

Bert Perry's picture

It strikes me that, given that the best estimates I've seen estimate that somewhere between 1.5% and 3% of people identify as homosexual or bisexual, that the best way to change the culture is to address the sexual sins known and practiced among the 97%-98.5% of people who are heterosexual.  

It is also a reality today that homosexuality (bisexuality/etc..) is a hot button issue where speaking out about it directly tends to function the same as calling in an artillery strike on one's own position.  However, you can still talk about how heterosexual sexual sin leads to disaster--mostly.  And if Christians manage to rein in divorce, promiscuity, and the like in their circles, it's going to tell the world a LOT about the character of Christ, including those caught in homosexual (etc.) sin.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

 We also have to stop making homosexuality the major sin of our day....adultery and pornography are also real issues but we only ever talk about the homosexuals. 

This isn't true. It is addressed frequently in various ways in things that I read and listen to. However, there is not, to my knowledge, a widespread defense of adultery or pornography in Christian circles. Both are widely accepted to be sinful. Therefore, there is no need to address it. Everyone agrees.

On the contrary, there are defenders of homosexuality who claim to be Christian, whether a defense of celibate SSA or some level of homosexuality up to and including marriage. It is therefore necessary to answer them widely and as frequently as necessary.

I think the attempted contrast of defending truth vs changing culture is misguided. Is there a truth about homosexuality from Scripture? If so, then let's defend it. I doubt it will change culture, but that's not the point of it.

Jay's picture

A new study on Christian attitudes toward dating and marriage reveals a broad acceptance for cohabitation, premarital sex and a rejection of traditional gender roles. Experts believe that many Christians are following cultural trends over scripture when it comes to sex and marriage.

"Christians are perhaps more influenced by the culture than they are by the teachings of scripture or the church," Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post in an interview on Friday.

According to the "2014 State of Dating in America" report published by Christian Mingle and JDate, 61 percent of Christians said they would have sex before marriage. Fifty-six percent said that it's appropriate to move in with someone after dating for a time between six months and two years. Fifty-Nine percent said it doesn't matter who the primary breadwinner of the family is.

That's a ChristianPost article from 2014.  Like Nick Fury said in Captain America: The Winter Soldier - "I take the world as it is, not as I'd like it to be".  I've definitely seen a rise in sexual misconduct in churches I belong to over the last few years.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Jay, 

Not to point out the obvious, but your original post mentioned adultery and porn. Your subsequent post mentioned neither. And my point is not that no one accepts adultery and porn as acceptable behaviors, but that it is widely considered wrong, even among unbelievers. My guess is that even among those polled in the article you link to, most would not approve adultery or porn as normal Christian behaviors. (The article's link doesn't work so we can't actually see what the poll says.) And yes, we should address all those things as sin and call people to repentance. But to argue that you can't address homosexuality unless you also address other stuff would mean much of Scripture doesn't even meet your standard. How would your standard work in Romans 1?

I think you make a fundamental error in believing (apparently) that if someone doesn't address everything (or something else) then they can't address anything. The idea that we can't talk about X unless we also talk about Y is false. It reminds me of the all too frequent silliness of invoking gluttony or caffeine every time someone mentions alcohol. Even if no one talks about adultery and porn (something manifestly false), it is not wrong to talk about homosexuality. 

But it should be worthy of thought that the Bible may to put homosexuality into a different category than adultery or other sexual sin. Romans 1 does not say that God gave them over to adultery but to homosexuality. What exactly are the implications of that? I am not sure but it is worthy of thought. Not all sins are equal sins.

I think sexual standards are definitely on the decline both among Christians and non-Christians.

GregH's picture

Larry wrote:

Stating that she should just answer the questions is over-simplifying this. 

How is this oversimplifying? I can't imagine the argument for that but I would be interested in reading such an argument. Can you explain that? 

I already have.

Larry wrote:

I think Mike Harding has indicated how easy these are to answer. How else could a faithful Christian answer them?

With more than yes/no as at least 3 of the questions deserve. It is one thing for Mike to quickly answer the questions. But with all respect to Mike, he is not Beth. He may not have 1% of the reach/impact that Beth does and is not going to have every syllable dissected. She has to be a lot more careful.

Larry wrote:

Perhaps the fear you mention is the big thing. Perhaps Beth does fear that if she takes a clear view it will marginalize her in other areas. The question is, Is that okay? 

I never mentioned the word fear. I think this is an honest mistake on your part rather than something malicious but I would encourage you to be more careful. What I tried to say was that Beth might consider it prudent not to open herself up to more attacks from social media snakes. In some respects, sort of similar to how Jesus handled questions when he knew that the person asking the question was trying to trick him.

Larry wrote:

I think you make a fundamental error in believing (apparently) that if someone doesn't address everything (or something else) then they can't address anything. The idea that we can't talk about X unless we also talk about Y is false. 

The good news is I think we agree anyway. Smile So I am going to leave it here.

 

Jay's picture

I think you make a fundamental error in believing (apparently) that if someone doesn't address everything (or something else) then they can't address anything.

Then you don't understand what I have said.  I have never said any such thing.

I used to hold to the view that Romans 1 sets the homosexual sins apart from all others, but now I don't for a couple of reasons:

1.  I don't think that is the point Paul intends to make in ch. 1-3. SI ran an article on this very thing a while ago.

2. I don't see any other passages that set homosexuality aside as one of the worst possible sins.  There are at least two references to unforgivable sins but neither of them have anything to do with this.

3. My point is this - all forms of sexual sins are equally offensive and should be equally addressed.  The war on premarital sex, cohabitation, etc has been lost, and society is in the process of submitting to rainbow colored tyranny.  We need to offend everyone with the gospel equally, not specialize on gays.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

GregH wrote:

What I tried to say was that Beth might consider it prudent not to open herself up to more attacks from social media snakes. In some respects, sort of similar to how Jesus handled questions when he knew that the person asking the question was trying to trick him.

I completely agree. I suspect this entire letter, how it was framed, and the manner in which it was publicly trumpeted forth, is little more than a means to trap Moore. There is no way she can win, and there is every reason to distrust the motives of the framers. I'd ignore it if I were her.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

It is one thing for Mike to quickly answer the questions. But with all respect to Mike, he is not Beth. He may not have 1% of the reach/impact that Beth does and is not going to have every syllable dissected. She has to be a lot more careful.

Not to mention that nobody is accusing Mike of overstepping his right to preach / teach / speak the Bible on the basis of his gender and the teachings of Paul.  Beth Moore is getting criticism from some of the same people here on SI because she teaches the Bible in a conference or church building.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

josh p's picture

Larry wrote:

 We also have to stop making homosexuality the major sin of our day....adultery and pornography are also real issues but we only ever talk about the homosexuals. 

This isn't true. It is addressed frequently in various ways in things that I read and listen to. However, there is not, to my knowledge, a widespread defense of adultery or pornography in Christian circles. Both are widely accepted to be sinful. Therefore, there is no need to address it. Everyone agrees.

On the contrary, there are defenders of homosexuality who claim to be Christian, whether a defense of celibate SSA or some level of homosexuality up to and including marriage. It is therefore necessary to answer them widely and as frequently as necessary.

I think the attempted contrast of defending truth vs changing culture is misguided. Is there a truth about homosexuality from Scripture? If so, then let's defend it. I doubt it will change culture, but that's not the point of it.

Larry, 

I think you are likely responding to me here. Just to clarify since I may have been unclear, I wasn’t contrasting defending truth and changing culture. I was merely pointing out that too many Christians (IMO) are more concerned about the cultural drift than they are about defending doctrinal truth. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask a “public evangelical” to explain their positions. I don’t know why it needs to be an open letter but she should still be able to answer those fairly easily. 

MF's picture

i forget

what is our position again?

can we stop sinning or not?

 

 

Larry's picture

Moderator

I already have.

I missed it.

With more than yes/no as at least 3 of the questions deserve. It is one thing for Mike to quickly answer the questions. But with all respect to Mike, he is not Beth. He may not have 1% of the reach/impact that Beth does and is not going to have every syllable dissected. She has to be a lot more careful.

As far as I can tell, the only question that requires more than a "yes" or "no" is the last one which is a "why" question. The others are fairly straightforward. The fourth question might get a bit of nuance as Mike mentioned because of a shift in the way people talk.

I never mentioned the word fear. I think this is an honest mistake on your part rather than something malicious but I would encourage you to be more careful.

Of course you didn't use the word "fear" but your point was based on the idea. You were very clear then (and in this post) about Beth's audience. If she doesn't answer just right, she will lose some of it (on one side or the other). That is the fear that I refer to and I think it is what you refer to.

In some respects, sort of similar to how Jesus handled questions when he knew that the person asking the question was trying to trick him.

Of course, but there was a trick there. What's the trick here? What appear to be faithful Bible teachers want to know where another Bible teachers stands on an issue. Jesus never answered those kind of people with silence or with his approach to Pharisees or lawyers. There is no equivalence there.

MF's picture

Why are we discussing this?

Clearly Beth writes, "I beg my brothers in Christ to read some of the many Reformed Theology blogs written by men. Leave me with the freedom to minister to women in keeping with Titus 2:3-5."

 

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