By Elizabeth Prata
But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah. (Hosea 5:12)
Privately, however, Moore has never cared much for the delicate norms of Christian femininity. ~The Atlantic
I published an essay, part 1 of 3, in 2011, eight years ago as of this date. It was about how the secret feminists laid the groundwork for a later open rebellion. That rebellion has now occurred. They are openly touting egalitarian principles. The takeaway-
- These rebellious women live for their work, which is usually a corporation, but called a ministry,
- These women are the main and sustained breadwinners, and the husband supports the wife by adopting the wifely role,
- These women actively reject rebuke and correction from elder men, thus fulfilling the feminist’s more famous line, ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’
They are feminists.
In my 2011 essay I had focused on how Beth Moore, grandma of the Christian feminists, was Exhibit A in laying a devilish groundwork of feminism in the evangelical church. Worse, she was producing spiritual children to follow in her example, like Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, and Rachel Held Evans, and others.
Back then I called them secret feminists because these women hid their private ambitions from the public, and they used complementarian language even though they privately disbelieved in it. But discerning women and men were not fooled, these women’s lives were forward. The recent Atlantic Monthly interview of Beth Moore (Oct 2018) with the above quote proves their private ambitions were there all along.
At the time, I warned that the groundwork being laid in their feminist ministry and the examples they set would have dire consequences. As God promised the Israelites that He would be a moth to them, it seems that God has used Beth Moore and her spiritual daughters to eat away the garment. Its sturdiness and functonality has rotted. For church leaders and especially the SBC not to have plugged those holes ensured that the complementarian garment would rot. It has.
But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah. (Hosea 5:12)
We can look back and see…where we were and where we’ve ended up, and why.
“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” was the feminist motto of the 1970s. The implication was that women didn’t ‘need’ a man at all.
In 2012 when I wrote about this last, there were a number of popular Bible teachers/preachers who traveled widely, filling arenas, marketing their books, selling their products, and leaving the husband at home to take care of the kids. These women had assumed the lead role in the marriage and are the main breadwinner, and the husband is the helpmeet, usually having set aside his career to work in his wife’s
corporation ministry. While these women call what they are doing “ministry,” I call it “feminism”.
This is the new crop of what I called Christian secret feminists- but they aren’t as secret as they were in 2012. They live a feminist life inside of Christianity but call it ministry. They are openly rebelling now.
One woman who has much to answer for about this new role is Beth Moore. She was the one who broke new ground in the Southern Baptist Convention, a most conservative denomination, in how far a woman could go in attaining celebrity status, living for her career and not for her home, and promoting gender role reversals.
She showed us how to be the main and sustained breadwinner of the family. She showed us that she could preach in a church and teach anyone in the world, uncensured. Mrs Moore, while speaking conservative values cloaked in all the right Christianese, has lived a very feminist life. You will see more details on this below.
A spiritual daughter of Mrs Moore in this generation of Christian feminists is Christine Caine. Mrs Caine’s language is less cloaked (more open) in her declarations of what women can or should see as their roles in Christian home and work life. Mrs Caine is an ordained minister and part of Hillsong Church in Australia.
For example, in an interview (now deleted from Youtube) from 2010, Caine reassured Pastor’s wives that despite Caine’s visible usurpation of the traditional husband-wife roles, that their stay-at-home role is still viable:
“Predominantly I might teach a little bit and I step out into what would be the more classic leadership gift, so a lot of people say ‘I’m not that, so therefore I must not have a role to play…’”
It’s no wonder that woman are confused when they see peers taking on the ‘classic leadership gift’. And that is one way they cloak their rebellion in Christianese: it is not a role or a job, it is a ‘gift‘. Ultimately, women would not need reassurance from other women that their biblical role is still viable if they themselves were not setting it aside.
Christine continues in the interview by acknowledging that there are “women who are gentle and loving and nurturing”, and there are other “women who come along side and do a bit more “non-gentle prodding help people go to the next level.” But that in “no way diminishes your role.”
Really? Sure it does. It sets up women to be discontent. By justifying herself in the leadership role as a gift from God (and who can argue with that?) and acknowledging that there are ‘levels’ and women need to get to, but at the same time saying it is important to stay at home and be nurturing…she had completely confused any listener as to the clear guidelines of the notion of what Biblical womanhood is. She says one thing (and not too clearly, either) but does another.
Discernment tip: one way to detect if a person is in the Word is to see if what they say and what they do match up over time. If what they say and what they do are different, run away. Beth Moore is a good example of that, see below.
Mrs Caine’s reassurances use a neat scriptural twist. If objecting to a woman’s taking on home or ministry leadership roles, simply acknowledge that the women feel weak or unsure in them, but get around it by assuring them that all they need to do is have courage to step out and let Jesus work through their weakness, citing 2 Corinthians 12:9 out of context (“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”). That’s how Caine works it.
Discernment tip: Once a women steps out of the biblical role assigned to her by God, reasoning becomes confused, because God is the author of clarity and it’s satan who sows confusion. A discerning person will really listen to what she is saying, listen to how she is saying it, and look at the life she is leading to make a decision on whether this teacher is someone to learn from. Is what she is saying clear and easily confirmed by the Bible, or is it confusing?
In that same interview, Mrs Caine said, “The only way I was able to continue in my role is that my senior pastor’s wife stepped into her role and chose not to be threatened or intimidated because the giftings were different.”
Oh, I get it. Women are now complementarians to each other. It’s the height of irony that unwittingly, Mrs Caine acknowledges that these new ‘roles’ set up discontent. It’s so nice that in her situation at least, the pastor’s wife wasn’t jealous of her fabulous gift. A good portion of the middle of the interview is Caine’s description of how women are to be complementarian of each other in church settings. One takes the wifely nurturing role so that the younger ones coming up can step out, so to speak. That’s not complementarianism, that’s rebellion.
Now, female support between and among ministries is a good thing, and it is biblically commanded. (Titus 2:4) but the description in Titus is for elder women to teach the younger is in their biblically defined helpmeet role, not to be a helpmeet to other women who step out into classic male roles.
Priscilla Shirer is another of these new Christian feminists whose life is more forward than their spiritual mothers.
“The NY Times article notes that Mr Shirer spends much of the day negotiating Priscilla’s speaking invitations and her book contracts. In the afternoon it’s often Mr Shirer who collects the boys from school. Back home, Priscilla and Jerry divide chores and child care equally.
“Jerry quit his job to run his wife’s ministry. Priscilla now accepts about 20 out of some 300 speaking invitations each year, and she publishes a stream of Bible studies, workbooks and corresponding DVDs intended for women to read and watch with their girlfriends from church. Jerry does his share of housework and child care so that Priscilla can study and write. He travels with his wife everywhere. Whenever possible, they take their sons along on her speaking trips, but they often deposit the boys with Jerry’s mother.”‘
If you delete the name Shirer and substitute Gloria Steinem, and change ministry to job you have a description of a life that any feminist would be proud of.
By 2019 Beth Moore is one of the elders in this realm. Moore has been “on the ministry circuit” for almost 30 years. Thus, her rebellious example has been long in view for many women who have watched her since they were an impressionable teen. Later comers arriving on the scene such as Priscilla Shirer or Christine Caine have learned from the best of the Christian feminists in Moore.
Meanwhile, despite the Bible’s instruction to women to be gentle, meek, quiet, and industrious, tending to their homes and children, Moore has become culturally confrontational. Political. And since my essay was first published in 2011, we have a helpful confirmation of exactly what I had written about back then regarding the man left at home to tend to the kids while the wife wins the bread, but was vigorously denied and refuted by Moore’s followers. As the lengthy article about Moore in an October 2018 article in The Atlantic reveals,
Privately, however, Moore has never cared much for the delicate norms of Christian femininity. Her days are tightly scheduled and obsessively focused on writing. She spends hours alone in an office decorated with a Bible verse written in a swirling font (“I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven,” Luke 7:47). Though she often performs domestic femininity for her audience, in her own life she has balanced motherhood with demanding professional ambitions. She traveled every other weekend while her two daughters were growing up—they told me they ate a lot of takeout. Like other Southern Baptists, Moore considers herself a complementarian
We know she never cared for the Bible’s command to live a quiet life at home. If she did, she would not preach to men. Or leave her children behind. Or obsessively focus on her career. She SAYS she is a complementarian, but she IS a feminist. She always has been.
For example, deliberate misrepresentation:
Beth Moore said to Christianity Today in 2010 that her man demanded a regular home life so she only travels every other Friday and comes right back home the next day.
“We walk the dogs together and eat out together all the time and lie on the floor with pillows and watch TV,” Moore says. “My man demanded attention and he got it, and my man demanded a normal home life and he got it.”
Aww, isn’t that nice. But it’s disingenuous in the extreme. The reality was that Mrs Moore was gone from home at least 20 times per year on her Living Proof tours, which is a lot if you have kids and a husband. Mrs Moore appeared weekly on the Life Today television show, traveled for weeks on book tours, where she expounded on the burning question all women in America are apparently asking, “How can women find validation without a man’s affirmation?” and which her book So Long, Insecurity apparently attempts to answer.
She also spent extended private time for weeks in a cabin by herself in Wyoming to write her book (as stated in the preface to “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”). She is the President of her own company that in 2011 brought in 4.1 million dollars, with an excess after expenses of 1.3M, stated working hours of 40/week. If you think all she does is lay around on pillows gazing adoringly at her man then all I can say is look at what she does, not what she says. Beth Moore is a Christian feminist because for years she has lived that way, no matter what she disingenuously told Christianity Today.
It’s no wonder women are confused when they see Beth Moore telling us that you can have a corporate career and still be a Christian woman, if you call it ministry. Or like Christine Caine- just call your career ambitions a gift. (c.f. Joanna Gaines).
Feminists like Moore simply misrepresented her life to interviewers and used acceptable language to fool undiscerning readers. Caine twisted scripture to do it, claiming her rebellion is a gift from God that must be used. RHE used the tactic of saying it was all an accident.
Ms Evans also claimed to be an accidental feminist, writing on her blog, “Most of all, if these critics knew me, they would know that it isn’t feminism that inspires me to advocate gender equality in the Church and in the world; it is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“God surprised me with this ministry” Priscilla Shirer said, as if the big oops was all out of her hands nor will she be morally and spiritually culpable on the Lord’s day of Judgment. And I can assure you ladies reading this, that despite what Mrs Evans said those years ago, Jesus did not deliver the Gospel by His blood so she could use it to promote a different role for women than He has already ordained.
Do not be fooled by what they say. Look at their life. Paul advised Timothy to guard his doctrine and his life. he meant to live the precepts, not just know them or utter them. The old saying from the 70s, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” was the feminist motto. Now the only difference for today’s Christian secret open feminist is the logo on her purse.