We All Get to Go Home with Beth Moore (and Jesus)

This week across my newsfeed, clergy colleagues shared an article from 2018 entitled “Women Bishops […]

Sarah Condon / 10.23.19

This week across my newsfeed, clergy colleagues shared an article from 2018 entitled “Women Bishops Were Active in the Fifth Century.” Now of course, as an ordained woman utterly unqualified to be a bishop but with worldly ambitions, I eagerly clicked:

The fifth century image of a woman named Cerula shows her surrounded by open, flaming Gospel books, symbolic of the role of a bishop. Academics said the discovery, in San Gennaro, Naples, was “incredibly significant” and proved that women held senior roles in the early church.

And the article went on to claim:

It could mean that millions will have to rethink the origins of their faith.

*pauses to wipe down computer screen from the coffee I just laugh-spit*

Girl, you know they ain’t doing that.

You know when something is meant to be really serious and instead its so earnest that it is funny and sad? That’s my Venn Diagram.

History is a lot of wonderful things but it will not be changing anyone’s view on women in the ministry. When I was in seminary we were taught all of the instances in scripture where women’s leadership or presence were prominent. And while that is nice to know, it has certainly never helped me make a case for what God has done in my life. People who struggle with women’s ordination do not care if it was practiced in the early church or in any references I happen to know in the Bible. They only care about what Paul wrote to Timothy and if I know how to spell complementarianism (I googled it).

But weirdly, because I seem to inhabit a place in the church that is neither at the far left or far right of things, I also had several of my evangelical friends posting (with distress might I add) the clip that came out this week where a prominent pastor cum embarrassing uncle at the Thanksgiving dinner table said that Beth Moore should “go home.” Beth Moore, for those of you who do not have Texas passports, sits in one of those unique places in the more conservative corners of the church. On the official record, she is a teacher and leader in women’s ministries. But IRL, she is the Queen of Protestant Church World. She fills stadiums for her Bible Studies. She is a prolific writer. And let’s just name it, whether she is willing to own it or not, Beth Moore is an anointed preacher.

I get asked with some regularity by people how I handle being a woman in ministry. How do I contend with those who do not believe in my ordination? What do I do when I find myself in male dominated corners of ministry that feel more like locker rooms than churches? What do I do when I am in settings where my ordination is simply not recognized?

Two things.

First, I trust the Lord. I trust that when I was a small child and felt called to ordained ministry, that God meant it. When I wrote that I wanted to be a housewife and a nun in the third grade, it actually was not because I had seen Sister Act too many times. It was because the Holy Spirit was moving me even then. I believe that when I once looked in the rearview mirror of my parents car and saw the shadow of a cross on my forehead, that Jesus was calling me into something. And when I was a senior in high school and met with a male minister to talk about the history of women in ministry and he instead handed me a book about discernment, I believe that he knew that history would not be helpful, but listening to the work of God in my life would.

The second thing I do is to remember my death. It is my quiet time with the Lord, if you will. I remember that women in their thirties die all the time. By your forties, that number goes up. And if pastoral ministry has taught me anything, by your fifties, you have probably started to lose friends. Cancer, car accidents, and thinking you can still do a back hand spring can all get you like a thief in the night. So with the time that I have been given, I remind myself that I do not have time to waste. I have children to raise, I have a husband to love, and I have a Gospel to preach. That fills up exactly 100% of my schedule and I have zero slots for nonsense.

I was raised to believe that if God is calling me into something, I best pray about it and answer. And then get to work. I have to keep my head down and my eyes focused on the cross. The world is a haunted place gripped by the power of sin and diseased with an epidemic of lonely lostness. There are so many people who need to hear the Gospel and to know that the love of Jesus Christ is for them. And for reasons only the Lord knows, I have been called to help.

Do I find comfort in this newly discovered history of women’s ministry in the church? Yes, if only because it makes me feel less alone. There may have been women bishops in the fifth century of the church, but mark my words, there were still men and women(!) out there telling them that they should not be preaching the Gospel. Because there have always been (and will always be) people telling women preachers that we should go home. It may be Beth Moore now. It may be your great granddaughter in 100 years. It may be me. But I know that my God is eternal. And that his calling on my life and the lives of my fellow anointed sisters will outlast anyone telling us to go home.

Besides, the joke’s on them—we will all go home to Jesus thanks to the redemption of the cross. If those fellas think Beth Moore is annoying now, just wait until they get to spend eternity with her.