I don’t know Beth Moore. Apparently she’s written a lot of christian books, spoken at a lot of conferences for both women and men, and has earned a certain level acclaim and trust in the evangelical world. That’s all I know about her. But I also know that the Southern Baptist Church, from which Beth Moore got her start, just took an appropriate step to force the resignation of it’s former President who has said and done things making his resignation necessary, and she has opened up and written about her experience.
She posted a more open description of her experience in evangelical circles on her personal ministry blog, and I thought I’d share some of her insights because I think what she says helps us all better understand the kinds of things women face, even in ministry environments. Beth observes a couple of sobering things:
- “As a woman leader in the conservative Evangelical world, I learned early to show constant pronounced deference – not just proper respect which I was glad to show – to male leaders and, when placed in situations to serve alongside them, to do so apologetically. I issued disclaimers ad nauseam. I wore flats instead of heels when I knew I’d be serving alongside a man of shorter stature so I wouldn’t be taller than he. I’ve ridden elevators in hotels packed with fellow leaders who were serving at the same event and not been spoken to and, even more awkwardly, in the same vehicles where I was never acknowledged. I’ve been in team meetings where I was either ignored or made fun of, the latter of which I was expected to understand was all in good fun. I am a laugher. I can take jokes and make jokes. I know good fun when I’m having it and I also know when I’m being dismissed and ridiculed. I was the elephant in the room with a skirt on.”
- “I had an opportunity to meet a theologian I’d long respected. I’d read virtually every book he’d written. I’d looked so forward to getting to share a meal with him and talk theology. The instant I met him, he looked me up and down, smiled approvingly and said, ‘You are better looking than _________________________________.’ He didn’t leave it blank. He filled it in with the name of another woman Bible teacher.”
- “I’m asking that you would simply have no tolerance for misogyny and dismissiveness toward women in your spheres of influence. I’m asking for your deliberate and clearly conveyed influence toward the imitation of Christ in His attitude and actions toward women. I’m also asking for forgiveness both from my sisters and my brothers. My acquiescence and silence made me complicit in perpetuating an atmosphere in which a damaging relational dynamic has flourished. I want to be a good sister to both genders. Every paragraph in this letter is toward that goal.”