Beth Moore Pens Open Letter to Christian Brothers on Sexism; Gospel Coalition Leader Offers Apology

(Screenshot: TheGospelCoalition.org)Bible teacher and author Beth Moore speaks during a panel discussion at the MLK 50 Conference in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 2018.

A member of The Gospel Coalition's Council has released an open letter, giving an apology to noted evangelical Bible teacher Beth Moore over the sexism she has experienced in some church leadership environments.

On Thursday, Moore, the founder of Living Proof Ministries, penned an open letter, titled "A Letter to My Brothers," describing her experiences of misogyny within certain conservative evangelical circles.

Thabiti Anyabwile, a Reformed pastor at Anacostia River Church of Washington, D.C., and a Gospel Coalition Council member, responded later that day asking for forgiveness, explaining that he "read it with a broken heart."

"I am broken-hearted because I recognize something of the attitude in me, and I recognize that I have had that attitude in years past toward Beth, though I didn't know her and hadn't spent any time reading her materials," wrote Anyabwile. "Dear Beth, if you read this, I need to confess and ask your forgiveness."

Anyabwile explained that while he did not know Moore personally, nor could he recall ever mistreating her, he felt he had wronged her by inactivity.

"I have let others slander you. I've been in rooms where your name was mentioned with disparaging tone. And rather than ask a few basic questions (how do you know this about her, do you have any evidence you can point us to, and so on), I said and did nothing," Anyabwile said.

"I want to admit my sin publicly, because my sins have affected a wider public than I know ... I want to accept responsibility for my action and inaction without qualification ... I want to acknowledge the hurt I've caused."

A noted evangelist and author, Moore has spoken out on several issues related to the abuse of women within the Church.

In an open letter published on Living Proof Ministries' website addressed to "Brothers in Christ," Moore, who grew up in the Southern Baptist denomination, spoke about some of her negative experiences in the predominantly male evangelical leadership environment.

"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," wrote Moore.

"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."

She specifically recalled a time several years ago when she was "publically maligned for being a false teacher by a segment of hyper-fundamentalists based on snippets taken out of context and tied together."

No one, she said, had researched her actual teachings. "Why? They refused to study what a woman had taught. Meanwhile no few emails circulated calling pastors to disallow their women to do my 'heretical' studies,'" she wrote.

As recently as a year ago, she was able to meet a theologian she had long respected. But when she did, "he looked me up and down, smiled approvingly and said, 'You are better looking than ...'" He named another woman Bible teacher. 

While she had chosen to accept "the peculiarities accompanying female leadership in a conservative Christian world," feeling that "they were rooted in deep convictions based on passages from 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14," she later realized amid attitudes that "smacked of misogyny" and "objectification" that "Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men."

"It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness," she contended.

Describing herself as "the elephant in the room with a skirt on," Moore noted that while the experiences she mentioned "may seem fairly benign" compared to other incidents in secular and religious institutions, they nevertheless come "from the same dangerously malignant root."

"Many women have experienced horrific abuses within the power structures of our Christian world," continued Moore.

"Being any part of shaping misogynistic attitudes, whether or not they result in criminal behaviors, is sinful and harmful and produces terrible fruit."

In his letter, Anyabwile said he would commit to "being a more outspoken champion for my sisters and for you personally."

"Not that you need me to be but because it is right. I hope, with God's help, to grow in sanctification, especially with regards to any sexism, misogyny, chauvinism, and the like that has used biblical teaching as a cover for its growth," he stated. 

Moore took to Twitter to officially accept Anyabwile's apology, stating, "This means more to me than you will ever know, Thabiti."

"How gracious of Christ to see to it that our paths would cross and friendships would be forged. You have blessed me countless times but this will be a stand-alone for a long, long time. You have a sister in me forever," tweeted Moore.

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