Beth Moore apologises for her teachings on women after leaving evangelical church

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Gustaf Kilander
·3 min read
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Author and speaker Beth Moore speaks during a panel on sexual abuse in Birmingham, Alabama on June 10, 2019.  (Adelle M. Banks/Religion News Service via AP)
Author and speaker Beth Moore speaks during a panel on sexual abuse in Birmingham, Alabama on June 10, 2019. (Adelle M. Banks/Religion News Service via AP)

One of the best-known Bible teachers among evangelicals, Beth Moore, has apologised for supporting teachings that restrict the rights of women.

After first shocking evangelicals by leaving the Southern Baptist church, she asked for forgiveness on Twitter for supporting a theology that is based on male authority, which runs deep among large parts of the evangelical community.

She criticised complementarianism, a theological framework that holds that men and women were created for different roles and is used to essentially argue for male power and female obedience.

Some evangelicals think that those who do not adhere to this framework are undermining belief in the Bible. Ms Moore argued on social media that this interpretation is incorrect.

She tweeted on Wednesday: "Let me be blunt. When you functionally treat complementarianism – a doctrine of MAN – as if it belongs among the matters of [first] importance, yea, as a litmus test for where one stands on inerrancy [and] authority of Scripture, you are the ones who have misused Scripture. You went too far."

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She added: "I beg your forgiveness where I was complicit. I could not see it for what it was until 2016. I plead your forgiveness for how I just submitted to it and supported it and taught it. I trusted that the motives were godly. I have not lost my mind. Nor my doctrine. Just my naivety."

The New York Times reported that Ms Moore chose to leave the Southern Baptist church because of the “staggering” disorientation of seeing the church leaders’ unwavering support for Donald Trump, and because of the racism and sexism that Mr Trump's time in the White House revealed in her community.

Baylor University historian Allison Barr told Religion News Service: “This is going to be the beginning of the end of complementarianism.”

Ms Moore herself was more cautious, telling RNS that she no longer saw complementarianism as essential.

Asked whether she was now complementarian or egalitarian, she said: “I’m not going to be pushed into either category right now because that’s not my point.

"My point is that it has taken on the importance of a first-tier doctrine.”

But apologising for the theology she had taught is a bold move for Ms Moore. She has criticised male leaders in the evangelical church on Twitter since 2016, but without going after the ideology that asserts that women can't preach in church, often stating that she was a “soft complementarian”.

Calvin University historian Kristin Du Mez told RNS: “This whole complementarian ideology is a historical construction.

“All the packaging that comes with it, what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, that’s a historical and cultural creation, even as it’s packaged and sold as timeless, inerrant and biblical.”

Ms Moore filled arenas with her Bible teachings and sold millions of books, something that didn't always connect with complementarianism.

RNS reported that her rethinking around the theology also came after the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the debate in the run-up to the election concerning the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Mr Trump can be heard bragging about sexually assaulting women.

Ongoing sexual abuse scandals in protestant churches and the MeToo-movement also pushed Ms Moore to reconsider what she had been teaching. She has confirmed that she has also been sexually abused.