My ballpoint pen couldn’t move fast enough as I filled the margins of my tattered Lifeway workbook. I watched intently the VHS tape of a bright, lively woman moving across the stage with fervor.
In my mid 20s, a group of my single friends gathered for Beth Moore’s Breaking Free bible study. As a new Christian, studying the Old Testament seemed daunting. On rundown couches, in my friend’s rental, the words of the prophet Isaiah came alive through a petite woman with a Texas drawl. I sat in wonderment at God’s heart for those in captivity, His promises of restoration and the fulfilment of His covenantal promise in the work of Christ. We cried together as we looked at the areas of our lives where we were held captive to fear and shame.
A few weeks ago, as my three daughters played, I watched a YouTube video sent to me by my client. John MacArthur was on stage playing a game of free association. He was thrown the words Beth Moore and he darted back the phrase Go Home. I felt shocked and horrified. The most distressing part of the scene was the way the men on stage scoffed a woman who has given her life to teaching the word of God.
Mockery is an attempt to kill the soul of someone.
I felt something of my feminine, life-giving soul being slayed as they scorned this strong, seasoned woman who inspired me nearly two decades earlier. In disbelief, I sent the clip to my husband and he said, “Sweetheart, I feel sick to my stomach. I am deeply sorry for the ways they spoke about her.”
A few years after the Breaking Free study, I made the decision to go to seminary to train to become a Christian counselor. During my second semester, I registered for a 6 am prayer class.
We prayed through stories of the Old Testament beckoning God to remember His promises to the Israelites. We imagined miracles like the crossing of the Red Sea. At moments, I could smell the dust, hear the rumbles of the rising water or feel the crude blistery souls of their feet. During a break, I asked one of my male classmates if he was enjoying the class. He said, “I wish it was only the guys.” I felt shame as he implied that somehow my very body was impeding his experience.
A few weeks later, a different male student called to warn me that a group of men in the class were making fun of me for my paralinguistic utterances during the prayer time. My occasional “Hmm,” “Yes Jesus” or “Amen” provoked uncontrollable laughter. I wonder if something of my exuberance incited similar contempt that has been targeted toward Beth Moore. These incidents were less overtly violent than MacArthur’s words, but contained the message of “Go Home.”
During this same seminary season, I had the privilege of hearing the life-changing teachings of Carolyn Custis James on the Blessed Alliance. James reminds us that Genesis 1 and 2 are the only pre-fall chapters of the Bible. They give us a vision for what we are made for. “Men and Woman need each other. No one goes home with a clean uniform,” she asserts. “No one should have to sit on the sidelines.” Her teachings shaped the desire I have today to walk arm-in-arm with good men fulfilling the great commission.
She taught me that the meaning of helpmate mentioned in Genesis 2:18 comes from the Hebrew word Ezer Kenedgo. Ezer means “warrior” and Kenegdo means “match.” Used over 21 times in the Old Testament, Ezer is used for God Himself, referring to Israel’s helper during wartime.
Images of Diana in the movie Wonder Woman come to mind. She is full of compassion, kindness and sacrificial love and holds a deep conviction that she is meant for war. I love the scene where a group of her male companions know that she is the only one who can take out a sniper at the top of a bell tower. The men grab a piece of metal and yell, “Diana! Shield” and launch her in the air for the final defeat. My husband and I often refer back to this scene when we talk about how he can “launch” me well in my giftings.
I am deeply fortunate to have men in my life dedicated to mutual flourishing. Years ago, one of my professors, who I co-taught a seminary course with said, “Rachel, if you don’t write a book in 5 years, I’m going to come find you.” I now teach the course at the seminary that we once taught together. Men have encouraged me to celebrate my desire to initiate, influence, push against and tell the truth. They have even exposed my own misogyny. There are places in my life where I’ve made myself small or tried to dull my feminine strength to avoid threat or humiliation.
I’m forever grateful that Beth Moore hasn’t gone home. I’m thankful for Carolyn Custis James and the men in my life who beckon me not to go home. As we ponder the magnificent story of Mary who carried life at the cost of her very own life, I’m thankful she didn’t go home either.
Rachel Blackston loves all things beautiful…rich conversations over a hot cup of lemon ginger tea, watching her three little girls twirl around in tutus, and Florida sunrises on her morning walks. She resides in Orlando with her lanky, marathon running husband and her precious daughters, priceless gifts after several years of infertility. Rachel and her husband Michael cofounded Redeemer Counseling. As a therapist, Rachel considers it an honor to walk with women in their stories of harm, beauty, and redemption.