I wrote an essay called What Happened When Jesus Told a Woman to Go Home in my newsletter: Stories from the Horn, last week. If you want to read that essay, sign up here.
Following up on that, here is part 2 of my response to John MacArthur’s video comments from a few weeks ago.
Many people couldn’t watch past the “narcissist” comments and the laughter. But had we continued to watch, we would have heard words that call into question the valid (and necessary and good and beautiful) contribution and basic humanity of Christians of color and marginalized communities.
In an article for the Religion News Service, Rozella Haydée White address this. She writes, “Later in the recording, MacArthur criticizes a suggestion that Latinos, African Americans and women should henceforth be necessary members of Southern Baptist Bible translation committees. He also objects to a resolution agreed to at the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2019 national meeting that deems intersectionality — the theory, developed by Black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, that describes how overlapping social identities create interconnected systems of oppression — as a useful tool for biblical interpretation.”
The problem with MacArthur’s words weren’t just his treatment of Beth Moore or Paula White, but his dismissive attitude toward people of color and other marginalized communities.
Later on in the video, he seems to claim that people (read marginalized people and minorities) who believe their voices matter and should be part of dialogue, are only after power. And that because they (in his opinion) are after power (apparently for power’s sake), on that basis alone, they should be excluded from the conversation.
I don’t see how wanting to be heard, especially wanting an underrepresented voice to be heard, necessarily means one wants power, or at least not a negative form of power. And anyway, if wanting to be heard is equated with wanting power, the men on that stage wanting to be heard wanted power and by MacArthur’s own logic, thereby should not have power. (watch the video here)
I am not a theologian. I’m not an expert on race theory or gender theory or intersectionality or anything, really. I’m a person in the world who reads or listens to stuff and thinks stuff.
I don’t understand how intersectionality doesn’t matter in the world. When I look at what I experience as a straight white Christian American woman, it seems that all these parts of me, and all the other parts of me, too, have an impact on my life and experiences, many of them overlapping impacts. When I look at how others view and engage in the world, it seems the same for them. When I read the Bible, it seems these intersecting realities of who humans are matters.
I see Hagar, an abused sex slave from Egypt, probably black, a woman. I can’t imagine how her gender and her status and her race don’t intersect. I see Esther, from a despised religious minority and possibly ethnic minority as well, a vulnerable young woman, trafficked into the king’s bedroom and I can’t imagine how her gender, religion, and ethnicity don’t intersect. I see laws about how to treat slaves or laws about how and when to sell off one’s daughters and about whom one is allowed to marry and they all have overlapping spheres of identity. It seems like gender, race, national origin, age, and more have a lot to do with power and life experience.
The problem here wasn’t just about how women are treated and spoken about but about how minorities and marginalized communities are treated and spoken about.
Please, people from these communities, don’t go home. I need your voice, we need your voice. How can we grow and change and sharpen ourselves if we are only surrounded by or hearing from people just like us?
After 17 years in the Horn of Africa, I am beyond grateful for how I’ve grown through being immersed in a community that forces me to be intentional and thoughtful about what I believe and how I behave.
It is not okay to shut out the voices and opinions of people who disagree with us or who challenge us or who are not like us. I’m not saying we need to agree, but we do need to be kind and humane and respectful. We need to exhibit the fruits of the spirit, both those in positions of power and those not in those positions. Cruelty and laughter and disparaging comments are not the way to accomplish this.