Leave Francis alone; Jory go home

Here’s a tale of two preachers.

One is named Francis Chan. He’s a well-known and much-loved pastor, preacher, author and church planter. He speaks on some of biggest platforms in the country, and is the author of several best-selling Christian books.

The other is Jory Micah. She is an itinerant preacher and blogger. She engages in social media to support young women and girls build self-esteem, follow God and serve the church.

Both Francis and Jory dominated my social media feeds last week, for different reasons.

 

Francis Goes to Asia

Francis recently announced that he is moving to Hong Kong to do evangelistic missionary work in Asia. It’s a bold, costly and impressive decision, prompted by his travels in Asia and in particular his recent evangelistic ministry in Myanmar.

But Francis’ announcement prompted a New Zealand missionary, Craig Greenfield, who has himself served in South East Asia for many years, to post a blog raising concerns about Francis’ posture in moving to Asia.

In no way was Greenfield suggesting Francis’ decision was a bad one, or that he ought not move to Asia. In fact, he encourages Francis to relocate there. But he did take the opportunity to get people to think about the approach Western missionaries need to take while in developing countries. In fact, I thought his blog was very respectful of Francis personally, while raising critical questions about old colonialist assumptions about mission.

 

Jory Goes to Pieces

Back to Jory Micah. Last week she posted a video of herself choking back tears while expressing her discouragement and dismay at recent comments made by John MacArthur about how women are not allowed to be preachers.

Previously, in a now-famous video of an event celebrating his 50 years of ministry, John MacArthur was asked for a brief reaction to another well-known preacher, Beth Moore, to which he responded, “Go home.”

He later doubled down by explaining his off-the-cuff response should be seen in light of the Bible’s ‘clear teaching’ that women are not qualified to preach the Bible.

But Jory is a preacher, committed to encouraging other young women and girls to become preachers too. It was too much for her. She felt MacArthur’s comments were yet another example of her whole ministry and identity being trampled on by male church leaders. She recorded her heartfelt reaction, expressed her sadness and her anger at being so disregarded, and posted it online.

Many young women, who have felt a similar sadness at being delegitimized this way responded with gratitude and compassion.

 

Two very different responses

Those two stories are completely unrelated, but what fascinated (and disturbed) me was the different reactions to them. When I posted Craig Greenfield’s blog, I found people — mainly evangelical men — rebuking me for daring to criticize Francis Chan.

“Too negative.”

“Too cynical.”

“Too critical.”

Several people said it was out of line to even question what Francis claims to have heard as God’s calling on his life (even though neither Craig or I were doing any such thing). One evangelical leader claimed Craig’s post and the social media response to it constituted sinful ‘gossip’.

If you read Craig’s blog post again you’ll see it is warm and respectful toward Francis. But, as I said earlier, it does raise really worthwhile questions about incarnational mission and the role of indigenous church leadership.

Nonetheless, plenty of Christian people wanted to make it clear: leave Francis alone! 

On the other hand, the reaction to Jory Micah’s video was brutal. People — mainly evangelical pastors — saw her display of emotion as a sign of weakness, proof that women are not qualified to be leaders.

Others, including Pastor Jordan Hall (below), picked up on MacArthur’s belittling line, “Go home” and turned it on Jory herself:

 

Without any trace of empathy, pastors bluntly reacted to Jory’s video by stating that she’s not permitted to be a preacher, that she doesn’t follow scripture, that she is being disobedient to God, etc etc.

Hey, I get that some conservatives interpret Scripture is a certain way and some of them have come to the view that women shouldn’t teach in or lead churches. I don’t agree with their interpretation, but I get it. But holding a different view to Jory doesn’t justify the cruel, hurtful, belittling things people were writing to her.

And to make matters worse, if anyone fired back at them, their self-pity dominated the conversation. Someone called Pastor Kevin McNerny (whose comment is posted above) an asshole, and he went off about the rudeness and disrespect afforded to him, as if that was the worst outrage of all.

In another exchange, someone defended Jory by referring to one rude commenter as having a dead heart. He shot back in high dudgeon, “You’re trying to say I have a dead heart? Then you’re saying God has a dead heart too because I am simply reciting and living by what the Bible says.”

And it doesn’t stop at Facebook. On one website I found a reference to “the absurd (and dangerous) rantings of ‘Christian’ feminist and advocate for sin, Jory Micah.”

The inverted commas around the word, Christian, really got me.

Someone claimed Jory’s social media feed “is packed with rancid rants.” She was accused of hating authority. And men. Pulpit and Pen website referred to her as a “tool of Satan”. And they reported on her heartfelt video in this patronizing way:

Hysterical?!?

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that if you make even the slightest criticism of a male preacher’s ministry, evangelical men will react defensively. It doesn’t take much for them to get super-protective. But you can openly criticize a female preacher, not only for something she says or does, but for the very fact that she’s daring to preach at all, and if she reacts, you can ratchet up your criticism of her.

The stark reality is that those cruel kinds of comments are heard by female preachers all the time.

All. The. Time.

Can us male preachers even begin to imagine what that would feel like?!  Our sisters put up with a thousand times more criticism than us, much of it disrespectful, cruel, belittling and hateful, much of it focused on their very identity not just their actions.

Observing the criticism of Jory Micah’s video reminded me that her critics aren’t simply expressing a different interpretation of Scripture to her. They are attacking her with openly sexist taunts.

Whether you agree with women preaching or not, it is incumbent on every male church leader to condemn the cruel and vicious sexism behind the attacks on Jory Micah.

Let’s face it, if you feel in any way defensive toward Francis Chan, but don’t have a similar defensiveness about the attacks on Jory Micah, then the church has a big problem.

 

 

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The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the official views of Morling College or its affiliates and partners.

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41 thoughts on “Leave Francis alone; Jory go home

  1. Thank you

    1. The church has had many big problems for a long time, the treatment of women, preacher or not, included.

    2. Excellent article. Thank you for having the empathy to even imagine how women may feel, how missionaries may feel, and how our global brothers and sisters may feel (and probably don’t need to be preached at by outsiders).
      I really feel that the new wave of movement in the Western Church will be women and minorities— because they are facing the discrimination, they/we are getting stronger and more rooted in true identity.

  2. The treatment of women preachers is disgraceful. The sad reality is that this belittling and hurtful attitude extends to many of us Christian women who are feminists as well. While on vacation this week, I overheard a man talking about what a mess this world would be if women were in charge. Seriously? Until we as Christians begin to recognize the true value of women, we will be no better than the world. It amazes and saddens me that my daughters are still not accepted as equals in many “popular” Christian circles. Actually, it hurts my heart deeply. Thank you for your blog and your continual support of women leaders. As a woman, it encourages me and gives me hope for a better future for my daughters.

  3. This scenario is another raw display of misguided positional authority by men in a completely inappropriate and disturbingly hateful way. Men who claim to know Jesus, view Christ as their head, and are members of ‘one body’. (1 Cor. 12:11-14) Men who claim to love Jesus, love their neighbor, and practice the golden rule. Love of and defending theology does NOT constitute nor display a love relationship with Jesus. Where is the love? (1 Cor.13) I see none. I see a whole lot of hate and shameful behaviors being justified and tied to Jesus’ name. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 The issue is indeed the heart.

  4. Mike, you are spot on and I appreciate both your candor and humility in dealing with this topic. As a pastor/preacher, I have fallen on both sides of the equation, but in the last several years, as I dived deeper into Scripture, I believe I once stood on a foundation of sand and have since reversed my position and my view. Not only have you highlighted the sinful sexism that exists within the church, but also the blindness by which we choose to exercise it. I am saddened, however, of just how much deeper our sin permeates. For example, consider the issue identified within the Houston Chronicle article titled, “‘The women are hurting’ Unearthed tapes, letters show Southern Baptist leaders’ support for pastor who faced sex scandal” authored by Robert Downen (https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Unearthed-tapes-letters-show-Southern-Baptist-14300738.php). The individual is still in the pulpit today.

    As the Bride of Christ charged to make disciples, we must seek first the Kingdom of God, repent of our sin, and fulfill our God-given responsibilities. Thanks for standing firm where others choose to avoid.

  5. Bible logic is a Christian male hysteria.

  6. I just wonder how many of these pastors pass all the qualifications mentioned in 1 Tim 3:2-7 (GNB): “A church leader must be without fault; he must have only one wife,[a] be sober, self-controlled, and orderly; he must welcome strangers in his home; he must be able to teach; 3 he must not be a drunkard or a violent man, but gentle and peaceful; he must not love money; 4 he must be able to manage his own family well and make his children obey him with all respect. 5 For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the church of God? 6 He must be mature in the faith, so that he will not swell up with pride and be condemned, as the Devil was. 7 He should be a man who is respected by the people outside the church, so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the Devil’s trap.”
    I quess that if all these would be taken seriously, there would not be many pastos in the world.

  7. The connection between the two reactions is the conservative worldview. These people are conservatives first, ‘Christians’ second, or third, or not.

  8. Thank you. I wish more men would speak up like this. And then live it out.

  9. Thank you so much for pointing this out. The way people treat Jory and other women leaders is disgusting.

  10. I rarely comment on social media but this is such a brilliant piece that I have to! Thank you Mike. Not just for what you’ve written but also for being prepared to ‘put yourself out there’. You are right. Women preachers are subject to this kind of thing ‘all the time’. At times, it’s not even as explicit – which is often more difficult to deal with because you can’t actually call it out and nail it.

  11. Jory’s ministry began exactly as you described it: “She is an itinerant preacher and blogger. She engages in social media to support young women and girls build self-esteem, follow God and serve the church.”

    In those days I backed her 100% and defended her and her message vociferously on numerous occasions. But that’s not the whole story on Jory Micah today. A few years ago she decided to reverse course on a trendy issue and become affirming of LGBTQ inclusion in the church and a supporter of gay marriage.

    So Jory completely lost her credibility to the part of the church she most needed to convince about women’s equality, and became yet another egalitarian that guys like MacArthur can point to and claim, “when a person believes women can be preachers, next they will be for gay marriage. Because the path you have to take to get you to the first one will eventually take you to the second.”

    That claim is absolutely false, however it is people like Jory that continually allow that argument to be made. And thus she sacrifices the effectiveness she used to have for women so she can be a champion for gay men and transwomen.

    So when one sees a comment about, ““the absurd (and dangerous) rantings of ‘Christian’ feminist and advocate for sin, Jory Micah.” – maybe they are talking about something other than women preachers.

    I long for the Jory of old, that stood on the Bible and fought for women. It’s not as easy to defend her these days.

    1. Greg Hahn, I keep reading your comment that Jory has sacrificed the effectiveness she used to have for women so she can be a champion for gay men and trans men. As I think through your line of thinking, I wonder why you feel that she is no longer effective with women because she shows love and acceptance for gay men and transwomen. Does it have to be an either/or? As a woman, I find her very supportive and encouraging of women. I’m assuming that you and Jory have different theologies as you imply with your statements about Jory. A different theology makes her an appropriate target? And can she not stand for the value of all women and men, regardless of sexuality? I believe she not only can but also does!

      1. Hi Kitty,

        Actually, Jory was raised in my tradition. (Assemblies of God) Our theologies were pretty much identical until she changed her position on LGBT.

        Here is the issue: Conservative Evangelical Christians, including Pentecostals and Charismatics, claim to base their faith almost entirely on what they believe is the teaching of the Bible. In theory we are always willing to have our errant beliefs corrected if and when we become convinced we have held beliefs that prove to be unBiblical.

        Fortunately for women, a strong case can be made for egalitarianism from the Bible. It requires that a few key texts be seen in perhaps a different light than folks are used to seeing them. That requires some patience, and it requires a certain amount of trust in the teacher’s credibility by the audience. But it can be done.

        The problem is that after winning that trust and building that credibility, and getting that audience to stretch their horizons…. if the teacher then says, “Oh, by the way, I also believe in gay marriage.” Well for most people that know their Bibles, that’s a bridge too far. They MIGHT have gone with the Egalitarian thing if they really trusted you and heard you out, but most people know good and well that the Bible does not support LGBT or gay marriage in any way, and you cannot get there from anywhere. And if you’re the kind of Bible teacher that believes THAT…. well then you don’t have any credibility at all. You might as well be teaching Ezekiel was seeing UFOs.

        This is exactly what guys like MacArthur want to happen. That’s why they push the fear all the time. “If you embrace egalitarianism, it will lead you to embrace LGBT.” I’ve seen these guys say it over and over, and they know that it’s a persuasive argument, ESPECIALLY when they can point to the egalitarian du jour that decides to back LGBT as well. It plays right into their hands.

        1. Fancy – if you start accepting one group of outcasts, you’ll start accepting another, and then the kingdom of God will be full of lepers and tax collectors and prostitutes! The scandal!

          1. Perfect response!

          2. boom! esther drops the mike
            lovely response.

        2. Be that as it may, Greg, I haven’t seen male pro-LGBTQI scholars (Campolo, Gushee, etc) and pastors receive the same vitriolic treatment meted out on Jory. It still seems like sexism not theological difference.

          1. Michael- I agree with you 100%. Jory gets a double portion of vitriol because she has taken up not one, but two controversial positions, and she is a woman on top of it all. There is a lot of sexism involved.

            The thing is, pro LGBT people are usually already in favor of women preachers. She embraced the side that was already won to her cause and alienated the side she needed to win.

  12. I don’t have strong opinions or much knowledge about all this, but I am constantly intrigued at how some conservative christians are so avid to preserve their understanding of Biblical teaching on gender, and gender roles, and so condemning of those those who propose a different view. Yet they are strangely silent on those who disregard Biblical teaching on wealth, poverty, materialism and care for the poor and seem not to even care about these teachings. (Some even strongly support a view opposite to Jesus’ teachings.). Surely we need to strive for a little more consistency?

  13. Great work – balanced analysis. Thank you!

  14. I’m not a frequent follower of your blog, nor do I live in USA (just stumbled on it on FB), but it seems to me that your comparison is flawed. You are annoyed that people defended Francis, while attacking Jory..

    However the comparison should be people’s reaction to YOUR/Craig Greenfield’s response to Francis Chan Vs Jory’s response to MacArthur. In both cases you have observed that the ‘crowd’ defended that pastor and attacked the person who critiqued their ministry aka YOU and Jory.

    Whether right or wrong is another matter. But seems to me you’ve drawn conclusions and contrasts which are not there in this case.

    In fact you should be comparing ppl’s response to your blog on Francis Chan and this very blog right here on Jory. From what I’ve read above, it’s not as one sided as you suggested.

    On another note, it’s interesting to see the difference in dynamic in USA conservative/liberal Vs here in Australia. Here if I ever suggested publicly that a woman can’t preach I would probably fear that ppl might burn my house down. While conservatives are fare go for anyone to attack.

  15. Mike Frost, I always enjoy your blog, a real and compassionate perspective in a world breathing fear in and out. I appreciate your unafraidness to share your heart, ask difficult questions, call us all back to the Mission, and challenge the status quo. Your equalitarian approach is grounded deep within Gods heart and I am grateful for your stance. Thanks so much.

  16. Amen Mike! And the church wonders why people are put off Jesus.

  17. Thank you Mike. Unfortunately I am now of the belief that if we as women defend ourselves it just makes things worse for us. I am a person who will speak out when I see injustice of any kind towards anyone, male female, gay heteroesexual, black or white. I am not afraid of judgement or criticism towards myself and don’t feel guilt for the times my pastor has let me preach. Even if in the end I find my interpretation of the scriptures was wrong, I can hold my head up high that I truly believe in Christ and that I was encouraging people to give their lives to Him. However I refuse now to engage with many male pastors who are hypocritical and full of sin themselves, as are we all. That is the whole point is it not, that we are granted forgiveness if we believe and sincerely ask? And the privilege of being a mature Christian is to use the Grace we have been given to the benefit of others, especially those poorer in spirit than us. I’m not going to talk to much about the vitriol, lack of respect and non equality allocated to women by many many Christians as it is a waste of my energy and time. In fact I have had some very discouraging talks with women who have been brainwashed by the ‘complimentarian’ idealist crumbs thrown to them. I will proudly stand and affirm that I am a complete equal through Christ and do not have to feel guilty about being a strong, independent female who does not worship males in the church, as many of them desire, but instead worships Jesus alone. I thank all the men in this post who were willing to stand up for what is right and just and I implore all of you to speak up for us whenever possible for without good Christian faithful and loving men behind us I feel we are forever in the world’s eyes, less than equal. Thanks again Mike for your inspiring conversations

  18. Re: Pastor Jordan Hall, I think it’s telling when a church’s belief statements are much more greatly defined by what they reject rather than what they believe.

    http://fbcsidney.org/beliefs/

    There are statements on complementarianism, inerrancy, and against social justice, yet I have to download an e-book just to find out whether they think Jesus is the Son of God, or whether God loves us….

    1. So true. Very insightful. Go to their Leadership page and check out their deacons. Very suspicious-looking characters. 🙂

  19. A tree will be known by its fruit. When you consider the theology behind these angry men, their outrageous response really is a natural consequence of what they believe. While the women’s issue may be controversial, Jesus calling the Church to love is not. How quickly they ignore one part of the Bible in defense of another. That doesn’t sound like God’s will at all.

  20. It’s evident that these male preachers didn’t get enough biblical Hebrew in seminary. Or they’d know that in Hebrew and Aramaic the Holy Spirit is female.
    They have a surprise coming someday.

  21. The Church – we have a problem indeed: we claim to serve the Creator, while believing that we have the right to judge, belittle and discourage His created beings.

    If you really love God, yet can’t understand how someone is ‘walking in His light’, let God deal with them…and do what God asks of YOU. He will call us all into account at some point…

    #HeistheJudgenotyou

  22. I mostly agree with you here, except for a very important point:

    You have pointed out one of Chan’s critics who criticized him publicly, but politely.
    Jory’s harshest critics were not polite.

    If you drew a Venn diagram of Chan’s critics and Jory’s critics, how much overlap would there be? In other words, the fact that Craig criticizes Frances nicely, and Kevin is harsh and unfair to Jory, doesn’t carry as much weight as if the story had been “Craig is harsh to one, and nice to the other.”

    You’re not exactly comparing apples to apples here. I would politely point out that I have a lot of problems with Jory’s LBGT stance, and I’ll bet quite a few others would criticize her for various reasons, but do it in a respectful way. But you only highlighted the worst of the worst, and left out those who criticize Chan harshly. I’m not sure that the examples you gave give a true picture of how what the entirety of critical/disagreeing comments look like when it comes to Chan and Jory.

    1. Yes, men like Francis Chan do get criticized. I have myself been criticized online many times. But it is NOTHING compared to the cruel treatment meted out to women, and it never questions our very legitimacy to minister at all. That is my point. Men get criticized for what we do or say. Women get criticized for being women.

  23. I just want to encourage the women who’ve spoken up here in the comments: I was taught the complementarian line that women were not Biblically allowed to be preachers/pastors/teachers & believed it for many years. However, over the years I have come to an egalitarian position, mainly because I listened to/read other teachers who pointed out, time and again, that women did these things in the NT church. I’m not blowing my own horn — it took much longer than it should have to see the inconsistency in my earlier view — but I do want to let you know that there is hope that some of us (I’m a white man in my mid-50s who was a pastor for 21 years) can come around.

    PS: I know Craig and he’s a great guy, an excellent thinker, and an unapologetic champion of the Gospel, even the parts that make others uncomfortable.

  24. Mike,
    I have really enjoyed these posts on both Francis and Jory. Well done! All of this really makes me scratch my head. It makes me wonder what Bible are they reading. I seriously can not believe it.

    When we pioneered our church back in 1988 while I made plenty of mistakes one thing the Lord helped us was with women in ministry. We never had a leadership meeting without women being present. In my mind, there is nothing more dangerous than a group of men getting together and making decisions.( isn’t that why most of America’s funniest home videos are of men doing goofy things. Some interesting things happen when one man says to another ” watch this”.

    I had to fight against my spiritual upbringing and battle this back in the church growth era. My wife was the first woman ever to speak in the main session at our yearly conference. Albeit it was a ” day” session. I watched her make an impact that lasted.

    I was questioned in the first few years here in the Bible Belt back in the 80s-90s how we felt about a woman sharing from the pulpit. My response was. How do you feel about woman teaching the children? I shared with the individual that if we believe that the mind’s hearts and spirits of children as so vulnerable than perhaps we should flip things and have all the men teach the children and the women teach the adults.

    I wonder what would happen if all the women who are being treated in this manner in churches would no longer volunteer to do anything within the walls of the church. If we think churches are struggling now..,

    My wife is an amazing leader I have learned and am learning so much from her. If I could go back to those early days I would have had her speak, lead, share much more than she did. We were always a team and are to this day.

    We no longer pastor the church we started but did raise up leaders a few years ago to lead the ongoing work. The key leader is a beautiful lady that is doing amazing things for the Lord.

    It makes me so sad as a society to see how far we continually fall.

    Please forgive us!

  25. This is so, so sad. We can’t be tough or stoic. We can’t be loving or gentle. We can’t be smart or witty or passionate. We can’t talk too loud or too soft; too much or too little. We can’t be humble or meek. We can’t be too confident or too bold. We can’t let our guard down. We can’t be too guarded. We can’t look too sexy. We can’t not “look our best.” We can’t be authentic. We can’t be real. We can’t be true. We can’t be sad. We can’t be hurt. We can’t be honest. We can’t…

    Is it possible, please say yes, for men to understand that this dialogue runs through our heads constantly. Not because we are the weaker sex, but because we are sick and tired of dealing with toxic insecurity. It is truly exhausting.

    I implore my sisters in Christ- keep up in doing the Lords work! Our identity is not found in anything but who Jesus says we are. Lets fight the good fight, run with perseverance, and most of all, lets build up and support one another as we live out our call.

  26. I have to very respectfully say this. If you have followed Jory for any length of time, you would know she is no pastor you would ever want to know, regardless of gender. She is only inclusive of those who think like her. Pastors who have the hear of Jesus do not act like she does. If you do not agree with her worldview, you are mocked. I do not know any credible pastor who acts this way. She is a social justice warrior of her opinions, not a credible pastor at all. Not to mention, she has pretty much come out as a red letter Christian. Her video is a pitty party, a display of hurt feelings cause someone does not agree with her, nothing more. She is always bragging on her facebook page about her good deeds, another thing a true believer would avoid, cause they know all that matters is the Father seeing their good deeds. Honestly, I feel bad for her.

  27. I’m late to the party, I know but I just have to say regardless of what I believe on the issue, Pastor Jordan Hall’s sickening smile while he poses with that T-shirt is mind-blowing and feels slightly diabolical:) I’m also disturbed by the callousness of John McArthur, RC Sproul would never have addressed the issue in this way – conservative yes, nasty never

  28. Thank you.

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