Posted in beth moore, bible teaching, dignity, discernment, ethics

Photojournalism and an undignified Beth Moore

I was formerly a news journalist, working at my own weekly I’d started and also worked as a features writer and photographer for the Athens daily. I was big on journalism ethics. One of the things I’d seen happen increasingly over the years is that when a reporter, photojournalist, or editor didn’t like the person being reported on, they would deliberately use disparaging adjectives, or if in a photo, select a photo that showed the person on a bad light or with a goofy expression, or in some other way, undignified.

What I understood as proper photo-journalism ethics is reflected in this excerpted photo ethics statement from the National Press Photographer’s Association

  • Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
  • Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
  • Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. …
  • Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. …

I personally believe that journalism and photography ethics should be applied to bloggers, including lay-bloggers with no journalism associations. And ethics is always the watchword for Christians. (Psalm 25:21).

When a newspaper publishes letters to the editor which are opinions from readers, they don’t publish all of them. A large city newspaper might receive hundreds of letters to the editor or emails opining on a recent report. Did you ever wonder how they decide to publish this one and not that one? They take the preponderance of opinion and publish a representational number. If there’s an election coming and 100 people write in that John Q. Politician is good, and 30 people write that John Q. Politician is bad, they might publish 3 of the good and one of the bad. It’s representative of the situation. That’s what newspapers do, reflect the general situation.

What I try to do when representing a person I’m blogging about in photography is find a provided head shot the subject has proffered, or some other representationally accurate photo. By that I mean it is a photo showing the person of his correct age and represents the usual stance or expression of the person. In other words, paparazzi try to find the ONE photo of a celebrity where they are in dishabille, or wearing casual clothes that make them look worse than they usually do. How does the person usually look? If you are blogging about a person regarding their work, then show them in work clothes. If you are blogging about a stay-at-home mom, then casual clothes and home setting is appropriate. Et cetera and so forth.

Representationally accurate….and now we get to Beth Moore.

Five years ago I wrote my first blog critical of Beth Moore and her teaching. As a brief rabbit trail I’ll say that back then it was one of the earliest essays anywhere on the internet critical of Beth Moore. Her teaching was bad but more subtly bad back then, and I remember having an excessively difficult time finding other essays, especially written by men, that confirmed what I saw and understood to be negative about her teaching. Five years later we all see the devastatingly satanic decline in her teaching. In this essay I’ll double down on one of the most troubling things that has declined, her teaching style.

Five years ago I’d written in part 2 of the series, “Troubled By Beth Moore’s Teaching” that I was troubled by her lack of dignity in teaching. Of all the things I’d written negatively about, her legalism, twisting scriptures, lack of transparency etc, my critical words about her teaching style drew the most heat from Moore supporters. I was excoriated for even daring to say it. Many women who wrote to me said it was unfair and improper even to rate her on style.

No, I’d pushed back, the Bible has much to say about a woman’s dignity in public. Comportment is addressed for each gender and at every age, and is especially important for leaders and teachers. This issue is specifically addressed in multiple verses.

Instructions specifically to be dignified:
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, (Titus 2:7)

The Greek word for dignity in the Titus 2 verse means:

“solemnly respectable.” reflects what has been transformed by God and exhibits “moral and spiritual gravity (gravitas)” – like what attends a deep, godly character.

Instructions for Ministers:
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;” (1 Timothy 3:2-3)

Instructions for wives of ministers:
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” (1 Timothy 3:11)

Instructions for aged men:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (Titus 2:11-12)

Instructions for aged women:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:3-5)

Do you get the idea that the church leaders, teachers, and elders should be dignified? I hope so. These and other scriptures are clear on the subject. Anyone who has seen a Beth Moore clip knows that her self-control and circumspectness is less than optimal. Her bio says she ‘teaches with energy and passion.’ She even calls herself obnoxious. I call it undignified. And undignified teaching is a poor witness.

Lately I’ve been seeing photos of Mrs Moore in strange and wild positions, gesticulating madly like she’s beating wasps. She stands in a hula hoop. She zanily sweeps the stage. She has participants come on stage and hold placards. She cuts up. She’s undignified.

But these photos, are they doing a Christian disservice to Moore? Let’s take a look at a few.

I decided to scan through a number of recent Moore clips. I chose different venues. I looked at Moore on a large-venue stage, intimate setting, and being interviewed. I looked at 11 or 12 of them, and noticed the same thing in each. The preponderance of her teaching style now is zany and undignified. And worse, remember that Mrs Moore is a 58-year-old grandmother. We cannot attribute her teaching style to over-exuberant youth. She should be applying Titus 2 verses to her life and her teaching behavior so as to demonstrate it to the generation coming up. Sadly, Mrs Moore completely fails in this regard.

To be fair and ethical, I looked at an equal number of clips from Kay Arthur, whom I consider to be a dignified female Christian teacher. I looked at an equal number of settings Mrs Arthur was teaching in as well- the interview, an intimate setting, a large-venue. In none of them did I find Mrs Arthur zanily sweeping the stage, standing in a hula hoop, or otherwise using inappropriate props for a Bible lesson or a Christian speech. In none of them did I see her facial expression veer to the clownish and comical, and in none of them did I see wild gesticulations like beating wasps or arms flailing as when walking into a spider web.

I also looked at Martha Peace giving a The Master’s College lecture on the subject of women discipling women, and a Susan Heck lesson. Ditto. No zaniness in sight and all those aforementioned women were dignified, comporting themselves as the Bible says an elder female teacher should.

Are there times when Beth Moore is standing behind a podium speaking in a dignified manner? Of course. Her undignified approach to teaching is not 100% saturated with zaniness every minute. I am speaking of the preponderance of time, and I am speaking of frequently, and I am speaking of representationally. Remember, in 1997 in an interview with Baptist Press, Moore herself said she is obnoxious. She has not calmed down since then, and is in fact, worse.

Now when I see a crazy photo or screen shot of Beth Moore, I have determined for myself that it’s representative of her usual teaching style. In my little exercise comparing Moore with Arthur, Peace, Fitzpatrick and Heck, it was startling to see Moore’s antics compared to the other teachers. Dignity. Sisters, dignity is a highlight of any Christian woman. No, I’m not saying that we can’t laugh or joke or have a good time. I’m not saying never to use props, but I am emphatically against them most of the time. The Bible is the only visual we need.

Christian women and especially teachers should be mindful of the grace that was bestowed on us and comport ourselves with dignity. A dignified posture is to be sought at all times, but especially when we are teaching about the Lord, who is the expression of dignity itself.

Posted in beth moore, bible jesus, bible teaching, discernment

Troubled by Beth Moore’s teaching: Part 7, Conclusion

By Elizabeth Prata

I’ve spent a good deal of blog time writing the last day or so about the errors in Beth Moore’s teachings. I hope that my careful analysis and examples using scripture showed you not only where Beth Moore’s teaching is in need of strengthening, but that it also provided enough of a lesson for how to be discerning of any teacher who teaches the Bible. We all long for good teachers of the Word. We all need strengthening in these evil days, and the Word is truly the only good strengthening there is. We can trust it. We read and study on our own, but who isn’t refreshed by a good teaching among brethren once in a while? Certainly I am. But trusting today’s Bible teachers is another matter entirely.

I’m wary of women teachers. There are good ones, but there are also bad ones. Women have a tendency to teach the Word from emotion and personal experience. Why not? That is how most women relate to the world. But with the Word, it is not the natural way to teach its truths.

I believe the Lord did a good thing putting the brakes on female teachers of the Word. I’m not saying that there should never be women teachers. The Bible shows us that there were women contending alongside Paul. (Phil 4:3). Priscilla was noted along with her husband as a teacher of the Word. (Acts 18:26). Phoebe is noted as an outstanding servant at the church (Romans 16:1) and in Acts 21:8 Philip’s four unmarried daughters are mentioned as prophets. All these women are speaking the Lord’s Truth in public or to the public in some way.

But there is also mentioned a father, apostle, or husband working closely with the woman. I think this is good and wise. Now, before I get thousands of emails calling me a betrayer of my gender, I’m just reflecting back to you from scripture the way God set it up. I think in the cases where women are teachers it takes a special attention to ensure the Word is handled properly because of the tendency to teach emotionally and relationally. I am reminded of the warning we received in 2 Timothy 3:6, “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires…”. What is spoken of in the verse just prior is to watch out for people who “having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

Barnes Notes explains that “For of this sort are they which creep into houses – Who go slyly and insidiously into families. They are not open and manly in endeavoring to propagate their views, but they endeavor by their address to ingratiate themselves first with weak women, and through them to influence men; compare Titus 1:11. … And lead captive silly women – One of the tricks always played by the advocates of error, and one of the ways by which they seek to promote their purposes. Satan began his work of temptation with Eve rather than with Adam, and the advocates of error usually follow his example. There are always weak-minded women enough in any community to give an opportunity of practicing these arts, and often the aims of the impostor and deceiver can be best secured by appealing to them. Such women are easily flattered; they are charmed by the graceful manners of religious instructors; they lend a willing ear to anything that has the appearance of religion, and their hearts are open to anything that promises to advance the welfare of the world. At the same time, they are just such persons as the propagators of error can rely upon. They have leisure; they have wealth; they are busy; they move about in society, and by their activity they obtain an influence to which they are by no means entitled by their piety or talents. There are, indeed, very many women in the world who cannot be so easily led away as men; but it cannot be denied also that there are those who are just adapted to the purposes of such as seek to spread plausible error.”

The verse says that some women are easy prey to seducers, plain and simple, and we see the model of that in Genesis 3:1. So who are the good women teachers? Well, I don’t know. But in one of the blog entries I referred to The Watchman’s Bagpipes, a discernment and apologetics blog run by Glenn E. Chatfield. He had done a point by point look at the statements Beth Moore has made and did so with gentleness but truth.

Glenn E. Chatfield at The Watchman’s Bagpipes said, “While maybe not noticed in her books, Beth Moore’s arrogant and obnoxious behavior on her DVDs are something Christians should not emulate or even condone. Additionally, her teachings are rife with error and pop-psychology. Although Beth Moore indeed has some excellent teachings, her error is of the nature that she should be warned against and not given a pass because of her popularity. Women have much better role models in Kay Arthur, Joni Eareckson Tada, Jill Briscoe, Martha Peace and others.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss at Revive Our Hearts Ministries has also been recommended.

I have not personally partaken of any of the teachings of any of these women except for Kay Arthur, and in Kay I found no error. Kay teaches how to study the Bible, precept by precept, and so her studies do a double duty. You learn the Word and you learn HOW to study the Word. But if you decide to investigate any of these women teachings yourself, then I feel if you have read all the blog entries on Beth Moore, have studied what the Bible has to say about wisdom and discernment, and prayed, then you have a good grounding in how to detect solidity in biblical teaching, if it is there, and how to detect if it is not.

Philip Way wrote a good series on “Learn to Discern“. Tim Challies also wrote a good book, “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.” Because ultimately, sisters, it is not about Beth Moore. It is about us in our own walk and growth. Are we maturing? Do we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth? Have we been practicing discernment? Can we detect whether we ourselves are a silly woman, held captive by sin, or are a sensible pious woman of Proverbs 31?

Pray much and rely on our Helper. In John 14:26 Jesus told the Apostles, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” And we know where reliance on Him and His Helper have led us since that time…to a world where the truth has blanketed it, leading us out of sin and darkness. To the only faith where we can know the truth, and know The Truth, personally. Rely on Him always and let Him lead you into good discernment.