On June 18, 2019, the following Open Letter to Beth Moore was posted on mine and several other ladies’ blog sites. To date, Mrs Moore has chosen not to directly and clearly answer these very simple questions, questions that any Christian would have a ready answer to, but also ones the Bible says we should. (1 Peter 3:15, Colossians 4:6).
By Elizabeth Prata
You know that Beth Moore deleted a portion of the material in the Kindle version of the book Praying God’s Word, but that deletion is more extensive than most people know. She got rid of the entire discussion on homosexuality from her chapter Overcoming Sexual Strongholds. It was 6 pages of material. It was half the main discussion of the chapter. She excised from mid page 279 to mid-285.
As a result, the word ‘homosexuality’ does not appear in the Kindle version except twice, once in a quote from a man testifying about his homosexuality recovery and once in a verse. In the hard copy she retains all that material, with the word homosexuality being mentioned 12 times within the 6 pages. I believe her decision to redact the entire discussion about homosexuality is, in effect, a change in stance toward this sexual sin.
That said, I’ve also been thinking of the wider issues surrounding Beth Moore’s decision to delete the biblical discussion of homosexuality from her book. It’s bad enough to be ashamed of God’s doctrine to delete it completely from your book. But this next part compounds the wrong.
She violated the social compact that exists between an author and her readers.
Let me explain further.
There exists a social compact between writers and readers. Did you know? Yes.
We might not be aware there exists a social contract between author and reader, but we know instantly when it’s been broken. A broken contract means trust has been severed, which usually entails feelings of anger, betrayal, or even outrage. Think of the outrage that occurred when it was learned that Mark Driscoll reportedly bought his way onto New York Times bestseller list. The social contract of trust, that true popularity, reflected in sales, had propelled that book up the best-seller ladder was destroyed when it was revealed that filthy lucre had done the deed.
So we might unknowingly operate in the social contract but it certainly becomes known when it’s violated.
Another example of this tacit compact is plagiarism. A well known part of the contract between an author and his or her readers is that the material they publish under their name will be their own creative content. It is understood that the material is not plagiarized from someone else and sold under their name as their own. Doing so violates the implicit trust that the author has with her readers. They are buying the book under the terms of this implicit contract.
“Roots” was a phenomenon in the 1970s. The book was an extreme best-seller, won a Pulitzer Prize, and spawned a miniseries that impacted the nation for years. Yet it turned out that its author Alex Haley had plagiarized some parts from a less well known book called The African, which had been published 9 years earlier. Americans were outraged and heartbroken.
So, we see from the negative examples, that the social compact between writer and reader exists. What is this social compact like, what is it supposed to do?
As we read from this article from The National Council of Teachers of English, The Rights and Responsibilities of Readers and Writers: A Contractual Agreement, by Robert Tierney and Jill LaZansky, we learn
Writers must establish a reader-writer interaction which sets up “a coherent movement” toward a reasonable interpretation of a communication. An author, accountable in one sense to a selected audience of readers and in another sense to a message deemed worthy of their consideration, will do greater justice to that message if the needs of the readers are attended.
Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life….A writer must reflect and interpret his society, his world; he must also provide inspiration and guidance and challenge.
These examples and quotes of the ethical standards in publishing and the implicit social contract that comes with it are from the secular world. Would not a Christian author have even a deeper obligation to her readers, especially if her book sales are aimed at sisters in the faith?
How much more meaningful is the social compact between author and reader when the two are part of the same Body, operating in the spotless name of Christ?
How much MORE so when a Christian writer is given gifts to convey the timeless, majestic and eternal truths to a waiting generation? Wouldn’t one of these writer responsibilities be the safekeeping of truth?
How much MORE so when a writer who is Imago Dei, labors with the understanding that at the very least, she should do no harm to the reader.
But deleting the entire discussion of homosexuality from her Kindle book does harm the reader. How?
Let me state an inconsequential but more relatable example. If you’re familiar with competitive cooking shows, where a chef is tasked to cook a dish and then serves it to judges at the end of the time constraint, at the end of the time, things get hectic. Sometimes the chef-contestants are just throwing the food on the dish by the end.
I remember a few times where a chef presented a dish that had some components on one plate, but were absent those components on the other. One judge looks at his plate, looks at the other judge’s plate, and asks, ‘Why does his plate have potatoes on it and mine doesn’t?’ They yell at the contestant that this is unacceptable. Why? If a paying customer orders a dish described on the menu they expect to be served that exact dish. That’s the contract. It makes things worse if a chef gives one person their expected dish and denies the other person the same food. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right.
How much more so when Beth Moore knowingly decides to deny her Kindle readers their potatoes, while hard copy readers enjoy the full dish? And how much worse it is knowing that we are not really talking about potatoes, but the food of Christ laid from His table?
Beth Moore has spent years developing a relationship with readers. She trades on the comfy and sisterly relationship she has cultivated publicly. One wonders how a conversation with the Christian Publishing House B&H (arm of Lifeway) would go?
B&H, I want to get rid of that section about homosexuality. Delete it before the republished version comes out on Kindle.
Because I’m worried about a 13 year old girl
But Beth, what about all your other readers? Don’t you owe them anything, especially the readers who’ll buy the hard copy?
Nah, I owe them zero.
Wayne Grudem spends a great deal of time in his book Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning on the definition of and biblical instances of lying. He says that lying is verbally affirming something you believe to be false, and maintains the verbal-only aspect of lying. But there is also something else discussed in that incredible book and that is called deceptive action.
I fail to see any morally relevant difference between intentionally misleading someone with the lips and misleading them with an action. John Frame
Whether one wants to call it a decision to stand by, a sin of omission, misleading, or deceptive action, we consider the fact we are supposed to operate as Image of Christ.
The fact is, no matter how you define it, Moore and her publisher B&H, chose to purposely excise a significant portion of one of the re-published versions and didn’t tell readers, while selling the fuller re-published version to other readers, and to my knowledge, never said a word.
At least, in my hours of searching online and on her blog, I never saw any announcement of this deletion, nor did I see one in the hard copy or the Kindle version. If such a statement existed in 2009 when the books were re-published, please point me to it. Otherwise, Beth Moore engaged in a deliberate action that broke the social compact and betrayed trust with her readers.
Moore says that she performed the act of removing the half-a-chapter on homosexuality (from one version but not the other) and she stands by her action.
Now that we understand the issue about the social compact that exists between a writer and her audience, and about truth and honorable Christian publishing decisions, and seeing that this very week Moore is teaching about the writing and publishing process, and seeing that organizers are touting it as holy, and knowing that B&H attests to the motto below clipped from their website, doesn’t it make a difference in how you view their moral character?
Every word matters? Really B&H Christian publishers? Except the 6 pages of words about overcoming homosexuality with God’s help through the Gospel. THOSE words don’t matter. The biblical content you and Moore excised cannot “positively impact the hearts and minds of people”, because you deleted them. And remained silent about it. For ten years.
Lying by omission and lying by commission. Lying by omission is far, far worse than lying by commission because the latter can at least admit refutation and public debate. Suppression of reportage is lying by omission (Gideon Polya)
Beth Moore’s action that she “stands by” is a terrible corruption of the implicit contract she has cultivated as Christian writer with her Christian audience in a situation of trust.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
James White on the Open Letter to Beth Moore
James White on Beth Moore explaingng but not really why she deleted half her chapter on homosexuality
By Elizabeth Prata
There has been quite a hue and cry over the Open Letter to Beth Moore that I and 5 other ladies published on June 18. That is a direct testament to the influence and fame of Beth Moore. In the Letter we posed 5 simple questions, asking her to make clear her stance on homosexuality.
Huge Following, Huge Influence means Souls are at Stake
Living Proof Ministries (LPM) participated in multiple conferences and simulcasts last year. Moore taught at LPLive events plus other various events with a total of 284k total attendees. Her weekly TV program reached 2.7m households. 24,000 units of her video and written material were shipped. LPM’s online ministry outreach utilizes Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, Moore’s social media which currently have a combined following of 1.6 million people. Once we add in the people who access Moore’s teachings via LPM’s app, various non-official Youtube videos, and the Living Proof Blog, her following reaches well over 2 million people.
We asked, because Moore’s partnerships and affirmation of gay-affirming Jen Hatmaker and Jonathan Merritt are seem to indicate a tacit approval of homosexuality. Hatmaker’s own following is considerable- 1.3 million followers on FB, IG, and Twitter.
That is a lot of souls being reached with the message that the homosexual lifestyle is OK, that homosexual marriage can be holy, and that homosexual marriage can be part of Christianity. Souls, who are actively being taught by Hatmaker and Merritt that their chosen lifestyle is one that needs no repenting, and that Moore, by her plaudits and approvals and partnerships with Hatmaker and Merritt, yet her conspicuous silence on clearly repudiating the behavior as sin, also makes the statement that homosexuality needs no repenting of.
Souls, who, unless that are taught clearly and unequivocally the truth, will find themselves cast into hell forever.
SBC’s Double Standard when applied to Moore
In addition, there is another grave concern. Many people have noticed a wobble in the Southern Baptist Convention, a softening, like butter left on the counter for too long. We know that in the past the SBC has been staunch on its commitment to biblical truth. We know that they claim to stand on biblical truth now, but there is also some confusion about how and when they apply their own biblical litmus tests.
SBC’s Litmus Test
As Michelle Lesley explained in her interview with Andrew Rappaport, the SBC has made homosexuality a litmus test for whether churches can be in friendly cooperation with the SBC. If you are a church that supports homosexuality or are a pastor who says that it’s not a sin, or that it’s OK, your church is in danger of being disfellowshipped from the Convention. That has happened a handful of times over the last several years. Churches have been removed for standing on the unbiblical side of homosexuality. So, the SBC has made homosexuality a litmus test for churches.
Lifeway’s Litmus Test
Lifeway, the bookselling arm of the SBC, has also made homosexuality a litmus test for its authors. Two years ago Lifeway pulled Jen Hatmaker’s books from its shelves when Hatmaker affirmed her LGBT beliefs, and stated that homosexual marriage can be holy. Lifeway’s response was,
“In a recent interview, [Hatmaker] voiced significant changes in her theology of human sexuality and the meaning and definition of marriage—changes which contradict LifeWay’s doctrinal guidelines,” LifeWay spokesman Marty King said Thursday. “As a result, LifeWay has discontinued selling her resources.” Source
Hatmaker was clear in her statement regarding homosexuality. Lifeway was equally clear in their response. If there is one thing to admire about Jen Hatmaker, as unbiblical as her beliefs are, she is crystal clear about what they are and is unashamed to promote them, even in the face of lost revenue from Lifeway.
Beth Moore has not been clear. Sadly, Moore’s continued support of and partnerships with those who promote the ungodly lifestyle make her position very unclear. Six days after the Letter was published, Moore finally issued a series of tweets that seemed to be a response to the Letter, while avoiding mention of the Letter, omitted mention of homosexuality, and indignantly muddied the waters with a victim attitude. This actually made things worse.
So here are the questions:
Beth Moore is the best selling author that Lifeway has. (Source). Moore brings in to Lifeway more money than any other author, than any other conference speaker. Her net worth as of last tax year was 14 million dollars. She brings in so much money that Lifeway can afford to usher Mrs Moore around to her conferences in a private jet.
So, does the SBC and its arm, Lifeway, only apply its litmus test on the sin of homosexuality to others but not their favored ones?
Why should Beth Moore not have to answer the same questions that Hatmaker did? Or as Eugene Peterson did?
Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16 to watch your doctrine and your life. Living clearly on the right side of biblical, moral lines is important for any leader, then as now, because the world watches. They have to know where the lines are.
Lifeway has a doctrinal standard they place on their authors, and though Moore has not written about homosexuality in her books or studies (except a few sentences in her 1997 book “To Live is Christ”), her approvals and partnerships with people who are on the wrong side of the issue makes for lines that are smeared and blurred. Millions who follow Moore are living in that blurry part of the line. Moore can easily clear that up, and make the lines sharp, so that her followers know on which side she stands.
One thing Mrs Moore can learn from Jen Hatmaker, that even though she is in error, Jen is clear and fearless regarding homosexuality.
Since the SBC and Lifeway have made homosexuality a litmus test, why should SBC pastors, churches, Lifeway authors, Hatmaker, and Peterson have to make it clear where they stand on homosexuality, but not Beth Moore?
Most interesting of all, why has someone at Lifeway not asked these questions and had Moore answer them? If they have asked, and Moore has answered them, would the SBC/Lifeway please let the millions of souls who follow Beth Moore know? Eternities are at stake.
PS: Some ladies have asked why Beth Moore’s stance on homosexuality is my business. I am a member of a Southern Baptist Convention church. Since I am a SBC member and Beth Moore is a SBC member, this issue is my business.
Resources on this issue:
Some Moore defenders have stated that Moore hasn’t answered because she isn’t sure, or is too busy, or it would take too much time. I issued a series of tweets where the answer from pastors and evangelical leaders are so pithy they could be contained in one tweet. Here they are, and the sources from which these statements came. I invite you to listen or read, for further exploration.
Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality
Unimaginable that American leadership and people would join together in giving hearty approval to the destructive, deadly, damning sin of homosexuality.
In the Old Testament homosexual practices were considered not only sinful, but of a gross and heinous sinfulness.
Ray Comfort, Living Waters:
Coming out of the Closet on Homosexuality
In the same way we can’t say that gays may enter Heaven, because according to the Bible, that’s not true. We have it from the greatest Authority on earth that nothing unclean in God’s sight will enter Heaven—no fornicator, idolater, liar, thief, blasphemer, adulterer, sexually immoral person, or homosexual will enter (see 1 Corinthians 6:9,10). Yet some who profess to be Christians betray homosexuals by lying to them and saying, “All is well. Step through the doors. You will be okay.” We cannot do that, because we love you and want you to make it to Heaven.
Why is Homosexuality Wrong?
I think it’s implied clearly and spoken clearly in Romans 1:24-29 that homosexuality is wrong and to be avoided.
Further links on this subject:
Michelle Lesley: Mailbag: Questions about the Open Letter to Beth Moore
Dear Mrs. Moore,
Hello – we hope this finds you doing well.
We as female Bible teachers ourselves write this letter to you in hopes of receiving clarification of your views on an important issue: homosexuality.
In the last few years, particularly since 2016, you have been very vocal in your opposition to misogyny and racism. Anytime a story with so much of a whiff of these issues comes to the forefront you are very quick to speak out. The actions of the Covington kids, for example, you said “is so utterly antichrist it reeks of the vomit of hell” in a January 19, 2019 tweet; a tweet you deleted, without apology to the kids, once the full video was shown that portrayed a very different reality than what initial reporting suggested.
It is this Johnny-on-the-spot readiness to engage issues related to misogyny and racism that makes your virtual silence on the issue of homosexuality so puzzling.
To your credit, in your book To Live is Christ: The Life and Ministry of Paul, you wrote, “I met a young man who had experienced freedom from the bondage of homosexuality” (pg. 119). This book was first published in 1997 and then republished in 2008 but it seems since then you have said very little if anything publicly about this issue.
Another factor prompting our open letter to you is the very public mutual affection and admiration between you, Jen Hatmaker and Jonathan Merritt.
Jen Hatmaker and you regularly exchange affirming posts of one another on social media. In just one recent example, Hatmaker on September 17, 2018 wrote “Beth Moore will enjoy my respect and devotion forever. She is worthy of being a mentor to an entire generation. And friends, I wish you knew how deeply and profoundly she has loved me these last two years” (Source). In an interview two years before this post, October of 2016, Jen Hatmaker said she was a “left-leaning moderate,” came out as fully supportive of homosexual marriage (saying it can be “holy”) and said practicing homosexuals can be part of the regenerate body of Christ (Source). It was then that LifeWay decided to pull all of her books from its shelves.
More recently, on April 9, 2019, Jonathan Merritt tweeted, “I no longer believe @BethMooreLPM is a human. I think she is an angelic being having a human experience.” (Source). Jonathan Merritt has admitted to having at least one homosexual encounter about a decade ago (Source). Today, by his own admission he rejects biblical inerrancy, says a “liberal Protestant” would be an accurate description of him, and says his sexual orientation he no longer views as “broken” (Source).
In a crass response to Dr. Owen Strachan tweeting, rightly so, that there should never be an occasion in which men “cuddle” with one another, Merritt on May 1, 2019 tweeted in response, “C’mon, Owen. You can be my little spoon” (Source). Merritt also openly affirms that “queer” and LGBTQ people are included in God’s Kingdom and it is a “carrot of false promises” that the Gospel can make such people straight (Source, Source). He supports “Drag Queen Story Time” in which drag queens read stories to young children in public libraries (Source 27:40 mark– NOTE, the video has already been deleted. Try this one.). He even appears to doubt the exclusivity of Christ (Source).
Both Jen Hatmaker and Jonathan Merritt are known for their belief that practicing homosexuals can be Christians. Given that this is such a deeply held conviction that both share and this conviction (wrong though it is) has cost them both in their standing amongst theologically conservative evangelicals, and that they both praise you so highly, it raises the natural question as to where you stand on this issue.
Given his beliefs, Merritt publicly saying that he believes you to be “an angelic being having a human experience” strongly suggests that his high praise of you is, at least partially, rooted in your views on this issue that you have shared with him privately. It seems most unlikely that he would be praising you so highly if you had told him that as a homosexual man he will perish for all of eternity unless he repents. It likewise seems unlikely that Hatmaker (a married, straight woman) would praise you so highly if you told her that her affirmation of homosexuality and homosexual marriage is sinful and that she must repent.
When all of this is coupled with your total silence on homosexuality (in stark contrast to your very vocal stance on gender/racial/abuse issues) it naturally raises the question as to what your beliefs on it truly are.
With these factors in mind, and knowing that millions of people follow your teachings, we would like to ask you:
- Do you believe homosexuality is inherently sinful?
- Do you believe that the practice of the homosexual lifestyle is compatible with holy Christian living?
- Do you believe a person who dies as a practicing homosexual but professes to be a Christian will inherit eternal life?
- Do you believe same sex attraction is, in and of itself, an inherently sinful, unnatural, and disordered desire that must be mortified?
- Why have you been so silent on this subject in light of your desire to “teach the word of God?”
We ask these questions to you out of genuine concern. As Bible teachers, all of us are held to a very high standard and will give an account for how we handle God’s word.
As you know, homosexuality is widely discussed and debated amongst evangelicals and society at large.
Many families are affected by this issue. The most loving thing obedient Christians can do for them is to clearly communicate God’s truth. We look forward to your clarification on these pressing issues.
Debbie Lynne Kespert