Every year at Christmastime, we have a choice.
We can spend all our money on parties and presents, or we can reject the materialism of the world and glorify God instead.
And what better way to do that than to donate to missions work?
But before your sentimental mind clouds over with visions of starving people with a steaming bowl of food in one hand and a new Bible in the other, ask yourself this question:
How would you feel if you knew that instead of funding missionaries, you were actually funding their persecution?
What if the money you thought was being used to spread the gospel was actually paying the salaries of those committed to silencing it?
Men who, like Judas, in the name of Christian charity, condemn the “waste” of the woman minister to keep more money for themselves?
Men who are more interested in establishing their own authority over others than promoting Christ’s authority to set people free?
What if your money is not promoting freedom in Christ, but is in fact funding terrorism?
Today we zoom in on the largest Protestant denomination— the Southern Baptist Convention— to see how this is happening now. And not only in SBC churches, but in every denomination that silences women.
In the Name of Lottie
Southern Baptists have become famous for banning women from their pulpits, removing churches with female pastors, and staunchly maintaining the lie that the Bible says women can’t have authority over men. Some even believe it immoral for a woman to hold a position of authority in the workplace, because that requires men to submit to a woman’s direction.
SBC leaders agree that God doesn’t allow women to preach or teach the Bible to men— only to women and children, thank you very much.
What you may not realize is that more than half of the SBC’s missions budget is raised in the name of a woman who opposed these ideas.
Her name was Lottie Moon, and all Southern Baptists know she’s one of the greatest missionaries of our time. Further, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering raises millions for the denomination each year ($153 million in 2014)— over $1.5 billion since 1888.
What most don’t know is that by the end of her missionary career, Lottie Moon did not agree with the Southern Baptist position on women.
In the end, she concluded:
“Simple justice demands that women should have equal rights with men in mission meetings and in the conduct of their work.” ~L. Moon
You may think this should be obvious to any modern person.
But it is not obvious to modern Southern Baptists. If a missionary’s work includes teaching or preaching to men, they insist that a woman can’t do it.
In fact, when I was a member at Prestonwood Baptist Church (one of the largest in the SBC), I personally asked the leadership this question:
“If Lottie Moon were here today, would you allow her to speak from your pulpit?”
You heard that right— no shame. No hesitation. No qualms about the hypocrisy of the fact that the SBC’s poster child for missions— whose name they use to raise over half of their missions budget— would not be welcome to speak to their congregation on Sunday.
And why? Because women must be silent in the church.
So much for respect.
“What about the women in the Bible who weren’t silent?” I asked. “Would you allow the prophetess Huldah, or the prophetess Deborah, to speak from your pulpit?
“No!” was the proud answer. “We have never had a woman behind our pulpit.”
You can’t make this stuff up, people.
But that’s not where the terrorism ends.
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering
The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and the Women’s Mission Union which promotes it, were both inspired by Lottie Moon’s passionate letters from China. Lottie challenged Southern Baptists to take missions seriously, imploring them to send more money and missionaries— even shaming them by comparing their feeble efforts to the more robust programs of other denominations.
Herself entering the mission field through a loophole in Southern Baptist rules, which usually barred single women from becoming missionaries, Lottie acknowledged the importance of women in fanning the flame of missions:
“Some years ago the Southern Methodist Mission in China had run down to the lowest water-mark; the rising of the tide seems to have begun with the enlisting of the women of the church in the cause of missions. The previously unexampled increase in missionary zeal and activity in the Northern Presbyterian church is attributed to the same reason the thorough awakening of the women of the church upon the subject of missions.” L. Moon, Sept 15, 1887
Still, under the thumb of bad theology resulting from poor Biblical scholarship (still ignorantly espoused by the SBC today), Lottie initially had qualms about preaching the Gospel to men.
“Recently, on a Sunday which I was spending in a village near Pingtu city, two men came to me with the request that I would conduct the general services. They wished me to read and explain, to a mixed audience of men and women, the parable of the prodigal son. I replied that no one should undertake to speak without preparation, and that I had made none. (I had been busy all the morning teaching the women and girls.) After awhile they came again to know my decision. I said, “It is not the custom of the Ancient church that women preach to men.” I could not, however, hinder their calling upon me to lead in prayer. Need I say that, as I tried to lead their devotions, it was hard to keep back the tears of pity for those sheep not having a shepherd. Men asking to be taught and no one to teach them. We read of one who came forth and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them because they were as sheep not having a shepherd. “And how did he show his compassion?” He began to teach them many things. “Brethren, ministers and students for the ministry, who may read these lines, does there dwell in your hearts none of that divine compassion which stirred the heart of Jesus Christ, and which led him to ‘teach’ the multitude many things”? ~L. Moon, Feb. 9, 1889
And so began what would become a familiar refrain. If only the men would step up to the bat, if only the men would obey the call to missions, if only the men would find it in their hearts to fund the Gospel…if only…if only…
But no matter how passionate the pleas, the men did not show up.
It was only when Lottie turned to the women that the missions program took off.
After years of wrestling with seemingly contradictory verses about the role of women and the inefficiency of submitting to the dictates of men in her missions work, Lottie moved from frustration over the artificial limitations placed on her ability to reach lost souls, to trepidatious ventures teaching Chinese men when they requested it, to eventual disregard for the denominational mandate that she wait for orders and an accompanying male to oversee her. Ultimately setting out to establish her own successful mission in Pingtu, Lottie determined to follow God’s call on her life— God’s way. Biographer Regina D. Sullivan writes:
“BY 1886, Lottie Moon had completely abandoned the “woman’s work for woman” policy that had allowed her to receive an appointment as a Southern Baptist missionary. She renounced the strictures of her culture and the assumptions that prevented her from living and evangelizing as she deemed necessary. Moon now lived alone in a small Chinese town in the interior Of Shantung province. She had no protection and no male supervision. She spent her days as she saw fit and employed her own experimental mission strategy. After the Foreign Mission Board refused to support the Pingtu station, Moon did not leave but instead intensified her efforts.” (emphasis added)
Yes, you heard that right, folks. The Southern Baptist boys who ultimately used Lottie Moon’s name to raise cash refused to fund Lottie Moon’s mission.
Could I have a side of irony with that hypocrisy, please?
“[Moon] began a public campaign for assistance by publishing articles in the Foreign Mission Journal, state Baptist newspapers. and the women’s missionary organs. At first she directed her appeals to SBC men, but when she received no response, Moon turned away from the men and looked to the women of the missionary societies instead. She urged them to move beyond the constraints of social expectations and denominational policy and organize to provide her with support. Southern Baptist Women had been trying for years to form an overarching organization for their local societies and had so far failed. In Moon, the female leadership found both a model for action and a compelling reason to try again. They asked the Southern Baptist leadership for assistance and permission, but they made it clear that they were bound by their beliefs to defy male authority if necessary. And like Lottie Moon, they did.”
The WMU and the SBC: A Love-Hate Relationship
So that’s exactly what Southern Baptist women did. In 1888 the Women’s Missions Union (WMU) held its first meeting in the basement of a Methodist church.
In spite of the fact that they were not allowed to meet in a Baptist church, these women were armed with a passion for the lost and a dogged loyalty to the SBC. Concerned only with raising money for missions and promoting the Gospel, these unabashedly submissive women freely turned over their proceeds to SBC control.
They continue to do so today.
Unfortunately, the love doesn’t flow both ways.
The WMU started the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and continues to be the driving force behind its success and promotion.
And the men of the SBC’s “conservative resurgence” movement don’t like it one bit.
Oh, they like the money. They can’t live without it.
But they can’t stand the WMU’s freedom.
Frustrated by the independence of the once unsanctioned and now instrumental organization, the SBC has made several underhanded attempts to bring the WMU under male control.
From rebuking its members in a letter to Southern Baptists, to publicly comparing them to whores, the indecency of SBC leadership towards their own women know no bounds of civility. Ethics Daily reports:
“SBC leaders criticized WMU in 1995 for modifying its exclusive support of the SBC’s foreign and home mission boards by forging relationships with other evangelical groups, including the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The chairman of the SBC International Mission Board at the time compared WMU’s reaching out to the CBF to adultery. “When they’ve done that, it will be similar to … a woman having been married to a man for many, many years and all of a sudden she says, ‘I have another man that I want to be married to as well. I know that we’ve had such a good working relationship, but I know that you won’t mind if I bring him into our bed,'” chairman John Jackson told the Chattanooga, Tenn., News-Free Press. “Their attitude is, ‘Why can’t we have both bedfellows. We don’t see anything wrong with us going to bed with CBF as well as SBC,'” he said. IMB President Jerry Rankin mailed a letter to 40,000 pastors criticizing the decision by WMU to produce materials for the CBF as “counterproductive” and asking church leaders to pray that WMU leaders would change their minds.”
It was discovered in 1995 that the SBC had secretly attempted to trademark the name “Lottie Moon Christmas Offering”, which had been used by the WMU to raise money for decades. When the covert takeover failed, SBC leadership introduced a plan to slowly replace the educational materials provided by the WMU with those produced by the SBC, in an effort to phase the agency out.
The International Mission Board (IMB) had historically given the WMU a sizable monetary gift each year out of gratitude for all the money it raises. Amazingly, they voted to discontinue that support in 2007.
In 2008, the WMU fell short of their budget. Their dedicated staff voluntarily took four weeks of unpaid “furlough” to make ends meet— and did not immediately ask the SBC for help.
Though faced with budget strains, as blogger Wade Burleson points out to the IMB, “It’s best never to bite the hand that feeds us.”
Funding the Terrorism
Southern Baptist history is replete with examples of its men ignoring, belittling, and persecuting women called into the ministry. Since the Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M) was changed in 1984 to state that women are subject to men, the terrorism of women like Lottie Moon has been on the increase.
These men and women have been removed from key denominational positions and fired from seminaries. Churches that called a woman pastor are now removed from the SBC.
Further, Southern Baptist leaders have lobbied against women speaking from any a pulpit. For example, Denny Burke and other SBC leaders spoke out publicly against Irving Bible Church in 2008 for allowing a woman to speak one Sunday.
Irving Bible Church is not even a Southern Baptist Church.
But perhaps the clearest infraction against the spirit of Lottie Moon occurred in 2005, when Southern Baptist missionaries were required to sign the new anti-woman BF&M or be fired. Missionaries who refused to do so were called back and removed from the missions program.
That’s right folks— the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering funds the IMB, which persecutes today’s women missionaries. Yanking them (and any man who supports them) off the mission field, the IMB is attempting to silence the Gospel these servants are called to share.
If that statement doesn’t make you mad, you should read it again.
Because this goes beyond theology. According to Jesus, it’s treason.
“John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he is not a disciple along with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you.’” Luke 9:49-50
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Matthew 12:30
The truth is that the women of the SBC have never been against these men, but for them.
According to Jesus, that means the women should not be stopped from ministering to people.
These men, on the other hand, are taking the sheaves the women have harvested and scattering them.
That means these men are not with Jesus
They are against Him.
By giving money into their hands, you are funding that terrorism.
And usually, that’s considered treason too.
Call To Action: VINDICATE LOTTIE MOON
A single woman who dedicated her life to missions work in China, Lottie Moon broke the mold.
Far from the southern belle one would expect a girl raised on a plantation in the 1800’s to be, Lottie’s devotion to the Gospel of Christ moved her to become an accidental feminist.
Ironically, Lottie Moon would not even qualify as a “Biblical Woman” by the standards of most Southern Baptists today.
From being the first Southern woman to receive a Master’s degree to choosing missions work over marriage; from having the courage to admonish Southern Baptist men for their lack of zeal to having the audacity to teach the Bible to Chinese men; from ignoring the expectation of having children to ignoring the restraints of the denomination on her gender— when choosing between
conformity and calling, Lottie Moon picked Jesus every time.
And what is her message to Christians today?
Do you think she appreciates her name being used to raise money for men who persecute the women who follow her example?
This year, consider yourself challenged. What can you do?
Vindicate Lottie’s Moon’s name.
- Do what Lottie did. Stand up to the false authority of the men who are silencing half of the Body— the women— and slowing the spread of the Gospel.
- Boycott the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. If you are a Southern Baptist, ask your pastor if he would allow Lottie Moon to teach from your pulpit. If he says no, inform him that you will be giving, but not to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Tell him you will not support those who do not support God. Say it out loud— he needs to know.
- Ask for a refund. If you have already given your Lottie Moon Christmas offering, demand your money back. Most Southern Baptists give to this fund in good faith and under false pretenses. #LottieMoonRefund, #VindicateLottieMoon, #LottieInThePulpit
- Find Lottie Moon and fund her. Whether you are Southern Baptist or not, find a Lottie Moon. Find her this year, and fund her mission. You may have to look hard. Her ministry may be small and unimpressive. She may be beaten up by the Church. She will most certainly be underfunded, and therefore not much to look at. But you will know her because in spite of all that, she will be working hard. She will be speaking the Gospel, and pouring out her life for those she serves. She will be doing the work of the kingdom, whether man approves of her or not. And when you fund her…you will be too.