When I saw that John MacArthur told Beth Moore to “Go home,” I knew women around the world would erupt. As a woman whose full-time career is Christian ministry, I felt the gendered insult of his comments. John MacArthur meant he doesn’t think Beth Moore should be preaching.

I’ve seen enough comments to know many men and women both affirm and find offense in what he said. But we can argue that till we’re blue in the face.

Recent history loudly advocates for women’s church involvement, women’s professional opportunities, and gender equality in the community. Some giving women their rightful place outside of their homes. Yet recent history also includes many men and women who uphold the equality and value of both genders, but still adhere to a traditionally assigned hierarchy in the church and home. Which makes home the rightful priority to both male and female.

No matter where you fall on the issue of women in the church or outside of the home, you’ll have your fair share of support on both sides to sift through in your feeds today.

Why is “Go home” rude anyway?

But there’s a bigger offense here no one is outing. When did “Go home” become an insult?

It’s not the gender disparity that kept me up last night. Or the room full of men—whose wives likely contribute to their bank accounts and more—that roared in laughter over an insult to a woman. Or even the Western world women’s Instagram stories demanding that females everywhere have the right to be seen and heard.

No. Those are Genesis 3 arguments, long echoing the power struggle that came with the Fall. And I hate to say it, but no imminent agreement is on the horizon.

What I can’t shake today is that the phrase “Go home” has now become an insult.  As a person who knows the universal value of the concept of home, I have to consider when home became pejorative.

Best place on Earth

While some could fairly argue John MacArthur’s stance on church leadership is sound, we can all admit his delivery was clearly off. We cannot overlook that. Because whether he meant to or not, in his effort to criticize her, he devalued the most important earthly place there is: Home.

Others could fairly argue Beth Moore’s emotive response was warranted. But whether she meant to or not, her public offense, plus the public social-media outrage, further supports the misguided notion that home is somewhere we shouldn’t want to be.

I thought home is the nicest word there is, at least that is what Laura Ingalls Wilder said. Plus, aside from Wilder’s cozy yearnings, MacArthur and Moore will both go home to a safe, comfortable place tonight. I imagine they’re both pretty happy about that.

Because a safe, comfortable, stable belonging is what we are all born wanting. The homeless population is one of the most shamed subcultures in the world. We might not admit it, but we’re scared, ashamed to look the homeless in the eye. Because homelessness leaves an ache like no other on a person’s soul.

We were made to have an earthly place to call home. And made to yearn for eternal home in our hearts.

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Home is…

Home is the primary place we, men and women, disciple our people. Because home is the place where our people our found.

Home is the primary place we, men and women, gather our people. Because home is the place where our traditions are set.

Home is the primary place we, men and women, pass on our faith to the next generation. Because home is the place where you can’t fake what you believe. And the tiny people watching see us in every small moment.

Home is the primary place we, men and women, create safety and stability.

Home is the primary place where belonging begins for all of us, men and women. This belonging creates the foundation for who our children will be.

Home is the place we, men and women, invite someone in. Because it is our little corner of the world.

Home is where we, men and women, nourish our bodies and our souls. Shared meals around the table have a direct negative impact on the statistics that try to prove our children will use drugs, commit crimes, and drop out of school in their teenage years.

And we’re all looking for home in the middle of the unnerving world we live in.  As the nucleus of your family life, home is where all the experiences “out there” are processed and healed.

What’s so bad about home after all?

So when did the concept of home turn into something to make fun of? To devalue? To use as a shot toward another leader equally trying to shape the world for good?

Homes come in many shapes and sizes. A metal lean to in Nicaragua with women and children drawing water while the men work the fields. A city loft in New York empty during the day while both spouses change the world in the marketplace during the workweek. An old farmhouse in Pennsylvania with a homeschooling mom and an 8-5 corporate dad who rides the train to work each day.

But those details aren’t really what matter. The details of the home don’t define the value of the concept. Modern social science continues to prove the fundamental value of a healthy, stable home. And we all intrinsically know that home is where the heart is. Where the mom is. Where the dad is. Where the love is.

Or at least where it should be. Home is a place that progressively lacks its intended luster as divorce continues to be normalized, abuse becomes more prominent, and the concept of family is as complicated as ever. Still, we all know the feeling that home should be.

Go home

So I get it. John MacArthur made a public statement about Beth Moore that reflected his opinion on leadership roles in the church. But let’s not miss what’s underneath. Let’s not devalue the primary place God has called each one of us, male and female, to change the world.

You’ve likely heard it said: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” (And you might have it hand-lettered over your sofa.)

We can never deny that the world out there needs the gifting, the influence, the truth, the sermons, the passion, the ideas that God has given each one of us. But if any person, male or female, overlooks the faces and hearts sitting across the kitchen table from us to conquer a more important world out there, we’re all missing it.

And if home gets used as an insult, at the very least, someone should seek to rescue the word from the shame—intended or not—that comes with it.

Copyright © 2019 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Tracy Lane is a writer for FamilyLife. She is the author of numerous articles, coauthor of Passport2Identity, and guest on multiple FamilyLife Today broadcasts. Tracy and her husband, Matt, live in the Philadelphia suburbs with their two daughters. Follow her special needs motherhood journey at HeartForAnnie. Find her on instagram @HeartForAnnie.