Friday, February 14, 2014

John MacArthur Disagrees with Jesus

I recently heard a sermon by John MacArthur upon the suggestion of a friend.  This was the first sermon I'd ever heard John preach. There is no gentle way to say that it will be the last sermon of his I ever listen to. Some have wanted to know my specific problems with this sermon. I'll try out outline them here. I cannot, however, be as thorough and comprehensive as I'd like to be. Time restraints are preventative to that, but I trust that anyone who wants to search these things out to see if they are true, will certainly do so on their own.

I have a problem when a preacher uses a non-contextualized talk to springboard to a general topic, then promote his own agenda.  In this referenced sermon, John MacArthur made some sweeping, generalized and harmful comments about women that have nothing to do with the passage he said he was claiming to preach, nor with the overall teachings of Scripture.

He said, "The intent of what the Word is saying here is that women need protection." (Referring to Genesis 3:15&16)
And he also said, "She has a certain vulnerability. The need for protection. The need for a leader. She needs a strengthener."
He said that Eve was deceived only when she had gone out of the protection of her husband.
And he said, "A woman has a deceive-ability when out from under the headship of a man. Rulership was intended for man."

He based these comments solely on the fact that Eve first took of the forbidden fruit in the garden as she fell to Satan's deception.

Let's look at God's Words about this. Eve was not deceived while "out from under the protection" of her husband. The Bible says Adam was with her when she partook (Genesis 2:6). Their eyes were not opened, however, till Adam ate the fruit.

The sweeping comment about women having a "certain vulnerability" and" needing protection" seems to go against what God said when He created woman. It was the man who needed assistance. God created woman because man needed help and protection. The word for "helper" is ezer and means assistant, succour and often has military connotations throughout Scripture. The word is used 21 times in the Old Testament and is used to mean strength and power. (Deut 33:26, 29) He created woman as an equal to the man. He gave them equal dominion over the earth and everything in it. (Genesis 1:28)

Any rulership husbands had over wives was a result of the fall. (Genesis 3:16) That is not an overall intent of God for only men to be rulers or leaders. God had women rulers and leaders all throughout Scripture and they ruled over men. They told men what to do. They led the men and with God's blessing and appointment to do so.

Also, because the idea of rulership was a result of the fall, Jesus conquered all that on the cross. A church-age husband is completely out of line to announce his perceived "rulership" on any level because he is commanded in Scripture to love his wife "as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her." Any abuse of this is just that - abuse - and an indication that the man has stepped out of his God-given role as sacrificial giver. (Also, Ephesians 5 calls for mutual submission between husbands and wives, eliminating the submission argument altogether. Besides, do husbands really want the kind of submission that comes from them demanding it? Submission indicates willingness by its very definition and Paul tells the Ephesians it will be mutually given in a proper marriage relationship.) John MacArthur disagrees.

Another general statement he made was, "Part of the curse is that she will desire to control men and he would have to rule over her." God did not say that. God did not say that women will desire to control men and that men, in turn would have to rule over her as though it's a reaction to that. Mr. MacArthur added his own words to God's Words here, changing the meaning of Scripture. (The Book of Revelation tells us what happens to people who add to God's Word.)

He started out saying that he was going to address the role of women in the church, but he branched out big time to include women everywhere. Clearly, women's roles in the church were very widespread in the NT church. Women led. Women taught men. Women served along side Paul, traveling with him and his missions team, were imprisoned with him, etc. Look up these women: Phoebe, Chloe, Junia, Priscilla, Anna, Lydia, Mary (who sat at Jesus' feet with the men), Eunice, Lois....and others. Priscilla went on a missions trip with Paul.  I can see why Mr. MacArthur had to avoid that.

Mr. MacArthur said that Paul was saying that a woman must embrace God's appointed role for her, which, according to John MacArthur, is motherhood. Even though he says that not all women are mothers, he also says that's God's appointed role for all women. Clearly, since men can't have babies without the intervention of modern science and misadventure, motherhood is ONE of the many roles of women. But, Mr. MacArthur's presentation doesn't really allow room for that idea. He wants to put all women in this neat, little box he's created and call it a day. This is spiritual abuse.

Toward the end, he said, "They [women] are delivered from the results of sin and are able to maintain a positive influence in society and in the church by accepting their role as a mother."

Why isn't the Christian world shouting blasphemy about this statement? Delivered from the results of sin by being a mother???? Seriously? The Mormons teach something very, very similar. Be careful, ears, what you hear.

When people of influence make sweeping comments, even on the heels of a disclaimer to the contrary, they are setting women up for abuse, pure and simple. What if a young Christian woman listened to this as a new babe in Christ? It would shape her thinking and it would cause her to stop thinking for herself and fall prey to men whom she perceives as "godly" and cases such as what ABWE, Bill Gothard and others allowed will continue to happen.

Women, do not be afraid to be strong in doctrine and stand up against this type of teaching. You don't have to make a scene when you stand up for it, all you have to do is stop listening to it. Stop reading it. Stop going to a church that teaches this nonsense. Blog about it if you have a blog.

A godly woman fears the Lord (Proverbs 31), not man. Jesus praised Mary for learning at his feet (as the men did in those days) and told her sister, Martha, that Mary had chosen that which could not be taken from her. (Luke 10:38-42)

Like Mary, all we as women have the opportunity to choose what cannot be taken away from us. The underlying tone of John MacArthur's sermon is one of abuse and an attempt to keep women out of sight. I know pastors who take his words to their pulpits and abuse their congregations with this very teaching. It's abusive to the women for obvious reasons, but it's also abusive to the men because such pastors are not strengthening their men in doctrine, they are filling their heads with lies, often turning them into bullies. It's so subtle that unless you've been exposed to it and its devastating effect, you might not realize the full implications it has. People like John MacArthur will answer to God for what they have done, but, in the meantime, we don't have to sit and take it....from anyone.

I am very, very thankful to be married to a man who wants me to think on my own, who wants me to be grounded in Scripture and who is not afraid for me to stand up for myself.



  1. I'm sorry for the experiences you had as a child. They are tragic to say the least. But scripture is very clear that Eve was created to be Adam's helpmeet. Scripture also clearly present that women are to be submissive to their husbands. It is not a doormat submission. When I married at age 58, I happily chose to submit to my husband's authority. He listens to me, seeks my input, but he is responsible to God for our marriage. Scripture is very clear on this and this was the heart of John MacArthur's message.

    I have been involved in missions and church-related women's ministries all of my adult life. I've never been at a loss for service opportunities. I listened to John MacArthur's presentation you referenced and feel that you took the "pick and choose" interpretation. He clearly left the door open for so many ministries for women, just not for women to be in pastoral authority. We wrestle with God when we wrestle with submission to male authority.

    1. HI, Sallie. I've tried for days to respond to your comment, but Blogger hasn't been posting my replies! So, I'm trying it in a new browser. We'll see if this works.

      Thanks for your comment and for reading my blog. I wrote this post in response to the sermon preached by John MacArthur, not as a result of my childhood. I had no religious training as a child and came to Christianity with a clean slate, so to speak, having no preconceived ideas about Jesus, the Bible or God.

      My issues with this sermon are MacArthur's sweeping, unfounded and harmful statements about women in general. This is uncalled for and leads to abuse every single time, without fail. My blog really had nothing to do with submission. Submission is not an issue in my life. I have been married for nearly 35 years and we have reared 8 children. There's one man I have to submit to on this planet and that's my husband, David. He's very happy with how we work this topic in our marriage, therefore, I'm not wrestling with any type of authority at all.

      I've been a pastor's wife for more than 30 years. Right now, we are "sort of" in between ministries. John MacArthur's sweeping, generalized statements about women are harmful, false, prejudicial and absolutely uncalled for. He contradicts the teachings of our Jesus throughout his talk, claims that women are saved from sin through childbirth and a host of other false statements that do not hold up to Scripture.

      I do not feel at all that I used the "pick and choose" method of interpreation, I feel that MacArthur did. He stated his text, then proceeded to completely ignore the first three verses of his said text, and went right into his rant about women. All abusers put a little truth into their words. All of them; MacArthur is no exception.

      He said, "No daughter of Eve should follow the path of Eve and lead to tragedy by entering into the forbidden territory of rulership, which was intended for man." WOW! is about all I can say on that. Who said rulership was intended for man? God certainly did not say that! If our God taught that in His Word, He has also contradicted that by actually putting women in positions of rulership! (He can't hide behind "church leadership" on this because Eve was not part of any church since the church did not exist in her day.)

      These sweeping, general statements lead to abuse, every single time, without fail. This same exact mindset is what led to the abuses we saw within ABWE, and what we see in the abuse cases of Bill Gothard. Subdue the women and win. How many children's innocence has to be sacrificed before we wake up to this? How man women have to be abused before we see what this type of teaching does to us all?

      Yes, God created Eve to be a helpmeet to Adam, but God also gave her dominion over the earth equal to Adam's. In creating her, God made it very clear that Adam is the one who needed help, not her. This did not make Adam superior to Eve; nor did it make her subservient to him.

      I do not have a problem with submission; I have a problem with the abuse of the terms and the false representation of my God. MacArthus is a spiritual abuser, using his platform to oppress women. He said that, through Eve, women "show an inability to lead effectively to act independently of her protector." Another WOW on my part! If that were true, why would God tell Abraham to submit to Sarah? Why would God appoint judges such as Deborah to lead men such as Barak, who couldn't stand on his own? The list goes on. Why did Jesus have the longest recorded conversation on earth with a woman and not a man? And it was about theology, not cooking! (The woman at the well.)

      MacArthur is a spiritual abuser. Spiritual abusers have a lot to hide.

    2. Preach it, Tricia! My problems with John MacArthur started when I ordered from his lending library three tapes, published at different times, on the same passage, I think in the book of Romans.
      In the first tape he said, "There are three positions on this subject. It is very important for you to choose the right one, and that is position number one."
      In the second tape he said the same thing. "Friends, there are three positions on this subject. Only one is right, and that is position number three."
      And in the third tape he said this (you guessed it! "There are three positions on this subject and only one is right. That is position number two."
      That was when I stopped listening to John MacArthur.