It’s hard to imagine that The Gospel Coalition wrote an article that generated so much feminist backlash that they canceled its writer Josh Butler. But the angry feminist mob is not sufficiently satisfied with Josh Butler. They have their sights set on John MacArthur. With ShepCon underway, some have renewed their sights on him Rachael Denhollander is leading the attack trying to draw a direct connection from Josh Butler’s words to John MacArthur’s.
Here is the rest of MacArthur’s quote and why it matters to the present discussion of the TGC article, and overall discussion related to abuse in church spaces. pic.twitter.com/wA86nXGxQK— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) March 8, 2023
Rachael Denhollander initially tweeted out a quote, devoid of context, and followed it up with slightly more context. The quote comes from Bible Questions and Answers, Part 77. A young man asks MacArthur this question:
Yes. I have a question regarding 1 Corinthians 7. So I’d noticed that many of my brothers and I, all of us meet the 1 Corinthians 7 prerequisite. We’re wrestling with God in searching out a woman to potentially be a helpmate. I’ve noticed in myself, and I’ve heard brothers express this paradox of sorts: that we recognize the fact that we have romanticized romance, and have at times set up this unknown woman as an idol, discontent with what God has given us. But we also know that a single man with conscious sexual feelings is not good alone, and that God has specifically created us to have a wife.
So my question is, How do you reconcile these two thoughts in terms of timing? And if we spend time devoting ourselves to ministry and to God, making sure our motives are pure in asking a girl out, it would seem that we are disobeying the apostle’s command in 1 Corinthians 7. So I’d love to hear your thoughts.
John MacArthur quips, “Well, you might be eager to obey the command but can’t find anybody who’s willing to marry you; so there’s always that reality.” Then he gives this answer:
Yeah, this is a really important question, Ben, because marriage is the grace of life. Marriage is the most fulfilling relationship in life on every possible front. And this particular culture we live in today has postponed that more and more. It seems like every year the average marriage age gets older and older and older and older; and this puts tremendous pressure on young people to maintain purity when they have reached the age where they would desire to be married and desire to start a family. So all I can do is to exhort Christian people not to get caught up in what you said, not to get caught up in the perfections that this society drags in front of you, which are not related to reality.
John MacArthur expresses concern for the current dating situation, of which he is far removed. It’s quite hard to remain sexually pure in an era of prolonged dating. He continues:
I think you have to look at yourself—and this may help—you have to look at yourself in the way that Paul described marriage in Ephesians 5. He basically says that a husband is like a savior to his wife. That’s essentially what it says. And I think the burden really lies with men to see themselves as those who rescue women from loneliness, who rescue women from being in an unfulfilled—being in a place where they aren’t protected, they aren’t provided for, they aren’t cared for, they aren’t loved, they aren’t given the opportunity to have children. So from what I would experience in our society, it’s the men that have to step up. And I honestly do not know what in the world they are waiting for. I have threatened many times to line up all the single women on one side, all the single men on the other side, and assign you a wife.
But instead of looking for someone who is some kind of trophy, you need to look to someone who loves Christ, that you can be a savior to that person and a protector and a provider and a lover, and be what Christ is to His church—because that’s the picture. And I’d strongly exhort young men to find a wife, because in that finding is God’s greatest gift in this world. And it allows you to raise up children who know and love the Lord; that’s the purpose of marriage: to procreate. And to do so in Christ is the highest calling in life.
I want to do all I can to encourage the men to step up. And I know there have been enough bad marriages in our society that there’s a certain amount of fear and trepidation. But you have to look at marriage as the way the Lord looks at His church. He knows the bride has problems, but He is her redeemer, He is her rescuer. And I think if you can find a godly woman, that reward is the greatest reward that life can offer. Just don’t let the world define what that woman should be. OK? Really good question.
Seeing the full context, it’s worth revisiting Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:22-33 NASB1995
It’s worth noting that the idea of “mutual submission” as popularly understood in the church today is not what’s taught in this passage. Verse 21 is addressing the preceding paragraph but the NIV (2011) includes verse 21 in this portion. Rachael Denhollander includes this in her understanding of marriage, in her lengthy thread.
Paul too applies the idea that the husband is a Christ figure in a marriage. I would argue that Paul goes way further with this Scriptural idea than MacArthur ever does.
MAcAuthur states that men are to be protectors, providers, and rescuers of women in and through marriage. This is not a stretch of the text. It’s also historic Christian thought.
“Christ is the Saviour of his church, implying that so likewise the husband is given to the wife to be a saviour to her, in maintaining, protecting, and defending her.”— Megan Basham (@megbasham) March 9, 2023
~17th Century theologian Matthew Poole (think maybe MacArthur has read this & had in mind?)
h/t @AdamQuibell https://t.co/tj22TbbFxi
Denhollander would also erroneously argue that John MacArthur takes influence from Bill Gothard, who operates in a completely different theological ecosystem.
I believe evidence shows that he meant what he said, that he is wrong, and that this can lead to an imbalance that is dangerous – again, consider how these ideas may have played into the counsel given to Eileen Gray and so many others.— Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) March 8, 2023
Here we see the real intent for this most: to rehash the Eilieen Gray situation. But in any case, this attempt will backfire as 2023 seems as though it will be the year the church finally wises up to Rachael Denhollander and her feminist agenda in the church. Going after John MacArthur and being wrong on the Scripture is going to attract a lot of attention to her other teachings.
I think part of the problem is that far too many Christians act as “free agents” as opposed to being members of the Body of Christ and the local church.
As free agents, there is little loyalty to God’s Word, the one body of Christ with many members, church membership…
But, the finger must be pointed from the pastors on down to elders & deacons. What with unending nepotism, church politics, poor bible dedication, and elitism, the rightful saturation of godly living is thwarted…husband & wives are not knowing who they are thereby creating a “mine-field” yoking.
I have a horrified look on my face as I read this. The question is terrible, and the answer is worse. MacArthur really did say that men are saviors to women. That’s just…. heretical.
Denhollander brought all this up as a way to explain that the heretical things Josh Butler said about sex were published because the people that published it believed it. It didn’t slip through the cracks. It’s what they meant to say.
And MacArthur was wrong about Eileen Gray, and many, many other women in abusive situations.
You probably always have a horrified look on your face.