John MacArthur thinks men save women from unfulfilled lives.
I recently saw a meme on social media of a terrible take by John MacArthur who was insinuating that just as Christ is our savior, so the husband is the wife’s savior.
And that is just a terribly blasphemous thing to say.
He says that when men are looking for wives, they need to find someone they can be a “savior” to.
Here’s the whole quote:
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.
Thankfully he isn’t saying that husbands actually accomplish their wives’ salvation (though others have said that it is husbands who get their wives ready for Jesus), but let’s analyze his take here.
To paraphrase, his point is this:
Without a husband, women live lonely, unfilled lives where they aren’t loved or cared for and are without protection. They need men to “save” them from this life.
The insinuation here is that women, without men, are in dire straits. Women are the ones who are in trouble if they don’t get married, so that’s why God ordained it that men need to be the ones to “step up.”
And what is it that men get out of marriage? They get the greatest gift in this world, and they get to have children.
So men are okay without marriage, and we need to convince the men to get married, because their lives are okay without it (though they miss out on children), while women really aren’t okay without men.
That’s why men save women.
Does any of this have any basis in reality?
Let’s do what evangelical pastors seem to hate doing: let’s actually look at research and ask the question: Who is that needs saving from a life of singleness?
And as we have pointed out repeatedly, women do better single than men do. We talked about this on our podcast on the rise of single, lonely men. Single women are happier than single men. They have more friends than single men. Among older single women, they are less likely to be looking for a partner than single men are. After divorce, women are less lkely to want to remarry than men are.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Single women are more likely to own their home than single men are.
In a new Pew Research study analyzing Census Bureau data, women under 30 in the largest metropolitan U.S. areas actually earn the same, if not more, than men do (though they start to earn less as they get older).
So young women don’t need young men to save them or protect them from economic hardship; it can just as easily be the other way around.
But also, women and men both experience a change in “down time” when they get married–women have less, men have more.
Women have more time to pursue their own interests when they live alone, whereas men have more time to do what they like when they live with someone else.
And this threat to downtime that women face when entering relationships may explain why women value it so much more than men do. In every study in which there was a significant difference between the men and the women, it was the women who appreciated their time alone more. They were more likely to enjoy being alone and less likely to try to avoid it. In the daily diary study, it was again the women who were more likely to say that they had not gotten as much time to themselves as they would have liked.
If MacArthur was right that women need to be saved, then marriage would benefit women far more than it would benefit men.
Yet the results tend to go in the other direction. Men derive more health benefits from marriage, and derive more happiness and social benefits from marrying, than women do. Men also derive financial benefits from marrying, since they tend to do better in their careers once they do marry.
This view that women need men in a way that men do not need women is simply wrong. Women do not need men to save us. Women want men to be partners, and if they’re not willing to be partners, many women are saying that they’d rather be alone (as South Korean women are saying in large numbers).
Listen, we love marriage around here.
Healthy marriages have immense physical, social, and psychological health benefits for both men and women, and I do believe that having children is a blessing and a gift that, if it’s something you want, it’s a tragedy if you miss out on. But that’s why this mentality that marriage is important without addressing the reasons why women don’t want to get married is even more frustrating.
There are so many women who are single and happy, who even if great men came by they’d probably choose not to get married.
But there are also women who want desperately to get married, to have kids, to live life with a partner and they can’t because they cannot find a healthy man. That is tragic. It’s tragic that we, as a church, have so emphasised male entitlement that women aren’t able to find emotionally healthy husbands. It’s tragic that there are going to be so many women who don’t get what they want in a marriage or in parenthood not because they should have done something different, but because they couldn’t find a partner who wouldn’t detract from their life.
It’s tragic. And I know we can do better. Men are not made less in the image of God than women are, men are not less capable of being good partners, men are not less capable of being good parents, of keeping house, of considering how their actions impact others.
Maybe if men like John MacArthur asked men to really step up to the plate and bring something to the table instead of begging women to keep giving them participation trophies, we’d actually see more happy marriages, not less.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!