Does John MacArthur Think Husbands are Their Wives’ Saviors?

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 66 comments

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.

John MacArthur

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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!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

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Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Angharad

    So according to MacArthur, a single Christian woman who has JESUS in her life is unsaved, unprotected, unprovided for, unloved and unfulfilled, and it requires a fallible, sinful HUMAN BEING (i.e. a man) to give her all these things?

    Thank you for calling this out for the blasphemy it is. I’m married, and my husband is a great guy. But he doesn’t save me, protect me, provide for me or give me fulfillment – JESUS does that! And while he does love me, so does Jesus, and Jesus loves me far, far more than any human ever will. HOW DARE MacArthur give human beings a place that should only belong to God?!! And how come the whole church isn’t rising up in outrage against his words?

    • JoB

      Very well put, Angharad. The use of the superlative at the end of the quote is really disturbing: marriage is God’s “greatest” gift? Raising children is the “highest” calling? Procreation is THE purpose of marriage? I would agree that those are all GOOD things, and possibly undervalued by modern secular culture, but to paint them as ultimate things sounds more like idolatry in some kind of cult of domesticity or fertility centered on the nuclear family. If all those things are true, why would the apostle Paul repeatedly say that believers should remain single if they are able to? Why did Jesus set an example of singleness and celibacy (which would have been considered extremely odd in his culture)?

      • Laura O

        Has JMac forgotten God’s statement that He made Eve because it was not good for the man to be alone? Sounds to me like it was the *man* who needed “rescuing” from loneliness, who needed someone to watch his back (protect?), and who needed someone to work along side him. God most certainly did not say, “It is not good for man to have no children. I will make him a woman so that he can breed.”

        Thank you Lord for opening my eyes to see the problems with these men I once respected, and thank you Sheila for being God’s instrument in so much of my newfound understanding.

  2. Jim

    I think that there is a point where men become ok with being alone and women become lonely when they were ok before. The switch seems to happen, from articles that I have read, when people hit age 40.

    For men, they are hitting their stride with work and are making a good income and are more likely to have a friend network in place and women find men the most attractive at this again because they ‘have the sh*t together’. Men often feel lonely because they are working hard in their younger years to be able to support a household since that is an attraction trigger for the majority of women. Many men in their 20s and 30s are invisible to women because of economic or social standing, generally speaking. I think a huge factor of this is social media since it sells luxury lifestyles to women and if men are not able to provide this that they are unattractive or lazy.

    For women, they may also be financially stable but many of their friend group do not have time for them because they are getting married and having kids or they are just drifting apart. Women at this age are also less attractive to men so this would also be affecting their mental state since they are loosing the male attention that they became accustomed to getting when they were younger. I have seem many videos and interviews of women around this age and older who are lamenting not getting married when they were younger. According to Morgan Stanley, it is estimated that 45% of women between the ages of 25-44 will be single and childless by 2030.

    It will be interesting to see as this trend continues if and when the loneliness epidemic flips.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      It’s funny, Jim, every single time we talk about this topic you come in with a defense of how it’s really women’s fault that men are lonely. 🙂

      It would be very convenient to men if women were truly not getting married simply because they’re shallow and vain, as you’re insinuating here. But a myriad of research has found that it’s more about not being willing to accept a downgrade. It’s valid to not want to accept a downgrade because you can’t find a partner who is pulling as much weight as you are. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d highly suggest reading the studies we linked in this article! You will find that they agree with what you linked, but add much more context that you seem to be missing here. You’ll also find that it’s far less about money and more about just effort overall.

      But also, if women work really really hard and so are able to provide a good lifestyle for themselves, and they see that men are not achieving what they did, why can’t they see those men as unattractive to them, or even that they are lazier than they are? Men are not the benchmark for all things. If women are working harder and achieving more, then they’re allowed to see people who did not work as hard or achieve as much as lazier than they are and so find them unattractive. Men are not owed women’s attention or approval.

      Where I do agree with you is that I’m also worried about the loneliness epidemic that’s going to happen as an aging population has fewer and fewer children. Going through old age without children is really difficult, and can even be dangerous when you consider how having people check in on you is such a protective factor against elder abuse in long-term care homes. I think that’s a large issue that is not being adequately addressed by the government, but I do not believe that it will flip in terms of who is most lonely. In fact, multiple studies have shown that women who are single are able to create community bonds more easily than men because they prioritize it so much more. If anything, I think that the gap will widen with time and that worries me, too. No one wants an entire generation of men who are dying of loneliness, but that is very much what may happen. The BBC had an interesting article on this, but please note that at no point was the solution to male loneliness “women need to lower their standards.”

      • Jane King

        Oh John, when oh when are you going to get over yourself?

      • Nessie

        “…if women work really really hard and so are able to provide a good lifestyle for themselves, and they see that men are not achieving what they did, why can’t they see those men as unattractive…”

        I remember at university being assigned group work for some projects. Most people could tell who the ones with lower grades due to laziness or entitlement were, and no one wanted to be partnered with them. They could be nice people overall, often quite fun to hang out with socially, etc.- but to be partnered up with them for a working,graded assignment made them less attractive. It wasn’t hating on them to honestly assess what they brought to the proverbial table. It was simply being realistic about the extra workload they would place on others if the group as a whole wished to succeed.

    • Greta

      Bingo Jim. And the part about single women owning homes more than single men is a red herring with a very simple, statistically supported reason.

      These are the single women who initiated a divorce for some selfish non biblical reason and took the house (or the money to by the house) in the divorce. Happened to my brother.

      Thanks Jim for always adding some common sense and fairness to these BM attempts to stir up the man hating pitchforks. There are lots of great Christian god fearing men out there whose wives love them and the biblical way they love us, their wives.

      I expect your wife would say the same about you.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Greta, where is your evidence that most divorces by women are for selfish reasons? We recently did a podcast disproving this trope using actual data. While your brother’s case may be sad, it is not the norm. It is the exception.

      • College Student

        Ma’am, respectfully, the purpose of this site is not to, as you so hyperbolically put it, “stir up the man-hating pitchforks.” I don’t see a lot of commenters who hate men here, just many women who have suffered through truly horrific abuse and unjustified, un-Christlike entitlement in their marriages. This is a solid portion of Mrs. Gregoire and her team’s target audience- those who would benefit from knowing that what they went through is wrong.

        As for your “taking the house” assertion, it reads to me as though you’re bitter about what happened to your brother (and, taking your word as true, understandably so) but you cannot just insist that’s why single women have higher home ownership, as it’s “statistically supported,” without actually giving us the stats you’re talking about, especially paired with the divorce for non-biblical reasons assertion. You claim stats but give anecdotes. I, at least, don’t find such arguments convincing, especially paired with your following ad hominem.

      • Angharad

        Greta, did you read my comment? I’m married to an amazing Christian man, but he does not save me or bring me fulfilment – only Jesus can do that.

        Sheila’s article isn’t ‘man hating’ – she is simply pointing out that MacArthur is giving men a role that should only be given to God. I know many very godly men, and I know that every single one of them would be horrified by MacArthur’s comment, and would regard it as blasphemous.

      • Shari Smith

        Making a generalized statements about single women initiating divorce for “selfish” reasons seems like a reach, particularly since Sheila and team’s research appears to show the opposite. There’s a wealth of great information here on this blog, on the Bare Marriage Podcast, as well as in the books that speaks to many of the reasons why marriages can break down. It would be well worth looking into if you haven’t already.

        I think I would also push back against the “man hating pitchforks” comment. When we’re discussing a subculture in which women are, generally, pushed into submissive roles and are not permitted to take up space or even recognize that they have an ability to do so, yes men are going to bear the brunt of the criticisms. That kind of subculture is created by and sustained for men who do not even have to measure up to the tiniest of expectations for a loving and invested partner. Inevitably, that leads to a lot of neglect, abuse and harm in many relationships.

        If the tables were flipped, and we were discussing a matriarchl subculture in which women held the balance of power, which gave us an excuse to check out of our marriages or harm our husbands and sons, we would be the ones under the magnifying glass.

        But wanting men to show up in their marriages as full partners who are invested in their wives and families and promoting doctrine within the home and church that is **healthy** and safe for everyone is not a man-hating position. It’s a loving one that recognizes that men are not stuck. They have the ability to be who their churches and families need to be. And it’s loving to call them to be those people.

      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Greta, how can never-married women have taken the money to buy a house from a divorce? That is not the logical slam-dunk you think it is.

        Additionally, thank you so much for being a great example of why we had to do this podcast: “Do women divorce for no reason?”. Your understanding about why women file for divorce is unfortunately not backed by evidence, and I suggest you listen to the podcast linked above to see what the research has to say.

      • Corie S.

        Greta, if men are “triggered” by being called out on bad behavior, I suggest they refrain from behaving badly. The fact is, good men are not triggered by women telling their stories of being treated badly but men. Just as good women are not triggered by men’s stories of being treated badly by other women. Mean people suck is a universal fact of life.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Actually, Jim, women in their 20s work harder than men in their 20s. Men have a real “failure to launch” thing going on, and women tend to hit their stride earlier. So it is not that men aren’t able to date because they’re working so hard in their 20s to build up a nest egg.

      • Greta

        The statement that “women in their 20s work harder than men in their 20s” is so general and subjective and ambiguous that there is no scientific way to prove it.

        What you mean by “work” and how you judge what is “working hard” will differ from person to person to person. Not a very strong statement at all there.

        Wonder why Jim is getting so much pushback here?

        To quote Sheila above, “we welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion”.

        As I said, I agree with Jim and am certain there are many many women that do.

        • Lisa Johns

          Well, for the most part you’re not going to find them on this site. Something to keep under consideration.

        • Rachel

          Healthy discussion does not preclude disagreement. It just means we aren’t nasty about it. I’ve seen some spicy discussions here, but it’s rare that someone is truly nasty. Of course, those who are probably get their comments deleted, and fair enough.

        • ChristianPundit

          I have a blog where I’ve been discussing singleness, marriage, and related issues for years now.

          In the last few years, many studies have come out about how women are earning more Bachelor’s Degrees than men,
          a new study just came out that more single women are buying more homes alone than men.

          I find it interesting you’re denying that ‘women work harder than men,’ here, especially the younger ones – I’m a conservative who has seen other conservatives (who claim to detest progressive victim mentality) never- the- less depict all men as victims, especially younger men.

          I used to watch conservative commentator Tucker Carlson every night when he was on Fox News, and every so often, he’d have some anti-feminist woman on his show to talk about how we should all feel sorry for men today, especially young ones, because supposedly, men are losing at life,
          they’re aimless, they are victims, and our culture is supposedly too ‘feminized,’

          while Carlson and his anti-feminist guests would lament that women are succeeding at higher rates than men are (better grades in school, more college degrees, more of them hold steady jobs, etc) – that is according to Carlson, his anti-feminism guests, and whatever studies they would cite on his show.

          More surveys and studies have been published the last few years that more men are staying single longer because they would rather stay at home and watch p*rn or play video games than date women.

          I don’t know if we can put links into comments here on this site, so I will just paste in headlines with author names, and I’m sure you can find these pages by Googling for them:

          “Why So Many Young Males Are Single and Sexless
          Relationship trends are jeopardizing intimacy skills.”
          – by Gregory MATOS PsyD, on Psychology Today, February 24, 2023

          “America’s lonely (male) hearts club: Record 63% of men in their 20s are single – almost double the number of women – with end of traditional masculine roles, porn and COVID blamed for stark rise”
          – via Daily Mail, by Ronny Reyes, Feb. 22, 2023

          “The rise of the solo female homebuyer! Single women now make up 19% of Americans buying property – DOUBLE the number of men, new study shows”
          – via Daily Mail by Tilly Armstrong, November 14, 2023
          -uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR)

          That article does NOT say that single women who are buying homes are divorced.

          Marriage has been on the decline for years now in the USA, more and more men and women arrive at age 30+ being NEVER MARRIED.

          You can’t be divorced if you never married in the first place.

          Also of interest:

          “Over 10 Million Men of Prime Working Age Are Unemployed in the US and Experts Think It’s Causing Declining Marriage Rates”
          – via The Christian Post, by Leonardo Blair, February 7, 2014

          “The myth of the career woman
          (sub-heading of essay):
          Contrary to popular belief, most working women are not putting their careers ahead of love, marriage and motherhood”
          – on The Spectator site, by Melanie Notkin, October 23, 2023

          “Meet the Stay-at-Home Dads: They’re on the Rise as More Men Drop Out of Work and Skip College”
          – via Fortune (same information available on Business Insider, Yahoo News), August 2023, articles cite data from Pew Research

    • Angharad

      Jim, do you have any evidence to support your claim that women start to regret not marrying when they hit 40?

      I’m not aware of any research in this area, but my personal experience would suggest the exact opposite. I LOVED being single, and the hardest thing about getting married in my mid 40s was giving up my single life. And without exception, all my single female friends who were happy single in their 20s and 30s are still happy in their 40s, while most of those who longed to get married in their 20s and 30s are now happy to be single in their 40s. So I’m just not seeing this ‘flip’ that you describe – if there is any change at all, it tends to be that women become MORE content with single life as they age.

      Also, where is the research that proves women ignore men who can’t provide them with a ‘luxury lifestyle’? Because again, among my circle, this is definitely not true. Very few women I know married the wealthiest guy who showed an interest in them. Several rejected wealthy but arrogant and selfish men in favour of poorer guys with good character. I’ve heard some men complain that the reason they are single is that women are ‘only interested in looks and wealth’ – but I think that is just deflecting behaviour, as these guys would rather blame their single state on ‘selfish and shallow’ women than acknowledge it might be due to their own character flaws. Men of good character who desire to marry seldom have any difficulty in finding a wife!

      • Jim

        I am going off of what I have seen on social media and the like where women once they get to or are nearing 40 start asking questions like ‘Where are the good men’?

        Do I have studies? No, but I don’t think that there is since it is politically incorrect. If you have any studies that fit your personal testimony, I would be more than happy to take a look.

        • JoB

          I’ve never met a male pastor or missionary who was single for very long (in fact the only ones I can think of who entered ministry single were youth pastors and maybe one young worship pastor), in spite of it being a fairly low-paying profession, demanding a lot from both the individual and his family and not commanding a lot of regard from mainstream society. On the other hand, I’ve met many single women who were missionaries and church workers for decades and often their whole lives. So, it would seem that there are quite a few women who don’t require a luxury lifestyle to get married; in fact, perhaps they outnumber the men?

        • JoB

          Also, I am not sure if your position is to agree with John MacArthur’s statement or not, but if you do, he’s actually saying that men are the ones reluctant to get married because they want “trophy wives” more than they want someone who is serious about serving Christ. He’s trying to convince the men to commit to marriage and basically assuming that the women are lined up waiting to be asked. It seems like you disagree with him?

        • Angharad

          How interesting. So your claim that single women become discontented at around 40 is based on what you have ‘seen on social media’ (rather than in ‘articles’ you’ve read, as you claimed in your first post). But if I have any studies that ‘fit my personal testimony’, then you will be ‘more than happy to take a look’.

          Can you explain why I need ‘studies’ to give my ‘personal testimony’ (of the lives of several dozen women) validity, while we are supposed to take your views (based on social media posts you’ve read) as true?

          Actually, I am aware of one study carried out around 20 years ago, but it consisted of only about 100 women, which I don’t feel is a sufficiently big sample to prove anything. However, in that study, it was found that the older single women became, the more content they were with their single status. Like I said, not really a big enough sample to reach any definitive conclusions, but I’d say it still carries more weight than a few social media posts.

        • Corie S

          You assume a woman asking “where are all the good men?” is due to the fact that it’s just dawned on her to look for a life partner at the age of 40? That’s a big assumption. I would assume that a person who’s lived on the planet for around 40 years has been in a relationship or two; maybe with an eye towards marriage. Perhaps the lament means she hasn’t found anyone worthy of a lifetime partnership and she isn’t willing to settle for Mr. Good Enough. Frankly, why would a man want a wife who feels she settled?

    • Lucie09

      Jim, I’m a single 41 year old woman who has never been married, and there are a few things I want to say here. The time I felt most invisible to guys was when I was in my late teens and most of my 20s. I would have loved a boyfriend but boys didn’t seem to notice me in high school and university, and at university, girls outnumbered boys in our Christian Union. I was really shy and didn’t know how to talk to boys, and this was the era of the Purity Culture movement, so there was a lot of guilt and confusion surrounding dating. I never read I Kissed Dating Goodbye until later on, but other people I knew read it, and the things it promoted was to set the scene in Christian dating/lifestyle for years to come.

      After graduation, there were very very few men in my church. There was one guy I liked a lot, but there were loads of girls after him. After going out on numerous group dates with him, I conceded that it was hopeless, and a few years later, he got married to someone from his home town. I don’t think men really noticed me until my 30s. That’s when I became more confident in how I dressed, knew what kind of clothes looked good on me, and just generally felt more comfortable with myself. So I feel like I have definitely got better as I’ve got older.

      One of my friends is in her early 30s, and she has friends who are Christian and also friends who are not. She says that the Christian couples she knows got married after a relatively short space of time, and by their own admission, because they wanted to have sex. Her non-Christian friends think this is a crazy/stupid reason for getting married, and I agree with them. I’m not saying that ALL the Christian couples who want to get married are wrong for doing so, or that it’s the only reason why they do, but in my experience, the guys I know tend to get married early, and because there are more girls, it’s actually easier for them to find someone.

      I should say that I live in the UK, where church attendance is down, and any men who do go who are approximately my age are married with kids. I can’t help but resent the way marriage and couples and children are celebrated in churches. I have sat in the same spot for years as babies were dedicated and paraded around the church or engagements were announced, while my life stayed the same. And I deeply resent the way people talk about single, childless women, like they are selfish, cold, money-grabbing creatures. The fact that I am not married and will never have children is not my fault. Marriage is a big deal, it’s not like trying to choose what dessert to order, or what shoes to buy. There are women who DO want to marry, but they are never given the opportunity. It has nothing to do with what job you’ve got or what glamorous lifestyle Instagram is portraying. Give us a break, will you?

      • ChristianPundit

        Lucie09, I related to much of your post.

        I’m in my 50s, never married, had wanted to be married, was engaged in my 30s but broke up with the guy.

        I never met a suitable partner later, so I remain single.

        I was a devout Christian from childhood until I entered a faith crisis in my mid 40s or so, so I don’t know how I’d describe my current beliefs.

        I was raised Southern Baptist / Protestant evangelical…
        and those groups teach a lot of insulting things about single, childless women (and about singleness in general), and they teach weird things about dating, sex, and marriage, too.

        Many American Christians are very big on the “equally yoked” rule (ie, you shouldn’t marry a non-believer, they say), which I think plays a role in why so many marriage-desiring Christian women stay single much longer than they hoped (or indefinitely).

        There’s also a huge gender imbalance going on in Baptist and evangelical churches, where most American churches contain more single women than single men.

        There’s nobody for single Christian women to date in such cases (if their goal is to only marry a Christian guy).

        I also tried dating sites and listed myself as a Christian back around my mid to late 30s,
        but I either received very few matches on those sites, or, most of the men on the sites (even ones who said they’re Christian on their profiles) were crass and vulgar, which were huge turn offs.

        The church (in the USA at least, and it sounds like where you are too) has a real problem with getting singles married who’d like to get married. Most don’t want to lift a finger to help singles find partners.

        When most Christians as a group are not ignoring single women who are over age 29, when they do notice us, they judge, blame, and criticize us for being single.

        I’ve learned to accept my singleness status as I got into my mid-40s
        – sometimes, after seeing all the frequent blog posts or news stories of husbands who abuse or murder their wives, I feel fortunate to NOT be married.

        I’m not against getting married now, should I meet the right guy, but I want to enjoy my life as it is, even if that means as a single.

      • JG

        I know this is a very late reply to your comment, but I had an aunt who never married. She was a very unselfish person. She did so many wonderful, even heroic things for other people in our family and close friends of our family. One story about her unselfish actions was told after her death by a family friend. I am proud to call her my aunt.
        MacArthur is wrong in making a blanket statement about single women. There are many women that I can think of besides my aunt that were unselfish and heroic (Corrie ten Boom and Amy Carmichael are just two that come to mind).

    • Shadow

      Wow, please tell me that you’re single, Jim.

  3. CMT

    That JMac quote screams projection to me, idk.

    Maybe I’m wrong but I wonder if it boils down to this: when societies change such that women no longer need to accept the “patriarchal bargain” just to get by, they will *le gasp* stop accepting it. And a group (whether it’s a whole country, like S Korea, or a subculture like conservative American evangelicals) that doesn’t figure out how to offer people something better than that is going to be in a world of hurt.

    • Lisa Johns

      Yeah, “projection” was the first thought I had as I listened to the podcast yesterday. John MacArthur really needs to retire.

      • Jane King

        That’s my thought every time JMac says or does something awful. Isn’t it time you retire?

  4. Laura

    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.

    This here is the reason I stayed single after my divorce 21 years ago. In my late 40’s, I finally found a healthy man and he is definitely worth the wait. I believe that’s what women want more than someone who protects, provides, and gives children. I’m a grown-a$$ woman so I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself and even my late father would remind me of that. I used to worry that both my parents would pass away before I found a man or that I remain single for life. My dad told me that I was perfectly capable of taking care of myself and that I did NOT need a man to take care of me. To hear a MAN say this was just awesome!

    As I’ve mentioned many times in the 2+ years I have commented on here, I struggled with unwanted singleness throughout my 30’s and even though I was in an abusive marriage, I wanted a husband and children, but the key phrase here is I want “a healthy” man. When I say healthy, I mean emotionally, spiritually, mature, grounded, stable, and someone who treats me as an equal, not a “weaker vessel.” Yes, if I am in physical danger, I would want him to protect me. As for providing for me, God IS my provider, not another person. Besides, I am one year away from a master’s degree and I know I can support myself and us financially if need be.

    Where in the Bible does it say that procreation is the highest calling in life? I guess the Apostle Paul missed the highest calling in life, according to MacArthur.

    • MC

      I am 44 years old. I have never been married or ever had any children. How dare MacArthur and his ilk imply that I am not of value because of my relationship status. Jesus never married. Paul never married. Oh, right…those are MEN!!

      Do MacArthur, Piper, Grudem, Driscoll, etc. ever have anything to say about women that doesn’t objectify them? Heaven forbid they should actually try to lift up their sisters in Christ.

      Sheila, Rebecca, Joanna…THANK YOU for calling out these “Christian leaders” on their misogyny. Keep on fighting the good fight!!

      • Greta

        Each one those ambassadors for Christ you just mentioned have long term marriages with very intelligent, accomplished and successful ladies. Ladies who freely profess their love for Christ and their husbands in countless publications online and in interviews. Sounds like according to their wives (who know them best) they do lift up those sisters in Christ.

        If these men you attack are truly as misogynistic as you and those who have never spent time with them and don’t live in their homes say they are, why are these strong successful intelligent ladies still with these men? If everything they say is objectifying, how do their wives still love them?

        Something to ponder. Maybe just maybe they have a flourishing marriage made up of compromise, love and attraction. I can say that my husbands attraction towards me is a blessing and certainly not an objectification.

        • JoB

          Greta, Do you agree with Mr MacArthur’s statement that marriage and procreation are the highest good in life? I really don’t understand how a Christian could think that’s true. Idolatry is taking good things and making them ultimate things.

          • Greta

            If you look at his statement he did not say it’s “everyone’s” highest calling in life.

            For me, yes my marriage/family and raising children that know God became my highest calling when those two things (marriage and children) occurred. For others, it may not be.

            Calling is an individual thing. So yes marriage and procreation may be highest calling for some, not for others.

            McArthurs opinion of what his highest calling is , is no less valid than what your opinion of your highest calling is.

            Cheers love have a great weekend.

          • JoB

            I also agree that marriage and raising children can be wonderful callings. However , he seems to have a low view of singleness. He says nothing about discerning whether you might be called to singleness, how you might serve the Lord better by being single, or how to pursue contentment in singleness. Instead, he says that women must be “saved” from singleness. He implies that it would be better to be assigned a marriage partner at random than to remain single. None of that is Biblical.

        • MC

          Any man who proclaims to be a pastor and calls women “homes for lonely penises” (Driscoll) or excommunicates women for leaving abusive husbands (MacArthur) is not who I would look up to as an example of a healthy, Christian role model. All of them have long-term marriages? Yay for them.

          Maybe my point of view is a bit different because I was sexually assaulted several years ago by a fellow congregant. This was a man who I trusted and thought was my friend. We were in the same services together, said the Lord’s Prayer and the Creeds together, and literally took Communion together. Now, I give every professing Christian man the side-eye. I know it isn’t fair, but that is the truth.

        • Angharad

          Greta, the fact that MacArthur’s wife appears to enjoy being married to him does not affect in any way his derogatory comments about single women. Nor, more importantly, does it alter the fact that his remarks are blasphemous.

          “…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…”

          Are you saying that you agree with MacArthur’s statement that women need marriage to be fulfilled, protected, provided for, cared for and loved? And how do you square that with the Bible’s teaching?

        • Lucie09

          Greta, how do you know these women are happy? Do you really think divorce would be an option for any of them? Of course they are going to ‘profess their love’ for their husbands in publications and interviews online where everyone can see it – they are married to men who have a big following, and once you are married to someone like that, as their wife, you also get a platform. It becomes part of your supporting role to make them look good. So naturally, in public these wives will look like the they have a Christ-centred, picture perfect marriage. Behind closed doors, who knows what the marriage is really like? It’s all about appearance. Women who are in high profile Christian marriages which are all about traditional, patriarchal gender roles will never ever admit that their marriage is less than perfect. You cannot take it for granted that all is well in their marriage just because that is the impression they want to give.

      • Aaron

        To say Paul never married is not something that Scripture says. It’s very possible he was married at one point, and his wife died young, which was not uncommon back in those days. However, we don’t know if he was married at one point because Scripture is silent on that. The only one of the apostles we know was married because it is specifically mentioned in the Gospels is Peter. It’s safe to say most if not all of the other apostles were married.

        • JoB

          Well, we know Paul was single when he wrote 1 Corinthians, but he wasn’t planning to be a woman’s savior (and single women were presumably in even more dire straits then than now), he was planning to stay single. Nor did he encourage single women and widows to seek a male savior (other than Jesus), he encouraged them to stay single. FWIW.

  5. Nathan

    > > fairness to these BM attempts to stir up the man hating pitchforks.

    I’ve been on this site for a while and have looked at many other sites. I can guarantee you that this NOT a man-bashing site in any way. In the spirit of Sheila’s “fix it for you”, I will say that this site “stirs up the BAD BEHAVIOR hating pitchforks”. Or instead of bad behavior, you can substitute Patriarchy, one-way gender submission, obligation sex, demands for automatic respect, etc.

  6. G.C.B.

    It’s been mentioned by another commenter here before, but I’ll repeat it here with some additions:

    Women are also overwhelmingly choosing singleness on average because amidst the boom of knowledge regarding psychological and mental health amidst our current time, they are realizing how deeply toxic, destructive narratives and views of themselves are running throughout their society, including and especially within their souls and relationships. So then they refusing to prioritize husbands and children because they’ve never truly known themselves and they feel like they have to deconstruct without any outside intervention, both to avoid being betrayed again and to avoid passing their mental turmoil onto any partners or children they may have otherwise.

    Disney’s Frozen recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, and Princess/Queen Elsa is a phenomenal personification of this: there’s no central romance to her character throughout the saga, but throughout most of the first film, she refuses to allow any closeness whatsoever due to carrying her late parents’ misplaced paranoia about her powers hurting others-and that hurt is worsened thanks to years of suppressing said powers-and believes that her only way to fulfillment without causing harm is to cut herself away from people altogether. She doesn’t stop believing these lies or making any improvements until her sister Anna stops blaming her for cutting everybody out of her life, and instead makes repeated gestures of love and support until the end after learning the truth about her ordeals.

    I’m not saying that women are wrong for needing to figure out how to appropriately carry themselves alone, but I wonder what would happen to current marriage statistics in the church if single women were validated like this on average, especially from the single men in their communities.

  7. Zed

    I’ve personally noticed that young single women tend to be more invested in saving money, building a nest egg and getting their own home than young single men are. The young single men seem to jump on board the responsibility train when they get a serious girlfriend, but not before. I wonder how much the young guys of today are less responsible in the ‘planning for the future’ department than the young guys of yesterday? It seems that historically, guys were actually planning for their futures in more ways than simply getting a job and earning a wage.

  8. Amy

    Oh yeah, Adam was created because Eve was lonely??? Wait, it was the other way around and it was Adam who needed a strong helper! So, John’s got it backwards. Heard there’s evidence that marriage benefits men more also.

    • Shari Smith

      YES!! I’ll never understand the idea that marriage is for women’s benefit. Historically? Okay… but only because men set up society in way that restricted a woman’s ability to exist as a single person – by limiting her ability to have a home of her own, a bank account, or even vote.

      But that’s not the world we live in any longer here in the west.

      If a marriage is a mutually beneficial, with both people actively investing in the relationship and with each other, then marriage can be a beautiful thing that is good for husbands and wives. But that’s not a given, and men aren’t doing women any favors by marrying them, unless they’re also willing to do whatever work it takes to be a healthy partner for their wives.

  9. Codec

    I think as a young man that their is a factor here you are not emphasizing.

    People seek to find people that will confirm what they want to hear.

    This gets scary if the things you want to hear are fundamentally untrue or dangerous.

    So if for instance you have a bunch of people who want to hear that it is someone else’s fault you will find people who will prop you up.

    It is what I have seen with the Andrew Tate fan crowd or with blackpill folks.

    I do think loneliness is a growing problem. I think a lot of young folks are failing to launch and they want to know why. So when someone like Tate come be like ” You should be a top G with a Bugatti but you have been held back by society so let me teach you how to be a top G” people might just listen.

    He is wrong but people want a story as to how they can succeed.

    • Angharad

      This is a good point. And most people would far rather hear that the problems in their own lives are due to the bad behaviour of others than to their own actions, because that absolves them of the need to change!

      It’s no surprise really, that a certain subset of single men would rather hear “you’re single because women are selfish and shallow” than “you’re single because you are so arrogant and inconsiderate of others that no sensible woman will go out with you.”

  10. Jo R

    Even if we grant Johnny Mac’s thesis that marriage is men’s highest calling, which thesis I don’t grant for a nanosecond, as it certainly has NOT been emphasized from the cradle for boys the way “marriage and motherhood is a Christian woman’s highest calling” has been emphasized to girls for centuries…

    Anyway, even assuming he’s right that marriage is a man’s highest calling, note that it isn’t FATHERHOOD that he links to marriage. Oh no, it’s mere PROCREATION.

    So just get your little sperm out there and impregnating someone, fellas, because being an actual FATHER—active, involved, knowledgeable, exhausted—isn’t near as important as being an active, involved, knowledgeable, exhausted mother the way women are expected to be.

    Some pigs really are more equal than other pigs (yes, a deliberate misquote, for effect).

    • Codec

      Expanding on your really good point. If mere insemination is the goal then the most successful “married man was Ghenhis Khan. Almost a solid 10 percent of Mongolia is related to him and he is not exactly a figure to evaluate in that regard.

      • Lisa Johns

        Codec, great point, and that just made me laugh! 😁

  11. Nathan D W

    Disappointing that MacArthur keeps bumbling into these inane statements…or maybe it as Rebecca tends to say and he’s “telling on himself”. Regardless, the man is out of line here. Which really sucks because I really used to like him before all this came about.

    It’s hard to find good preachers now. Piper’s out. Baucham’s out (though I do like his “Fault Lines” book still; but it’s tainted now.) MacArthur’s out. I’m pretty sure the (late) Sproul is out too. The most prominent voices in Christianity all seem unsafe. Who do I have that I can listen to now?

    • Shari Smith

      Hi Nathan, It is so hard to trust pastors and teachers, isn’t it?

      I think the Bare Marriage Podcast is a great place to discover people who are healthy. Sheila and team do a greta job of vetting guests who come onto the podcast, so if you hear someone you like on the podcast, chances are good that they are very safe and worth learning more about.

      • Nathan D. W.

        This is true and I’ve been so very edified by her podcast.

    • Laura

      I like Rick Warren. He’s retired but you can still find his sermons on YouTube. He recently fought backlash from the SBC (Southern- or should I say Sexist Baptist Covention) because he ordained women in his church (Saddleback Church). I have listened to some of Levi Lusko’s sermons, but I am not too familiar with him, but I’d give him a try. I think he’s in his early 40s so he does not seem as traditional as some of these pastors you mentioned.

    • JG

      Nathan, try the Through the Word app with Kris (I think that is how you spell his name) Langham. I have been listening to his app for about 2 years now. He and other teachers go chapter by chapter though the Bible. They give about a 10 minute lesson that goes with each chapter, and then you can either listen to the reading or read it for yourself. They seem to be solid teachers, and I enjoy listening to them every day.

    • Angharad

      I think that for personal study, it’s also ok to read or listen to helpful material by teachers who have also produced less helpful stuff. For example, I have a book by A W Tozer on my shelf which has really blessed me, but I have read other books by him that have been unhelpful, and one was so harmful that it had the ‘honour’ of being one of the few books I’ve actually torn up and put in the bin rather than risk someone else reading it!!! For this reason, I’m very wary to recommend an author or speaker – I tend to recommend a specific book or message, with the proviso that teachers are all fallible and that I am not recommending their other works by recommending this one. I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised – we are in a spiritual battle, and the devil is going to work especially hard to take down teachers and writers because they have the capacity to influence so many more people than the average person does.

      Part of growing in Christian maturity is learning to practice discernment, winnowing out the good from the bad. So if you have a book which is helpful to you and does not contain damaging teaching, then in my view, it’s fine to keep reading that, even if the author’s other work is harmful. I just wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else in case they go on to read the harmful stuff!

    • Istra

      May I recommend the dead people? There’s literally centuries of Christian writing. Not just the (relatively) recent reformers, but amazing and formative people stretching back to the council of Nicea.

      The desert fathers and mothers are wonderful. I love Brother Lawrence, and Theresa of Avila. There’s great theologians in the Eastern Orthodox traditions as well.

      And. Since they’re DEAD, we already know the worst about them.

  12. Angharad

    Also, maybe try to find a small, local group of believers to learn and study with, if you’re not already part of one. You don’t have to listen to ‘prominent’ voices in Christianity to learn about Jesus! Most of the preachers and teachers who made the biggest impact on my life have been local people who are only known by their local community.

  13. Istra

    I just don’t even know where to start. Dang, Neville.

    I didn’t meet my husband till I was 35 1/2. Like many other purity culture, evangelical women of my generation, that was a LONG stretch of singleness, with nary a boyfriend in sight.

    I didn’t need saving. Heck, I didn’t need protecting. I’m 5’10”, and come from an INCREDIBLY strong Norwegian stock. We DO the protecting.

    I had a very fulfilled single life. I LIKED MY LIFE. (I still like my life, cuz I married a good’un.)

    Like. Where does JM get off? Shall I take him out with fisticuffs to show him women don’t need this weird savior schtick he’s pushing?

    Shall I show him the circle of friends I created that are deep, sincere and trustworthy?

    Shall I show the multiple novels, art works, directed plays, WRITTEN plays, musicals, songs that sprang from my purposeless female mind?

    Like, BRO. Get a GRIP. But he doesn’t want to listen to things that don’t support his POV, because that would be too disruptive. *sigh*

    And like, here’s the thing people don’t talk about:


    Even if it’s till death do you part.

    My dad’s first wife died six months after they were married. Marriage is temporary. Children are temporary. The intensity of parenting young ones, and teenagers is TEMPORARY.


    Ugh. If the attitude of a man to marry you is to “rescue” you FROM YOUR OWN LIFE, that is someone “rescuing” you to cope with their own unfulfilled, hidden insecurities about their identity they can’t face.

    Kick ‘em in the shins, and make yourself a nice chops’ and read a good book.

    I legit only got married because I found a weirdo man who is humble, and funny, and thinks I’m the absolute llama’s pajamas, and *added* a new flavor to my ALREADY FULFILLING AND FUN LIFE. No rescuing of any kind happening. No protecting. No saving. Which is like … weird.

    If you’re living a life you need saved from, you need Jesus, and probably a therapist, not a man.

    • Natasha

      This is brilliant!! Yes!!

  14. Jean Gray

    Istra, that is absolutely the best comment on this post!! So well said! Bravo! My thoughts exactly, from an equally fulfilled, strong, independent, man-loving-not-needing, Jesus loving 60-something happily life-long financially secure single woman who has never felt the need of a man to “rescue” me (that gave me a chuckle) I have watched conservative Christians over that last couple decades “curve in on themselves” and truly idolize marriage in a very un-Pauline way. It’s like they just cut I Corinthians 7 out of the NT, like T. Jefferson cut out parts of the Bible he didn’t like. They became so afraid of the big bad boogeyman of “Feminism” that they decided they knew better than the Lord does how to combat it – just double down on getting all these women married and back under man’s authority and get the men to step up and get things back under control…..Paul and his inspired words be damned!

  15. Peter

    I’m perfectly fine with women not needing men. I could be perfectly happy without a woman. In fact I WAS happier, healthier, and better off before I got married. But then, I’m not one of these useless men who can’t cope when their wives leave the house for 10 minutes (I’ve met quite a few of them).

    I would agree, to be fair, that MacArthur’s comments were a load of tosh. My wife doesn’t need me to save her, which, frankly, I am more than thankful for. There aren’t enough hours in the day to be my wife’s savior.

    • Michele Schaffer

      My husband is my provider and protector and I love that about him! I love that about marriage and how God designed my husband to want to do that for me! I came from a broken home full of addiction and abuse so I do view my husband as my savior and as my gift from God. He literally did save me & he has loved me unconditionally and given me all my hearts desires so I feel honored to call him my savior. I realize not everyone is in a healthy & loving relationship, so I can see how this message could stir up anger or hurt. Of course my ultimate savior is Jesus! I don’t think John MacArthur had a nefarious intention with this message nor do I believe he views women as unequal to men as I’ve listened to him for years and he always says we are equal but have different God given roles.

      I’ve read enjoyed your articles on breaking down the flaws of Love & Respect, I think this is a much needed conversation in the church. I just had to chime in and defend MacArthur because he is a solid man of God.


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