The latest scandal from John MacArthur’s Masters College leads to this post. This is a reflection on how ministries from Cru, to Sovereign Grace to John MacArthur want women to be modest so as to help keep guys from “stumbling” into lust. Are women responsible for guys’s purity? Or is evangelical culture a rape culture as we have seen both in Sovereign Grace and now John MacArthur’s ministry?
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”
“In our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.“
Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
Proverbs 10:11-12 NLT
Northwest Montana outside Glacier National Park.
I was deeply involved in Campus Crusade for Christ in both California and Wisconsin from 1999 until 2005. When I lived in Milwaukee I worked hard at planting a Crusade chapter at Marquette University and was a Cru leader. I often did events that were held in Minnesota. For example I did Cru’s Christmas Conferences in Minneapolis which are known as TCX. I also had a few other events in Minnesota that I did from time to time. That drive from Milwaukee to Minneapolis on the I-94 I know very well.
One time I was at a Cru event that had a lot of staff involved from Minnesota and Wisconsin and I heard something that I thought was normal. One of the wives of one of the Cru staff members spoke to a number of women in a stand alone session. There she discussed how guys have problems with lust. She also spoke about girls responsibility in keeping guys pure. In her talk she went on and told females not to wear tight clothing, “revealing attire” or to be in compromising situations due to dress. She spoke about how they could cause a guy to “stumble” and “fall” and that they were responsible for their role. She went on in the talk about females responsibility in these areas. When I first heard about it I thought it normal and found nothing irregular. I thought that was normal.
Sovereign Grace’s Approach to Women
In Sovereign Grace culture there were expectations on women from what I understand. In Covenant Life Church and other SGM churches women were expected to dress in a certain way. They were not to dress in a “revealing” manner. There were guidelines about what could and could not be worn. Women had modesty defined to them in videos or teachings like the one above from C.J. Mahaney. Watch that and brace yourself for what is being taught. In that video Mahaney talks about how women are to dress. How they are to be careful about their wardrobe. How they are to have their father scan their clothing to see if it is sexually pure. They are to focus on their role in keeping guys pure. After all listen to how intently guys “struggle” with lust. Its a battle, and a major problem for guys. But stop and contemplate what is being taught and the possible ramifications in the course of time? I want to spend more time writing about this below.
The Scandal at John MacArthur’s Master’s College
Then there is another scandal that is growing out of John MacArthur’s Master’s College. It appears likely that more victims are going to come forward. In the scandal it deals with a woman who was slipped a date rape drug, sexually assaulted and facing discipline by John MacArthur. She was disciplined for drinking, her dress and almost dancing. Meanwhile her rapist got a pass. Rick Holland met with “Jane” and she was ordered to repent to her rapist for inciting him to stumble. I have a post about it in “The Tragic Story of a Rape Victim from the Masters College as Led by John MacArthur Who was Allegedly Ordered to Repent to her Rapist for Inciting her Sexual Assault for being a Woman.” So apparently in John MacArthur’s world being a woman will incite a guy to rape. Apparently that is how John MacArthur’s school and ministry allegedly functions. Its heartbreaking and angering to think that a rape victim has to apologize for anything at all. Ministries like this one have everything backward when you think about it. The victim is hammered, while the perpetrator is except from his behavior. This is only the beginning with John MacArthur’s empire. My gut tells me that more stories will be coming out, and we will learn and understand why he supported C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries like he did.
The Problems with this Theology
Here is what troubles me. In this post I used three examples to show how rampant this line of thinking is in modern evangelicalism. It happened in Cru, Sovereign Grace and John MacArthur’s organization. This theology has deep problems that I want to explore in this section. The first and most important issue in my mind is that it makes women sexual objects and de-humanizes them. While claiming to respect women and keep them “pure” and help guys it does the exact opposite. It makes women to be sex objects and reduces them to nothing more than that. By turning women into slabs of meat it leaves me to ask the following question among many evangelicals. Are women human? Do they amount to anything? Or are they just objects to be ruled, conquered and controlled? Is this just patriarchy run amok? That is the most disturbing aspect with this warped theology.
The other thing it does is to twist and warp people’s view on sex. Sex is natural and normal. This warps and twists it in many ways. I wrote more about the topic of sex in the following post called “Because of Fundamentalism do Evangelicals Struggle with Social Skills?” But there is another component as well, and that is that the problem is pushed off on women. Guys in this model are not responsible for anything. They are free from responsibility when the woman is the one that is responsible. If a guy makes a “mistake” (using this language in the context of this post) then the woman is responsible and not the guy. This is truly sick theology in my view. It creates a rape culture which then encourages and promotes rape and sexual crimes. So people will be afraid of a couple of 20 something adults holding hands, kissing or engaging in more. So they put all these stringent rules in place which are controlling and legalistic. Do they work? No! Look at all the rules of modesty in Sovereign Grace, and still all the stories and problems of child sex abuse and more. But getting back to the guys, guys just need to deal with it and live their life. So a guy sees an attractive person walking why worry yourself into a not. This type of thinking denies the fact that people are human, with human instincts and more. Evangelicals need to tone this down considerably and change this line of thinking. But in addition there is also another factor to consider when people talk about modesty.
What if Someone is Gay?
Here is another problem as well which is not talked about at all. What if a person is gay? What if they are sexually attracted to the same sex? In these “purity” talks that take place in many parts of modern evangelicalism they do not consider those of the same sex. When C.J. Mahaney recorded that video and challenged girls to dress modest, why didn’t he also say that those who are lesbian can also be sexually attracted to their same sex and to dress “modest for them?” I know guys in many of these organizations will never be told that the are to dress “modest” for those who are gay, or inclined to that persuasion. This is what happens when people have a black and white perspective. In today’s day and age the fact that this isn’t even considered reveals the problems in this theology stream. I know for many people this post is going to be difficult to consider but these are questions and issues that deeply need to be discussed. Am I the one to do it? I don’t know as some of this is not my background or knowledge. I am not a big culture warrior in the other direction. I am a firm believer that questions, must and should be asked. There isn’t a question that we should be afraid of asking or wrestling with. That’s it for the day guys!