Are Evangelicals against rape?
The shocking comments by John MacArthur that went around social media this past weekend—telling women, like Beth Moore, to not serve in churches but “Go home!”—had a kicker at the end. The Evangelical standard-bearer denounced #MeToo as an evil feminist plot.
MacArthur regularly mocks the movement, as in a 2018 sermon:
‘All this has been done to me’—and so, hashtag, #MeToo. “I’m a victim. Me too, me too. I was abused, I was abused, I was abused. Somebody offended me. Somebody made a micro-aggression against me.”
Studying his record on sexual violence—is he even against it?
I read his comments on women reporting domestic abuse, and I’m puzzled.
These are not questions that I used to have asked of me 25 years ago in ministry. To find a woman who would say, “My husband is beating me,” was pretty rare. Now, I don’t know that there is a week that goes by that I don’t hear about this going on. And there’s so much deception in our culture. There’s no premium on truth; everybody lies.
He prefers the good old days when he didn’t hear reports of spousal beating, appears to be his meaning. With a suggestion the women are liars.
MacArthur never seems to address sexual attacks on men, and one can only wonder what happens when such scenes occur in his world.
Like many Evangelical teachers, he disallows divorce even when life-threatening abuse is occurring. He regularly says “God hates divorce” (there is no such reference in the Bible), suggesting that those who get divorced are hated—if not by God, then by John MacArthur.
And then . . . rape.
In 2017, his seminary, The Master’s College, had a #MeToo moment when a female student reported she’d been drugged and raped by a man who was a stranger to her, but a friend of fellow seminary students.
She tells her residence director, who says “I have broken the rules, that I signed a contract promising not to do drugs or drink and that even ballroom dancing is prohibited.”
The case has been widely discussed. In the victim’s words:
Maybe I asked for this. Maybe I did come on to the stranger. Maybe this is all my fault. Maybe I have to marry him since he is the only person I have ever had sex with. I have never even kissed a boy before, but maybe that is the only way to make this right.
These thoughts are confirmed by the female Biblical counselor named Sandra that has been assigned to meet with me. “You know, marrying him will fix this whole thing,” she says to me.
She tells me all the good that will come from this rape and speaks of God’s will and joyful suffering and not putting myself in situations like this again.
I am meeting with Rick Holland — the college pastor for the church that is affiliated with the college. We are alone in his office. I think it is strange that there is not a third person present. I learned in my classes that a male and female should never be left alone in a counseling situation. He insists I tell him everything. He asks me questions like: Where did he touch you? Where else did he touch you? What exactly did he do? How long did he do that? What were you wearing? Are you dating him? Did he turn you on?
I tell him every excruciating detail I can remember…
Rick leaves the room several times to go talk to John MacArthur. He comes back with John’s ruling on the matter. Rick tells me that I need to be disciplined for doing drugs, drinking alcohol and almost dancing. He said the consequence for breaking the rules is that I will be kicked out of the college. He is angry at me for going to the police and the doctor. I should have let the church handle this without outside interference. He tells me not to tell anyone else, not my fellow classmates, not my teachers, not anyone at church.
“You are ruining that young man’s life!” He says.
He tells me I have to go to the police and drop the charges or I will be brought in front of the church to be disciplined. I don’t drop the charges. Not that it matters. The police interviewed my rapist and all the “friends” who were there and ruled it a “he-said, she-said” incident that can’t be proven either way.
I don’t keep quiet either. I reach out to the professors who “disagree with John MacArthur on a few things.” They won’t see me. People are avoiding me. I feel their whispers. Even close friends are acting weird.
I read this as conspiracy to commit rape. I have to suspect the perpetrator knew the school would cover for him. I wonder if her fellow students set her up to be raped, then vouched for the rapist.
The victim’s story was investigated and affirmed by Christian writer Marci Preheim, a former member of MacArthur’s church. She reports:
For years, I too was a staunch John MacArthur follower. However even back when I attended his church, my friends and I questioned some suspicious things — mostly women being mistreated at the hands of men and then blamed for the mistreatment. They were required to be silent about it and “trust the godly men that were put over them.”
Is this why Evangelicals like the idea of female silence in church? So women can’t report sexual abuse?
Accreditation for The Master’s College was later placed on probation, citing financial irregularities and “a climate of fear, intimidation, bullying and uncertainty” among staff and faculty members.
Former faculty member John Matthew Fox says: “From my personal experience, that is absolutely, 100% true.”
MacArthur called the accusations “untrue” and “persecution.”
The biblical law of the Old Testament has two passages that deal with the situation John MacArthur encountered: the rape of a single woman. They are Exodus 22:16–17 and Deuteronomy 22:28–28.
In both the raped woman is understood to be blameless, and the man is made to pay a steep fee, and potentially made to marry her. (If she is bethrothed, the rapist is put to death.) This is always a punishment on the rapist.
In sexual matters, Evangelicals can be very eager to enforce Jewish law, but in rape, “Evangelical law” operates with no biblical origins.
Does this expose the Evangelical use of Jewish law as a contrivance?
For them, the heterosexual man is a sort of king, held to no sexual standards, exempt from the punishments that fall on the woman alone.
Why, I wonder, is that?