Christian Marriage, John MacArthur, Marriage, Mental Health and the Church

Russell Moore and John MacArthur Offer Diverse Responses on Challenging Issues


Two Influential Christian leaders offer diverse responses regarding (1) professional counseling and (2) response to [adult] children with same-sex issues or identity.



Christiandom tends to follow church leaders when it comes to difficult life issues. Earlier, when reading an article at Religion News Service (RNS) by Adelle M. Banks, Russell Moore answers all you wanted to know about sex (but were afraid to ask), I was actually surprised to read a couple of things from Russell Moore. Russell Moore is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.  In this position, he has a big platform from which to share his opinion in conservative Christianity circles. Here is one of the excerpts that surprised me:

In March, Moore took on the topic of a sexless marriage, raised by a pastor of a small congregation, approached by a woman whose new husband had refused sex in the eight months since they wed.

“It seems that I am finding more and more young couples having sexual difficulties,” Moore said at the time.

In his response, Moore was direct. “This is a marriage in crisis,” he wrote.

Among his suggestions: Seek professional counseling to learn whether there was some unresolved trauma in the man’s life.

Seek professional counseling?  It doesn’t say Biblical counseling or even Christian counseling, but professional counseling.  What a nice surprise.  I wonder if he will get any heat from that statement from those who believe anything other than Biblical counseling is evil – like John MacArthur. Here’s a little bit from an earlier article I did on John MacArthur regarding counseling:

Prominent church leader, John MacArthur has been very outspoken about the subject of psychology and his Master’s Seminary teaches against psychology:

Such a thing as a “psychological problem” unrelated to spiritual or physical causes is nonexistent. God supplies divine resources sufficient to satisfy completely all the spiritual needs.  ~John MacArthur (Source)

John MacArthur would not encourage this man to go to professional counseling, but only to receive Biblical counseling.

Now here’s another interesting comment from Russell Moore from the RNS article, this time about parental response to gay children:

Moore has also advised parents not to reject their gay children: “Be clear about your convictions, and at the same time don’t exile your child from your life.”


This statement comes about a month or so after John MacArthur posted an article and video, “John MacArthur on How to Respond to a Homosexual Child.” The video is just under two minutes:

Both of these are very powerful men in conservative Christiandom and so it’s very interesting to see these diverse statements.   I will be keeping an eye on this.

231 thoughts on “Russell Moore and John MacArthur Offer Diverse Responses on Challenging Issues”

  1. MissDaisy, in repsonse to your two longer posts, I tend to agree with you. I don’t think people realize how important it is to have a professional, non-hack counselor/therapist/psychologist and how damaging it can be when people are trying their best when they are in over their heads. Quite frankly, I think professional counselling for all areas of life- finances, relationships, brokenness, sexual abuse, bitterness, whatever-should be a major thrust and ministry for the Church. Even if three or four smaller Churches have to band together and hire or refer collectively to one person- they should do it, and they should foot the bill.


  2. “Dustin –

    I do believe you should back off “calling out” Caner for a good long time. He has lost a child. To continue your pursuit with him at this time seems heartless. Are you loving him the way you would want someone to love/treat you and your family if you were in the same circumstances?

    Comparing what you want to do in continuing to call out Caner with those calling out Driscoll and Mahaney is comparing apples and oranges. Driscoll and Mahaney have not lost children to suicide.”

    Bridget, see my above responses which I adressed this a bit. I agree that Caner should not be engaged directly for a good long while.

    The comparison of Caner to Driscoll was made in reference to pre-son suicide, and would likely apply afterwards.


  3. Dustin,

    My 9:28 a.m. SSB note to you this morning was actually supposed to go to Rhoblogy but P & P changed their format. It was a response to his Repentance post.


  4. “Pondering, I get very confused by this behavior. Because if they truly held to their doctrinal convictions (that God is sovereign), wouldn’t they’d count themselves as lowly worms unable to control anything?? and that God controls every molecule???

    If they hold to those doctrinal beliefs, you’d think someone would call them out for idolatry-for believing they could have influence to control anything and trying to usurp God’s authority while going after Caner endlessly. So in other words, by trying to control people, aren’t they in fact saying they are like God and/or can do better than him? That seems pretty arrogant to me.

    Note: please note that I am bringing up a specific aspect of a doctrinal belief within the system of Calvinism. I’m ok discussing it like this. I will soon try to do a post explaining what I have a problem with when labeling Calvinism in general and why I request that we not throw out generalities. Hang on with me. I’m sure this is confusing to some.”

    Julie Anne, I am not the strongest in these issues, but most of this stuff comes down to the issue of Compatibilism and the secret and revealed will of God. I know you probably don’t want to get into it, but I developed my viewpoint on this by looking at the fact that God made the relationship between God hating murder and torture, and yet actively decreeing and determining that his only son would be murdered and tortured, and the interrelationship between all those facets.


  5. “paperthinhymn,

    You said: Sorry, could have used better choice of words- the phrase “acting out” is a local colloquialism used up here in my town in Canada.

    Could you explain what this colloquialism means to you in Canada, so that I will better understand your response?”

    Brenda, I grew up in a small french Catholic town called Plamondon, in northern Alberta. Town has only about 200 people or so. We used the phrase “acting out” to refer to a direct challenge or a sustained challenge. What I was trying to indicate is that I won’t be taking the initiative and write a post about him unless It becomes relevant to do so. Thanks for the question 🙂


  6. Dustin,

    I do appreciate your thoughtful responses here. It surprised me to say the least.

    You do realize, however, that the biggest enemy that we have is not the unbelievers, but it is the believers, always back biting other believers, and a lot of strife, bickering back and forth about doctrines, pointing fingers, etc. Calling each other Pelicans or Artesians, or whatever you call them. Hell, I don’t care what those two believe. I do not base my beliefs on their beliefs, but it seems from your camp, your camp will classify people as either of those two, and I have no idea why.

    Christendom is a laughing stock to the outside world because of such things as what people do to the likes of Rick Warren and Ergun Caner.

    They look at us and laugh their freaking asses off, saying, “Hey, aren’t these the same people that preach to turn the other cheek?”

    Romans 2:24
    For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

    I implore, and beg, and plead that you, and when I say “you”, that means the whole clan of Calvinists, including Pulpit and Pen, to stop the crusade of hounding Ergun Caner, demanding, or requesting, that he repent.

    This is not a time out that I am requesting. It is a cease and desist. I am asking nicely for you to stop making Christendom a laughing stock to the world.

    No wonder why unbelievers have no desire to be Christians. Look at how we treat each other…and we call that love? No, that isn’t love. It’s hatred to the highest degree, within the organization that states, “God Loves You”.

    So, they say, “Ya, well if God loves me the way that you people show love, then I want nothing to do with your God.”

    Having said that, I do not buy into any of your doctrines at all. But, you are a part of Christendom, and therefore, you give the rest of us a bad name. And that is why I implore you to stop this nonsense with Ergun Caner. Enough is enough. And yes, I do indeed believe that JD Hall was wrong, as well as the organization of P&P, as well as James White, and all those who joined in the cheerleading and justifying.


    Ed Chapman

    P.S. Your associate Rho…he amazes me with his bible ignorance, by the way. He’s a terrible example of representing Christendom if he has no clue about the adulteress woman. His explanation was a first for me.


  7. Julie Anne/Mark: regarding comments. Right now we’re playing around a bit with the format. Some people would prefer comments to be disabled altogether, mainly because we get a lot of things off topic and it can be distracting, plus as I work a lot I’m not really around to moderate if things get too heated or personal. We’re all busy and there’s less to content with. Other people want comments open and people can post to their hearts content.

    I personally prefer an open combox. I hate when my own comments are held in moderation or when people just choose not to post them, usually when I think I made a salient point. If I had my way, the only time I would moderate are if people are using legitimately abusive language or if someone is not dialogue in good faith-like they ask a ton of questions but won’t answer any posed to him or her. Then I might hold in moderation until they answer stuff. But as you can tell I like engaging with people and try to give them direct answers to direct questions.

    As to the comments themselves- like I said I was playing around with different formats. I had it on that comments are closed after 48 hours or something like that. Then Ed showed up, and then Rho responded, then Ed responded. Then the cuttoff occured and so Rho couldn’t post so he emailed me and asked me to open up the comments, and so on and so forth, haha.

    Right now I have the comments set to be closed after 7 days, but hopefully all the contributors can agree on something and at the very least have them open for 24 hours. That means you should be able to post there right now if you’d like, but not on older articles. I checked the spam pending and mod boxes and its not in there so I’m guessing that’s what happened. If you’re not sure try and see if you can post on something older than a week.

    Fair warning though that i don’t know how this will play out in the near future or what we will all agree upon, or what we will all compromise on. It’s nothing to do with malicious intent or not wanting to address honest questions, but rather we just don’t have time to moderate the genuinely vile stuff.


  8. As far as the whole psychologists thing goes, I have been reading a bit more and talking to a friend of mine. She told me that a GOOD psychologist, even if she/he vehemently disagrees with a belief that her patient holds, that they will not try to sway them from it, but incorporate that and work with it. That seems like a pretty rare thing to do, but if it could happen- that would be cool.

    My one personal experience with a psychologist was on my first visit and was overwhelmingly negative. I’m smart enough and introspective to know that her advice to me was overtly bad and awful, and so I did not return to see her, but that one bad experience doesn’t mean they all are. I would NEVER, EVER want her to counsel a Christian, no matter what.


  9. Thanks for letting us know about the comment moderation, Dustin. A lot of us have experienced blogs where we are not allowed to comment and so that does enter our mind. I’m glad to hear of your generally open comment policy.


  10. It’s beautiful there. We were there visiting 10 yrs ago or so. I was surprised at how light it was at 11pm. I think it was during the beginning of drilling for oil on private property.


  11. “Julie Anne, I am not the strongest in these issues, but most of this stuff comes down to the issue of Compatibilism and the secret and revealed will of God. I know you probably don’t want to get into it, but I developed my viewpoint on this by looking at the fact that God made the relationship between God hating murder and torture, and yet actively decreeing and determining that his only son would be murdered and tortured, and the interrelationship between all those facets”

    Not sure if it is appropriate to respond to this or not. If not, please delete.

    Dustin is relating one of the problems with coming to scripture through a systematic theology of determinism. Here he is describing the penal substitutionary atonement theory and trying to make God fit within that system. This atonement theory relies heavily on ESS (Eternal Subordination of the Son). A pecking order with the Trinity effectively painting Jesus Christ as a lesser god.

    So it starts off wiht a wrong premise and and we end up with a god that has secret wills and is an abusive murdering “father”. It also ignores the use of metaphorical language those in the 1st Century would understand well.

    We do not have this problem if Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. Hebrews 1 says

    3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

    In 1st Century Hebrew thinking, doing business with the eldest son was just like doing business with his father. He would be the full representation of his dad. The Pharisees got this and it make them want to kill Jesus as we see in John 5:

    18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

    They often interpret Phil 2 badly to make their point. Bruce Ware uses 1 Corin 11 which is a total stretch.

    If Jesus Christ is not fully God “in the flesh” and had to be ordered by His Father to sacrifice himself, then He is not much of a Savior. He is a lesser god who follows orders. To take His”human” resevervations about suffering to that conclusion is something that seriously grieves me.

    It is interesting to look at NT verses concerning resurrection. In one, the Holy Spirit is resurrecting Jesus Christ, in others the Father is resurrecting and Jesus refers to raising Himself up in 3 days.

    I sometimes think Christians should learn the Shema first.

    “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one”

    And go back to Genesis 1: Let US make man…

    There is a lot more to this that has permeated much of Christendom for years making God out to be a cosmic child abuser. It is a crying shame.


  12. Thanks Lydia,

    What you are really saying is that at the very least, New Calvinists are semi-Arians. Not only do they have an unbiblical soteriology and an unbiblical ecclesiology, but also an unbiblical Christology.


  13. Lydia,

    This is why I believe that God is one person, not three people.

    For example,  The NT states that Jesus is in heaven.  Then it states that Jesus lives in us.

    Then it states that the Holy Spirit is in us.  

    Now, if it would have just said God is in us, and left out the nomenclature of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that would be a different story.

    In addition, we all know the famous “commission” as it is identified as, which is to Baptize in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    The problem with that is this:  What is the name of the Holy Spirit?  What is the Name of the Father?  What is the Name of the Son?

    OK, so, we know the name of the Son.  Jesus.  We know the Name of the Father.  Yahweh.  But who knows the name of the Holy Spirit?

    Setting that aside for the moment, when the Apostles Baptized, why did they not recite “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”?  No one in the Bible used a phrase, as church’s do today.

    They Baptized in the Name of Jesus, and yes, they actually used a name.  Jesus.

    We all say that Jesus is God incarnate.  Well, the Spirit was IN a body.  Jesus said that God is a spirit.  Well, that concludes that Jesus is the Body of God….the body of Christ.

    So, God was obedient to himself.  The body obeyed the spirit, much like our body obeys our mind.

    Hence, I don’t buy into the trinity thing.  No one invited me to the meeting, and yet, some dead people decided for me what I am to believe?  No, I decide myself.




  14. “Hence, I don’t buy into the trinity thing. No one invited me to the meeting, and yet, some dead people decided for me what I am to believe? No, I decide myself”

    Ed, You need to go hang out with Argo at unreformingtheology blog. He has a whole treatise on the Trinity. This is why I have a problem with the word “orthodoxy”. It was heterodoxy before it was orthodoxy after some “council” decided. I am Switzerland when it comes to the concept of Trinity. All I know is Jesus was God in the Flesh.

    When I was studying ESS, I kept wondering who the Lord of Host Armies was in the OT and where the Holy Spirit fit into the Trinity pecking order. I am always aware of Isaiah 9 when I think of these things.

    My biggest problem is with the word “penal”. God was punishing Himself? “Substitutionary” I can handle because I map the cross to the sacrificial system of the OT Law.

    Ryan, A lot of Non Calvinists believe in the Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory. Why? I don’t know.


  15. Years ago, i went to secular counseling. Whadda buncha WHACK!!! A few years ago, i became convicted of sin, and so sought the Lord’s mercy. i still have issues, but now i can take those issues to the Cross. Makes all the difference in the world, knowing that even though, i’m a nut – case, i’m not so different than any other sinner, saved by the Lord’s grace.


  16. I’m still having a hard time trying to equate sin to counseling. I think that the two have nothing to do with each other, from my perspective, anyway.




  17. Susan,
    Martin Luther believed we are only saints positionally, and we are still sinners personally. We don’t change, only our status changes. So, it’s not even like Facebook where a status change means a personal change. We are “just sinners save by grace”, and nothing more or less should be expected.

    The fact is the Bible refers to Christians as “righteous,” “holy,” “full of goodness,” and “able.”

    Susan, you are not a nutcase. You are a child of the one true God.


  18. “The fact is the Bible refers to Christians as “righteous,” “holy,” “full of goodness,” and “able.””



  19. Kudos to Russell Moore! He understands the gospel, which is rooted in relationship, not power. God never turns his back on us. If God isolated us because of our sin, we’d be hopeless, since I’m sure even Dr. MacArthur sins daily. God listens, comforts, and is faithful despite our constant failings. He does this without condoning or accepting the sin. May we do the same with our children, regardless of the specific sins they struggle with.

    As for so-called “Biblical counseling”: logical and scientific consistency would require that a child with cerebral palsy look into his or her heart idols and repent of sin to be healed as well. Why would one deny some results of altered brain biology while accepting others? I always found that to be rather strange for a critical thinker. Mental health disease is beyond the shadow of a doubt due to altered neurobiology. To deny this is akin to saying seizures are due to demon possession, as was thought in eras past, prior to the advent of EEG and brain imaging.

    I absolutely believe that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, mental health problems can improve for many people. The most recent neuroscience shows that neurochemical activity is dynamic, not static. Interactions with the other people in the environment can actually change brain chemistry. Since God made us, He ultimately understands that the most powerful way to change this is through relationship with Him. Leaning into Him, meditating on His word, to transform/renew the mind (Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8). Just like some people with physical handicaps experience miraculous healing, or heal without physician intervention, mental health illness can certainly heal without professional intervention. However, professional help is often needed to heal if the handicap is significant, and should not be condemned as unbiblical. Just like the child with cerebral palsy and seizures–parents pray for healing, but the child will likely also need physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthotics/ braces, possibly surgical help, and anti-seizure medications for optimal function. And just as there are competent and less competent surgeons, there are also variably competent mental health providers. Susan above who saw the quack for her depression–very sorry you did not land a good doc.

    Because we live in a sinful world, sometimes these (brain) injuries result from the sins of others (think prenatal drug and alcohol exposure). To deny this is neither scientific nor grace-filled. When one studies the neurobiology behind trauma and attachment, it’s no wonder that Jesus loved and spent so much time with the sinners outcasted by society. So much that He intentionally sought out the woman at the well. He knew that they hurt as much from their own sin as were hurt by the sins of others.

    In Christ, we have all been justified (positionally sinless, covered by the Redeemer’s blood). In practice, we must still deal with the consequences of the flesh, of the fall, living in a sinful world. But as God’s children, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us work towards better change–the lifelong process of sanctification.


  20. Anonymous – WHAT are you smoking??

    Think about this: Just WHY would (a) god create a world with built-in ‘sin’?? In the scenario you painted above, how could a person ever win? What a way to go through life. .. * shake head, shake head *


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