Taking issue with John MacArthur

I am doing a book study with a group of ladies from my church. We are reading Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur. I missed last week, so I was catching up on my reading about Hannah. In the book, Mr. MacArthur talks about Hannah’s deep longing for a child. He talks about the importance of raising children. He says that the Bible honours women who are dedicated to loving their husbands and children above all other endeavors. Quite right.

Then he says, “[Hannah] understood that motherhood is the highest calling God can bestow on any woman.”

With all due respect to Mr. MacArthur, I reject this statement completely. Does Mr. MacArthur contend that Mother Teresa’s work was less worthy than raising children? Or how about my friend Holly who is a childless missionary in Africa who is dedicating her life to showing people the love of Christ. Or the childless graphic designers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, temps who love Jesus, but have not received the blessing of a child? Is the obedience of these Doules less honourable in the sight of God because it does not involve motherhood?

The highest calling God can bestow on a woman is for her to receive His love and love Him in return. Her great calling is to seek to know and love her Jesus more. The means by which He reveals His love and refines her character are purely logistical. Listening to the Holy Spirit and obedience is a woman’s highest calling.

On a side note, I could totally name a daughter Hannah. So lovely.


5 Responses to Taking issue with John MacArthur

  1. Sam says:

    i am quite sad that you missed group that evening, as this statement was largely discussed. before going further, i would humbly present my belief that you are misinterpreting mr. MacArthur (‘mac man’ for those close to him). the paragraph that directly follows your quoted statement explains his position fully:

    “That is not to suggest, of course, that motherhood is the only proper role for women. Scripture recognizes that it is God’s will for some women to remain single (1 Cor. 7:8-9). In the wisdom of His providence, He has also ordained that some married women will remain perpetually childless (see Psalm 127:3). A woman is by no means required to be a wife or a mother before she can be useful in the Lord’s service. Miriam (Moses’ sister) and Deborah (who served as a judge and deliverer in Israel) are biblical examples of women whom God used mightily apart from marriage or motherhood. (Deborah was married, but she gained renown in a role that had nothing to do with being a wife or mother.)”

    his statement is not that our single-person work is less honorable, less worthy, or less Godly than being a mother- simply that motherhood is the ‘one vocation that God uniquely designed for women to fulfill, and no man can ever intrude into the women’s role.’ my frustration with this section, and what i shared with the group, was not a disagreement with the ‘highest calling’ statement (indeed, i’m in full agreement, and thus one of the large reasons i work with children so passionately)- instead, a frustration that i know this, recognize this, and long for this to be true in my life. but as a single person, the Lord has called me to a different type of service, a different, but just as important calling- but sometimes being reminded that i was made for something else just leaves me more frustrated. and thus why i didn’t want to read about this statement- would rather not be reminded.

    make sense?

  2. cheryl says:

    i hear you. but something being called “highest”, by definition, automatically ranks the other things to which it is compared below it. Being a mother can not be a “Highest” calling if the other callings are one the same level. They must be “lower” in status. This is what I reject. sam, your work with kids is as honourable and noble as it would be if those kids were your own. you are serving God where He has called you today. THAT is the highest calling. just sayin’

  3. John David Henderson says:

    Consider how he may mean “mother” to be understood. For example “mother” Teresa never conceived but she did give care, love, and nurture to many.

    Also consider where Paul is telling us we should want and hope for the more important spiritual gifts but that is not going to be everyones calling. Motherhood may indeed be the hightest calling (I neither agree nor disagree without giving it more thought) but you are not slighted by obeying your current calling any more than I am for not being a John Calvin or a Billy Grahm.

  4. cheryl says:

    he was talking about Hannah’s deep desire for a child, so it was a literal “motherhood” to which he was refering.

  5. Smith says:

    Less controversial – but, I also love the name Hannah – it’s graceful.

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