Is John MacArthur More Dangerous Than Fred Phelps?


Shun your gay child? Don’t even have a meal with them? This is not the heart of God – but it is the heart of people like John MacArthur – or maybe the lack of heart.

People just don’t know how hateful they are.

It was easy to look at Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church and say that they were ‘extreme’ and that they didn’t represent mainstream Christianity. But what about someone like John MacArthur? Is he the new Fred Phelps?

Here is John MacArthur’s advice if you have a gay child: Alienate them. Separate them. Isolate them. Refuse to have a meal with them. Turn them over to satan.

The vitriol toward LGBTQ has been inculcated in the culture so successfully, we have no idea we have it.

Yeah, like my mother-in-law’s house that was permeated with cigarette smoke. I could smell it as I opened her door, but she couldn’t smell it sitting in her recliner, smoking!

Maybe this is even more dangerous than someone like Fred Phelps — because of how ‘righteous’ it appears on the surface. Less yelling. No inflammatory signs. But it is deadly. It is not loving like Jesus loved. Period. No matter how you present it.

There’s been a flurry of clueless, religious men spouting opinions about how to deal with your gay child — men who do not have a gay child. The more escalated the battle, the more dug-in these people become. It would be mildly amusing if it weren’t for the parents who will be led astray, thinking they are doing what God wants them to do, and who will implement this hostile, anti-Christ advice — devastating their precious children.

If the church cannot recognize the stench of their disgust with LGBTQ people, how will they ever be able to dismantle it?

I talked last week about my relative who has no room at all in her theology for LGBTQ people as is, or for others embracing them as is. She doesn’t really know LGBTQ people, not their story. Which makes her ideas about it as silly as marriage or parenting counsel from a single non-parent.

Let me show you this societal disgust and hypocrisy and blindness by way of a story. 🙂

After my relative and I had exhausted the LGBTQ conversation, and agreed to disagree, we sat around chatting about everything else in our lives and families. She began to tell of her friend, “Jeannie,” who was trying to get a particularly athletic job in another country.

The company’s board has rules about weight limits, etc, for reasons of health and culture. In the country where she wanted to go, she would be an oddity for being obese. People would stare at her, and touch her, and she could not effectively live and work there. But if she lost some weight and got healthier, she could get the job. Well, Jeannie didn’t want to do that. So she went to this country on her own. All the things happened that had been predicted. She could not work there and had to come home.

That was the story.

Okay, here’s the part that troubles me. My relative is regaling us of this story, in her delightful, animated way, and you can see that she loves this friend of hers! She only wants what’s best for her, and sure, Jeannie probably has some over-eating issues (maybe?), but that didn’t come into the story. She was just Jeannie. A friend.

Does my relative think the Bible’s admonition against gluttony does not apply to Jeannie? No! But it has no visible impact on her love for, and acceptance of Jeannie and no impact on their relationship.

And that’s the part where I get a little teary.

Because for my relative, sexual orientation is a dealbreaker.

It has become an issue between her and me, because I love, affirm and accept my daughter — and I have become an advocate for her and the entire LGBTQ community — an advocate for love and human rights. And it has become an issue between her and my daughter.

It has broken the relationship.

Her tender, fond retelling of her friend’s ill-fated story (perhaps CAUSED by gluttony) is full of love and compassion and life and joy! AS IT SHOULD BE! Jeannie’s gluttony (or not) is not my relative’s business! My quick google search yielded 100 verses about gluttony! ONE HUNDRED. There are none about today’s homosexuality… and SIX that people think apply to it.

Yet, my relative could find it in her heart to speak of this friend with love and affinity, and not a single mention of her gluttony. I totally affirm this view of Jeannie’s issue, by the way.

But why can’t my relative — and others — do this with the LGBTQ issue? Regardless of their theology about it, why can’t they simply love warmly and genuinely?

My heart weeps.

She doesn’t see it. She doesn’t hear it.

Grace to you?

John MacArthur’s organization is called Grace To You. Do his words sounds like grace at all? It is not even a shadow of how Jesus interacted with anyone who was oppressed, or hurting, or wounded.

This mindset, this deadly thinking has permeated the evangelical Christian church, and people don’t even realize it. Studies show that homophobia, like racism, permeates the culture*.

Shaking hands with the one black person in a white congregation does not prove someone is not racist. And NOT holding up offensive signs saying that God hates gays does not prove someone is not homophobic.

People must face this honestly in quiet moments between them and God — as the Spirit speaks to their hearts. I heartily pray that they will.

I heartily pray that we all will.

[To read more from Susan Cottrell, visit]

“When looking at the traits associated with masculinity in the US, the researchers identified the following: winning, emotional control, risk-taking, violence, dominance, playboy, self-reliance, primacy of work, power over women, disdain for homosexuality, and pursuit of status. Understanding these lists and what they mean is critically important to understanding shame…” says Brene Brown. “For men, there’s a cultural message that promotes homophobic cruelty. If you want to be masculine in our culture, it’s not enough to be straight – you must also show an outward disgust for the gay community.” [Link]

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SUSAN COTTRELL is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: Mom, I’m Gay – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faithas well as How Not to Lose Your Teen and The Marriage Renovation. Through her nonprofit organization – – Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that “loving God and loving others” are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said.

She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”

She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHearts and Jesus Blog columns.