Ryan Visconti, the Arizona pastor platforming discredited celebrity preacher James MacDonald is attracting attention—not just for his new partnership, but also his provocative social media posts about women and marriage.
In a recent Instagram story, Visconti, pastor of Generation Church in Mesa, claimed abuse is “not a biblical justification for divorce.” And in an Instagram post on November 21 that received 5,621 likes Visconti wrote:
A weak woman with a strong husband will become a strong woman.
A strong woman with a weak husband will become a toxic woman.
A strong woman with a stronger husband will become an unstoppable, gracious, and capable woman.
Christian counselor and author, Leslie Vernick, took exception to Visconti’s post. In an email to The Roys Report (TRR), Vernick noted that in the Old Testament, Abigail, the wife of the boorish and immature, Nabal, “was a strong woman, married to a weak character—and she wasn’t toxic. She was powerful and wise.”
Similarly, popular marriage and sex author, Sheila Wray Gregoire, wrote to TRR, “The idea that a man can only be happy in a marriage when a wife is weaker than him shows that his idea of manhood is an extremely fragile one.”
As reported by TRR earlier this week, Visconti has publicly announced that he is being mentored by James MacDonald, and MacDonald has preached at Generation Church numerous times this past year. That’s even though MacDonald’s former megachurch, Harvest Bible Chapel, disqualified MacDonald from public ministry in 2019 for a “pattern of sinful behavior.”
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TRR reached out to Visconti numerous times for comment about his partnership with MacDonald and his provocative social media posts, but Visconti did not respond. Instead, he blocked our access to his and Generation Church’s social media accounts.*
In an email to TRR, Gregoire claimed that Visconti’s view about women does not match the research. She said a survey of 20,000 women for her book, The Great Sex Rescue, “found that when men make the final decision in the marriage, even if they consult with their wife first, chances of divorce increases 7.4 times . . . And marital and sexual satisfaction plummet.”
“We are meant to set aside power and authority and serve one another (Matthew 20:25-28) as we are partnered together (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12),” Gregoire added. “Instead of focusing on who is stronger and who is weaker, why don’t we focus on how both of us can be strong for the kingdom and live out the calling that God has given to each of us individually and as a couple?”
Visconti also posted recently on his Instagram story that “ ‘abuse’ is not a biblical justification for divorce. This is the most used and abused (pun intended) argument. It is grounds for separation but not divorce.”
This view is popular in fundamentalist Christian circles. John MacArthur, for example, has preached, “Scripture does not automatically permit divorce in the case of a physically abusive husband.” Instead, MacArthur urges abused wives “not to provoke any circumstances that will make your husband become violent.” But if he continues to be abusive, “The wife should remove herself from danger by fleeing the home if necessary.”
Dr. John Street, the head of counseling at MacArthur’s The Master’s University, takes a harder line. He teaches that wives should endure abuse like a missionary endures persecution.
Vernick, however, believes abuse is grounds for divorce.
“When Christian leaders continue to teach that abuse does not constitute biblical grounds for divorce they are wrong,” Vernick wrote. “Divorce sadly acknowledges the truth. Sin has real consequences and sometimes those consequences are permanent. The marriage relationship has died. . .
“(God) says, ‘the prudent see danger and take refuge. (Proverbs 27:12). God does not value the sanctity of marriage more than the safety and sanity of individuals in that marriage.”
Visconti also had posts supporting far-right causes. In June, he posted a picture with 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake.
In June, Visconti also posted a picture of him and his wife with James MacDonald and his wife.
Other posts decried abortion, transgenderism, and Christians who are apolitical or “nice.”
“What it really means to ‘speak the truth in love,’” one post read. “It’s not being nice, polite, or inoffensive. Rather, it’s helping those in bondage find freedom.
“It’s loving to give medicine to a sick patient, and it’s loving to speak the truth to a deceived person.”
*Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Visconti and Generation Church had deleted their social media accounts.
Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. She also previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate, and has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals.
28 thoughts on “Pastor Platforming James MacDonald Says Strong Women with Weak Husbands Become ‘Toxic’”
I agree that it’s loving to speak the truth, even when it’s unpopular, but the New Testament also has a lot to say about the way we conduct ourselves and how we should treat each other. So far, I feel the leadership of my current church embodies this well.
The way James MacDonald is said to have treated others while pastor of Harvest and the way he behaves on Twitter don’t seem to be in keeping with the way the New Testament says we should behave.
What’s wrong with Visconti supporting Kari Lake or speaking out against abortion or transgenderism? How does this relate to his view of women?
None of my sources said it was wrong. Those are simply other examples of posts about controversial issues.
What is the point of bringing this pastor’s political views into the story?
Julie, are you saying that you support trans mutilation/murder of pre-born children/and are against conservatives?
Because your article seemed to conflate all these things.
No, I’m just reporting. Please don’t read something into a story that’s not there.
Julie can and has spoken for herself, but I must speak up against loaded questions like this. This isn’t phrased to have constructive conversation. It’s phrased to make you feel morally superior. Do you expect ANYONE to say “yes” to your question.
If you’re truly interested in hearing other views ask “why” or “tell me how you landed there”. Otherwise just say what you really mean in your question: “I’m better than you because I would never support…”
I encourage you to talk to Christian doctors who are fearful of extreme “under no circumstances” legislation that now forces molested preteens to give birth, and makes it difficult to treat a septic
uterus or clean out a womb after a stillbirth (because these treatments are labeled abortions, and even that word brings out comments like yours).
I say this as a Christian who was taken to task by Christian doctors who told me of all sorts of cases that are not as “the woman loved murdering her baby” as many pro-life conservatives want everyone to believe.
I still don’t understand all sides of the transgender issue, but can say 2 things: 1. We STILL confuse sex and gender, which leads to conflating a lot of issues when discussing this. 2. I don’t believe God makes mistakes when creating us a certain sex. I also don’t believe girls (or boys) have to like certain colors or behave and dress in certain ways to be “real” girls/boys.
Thanks for a thoughtful, educated, godly response…
Ugh. SMH. Divorce is a civil remedy that is necessary when there is abuse, physical, emotional, financial, or even when people are incompatible. It is not an ecclesiastical remedy– at least not any longer.
If the church wants to regulate marriage, let them say you can’t get remarried in their church if you are already married in the eyes of the church. That would be acceptable teaching. But to tell people they have to stay in a situation of violence, trauma and harm, or return to it, this is not a core tenet of Christianity. It’s more of a social teaching of extreme patriarchal churches to protect and promote the power structure of who is God-ordained to be in charge. And we already know the answer: the men are in charge no matter what and despite their failings and abuses. And they are even beloved by God. Just look at King David . . . .
It looks like these ‘contemporary’ churches are just fundamentalists in different garb.
George – of course – evangelicalism is [anti-Christ] fundamentalism.
Let’s try little role reversal here. Wives submit to your husbands. Okay that’s what God’s word says. And we talk about that Scripture and quote it over and over again. But, I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone say in any of these posts, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. How about that one? How come it’s always wives submit to your husbands and never husbands love your wives? Why is that? How can a husband love his wife as Christ loved the church when he is emotionally, mentally, physically, and sexually abusive? How come church leaders and male congregants are always beating up the women with this particular Scripture but no one ever (to my knowledge) addresses the husbands responsibility to love their wives as Christ loved the church? Maybe some have on this platform for posting Julie has provided, but I’ve never seen it. How about it James McDonald and John MacArthur (and the like), how about it? I really am so very sick of these self-righteous, insensitive, insulting church leaders who think they are the only ones who have a hardwire connection to God preaching on the subject of wives submit to your husbands while they leave out the husband’s responsibility to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Maybe if the shoe was on the other foot and the men were the ones being abused we might hear them singing a different tune.
Yes, and I would add that baked into the command for husbands to love their wives is the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Patient, kind, not self-seeking…
If this passage defines what a “strong husband” looks like, I think most of the issues take care of themselves. If not, you’re probably looking at what Paul latter in the chapter describes as an immature child. Unfortunately, immature children in grown men’s bodies seems to be a thing now.
“Ryan Visconti, the Arizona pastor platforming discredited celebrity preacher James MacDonald is attracting attention …”
Visconti wins the Internet! For narcissists, attracting attention is the point. Christians should stop feeding these people. You’re better off reading the Bible at home with your cat.
Yeah Cynthia. That’s about my attitude lately. But I think my kat has watched too much Kenneth Copeland. She keeps demanding I tithe to her and she will ask god to bless me.
Nah Gary, that’s just typical cat behavior for you, with or without Kenneth Copeland.
Thanks – that is hilarious!! Thanks!
Gary Weigel, if you total all the expenses including vet bills, it might be more than a tithe. Mine haven’t offered any blessings, but at least they haven’t eaten my extremities while I sleep.
Like so many other cradle to present churched people, all I ever knew was the KJV Bible. The leaders in our church spoke like KJ era British people when they prayed, I always wondered why. When I entered my UCC church-sponsored college, I figured out why. In our required Old and New Testament classes, we utilized the Oxford Annotated Bible. It was so much easier to read and understand. I certainly am no Bible scholar. However as I grew in age and hopefully in wisdom, I consulted other versions of the Bible. I feel that our beginnings, KJV or influences kept many people locked in to the Old Testament, with all of its “Thou Shalt nots.” One person suggested reading the New Testament first for a change and then read the Old Testament for the beginnings, the stories and allegories and basically manmade superstitions and misogynies.
I still have the Oxford Annotated Bible I used in college (Emory & Henry class of 1982). It’s missing the front cover and the stitching is giving way. I love that Bible. Close second is the ESV. I agree – focus on the NT first, then go to the OT.
His support of Kari Lake shows that he supports her lies. If he’s ok with lies, that calls into question everything he preaches. If he’s ok with lying it places doubt on the gospel. It basically says Jesus is as real as Santa Claus. It’s impossible to take evangelicals seriously.
Tim, thanks – I should have read before commenting – and exactly!
Of it could be that she’s been taken in by him.
The ‘G’ in freemasonry stands for ‘generation.’ Why would anyone who follows Jesus Christ care what ‘Generation Church’ thinks about anything? It’s a reference to sex magik and the leaders have given a hat tip to their god right in the church name. ‘Come out of her, my people…’
@Cynthia Wright – Love your comment. Think I’ll go preach at my cat now…he has huge ears & better discernment than those willfully cowering in the open cage of the corporate state-church.
The picture with deceiver Kari Lake speaks volumes!
Malachi 2:16 has been harmfully interpreted & practiced based on twisted translations…
Malachi 2 clearly talks about husbands dealing “treacherously” w their wives… these husbands are the ones who hate and divorce… 16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. 2011 NIV
https://biblehub.com/hebrew/898.htm bagad (treachery aka abuse) is used FIVE times in Malachi 2:10-16!!!
“when men make the final decision in the marriage, even if they consult with their wife first, chances of divorce increases 7.4 times . . . And marital and sexual satisfaction plummet.”
Our marriage improved incredibly after we both agreed that neither one of us was Jesus.
The only thing I’m commenting on here is the demonization of Kari Lake. I don’t live in AZ so I’m not privy to all and don’t know what lies you are referring to. But in regards to election malfeasance it’s completely obvious that Maricopa county was compromised. If you have to wait hours to get in to vote because most of the voting machines have issues – that’s not just a coincidence that’s planned. Also absurd that Katie Hobbs didn’t have to recuse herself from overseeing an election when she’s a candidate. People only withhold information when they are hiding something otherwise they would want it brought to the light to be seen by all and settled.
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