December 12, 2017

Eight Traits of a Responsible Ministry

Eight Traits of a Masculine Ministry (John Piper)

1. A masculine ministry believes that it is more fitting that men take the lash of criticism that must come in a public ministry, than to unnecessarily expose women to this assault.

2. A masculine ministry seizes on full-orbed, biblical doctrine with a view to teaching it to the church and pressing it with courage into the lives of the people.

3. A masculine ministry brings out the more rugged aspects of the Christian life and presses them on the conscience of the church with a demeanor that accords with their proportion in Scripture.

4. A masculine ministry takes up heavy and painful realities in the Bible, and puts them forward to those who may not want to hear them.

5. A masculine ministry heralds the truth of Scripture, with urgency and forcefulness and penetrating conviction, to the world and in the regular worship services of the church.

6. A masculine ministry welcomes the challenges and costs of strong, courageous leadership without complaint or self-pity with a view to putting in place principles and structures and plans and people to carry a whole church into joyful fruitfulness.

7. A masculine ministry publicly and privately advocates for the vital and manifold ministries of women in the life and mission of the church.

8. A masculine ministry models for the church the protection, nourishing, and cherishing of a wife and children as part of the high calling of leadership.

• • •

Change a word here and there, and what Piper says makes sense to me.

Eight Traits of a Responsible Ministry (Chaplain Mike)

1. A RESPONSIBLE ministry believes that it is more fitting that LEADERS take the lash of criticism that must come in a public ministry, than to unnecessarily expose CHURCH MEMBERS to this assault.

2. A RESPONSIBLE ministry seizes on full-orbed, biblical doctrine with a view to teaching it to the church and pressing it with courage into the lives of the people.

3. A RESPONSIBLE ministry brings out the more rugged aspects of the Christian life and presses them on the conscience of the church with a demeanor that accords with their proportion in Scripture.

4. A RESPONSIBLE ministry takes up heavy and painful realities in the Bible, and puts them forward to those who may not want to hear them.

5. A RESPONSIBLE ministry heralds the truth of Scripture, with urgency and forcefulness and penetrating conviction, to the world and in the regular worship services of the church.

6. A RESPONSIBLE ministry welcomes the challenges and costs of strong, courageous leadership without complaint or self-pity with a view to putting in place principles and structures and plans and people to carry a whole church into joyful fruitfulness.

7. A RESPONSIBLE ministry publicly and privately advocates for the vital and manifold ministries of ALL BELIEVERS in the life and mission of the church.

8. A RESPONSIBLE ministry models for the church the protection, nourishing, and cherishing of ONE ANOTHER as part of the high calling of leadership.

• • •

Folks, in spite of what Dr. Piper and his folks assert, all of this has nothing to do with male and female distinctions. It has everything to do with responsible love. It has to do with moving toward maturity and living our lives as faithful adults in Christ. Men and women alike.

I know many are concerned about the demographic of young men today that seem to be having a hard time growing up. But if young men are failing to move past adolescence and embrace responsibility, we do not need to challenge them to be more “masculine” or “manly.” We should be admonishing them to grow up, to become adults, to move toward maturity, dutiful living, and the kind of love that lays itself down for others. All believers, male and female, are called to seek this maturity and encourage others in its pursuit. Hierarchy should not enter into the discussion when examining the principles Piper sets forth. And as far as church leadership goes, I don’t see that any of the principles he is advancing involve the special domain of man and “masculinity.” Women church leaders are equally responsible to promote the eight traits he names.

Piper and others who are elevating male/female distinctions in our day not only have an insufficient view of gender but, perhaps even more importantly, an inadequate ecclesiology. They should be encouraging young men (and all of us) to become mature adults and like Christ within a healthy Spirit-filled community in which all are called to submit to one another and honor one another. Instead, in the name of “masculinity,” they single out men and assign qualities to them exclusively that belong to the entire church. This leads to all kinds of adventures in missing the point.

No sir, God did not give Christianity “a masculine feel.”

He gave it the quality of responsible love. For everybody.

Comments

  1. CM…If you ever lead a church in Washington, D.C. I’ll take back a lot of what I have said over the past 2+ years!! I’ll be first in line on Sunday morning!! 😉

    I read about John Piper’s latest claims and it really smacks of a “sucks to be female” attitude. I’d hate to be female in today’s fundagelicalism. I would see little purpose in being Christian at all becuase the “good news” is all about the benefit of being male. Makes me wonder if Christinaity is going to head into another “Dark Ages” again. If so..I’ll take refuge in Canada or Australia becuase you know darn well that the next round of Crusades in the name of “Evangelical Puirty” are on their way. And then its beast to get out of the way.

    I just find the whole topic mind boggling. Where is the good news in what he says? Where is the hope? Where is the talk of redemption? Where is the pointing the way and holding up a candle in a dark world? The shining city on the hill is dead to these guys.

    Oh well…I like the view from where I sit. I’ll make some popcorn, pull up a chair and watch the neo fundies devour themselves in the name of “Christianity”. Popcorn anyone? As HUG said on another blog, only the Neo-Calvinists can take a wedding feast and turn it into a facist rally. To those of you who are female I’m sorry a man in my gender is spewing some really responsible stuff. I may not have a lot of faith, but I’m sorry for the harm he causes. I feel for those of you who have daughters (and in Mark Driscoll’s case sons) because there will not be much of a robust faith left when they grow up.

    Is that what it means to watch Christianity commit suicide?

  2. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I know many are concerned about the demographic of young men today that seem to be having a hard time growing up. But if young men are failing to move past adolescence and embrace responsibility, we do not need to challenge them to be more “masculine” or “manly.”

    Because hypermasculine Islam will always be able to outdo us in that department.

    • How often, instead of listening to young people to find out what their lives are really like, we rather probe intrusively and even abusively into their individual psyches.

      Who says young men aren’t growing up? Is this known for a fact, established by well designed research?

      And is it just church groups experiencing this if it is real, or society more generally? If confined to the Church then maybe we should look at the teachings that are being “pressed” (a coercive word for a coercive practice?) onto young people and their families.

      If its a wider phenomenon, then maybe it’s time Christian leaders (and we are all of us leaders in some sense) should start thinking about how to impact a world that seems to find less and less purpose for our young, unless it’s to fill dead end service jobs or go into the army. Though it is certainly easier and more comfortable to blame them for the supposed “immaturity” and press them some more, to shape up. I seem to recall some telling words about letting those around us press us into the mold!

      • Actually Sally I’ve seen quite of few secular news pieces entitled “Where are all the men?” which bemoan the modern extended male adolescents. They do seem to have their own research studies attached to them. Yahoo News runs them weekly.

  3. You know….one more thought. Last night I was wondering the following. Since some of these guys are so Calvinist in their theology and John Piper has talked about how he’ll accept the fact that maybe God has decided not to save his child, as its predestined. It made me wonder….if John Piper desires for his son to be saved yet for God its in his will that he be damned, does that mean that a Calvinist is sinning and rebelling against God and his will if they desire otherwise? I would think that one’s dissapointment in God would INCREASE under such a cancerous theology. And I would think it would show more of a tendency to rebel against God and question his sovereignty. Am I off track with my theological thinking?

    • Yeah, I sometimes think that If I were a hardcore Calvinist, I would not want to bring children into this world. Because if I did, then it might occur to me that I seemed to love my children more than God did. And if that were that case then my whole faith might start to unravel, because I had placed so much stock in my interpretation of divine matters that I could not abide it when the hard questions started to appear.

      Now, I know many Calvinists, and I have never had the courage to bring up this matter to them. Maybe they have an answer that I have never thought of that makes sense to them.

      The other night I was debating a friend about Calvinism. I said that while I don’t consider Calvinists to be heretics, it does bother me that some of them seem to equate Calvinism with the gospel. I said to my friend that the gospel is the gospel, the one that Arminians and Calvinists both believe. (That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures). Arminianosm and Calvinism are simply attempts to explain the finer details of the gospel, but they are not the gospel itself. Anyone who believes otherwise is setting themselves up for a disappointment.

      • I knew I would probably misspell Arminianism at some point. Darn insomnia…

      • Good point. I think this goes back to my concerns about statement no. 4: how much of the painful teachings of scripture are made painful merely by Piper’s flawed theology, i.e. a God who sends earthquakes to Japan just to make a point?

        I’m re-reading Brennan Manning’s “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus” where he states, “It is always true to some extent that we make our images of God. It is even truer that our image of God makes us. Eventually we become like the God we image.”

        But as I have stated before, something changed Piper. His earlier writings are not like this. I have read stories of trials that he has been through which have caused him to model a very dark and foreboding deity, which he now forces on everyone else. Piper makes me mad for what he is doing to others, but I can’t help feeling sorry for him. If I had gone through the same trials, would I come out the other side still clinging to the belief in a gracious God?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Both Calvin & Mohammed were heavily into Predestination. And later theologians down their roads (the Truly Reformed and al-Ghazali) firewalled Predestination into Utter Predestination. I would expect their followers to show many similar attitudes and bear similar fruit.

  4. Eagle, I have thought something similar.
    I am really interested in what the neo calvinist consider “manly.” It is difficult to determine because Driscoll seems to think manliness involves beating people up and I am not sure that Piper thinks that. What exactly is his definition of manliness? They are truly a motley crew!

    One other thing… Chaplain Mike do you think that something like masculine Christianity fails to acknowledge that not all mean are loud and vocal. Do you have any words for those in church that are introverts. It seems to me that the introverts are not even acknowledged as being a group within Christendom or they are the ones being yelled at. That is just my take but would love to hear more on the subject.

  5. when I said mean I meant men.

  6. I think you’re misunderstanding what Dr. Piper is getting at, with all due respect.

    He’s not promoting division, nor is he demeaning women, nor is he calling for oppression or “sexism.”

    He is standing for a traditional view of culture that worked fairly well for a long time. This view of culture was more or less (often “less”) influenced by Christianity, which, because of the centrality of God as Father and Jesus as Son, does have a masculine feel. Our pagan ancestors found that odd. They viewed woman as a source of fertility, which they worshipped and stood in awe of, while at the same time cruelly exploiting the women in their midst. Christianity changed that, by denying that women were goddesses, and by introducing orderliness and peace by way of God as Father.

    A book that I read a couple of years ago by Sam Keen (forget the title, sorry) addressed this from a pagan perspective. Mr. Keen was upset that the old pagan order had been up-ended by what he called the “patriarchal” religions, namely Judaism and Christianity. He blames the Christian patriarchy for destroying Nature worship and, by extension, destroying Nature herself. Whatever you may think of paganism, it’s good to keep up with what they say, IMO.

    C.S. Lewis, writing about whether the Church of England should ordain women as priests, pointed out that if Christians began to deny God’s essential Fatherliness and Christ’s essential status as Son, and began to treat God as Mother or Christ as Daughter, Christianity would be no more. For Lewis, no slouch in the apologetics department, and certainly no stranger to pagan notions and literature, said that maintaining what Piper calls “masculine feel” was essential to maintain the Faith.

    I wouldn’t ridicule Piper so easily. He may not be a heavyweight like Lewis, but he’s got some venerable company. Even the pagans agree with him.

    • Lewis was a bright apologist, but he had his prejudices. His worldview was colored by his readings in medieval literature; in many ways more so than by the scriptures. The problem is that more than one person has assumed that the solution to modernism’s problems is to retreat to medievalism — or to plow forward to the largely undefined postmodernism. It is neither. It is to repent and turn to Christ, who declares with his very actions that there is no male or female in him, and does so better than even his apostle Paul articulated.

    • Ben wrote – “He is standing for a traditional view of culture that worked fairly well for a long time…”

      As a young white male growing up twenty years ago, I might have said something similar. However, when we begin to listen to voices from the margins, significant questions arise as to how well that “traditional view of culture” really worked for everyone.

      • I agree with you. It’s just I am unwilling to give up a traditional view of gender roles because this is something that transcends white, black, brown or red. If you look at traditional tribal cultures or traditional cultures of any sort, they have defined gender roles, rites of initiation, etc.

        The whole feminist/women’s lib thing was a product of Western intellectuals. Wherever it has gone in the world, it has challenged traditional settled cultures. It is in my opinion yet another example of Western imperialism.

        If you don’t believe me, look at the 10 year debacle in Afghanistan: one of our stated reasons for going in was to transform their society to make it more like ours, specifically to introduce feminism into their culture. It has failed miserably. Why? Afghanistan belongs to the Afghans, not to us. I don’t agree with what they do, but I have no right to impose democracy by way of bayonet.

        If egalitarian Christians are concerned about social justice, use your energy to oppose these disastrous wars we are in. We could use some more sanity from the Church rather than the usual patriotic babble. We should defend the right of Muslims to practice their religion peacefully in this country as well, rather than scare tactics about “Sharia Law.”

        • So you think it’s OK for people’s basic human rights to be ignored because of their gender? So the Universal Code of Human Rights only applies to men?

          I’m not with you on that. I don’t know that I would go to war for that alone, but it’s definitely worth sanctions or just not forming trade relationships.

          We did not attack Afghanistan because of the desire to “impose” feminism or even human rights. We went because the idiotic rulership of the nation was unable to actually rule it meaningfully which had let in a whole lot of non-state bad apples and was unwilling to hand over some of those bad apples.

          For me, I’m still upset about the Buddhas.

          • It is not the place of any country, let alone the United States, to punish entire countries for having idiotic leadership. The fact that we do such things is because we are carrying on the long tradition of Western imperialism, which Rick alluded to in his comment to me.

            The Afghan people are on “the margins,” and while we affluent Westerners congratulate ourselves for invading their country, their rights are ignored. And we wonder why these people hate us?

          • You state, “If you look at traditional tribal cultures or traditional cultures of any sort, they have defined gender roles, rites of initiation, etc..”

            It is true that when looking at these you see defined gender roles (although the components of the roles are not universal), and rites of initiation in both genders.

            Division of labor, when convenient or necessary for survival, however, does not necessitate men lording it over women as a group anymore than it necessitates slavery or conquest.

            But since those cultures you named (as well as our modern ones) are fallen, you see some people trying to control other people because they can.

            Which accounts for humanity’s history of subjugating women.

            You correctly identify the the male/female relationship as most basic human relationship –but I believe you are very wrong in thinking this means the injustice we see in history is something worth keeping. Have you considered that until we learn to love women, who are our mothers, wives and sisters, as ourselves, we will never learn to treat other nations, races and cultures as ourselves? And we will never understand the unity in which our tri-une God seeks to draw us to Himself?

        • Okay Ben….are the Taliban the ones Christians want to emulate? Should we have public executions in soccor stadiums a the mere hint of showing one’s leg. Is the Dark Ages up for round II?

          • You’re misrepresenting my views.

            I am saying that we have no right to invade their country and tell them what to do because it’s their country. Under our Constitution we can only go to war if the war is declared by Congress. That makes the Afghan war illegal.

            The Taliban were willing to hand over bin Laden before we invaded. Our president refused because his oil cronies wanted to get a pipeline constructed across Afghanistan. That’s why we invaded. The war was planned in advance; 9/11 was a convenient pretext that the U.S. government engineered to get us into the war.

          • I wasn’t a W supportter by any means. In 2000 yeah…but as the Iraq war dragged on and I saw how he lied. I changed my opinion. The Iraq war was one of the things that made me a liberal But I ask you….what oil exists in Afghansitan. I read a lot of news and read the Washington Post and New Yokr Times online. What oil is in Afghanistan? Afghanistan doens’t have much too it. Now they have talked about building a pipeline thorugh Afghanistan but that fell apart. I remember reading about that in the news. But where is the oil?

            No offense…but your conspiracy theory mindset really doesn’t cut it. 9-11 happened becuase the federal government was too buracratic, and couldn’t respond to the evolving threat. It wasn’t a consipracy anymore than Pearl Harbor was a conspiracy.

        • ‘The whole feminist/women’s lib thing was a product of Western intellectuals.’ This sweeping comment follows the comment you made below: ‘if you speak contrary to modern feminist orthodoxy you get your head bitten off and are forbidden to engage in polite discourse’. If that’s the level of your ‘polite discourse’ then I’m not surprised you’ve had this reaction.
          The feminist movement emerged because of the oppressive nature of the culture demanded a response. Once upon a time I would have been considered the property of my husband with lesser rights than a man. I would have had no right to have any say in the government of my country or who I married and how my children were treated. Women died for the right to be treated as equals and we are still battling for equality in the workplace in a number of professions because men think it acceptable to treat people differently on the basis of gender.
          Feminism emerged out of conditions of injustice and oppression. It still goes on. 200 million girls are subjected to genital mutilation in the developing world today because men demand a wife who looks ‘right’. It is women who have to fight this. So don’t you knock the feminists. Without them the world would be even more unjust than it is today.
          If you make stupid derogatory and ignorant comments then expect to get your head bitten off. You deserve it.

    • Actually, this line of reasoning – that the feminine was associated with fertility and goddess worship was associated with that – is something that egalitarian scholars have been making for awhile now. It explain why Paul makes the arguments he does in places like Ephesus. He doesn’t want women to be in charge of the men there because of the religious connotation of that. He’s not making a universal argument for all places and all time, though.

    • Ben I beg to differ on your statements about Paganism…you are reading people who make this stuff (Pagan-Earth mother-wiccan etc…) up out of a whole cloth.

      The mother earth suff developed in the 60’s (that is the 1960’s) Gnosticism developed more *coherently* (sorry it still never was really consistent) from Plotinus’ Neo-platonism starting around 60AD with his Chain of being Metaphisics (the closer you are to God the ‘better’ you are, men are ‘higher’ and more “spiritual” than women). It never was nor ever will be pro-femininistic..it was allways Androcentric, with a goal to make women into men.

      It is only the Neo-Pagans who want to “empower” (read- have sex with) women.

      Actually Christianity always was and always will be empowering to women; despite the best efforts of Masculinists like Piper, Ware, and Grudem (et. al).

      • and a clarification: full blown Gnostism really arose around 125-200AD (the Gnostic gospels); which combined Plotinus’ (50’s AD) Neo-Plationism with proto-gnostic ideas of ‘secret knowledge’ twisted from the Christian Gospels, and heretics like Valintinius and Cerinthus.

  7. Regarding your statement about getting young men to grow up…I’d like to offer up a few muddled thoughts, since I fall into this “young man” category…

    Telling young men to be responsible without telling them to be manly is not going to work. It’s not going to work because masculinity is what they are and who they are, whether they see it or not. Our sex is more than just different plumbing–it’s a sacramental reality that points to a higher spiritual Reality.

    A consistent problem that I observe from within the “egalitarian” camp (if I may be so bold) is this denial of hard, on-the-ground reality when it comes to what I call “creatureliness” (borrowing a word from Wendell Berry). They want to focus only on our spiritual dimension and neglect the physical–that God made us as men and as women for a reason. This is an old problem in the Church, and it still really bugs me.

    The end result is that people walk around with fine theories about men and women that won’t work in the real world and on some level, I think most people know it doesn’t work that way, but they’re too afraid to say it because if you speak contrary to modern feminist orthodoxy you get your head bitten off and are forbidden to engage in polite discourse.

    It’s like questioning 9/11, talking about organic food or supporting Ron Paul. It’s just something that respectable people don’t do. Well, guess there are better things than being respectable…

    • To clarify: when you write ”Our sex is more than just different plumbing–it’s a sacramental reality that points to a higher spiritual Reality.’ Do you mean ‘our sex’ including both genders or just the masculine?

      Regarding your point about disagreeing with feminist orthodoxy I can sympathise because the same happens when you disagree with complementarians – you are accused of buying into worldly feminist, being infected with the evils of feminism and being a woolly liberal who love herself above scripture.

      I think the egalitarian camp you are describing is only a portion of it. Plenty of egalitarians acknowledge the physical and emotional differences as well as the spiritual but they would not accept that these differences meant women should be excluded from leadership position because of them.

    • Ben, I’m going to throw a little spanner in the works here & say that it is often the complementarians that ignore ‘hard, on-the-ground reality’, in that many of them (whether you can hear it or not) are denying the genuine capabilities of women. There is still an undercurrent of the’ little woman’, in what people like Piper preach: there are the real adults, men; there are the not-quite adults, women, & there are the children. You may not ‘hear’ this as you don’t experience it, but seriously, being a capable woman with a high IQ is not an easy thing to be in the faith, as there is constant question of how much of what you are, you are actually allowed to be…

      Did the war teach people nothing? Men returned home from fighting to discover that women had filled the work gaps ( which many would have predicted they could never do), as well as they did, & now had to be considered in a whole new light, & with new talents & abilities they were not willing to now let go. We see the same with women who are serving in the Ministry, their sheer spiritual talents & abilities.

      Chaplain Mike I love the fact that you brought up the responsibiltiy angle,over on Rachel Held Evan’s blog the other day I responded to someone who said that if men don’t lead then communities & families fail, I said that these fail because adults don’t lead, maturity rather than gender being the moot point.

    • With all due respect, I dont agree with your categories. To say “male and female” are binding social or psychological categories is to fly in the face of everything learned about humanity since the dark ages. YOU may be a man who was born to lead, hunt, and other manly things, and if you are you may certainly feel the world has turned and left you. But although I have “the parts”, I have no desire for these things. I want to empathize, to share, to coordinate, to coexist. I hate leadership and I like taking care of children. Does this make me suddenly not masculine? Am I suddenly “hiding in femininity” from some deeper social/spiritual problem? I don’t believe so! I am happy and (happily) married, and never once since high school has un-manliness bothered me.

      There are men who are not manly and women who are not womanly. The fact that these categories don’t do a good job of containing the people they say they contain makes me believe they may not mean much at all.

      • The Previous Dan says:

        The catagories don’t always work. There are always exceptions and now that the population is larger and the world smaller due to advances in telecom the exceptions are more obvious. But the bell curve is undeniable.

        I’m not saying that any man or woman should be less than pleased with how God made them as an individual, but the fact is that the average male is psychologically different from the average female. That is where the generalizations come from and they largely hold true.

      • Kero – really like your post, though in your final ‘graph, it seems as if you’re talking about stereotypical views of men and women, rather than men and women per se…

    • scrapiron says:

      “Telling young men to be responsible without telling them to be manly is not going to work. It’s not going to work because masculinity is what they are and who they are, whether they see it or not. Our sex is more than just different plumbing–it’s a sacramental reality that points to a higher spiritual Reality.”

      I have a strong tendency to disagree with Piper here, but that is tempered by the reality of my own life. My parents taught me nothing…absolutely zero…about how to get along with other people, particularly women (I’m a man, for the record). As I was finishing high school and moving into college, I began to realize this and started to try to figure out how to relate to the opposite sex. Most of what I learned about “what women want” I learned from feminist writings. It took me 20 years of marriage to figure out that my wife didn’t think at all like the feminists I learned from. Neither did her sisters, or my sister or my mom or almost any of the women I work with. My actual experience has shown that nearly all *real* women in my life have wanted to be in a traditional feminine role and have expected me to fill a traditional male role.

      It has been a real mess trying to unlearn all the theory and re-learn the reality. Theoretical treatments of any class of people is going to result in a lot of trouble.

      • Exactly!

        That’s what I’m talking about.

        My own personal experience with women has taught me the same things.

        Sometimes when I hear people talk about gender roles, I want to ask, “How can you have lived so long, dated, married, had kids, and not figured out that what you’re saying doesn’t jive with the real world that most of us live in?”

        • Ben – you are young.

          I’d like to hear your opinion in about 25-30 years. (Not j/k; it’s hard not to see things as black and white absolutes when in one’s 20s-30s. The shades of grey start filling themselves in as time goes on, though.)

      • So it never occurred to you that because your sister, your mom, your wife all disagreed with the scholarship you had read; therefore women are different and not one large amalgamation of the female voice? Women are different from one another. Men are different from one another.

        And how on earth could you have both a mother and a sister and not have learned to relate to women? Didn’t you observe your parent’s marriage (if they’re divorced, my apologies)? Did you get to know and relate to your sister?

    • I disagree. Even in the most egalitarian churches, traditional gender roles are still emphasized far too much in my opinion. If you don’t think that’s the case, try talking to a single woman or one without children and ask her if she feels welcomed in many churches. Sure, she may be allowed to serve in a leadership role even, but she will be seen as an outsider by many other women (and men).

      I think many American churches simply define their identity, well, by being American more than anything else. We have molded our church life so its perfectly with our suburban American lifestyle. Any gender roles we find ourselves in have more to do with that than anything else.

  8. It’s odd how badly Piper and his fans want to butch up the Bride of Christ. I fail to see how any of those “masculine” traits he enumerated would not be properly practiced by women.

    Including the nourishing and protecting of women and children; I’ve heard both men and women preach on that subject, as they should. As should we all. When the husbands and fathers in the church drop the ball on that one, the women are usually the first people in the church stepping up to offer support — because the men feel uncomfortable, or that it’s inappropriate, for them to get involved. Jesus may have no issue with it, but cultural Christianity and the things it considers “improprieties” still get in the way regularly.

    In any event, if the church waited to act until its men did, ain’t nothing getting done.

  9. I’d have to cahnge a lot of (his) words for Piper to make sense. Not really. To be fair, he makes a lot of sense if you look at what he says from a human point of view. Trouble is…that’s the trouble. Too much reason. What else would one expect from a Baptist/Calvinist?

    ________________________________________________________

    PS- If I ever wanted a preacher who was terrific at excercising ’emotional blackmail’ (in his preaching)…it would be a tie between Piper and Paul Washer. It’s enough to make you gag.

  10. Show me One passage from the Gospels – just one – where Jesus preached that men must be manly and women must be weaker and subordinate to men.

    [silence]

    No, you can’t find a single one?!

    How about that. 😉

    [kudos to Chaplain Mike for this post]

    • Dan Wilcox says:

      Isn’t the entire bible the word of God? Since when do we just use the 4 gospels? At what point did Jesus say, Thou shalt disregard everything else that came before me and will come through my apostles? You don’t get to pick and choose according to what you want to hear and obey.

      2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        Does this include the passages showing women in positions of responsibility in the church?

        • Sure, along with those specifying maleness as a requirement for office. Church responsibilities and church office are not synonymous.

          • Miguel – I’m guessing that you belong to a LCMS church, not one in the ELCA (like me)? 😉

          • Guilty! For me, they both have pros and cons. I like the idea of having bishops, but I just can’t stomach the gender neutered Psalm translations. LCMS types are much more likely to read the Book of Concord, but ELCA types are much likely to forgive you if you transgress it.

          • …ELCA types are much likely to forgive you if you transgress it.

            I think that might be true, but it’s not as if all people in the ELCA ignore the Book of Concord and other historic documents, either. (Though maybe I’m generalizing a bit.)

            I’ve known some lovely LCMS folks and spent a couple of years at an LCMS church back in the 80s – people couldn’t have been friendlier. But it was a small congregation, and growing steadily smaller by attrition. (Like many mainline churches.) They knew I was LCA (this was prior to the latest iteration of the synod) and didn’t care… i was welcome to take communion, etc.

            Imagine my surprise when I found out that the LCMS is actually supposed to be closed communion – really, I was stunned.

      • I love Luther’s quote, “If they use the Bible against Christ, we will use Christ against the Bible.”

        ____________________________________________________________________

        That little ‘prove you are human’ box, has got me twice, now. Thank God my comments were very short.

        • Yeah, what’s up with that little box anyway? Is there an announcement about it that I missed?

        • Did Luther really say that? I suppose he wasn’t a real evangelical then. It’s really true, though, in many biblicist camps the Bible IS the supreme good and highest end of all things. Jesus is only important in as much as he is contained in the Bible.

      • That quote from 2 Timothy is interesting given that it was made before the canon was officially brought together. So to what is it referring?

  11. I have a lot of respect for Piper and agree with him on many things, but the implications of these statements are downright offensive.

    His first point is just weak and it gets worse from there. In seeking to protect women for criticism, he insults all of the women, both in church history and in non-Christian cultures today, who have faced torture, prison, and martyrdom for standing up for their faith. In light of history, I believe we can handle a bit of criticism.

    He also seems to think that only men will teach doctrine and some of the hard truths of the Bible, but that is not true. There are a lot of men who preach only positive things and shy from offense or divisiveness, and there are many women who do take hard stands on doctrine and teach openly on some of the hard passages of scripture.

    Many of the things he labels as masculine, as if women are unwilling or incapable of doing them, are things that his own compatriots have tried their hardest to keep women out of. There are so many women who want to press forward with the gospel, take in new challenges in ministry and in growing the church, and to learn and teach doctrine and all of scripture, even the “hard” parts. The problem is, in many complementarian churches, these women are accused of getting outside their roles and are shunted toward classes and studies on homemaking or being submissive wives and holding supportive background roles in the church and home, rather than being encouraged to learn and teach the things that these men complain that the church lacks.

    If the church really values the work of Christ above gender roles, then they should encourage all members in those things you have listed as points of a responsible church, rather than dividing them into male and female roles. It’s sad now to see neo-Calvinists who place more restrictions on the role and teaching of women than even Calvin himself did.

  12. donalbain says:

    Piper wants a masculine church.
    The church is the bride of Christ.

    It’s nice to see that Piper is coming round to our side on marriage equality.

    • Took the words right out of my mouth, donalbain.

      If a leader needs a wife and children, and a woman can’t be a leader because she can’t have a wife and children, then the solution is… same-sex marriage! Bingo – Mrs. Reverend Smith-Jones and her lovely wife Mrs. Smith-Jones and their adorable kids (by donor insemination) Sally, Alan and Muffins (okay, Muffins is the labradoodle, but he’s just like one of the family, why he’s so nearly human, he can almost speak!)

      What? No? Why not?

      ;-D

      • Wow, and some people still think that CATHOLICS don’t have enough respect for women!!

        Piper and his ilk are not only harming women by stating how weak and helpless they are, but also placing a burden on men to control things (and people) that are NOT their’s to control or manage.

        The genders are equal in front of God, and He made them both to reflect His image and Glory.

        btw….when did “masculine” come to mean “macho”? Is Piper running a church or a fight club?

  13. Can I put a link on, CM?
    This is a recent article by a UK Baptist theologian eve Holmes about why standing against the argument that God is masculine is so important:
    http://shoredfragments.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/if-god-is-male/

  14. Sorry – Stephen Holmes – not eve!

  15. “1. A masculine ministry believes that it is more fitting that men take the lash of criticism that must come in a public ministry, than to unnecessarily expose women to this assault.”

    SCENE: Interior of a prison, Carthage, early 3rd century.
    PERSONAE: Vibia Perpetua, a young married lady of noble birth; her pregnant slave Felicitas, and her fellow-slave Revocatus, also Saturninus and Secundulus.

    ENTER the father of Perpetua, a PAGAN, and one IOHANNES, commonly called the Piper, a man of the Christian religion.

    Father: My daughter, will you not listen to me at last? Time and again I have pleaded with you to put aside this reckless, wanton madness! Have I not cherished you from childhood onwards? Did I not permit your mother to teach you her faith? When have I ever been harsh or unkind to you, and you repay my care and my love in this manner! But if you will not think of me, what of your husband? What of your tender babe, new-born? Will you leave your helpless child without a mother? Or worse yet, take him here to be nursed and dwell with you in this dark, oppressive jail? What of your slave, herself carrying a child?

    Perpetua: Father, I love you and my family, and I hate this gloomy dungeon; it fills me with fear and dread. But I cannot deny my Lord and God. As for my child, I yearn to be with him, but how can I be a fitting mother for him if I sell my truth for worldly safety? As for Felicity, do not call her my slave, but rather my sister, for all are sisters and brothers in Christ.

    Father: Oh daughter, daughter! I see my words fall on your hard heart like good grain on barren rock – fruitless and wasted. But if you will not listen to me, then listen to this man, who is one of your faith and indeed, a leader amongst your fellow believers, one they call a godly man.

    Iohannes: Perpetua, cease this self-seeking and vain glory! Be instructed by your father, submit to your husband, return to your home and your child, and do not lead your maidservant astray by your bad example. Or would you make of yourself a spectacle in the arena, like some monster that is neither man nor woman, striving with men as one who has laid aside her womanliness and so is no true woman, but neither can she ever be a man?

    Perpetua: Good sir, do you so rebuke me?

    Iohannes: I do, and for your own good. Be taught by me and other grave, sober men of learning and faith. Did not the blessed apostle Paul himself say in his epistle to Timothy “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet”? Cease seeking to follow in the footsteps of a man, and instead comport yourself as befits a modest, Christian wife and mother!

    Perpetua: Sir, you have persuaded me. Father, convey my gratitude to the gaoler Pudens for all his kindness to us, and do you inform Procurator Hilarianus that my maidservant and I will not stand our trials.

    And therefore we celebrate on 7th March the feastday of the glorious confessors and martyrs Revocatus, Saturninus and Secundulus, who strove for the palm and remained steadfast to the end, but we do not commemorate Ss. Felicity and Perpetua as such, neither do we include their names as two of seven women commemorated by name in the second part of the Canon of the Mass, because “it is more fitting that men take the lash of criticism that must come in a public ministry, than to unnecessarily expose women to this assault.”

    All of which is to say, I know why my Church does not ordain women to the priesthood, and the reason is not because of the criticism that women would face in public ministry.

  16. “6. A masculine ministry welcomes the challenges and costs of strong, courageous leadership without complaint or self-pity with a view to putting in place principles and structures and plans and people to carry a whole church into joyful fruitfulness.”

    Because, as you all know, it is so hard to put in place principles, structures and plans, that women could not possibly do it. Instead, they are fitted for soft, easy jobs like:

    “Felicitas, who was eight months pregnant, was apprehensive that she would not be permitted to suffer martyrdom with the others, since the law forbade the execution of pregnant women, but two days before the games she gave birth to a daughter, who was adopted by a Christian woman. On the day of the games, the five were led into the amphitheatre. At the demand of the crowd they were first scourged; then a boar, a bear, and a leopard, were set on the men, and a wild cow on the women. Wounded by the wild animals, they gave each other the kiss of peace and were then put to the sword. “But Perpetua, that she might have some taste of pain, was pierced between the bones and shrieked out; and when the swordsman’s hand wandered still (for he was a novice), herself set it upon her own neck. Perchance so great a woman could not else have been slain (being feared of the unclean spirit) had she not herself so willed it.” So ends the Acta.”

    Creating a flowchart: Complicated maths and spatial stuff! Too hard for girls!

    Being tossed on the horns of wild cows and having one’s head cut off by the sword: Easy-peasy! Even a woman who has given birth only a little while ago can do it!

    (Sorry, I’m having way too much fun with this).

  17. “8. A masculine ministry models for the church the protection, nourishing, and cherishing of a wife and children as part of the high calling of leadership.”

    Sorry, Pope Benedict, you’ll have to hand back the ring of the Fisherman, the pallium, and the triregnum. When the cardinals elected you, naturally they assumed Mrs. Cardinal Ratzinger and the little Ratzingers would be moving into the Papal Apartments; somehow, the Holy Spirit neglected to inform them that there wasn’t any Mrs. Ratzinger and little Ratzingers.

    We’ll have to muddle along somehow until we can find a married clergyman with the correct number of children (not too many and not too few); maybe one of the ex-Anglicans taking up the Ordinariate? Either that, or call back St. Peter (he was married and according to legend had at least one daughter).

    Hey, that reminds me: how many kids did St. Paul have, and what was his wife’s opinion about all this ‘getting run out of town, being thrown in jail, flogging, shipwreck and exile’ thing he underwent? Just when she’d got the house looking nice and made a few friends amongst the neighbours, in comes Paul with “Sorry, honey, we have to pull the kids out of school and head for Galatia – like in the next ten minutes, because, um – if you see a crowd of angry people coming from the direction of the synagogue with swords and whips in their hands, headed this way, let me know, okay?”

    (This statement by John Piper is just too much fun to leave it alone; I’ll be picking out plums all day at this rate).

    🙂

    • Martha, you are John Piper’s worst nightmare! Too smart, too outspoken, too right.

      • Beakerj, of all the reasons to list off why women should not be in a leadership position, kicking off with “in order to spare them from criticism” is very, very weak.

        Back then: Risk associated with public profession of Christianity – getting your head lopped off with a sword.

        Now: Risk associated with public profession of Christianity – ooh, women might get called mean names!

        I have news for Mr. Piper – there are certain atheists (not all of them) who have no qualms about calling all believers in general and Christians in particular harsh names, and they don’t soft-pedal when talking about women as long as they’re not in a public leadership position.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Why are Piper Driscoll et al drinking watered-down when they could have their Masculine Faith straight on the rocks with Islam?

    • The Previous Dan says:

      You are attacking a straw man. I don’t think Piper is saying that every leader has to be married. I think the “If you have a family” is implied just as it was with Paul’s instructions in 1 Tim 3:2.

  18. This may make interesting followup reading, http://shoredfragments.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/if-god-is-male/

    “I am sure that no-one, least of all John Piper, has set out to change theology proper in order to promote a particular view of gender roles. No evangelical pastor or theologian could begin to countenance such a move. The problem must be that, as is well known, we evangelicals are not always very good at understanding the tradition we have inherited, and so don’t always notice when we are doing some violence to it. Nonetheless, an unsympathetic observer of the evangelical scene at present might suggest that we seem ready to invent a new deity, or at least to revise the old deity, in order to preserve our cherished views on the place of women; we should be much more careful never to allow that suggestion to be made.”

  19. One other point…the entire talk about being manly and growing up is really frustrtaing for many guys. Some of these guys in the neo facist camp…eh I mean neo-Calvinist camp need to get a real job and experience what men endure. John Piper is pretty delussional from where I stand and living in theory within his own bubble. The economy and globalization has changed so much. Many jobs have disappeared for men, Men are also carrying more debt today from education as they try and launch themself in the world. Plus because of all the difficulty some are delaying marriage due to all these external factors outside their control. Extended adolesnce is not necessarily due to people ducking their responsibility of the world. Options for guys today are more limited. And that comes from older poeple holding good jobs and keeping them due to the loss of a good chunk of their investment from the credit crunch to many jobs being sent overseas because it is cheaper. So many guys get hammered. What they need is help…not a guilt trip. John Piper’s comments fuel the post we had a few weeks back on “Quiet Desperation”. And when you live in a bubble in a world of theory and fly around the country to conferences on your own private jet…it’s pretty screwed up to hammer guys and to tell them to grow up and be more manly and take the lead.

    John Piper in many ways needs to grow up and get a real job.

    • +1

    • That’s a good point that you make about jobs. I lived with my parents for almost 2 1/2 years after I graduated college in 2009, because for a long time, the only job I could get was folding clothes at the mall. I mean, I was looking for jobs, and I was using the money I made at Banana Republic responsibly–payments on my student loans and repairs on my 15 year old Accord. There certainly are some guys who want to still be in college, sleeping in and partying. I wanted to be in college again too, to be honest; but not because I wanted to party. I wanted to have purpose again, to know what I was working towards again, to be surrounded by friends right down the hall, and to NOT be in my parents’ basement looking at the same Careerbuilder listings for the umpteenth time.

    • Piper has his own private jet?

    • I would also add to this that a part of the problem may be a lack of interaction with others in the body of Christ outside your own circles. When you only talk to and receive feedback from other reformed Baptist types, you are never (or rarely) going to hear a contrary opinion on these matters. It can cause you to become hardcore on both primary AND secondary matters of the faith. Honest people of faith can disagree on the role of women in ministry, but it is not something that rises to a “salvation” level issue.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        WMC, Young Earth Creationism, Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist, and Taking Back America are all “salvation-level issues” these days, why not “Me Man! Me Say So! You Woman! You Shut Up! God Wills It!”?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Some of these guys in the neo facist camp…eh I mean neo-Calvinist camp need to get a real job…

      Instead of inheriting their Megachurch pulpit like Paris Hilton’s trust fund.

    • Excellent points.

      The student loan thing hampers men and women alike – there has been a very striking change since the abolition of the G.I. Bill as well. (I went to undergrad with a lot of younger Vietnam vets; we were the 2nd generation to benefit from post-WWII largesse that made it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to go to college – and we were just about the last generation to experience that, too.)

  20. I suppose I agree that our society needs to recognize true masculinity and femininity as God created them to be. In fact, all societies do, because I don’t think any of them have gotten it right. Piper makes two mistakes, though. One is assuming that his culturally conditioned view of masculinity is exactly what God had in mind. The other, and even more egregious, error is implying that the purpose of Christianity is to establish and enforce gender roles, instead of to save us from sin and death and bring us into union with the only true Life. I object, therefore, to his wrongness, but even more to his smallness.

  21. I’ve just taken time to read the transcript of Piper’s talk. His views of women are so clearly informing his theology rather than the other way around. It’s sad he doesn’t realise this because he has been used by God so much in the past. It is my hope is that by publicising his extreme views of what ‘masculine Christianity’ is, it will put people off this view rather than win him any fans.

  22. There was a recent article talking about the ‘masculine Christianity’ of Mars Hill & the “bullying” they use to keep their members in line. I don’t like to use the word ‘cult’ because it is often thrown around to mean ‘the damned other’, but this is definitely Bad Religion.

    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/church-or-cult/Content?oid=12172001

    the Spiritual Fascism of Masculine Chrisitianity is disturbing!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Invoking Godwin’s Law, the first time I ever heard the word “Hypermasculinity” was in a 1943 OSS intelligence profile describing a certain A. Hitler and the movement/cult he headed.

  23. I would like to add my “feminine” thoughts on what “responsible ministry” looks like:
    1) A responsible ministry LISTENS – listens to the longing in the hearts of its people, listens to their hungers, listens to their needs, listens to their grieving, their joys and their loves.
    2) A responsible ministry RESPONDS: responds to all of the above by providing effective tools to help their people find what they need.
    3) A responsible ministry TEACHES its people effective tools for discernment, insight, healing, insight, comfort, guidance, knowledge and wisdom and ENCOURAGES them to use these tools.
    4) A responsible ministry ENCOURAGES its members to grow through the seeking stage of spiritual development and provides an open forum in which people can seek, discover, ask questions, even challenge so that they can one day become healthy, mature disciples.
    5) A responsible ministry EMPOWERS its people to discover their own unique giftedness and how they are called to be a vessel of God’s love, healing, mercy, joy and peace in the world through the use of these gifts.
    6) A responsible ministry LOOKS in the mirror, scrutinizing its own unhealed woundedness, sins, etc. and HUMBLY acknowledges these wounds while seeking healing for them thereby living as an example of humility for its people to follow.
    7) A responsible ministry is OBEDIENT to GOD above all else and DISCERNS God’s direction and call for them.
    8) A responsible ministry says it is SORRY when it hurts others and accepts responsibility for its own human frailties thereby acting as a source of inspiration for others to do the same.

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com

    • Randy Windborne says:

      Lauri – that was awesome!

    • Lauri, I like your take on it and the powerful words you chose: Listens, teaches, encourages, empowers, humbly looks, discerns, and apologizes. As for “obeys,” I’ve heard that word used too often to insist others submit to a literalist view of the Bible and faith.

  24. Seems like you could start this off with, “Ministry that seeks to encourage mature disciples of Christ…..” or something like that, would work also. Following Christ is not gender specific, and growing up in all things in HIM is open to all.

  25. From Wade Burleson and his blog by the same name, here is a partial post that may be of interest………..

    A Conservative, Bible-Believing Christian Should View God as the Bible Portrays God

    This leads me to the reason why I chose the particular title for my post today. Read the title again. “God Has Chosen to Liken Himself to a Female and We are the Fruit of His Womb.” I found this quote in my theological library, in a book that was originally written nearly 500 years ago by a conservative, Bible-believing Protestant evangelical named John Calvin. That’s right, THAT John Calvin.

    In Isaiah 46:3 God says, “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, you who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from My womb.” John Calvin comments on this verse by writing “God has manifested himself to be both Father and Mother so that we might be more aware of God’s constant presence and willingness to assist us” (Volume VIII, Isaiah 33-66, page 436). Later in Isaiah, God says to His people: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15). In Calvin’s commentary on this verse, the great orthodox theologian writes, “God did not satisfy himself with proposing the example of a father, but in order to express his very strong affection, he chose to liken himself to a mother, and calls His people not merely children, but the fruit of the womb, towards which there is usually a warmer affection.” John Owen and John Gill are just as graphic in their expositions. These men, all of whom lived centuries ago in England and Europe and were considered the greatest Hebrew and Greek linguists in their day, felt no qualms and gave no caveats when presenting the feminine qualities of our ominipotent and sovereign God. Why should they? They believed the Bible.

    In Genesis 1:27 it is said, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” The male and the female were created by God. The male and the female both bear the image of God. The male and the female are both included in the Hebrew word adam (man) – “So God created adam … He created them.” Notice what God says about them … “and let them rule.…” The male and the female were both designed to rule. Men and women are created by God in His image as co-regents of the world He created. Any system, any society, any organization that places one gender as an authority over the other, whether it be patriarchal or matriarchal in nature, is a direct violation of the command and design of the Creator God. Why can women rule in God’s creation? Why can women lead in God’s creation? Why can women be equal to men in God’s creation? Women are created in the image of God, just like men, and when the omnipotent, sovereign and invisible Creator God determined to create man in His image, He created a male and a female, reflecting the very nature of God Himself. This is why there is nothing wrong with considering God as both Father and Mother, as the invisible and all-powerful Ruler of the universe who reflects Himself in both males and females–God is Spirit and the perfections of each gender are seen in God.

  26. Randy Windborne says:

    Wow – what a hot button subject!

    Another view I’ve read (and I’ll let you guess the teacher) is that the deep desires of men and women are different, but complementary:

    Men desire:
    1. A battle to fight;
    2. An adventure to live;
    3. A beauty to rescue.

    Women desire:
    1. To be romanced (i.e., to be fought for);
    2. To be an indispensible part of a great adventure (emphasis on “indispensible”);
    3. To reveal her beauty.

    This weekend I was working out to the movie “Avatar,” and it was hard to miss these desires expressed so clearly by the characters Jake Sully and Neytiri.

    While Chaplain Mike’s blog deals with ministries as “responsible” verses “masculine,” do you think the deep desires of men & women outlined above are valid, and if so do they engender the characteristics of a ministry?

    • Riding shotgun on the Eldredge ranch, I see. I like much of his stuff, but if anything he makes the same mistakes Piper makes and then some, primarily seeing the christian life thru too few paradigms/lenses. The “battle” picture is legit, but there are MANY other ways to describe the christian life and walk. And his “beauty to rescue” owes more to movies and extra-biblical lit. than the bible istself, especially the NT, IMO.

    • I don’t think the above is really a valid dichotomy, partially because they are very culturally influenced, and partly because they ignore or relabel desires that both sexes share.

      I’m not sure if the phrasing is intentional or not, but it also seems pretty objectifying – men have an active role and some sort of heroic quest in life, while women are just an object to focus the quest on, some sort of trophy to be won.

      I know so many women who want to fight for something as well, to live an adventure, and often to have something to save (although not necessarily a “beauty to rescue”). There is a reason so many women pout themselves into certain protest and activist groups, and a reason that many women come of age and sign up for wilderness excursions and other trips. Many women have desired to do these things, but we are just now finding the ability and social acceptance to go for them. In the past, women were discouraged from or even outright barred from so many activities that it is hard to tell what they wanted to do, but looking at the early women who did become adventurers, battlefield nurses, foreign missionaries, etc shows that it is not just a modern idea.

      By the same token, many men also want a woman who will choose them over hardship or be willing to put a little effort in to “win” or keep them. The amount of men’s grooming products out there also seems to show that men also want to be thought of as attractive and desired. Of course, most men do not expect women to fight over them physically or rescue them from danger, because of the physical differences between the sexes and the relative lack of dangerous situations requiring rescue in our modern world. At the same time, I think most men would value a woman who is willing to “fight” for him by supporting their goals and plans when other may object, who will stand by him despite economics, circumstances, or whatever adventures life may bring, and who finds him physically attractive and desirable.

      At the same time, basing what men and women want off movies and romances doe not line up with reality, because they show life as the writer and director idealize it, not as it is. Reducing the main goals in life of either sex to purely or primarily their roles in a romantic relationship is also problematic, because there is so much more to life and love and romance are just one part of that.

      • Bingo, and quite unintentionally JE makes the romance thing a lynchpin in all things discipleship related. I just don’t think that’s fair as a generalization, and what we know of it thru the NT. And what of singles ??? Are they relegated to the “on hold” status until they get to become REAL men and women ??? I don’t think so: for a much better treatment of men,women, and singleness, see Keller’s “The Meaning of Marriage”…..if your bookstore hasn’t choked it out with the……um…..other stuff……

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And what of singles ??? Are they relegated to the “on hold” status until they get to become REAL men and women ???

          Pretty much. Last time singles came up on IMonk, there was this great line that “Then you get married and are finally allowed to sit at the grown-ups’ table.”

          …if your bookstore hasn’t choked it out with the……um…..other stuff……

          “Other Stuff” as in Pwecious Moments, End Time Prophecy, and Amish Bonnet Romances?

      • I agree. “Being romanced” sounds like code for redemption. Stories of redemption ring true for men and women alike. The masculine/feminine confusion introduced by American culture is that women seek redemption and men seek revenge/vindication. This image of the constantly fighting and warring male gives them no hope of finding acceptance by Someone without doing something or winning battles to be worthy of acceptance. This sounds a lot like the current gang culture in America, where many boys growing up without the acceptance of a father find a home. Even the image of women seeking “romance” loses its sense of redemption, when they are expected to be pretty, elegant, and sexy in order to catch the favor of the prince. This seems to be at the heart of the pre-marital sex problem in America. These “values” being pushed by the Pipers and Eldredges are destroying this country and are the antithesis of the gospel message.

        • Chaplain Mike’s series on the book of Ruth also seemed to address this universal need for redemption; otherwise, the book is just a romance story stuck in the Bible.

        • There are probably a lot of other things destroying this country faster than the Pipers and Eldridges…

    • The Previous Dan says:

      Eldredge makes valid points. However, anytime you generalize there will be many exceptions along with many more egalitarians ready to jump up and emphasize those exceptions. But there is no denying the bell curve and in that regard I think Eldredge got it right.

      • John Piper is going way beyond what John Eldredge is saying though. That is a big difference…

      • Not to be Mr.Snarky on such a fine Monday….yes, he makes many valid points, and you cant’ write a book or make a movie that covers every possible angle….but….. I think his work in general owes more to modern day views of romance than they do the real bedrock of what drives GOD’s agenda, really in both testaments, and as far as I know , that is the KINGDOM of GOD. Yes, there is lots of carry over between the two, but there are huge gaps as well. I just don’t think he captures in general the life of a christian, he captures some parts of the lives of some christians in some cultures.

        Am I nit picking here too much ?? Haven’t had lunch yet, so it’s the hunger….. for food, that is…

      • Sorry Dan but his points are only valid if they are correct and they are massive generalisations. They’ll fit some but they don’t ring true from my experience at all. It’s always dangerous to generalise about people on the basis of gender – which is why it’s probably better not to try.

        • The Previous Dan says:

          Granted, there may be only 30% who fit perfectly into his generalizations, but there are probably 70% who fit enough to benefit from the books. Why try and invalidate the 70% for whom his generalizations apply for the sake of the 30% for whom they do not apply? If they don’t apply to you; fine leave them be. This is hardly even debatable. You can buy and read any number of credible scientific books out there on the male brain versus the female brain. It’s just the way it is.

          • I’m not sure where you are getting those figures from? Is this from a specific study? But even if those figures are accurate there is a problem in advocating your approach. It leaves you with large numbers of folk who are expected to conform to a stereotype that does not fit them at all so they don’t feel that they can be themselves and, even worse, there is something wrong with them because they don’t feel they fit in. This happens for both genders.
            I absolutely agree there is a difference between the genders but I’m hard pushed to define it precisely beyond the biological. How do you think we should respond when we are told that we are made a certain way which doesn’t match up with the facts? It’s not invalidating those who do fit the criteria to affirm the person who doesn’t.
            The conclusion surely should be that the criteria is too limiting?

          • The Previous Dan says:

            Ali – Male Brain versus Female Brain is not based on one study, but is a whole field of study. Look up Simon Baron-Cohen among others. Of course there is variation and few will perfectly fit the profile, but can’t we acknowledge that the average female fits profile X and the average male fits profile Y? It isn’t stereotype, it is pretty solid fact. And, therefore, there is benefit in books and discussions that reference the differences between the average profiles. The fact that some don’t fit the profile just makes the discussion more interesting. Few things in life are simple so we should embrace and enjoy the complexity, not avoid it.

          • Dan – I’m not asking you about the differences – I am querying your assertion that ‘there may be only 30% who fit perfectly into his generalizations, but there are probably 70% who fit enough….’ . It’s not clear where you are getting those figures from.
            Again – differences biologically (includes neurological differences) I accept completely but when you start talking about the ‘average’ female and male it becomes very unclear. What is average? Who decides? If ‘average’ is measured in one society is that ‘average’ the same in another? Are we only talking about the average in the 21st century western context or are we looking at society worldwide and within all cultures?
            Please define ‘average’ and can you give examples of who is ‘average’? If we are going to generalise about people then we should be able to identify to whom those generalisations apply. If we can do this then we have to ask: what do we do with all those for whom the generalisation does not fit?

          • The Previous Dan says:

            Ali – Those questions can’t be answered in a paragraph or two on this blog. The scientist I mentioned (Baron-Cohen) wrote a book called “The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain” that you can check out at your library. I like him because one of his specialties is autism and I grew up on the spectrum. For material with more general appeal you can run a digital search through old issues of Psychology Today. I’m sure you will find plenty of articles. I’d also like to mention that I don’t think biological differences can be separated from psychological. Part of the reason a person thinks the way they do is because they grew up with a certain body that was a certain size, speed, etc. We are whole people and each part always impacts the others to make us who we are.

    • Good points! I agree. In fact, there is a book and I can’t remember the name but is about countries like China and India aborting babies because of their sex i.e. females. The author is a feminist and is not necesarily pro-life however, she believes that there are biological more females than males because without females men will fight more! It was the wild, wild, west for a reason… initially it was a bunch of men! So, it seems that there should be complementing roles however, is Piper and other neo calvinist complimentary? I mean if we are trading uber feminism for uber masculinity how is that complimentary?

    • Some women don’t want to be romanced, and some women want an adventure to live, too. But they remain ladies through it all.

      I’m thinking of Mary Kingsley, famous for the phrase “the blessings of a good, thick skirt”, which arose from the following incident:

      “Another time she was walking through the forest when she stepped on a camouflaged animal trap. Its cover of leaves and branches gave way beneath her. She plunged fifteen foot into a pit. And she landed, in a most unladylike heap, on a bed of spikes. “It is at these times you realised the blessing of a good thick skirt,” she writes. “Had I paid heed to the advice of many people in England… and adopted masculine garments, I should have been spiked to the bone, and done for.”

      Mary was lucky. “Save for a good many bruises,” she continues, “here I was with the fullness of my skirt tucked under me, sitting on nine ebony spikes some twelve inches long, in comparative comfort, howling lustily to be hauled out.” Her African companions gathered at the rim of the hole and peered down. “You kill?” asked one. “Not much,” responded Mary. They pulled her out with a bush rope and the party marched resolutely onwards.”

      She was a 19th century English woman who explored parts of Africa no white person, male or female, had ever ventured into before – but she did it dressed like a respectable gentlewoman. I think we’re a bit outside neat categories of “All men are X and all women are Y”, here.

      🙂

    • @Randy – to be honest – this doesn’t resonate with me at all. I want to fight the battles (and win), live riskily and look after people who need me. I don’t want to be fought for and I don’t want to be a passive accessory in anyone’s adventure and as for revealing beauty – like anyone of either gender I want to be loved and appreciated – is that what it means? The list for women sounds so boring. There may be women who fit into this prescribed list but I don’t know any who would admit to it. Maybe I just hang around with the wrong kind of women? Maybe the author needs to get out more?

  27. David Cornwell says:

    My daughter has always been a strong believer in Christ, even as a tiny child, I might add. She’s a second grade teacher in public school. She is a strong person and has weathered all kinds of trials that have tested her faith and resolve. She isn’t afraid to take stands even against the prevailing local political and evangelical culture. What Piper says is an insult to her intelligence, strength, maturity, and ability.

    I’d trust her in any position of leadership or ministry (guess that goes along with being a father, but I won’t ask Piper).

  28. I love to see how fired up all you egalitarians get the second anyone dares to point out that perhaps men and women are different for a purpose- it’s just really too funny to watch folks fight against “nature”

    It’s like watching a madman try to stop the waves from coming to the shore

    I guess the church has been wrong for all of these thousands of years. They just were not as enlightened as our present time, didn’t have the right understanding- now we are experiencing something “new” a new revelation of God’s will regarding all of this, bring on more women bishops, yeah, and while were at it, maybe the RC’s can get a woman pope, that would be the pinacle of openness and equal thinking, maybe even a woman Othodox patriarch, no scratch that, matriacrh

    • Holy smug comment Batman!

      Austin, at no point was anyone denying that men and women are different. And there’s a good chunk of complementarians here, including Martha, who wrote the sharpest comments against John Piper’s perspective. I don’t think that Chaplain Mike is writing against complementarianism per se, as much as the trend to view ALL of Christian theology in light of a complementarian perspective, which is really common in Neo-Reformed circles.

    • Oh Austin, I’m really disappointed by your comment. Your tone is horrible, ‘you egalitarians’, & you seem to have misread so many of the comments here. There are many people who still argue ‘from nature’ that black people are lesser beings…

      You don’t sound like a thoughtful complementarian in this post, you sound like a sarcastic mysogenist.

    • Whatever guys. The comment is fair. The gist of the egalitarian movement wants to throw away 2000 years of both scriptural understanding and tradition in the name of this newfound equality. I’m sure many would like to see a woman Pope, and believe me, it’s not being prevented because all the cardinals are misogynists. And it’s a well established rhetorical point that you can argue gender roles from the very nature of creation itself: Men are not to bear children, neither are women to fend for themselves while bedridden and pregnant. You could argue that men simply ought to be considerate of the mother of their children, but practically that takes the not so ambiguous shape of provider. Thus we see traditional roles beginning to emerge. Without any need for Biblical eisegesis, there’s a reason why the vast majority of cultures throughout the world all evolved relatively similar traditional gender roles: Nature still runs the course it was designed for.

      • cermak_rd says:

        I don’t care whether a woman ever becomes Pope because I don’t believe the Pope has any meaning. Anymore than the Amish elders or the First Presidency of the LDS church does. Meaningless symbol for me.

        The Gatling gun pretty much assured that any woman still able to stand could defend herself and firearms have improved since then. White collar work and maternity leave assure that women can still afford to eat during their pregnancies. So humanity should forever keep gender roles that are no longer needed? Out of some sense of what? nostalgia? A tradition that benefits one class of humanity at the expense of another?

        • Good questions. But just because society has progressed significantly, I don’t believe traditional gender roles have completely outlived their usefulness, though they are certainly challenged by new options.

          About the Pope and women: Meaningless symbol though it may be (for all Protestants especially), he is still the CEO of the largest religious organization in history. Kinda. And egalitarians among the RC ranks will work towards this. Egalitarians outside would hail it as a momentous accomplishment. I just meant to point out that the reasons it won’t happen are not the same as the sins that feminists have their crosshairs on.

          And how on earth do traditional gender roles hurt anyone who voluntarily lives by them? Many women gladly assume traditional roles for reasons of culture or preference. Are they just backwards? Is it wrong for a woman to desire her husband to provide fully so she can stay home and raise the kids? I don’t think women should be obligated to get a job just because they can. I think fathers are obligated. Traditional gender roles are not inherently misogynistic. Chauvenism is, but that’s not the same thing.

          • cermak_rd says:

            I have no problem with women who voluntarily choose to live their lives in traditional gender roles. I have a big problem with teaching girl children that they must choose traditional gender roles. While I agree parents have the right to indoctrinate their children into any dang system they want, I’m going to disapprove of their choice and of them if they do so by taking options away from their children.

          • Yeah, I don’t really see the good in teaching children that they must choose traditional roles. Encouraging that direction can’t be extremely harmful, but if my daughter wants to have a career when she grows up, the Bible certainly doesn’t require me to get in the way. But everyone wants their daughter to marry a chivalrous man who will provide for her every need so they can stay home and produce grandchildren. At least everyone I know with adult children seems to think that way.

          • I think we are free in Christ to order the “roles” in our family as we see fit within the partnership of marriage.

          • Well, it certainly is how we live, so we can deny that all we want, but we still do it, I suppose. However, I do take exception to your use of the word “free.” The ability to do as we see fit seems like the opposite of the freedom Christ offers. Then there is the fact that the Bible offers explicitly different instructions to husbands and wives. It doesn’t take a fully egalitarian position of “the two of you are to love each other equally and work out what that looks like in your relationship.” It says husbands love your wives, do not be harsh with them, and lay down your life for them, and wives submit. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t feel like I have a clue exactly what that should look like, but I do recognize that, as a follower of Christ, my “freedom” is bound to those words.

          • Miguel, our freedom is bound by love. Not by “roles,” which is what too many complementarians insist upon. Who works, who stays home with the kids, etc.

          • Yes, our freedom is bound by love, which is the summary of the law. But “love” is not a gender neutral ideal, as the Biblical instructions for how husbands and wives are to express this love to one another are quite unique. These differences in instruction are the basis from which “roles” are developed. The problem is that the complementarians develop the roles WAY beyond the scope of biblical instruction. The Bible is full of examples of working career women, yet complimentarians simply dance around the part in Proverbs 31 that mentions the wife doing business, calling it a “home business,” which is not remotely implied in the text. But the other side of the coin is that egalitarians are too silent as to what the different expressions of love could look like. The instructions in Ephesians (and Luther’s table of duties!) are too often ignored or overlooked in more liberal circles because they just can’t stand the “S” word due to all the baggage that came with chauvinism and misogyny. I’m still waiting to hear a detailed egalitarian exposition of these verses, one that explains what they do mean as opposed to trying to explain them away in order to (rightly) condemn the abuse of said verses.

      • Miguel, like I said above, I don’t think that Chaplain Mike was arguing against complementarianism per se. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail–and Neo-Calvinist circles seem to have nothing but complementarian hammers.

        • Wow. Insightful comment of the week! I’d tweet that if I thought any of my FB friends knew the meaning of the word “complementarian.” However, I was responding to the complaints about Austin’s comment, which was directed at egalitarianism generally.

      • Sometimes customs and traditions have to be changed. I know it’s an old chestnut but slavery was justified from scripture to maintain a culture and a power base for a very long time. I would dispute that it’s 2000 years anyway – the evidence is that women were leading the church in the early years. Egalitarians aren’t wanting a new interpretation but a return to the old – it’s a return to the correct interpretation of scripture. For many people the evidence points to complimentarians being the new kids around here. You may disagree with that interpretation but it’s a valid one.

        • You may be right, but you’re certainly the first I’ve heard argue the egalitarian position from that perspective. I would certainly agree that the complementariansim of the neo-reformed is a recent idea, and not the same as the traditional Catholic relegation of the priesthood to men. As for the evidence, I’m not sure what exactly you’re referring to specifically, but for me it’s all about leadership vs. office. Anyone can lead, but the church has traditionally limited the office of “elder” (pastor, presbyter, priest, overseer, etc..) to men and I’m not aware of any pre-modern exceptions to that.
          And for your old chestnut, I think we can agree that using scripture to justify slavery is most certainly bad interpretation and twisting of text for self-justification. I see that happening on both sides of the gender debate these days, which I find frustrating and is part of why I’m still on the fence for many of these issues. However, I tend to shy away from those who play fast and loose with the text because that’s usually a sign that an exterior agenda is being imposed upon scripture.

          • Miguel – Ali’s not alone in that view.

            One word: Junia.

          • Nobody’s saying she wasn’t a leader. But she is never mentioned as an presbyter/bishop.

          • If your interpretation of scripture is that women are affirmed as leaders in the early church then you would see yourself returning to the original plan for the church. Junia is certainly one and there are many scholars who are adamant that she was an apostle (there are also those who disagree obviously!!) but the list of women who led in the Bible is a lengthy one from Deborah to Priscilla etc for those of us of an egalitarian persuasion.
            I agree with you completely about the twisting of the text to suit our particular cause. I’m interested that you think women can lead but not take the offices mentioned. My view has always been that it is in those offices where the real leading happens in the church but perhaps you could expand further on that point?

          • Ali, the list of the qualifications for elders in Timothy and Titus include that they should be men. It says that elders should be the “husband of one wife,” which in the greek is structured as they should be a – one woman – man. It appears the gramatical structure of the sentences flat out declares they should be men, with the modifier that they are “of one woman,” or monogamous. The argument could be made that what is really meant is that they should be faithful in marriage, but there are other ways of writing that, and I’m just not comfortable with accusing Paul of linguistic dyslexia. It’s on par with saying that when Jesus said “this IS my body,” he really meant “this REPRESENTS my body,” but for some reason He couldn’t find the right word at the time. Plus, other times in scripture certain widows were required to be the woman of one man, or a monogamous woman in her marriage, which shows that the writers are capable of being gender specific. The argument against women’s ordination is NOT a disparaging of their gifts, talents, abilities, or potential. It is not about limiting what they can do or establishing them as eternal subordinates. It’s about faithfulness to what God has required of us, regardless of whether our culture sees it as backwards. All those women who lead in the Bible are perfect examples of why women do NOT need the office of “elder” in order to fulfill their calling, use their gifts, and accomplish much good through leadership roles. “Elders” are never required to be the only leaders. Elders should be leaders, but that does not mean that all leaders should be elders. All current US presidents are African-American, but it does not follow that all African-Americans are current US presidents. I hope this makes sense.

          • I’m sorry Miguel but I simply disagree with your interpretation. There are academically sound arguments over every point you have raised and this issue has been hashed out many times on IM so I don’t see the point at all in going over it all over again especially with the indication that you take it more literally than I ever would.
            Linguistically the Bible is complex and if you approach it from a particular hermeneutic slant you can come up with a very different interpretation from your equally qualified and sincere neighbour. We will have to agree to disagree on this one!

          • Ali, I hope that you can really trust I’m not trying to be belligerent about this, but I’ve been in this discussion every time, and every time it comes down to these verses and I honestly feel like my question gets dodged, which is why I’m still slightly to the right on this issue. I only raised ONE point: The text clearly says, in two locations, (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:6) that “elders should be men.” Assuming, for the sake of argument that it didn’t mean that, I’m a little puzzled on what the Bible would have to say if it wanted to require male eldership. It’s not a hermeneutic slant to say the text says the words “elders should be men,” anymore than it is to say the decalogue includes “thou shalt not steal.” I’ve pushed back on egalitarians to give me a way to understand these verses in a way that maintains the integrity of linguistic communication. I’m not interested in Genesis, Ephesians, or generally abstracted principles where there is plenty of room for leaps of logic. This probably wouldn’t bother me as much if it wasn’t included twice in scripture. We can agree that we are disagreed on this one, but every time I show somebody what those texts literally say, the response “that’s too literal” just rings hollow because you would never play so loosely with other texts of scripture. I really hope I’m wrong, but it just sounds like “it can’t be literal because it tramples my viewpoint if it is.” What I need is either 1) A reason to believe this text doesn’t apply to us today that doesn’t undermine Scriptural authority in all matters, or 2) A technical greek demonstration of why the use of gender in “elders should be a -one woman- man” can be understood as incidental. Sorry for beating a dead horse, I’m just trying to wrap my mind around it.

          • I’m really sorry if I sounded dismissive – I’ve just gone over these points so many times I assume everyone knows the arguments but doesn’t agree with me so what’s the point?! You don’t sound belligerent and it’s a perfectly legitimate question. I am not a Greek scholar so I pick up what I can from the experts so this is going to sound fairly basic. I’m providing links so you can read in more detail at least a couple of views concerning this.
            As far as 1 Tim 3:2 is concerned, Craig L Blomberg says this:
            1 Tim. 3:12 (cf. Tit. 1:6)-It is generally recognized today that “husband of one wife” means something like “currently faithful to one’s spouse, if married.”
            Now I am not in a position to comment on whether this is generally recognised or not but this is one understanding and I have heard this translation from other sources as well. The link for this particular quote is:
            http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/tniv-untold-story-good-translation
            Another view on this is that of Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian which is more detailed – this can be found at:
            http://www.cbeinternational.org/?q=content/challenge-proponents-female-submission-prove-their-case-bible (specifically section 8)
            The case is made that if we apply what both these verses state outside their context then those who can lead as elders are very limited indeed – all single men, all men without children etc would be exempted as well so it’s not right to use these verses to exempt women alone. The verses in question should be taken in their context which could well have been to churches who were having specific difficulties. What can be deduced from them is that elders should be people who can manage their family/private lives well.
            Hope that this is of some use. Sorry it’s so basic and I’ve sent you to links which feels as if I am cheating a bit but I have children to feed and get to bed so I can’t be very original tonight!

          • I have NO idea why a smiley was inserted there – it’s meant to read ‘section 8’!

          • That’s what I’m talkin about. Thank for the links, I’ll be sure to read them carefully. Your absolutely right it’s not fair to use those verses to exempt women alone. I’m actually kinda in favor of men who have proven to lead their family well being entrusted with the spiritual care of the church. I’d certainly concede that regardless of gender, it is more important that the candidate be exemplary in family/private life. I suppose there’s got to be room for a variety of understandings on that phrase. Thanks for the explanation!

  29. I used to go to Piper’s church a decade ago, so when I read stuff like this I have a hard time reconciling the humble and joyful Piper I remember from his preaching back then with this new Piper who’s so defensive and convinced of his own rightness. I honestly can’t picture the man I remember from ten years ago making comments like this (e.g. implying that women are more prone than men to “complaint or self-pity”). Granted, even back then his church took a strong position against women in ministry, but Piper spoke with a lot more humility and openness to God than I see in these words of his today.

    On a separate note, if “masculine Christianity” is supposedly an answer to the immaturity of men in our culture, am I the only one who’s having trouble seeing a connection between “masculinity” and maturity or responsibility? Most of what our culture associates with masculinity (independence, violence, self-sufficiency, etc.) is not particularly mature, and is certainly not Christlike, either.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I used to go to Piper’s church a decade ago, so when I read stuff like this I have a hard time reconciling the humble and joyful Piper I remember from his preaching back then with this new Piper who’s so defensive and convinced of his own rightness.

      Well, that was a decade ago. Piper has aged in the meantime (if that pic at the top is of him, he looks pretty old) and this might be a case of Hardening of the Attitudes.

      • John Piper is also becoming Jerry Falwell’s replacement.

        • I see these two as VERY different, not only in theology , but also in the kind of role they want (or WANTED, in Jerry’s case) to play in church AND culture. Not sure I understand your statement, here.

          • John Piper craves attention, he craves the stage. And I’m also thinking of what he has said about natural disasters being punishment from God. The poor bastard driving across the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis that never stood a chance…I think of what John Piper said about that incident. That’s where I am drawing the parallels.

  30. Richard Hershberger says:

    “2. A masculine ministry seizes on full-orbed, biblical doctrine with a view to teaching it to the church and pressing it with courage into the lives of the people.”

    One can only speculate what “full-orbed, biblical doctrine” means, but it seems to involve ignoring those bits which are insufficiently masculine to satisfy John Piper. It also appears that this is rather a lot of it.

    Most of what follows is pretty generic pablum, but this stood out:

    “7. A masculine ministry publicly and privately advocates for the vital and manifold ministries of women in the life and mission of the church.”

    I’m pretty sure this is an outright lie, as the manifold ministries of women in the Bible include stuff John Piper wouldn’t dream of allowing them to do.

  31. This sort of thing frustrates me immensely. I can’t help but think of the gnostics who said that Mary would attain perfection when she was made a man. I am a lawyer (with an MBA). I was a professional boxer. My sister taught at an Ivy League and her Catholic Church’s Sunday school. One of my aunt’s was a member of a certain country’s Parliament. Another female relative was a prosecutor in a certain beleaguered Middle Eastern country and a Christian. Another was the first woman hired by the Orientalist (Near Eastern Studies) Department of the University of Chicago in the 1930’s. My first boxing coach was a woman with five kids who was one of the toughest and most Christian women I’ve ever known. Apparently, since being created in the image of God isn’t enough, accomplishment isn’t either.

    P.S. for Ben Carmack. If you think more traditional methods of living worked, try looking at the history of women’s suffrage and why those women did what they did.

  32. I thought it was self-evident that God must have female attributes from the biblical record? If God doesn’t possess female attributes, then where did they come from? To confess that all things were created by Him and without Him was not anything created, we must conclude that all things in creation must have flowed from His character and essence.

    Therefore, if He is not in any way feminine, then femininity came from outside God, and all things were not created by Him. Which is heresy, no?

  33. Piper’s views are just another affect of biblicism.

  34. About four years ago when our church was looking for a pastor, we were warned by our interim pastor that the trend in Baptist circles was swinging sharply toward a male-centered church which relegates women to the sphere of taking care of cleaning the church, cooking for whatever functions there are, and teaching no one in the church except the really small children. That proved to be one of the best questions our search committee could ask a prospective pastor: what do you see as the role of women in the church? The answer tells you a whole lot about a person’s theology.

    I’m curious as to how Piper defines “vital and manifold ministries of women in the life and mission of the church.”

  35. PS anafterthought says:

    Who is arguing that men and women aren’t different? But if you read all these comments, what really comes out in summary is that yes, men and women are different, just as each man is different from each other man and each woman is different from each other woman, and each woman is different from each other man.

    We were all made in God’s image with our many traits, which just goes to show that God’s traits are so numerous that we can’t contain them in any English sentence.

    I feel very strongly that when we put someone on a pedestal, as some views of women seem to do, we also are very limiting was to what is on that pedestal and how wide that pedestal is. Ditto for men.

    Ideally, we look at each human as an individual and help that person develop traits and strengths for work in the Kingdom. Each person has a calling, given by God. Who are we to limit what and who God has called? Who are we to assume that God has given only certain traits to people because they are a specific gender? [Not to mention that some people seem to bend gender definitions, so that they have a difficult time in secular society. And so many churches won’t extend them Grace.]

    My husband is one of the finest people on this planet. I used to have him on a pedestal. That made it impossible for me to see that he did have flaws and shortcomings. And he had a lack of certain traits, but I didn’t see this., so I was always assuming that he would do certain things in parenting, but he just ignored some things, to the detriment of our family. My son looks back and sees this, so it isn’t just my judgement. But when I finally got rid of that pedestal, we ended up with a more mutually honest and respectful relationship, yet a little more feisty relationship, in which we know each others’ strengths and shortcomings, and work with them. And, quite frankly, some of our strengths don’t fit the gender stereotypes.

  36. The Previous Dan says:

    “But if young men are failing to move past adolescence and embrace responsibility, we do not need to challenge them to be more ‘masculine’ or ‘manly.’ We should be admonishing them to grow up…”

    For a man, to grow up IS to become more “masculine” and “manly.” Unless you are using those words in some sort of pejorative sense. Likewise, as girls grow up they become more feminine and womanly.

    Overall I agree with your point that what Piper said applies to us all. But I don’t think words like “manly” and “womanly” should be derogatory. They are worthy goals when properly defined. We aren’t Rambo and Barbie but neither are we unisex. God had something in mind when he made us male and female.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      To my stepmother, “growing up” meant “becoming sexually active”. She pushed me HARD along those lines.

  37. I had a similar thought as Michael Z’s re: Piper’s changing tone. I have never been a Piper follower, but have been aware of what he is doing. I can’t imagine him saying some of these things even five years ago.

    My observation is that Piper and his gang are experiencing WAY more pushback from other believers than they ever have had to deal with in the past. In the past it was just the so-called fringe lunatic egalitarians pointing out some of these problems. Now it is more and more mainstream Christians saying enough is enough. It is making Piper and the rest increasingly defensive of the “Women are Subordinate” view to the point where they are making really sad statements about the church being masculine, ministry being masculine, etc. This is no longer just about holding to a complementarian view because they think it is important. They are steadily moving it toward a full-fledged Gospel issue. Is this intentional? No, I don’t believe so. But they have been steadily elevating this view over the past year and a half or so.

    And I agree completely that macho masculinity has nothing to do with being a godly male. My husband isn’t macho in the least nor would I want him to be so. He is an introverted artist, kind, thoughtful, and gracious. I wouldn’t trade him for a million Mark Driscolls or other pseudo-macho men. Every day through fifteen years of marriage I have known how incredibly blessed I am to have him. And I find it deeply offensive that Piper and his gang think that they can speak for all women regarding what we want in a man.

    • Let’s not forget that there is a big difference between being masculine and being macho. My husband is very masculine, but he is a far cry from macho.

      • +1

        There is a definite difference between masculine and macho. I may be masculine in many aspects, but I’m certainly no macho man.

        • Thanks (dripping sarcasm), now I have The Village People running around in my head.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            …now I have The Village People running around in my head.

            That guilty pleasure of the Seventies tends to happen when you hear Macho Man Driscoll preaching on Masculine Love (TM).

  38. Chaplain Mike

    Good an worthwhile discussion. It is too bad that Piper has framed the issue in this way. I find it a bit strange that he has. Is it a reaction to something?

    But it made me think, there are issues that men have with church. There was a book written Why Men Hate Church Some guy relatives have been discussing it with me. There are some cold realities and one of them is that many men do not relate to church for whatever reason.

    I suggest this as a future topic. I would love to see some good discussion on this. From where I sit I am disturbed by the fact that many men are feeling and being left out. In earlier eras a guy could grow up and if he liked working with his hands could do so and support a family. There was room for the typical tough tradesman. A close relative of mine had little education and worked on the highway. With penny pinching he could raise his family on that salary.
    The education system seems to be geared to girls. My daughters do fine, two of them are honours students. Neither of my sons have been engaged by it, they both switched off. Be a good boy, sit still and do your work.

    I don’t think church is doing anything for those type of men.

    BTW, I am not a tradesman. A university grad, white collar work, teach at a college…

    I just see what is going on with lots of other men.

    Ken

    • Maybe a big part of the problem is the way we “do” church today. And it isn’t just the men because I’m sure there are many women who could write a book entitled “Why Women Hate Church.” 🙂

      • That may be true Sallie.
        I just know that in most churches I have attended there are more women than men. And many of the men do little more than attend, no involvement.

      • And I would happily join that crew!!!

      • … crew of writers, that is.

        I’ve never liked going to church services. (Am in my 50s now.) They can be stultifying, no matter what denomination or musical style used.

        they can also be energizing and wonderful.

        I’m sure the answers to this whole question are far more complex than some (including Piper and the author of Why men Hate Church) are making them out to be.

        I posted a similar comment last year on the Why Men hate Church site and it was summarily deleted.

        I guess those who don’t fit perceived norms aren’t allowed to state an opinion, especially if they identify themselves as female. Or – ???

        • As I said I was involved in a discussion about this at a family get together. The men seemed to feel like church was geared toward females. There was some feeling that even the interpersonal dynamics were geared to females.

          Some of the women took umbrage at the discussion, but the division was clearly along gender lines.

          I am not what you would call ‘the all American Marlborough man’, I can relate well to academia and IT nerds. If we fight it would be with a water balloon at a staff party in something organized to do just that! But even that is rare.

          But for years I have known men around me who just don’t fit and so their passions are all outside the church. Some of them go to keep the wife happy, or be an example to the kids. But their hearts are gone.

          So for the men who are more intellectual, everything is watered down and simplistic, for the men who are more sportsman like (or whatever you call it), the stuff is mostly irrelevant. In effect neither end of the spectrum of men is engaged.

          I sort of have a dog in this fight, I am involved in a church plant and would like to engage young men and their families.

    • This would be an excellent topic and is really 4 or 5 or 6 topics mushed into one.

      ONE of the topics , IMO, would be “sermon as THE BIG discipleship tool, in my ex-church, the pastor really didn’t see any men’s ministry as that big of a deal, mostly unnecessary. For men that don’t hang onto Pastor Bob’s every word, then church (and the Sunday morning experience) loses its shine.

      The absence of meaningful and grace-filled discpeship structures would be another. Some guys have tired of what passes for “accountability groups”.

      Hope this thread develops into a post of its own.
      GregR

      • And of course what are single guys to do with 90% of everything tossed at them , especilly those with no immediate plans to get married ??

    • I’ve heard similar types of arguments before. It seems that a title for that book could be Why Men Hate the Sunday Morning Service. There may be some validity to it, especially in churches where the service is little more than watching other people do things on the stage. I don’t think the answer, though, is to make our service more like the NFL or NASCAR.

      I think the one thing you’re bringing up is simply the changing nature of the economy in the US. There still are a lot blue collar jobs, to be sure, but on the whole they don’t pay what they used to. So it could be that men in these positions are feeling that they are being pushed to the edges of society.

      Personally, I’m not a macho man at all. I don’t hunt, don’t really like sports, etc., so if I saw a church trying to gear a service towards that type of thing, I’d see it as gimmick and not give it a second chance. That’s the problem with trying to have a church that caters to every person’s whims. There are a lot different people with different whims, and they probably change from week to week.

      • I think my point about changing economy is just one of the things I see. It is multi-faceted for sure.

        There is times I am tempted to think that we are evolving into a matriarchy, but I am not sure. There does not seem to be a lot of room anymore for the type of men I speak of. We have changed from an industrial economy to a knowlege economy. It doesn’t bother me because I am an I.T. type, so kind of at the top of the food chain as far as change (I am sure the bottom of the chain to some of those afflicted by computers!).

        So when my relatives (who are trades types) started to discuss this I perked up. I see it in the schools with my sons, I see it at church where a lot of men turn off. My last church of 1500 had the illusion that men in leadership ran it, but it was really a group of a few women behind the scenes. There was actually little real participation by men.

        I have seen numerous all women offices and environments here in Canada. And young women outnumber men in universities. Here in Canada there is a recognition in academia that there is a problem in education for boys.

        So I am saying, this seems like a real problem.

    • I don’t know. Seems to me that “rough and tumble” men have been part of the church for centuries. When John Wesley went out to the fields to preach to the coal miners, he didn’t advocate changing the worship of the formal, liturgical Anglican church in order to attract them. Still, they came.

      • I have gone Anglican.

        And one of the things I love is that everything there seems to reinforce that Aslan is safe, but he is not a tame lion. God is immeasurably great and author of the universe, not my girlfriend.

        The same group I mentioned got into discussing how songs reflect what they felt is a female orientation. Schmaltzy songs that could be sung to your girlfriend, but instead sung to Jesus. The consensus was sort of ‘well, we can’t relate to Jesus as a husband or lover, gives us the creeps’

        At that point I turned to a relative in the group and said ‘thats one of the reasons I went Anglican’ the hymnody exalts Christ as Lord

        • To be fair, there are not that many of those songs out there.

          • You might have a point Michael. I am speaking from my own background.

            The vinyard style Charismatic churches are full of them. Perhaps it is mainly that stream, churches with more of an emotional edge.
            I would think that Baptist/Alliance type churches don’t suffer as much from that problem.

    • cermak_rd says:

      What about cowboy church? It was founded for the folks on the rodeo circuit (who travel a lot so finding a church where they could fit in for each place on the tour was hard). Now I understand it has expanded to even some urban areas out west.

  39. With higher education so much more expensive than in the past and with few jobs available to not only pay for that education but also to become the stereotypical Ward Cleaver bread-winner carrying a crushing mortgage so that June can be a stay-at-home mom/home schooler, perhaps it might seem like the youth are not “growing up”. Even the summer and after-school jobs which helped youth in the past begin to develop a work ethic and learn how to manage money are gone. Who are we kidding? If churches really want youth to “grow up”, first of all they would stop endorsing political candidates who believe it’s ok if 99% of citizens and families fail, while the rich 1% are too big to fail. If I were a youth now, how would I respond to those odds? Second, the artificial standards need to go. One income families are going to be rare. The materialistic trappings associated with “prosperity” need to go. This reaches far beyond the faith-prosperity teachers; it cuts right at the heart of the suburban evangelical ethos, which believes “good” Christians have nice home, an upwardly mobile career, a new car, and nice clothes. Third, churches could organize networks to help their youth find summer jobs among the church members. Fourth, Christian men should be involved in programs like Bib Brother, to help mentor kids growing up without good male roll models. The last two suggestions step beyond my ecclesiastical comfort zone, but someone in the church could organize this, without it becoming an official church function. The church needs to admit its past sins and look to the future with a little creativity; otherwise, it just sounds like that guy from the old Twisted Sister videos shouting at the kids, “You’re all worthless and weak!”.

  40. “4. A masculine ministry takes up heavy and painful realities in the Bible, and puts them forward to those who may not want to hear them.”

    Does he mean painful realities, such as the prodigal being forgiven, or those hired at the end of the day receive the same wage? I doubt it. I bet this is more Piper speak, that bad things happen to bad people.

  41. Somewhat off topic, but this quote is from the “Shored Fragments” blog ref. above: EXCELLENT

    I think a good theologian prays well, first. No theologian who doesn’t has even begun to understand the discipline. And then s/he serves the Church, and his or her particular part of it (down to a local congregation) in humility and faithfulness. Theology belongs to the Church; any theologian divorced from the Church is a bad theologian, however brilliant or knowledgeable. A good theologian has a grasp of gospel values, and would swap everything s/he has written to see one sinner repent, or one broken life healed. A good theologian writes and speaks only to help the Church be more faithful to the gospel, bringing whatever knowledge of the tradition, whatever insight into contemporary modes of thought, and whatever native cleverness s/he may possess, all into service of this one end. A good theologian is marked by humility and cheerfulness, knowing how far short of the mystery of God and God’s works his/her best efforts fall, and knowing that in the good grace of God something of lasting worth may still come from them. A good theologian, finally, does know something, and has some capacity of thought, and so can make a contribution through his/her God-given vocation.
    I am not a very good theologian.

  42. A pithy pondering on Piper’s points:
    1. As a general observation, most women I know do have a tougher time responding well to harsh criticism. They take it more personally and it sinks deeper. It isn’t Biblical law, but men have sorta tend to have an easier time compartmentalizing it. Because that what we do well: Compartmentalize.
    2. Since he’s a Baptist, then IMO Piper fails at this one. Miserably. But that’s just my Lutheran opinion. However, it has been my general observation (FWIW) that women suffer less from cowardice. This might justify the preaching of bravado to men, but not the delegation of it to them completely.
    3. Rugged? You mean like being a victim of sexual assault? Like learning to be tough mentally when you can’t be physically? And demeanor is a bad word for Piper to be using. Christ is the standard for demeanor, not the colloquial understanding of rugged.
    4. Yes, women tend to run in the opposite direction of the truth, always. They did, after, eat the apple. We men had nothing to do with that one. [ducks and runs from people without a sense of humor throwing tomatoes]
    5. I’m pretty sure that men are more prone to have “penetrating conviction” on peripheral issues, due to their tendency to compartmentalize. Even though I’m still queasy on women’s ordination, I do believe that they are called to have conviction and herald the truths of Scripture.
    6. If putting in place principles and structures and plans are what carries the church into joyful fruitfulness, then where is the purpose of grace, good news, and the Holy Spirit? See point 2, 4, and 5.
    7. Don’t see the problem with this one. …Piper does this?
    8. I totally thought nourishing was the woman’s job. Now I’m totally confused on gender roles. Should I open a day care?

  43. Dana Ames says:

    I think it was last year that I read a review of a book that described the late Medieval cultural expectation that males, particularly of wealthy families, would “sow their wild oats” in their teens and 20s, getting into escapades that would be described as “boys being boys”, and then finally be ready to marry somewhere around age 30.

    I wonder if it is the relative wealth of our culture that is allowing this expectation – “masculine” behaviors which could be described as characteristically immature are written off as “just the way men are” and are tolerated to such a late age. Interesting possibility.

    Yes, we should be encouraging everyone to become mature, to grow in wisdom and in sobriety – a word I am appreciating in ways I could not imagine when I was younger. We are all called to become more fully human, to be what God meant for us to be. Men and women aren’t separate species. We are all Human Beings.

    Dana

    • “I think it was last year that I read a review of a book that described the late Medieval cultural expectation that males, particularly of wealthy families, would “sow their wild oats” in their teens and 20s, getting into escapades that would be described as “boys being boys”, and then finally be ready to marry somewhere around age 30.”

      Shakespeare, “A Winter’s Tale”, Act III, Scene III: Bohemia, a desert country near the sea.

      (excerpt, the Shepherd’s speech):

      I would there were no age between sixteen and
      three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the
      rest; for there is nothing in the between but
      getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry,
      stealing, fighting –Hark you now! Would any but
      these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty
      hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my
      best sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find
      than the master: if any where I have them, ’tis by
      the seaside, browsing of ivy.

  44. Joseph (the original) says:

    So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 2Cor 5:16

    i had posted in a previous thread my feelings about our human understanding/perception of gender roles & the concept of masculinity & how it gets codified in church titles/positions/functions within the organization…

    i am not convinced our human perceptions of what is, or isn’t masculine (or feminine) accurately mirrors what God understands/intended. seems to me He always intended humanity to be a team representation: male & female He made them…

    not sure there was a divine limitation of ministry service put upon those gifted/passionate saints with an XX chromosome pair. maybe we can understand the cultural norms of the time & how the early church adapted certain distinctions regarding the prominent roles godly women were allowed and/or permitted to exercise.

    however the arguments are couched, it seems the points made in defense of a male only clergy & the need to champion complementarianism more of a cultural issue than a spiritual one. could be those on both sides of the aisle in the argument are looking at the issue with only one eye open.

    yet i am an individual that understands the reasons for maintaining a very sharp distinction in gender roles & how they are dealt with in certain faith traditions. it may not be something that will ever become a non-issue, much like the topic of homosexuality & how the church handles that very contentious issue too…

  45. Mike, Thanks for the great critique on this and the more “biblical” response you crafted. Yes, responsible love rules, not gender roles. Why do people like Piper practice selective literalism, where they ignore the whole swath of scripture that equalized gender? What happened to “there is no male or female in Christ”?

  46. Another response to Piper’s comments (IM is recommended as a link in the comment section):

    http://krishk.com/2012/02/christianity-supposed-masculine/