Christianity,  Politics

A Newspaper Misrepresents John Piper

Last week I had a chance to read through John Piper’s sermon manuscript about same-sex marriage. I thought it was very well-done and particularly insightful in instructing Christians about their responsibility to press for public policies that promote the public good. At the beginning of the sermon, Piper explained that he wanted to address the issue of same-sex marriage in light of the Minnesota Marriage Amendment that will be voted on this November. The amendment would define marriage as between one man and one woman. Piper brought the Bible to bear upon the issue, and again it was very well done.

That is why I was shocked to read an article yesterday in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about John Piper’s sermon. The article reported that Piper did not encourage his members to take a stand on the same-sex marriage amendment. Some friends and I were discussing the Tribune article, and many of them were disappointed that Piper had failed to speak clearly to the amendment. I was taken aback both by the report and by my friends’ response. Why?

It is true that Piper never says in so many words, “Vote for the amendment.” But anyone who thinks that Piper’s position on the amendment is unclear has either failed to listen to the sermon or is being unfair to the content of what he preached. Support for the amendment is the necessary implication of the sermon. In fact, until I read the Tribune article, I didn’t even notice that he hadn’t explicitly endorsed it.

The Tribune article so misrepresented Piper’s sermon that Piper himself has issued a response, “What the Star-Tribune Got Right—And Wrong.” Piper says that “The part that they got right was that I did not give a public endorsement for any legislation or candidate.” The part they got wrong was the idea that he had opted out of the same-sex marriage fight and that he had encouraged members not to take a stand on the issue.

I would add another thing that the Tribune got wrong. They clearly wanted to give the impression that Piper had withheld his opinion on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. That impression completely mischaracterizes Piper’s sermon. Anyone who listens to the sermon will understand where Piper stands on the issue, even if he doesn’t say so in so many words. For this reason, the Tribune article was badly done.

If you haven’t done so yet, take some time to hear Piper’s sermon for yourself. You can download it here, read it here, or watch/listen to it below.



  • Nephos

    I also read Piper’s sermon and was surprised (though I probably shouldn’t have been) that the article presented his position that way. I’m not sure if this is evidence of media bias, or further evidence that non-evangelicals just don’t get us. Often, it seems to me they lack proper context for interpreting such a sermon, feelings about Romney, etc.

    For me the primary question is, “Is it possible as a pastor to refrain from one extreme without the other extreme misconstruing it as acquiescence?”

  • Brent Hobbs

    Some of the guys at Powerline blog are from Minnesota and write frequently about what an utter joke the Star-Tribune is. Really, they make the NYT look like a paper with high journalistic integrity. It shouldn’t surprise you at all that they would do this-it’s a bunch of liberal activists.

    I don’t normally comment on political type stuff, but hope this back story will shed some light on the whole episode.

  • Terry Lange

    I live in the Minneapolis area and read the article. We don’t call it the Star Tribune, but rather the Star and Sickle… Sad but not shocking that they chose to mispresent John Piper.

  • kevin peterson

    If Piper tells his people directly how to vote, isn’t that some IRS violation or something?

    so, his indirect approach is still very clear.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.