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.