Pastor John Piper has an excellent little message that he preached last week to the Fidelis Foundation Pastors Luncheon. It’s a practical piece on the benefits that occur in and for families and churches when a Complementarian view of gender takes root. Once again, it’s a homerun. For anyone interested in some of the ways that Complementarianism works out practically, you’ll appreciate this message.
“Some Sweet Blessings of Masculine Christianity” â€“ by John Piper (Sermon Notes)
Denny are you wanting a reaction? Because you know I will give you one.
Piper stated: The men are so clearly strong and secure in their leadership that they are not threatened by women who are spiritually mature and effective in ministry.
Three problems with this sweet blessing statement.
1. The problem with this statement is that many women are the ones leading family spiritually because their husband is too worried about football than church when it comes to Sunday priorities. I know this is a sweeping generalized statement but the majority of men do not like church.
For instance, I am a youth pastor and about 90% of my phone calls are from the mothers, not fathers who are concerned about their student spirituality. Essentially men are out of the church and not wanting to take the leadership role.
2. I would argue that in 1950 the roles of men were to provide and to protect. Now, in the 21st century men have no idea what their role is. They are lost souls. They have went from protector/provider to ???.
There is a myth that was taught to the men that men need to protect.
Men have no idea what the heck their roles is. They are so confused because they arenâ€™t protecting and not nurturing and they have no idea what direction to take. Men know they are suppose to be co-nurtures, but they are not following it at all. Men do not know how to have community. Why do you think sports and pornography are big businesses? I need to support someone who can win. Pornography is about loneliness. My point: men have not a clue not only how to lead, but have no idea what their role is.
3. If men were the only leaders in the church and in the house, this would mean that only one perspective gets reinforced. If a man is always preaching this may mean only sports illustrations, which may not relate to the female. Also always having men in charge can be problematic because we are competetive and have huge egos. Maybe having women with us and not under us may keep us in line to compliment our limps as men.
I think Piper is missing the felt need of the masculine population. Piper may have this extensive doctrine, but there is no men ready to receive it. This is also assuming his theology is in line too.
I think the title is quite sad but masculine Christianity is what complementarianism does boil down to. It’s an overemphasis on the man’s leadership, control and influence to the exclusion of women. Another word for it is patriarchy.
Also concerning his 2nd and 3rd points where he says what kind of Christian life men and women are attracted to I don’t know how he can support those at all (or any of his other points). Did Barna do a survey of 3,000 Christians on this that I missed?
He said in number 2. “Men are more properly attracted to the Christian life when it does not appear that he must become effeminate to be a Christian.”
Effeminate is defines as â€œhaving traits, tastes, habits, etc., traditionally considered feminine, as softness or delicacy.â€
Who said the opposite of complementarianism is for men to become effeminate?!!
He then goes on to elaborate on this by saying â€œ(Dominance of female leadership undermines the proper sense of a manâ€™s call to be a leader, protector, and provider.)â€
Who said the opposite of complementarianism is dominant female leadership. Egalitarianism isnâ€™t that, hence the word egalitarian which focuses on being equal. Complementarians think too much in terms of hierarchy so that for a man to not be the leader means that the woman must be the leader which is just matriarchy which egalitarians arenâ€™t advocating. For me to live in an egalitarian home does not mean I canâ€™t provide for or protect my family.
Thatâ€™s the thoughts that came to mind from just the 2nd point. I thought the whole message was deeply troubling. I found myself taking issue with probably every point he made and I was honestly a bit offended for myself (in what he seemed to be implying about men who do not adhere to compl.) and for women. Piper makes a lot of assumptions and seems to lay a lot of what he sees as problem in the church at the feet of women who have begun to have more of a role and influence in churches.
Hey, Bryan and Jeremy:
Do you guys have chips on your shoulders for conservative thinking? Because, from what I’ve seen in Scripture, men are called to leadership, and women are to be treated as “weaker vessels”, which is not a derrogatory term at all, but one that simply draws attention to their (generally) more delicate and refined composure. What is so offensive about men and women having different roles? Is it the false assumption that this somehow makes one less valuable than the other? And beyond the realm of the concept alone and into the practical, might I say that this system works! My wife and I strive for this type of relationship, and she’s in full support. In fact, she’s often more aware of the need for this than I am.
Jon to say chips our on shoulder would be a little off in how you perceive us.
1. The system you and your wife have is working. That is amazing and is great!! I am sure you work hard and she stays home and cooks and takes care of the kids. That system works for you. However my question is: Does this system work for the entire population? What if the roles are reversed?
2. To concretely define gender roles in and out of the church is very limiting and can come off very judgmental. What if a man does not want to fit the typical role of a guy. What if he enjoys cleaning and cooking? Shall we condemn him out of the church because he is not providing for the house in the very stereotypical way?
3. Jon our culture is changing. Women are becoming very successful and what happens if we have a women president? Back in the good old days we could draw some hard fast lines about gender roles and we also draw some pretty hard fast lines about blacks too. My point is: if we, in any sense, are hindering a gender in their gifts, then this is not morally right.
And if you claim as you stated:
Because, from what Iâ€™ve (I like how you make the distinction here from you and God)seen in Scripture, men are called to leadership, and women are to be treated as â€œweaker vesselsâ€
Jon let me throw this at you. We are both men so lets logically and theologically think about what you are suggesting.
I am arguing from Genesis 2.18. I argue that the word Hebrew word of ezra has the flexibility to be translated as rescuer and not helper. Genesis 2:18 suggest women roles as â€œHelperâ€(Ezer). It should be used as a rescuer. This word of Ezer is talking about a completeness of humanity. Women came to save the day, because God was not please with man alone. Not until women was on the scene He was pleased. The fall contributed to the broken relationship between male and female and the female came to complete humanity.
Think about it……and get back to me.
i think the 3 problems you described are exactly why Piper is prescribing a complementarian view. it challenges men to be Christ-like leaders, gives guidelines on how to lead, and describes our role as a man, in the church and in the home. in short, it is a deficient view of biblical manhood and womanhood that leads to the very problems you list.
how do you explain the statistics in today’s churches, that women seem to be taking spiritual matters more seriously than men? how do you explain that many congregations are disproportionately female? are women inherently more Godly/spiritual than men? how do you explain it?
well many believe the reason is that christianity today is emphasizing “effeminate” attitudes and character traits, to the exclusion of masculine traits. for example, gentleness, kindness, compassion are emphasized, but strength, leadership, truth and sacrifice are de-emphasized. others, such as absolute truth and the concept of authority are sometimes even demonized. when church emphasises feminine traits to the exclusion of masculine traits, should we be surprised that men aren’t interested in playing church?
Piper makes a lot of assumptions and seems to lay a lot of what he sees as problem in the church at the feet of women who have begun to have more of a role and influence in churches.
actually i am sure Piper would place the blame on men who abdicate their responsibilities and are not fulfilling their role, and this often starts with embracing the egalitarian view. that we see women leading the church today is a symptom of the problem.
and i am sure you realize this, but of course Piper is happy to see women have a significant role and influence within the church.
No, Piper is not talking about what I am talking about. Piper is telling the men what they should do and I am suggesting men figure out according to their wiring how they are going to lead.
Yes Piper is challenging men to the Christ-likeness etc.., but he is defining it for them according to his interpretation.
I would not say women are just more spiritual than men, but I would think women have literally given birth to their children and they are more “physically” attached to their children. Maybe, more aware and care??
I never said the church emphasis feminine traits. I made sure not to mention that. I said the church not pigeon hole themselves to say Thus says the Lord, you need to be the protector, provider, nurturer, etc….
If a male does not want to fit the stereotypical role, than that is fine. I would rather keep it open than say this is how it is. Either conform or you can get out.
I understand what you are saying. I am just challenging the exclusivity that Piper preaches. It is not as black and white as Piper sees it. There is some gray. Every guy does not want to strap on the football helmet and bash heads. I love doing that, but a few of my buddies would rather sit around and paint a picture of how they are feeling. Does this imply I am more masculine then them? No, not at all. I am simply wired in a different way.
Are you guys so insecure in your manhood that you have to push this view of what being a Masculine man is?
Are you afraid of turning gay for reading a book of poetry or household chores?
This is all based on fear.
one more thing if seeing women leading the church today is a symptom of the problem, than we another textual problem.
Paul sent both of his co-workers who were females, namely â€œEuodiaâ€ and â€œSyntycheâ€ into other regions of the roman empire to have heavy involvement in the church activity. (Acts 16, Phil 4)
Here I see two women leading a church in one of the most hostile environments. The problem is that Paul says one thing about women, than does another thing. Looks like we have a problem. Only if we could call batman or superman to save the day. Dang it!!!!!!!!
In His Grip,
Dude rich laid it down thick!
Rich I love your blog. I also love this blog: http://xfundamentalists.wordpress.com/
John Piper happens to write poetry. So what’s your point?
Yeah Rich and Piper’s poetry is pretty good. I found this poetic paragraph on his blog:
God ordains evil
God is a God of wrath
Although God is a God of GRACE
Using cliches like “cooking, cleaning” and “reading poetry, becoming gay” just exposes deep seated misunderstanding. Straw men and red herrings.
Actually it goes like this:
Without God there is no sovereignty
Without sovereignty there is no existence
Without existence there is no sin
Without sin there is no wrath
Without wrath there is no mercy
Without mercy there is no grace
Without grace there is no salvation
Without salvation there is no hope
Without hope there is no God
Without God there is no sovereignty
Without sovereignty there is nothing.
Go ahead and bash on. The Bible is still the Truth.
Piper’s missing out on the gay/egalitarian utopia that will sweep away our problems as soon as the literalists see the broader picture and catch the nuance in Scripture.
jb is speaking truth.
Lucas, if our cliches are rooted in misunderstanding, then what are you alluding to?
I am right there with jb.
At least you admit male leadership is “literally” in the Bible.
Personally I don’t have anything against Piper
as a whole. Once and a while he is right on but I’m not Calvinist so we would differ somewhat. I would focus more on grace than sovereignty.
I really take issue on this idolatry of Machismo though.
It’s not about Machismo. It’s about the different roles God has ordained for males and females. Just because God ordained different roles does not make males or females “better” than the other.
So you do not think female leadership is in the Bible?
Wow I was gone all day so I missed all this. Unfortunately it seems too much has gone on for me to jump back in as I wouldn’t even know where to start. So maybe next time.
I did not say that there is no female leadership in the Bible. There is no female leadership in the Bible that usurps authority over males.
Complementarian churches should stand up and tell the women, “Stop ensuring your family comes to church. Stop encouraging your husbands to be in church.” If the men are to lead, let them lead.
These churches should then take whatever consequences come with that. If the pews begin to empty out and giving stops, so be it. If programs have to stop because the families stayed at home with the father to watch football or play golf, so be it. If they have to close their doors, so be it.
Consistency. Practice what you preach.
If anyone knows of a church that has done this, I would love to know.
I believe your response is based on a misunderstanding.
The church is for the sick not for those who are doing everything right. Just because men are not performing their proper roles does not mean we should stop teaching what the proper roles are.
You say “If the men are to lead, let them lead.”
If the men were willing to lead and the wife was usurping their authority by taking the family to a church different than the husband was leading them too then she would be in the wrong. If the husband/father is not willing to lead at all in spiritual matters then thank God the wife/mother is. Just because the mother is willing does not mean it is God’s perfect idea of what the family should be like. I think just about any wife/mother wants the husband to take the lead in spiritual matters.
Your argument sounds something like this:
“If you can’t obey all 10 commandments then do not bother coming to church. You must practice what we preach to come to church.”
Kevin, if the head of the home says, “Let’s watch the Cowboys this week” then shouldn’t the family stay home and watch the Cowboys? Shouldn’t the wife submit to her husband, sleep in, order pizza, and watch football all day?
That is not what the complementarians teach. Seems to be a straw man argument to me.
Maybe if the women stopped taking the spiritual lead in the family the men would start.
Probably not. They just need a strong pastor to teach them right.
Do you honestly think they haven’t heard this?
There is a better chance of repentance when a pastor preaches complementarian teachings than if the church teaches/preaches egalitarian beliefs.
That’s not what I am asking you.
Do you think men who do not lead their home have not been taught that they should lead their home?
It could be that or it could be that they are just plain rebellious.
It seems that point lies in the case wherein the man is acting as the leader, but he makes poor decisions in that role. The Scriptural mandate is clear: let God deal with the rebellious husband, and let the wife quietly submit. Remember how Sarah was honored for her faithfulness in following Abraham, even though his choices were obviously wrong? Let’s not allow the fear of consequences to keep us from stepping out in faith and doing that which God desires.
Scripture also says in Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord.
We don’t believe in slaves anymore but there is a scriptural command for slaves to obey their masters.
I think it would be wise to be aware of the cultural context of the times and realize that slavery was wrong and I also believe that men who lord over women and justifying it by using scriptures is wrong as well
Obviously, that is one of the abuses of this responsibility to which I refer. In the christian home modeled after Scripture, men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Follow that, and there is no problem. Why is it always a bunch of “but” and “what if”? You are always going to have people that don’t follow Scripture correctly and end up hurting others by it. And guess what? They won’t get away with it in the end. Rest assured in that.
I almost forgot: What about the local church’s responsibility in the accountability of it’s members?
Let God deal with the rebellious husband and let the wife quietly submit?
What if the husband is beating and abusing his wife?
God gives us common sense not quietly submit.
BTW Piper talking about A wartime mindset and a wartime lifestyle is hilarous. You know the politically correct people will jump on that one. It’s like this masculine Christianity is a caricature of itself. How Republican can Christianity sound before it is totally absurd.
You cannot make up this stuff ROFL
You can’t argue in generalizations. I am a man, married, with a child. I pay attention to no sports, and lead my family. You are all arguing against the comp. view w/mis- perceptions. The man is not better than the woman, they just have different roles. They are equal with different roles and the man’s role is to lead!
Brian L: So they are equal in value but not in authority…is that what you’re saying?
Complementarians seem, to me, eager to say that such prescribed gender roles are only different, not unequal. And yet this is not what is going on in practice OR in theory – we aren’t talking about separate spheres here. We’re talking about the entirety of one gender subordinated to the authority of the other. That’s patriarchy, however you want to sugar-coat it. Doesn’t anyone see a problem with “equal in value, unequal in role”?
I am particularly amused by the first point of his outline, which seems to undermine his entire premise of masculinity and femininity.
My main issue with this is that these “Christian” ideas of femininity seem to have more to do with 1950s sensibilities rather than Jesus or Christianity themselves. But that might just be me.
P.S. I might have a few choice things to say about Piper’s poetry, but that’s beside the point.
Also, I am bothered by the fact that Piper is supposedly purporting equality between the sexes, but then refers to the proper Christianity as the ‘masculine’ Christianity – thereby marginalizing any influence or importance of women in the church, whether or not they’re in a public leadership position.
I am also confused by the fact that he spends half of his time talking about balance – eg, the worship-song thing, in which both ‘intimacy’ and ‘majesty’ (neither of which to me connote either masculinity or femininity, by the way) are prized – and then the rest talking about domination. Might want to straighten that out.
I think this is sooo funny, that the women roles topic always sparks for a lively conversation.
Why such a lively conversation?
I think this discussion is a hot button discussion, and there is much ambiguity to the roles of women in todays’ 21st century.