04 November 2007

Sissies and the gospel

I have just commented on Denny Burk's blog, as he has been following John Piper's comments about women in combat. But I have a few more words to say than merely those. Here they are.

Whether or not Piper has appropriately made application of biblical manhood and womanhood to military combat, I do not quite know. But surely a man can be redeemed and indeed enact robust biblical manhood without taking up as his cause the issue of women in combat. Surely a man can be redeemed and enact robust biblical manhood while still pausing at the sound of an intruder because his black-belt wife could be a great helper when meeting that danger. Does such a man need to be called names by a humble and powerful preacher who frankly has bigger fish to fry?

I recall Myles telling me that Piper preached at Glorieta about how ridiculous he had thought an American couple who proudly celebrated their plans to retire and travel around the country in their RV to follow butterfly migrations. Such a thing would be marvelous to watch, and the journey would inspire much worship in the retirees, but Piper boldly declaimed that as a lifelong goal when the time and money required to do such could be used in much more specific gospel-promoting and Jesus-honoring ways.

So reading Piper's comments about wimps, focused on such a temporal issue as women in combat, makes me grimace. Even if we grant that the issue reflects a deeper heart issue, and even if we grant that the deeper heart issue is central to the gospel, name-calling seems ill-advised. And, as I say, I'm not sure I want to grant those other things.

Heaven forbid that my husband would think it more important to keep women out of combat than to love orphans. Or even to give a barbaric yawp of manhood when danger enters our front door than to extend the lovingkindness of undeserved forgiveness to that danger-bearing intruder.

Not that Piper would state such a preference either. Or that I would hold Micah back if he wanted to pummel an intruder. Or that he would ever pause with wonder if he or I should go, since his wife, unlike a certain martial artist I know (Cherish), will likely never have any sufficient skills to thwart any such danger.

My problem, then, is not with the complementarianism, nor with the underlying intent. Rather, my problem is with Piper's tone, which smacks of merely chauvinistic gender politics.

Having profited from so much of his teaching and writing, I gladly grant that he undoubtedly has sincere affection for our Lord's divine hierarchy at heart. And the cultural weakness of our men and women fairly in mind as well. But, please. These remarks are invitations to lambasting, along with unfair and out-of-context quotations that could put a shadow over his entire ministry. And that seems absurd.


Arthur Jackson said...

If the bloodied, broken man in thorns who was presnted to his people is the real Adam, I'm afraid I don't understand a thing Piper is talking about. Why didn't Jesus stand between the Romans and the women of Jerusalem, instead telling them to weep for themselves and for their children? What a coward.

What does it say about our idea of "manhood" if Jesus cannot serve as an example?

We do not understand the power of God.

Behold the man.

Jen Strange said...

Let us all, then, be cowards.

My Breathments Off said...

Myles, I think you just laid the issue to rest. I mean, I don't even know if it's right for any Christian, man or woman, to go to combat after considering your teachings on John.

And, Jen not only do I like your comments on name-calling and choosing battles wisely, but I think you've definitely hit on something with Piper's declamations. I've often been made uncomfortable by his, as well as most, declamations because they are so absolute. Not that that is in and of itself a problem, but they often seem dismissive. I mean, few things in life are so unambiguous or well-suited to sustain such a devoted position. Of course, I'm an idiot, so...

Yvette said...


"Rather, my problem is with Piper's tone, which smacks of merely chauvinistic gender politics."

That was a great sentence!

Can ya'll direct me to a resource for Myle's teachings on John? Are there recordings or notes available?

My Breathments Off said...

Oh, and I mean combat in a general sense not simply going to war. Of course, it seems the issue Piper was raising had more to do with Biblical manhood and womanhood. Honestly, I don't understand what those terms even mean, nor the preoccupation with them. The whole thing reeks of conformational bias, if you ask me.

Micah said...

yvette, i don't think any of the notes you asked about above are published (yet) but i think much inspiration comes from Carson's thoughts on John

Micah said...

well, Carson, and quite a few years, lectures, sermons, and other good books read that may have influenced his study

My Breathments Off said...

that and his years spent at LC as the 78 kiiiiiiiid. Kid, catch me a pop.

My Breathments Off said...

oh, and i seem to remember a little thing called a thesis that was written on the subject.

Jen Strange said...

Thanks, Yvette. Do check out Carson's infinitely readable commentary--ironically devotional, as our friend Myles has called it.

As for recordings, you might find some at oru church's website, where Myles has occasionally taken the pulpit and taught from John.

That was after he caught Sic a pop but before he allegedly wrote a thesis.

Of course, the aforementioned Sic is, in fact, an idiot. But he once, on accident, said some good stuff about the dangers of speaking absolutely: at the very least, such stuff does seem incredibly dismissive of any potential opposition.

PS Micah is a man, he's 30.

Micah said...

would that be our church's website?

Jen Strange said...

Sissy proofreader.

Brent said...

So I think name-calling does have a place. I went to a men's retreat this weekend, and the speaker talked on "Fear of God, Fear of Man" - He also encouraged us to be warriors for Christ, not wimps, wussies, etc. Few things resonate so loudly as a good name-calling. It has the power like none other to jolt us out of our complacency

Jen Strange said...

Like none other? The Proverbs say that a sweet and gentle word is powerful enough to heal the bones (16:24). Jesus spoke sternly on several occasions, but he also went speechless like a lamb led to the slaughter. In one of my favorite encounters of his with the Pharisees, he told them that he had a lot he could say to them, but he refrained because the Father hadn't told him to say it (John 8:26). Yes, let us be urgent and passionate, but also meek slaves of all.