Tuesday, May 14, 2013

John Piper on the Femininity of Women

John Piper (theologian)
John Piper (theologian) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
John Piper recently answered a question in a podcast about if he used Bible commentaries by women, and his answer in a nutshell was yes since he couldn't see them. This set off two different blog posts, one over on Christianity Today's Her.meneutics blog, and the other by Rachel Held Evans. I think Piper makes a good point in suggesting that I Timothy 2:12 is directly speaking of direct contact with women teachers and because one does not see the woman teacher or she is not directly teaching men face to face, this makes it okay. As a complementarianism myself, I will tend to agree with Piper up to a point, but I think something got lost in his explanation when he added the "not seeing the woman, so it makes it okay" bit. Some might disagree with me here, but I think this is where both Pietka (on the Her.Meneutics blog) and Evans struggled with Piper's answer.

Evans, as usual, really takes Piper to task as a hypocrite on this issue. Of course, she's also of this new wave of liberal Christian feminism, where husbands submit to wives, and vice versa, but it seemingly seems the woman is controlling this. As well, in her world, there is nothing wrong with women holding leadership positions over men in the church, despite the Biblical prohibition in 1 Timothy 2:12. Pietka is more kind in her words, and yet takes Piper to task for a whole another reason, and that is suggesting that Piper has an obsession with women's bodies. She writes,
"Piper's affirmation, consequently, of women who teach indirectly and impersonally shows his overt rejection of and implicit obsession with women's bodies. He makes it seem impossible that a man could listen to a woman's biblical insights in her presence without being distracted by her femininity."

I don't think that's the problem, but that's her perceived problem, whereas Evan's problem is more theological, although she'll probably state it as cultural as well. She simply has problems with complementarianism, but that's another issue all together. Regardless, Piper stirred something up within the Christian feminist community, but there's something we need to examine here ourselves. Is Piper right on this issue? There's just something that's been nagging me about it.

I see no problem with reading women's commentaries on Scripture, whether it's Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, or others. It's not because I can't see them or because they are not directly teaching me in a Church setting. It's simply because I believe that Godly women do have something to say to us. We can and should learn from all who might have an insight.  Paul was referencing a Church teaching setting, I believe when he wrote 1 Timothy 2:12. He referenced the women in Timothy's life as people he learned from. There were women in the Bible who were teaching a discipling. Learning from Godly women is not a bad thing. But our reasoning should not be because we don't see them. It should be because they do still have something to say, whether we are complementarian or not.

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