‘God’s preferential option for the man?’: an invitation to women

The debate about John Piper’s ‘masculine Christianity‘ raises all sorts of questions about gender, biblical interpretation, evangelicalism and so on.

But underneath this are questions of what such theology does to women. I’m grateful for Ruth’s comment a couple of posts ago in being willing to share her response to the idea that God is somehow more predisposed to masculinity (not sure how else to put it].

Rather than God’s ‘preferential option for the poor’ in Liberation Theology, we seem to have ‘God’s preferential option for the man’ in Piper’s theology.

I thought it well worth re-posting here and inviting others, especially women, to share their responses …

So if you are woman reading this, I’d love to hear from you – and feel welcome to invite your friends too!

I’ve been personally devastated by the John Piper comments.

I’m so deeply grateful for you, Patrick, and others who have presented a more balanced view (along with calls for unity which I greatly appreciate) but I continue to be “cast down” when I read the tone and weight of comments.

Some seem to be far more concerned about the threat (??) of feminism than the terrible blow that has been dealt to sisters in Christ by the implication that Christianity (and therefore God) is somehow more exclusively masculine… thus implying a special relationship between God and man or a greater value of a man in God’s thinking. (I wonder how people would have responded if John Piper had said Christianity was “white” or “American”? The early church could have as easily said Christianity was essentially “Jewish” – and some did!)

Overall, this leaves me feeling silenced. How can I respond when the instant reaction is to condemn me as a feminist, as somehow seeking self-aggrandizement???

Yet Proverbs 31:8 says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…” (I love the context – two verses later there is a beautiful description of a woman who lives as her Creator intended).

I hurt for my daughters if they are to grow up in a church that does not value them fully and completely as I KNOW that our Lord Jesus values them!

For me this goes much, much deeper than the secondary issue of women in leadership (over which I’m content to differ and, where necessary, to respect and defer to those with other views) but it goes to the heart of a woman’s relationship with God.



7 thoughts on “‘God’s preferential option for the man?’: an invitation to women

  1. What a well-articulated response, Ruth. Right on the money. Gives words to my reaction too.

  2. Patrick, thank you for your writing on this subject. Ruth, thank you for your well articulated thoughts. I, personally, don’t find the words to say about how I feel about comments like the one John Piper made. Comments like his, have made me feel for a long time as a second class citizen. By God’s grace I have come to see things differently.
    Comments like Piper don’t help dialogue, they create more division and disunity. I believe we have to be careful of the word “submission”. In our fallen world, of which we are part of, the understanding of it can lead to terrible abuses. For a holy God, the word submission might not necessary mean the same as for us, it will never carry the idea of making anybody feel less or inferior, it will be totally out of character.
    Also comments like the one Piper made come from fear, and fear leads to control, which leads to legalism, and it does not leave room for God to work. Our tendency is to like everything and everybody in a box, well defined, clear, black and white, I have been learning that God works very differently, he doesn’t fit my mold, and that is fine and scary at the same time. He hasn’t got an “in” club, he doesn’t choose the obvious people or places for His purposes, at the end of the day He is the one writing the story, not me.

  3. Thanks for your posts on this Patrick, And thanks Ruth for your articulate honesty. I find Piper’s comments depressing and unsurprising.

    Do we need to have a wider conversation about why men like Piper and Driscoll are being given such a loud voice within the church in our part of the world? Do we need to consciously tune them out and find something more “excellent and praiseworthy” to feed our minds and souls?

  4. thanks all

    JM I was tempted to ignore the whole kerfuffle for that reason. If the posts have been a wee bit of help then I’m glad I didn’t.

    For some reason we are obsessed with the culturally alien politics and issues of american evangelicalism. Driscoll’s recent visit to the UK only highlighted how little relevance that world has for mission and ministry in another context.

    That’s not anti-americanism, I agree – those voices which focus on excellent and praiseworthy things have relevance – Tim Keller for example, I’ve found Scot McKnight really helpful on gospel and other stuff … But I’m weary of the endless infighting and factionalism that tends to get imported globally and plan to ignore it as much as possible from now on!

  5. Yes Patrick, to ignore them is wise. Where Christianity is growing the most (in developing countries) that type of thinking is irrelevant because they have bigger questions, like: How to be a faithful Christian in a country that persecutes them!

  6. Quoting Piper:
    “There is urgency, forcefulness, penetrating power. Preaching does not always rise to this level of urgency and force and authority, but regularly does, and should. Again the point is not that a woman is not able to speak this way. The point is that godly men know intuitively, by the masculine nature implanted by God, that turning the hearts of men and women to God with that kind of authoritative speaking is the responsibility of men. And where men handle it with humility and grace, godly women are glad.”

    I would love to know how Piper, biblically-speaking, comes to this conclusion. When he comes up with this sort of writing it seems to me to cast doubt on the grounding of his whole philosophy/theology of male headship and leadership.

    I am new to your blog and am catching up on your posts (hence the very late reply – but I just can’t resist!). I too want to thank you for your writing – a biblical, well-argued but love-filled and respectful counter to the current predominant complementarian views. I would however add that from my experience, it isn’t just coming from the US and I don’t think it necessarily just stems from there – there are plenty of influential teachers from the UK and further afield who have been strongly arguing a complementarian view for a long while. I have felt like a heretic in my doubts of it so it is encouraging to hear something ‘good’ that is different! So thank you!

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