How do I know this?
Well, it’s pretty obvious when John Piper says something and people from his own tradition start piling on.
What did John Piper say this time?
An unmarried woman who subscribes to the complementarian way of looking at things wrote in to Desiring God to ask Piper’s opinion on whether it would be proper for a woman to serve as a police officer.
Okay. We’ve got problems right out of the chute.
–Who would ask such a question in the first place?
–Who would ask a pastor such a question?
–Who would consider a pastor qualified to speak to such a question?
–And why on God’s green earth would the pastor in question consider himself qualified to answer such a question?
Yet none of that stopped Piper from venturing his opinion on the subject.
Here is how I have approached these kinds of issues, because police officer is just one of so many questions that arise if you want to be a godly man or woman and walk in paths of relationships with the opposite sex that are pleasing to the Lord. And I have tried to wrestle with the Scriptures which is, I hope and pray, my final authority in these matters. And I have come up with a general definition of what I think the heart of mature manhood and the heart of mature womanhood are. And then I have argued these and spelled them out in a little book called What’s the Difference? And these are really foundational for me and they helped me answer a lot of questions.
So Piper’s basis for thinking that he has something to say on the subject is Scripture. Or more accurately, Scripture as Piper interprets it. You see, Scripture does not spell out what mature manhood and mature womanhood are. John Piper does, based on his interpretation of Scripture.
Having made the case, in his mind at least, that he is qualified to speak to this question by virtue of that Bible in his hand, Piper then goes on to answer it. Here is the essence of his answer:
…At the heart of mature manhood is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships. The postman won’t relate to the lady at the door the way a husband will, but he will be a man. At the heart of mature womanhood is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.
…There is a continuum from very personal influence, very eye-to-eye, close personal influence, to non-personal influence. And the other continuum is very directive — commands and forcefulness — directive influence to very non-directive influence. And here is my conviction. To the degree that a woman’s influence over a man, guidance of a man, leadership of a man, is personal and a directive, it will generally offend a man’s good, God-given sense of responsibility and leadership, and thus controvert God’s created order. To an extent, a woman’s leadership or influence may be personal and non-directive or directive and non-personal, but I don’t think we should push the limits.
…If a woman’s job involves a good deal of directives toward men, they will need to be non-personal in general, or men and women won’t flourish in the long run in that relationship without compromising profound biblical and psychological issues. And conversely, if a woman’s relationship to a man is very personal, then the way she offers guidance and influence will need to be more non-directive. And my own view is that there are some roles in society that will strain godly manhood and womanhood to the breaking point.
There’s a lot I could say here. For instance, who made John Piper the all-knowing authority whose interpretations of Scripture on this subject we must accept without question? If we’re back in the Roman Catholic church and Piper is the Magisterium, somebody forgot to tell me.
But I think it best to let someone who shares Piper’s way of looking at things answer him. Carl Trueman of Westminster Seminary, himself a complimentarian, goes so far as to call the sort of complimentarianism promoted by Piper “sheer silliness”:
I rarely read complementarian literature these days. I felt it lost its way when it became an all-embracing view of the world and not simply a matter for church and household. I am a firm believer in a male-only ordained ministry in the church but I find increasingly bizarre the broader cultural crusade which complementarianism has become. It seems now to be more a kind of reaction against feminism than a balanced exposition of the Bible’s teaching on the relationships of men and women. Thus, for example, marriage is all about submission of wife to husband (Eph. 5) and rarely about the delight of friendship and the kind of playful but subtly expressed eroticism we find in the Song of Songs. Too often cultural complementarianism ironically offers a rather disenchanted and mundane account of the mystery and beauty of male-female relations. And too often it slides into sheer silliness.