John Piper is a famous Calvinist Baptist preacher from the Twin Cities. His view of the world is one that is simultaneously monstrous and popular. I have had my encounters with Piper and his brand of destructive Christianity in the past–difficult to avoid as a Bethel graduate–and have little consideration for his teaching or the manner in which he sees the world.
Piper’s thought inhabits the sexism of that wing of the modern Evangelical Church defined by sexism*. His God wields a fiery impulse towards damnation and “for the sake of women has made Christianity a masculine church with a masculine ministry”. It’s a world in which Men are Men. If I were a psychologist I would say his is a psychosis of the medieval mind, that in the 21st century finds home only among religious zealotry.
Normally, I wouldn’t give a second thought to seeing his name in print. But this father stuff is really getting to me. And as my son approaches the world, I find I am less capable of passing by “casual” sexism of such socially degenerative capacity as that of John Piper. I’ve been taking the moment as it comes, then, to set down how a young man, in my estimation, should live.
All of which gets me to this post from Christianity Today, “Hey John Piper, Is My Femininity Showing?“. Rachel Pietka’s piece handles Piper’s nonsense well. I just wanted to take the moment to say one more thing.
According to Piper, the role of a city planner is appropriate for a woman because she exercises authority ensconced in an office at a desk, while a woman teacher stands before him, he says, making him aware of his own manhood and her womanhood. On the other hand, when a woman communicates to him indirectly and impersonally through writing, he can handle it because “she’s not looking at me and confronting me and authoritatively directing me as a woman.”
A book, he adds, “puts [the woman] out of my sight and in a sense takes away the dimension of her female personhood.”
John Piper is a man with reach; his influence is undeniable. His church is massively successful (though he’s left it to move to TN), his conferences wildly popular, and his books are read and taught across the country. He speaks to young Christians with authority. And he is TRYING to “take away the dimension of female personhood.” Taking away female personhood is a GOAL of his teaching. For John Piper, apparently, removing female personhood benefits positively John Piper and men like him.
This year, this decade, this century, John Piper actively teaches that women should not educate men directly or personally, should not look at John Piper authoritatively, should not embrace their womanhood.
What kind of young men are you making, John Piper?
John Piper is 67 years old and cannot sit in front of a woman and learn because such an event would make him “aware of his own manhood and her womanhood.” That John Piper is teaching these things to our youth makes me want to weep for our future. Especially for the young girls who will suffer at the hands of the men John Piper molds. That someone who would call himself a “leader” in the United States and a teacher in the name of Jesus, still argues that a woman’s presence is to be prohibited, at all, anywhere, because it results in a man’s “awareness of his manhood” (Hello, rape), is astounding. And wrong.
This is what children say. This is what religious zealots say. It is the kind of sentiment that successful societies marginalize to the fringe because it is so clearly damaging, and sexist and disgusting. It is also what John Piper teaches.
*there are wings of the modern evangelical Christian Church other than that which is defined by sexism. I am fond of the ‘creation care’ wing, for example.