To be risen with Christ means not only that one has a choice and that one may live by a higher law – the law of grace and love – but that one must do so. The first obligation of the Christian is to maintain their freedom from all superstitions, all blind taboos and religious formalities, indeed from all empty forms of legalism. -Thomas Merton
Folks, when a Christian leader, like John Piper, has to write a post like this, Christianity has gone wacko! The fact that he thinks this is a reasonable post to write is even scarier. I believe that much of the blame can be dumped in the laps of the Calvinistas who seem to have precious little to do with their time since they love to write treatises and go to conferences that pontificate on what women can and cannot do.
I contend that complementarianism has been made a primary issue by the Calvinista crowd. Times have changed. Years ago, it did not overly concern me that there were people who believed in a young earth. I subscribed to the CS Lewis philosophy (paraphrased) that people who believe that God has a long white beard will still be able to go to heaven. It was only when I was made a target by a bunch of rabid young earthers who actually believed that a salvation issue might be involved I reconsidered my stance. Then I got interested, real interested.
The same applies to the subject of complementarianism. I knew some folks who believed in strict complementarianism but it was one of those agree to disagree things. That is, until I started to realize that this issue was going in the same direction as the “young earth or be damned” group. For several years, Deb and I have predicted that more and more would need to be written in order to justify a rabid defense of such a doctrine. Unfortunately, we have been proven right.
First came the Eternal Subordination of the Son, which has been used to justify a belief that women will submit to men in all eternity. I do not know if these men understand that I would consider it hell if I were forced to submit to the likes of Driscoll, et al. for eternity.
Then John Piper and Tim Challies came out with a new mandate that women are not allowed to read the Bible out loud in church services. Challies, in a post I like to call "Hubris Rising," also "instructs" the great unwashed males in proper breathing and diction techniques, appearing to indicate that stutterers and those with COPD need not apply.Link
Finally, there was the startling Russell Moore pronouncement that he strongly dislikes the term “complementarians” and prefers the word “patriarchy." Link. This causes me to giggle whenever I hear this term. I have this image of Al Mohler and CJ Mahaney dressed in long robes carrying shepherd’s crooks, not unlike the Pope, followed by hordes of admiring hangers on and women popping grapes in their mouths on command. But, I digress.
So, where do we go from here? We have predicted that an emphasis on authoritarianism, combined with complementarianism, both within the church and within families, could lead to abuse and bizarre behavior.
The following “article” here by John Piper, written for the Christian Post and adapted from a previous presentation, shows how far this can go. He answered the following question. "Do you think complementarianism is so important to some people that they deny women more opportunities than the Bible denies them?”
Piper says that problems develop when people do not understand complementarianism, presumably, as well as he does. “But the problem there is not that complementarianism is important, but it's that they don't understand it.”
He then gives the following illustration.
“I dealt with a couple one time. They were sitting in front of me, and she said, "He learned from you that I have to get permission from him for everything I do." I said, "Really? Like what?" And she said, "To go to the bathroom! He won't let me leave the room without his permission. If I get up and walk out of the room, he says, 'Hey, you're supposed to ask me first.'"
That's not because the man values complementarianism. That's not complementarianism. That's sick! So we do deny women things that we shouldn't deny them, if we're sick.”
Piper says this is “sick.” It is beyond sick. It is an indication that there is a high probability of domestic violence in this situation. He should have addressed this subject, front and center, in his post. It is vital that Christian pastors who “counsel” couples be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse. If he did get this couple some help, I would suggest that he say so. If he did not, then he needs to reevaluate his “Biblical clarity.”
Here is my admonition for any woman finding herself in such a situation. Get out, immediately! Then get some counseling, preferably with someone who can say something more than “this is sick.”
Piper goes on to address the issue of what women can and cannot do in the church. And let me tell you, he gets flakey. He talks about “unwise” decisions and gives no examples of what he considers “unwise” beyond the “bathroom” example.
After dismissing women as not being able to be elders in a church, he then says"
“What kind of Sunday school classes they teach, what ages of boys they teach-those are ambiguities, and I'm sure there are people who make unwise decisions at that point in the restriction of women. Or the woman could carry on a speaking ministry among women, and some men begin to gravitate into those things. I mean, things like that.”
Apply Biblical clarity?
Piper then discusses that we should be sensitive in how we apply “biblical clarity” in such situations. However, he adds no “clarity” to this situation except to say that women do not have to ask their husbands permission to go to the bathroom. Why does he not “clarify” his belief structure in this matter? Could it be that it might be a bit awkward for him?
Is he aware that some of his buddies have encouraged some distinctly odd and even abusive behaviors, on occasion? Piper says,“And we're going to probably make different judgments about that.” He is discussing Biblical clarity and then says we are going to see things differently? So much for "clarity." There's the rub. Here are “examples” of "clarity" and "differing judgements" that have been reported by those who claim to have attended churches that are pastored by good buddies of Piper.
- Women must ask their husband’s permission to attend Bible study.
- Women must drop what they are doing and bring coffee to their husbands at work as soon as they are commanded. (A game a few pastors played to “show” the obedience of their wives.”
- Women should sit in the back of the church.
- Women should not go to college.
- Daughters should stay at home with daddy until they are married and should tend to daddy’s needs.
- Women should not teach baptized boys.
Once again, when men must state that a woman does not need to ask her husband’s permission to go to the bathroom, then something is very, very wrong and it bodes ill for the “trajectory” of the complementarian movement. Now, could someone please pass the Charmin (unless your husband prefers White Cloud).