Beth Moore is a Christian evangelist. Fairly popular.
John Piper is a Christian preacher/author. Also popular.
Last week, someone asked Piper for his advice:
I’m a guy. Is it wrong for me to listen to Beth Moore?
(No, really, someone wanted advice about that. Because that’s a source of conflict in this guy’s mind.)
Piper responded with the obvious answer:
No, of course it’s not wrong. Listen to what she says. And if the advice is good, think about how you can apply it in your own life.
HA! I’m kidding. Of course he didn’t say that. That would’ve been sensible.
Instead, Piper gave an answer you’re all gonna have a field day with…
No. Unless you begin to become dependent on her as your shepherd-your pastor.
This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from a woman, or that she is incompetent and can’t think. It means that there is a certain dynamic between maleness and femaleness that when a woman begins to assume an authoritative teaching role in your life the manhood of a man and the womanhood of a woman is compromised.
I want to learn from my wife and I am happy to learn from Beth Moore. But I don’t want to get into a relationship of listening or attending a church where a woman is becoming my pastor, my shepherd or my authority. I think that would be an unhealthy thing for a man to do. I could give reasons for that biblically, experientially and psychologically, but I have given the gist of it.
It reminds me of that Bible verse in which Jesus says to Mary Magdalene: “Woman, know thy place and get back in the kitchen!”
I know, I know, it’s just some jackass using the worst possible interpretation of a religious text, right? But Christianity always seem to be littered with men like this…
My friend Rachel Held Evans took Piper to task for this (*gasp*… a woman speaking up? Rachel, what are you doing?!) on account that he’s cherry-picking that particular verse (emphasis hers):
Piper cites the first half of 1 Timothy 2:12 (“a woman should not have authority”) as universally applicable, but disregards the second half (“she must be quiet”) by encouraging women like Moore to continue speaking. If the first half of 1 Timothy 2 is so crucial to the complementarian hierarchal construct, why is the second half, (along with the silence command in 1 Corinthians 14:34) essentially ignored? Why is that complementarian women are forbidden from assuming leadership in churches, and yet permitted to speak? Nowhere does the Bible spell out this distinction between teaching and speaking or between leader and “shepherd-pastor.” Does Piper’s response not “reinterpret apparently plain meanings of biblical texts” and rely on a bit of “technical ingenuity”?
In other words, Piper is taking the first part of the verse literally… but he’s ignoring the (equally idiotic) second part of the verse that tells women they ought to be silent. Rachel has a point. Don’t cherry pick. It’s all or nothing.
(And if there’s one thing we all know for a fact, it’s that Christians never pick-and-choose when it comes to the Bible…)
It’s amazing to me that any woman in her right mind would want to live by Biblical ideals when so many of them, like this one, go against their best interests. It’s been said before, but God is like an abusive boyfriend and it’s high time women leave the relationship.
And why aren’t more Christian women denouncing this guy? Sure, Piper’s not worth listening to, but neither are any of the other Christian men who use Biblical “rules” to keep women quiet and under control.
By the way, Greta Christina has a great take on the cherry-picking problem:
… [D]on’t atheists do the same thing? Atheists don’t blindly follow the teachings of Saint Dawkins or Saint Hitchens — we accept the ideas that make sense to us, and reject the ones that don’t. Why are we so critical of believers when they cherry-pick their sacred texts? What’s the difference?
Yeah. See, here’s the thing.
There is a huge, huge difference between atheists cherry-picking the parts of a secular text that we find useful and plausible… and believers cherry-picking the parts of a religious text that they find useful and plausible.
The difference is that the atheists aren’t bringing God into the equation.