Yesterday, as John Piper released a blog post that explained why women should not have teaching positions in seminary, I sat in a classroom in Los Angeles, learning from process theologian Monica Coleman. For a seminary class. With other women.
Who’s John Piper again?
Oh right. He’s this guy with a really big platform who thinks that the Bible teaches complementarianism and that women can not lead men. But don’t worry ladies — it’s not about your competence or abilities. It’s just because God says so.
His argument, in a nutshell, is this: since women can’t be pastors, women should not be seminary professors, because the role of the seminary professor is to model the role of the pastor. It was pretty much a yawn-fest, in that none of this is anything new. John Piper will continue to teach this nonsense, and luckily for the world, women like Monica Coleman will continue to teach women and men like me.
But as I read through the piece, one word stuck out to me like a bright pink neon sign in the middle of dry and dusty desert: excluded.
The exact quote says this: “If it is unbiblical to have women as pastors, how can it be biblical to have women who function in formal teaching and mentoring capacities to train and fit pastors for the very calling from which the mentors themselves are excluded?”
This is where Jesus walks in for me. This is where Jesus pulls up a chair and stays a while for me. Because Jesus was never about exclusion, and the longer John Piper preaches a theology of exclusion, he is practicing the idolatry of pride. He is worshiping his rightness. And he is diametrically opposed to God’s work toward mutual well being for all.
It’s not a surprise that Piper rests his elbows on the complementarian table; what does surprise me, though, is how he can seemingly marry that ideology with a Jesus-based theology. It is an oxymoron to use the word “excluded” with pretty much anything having to do with Jesus, because the radical thing about Jesus is that Crazy Jesus Love, this thing that lures and calls and pulls out of all of us something fundamentally beautiful and bigger than we ever imagine we could be. That’s what Crazy Jesus Love does to a person.
In my mind, you’d have to do some serious mental gymnastics to stay complementarian and still try to have your being in that Crazy Jesus Love, because Crazy Jesus Love is radical and uncomfortable in its expansiveness. It’s bigger than all of us, and that means there’s room for women in pulpits and seminary classrooms, even if that makes John Piper squirm in his seat.
There is more than enough biblical scholarship available to unravel the knots that complemetarianism uses to tie us all up in inequity. The fact that Piper continues to ignore it is one thing. But let’s stop pretending Jesus approves.