Little boys worship a little boy

John Piper is a boy, so John Piper wants God to be a boy.

Silly, silly boy.

J.R. Daniel Kirk points out that the Bible does not let Christians claim that God is a boy.

Sarah Moon notes that folks like Piper don’t seem to know much about women [fixed].

Paul at Disoriented-Reoriented notes that Piper also doesn’t seem to know much about Christian history.

(Those last two links via Dianna E. Anderson.)

It’s conventional to note that John Piper is a respected theological scholar. Albeit one who seems not to know much about the Bible, women or history.

And it’s also conventional to point out that Piper is probably not motivated by personal animus when he argues for a hierarchical arrangement that keeps half of the world submissive and subservient to the other half. Just because someone is arguing for a power-dynamic that just so happens to privilege him doesn’t mean that we ought to question his motives.

But when someone ends up where Piper has ended up — arguing for his own power and privilege, and making a career out of defending that privilege as innate and unquestionable — then no matter how devoutly sincere his motives may be, we still have to note that his doctrine and his career have tangible, real-world consequences.

Which is to say they have victims. Which is to say that he, John Piper, has victims.

Half the church. Half the world.

Mistreating half the church and half the world is wrong. It’s a bad thing to do. It’s not something that good people normally want to do.

And that needs to be said whenever this “controversy” about “the role of women in the church” comes up. So-called “complementarians” like Piper want to keep this all abstract and theoretical, that way they’re not held responsible for the consequences of their theories and abstractions. But they are responsible, whether or not they ever own up to that responsibility.

(P.S. Piper wants the church to have more of a “masculine feel.” The Bible says that the church is “the bride of Christ.” Can we conclude, then, that Piper has reversed his opposition to same-sex marriage?)

  • Brandi

    The Sarah Moon link 404ed.

  • Brandi
  • http://profiles.google.com/yamikuronue Bayley G

    I think that sarah moon link was meant to be http://sarahoverthemoon.com/2012/02/02/tell-us-were-not-strong-enough-but-youre-wrong/

  • Lori

     
    Half the church. Half the world.  

      

    Well, slightly less than half the world because there’s a relentless tendency for people to practice anti-female sex-selection. 

    At the same time IME it’s significantly more than half the church. I have literally never attended a church were (single men + men whose wives do not attend with them) > (single women + women whose husbands do not attend with them). If it wasn’t for the women most churches would totally cease to function. One day enough of them are going to look at their religious oligarchs and say screw this and that’ll be all she wrote. 

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    Mayne God told Piperthat God prefers more butch partners?

  • http://jrdkirk.com/ J. R. Daniel Kirk

    Your P.S. sums up the blog post I had the wisdom not tor write! Thanks for the support from your blog. Much appreciated.

  • Lori

    This disucssion, and Sarah Moon’s piece in particular, reminds me of Sojorner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman?” She gave the speech, of which the following is a part, in 1852. The fact that we’re still having this discussion in 2012 is a disgrace. 

     

    That man over there say
         a woman needs to be helped into
    carriages
    and lifted over ditches
         and to have the best place everywhere.
    Nobody ever helped me into carriages
       or over mud puddles
          or gives me a best place.
    . .

    And ain’t I a woman?
         Look at me
    Look at my arm!
         I have plowed and planted
    and gathered into barns
         and no man could head me. . .
    And ain’t I a woman?
       I could work as much
    and eat as much as a man–
       when I could get to it–
    and bear the lash as well
       and ain’t I a woman?
    I have born 13 children
         and seen most all sold into slavery
    and when I cried out a mother’s grief
         none but Jesus heard me. . .
    and ain’t I a woman?          that little man in black there
    say
    a woman can’t have as much rights as a man
         cause Christ wasn’t a woman
    Where did your Christ come from?
         From God and a woman!
    Man had nothing to do with him!

         If the first woman God ever made
    was strong enough to turn the world
         upside down, all alone
    together women ought to be able to turn it
         rightside up again.

      

    emphasis mine

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You know, Fred, you really ought to put a trigger warning before discussing “complementarians” because misogynists going about “uncorrected” is one of those things which sends me into a frothing rage.  Takes me a while to calm down after reading them, lest I make a comment some might view as disturbingly graphic. 

    Is it just me, but are all these masculinity-obsessed complimentarians cowards who hide behind security guards and assault laws? 

  • Lori

    I don’t know that John Piper has security guards. I do know that he shouldn’t need them. Yes, that’s a hint. You really need to find some way to deal with disagreement that doesn’t involve (even fantasy) violence. 

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    No, but assholes like Mark Driscoll do.  Security guards.  At a church! 

    Cowardice.  They only get away with saying such enraging things because they pay people to shield them. 

  • Lori

    They’re supposed to “get away with” saying things that make people angry. It’s called free speech. Some people get enraged when someone suggests that QUILTBAG folks should have full civil rights or that women should control their own bodies. For anyone to be safe speaking out, everyone has to be safe speaking out. Safety should not and can not be based on whether or not someone makes you mad. 

    So I’llrepeat, you have got to find some way to deal with disagreement that doesn’t involve all this fantasy violence that you indulge in. It’s not appropriate, it’s not particularly healthy and it makes you no better than the Right wing nutters with their liberal hunting licenses and other assorted nastiness. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    No, they get away with saying such enraging things because they have privilege and power. They should be perfectly free to say such enraging things without needing people to shield them because they say those things.

    Seriously, man. Cool it.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    What Christianity in the hands of the obsessed-with-masculinity may look like. 

    Not very attractive at all

  • Anonymous

    A masculine God, for a masculine religion, in a masculine church, for masculine people.

    …somethin’ ain’t right.

  • Anonymous

    I think Christians of his stripe are really unable to deal with the plain fact that Jesus liked and respected women. It’s right there in the Gospels, he listened to them, he spoke up for them, he cared about them, and treated them as his equal. And that is the pebble in the shoe that will never stop scraping at misogynists like that. They want to be soliders of Christ, but Christ liked women, and they can’t stand it.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

     
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qswm7lHp7oY

    What other people said about chilling out man.  Don’t make semi- obscure period kitsch out of yourself. 

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    That’s the main reason Piper’s bestie Driscoll wants a more masculine church. He thinks its more “feminine” qualities are a deterrent for men.

    “Feminine_ qualities like meekness, humility, receptiveness, being poor in spirit…

  • http://sarahoverthemoon.com/ Sarah Moon

    Love Sojourner Truth! :) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jess-Goodwin/28602067 Jess Goodwin

    Bah. The moment I read this post, I had Sojourner Truth’s speech all ready in my head, but Lori beat me to it. Bah, I say! ;-)

  • FangsFirst

     I love that that song is somehow associated with Billy Jack. WTF. Did someone miss the point of the song?

    (then again, I think the movie kind of missed its own point, so maybe that makes sense…)

  • MaryKaye

    Dorothy Sayers points out in one of her essays that Jesus’ recorded words don’t include a single rant about the wickedness or weakness of women.  This is, historically speaking, pretty remarkable.  Too bad his followers couldn’t stick to it.

  • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com Brambonius

    you mean the fruits of the spirit and those qualities described in the beautitudes? How dare men be so feminine!

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    People who obsess over masculinity get little more than a chuckle out of me, ever since it’s become so common for them to be closeted that it’s practically a cliche. Not that masculinity has anything to do with sexual orientation anyway except in the minds of these poor souls. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I actually really like your posts and understand more than most your impulse to violence. I don’t actually hold with nonviolence but try to cloak my violent impulses in humor and sarcastic bon mots because that shit scares people, y’know?

  • Wednesday

    According to the Gospels, where were all the masculine menzors when Christ was executed? Or is “freaking out and abandoning your leader/your God when things look bad” one of those masculine traits Piper thinks the church needs to embrace?

    There’s a book by Diane Duane set in a multiverse with a number of alternate-universe Earths, and it can be inferred from the text that alt-Jesus was a woman in at least one of them (our main characters often exclaim “Suuuuz” and once, “Suzanne H. Christ!”).  (There’s also an alt-Earth where the Norse Gods are running the show.)

  • Tricksterson

    Not just in attendance either.  If you look at who pulls the most weight running church functions it’s been my (admittedly limited since i haven’t attended a Christian church in a long while) experience that it’s the women.
    With all due respect to Sarah Moon I would be in ecstasy if the symbol of Christianity was transformed from the cross to a dandilion.

  • Tricksterson

    On the other hand if the Creator wwas male, particularly the Mike Ditka type male that Piper seems to idolize, it would explain a lot about the fuckedupness of the universe.

  • Anonymous

    To this day I can’t read Sojourner Truth’s amazing speech without hearing this spine-chilling a capella song in my head (the link provides only a several-second clip, but the whole song isn’t available anywhere that I could find, and it’s only 99 cents for the whole thing). So fantastically gorgeous and dissonant and angry and lyrical, all at once. Just like Sojourner Truth herself.

  • P J Evans

     At the church in which I was raised, women did all the office work, most of the teaching, provided a lot of the music, and, when the church moved to a new location and had to clean up an existing building (a Victorian-era house, complete with pressed-tin ceilings) and build a hall, all in less than two months, women did most of the work on the house, as well as supplying the men with gallons of lemonade and iced tea every day. They raised money for it, too (the fruitcakes were actually pretty good).

  • vsm

    I’ve never really understood how this God as male thing is supposed to work. Does he have some kind of a spiritual penis? If so, what does he do with it? Is he slightly more present at monster truck rallies than knitting societies? Does he prefer Dragon Ball Z to Sailor Moon? God’s a bit too omni-everything to have a gender.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I’ve never really understood how this God as male thing is supposed to
    work. Does he have some kind of a spiritual penis? If so, what does he
    do with it?

    Well, He _did_ get at least one woman pregnant.

    Just sayin’….

  • Tricksterson

    Trust me, a lot of males watch Sailor Moon, just not for the same reasons that females do.

  • Rikalous

     

    I’ve never really understood how this God as male thing is supposed to
    work. Does he have some kind of a spiritual penis? If so, what does he
    do with it? Is he slightly more present at monster truck rallies than
    knitting societies? Does he prefer Dragon Ball Z to Sailor Moon? God’s a
    bit too omni-everything to have a gender.

    As one Navaros has explained:

    No, God’s Penis is not a biological organ. I never said God’s Penis was
    the same as man’s penis. Obviously it wouldn’t be. That is why I pointed
    out God has a Holy, Righteous Penis. That is to say, it’s not the same
    as man’s corrupted, fleshy one.

    As I said when this subject first came up, once again: Penises are not
    just for sex & peeing. It is only because man is evil that he thinks
    of penises exclusively in those terms.

    Man is made in the image of God the Father. That is the primary reason why man has a penis.

    You cannot insert your evil prejudicial ideas of man’s penis onto God –
    which is exactly what you are doing. God’s Penis is not equal to man’s
    penis. It’s really not hard to understand.

    Personally, I think it’s just that God doesn’t have a pink bow or long eyelashes.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’ve never really understood how this God as male thing is
    supposed to work. Does he have some kind of a spiritual penis? If so,
    what does he do with it? Is he slightly more present at monster truck
    rallies than knitting societies? Does he prefer Dragon Ball Z to Sailor
    Moon? God’s a bit too omni-everything to have a gender.

    I have some recollection of this from a colloquium back in college. The catholic position, at the least, is not that God is per se male, but rather that His position “with respect to the world” is analogous to the position of a father to a child (This is part of the argument for why priests must be male; the role of the priest is to act as a proxy for God to the world, not a proxy for the world to God. Which I found surprising).  Which, close as I can understand, means something like this: (Incoming: Aquinas-style Capitalizing Words to indicate This is a Special Thing) Unlike in some other religions, God did not give birth to the world out of the Substance of His own form, but rather Generated it by Speaking it into being — Yes. It’s a ‘”Let there be light,” God ejaculated’ pun.

    We are all the divine emanations of God.

    Yeah. Not making this up.

    ALso, I just keep flashign back to Monster Squad. “WolfmanGod has nards!”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    As I understand it, God was conceived as male because of the ancient belief that it was the male that held the reproductive potential which the female “incubated” (can’t think of a better word right now) but didn’t contribute to. That is, initiation of life was understood to be a male property. There’s the added sociological concept of the male being the one who initiates relationship–females can only respond.

    So God, as creator of the universe and initator of a relationship with humanity, was portrayed as male.

    I also understand (but may be wrong) that the Holy Spirit is rendered as a feminine term in the original Greek.

    Although I don’t believe that God “has a gender”, I find it easier to relate to the idea of God with personal pronouns, and in my language “it” comes off as cold and impersonal. I refer to God as he and the Holy Spirit as she (cos I like the idea of both genders in one), but other people I know use “he” all round and others never use pronouns at all–just “God”. For me, the important thing is to accept that God doesn’t have a gender in a human way, not get caught up in “God is male so must be tough and stern, not a soft merciful girly girl” crap, and use pronouns as they are useful to you.

  • Crooked Bird

    I read John Piper’s quotes about this. He describes this “masculine feel” as being very “roomy.” I believe it might have had some “overarching” to it as well. He also said while navigating the space of this masculine-feeling church, we would encounter “feminine feels all over the place.” I began to try to picture this “space,” and immediately stumbled over the truth: he wants a church in which the roof is a boy and the chairs are girls!

    Which led me to the only possible conclusion: John Piper wants us all to speak French!

    “le toit” (m) “la chaise” (f)

    Allow me to add a quote from C.S. Lewis, who (at the period when he wrote this one) probably would have found a great deal in common with Piper. In Perelandra, as his main character Ransom begins to discover that angels are either feminine or masculine, reflects that gender is embedded into everything: “Everyone must sometimes have wondered why in nearly all tongues certain inanimate objects are masculine and others feminine. What is masculine about a mountain or feminine about certain trees?”

    To which I can only respond: “la montagne (f), l’arbre (m)”

    A much worthier quote by Lewis, from A Grief Observed: “It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine’. But also what poor, warped fragments of humanity most mere men and mere women must be to make the implications of that arrogance plausible.”

    John Piper went on to describe, in his wonderful roomy masculine-feeling church, women being “appropriately masculine” and men being “appropriately feminine.” He is not entirely off the right track. I wish that he would learn the lesson Lewis eventually learned, though, and ditch the arrogance. And say he what he really wants the church to “feel” like: confident, perhaps?

  • Anonymous

    To which I can only respond: “la montagne (f), l’arbre (m)”

    Shades of Twain:


    To continue with the German genders: a tree is male, its buds are female,
    its leaves are neuter; horses are sexless, dogs are male, cats are female –
    tomcats included, of course; a person’s mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers,
    nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter
    according to the word selected to signify it, and not according to the
    sex of the individual who wears it — for in Germany all the women either male
    heads or sexless ones; a person’s nose, lips, shoulders, breast, hands, and
    toes are of the female sex; and his hair, ears, eyes, chin, legs, knees,
    heart, and conscience haven’t any sex at all. The inventor of the language
    probably got what he knew about a conscience from hearsay.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    “As I understand it, God was conceived as male because of the ancient belief that it was the male that held the reproductive potential which the female “incubated” (can’t think of a better word right now) but didn’t contribute to. That is, initiation of life was understood to be a male property.”

    Funny you should mention, as this belief is at the heart of not just the current Planned Parenthood bruha but opposition to abortion in general.  It’s how people can honestly believe that the entire in utero development from eukaryote to primate is existentially unimportant. Though I guess all that is fodder for the newer threads. All hail the homunculus!   

  • vsm

    That’s the great thing about Catholic theology. No matter how stupid your question, there’s most likely an official answer. Granted, it may not be a very good answer, but it is there.

    Tricksterson:

    Trust me, a lot of males watch Sailor Moon, just not for the same reasons that females do

    Women don’t watch it for the hammy-but-surprisingly-lovable villains, Outer senshi and queer subtexts?

  • Joshua

    If anyone is still reading:

    I also understand (but may be wrong) that the Holy Spirit is rendered as a feminine term in the original Greek.

    Nah, the word is neuter, as it happens. For spirits in general as well as the Holy Spirit. Some Christian writers have definitely used feminine imagery when talking about the Holy Spirit, but the word itself is grammatically neuter.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    There you go. Consider my educated.


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