John Piper’s influence is, he says, ‘irrespective of competency’

John Piper shall, henceforth, be referred to as John “Irrespective of Competency” Piper.

Piper despises competency, dismissing it as folly:

Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.

And collectively that is what society does — unless the men have all been emasculated by the suicidal songs of egalitarian folly.

No. There is no such thing as an enduring society that operates “irrespective of competency.”

Any society that tried to function “irrespective of competency” would quickly fail due to, you know, incompetency.

How does someone like Piper say such clownish things and yet become so influential in so many evangelical churches? Why is such buffoonery accepted as a credible lecture on the meaning of “manhood”?

Apparently those churches abide by Piper’s rules and chase after leaders “irrespective of competency.”

At least Piper has finally admitted why he fears women’s leadership in the church — because if the church began choosing its leaders based on competency instead of arbitrary hierarchies that operate “irrespective of competency,” then he’d be out of a job.

“Irrespective of competency.” He said that, voluntarily. He admitted that out loud. Oy.


"sorry https://uploads.disquscdn.c... https://uploads.disquscdn.c... https://uploads.disquscdn.c... https://uploads.disquscdn.c..."

Sunday favorites
"You're both right. The term itself is pretty neutral by just about any definition, including ..."

LBCF, No. 181: ‘Meet the Steeles’
"Well over a 100 missiles were launched and I am sure if you were on ..."

Sunday favorites
"You mean like this? https://uploads.disquscdn.c..."

Sunday favorites

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • The_L1985

     I never understood that mindset.  It’s like such people don’t believe that it’s ever possible for a man to have more boxes and things than he can reasonably carry, or for an empty-handed woman to come along at just the right time to help out someone with full hands by opening a door.

    In fact, if all the men are carrying parcels for women, and men are supposed to open doors for women but not vice versa, then who will open the door when they reach the woman’s intended destination?  You can’t open a door with your hands full.

  • The_L1985

     I forgot one!  Added tire-changing to the list.

  • Piper lives by honor and shame culture. he just needs to acknowledge that. “You have brought dishonor to the male dominance. Throw yourself on this sword.”

  •  > It seems to me that Piper believes that women serving in combat is the symptom and the disease is “men acting cowardly.”

    Sure, that seems likely.

    Whereas in reality, women defending themselves, one another, their families and their nation is just one of many things that people of both genders do. Treating a soldier’s decision to serve as nothing but the unfortunate consequence of my decision not to is both insulting and inaccurate, and doesn’t somehow become less so when that soldier is female. (Or black. Or gay. Or from Tennessee. Or lots of other things.)

  • SisterCoyote

    Oh my God, I am so very in favor of this. *makes note for all further sexist arguments on the internet*

  • Carstonio

    I think Piper’s main point is not “women serving in combat is intrinsically bad” but that “men abdicating their roles and their duty to die for others when called upon is intrinsically bad.”

    The latter isn’t any better than the former. Both wrongly attempt to shoehorn people into roles based on sexual identity, as if belonging to one sex or the other meant having specific intrinsic responsibilities.

  • Carstonio

    Heh. Sounds like Harry Potter slashfic. 

  • Alethea

    This reminds me of the time I heard a woman preaching on TV about submission. She said that a wife should always obey her husband, even if her husband is wrong or if he tells her to do something that’s a sin. Her reasoning was that the error/sin would be on his head, not the wife’s, and if the wife did not obey, that would be a sin for her. I ended up screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!” at the TV before scrambling to change the channel. I’m surprised that I didn’t have blood trickling out of my ears afterward.

  • Jason,  just relying on John Piper’s own words, I do think that stepping in front of  Sarah is stupid, and potentially puts her in more danger than if the man let Sarah, who is trained in this area, deal with the situation and call the shots.  Piper makes the point that the man “knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could.”

    Like MaryKay who commented above, I’ve been in two situations where  I  defended someone who was being attacked physically and verbally.  Gender simply doesn’t come into it.  

    Stronger people should protect weaker people.  Masculine muscular strength isn’t everything.   There are other abilities that can be used to defend, protect and rescue people.  

    Thankfully Moses had several women in his life who were willing to protect him in some risky situations: Shiphrah, Puah, Jochabed, Miriam, the Egyptian princess and Zipporah.  And there are other examples of brave Bible women who risked their necks to help and save others.  

    In the church, I’ve seen capable, called and gifted women being overlooked and made to ‘sit on their hands’ while less competent men are given the more influential ministries.  This is stupid.

    John Piper grossly underestimates the courage and capacity of women in general.

  • David Starner

    The time a woman shows me how it’s possible to change a tire with only two hands and no third appendage, I will let her change the tire.

  • AnonymousSam

    Not even if you do a little find-and-replace magic on a Harry Potter story?

  • No, he just thinks that a man who knows full well that she’s more equipped to deal with the situation at hand should nevertheless get in her way and attempt to do it. Because penis, that’s why.

    Considering that the guy has a knife, Jason might well no longer have a penis after attempting this, if the attacker is particularly vindictive.  

    I suppose that is one way of mitigating his bravado.  

  • Carstonio

    So penises are for prying off hubcaps? Or for jacking off up the car?

  • AnonymousSam

    So. I have made an executive decision. Piper’s getting up there in years, and knowing conservative men with a large audience and their tendency to go into histrionics and have heart attacks and all that wonderful rot, I have decided that I must take steps to ensure that rather than risk a competent woman having anything to do with his eventual heart surgery, an incompetent man should perform this surgery unassisted at a time of no one’s notice, lest a competent female intervene and ruin the entire procedure. In fact, in the interests of expediency, it would be better not to wait for this to become an emergency. If someone so much as dials 911, a competent female might answer the call, and we can’t have that.

    Therefor, I am asking–nah, pleading–that any incompetent men out there who have ever had an interest in open heart surgery, please don’t allow common sense to interfere with your written-on-thine-soul duty to do what’s right and help this man before a trained professional female can jeopardize everything.

  • Tricksterson

    So it’s official then?  Common sense and inteligent behavior are sinful in the eyes of God?

  • Carstonio

    I’m waiting for a surrealistic comedy to have two dueling men dispense with the sword symbolism and actually fence with their penises.

  • AnonymousSam
  • “If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed.”

    I cannot be the only young man who fantasized about fighting side-by-side with my battle-sisters?  

  • Lori

    You have spent much time on the wilder shores of the internet, have you?

  • Tricksterson

    Maybe if they’re Centari penises.

  • Ok, I like, remember you from before, and I recall having to tilt my head and wonder what the hell you were on about because you had these bizarre-seeming happy-clappy views about Old Testament laws that don’t really mean anything anymore when medical science has essentially rendered them irrelevant.

    You seem to be remarkably unfazed at the fact that Piper is asking the reader to accept his unstated assumptions about how men and women ought to act and then trying to blame the reader for spotting them in the first place.

    Original thread in that link by the way folks

  • It really is suggestive sometimes when you replace one letter in “wand” ^_~

  • AnonymousSam

    I suspect you and I have seen the same post!

  • SisterCoyote

    My first reaction is “Somebody needs to take Aral Vorkosigan’s seminar on criminal orders.”

    My second reaction is horror at even hypothetically getting into a universe where married couples and/or husbands actually issue commands to their partners. EWWW.

  • SisterCoyote

    Q: What does it take to operate a fully-loaded 747?
    A: Penis.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I would never forgive my fiance if he got hurt trying to do something I was better equipped to do just because penis. Especially if it cost him his life. (Though I guess my lack of forgiveness wouldn’t matter much if he were dead.)

    Men like Piper are just scared of women that can actually hold their own. And I’m willing to bet that it’s because men like Piper *can’t*. They can’t handle being in a world where they aren’t worshipped and given everything. 

    And since they cannot, everyone who can is now a danger to them. 

  • John Piper grossly underestimates the courage and capacity of women in general.

    Sounds to me like he’s threatened by it.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Here’s the short of the entire situation: Your role in life, or in any given situation, should not be based on the reproductive equipment you were assigned as a fetus. 

    Forcing people into specific roles because of the reproductive equipment they have is bad. It’s wrong. It’s unethical, disrespectful, stupid, and it causes harm. 

    For Piper to insist that a man should do ANYTHING, muchless die for someone, simply because he has a penis, is wrong. I don’t care what the bible says. The bible’s “woman, submit” rules have been proven bad for everyone involved. They need to be dropped. And they aren’t anymore helpful for men than they are women, certain mens’ universe-sized egos be damned. 

  • MaryKaye

    This has something which has been previously noted in _Left Behind_, which is the attitude that principle is more important than outcome, even predictable outcome.  So, you say awful things to non-believers in order to get them to convert and it’s a predictable crashing failure, but that’s okay, you upheld the principle!  Or, you jump in front of knife guy and thereby endanger several peoples’ lives, but that’s okay, you upheld the principle!

    I guess people like me, who think this is hopelessly stupid, are labeled “utilitarians” or “relativists” and are dismissed as such.

    It gives everything the faint air of being a game rather than real life:  like one of those videogames where you’re trying to improve your score.  (In one of the Ultimas, once you talked to a beggar you had to give him a coin or it would hurt your morality score, leading to silly scenes of the party weaving and dodging through town trying never to talk to a beggar.  Also, giving more than one coin didn’t help, so one never did that.)  Because in real life, if you had to sit with Sarah after Jason gets killed, it’s going to hurt.  A lot.  And then you have to visit Jason’s parents and talk to them about why he’s dead.  And don’t forget the cut tendon in Sarah’s arm where she took a cut trying to protect Jason after he was down.  It’s going to take a couple years of physical therapy for that to heal, if it ever does.

  •  It occurs to me that a number of mammals have a bone known as a baculum inside the penis, something humans lack. Olivander says at least once that all wands have a core that’s part of some magical creature (Veela hair, phoenix feather, etc.) and I’m pretty sure that there are some magical mammals around.

    Of course, a baculum from a large mammal (even something dog-sized) would probably be rather too large for a conventional wand, so we’re talking escrima sticks or a full-length wizard staff. With a knob on the end.

  • MK

    I take it he’d rather live in the fictional European Union of Rob Grant’s book Incompetence, where it’s illegal to fire someone for not being very good at their jobs. I wish him luck, but I suspect it’s only funny from the outside.

  • Wingedwyrm

    I think I get John Piper’s thinking.

    To his thinking, roles exist platonically.  They don’t serve a purpose.  You don’t have an obligation, as a man, to defend women in your presence because you are the one capable of doing the defending in the situation.  You have an obligation, as a man, to do the defending because the defense because that is your role.  It is not that the role serves any purpose.  It just is.

    This comes right in line with a certain view of morality.  It’s not that a certain thing is moral because there is an ends that is served within a specific moral framework.  It’s that a thing simply is moral platonically and independantly of anything, including situation.

    It’s not just “irrespective of competency”, it’s irrespective of anything ever, including the very real pain and suffering that may happen.

    It’s really a soulless approach to issues of the soul.

  • Matri

    I was using my imagination to fill in the gaps of Piper’s article

    That’s what you’re going with? Really?

    Can someone refresh my memory: Who was it who said “Don’t hear what he is not saying.“?

  • There’s filling in the gaps, and then there’s using a frakkin’ backhoe.

  • Kristen Rosser

    Yes, but I think Piper is going one step further.  Not just that women shouldn’t engage in combat.  Not just that women shouldn’t be allowed to fight.  But that a man shows his manhood by making a woman’s decision for her.  In other words, true manhood is all about telling a woman what to do.  A real man wouldn’t let a woman make an adult decision about what she’s capable of.  A real man would never defer to a woman’s greater knowledge or skill.  Decision-making for women is part of “real manhood.”  

  • I’m reading Winthrop Jordan’s classic 1968 “White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812.” Racists of that era loved The Great Chain of Being. The excessively handy Wikipedia gives a brief overview. “It details a strict, religious hierarchical structure of all matter and life, believed to have been decreed by God.”

    It’s nonsense, of course, but things like Piper’s self serving  nonsense reminds me that even if nobody talks about the Great Chain of Being anymore, the concept apparently still presumed in religious right circles.

  • KarenH.

    It’s virtually impossible to assess the threat when Jason is standing in front of you, blocking your vision.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The time a woman shows me how it’s possible to change a tire with only
    two hands and no third appendage, I will let her change the tire.

    You always need a second person to help you change a tire? Because I’m a woman (sometimes–not today, but my vagina doesn’t change when my gender does) and I am perfectly capable of changing a tire all by myself.

    Find flattest out-of-traffic place to pull over. Put on emergency flashers. Put car in Park and apply parking brake. Chocks front and rear. Haul out spare tire and jack. Put jack under car, making sure jack will be lifting a nice solid part of the frame. Crank jack till no weight is on tire to be changed, but don’t quite get the tire off the ground. Hubcap off. Loosen nuts, lefty loosey, star pattern. Crank the jack a little higher so’s tire’s off the ground. Remove nuts. Remove tire. Put on new tire. Put nuts back on, righty tighty, star pattern. Crank the jack back down so’s tire’s on the ground but not bearing weight. Tighten nuts. Crank jack down till it can be taken out from under car. Tighten nuts if possible. Put tire and jack in trunk. Remove parking brake. Turn off emergency flashers. Drive off.

    For the record, I am not a woman today, but I was a couple days ago, I might be tomorrow, I have a uterus, and shockingly enough, I have changed my own damn tires. Pain in the ass to do it solo with upper body strength of nil, I admit, but not impossible (proof being that I’ve done it), and the stronger one is the less difficult it gets.

  • I used to be able to change tires m’self, but that was back when I had a Honda Civic and my tires were small anyway.

    Now I have a sedan and I’m 10 years older and TBH I’ve needed my roomie’s help getting the spare tire on. :(

    EDIT: That being said, me being a male has nothing to do with my capability or lack of such at tire-changing. Just putting that out there in case jason knox wants to blabber any more gender-essentialist happy-clappy.

  • The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality

    John Piper

    August 19, 2009

  • Hexep

    John Piper’s comments are of such staggering foolishness and wrong-headedness that I am quite sincerely stunned into disbelief of them, and have no constructive comments regarding them. That is all.

  • Joy_F

    Interesting theory. I see how this results in a lot of bad decisions. Like when my father attempted to balance the checkbook irrespective of competency and accidentally got the water shut off. My mom never let me touch it again. Had nothing to do with who was the “masculine leader” it had everything to do with him being dyslexic and not being able to correctly calculate. I can only imagine the financial disaster that would have ensued had she let him continue irrespective of competency.

  • flat

    man I love a good ending

  • Chloe Lewis

    “If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor
    of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my 
    country. ”

    The thing is, we’ve had women in combat for some *considerable* time now; the front lines are deep, war is chaos, and there have been women with irreplaceable specialties. And yet, Piper and his friends: not in combat.   

    Oh! He only wanted the honor of *saying* he held the principle!

  • Dollars to donuts when someone challenges him on that he’ll have a “reason” why his ass is apparently so irreplaceable he didn’t want it shot off in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • David Starner

    It was a joke about the possible (if horrible to contemplate) value of a penis  in changing a tire. Not a terribly funny one, I’ll admit.

    And, yeah, if I had to change a tire, I’d like a second person, at least for moral support.

  • flat


  • flat

    You know Jack Reacher is the manliest man on the planet and if there was some kind of jackass threatening him and his sgirlfriend with a knife he would beat the crap out of him faster and more ruthless than you can say profesional trained killer.

    But he will think the situation through and the difference between Piper and reacher is that he atleast admit that his behaviour is dangerous and stupid and that he should runa away and call the police, but then he wouldn’t be Jack Reacher.

  • SisterCoyote

    I don’t even have one, and the idea of using a penis to change a tire is cringe-inducing.  So many heavy and easily-droppable things.

  • rikalous

    Jason would best be of help by circling 180 degrees around the other
    side of the attacker, distracting the attackers attention allowing Sara
    an opening to wreak havoc, probably in the genital and knee area.

    That +2 attack bonus from flanking can make or break a fight, that’s for sure. And that’s assuming Sara doesn’t have levels in Rogue.

    John Piper’s comments are of such staggering foolishness and
    wrong-headedness that I am quite sincerely stunned into disbelief of
    them, and have no constructive comments regarding them. That is all.

    I know, right? How do you argue with someone who states straight out that they don’t consider competence the basis for deciding who’s best suited for a job? It’s like trying to correct the math of someone who insists that one and one make three.