John Piper Not Opposing Gay Marriage

 

John Piper (Kyndell Harkness/StarTribune)

At least not from the pulpit.

Conservatives in Minnesota have been waiting with bated breath for our state’s two most influential evangelicals — John Piper and Leith Anderson — to raise their voices in support of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as hetero-only. Now it’s clear that neither will do so.

Thirty-one states have voted on marriage amendments, and all thirty-one have passed them. In Minnesota, polls show an even split, and many of us in the state are dreading the influx of outside money that is sure to pour in as the vote draws nigh.

Rose French reports:

Two key conservative evangelical leaders in Minnesota are not endorsing the marriage amendment or directing followers to vote for it, marking the first time during debate over the measure that major faith leaders have not encouraged members to take a stand on the issue.

Influential preacher and theologian the Rev. John Piper came out against gay marriage during a sermon Sunday but did not explicitly urge members of his Minneapolis church to vote for the amendment.

The Rev. Leith Anderson, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s longtime pastor, also said this week he does not plan to take a public side on the amendment, which would change the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Religious observers say the lack of formal backing from the two influential figures could signal that evangelical leaders in Minnesota are taking a less active role in supporting the amendment — a marked departure from evangelicals in dozens of other states where similar amendments have passed.

“Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism,” Piper said during his sermon, posted on Bethlehem Baptist Church’s website. “Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative mandates, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word.”

Piper had been under pressure from conservative groups to weigh in on the amendment, according to his spokesman David Mathis, adding that Piper did not hold back over concerns the church could lose its tax-exempt status.

“Basically our position is, we’re not taking one as a church,” Mathis said. “And by addressing this in June rather than October or early November, there’s no effort here for political expediency, trying to get certain votes out of people.”

“He [Piper] wants to avoid the political realm as much as possible. The Christian Gospel is not left, it’s not right. It is what it is.”

Read the rest, including a little quote from Yours Truly: Key Minnesota pastors opt out of marriage fight | StarTribune.com.

  • http://getoutfromunderit.blogspot.com Andy

    I’m…impressed? I guess? I mean, Piper’s still a megalomaniacal tool, but this is…huh. I’m just…wow. Yeah.

    No real words other than “I wish the Mormons had thought like that in 2008.”

    • Robby

      Calling someone a tool isn’t very loving. Isn’t that what this blog is all about? Being loving?

  • joel

    Piper sure looks like senator Palpatin on that pic! Moreover, Pakmpatin also refused the power he was given by the congregation.

    • Mark

      Holy crap, he does look like Palpatin, that is hysterical.

  • http://www.travismamone.net Travis Mamone

    That’s the one good thing I’ll say about the so-called Neo-Reformed: unlike the Fundamentalists of the late 20th century, the New Calvinists aren’t looking for any political power.

  • Jonathan

    I’m having difficulty interpreting your post’s title, Tony. How is the title “John Piper Not Opposing Gay Marriage” consistent with the phrase in the post “John Piper came out against gay marriage during a sermon Sunday.” Is this some form of irony I’m not cool enough to understand?

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      The first line of the post explains the headline.

      • Jonathan

        Thanks, Tony. Sorry for my inappropriately sarcastic tone before. I still think the title is a misrepresentation of the content of the article, as well as Piper’s position. He does, from the pulpit, oppose gay marriage. Saying he doesn’t, when what you really mean is that he didn’t instruct his congregation to vote against the “hetero-only” amendment, seems rather sensationalist, if not deceptive. I mean, if I wrote a blog post titled “Tony Jones Agrees with John Piper on Gay Marriage,” that would surely be a misrepresentation of your beliefs, even if what I really meant was that you both agree that churches shouldn’t instruct their parishioners to vote in favor of the amendment.

        I suppose it doesn’t matter much. Blogs are blogs, after all.

        • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

          Yes, blogs are blogs. If I were a headline writer for a newspaper, I imagine I’d be more mellow (and more punny).

        • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

          For what it’s worth, if you hadn’t pointed this out, I would have. Clearly Piper IS opposing gay marriage, and he IS doing so from the pulpit. He’s just not explicitly asking people to vote a certain way in that sermon.

          • Vic Rauch

            Mark, for all the comments I have read so far, it seems you are the only one commenting here that actually heard or saw the sermon, or at least truly knows who John Piper is and what he has been saying about God and His Word for most of his (John’s) life!

    • Jones

      He clearly opposes it in his statements. Just because he doesn’t instruct people how to vote doesn’t mean he doesn’t oppose it.

  • Carl

    Piper posted a corrective to the Star Trib article.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Yes, Carl, and it’s disingenuous. He refused to talk to the reporter, instead sending his “spokesman” to speak to her on his behalf. So she quoted the spokesman and Piper’s own sermon. It’s weasily and slimly to refuse to talk to a reporter and then to complain that she missed your meaning.

      • http://www.caseyandjess.com Casey

        Tony,

        Did Piper “refuse” to talk to the reporter, or did the reporter simply quote Mathis?

        Was Piper “complaining,” or did he simply issue a response for clarity’s sake?

        You may have more of the scoop than the rest [and if you do then please share], but based on the information in the article and the response, calling Piper’s actions “weasily” and “slimly” seems a bit disingenuous.

        • Carl

          Exactly Casey, but that hasn’t yet stopped Tony from spouting hate. I too wondered where Piper “refused” and “complained” and was “weasily” and “slimly”… but I figured Tony knows Piper’s heart and thoughts. :/

        • Carl

          Some real pastors actually stay pretty busy, they don’t have time to wait around waiting to get their names in the paper. Mathis routinely represents Piper to the media. I think Tony is just jealous he doesn’t have a spokesman.

  • Charity Jill

    I think it is so interesting that in the quote accompanying Piper’s picture (I’m in the Cities so I got to read this in the paper this morning!), he refers to the Church using a feminine pronoun. “Don’t press the organization of the church or HER pastors into political activism” (emphasis mine of course). So, the female church has a masculine feel…sounds like he thinks the church is an angry feminist! Sorry for the sarcasm. But how does Piper reconcile his use of the feminine pronoun with his teaching that the church as a body has a masculine identity?

  • Carl

    Charity, I would guess it has to do with the fact that God refers to the Church as the Bride of Christ. So while the Church is referred to as “she”, it has many masculine (and feminine) qualities. I listened to Piper’s “masculine” talk in person, and while he may have overstated his case a bit, it was really good.

    • Charity Jill

      Yes! The Church IS the Bride of Christ, amen to that. I still don’t understand how that fact can be reconciled with Piper’s teachings about the church and its masculinity.

  • kim

    Tony, I am sorry but your title really bothers me. I know you may want to have some ‘surprised-clickers’, but that’s not what Piper preached. Yes, you explained that he did not want to take any side of political position. But his sermon clearly showed that as a pastor, he was against gay marriage because the Bible said so. You should know that there are many people who try to find what Piper said about gay marriage by reading the titles of google search results, and they would misunderstand about him by your title. (and sure, click and read your blog)

  • Kyle

    I do not understand your article given Piper’s “political” position as stated in his own post of May 23, 2011 (following the May 21, 2011 passage of the amendment in the House). See:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/thoughts-on-the-minnesota-marriage-amendment

    Perhaps I am reading all of this wrong (I almost always do) — but it appears to me that Piper is giving political instructions in his earlier article. Otherwise, what are we to do with the following statements: “4. The legal significance of marriage makes a statutory definition necessary”, and “5. It is wise that our laws define marriage as between a man and a woman”, and finally “I am not making a case for the legal prosecution of homosexual practice. Nor would I advocate the legal prosecution of heterosexual fornication. But I would make a case against the institutionalization of fornication, or making it a building block of society, or mandating its approval, or imbedding it in our laws. It is one thing to tolerate sin. It is another to build society on it.”

    I am just curious to know how Piper’s own article fits with your’s (and with his sermon).


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