Pastor John Piper, a leading figure in Reformed Christianity, was recently asked the question: “Should women be police officers?” He answered the question on his podcast, Ask Pastor John, in Episode 661. His response wasn’t surprising, but what was surprising was how far he took the concept– one that is dangerous, and one I pray my teenage daughters never hear.
Piper begins his answer where he should have ended it:
“My sense is that it is unwise to make a list of women’s jobs and men’s jobs. There is simply too much diversity and too much flexibility in how many jobs there are and how the jobs are done and what the very relationships with men or women are in all the various jobs. It just won’t work to try to make a list like that.”
After stating “My sense is that it is unwise to make a list of women’s jobs and men’s jobs” Piper should have said, “So that concludes today’s episode” but unfortunately he didn’t. And that’s where things get dangerous. Piper went on to explain how he thinks God-loving women should consider which jobs they can do– judging on the basis of whether or not such a job would require them to give directives to men:
“To the degree that a woman’s influence over a man, guidance of a man, leadership of a man, is personal and a directive, it will generally offend a man’s good, God-given sense of responsibility and leadership, and thus controvert God’s created order. To an extent, a woman’s leadership or influence may be personal and non-directive or directive and non-personal, but I don’t think we should push the limits. I don’t think those would necessarily push the limits of what is appropriate. That is my general paradigm of guidance.”
Piper goes on to explain a bit of what he means by these categories and gives a few examples, such as a female engineer who designs a roadway. In this scenario, while she is determining which direction men can drive, Piper says is okay because she’s not personally giving directives to any man in particular. However, he warns that other scenarios– those where a woman must give direct instructions to a male– would violate their sense of manhood and womanhood. He uses the extreme example of a female drill sergeant (which I had, and I was deathly afraid of her because she was a good one) and says he simply can’t see how it would be possible for a female to serve in such a job without violating the lines of gender roles.
Piper summarizes his position this way:
“So if you combine those two continuums that I just mentioned, I would say it like this: If a woman’s job involves a good deal of directives toward men, they will need to be non-personal in general, or men and women won’t flourish in the long run in that relationship without compromising profound biblical and psychological issues. And conversely, if a woman’s relationship to a man is very personal, then the way she offers guidance and influence will need to be more non-directive. And my own view is that there are some roles in society that will strain godly manhood and womanhood to the breaking point. But I leave women and men in those roles to sort that out. I have never tried to make that list.”
In the end, Piper tries to take the out of “I’d never make that list” but let’s be clear about the implications of what he’s said: “biblical womanhood” would essentially disqualify women from the vast majority of jobs today.
Where could one work, what vocation could one hold, where one wouldn’t be in the position of giving instructions to men? I can’t think of many, and certainly this position would mean that women are not suited for anything other than entry-level positions, as increased supervisory responsibility would undoubtedly include giving directives to male subordinates.
Thusly, it appears that Piper actually thinks biblical womanhood disqualifies women from the vast majority jobs in the world, unless those jobs took place inside a giant lady bubble.
And this is precisely why I will fight to protect my kids from this brand of Christianity– it is an absolutely dangerous message.
(You can find the complete transcript of Piper’s answer, here)