Quoting Quiverful: Cultural Cowardice?

Quoting Quiverful: Cultural Cowardice? January 30, 2013

John Piper of desiring God – November 2, 2007

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. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women.

Back in the seventies, when I taught in college, feminism was new and cool. So my ideas on manhood were viewed as the social construct of a dying chauvinistic era. I had not yet been enlightened that competencies, not divine wiring, governed the roles we assume. Unfazed, I said no.

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. God created man first in order to say that man bears a primary burden for protection, provision, and leadership. And when man and woman rebelled against God’s ways, God came to the garden and said, Adam, where are you? (Genesis 3:9), not Eve, where are you? And when the apostle described the implications of being created male and female, the pattern he celebrates is: Save her, nourish her, cherish her, give her life (Ephesians 5:25-29).

Comments open below

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Saraquill

    I advise that writer to go to badassoftheweek.com and look up all the women listed there. Particularly the Dahomey Amazons.

  • Sarah

    My name is Sarah, and if I had a black belt in karate and a friend named Jason, and Jason ignorantly put his own life in danger while knowing I could handle the situation, Jason would be an idiot. If my imaginary friend Jason got hurt or killed in the process, that would cause me infinitely more pain than his failure to defend me.

    Also, “our” women? What? I’m not yours, John Piper.

  • Marek

    Natural selection at its finest?

  • Muthoni

    He says “in most cultures throughout history” such and such has been the norm. So how does following the masses mean you’re right?

  • Nea

    For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea

    *long sigh* As usual, please cite sources. Because there are a lot of fighting women throughout history, and men who weren’t afraid their manhood would fall off if they didn’t fight instead of someone who had more training than they did!

  • John Piper thinks that the attitudes and prejudices he imbibed as a child are actually divinely given truths for all males everywhere. He can think that if he wants, but the facts are against it. There were actually a few women listed in the army rosters for Israel in the Pentateuch– I guess Moses wasn’t to proud, if a woman was a fighter, to have her fight. Then there were the warrior women of the Celtic peoples; it’s my understanding that when the Celts converted to Christianity, they retained many of their egalitarian ways in their new religion, which at any rates shows that Christianity doesn’t have to be a female-restrictive religion.

    As for Adam being the leader because he was created first– the text simply doesn’t say that. And God couldn’t have called “Eve, where are you?” because that wasn’t her name yet. Genesis 5:1-2 says that God called both the humans “adam” (meaning “human being”) on the day they were created. When God called “Adam, where are you?” there is no reason to believe the question wasn’t addressed to both of them collectively. Hebrew thinking wasn’t individualistic like ours is today. Adam didn’t name Eve till after the curse had been pronounced– and as such, it comes across as his first exercise of rulership over her (which was never God’s original intention).
    As for “save her, nourish her, cherish her, give her life,” Piper shows there the inherent idolatry of equating the husband literally with Christ, when the passage in question (Eph. 5) merely makes an analogy which assumes the husband’s supremacy in that culture and encourages him to counteract it.

  • Nea

    He’s wrong anyway, because if you look across history there are plenty of cultures who had warrior women. Just because he hasn’t heard of Boudicca (who nearly fought the Romans out of Britain) or Zabibi or Samsi or Artemesia or Aethelflaed or Molly Pitcher or Kahina or the Amazons or the Night Hags or Zenobia or Joan of Arc or Rani Lakshmibai or Mandukhai or Gudit, or Ines de Suarez or Trung Vuong or…

    And these are just a very small sample of the ones who were personally in combat, not the ones who directed combat! You know: both Elizabeths of England, Margaret Thatcher, etc.

    Not to mention all the ones who cross-dressed to fight; the American civil war was full of soldiers who were only found out to be women after they were wounded.

    And of course he hasn’t read the part of the Bible where a queen shoved a tent stake through the head of her country’s enemy.

  • I am Sarah (well, I’m not, I’m Ginny) but I used to do a lot of Aikido. My husband, let’s call him Jason, does a lot of Ju-jitsu. In the event of someone pulling a knife on us, I’m pretty sure we would do what most male/female couples do, whether it’s a marriage, friendship, or professional situation; THEY WORK COLLABORATIVELY! Why is it so difficult to understand that people instinctively want to do the things which create the best mutual outcome? There have ALWAYS been men who have raised children and managed households, there have ALWAYS been women who have been fighters, hunters, rulers.
    I remember a story about two people discussing Bill Clinton when he was running for president. One said “You know he’s not that smart, his wife is a lot smarter than he is”, but the other replied “You see, that’s what appeals to me; he’s not afraid to be surrounded by people who are smarter than he is. It’s a dumb guy who surrounds himself with people stupider than him so that he looks good by comparison!”

  • Sal

    that karate analogy illustrates how profoundly stupid this reasoning is. he should die even though she could rescue him because masculinity? for real?

  • Persephone

    And Captain Kim Campbell. She is awesome.

    They’ll never go to that site, though, there’s bad language there that might corrupt their weak little minds.

  • Persephone

    So Jason jumps in front of Sarah, the robber kills him, and then Sarah has to defend herself anyway. Really smart reasoning there, Johnny boy.

  • Persephone

    Bill Clinton’s great skill was passing himself off as an average guy. He was a Rhodes scholar, so I don’t think Hillary is smarter than he is, but I think she’s tougher, has a true moral center, and a real backbone.

  • Persephone

    Most ancient cultures had women warriors. There are records of them in almost every country, and every continent. Since men are usually in charge, the focus of study is nearly always on men, with women studied only in their relationships to men. So much of female history has been set aside, even lost, because of the rise of patriarchy.

    The shift away from women in combat arose as standing armies were established. Rome was really the basis of the modern system of a government supported by a standing army, patriarchy limiting women’s roles, and christianity used to tie all of it together.

  • Interesting that Piper speaks of “the suicidal songs of egalitarian folly.” He just gave an example of suicidal complementarian folly, but no example of the reverse.

    But I’d still like to hear a ordinary male saying what he thinks of those words.

  • Persephone

    The Celts didn’t really start the conversion to Christianity until at least the 8th century. There was individual worship, and there were representatives of the Pope, but the church was not established in England at the time (it wasn’t even really England at the time). Offa of Mercia pushed for more involvement by the church, and pushed for the conversion of his subjects, as he wanted his son to become king after him, as previously dynastic rule was not the standard in England. England tended to follow the German model, established by the Anglo-Saxons, in which there were noble families, but there was not a dynastic king. A king was more of a war leader and ultimate decision-maker. The king was elected, served his term as needed, staying in office only as long as he had the people’s favor. Offa’s son was actually consecrated as his heir by a represenative of the church, but he was not crowned as they didn’t use crowns then, but received the official war helmet, as was the practice then.

  • And that is an excellent example of what is wrong with Christian Patriarchy. Instead of using our talents, instincts, and skills and doing what is right in any given circumstance, both men and women must set aside their instincts and talents and follow inflexible roles with often disatrous results.

  • Iris

    And here I thought fighting *together* would be the most sensible thing to do. As in, 2 against 1. But obviously my tiny female brain is not very adept at math so I guess I must be mistaken. Silly me.

    “He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency”

    *snort* So – if I was, say, a professional ringer with a black belt in judo and my boyfriend was a paraplegic in a wheel chair with respiratory problems … I’m sort of supposed to push him right in front of me and say “There you go, honey. Fullfill your god-given role as my protector. Try not to bleed to much on your new shirt when you get heroically stabbed.”

  • Elisabeth M

    The safety and welfare of “our” women? I am not your woman Mr Piper. And while sure, I would appreciate your help in a dark alley if you were there and I were threatened, I would hope that you’d appreciate my help too, if you were threatened and I were there. The fact is, war is an atrocity. No one should have to kill or be killed. But damn me if you think I’m not going to fight for my family, if it came to that; and same to you, if you think you could stop me – be you wimp or man.

  • Elisabeth M

    So Jason jumps in front of Sarah and gets in her way.