Over time Wenatchee The Hatchet went from finding Piper unimpressive to finding Piper annoying. It was as though every natural disaster was a time for Piper to reflect on what a gentle reminder the disaster was. If your puppy got hit by a runaway truck Piper would be there to meditate on what a gentle reminder it was for you to repent. Piper and Pat Robertson began to seem in the same orbit in the solar system.
And then as I read Piper's notions about gender roles it began to seem weird. Not weird in the sense that Wenatchee The Hatchet is rah-rah for progressive anything as such, weird as in Piper's views were vague at best and the less vague they got the dumber they seemed.
Fortunately complementarians of the Piperian variety can get to saying stuff so weird that even really conservative types can begin to say "Wait a minute ... you can't seriously mean that."
Thus we get Aimee Byrd at Mortification of Spin, sharing that John Piper's ideas are idiosyncratic, incoherent and seem to have no plausibly defensible basis in biblical texts.
Have you heard or read the transcripts of a recent episode [WtH http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/should-women-be-police-officers, for those who don't scroll-over] , regarding a woman who wrote in asking, “Can a single Christian woman, who is a complementarian, become a police officer?”
When I saw the question, I thought, “Well this should be a short episode. Yes, as long as she can pass all of the education, physical, and background requirements for the job.” But I guess I didn’t realize that there is a biblical manhood and biblical womanhood filter that this question needed to go through. Dr. Piper lays out his definitions:
At the heart of mature manhood is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships. The postman won’t relate to the lady at the door the way a husband will, but he will be a man. At the heart of mature womanhood is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.
It's a shame, really. Such profligate imprecision in language on Piper's part. After all, the indefinite article does not indicate whether "a husband" is "her husband", which may get to a core idiocy in the ambiguity of the language John Piper uses that is more delicately addressed by Aimee Byrd. Perhaps a Piperite might consider it befitting the gentleness of her femininity?
I find these definitions troublesome. Some of the words used here to describe mature manhood sound an awful lot like the Hebrew word ezer, or as we know it helper, that describes Eve in Gen. 2:18, and in verses like Ps. 20:1-2, 33:20 and 121:2, describes God’s provision and protection for Israel.
Byrd quotes some more from Piper:
There is a continuum from very personal influence, very eye-to-eye, close personal influence, to non-personal influence. And the other continuum is very directive — commands and forcefulness — directive influence to very non-directive influence. And here is my conviction. 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. And you can see how flexible it is and how imprecise it is. So let me give some examples.
I am glad that he articulated that this is his own conviction, rather than saying flat out that this is what Scripture teaches. I find it very confusing
Because it's completely idiotic, that's why it's confusing. Did John Piper forget that, as Aimee Byrd noted, there's this woman named Deborah in the book of Judges? Byrd does not mention Huldah but Huldah the prophetess was consulted about the authenticity of a book of the law, right? Skeptical biblical scholars and skeptics have even gone so far as to propose that that book was probably Deuteronomy and that a Huldah and/or Jeremiah formulated the book within that generation. Whether a person accepts or rejects that we can switch back to a commentary like Barry Webb's on The Book of Judges and not that, contra the deep and fervent wishes of contemporary complementarians, there isn't any textual evidence or even inferential basis for the idea that anyone thought it was unacceptable for Deborah to be either a prophetess or a judge. Reading that back on to the text won't make it so.
Would Josiah have been an unmanly man for heeding the words of Huldah? Sure, Barak was told the glory that could have been his would go to a woman, because rather than accept Deborah's instructions and go as commanded he insisted that she be with him. That was acceptable, but in exchange, Barak would not get the glory of the victory. For whatever reason, Barak seemed totally okay with this. God's people were delivered in a time of battle and God was praised and maybe Barak didn't care quite as much amidst that that he didn't get the gold star for the victory.
Piper is vague and if he weren't vague he'd get to explain how a teenage son should respond to a direct and personal order from his mother to wash the dishes respects his manhood. After all, physically speaking, the guy's a man.