Piper likes to stir the pot, but I think he and others are responding to a movement within the church. They would likely argue that feminists are leading people astray. Nope. I think the Holy Spirit is moving in the hearts of both men and women to put an end to sexism within the body of Christ, in which there should be unity, not division. (there is neither male nor female, you are all ONE in Christ Jesus) I love that our guest blogger Tim is among more than 150 men who responded to Piper’s words by refuting them.
Patriarchy and hierarchy are not God’s plan for the church, and if men like Piper keep saying that it is, eventually they’ll find themselves talking to an audience of only men. But it appears that is what they want, anyway.
Piper’s annual Desiring God Pastor’s Conference, where he made his controversial statements about Christianity being masculine, had as its theme: “God, Manhood & Ministry: Building Men for the Glory of God.” Not exactly a pastor’s conference where women would feel welcome. But in case they were willing to look beyond the theme, there’s this:
Piper’s conference website has an FAQ “Can Women attend the Desiring God Conference for Pastors?” which is answered this way:
“The vision of the conference is to gather pastors for rigorous and worshipful reflection on theological themes in order to equip and sustain them in their local ministries. We intentionally seek to foster a fraternity because it is rare and uniquely refreshing for pastors to fellowship with men who carry similar burdens and to counsel one another with the kind of frankness that is awkward to do in mixed company. However, we do not prohibit wives from attending, knowing that there are circumstances where it is the best choice for marriage or ministry.”
Kind of reminds me of a bunch of little boys in a tree fort with a hand-lettered sign: “No Girls Allowed.”
This is wrong on so many levels. However, as I read comments from those who agree with Piper, I think it comes down to this: a misunderstanding of the word ezer, translated “helper” in the creation narrative. As Carolyn Custis James has so eloquently explained in her books, this Hebrew word is used to describe Eve, but almost every other time it is used in Scripture, it is used to describe GOD. Helper is not an assistant or underling, but a co-laborer. The word is most often used in a military context, to describe God, or men or women. An ezer is a warrior–not against a man but beside him. Women and men are meant to be a Blessed Alliance.
I think the Spirit is moving–and Piper’s pontifications are moving in the opposite direction. What do you think?