I learned the hard way a few years ago that the immediacy of the Internet is like a surgeon's scalpel; handled intentionally and appropriately it becomes an instrument of healing, but used willy nilly there is the potential for great harm. There are things that happen in Christendom, public things, that stir up anger within me, producing an urge to write a blog post immediately. Too many times in the past I have erred, writing too soon and too half-hazard. Since then, I have adopted an old motto as a new paradigm for my writing: "Never make an Internet promise when glad, never write an Internet blog when mad." Contrary to what some might perceive when reading what follows, any anger over what John Piper said last week about "masculine Christianity" has subsided.
At the 2012 Desiring God Pastor's Conference last Tuesday, John Piper said, "Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel." He assured women that they could indeed experience real joy in what he calls "masculine Christianity," but Piper is unmistakably clear that his God has placed priority on maleness. I have learned a great deal from John Piper, particularly his Edwardian view that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, but I would urge my female Christian friends to ignore Piper's conception of God and find satisfaction in the God of Scripture.
It's without doubt that male personal pronouns are predominately used in Scripture to describe God, but the sacred text does not hesitate to attribute female characteristics to the invisible God. The image of God is both male and the female. God is no more all male to the exclusion of female than He is all Jewish to the exclusion of Gentile. To say, as Piper says, that Christianity has "a masculine feel" is as silly as saying Christianity has "a white, anglo-saxon feel." The same mistake our forefathers made in excluding a particular race from full participation in Christianity is being made by our modern heroes in excluding a particular gender. Christians, particularly women believers, are learning the importance of challenging statements of men like Piper. I thought that I might not be misundertanding Piper correctly, so I listened to the videos again. In one of the sessions Piper explains that "masculine Christianity" is where "men gladly bear all the responsiblity" in the church and home.
What? Seriously? Why single out men, John? Should not God's people, both male and female, take individual responsiblity for the gifts given them? Where in Scripture does it say Spirit-giftedness is restricted to gender. We are Spirit-led, not gender led. Four years ago I wrote a post warning against the growing doctrinal heresy among conservative Christians called "the eternal subordination of the Son" in order to justify the eternal subordination of women to men. The time has come for Christians, particularly Christian men, to stop remaining silent in the face of such doctrinal distortion. An excellent blog from Rachel Held Evans calls for Christian men to do just that; and the response has been encouraging. Landon Whitsitt has written a post called Mama's Boy. Frank Viola has written a post called God's View of a Woman. J.R. Daniel Kirk has written a post called Imaging the Biblical God. Other Christian men are responding with excellent articles in rebuttal of Piper's weak masculine Christianity.
As much respect as I have for John Piper, on this matter I must express extreme disappoint with Piper's warped perception of Christianity. He is unintentionally weakening the gospel by diminishing God. Christians should maintain an unqualified enthusiasm and satisfaction for the biblical God that expresses Himself with both male and female characteristics. One of the most perceptive comments I read on this matter came from a non-Christian who posted his comment on Rachel Evan's blog. It is a strange day in evangelical Christianity when this conservative inerrantist has more affinity with the writings of a self-professed non-Christian named Michael Mock than the writings of John Piper. Mr. Mock wrote:
"Masculine Christianity? Feminine Christianity? Look, I'm not a Christian, but even asking the question seems to me to be profoundly missing the point. What I'd most like to see, myself, is a humane Christianity.
Every time I hear someone start talking about how Christianity needs to be more "manly" or "masculine" - or, by contrast, less effeminate - it seems to come at the cost of basic politeness and human decency, of empathy and forgiveness. It's gotten to the point where I assume that anyone who says that basically just wants permission to be more of a prick than the traditional reading of the Gospels says that they should be (i.e. not at all). The more of this "manly" Christianity I see, the more I'm convinced that it's just a cover for bad behavior, motivated by a misguided longing for a certain sort of machismo that Jesus neither endorsed nor practiced."
Amen, Mr. Mock, Amen.