Shame Day: John Piper

Readers, I try not to abuse Shame Day.

These posts are meant to be condemnations of terrible events, trends, or people- not platforms for us to roust the  things we simply don’t care for. I’ll actively avoid researching certain people or subjects which just generally annoy me- I don’t want to hastily pull together some indignant exposé to justify my dislike of something. And for the longest time, the works and career of American pastor John Piper have been one of those things.

Until now.

My original plan was to sketch out a post skewering mega-churches. Not exactly a bold or groundbreaking move, I know, but still a dead horse I wanted to leave some bruises on. It was quite by chance that I came across Bethlehem Baptist Church (which is flippin’ massive), and through that, ol’ John Piper himself and some of the stuff he’s said.

And let me tell ya- it’s pretty dang bad.

Let’s start from the top.

Women

We start with this subject mostly out of symbolism. See, John Piper would object to a woman being first at anything. Piper holds to a concept called “complementarianism”, which in their words is the belief that men and women have “separate yet complementary” roles. Men, for example, may be preachers or leaders and teachers and decisions makers and authorities and women, on the other hand, can be not those things.

Now I alluded very briefly to this issue in my religion series a ways back, but I never fully disclosed how far this went. Piper, in March of last year, articulated that while he felt comfortable using Biblical commentaries written by women, articulated that he would not feel the some comfort if the author were actually talking to him. Bear with me here.

In her (really, quite cutting) response to Piper’s comments, Rachel Pietka states:

“As blogger Rachel Held Evans asserts, Piper’s reasons for preferring an indirect and impersonal encounter with a woman point to one factor: the offensive presence of her body.

According to Piper, the role of a city planner is appropriate for a woman because she exercises authority ensconced in an office at a desk, while a woman teacher stands before him, he says, making him aware of his own manhood and her womanhood. On the other hand, when a woman communicates to him indirectly and impersonally through writing, he can handle it because “she’s not looking at me and confronting me and authoritatively directing me as a woman.”

“Hey John Piper, Is My Femininity Showing?”, Rachel Pietka, April, 2013

Gays

Let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth for this one.

Alright- Piper outlines why he believes homosexuality is a sin on multiple levels, let’s swing back on why he’s wrong on multiple levels.

With regards to points 1 and 2, the appeal to Biblical authority here isn’t quite so strong as I’d imagine he thinks it is. Now I could jump into an attack on Biblical inerrancy here, but let’s assume that it absolutely is 100% correct- what does Piper’s buddy Paul have to say about the man-woman combo?

“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.”

-1 Corinthians 7:8

Paul goes on to concede that marriage should take place if folks just find themselves lusting. Not exactly what I’d call a celebration of two lives becoming one or a sound basis for a relationship, but this is also the same guy who said women shouldn’t be allowed to teach and should in fact keep their dang mouths shut, so I’m not exactly running to him for expert advice.

Game of Thrones

For anyone unfamiliar with the show, let’s have Peter Dinklage, one of its stars, sum it up for ya:

Yeah- it’s not for everyone, but it’s nevertheless one of the greatest cultural forces in the world right now- certainly the biggest thing in adventure and fantasy since Lord of the Rings.

So what’s John Piper have to say about it?

He says watching it is like “re-crucifying Christ”.

Think I’m being hyperbolic?

Here’s another quote from him.

“If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.”

This is exactly what Evan and I concluded is what makes Christian media so bad back when we discussed the subject. Self-imposed purity robs art of any redeeming qualities (as ironic and convoluted as that equally sounds). Yeah, the nudity in GoT is absurd, but if you’re watching this series and the only thing you take away from it are the sex scenes, then I think it speaks a lot more to the content of yourself than the show.

Seriously, this is a lot more moving and thought provoking than any Christian media I have ever seen.

And in spite of all that, I don’t think John Piper is a truly terrible person. Are some of his views bad? Absolutely- but, there are plenty of people out there with much, much more twisted theology and doctrine, and it’s there that the issue lies. The guy, I think, really encapsulates the issues of a lot of Western Protestantism- not quite bad enough to draw universal wrath and not quite good enough to be all that helpful. The mixture of ugly and decent messages just means that we have something altogether too lukewarm, too mediocre, and dearly beloved, I simply don’t believe that’s acceptable.

It’s a real shame, people.

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One response to “Shame Day: John Piper

  1. Pingback: What Wouldn’t Jesus Do? | Culture War Reporters

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