* * *
This week we’ve discussed a bit about biblical “roles” as seen by complementarians and egalitarians and trying to make sense of it all. A big problem I seen in pushing any agenda is pushing it so far that it really sounds like a bunch of nonsense. And so since these very prominent church leaders keep pushing these things in social media (Twitter, their blogs, websites), they are great fodder for discussion.
The folks at Desiring God have posted a short 5-minute audio of John Piper answering a question from a pastor.
Have a listen here.
A pastor asks Pastor John Piper:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 1 Tim 2:12
“Would a pastor who uses a biblical commentary written by a woman be placing himself under the biblical instruction of a woman? If so, would this not go against Paul’s instruction in 1 Tim 2:12?”
Piper gives some commentary on this and basically says it would not go against scripture because she would not be in direct authority.
Piper then asks a couple of questions:
“How does manhood and womanhood work? What is the dynamic between how men flourish and woman flourish as God designed them to flourish when an active authority is being exerted on a man from a woman?”
Piper discusses the idea of a woman drill sergeant in authority over a man and shares his thoughts on what he believes to be proper biblical “role” guidelines:
“I don’t think a woman ought to be doing that to a man. Because it’s direct, it’s forceful, it’s authoritative, it’s compromising something about the way a man and a woman were designed by God to relate.”
He goes on to discuss how it is inappropriate for a woman to be a drill sergeant in the military because that position is direct, forceful, it’s authoritative and would cause problems for the man. Now, I’m trying to figure out what those problems would be? What kinds of problems? How does it affect his manhood to have a woman in authority over him? What happens exactly? I have quite a few men reading here. Please tell me – – what happens to you when there is a woman in authority over you? Is there some sort of internal response? If so, is it physical or emotional? Can you help this woman understand?
It makes me wonder if there is any difference if the guy has a male drill sergeant? Wouldn’t the guy would still be in a subservient position? The way I look at it is that it’s not the “woman” who is putting the man in the subservient position, but the title of the position, right?
There are strict rules in the military about fraternization, but let’s say in the corporate world “Joe” is over “Tom” in authority. Joe is Tom’s boss. Let’s say they happen to go to the same church. Joe most likely would not carry over that position of authority at church or any other function outside the work environment. Or another example might be if Joe and Tom played on the same baseball team after work hours. Tom very well might be Joe’s team captain and be put in an authority position over his boss at work. You see what I’m talking about? The authority position comes with the job/title/position. I am having trouble seeing how gender plays into this. How does it make Tom less of a man whether someone in authority over him at work is a woman or a man? I know that I have people reading who are on both sides of the complementarian fence here, so please, don’t feel afraid to speak up. Use a fake name for all I care – I won’t tell. I am really wanting to know because these things really sit with me in my brain and keep me wondering – – – especially when they become a primary issue for so many in the church.
Continuing with the topic, Piper said it would be okay for a woman to be a city planner because that position would not be in direct authority over a man – it is a general authority position, not a face-to-face position. So . . . . what if a woman was a doctor and a man was a nurse? See, that wouldn’t work for Piper. The female doctor would certainly be directly over the male nurse and it could be “forceful” at times, “Paul, get me the scalpel!” So, maybe Piper needs to make a list of professions that women may not have, so men won’t be put in that kind of position. He can add this list to his website: “Professions Not Acceptable for Women.” That would solve all of the women in authoritarian doctor positions, wouldn’t it? And then it frees up men to be either doctor or nurse. Oh, wait . . . aren’t their head nurses? I guess men can’t be nurses if women are also nurses. I’m so confused. It’s going to take a while for Piper to go through all the professions and sort through these issues.
I have a question, though, as I am trying to reason through all of this. If this was such a big deal to God – – you know, the idea of men and women flourishing under these appropriate biblical gender role jobs and all – – what’s the scoop with Deborah in the Bible? I’ve heard a phrase many times as a Christian that the Bible does not contradict itself. This seems to be contradictory to me.
* * *
Judges 4:4-5: Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.
She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim,
and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.
* * *
Whoa, Nellie!!! Deborah was a judge – – a JUDGE!!! – – – she made decisions, settled disputes, most certainly disputes of men (as in male men, not the general “men” which includes females – – – these things are so confusing). Why would God put a woman in that kind of position? She was also a prophetess and a wife. That woman had a lot of titles.
Through Deborah, God spoke military orders. How can Piper deal with that one? Military orders? So not only was she a civil leader (judge), but a military leader. And I have a hunch that those who served might have been men (as in men with male anatomy – just trying to be clear).
She sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulun. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?” Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” And she said, “I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called out Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh. And 10,000 men went up at his heels, and Deborah went up with him. Judges 4:6-10
I do have some good news for women, however. The good folks at Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), of which John Piper co-founded, released an article recently: Women in Worship Ten Joyful Acts.
They have found 20 things we can do during church’s worship. These activities were apparently given the CBMW stamp of approval in order to be listed on that site. Be sure to check it out in more detail, but I’ll list the ten here:
I’m sure all Christian women breathed a collective sigh of relief having read that list. Whew!