John Piper: “women’s books keep men safe from their direct, authoritative womanhood”
Christian men should NOT listen to a woman, of course, when she presses on men in an authoritative and a direct way. They must not listen to her even if she were telling them that they must listen to the podcast by John Piper linked below. That is too direct. That is too personal. That is contrary to the way God made us in biblical manhood and in biblical womanhood. That would be permitting a woman to teach or have authority over men. That would not be listening to the biblical man, Paul, writing to the biblical man, Timothy, and teaching all men. That would not be following I Timothy 2:12.
On the other hand, all Christian men reading this post should not be concerned when reading the following John Piper podcast transcription. Even if it were transcribed rather directly by the female hands of a woman, not to worry: the format “takes away the dimension of her female personhood.” All “writing” puts “her out of my sight,” oh man. Books written by biblical women are safe for biblical men to read from, to learn from, to quote from in a sermon. The same is true of this blogged transcription of the podcast, whether a woman typed it or not. Read on.
The John Piper Podcast Transcription:
A pastor writes in to ask – quote -
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 I Timothy 2:12?
It might be. Uh. He may feel it that way. And if he does, he probably’s not gonna read it. He shouldn’t read it. It doesn’t have. It doesn’t have to be experienced that way I don’t think. And here, here’s my reasoning.
The point of Paul in I Timothy 2:12 where he says, don’t permit, I don’t permit a woman to teach or have authority over men. That’s a key text. I Timothy 2:12. I don’t permit her to teach or have authority. And those two things together, I think, constitute the eldership office. Teaching and authority. And so there should be men – elders in the church, who are spiritual and humble and kind and loving and Christlike in their servant heart toward the men and women in the church.
So, I think the point of that text is not to say that you can never learn anything from a woman. That’s just not true. It’s not true biblically, and it’s not true experientially, because the reason for saying that I don’t permit a woman to teach or have authority over men here is not because she’s incompetent. It’s not because she can’t have thoughts. In fact, the women in your church, and the woman in, the woman you are married to, have many thoughts that you would do well to know. [laughs] And to know, and learn, and to learn from. And so the issue there is not that she doesn’t have thoughts that you wouldn’t benefit from. Or that she can’t, uh, teach you anything.
The, the issue is one of how does manhood and womanhood work. What is the dynamic between how men flourish and women flourish as God designed them to flourish when an act of authority is being exerted on a man from a woman.
And so I distinguish between personal, direct exercises of authority that involve manhood and womanhood.
Because it’s personal. She’s right there. She’s woman. I’m man. And I’m being directly, uh, pressed on by this woman in an authoritative way. Should she be doing that? Should I be experiencing that? And my answer’s, No; I think that’s contrary to the way God made us.
So those two words: Personal and direct.
Here, here would be an example of what I mean. A drill sergeant that gets in the face and says, Hut One, Hut Two, Keep Your Mouth Shut Private, Get Your Rifle Up Here, Turn Around Like I Said. I don’t think a woman ought to be doin’ 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.
Uh. The opposite would be where she is a city planner. She’s sitting in an office at a desk drawing which street should be one way and which street should be two way. And thus she’s gonna control which way men drive all day long. That’s a lot of authority, and it’s totally impersonal, and indirect, and therefore has no dimension of maleness or femaleness about it, and therefore I don’t think contradicts anything that Paul is concerned about here.
So I would put a woman writing a book way more in that category of city planner than of a drill sergeant. So that the, the personal directness of it is removed. And the man doesn’t feel himself, and she wouldn’t feel herself, in any way compromised by his reading that book and learning from that book.
So that, that’s the way I’ve tried to think it through, so that, in society, and in in academic efforts, and in the church.
So that, that’s reading and benefitting from a woman’s exegesis in private.
Would you have any reservations about quoting from that commentary by a women in a public sermon?
I just think that’s an extension of the same principle.
You know there, here’s truth. A woman saw it. She shared it in a book. And I now, I now quote it.
Uh. Because I’m not having a direct, authoritative confrontation. She’s not lookin’ at me, and, and confronting me, and authoritatively directing me, as woman. There’s this, there’s this interposition of this phenomenon called “book” and “writing” that puts her out of my sight, and, in a sense, takes away the dimension of her female personhood.
Whereas if she were standing right in front of me, and teaching me, as my shepherd, week in and week out, I couldn’t make that separation. She’s woman. And I am man. And she’s becoming to me my shepherd week in and week out, which is why I think the Bible says that women shouldn’t be that role in the church.
Thank you Pastor John. And thank you for listening to this podcast. Please email your questions to us…. I’m your host Tony Reinke. Thank you for listening.
The John Piper Podcast:
A Few Other Bloggers on the John Piper Podcast:
Rachel Held Evans, woman yes, but writing here [which takes away the dimension of her female personhood], so feel free to read on: “The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles: Exhibit C – ‘As long as I can’t see her…’“
Henry Neufeld, a man, but how biblical can he be accusing John Piper, “Convoluted Reasoning on Women Writing Commentaries“?
Scot McKnight, also a man, if clearly lacking as an “exegetical gymnast” when posting “Using Commentaries by Women: John Piper’s Response“