Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Piper on men listening to women speakers.

"Over time, [for a woman] to assume an authoritarian, teaching role in your [ie. a man's] life, the manhood of a man and the womanhood of a woman is compromised."

Agree? Disagree? Want to qualify it                                                                                                                                                    


  1. What is the manhood of a man, or the womanhood of a woman? Is compromise good, or bad?

  2. What's the Biblical basis for this tosh? Seriously.

  3. I think my femaleness is more robust than that!

    Ten years ago I'd probably have thought I agreed with this. Now it just seems silly. Have we taken a couple of verses of the bible, packaged them up in 50 layers of bubble wrap, and said that's what they mean?

  4. I don't know about compromising anyone's masculinity or femininity. This is partly because I think the use of these words borders on the ridiculous sometimes - no-one ever defines these words very Biblically or very precisely and after years of such conservative evangelical vagueness it seems assumed that everyone knows what you mean when you use them. If you ask for a definition, you'll probably just get another buzz word - femininity = responsivenes, for example. I'm not saying these words don't have meaning, I just think that whoever wants to have a serious go at defining them has a lot of...bubble-wrap?...to wade through.

    Much better, I think, is to talk in the more conrete context of obedience or disobedience. For, if Piper is talking in the context of preaching or leadership in the church, I would say that this does involve compromising one's obedience to Scripture.

  5. Can I stick my neck out and ask why you guys are so violently opposed to this? I'm not saying your wrong, but can you outline your logic for me?

  6. Yeah. I'll try. But I put it up hoping someone else would write a chain of logic explaining my concerns to me!

    I'm not keen on women teaching men in church. More than not keen. I think it's wrong (1 Tim 2:12). But to say that my 'womanhood' is compromised...? What does that even mean? If I took a job as senior pastor of a church I think I would remain as female as ever. Disobedient female, yes. But still female.

    To talk about my 'womanhood' being compromised brings in a whole lot of other baggage. Will I be a poorer housekeeper because of it? Will I become a more unusual woman? More butch?

    Reminds me of stuff I've heard others preach about how a man mustn't stay home and look after the kids while his wife works. Apparently he'd be less of a man if he did such a thing. Rubbish!

    But that's an emotional argument, not a logical one. Someone help me.

  7. Quick view - Mr Piper is (probably unwittingly) subscribing to a pseudo-Platonist view of gender, in which there is some "essence" of maleness of femaleness. The "essence" is the core of a thing's being, its ideal state. This implies that manhood or womanhood are (a) at the core of our being; and (b) something fixed and immutable. He then says that these will be "compromised" (by which I assume he means damaged)by listening to teaching or participating in teaching of men by women. By contrast, the Bible seems to suggest that maleness and femaleness are transitory - "in Christ there is no male or female..."; there will be no marriage in heaven. This suggests that the New Testament arrangements about gender roles are purely practical things for this life. (I would add for that time and place, but that's a different issue). So my response would be that he has a faulty understanding of manhood and womanhood, and this then leads him to overstate the consequences of overturning gender roles.

  8. Reminds me of stuff I've heard others preach about how a man mustn't stay home and look after the kids while his wife works. Apparently he'd be less of a man if he did such a thing. Rubbish!

    I think sometimes it's easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater with scenarios like this,brushing aside the general, biblical principals because an example grates on us.

    I hate legalistic stuff like stay at home dad= spineless coward, but I think there's definitely biblical truth in there.

    As 'head' of my family, I take it that I am to be a leader (and believe me, this is not my natural prefferred role), and that I am to do this by both protecting, and providing for my wife and children, both physically and spiritually. I take that to be the case because that's what Jesus is to His 'bride', and I am called to pattern my role after that.

    Of course there are plenty of exceptions, but I don't see a problem with saying that in general, providing for and protecting my family means that I should work hard at a job to earn money to support the family, meaning that my wife can stay home in these early years. Can it be the other way round? Sure. But I think a pattern is set to stop men (and women) shirking their God-given responsibilities.

    I am naturally lazy and passive. I'm glad I have this calling to step up. And when I do get it right, it really feels RIGHT, and feels like I'm being who God has made me to be.

  9. Why does 'head' = 'leader'/'protector'/'provider'?

  10. Looking at the edited transcript, I thought Piper gave a nuanced and wise answer to a very specific question.
    The issue he addressed was whether, in obedience to the biblical injunction that a woman should not exercise authority over a man, there are occasional circumstances where a man can avail himself of the beneficial instruction of a woman.
    He says 'Yes'.
    And then points out the damage that the injuction is meant to protect us from, and what would ensue if the occasional became the status quo.

  11. Coach handbags made some really good points there. Thanks, Coach.

    Micheal- I got my thinking for that from some other Piper sermons I have been listening to a few times. I am no scholar, and I am open to be corrected if I'm wrong, but I found the talks really helpful. the specific bit I referred to is this-

    The Husband as Leader
    I suggested last time that a biblical definition of headship would be: Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home. The more I have thought about those three facets of headship—leadership, protection, and provision—the more it seems to me that they really resolve into one thing with two expressions. Leadership is the one thing, and protection and provision are the two expressions. In other words, a husband’s leadership expresses itself in taking the lead in seeing to it that the family is protected and provided for. So protection and provision are not separate from leadership. They are the two most fundamental areas where the husband is called upon to bear primary responsibility.

    And if you want, the rest of the transcript is here-


  12. @Ben, I think Paul's vision of "headship" is rather different from that, although I struggle to understand the term to be honest. In Eph 5:22-33 which is the main place he talks about this he says things like "love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her"; "Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies"; "each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself". This is identical to Jesus general command for us to love one another as ourselves. So our headship as husbands is not about our authority, or about having a specific role. He asks women to submit to their husbands and respect them, but doesn't invite men to command, only to love and sacrifice. He also doesn't specify any roles. Instead he talks about doing for the other person what we would like them to do for us - and then more, even as far as dying for them.

    Speaking purely hypothetically, if your wife felt trapped at home and chafing to be out at her career, would you stay home for her? If your wife is a natural leader and you aren't (or even if you are)would you allow her to lead even if this hurt your male pride? The problem with gender roles is that they can so easily become how we define ourselves (like Piper's essence of man) and get in the way of our love. Love is hard enough for us (me!) anyway, without this stuff to make it harder.

  13. I started to write a reply yesterday but I got all tangled up trying to be logical so I thought I would wait and learn from what the men have to say.
    Jon's response pretty much says what I was trying to get to, the idea of mutual self-sacrifice and respect in relationships between men and women rather than a pre-defined set of behaviours associated with "manhood" and "womanhood."
    I don't like the word "role" either, it's not a biblical word so why do we even use it in this context??

  14. I don't think I've ever seen Michael being so concise...I suspect it's not really him writing those comments. It must be his wife!

    More seriously, without listening or reading any more than the quote given, isn't this just a case of
    a) we believe the teaching role is intended for men
    b) we believe that men and women are different (and 'equal but' as well, of course!)
    c) if we act as though a) is false, then we are at least 'compromising' b) to some extent

    It might be that softening on one leads to softening on the other, or vice versa, but it does seem that there are other ways to go softer on a without weakening on b. Throwing out 1 Timothy altogether would do it, for an extreme example.

  15. Why must a) depend on or even reflect b)?

  16. I'd be broadly in support of Piper's statement, although, as is often the case, I don't warm to the way North American Evangelicals put things.

    As I think the Bible's view of gender is radically different from what Jon has been advocating in the thread, I think Piper is trying to capture the implications of that in a single sentence.

    1. If we say that gender is something, that being a man or being a woman is profoundly different in many ways, and
    2. that when the Bible makes gender specific statements it's not imposing arbitrary rules, but good rules that reflect human nature and the male-female polarity, then
    3. Over the long term, to live in a way that reflects what those commands point to is good for your life - your experience of being human as either a male and female and
    4. Over the long term, to live in a way that cuts against the grain of what those commands point to is bad for your life - your experience of being human as either a male and female.

    While I normally agree with Michael, saying that this is just 'tosh' with no biblical foundation seems myopic. Does Michael think that Bible's commands reflect our nature and purpose or does he think they are more or less arbitrary impositions of God's will that could be changed tomorrow. We can't point to a text that says that God's commands reflect our nature and purpose, but many of us want to say that seems to be assumed by the biblical testimony. And that then means that we can point to what is 'good' about God's commands.

    Piper's just saying, 'it's not good for either person in the long run to live in a way that cuts against the grain of godliness'. It's not just wrong, it will hurt you. And it will hurt you in that part of your humanity that that part of the law is designed to safeguard and nourish.

    Seriously, if Piper had said this about any other issue than gender would we be responding negatively?

    If you are angry all the time with people you'll find it hard to be peaceful and gracious? If you sleep around you'll find it hard to be faithful to one person even if you love them? etc.

    All Piper is saying here is that God's commands aren't just right, they're good for you too.

  17. Thanks Mark. That's a helpful corrective to my grrr.

    'it's not good for either person in the long run to live in a way that cuts against the grain of godliness'

    I like that.

    If only Piper could say it without saying the word 'womanhood'. Do you think we could ban the word from evangelicalism? Wouldn't need to be forever. A decade or two would probably be enough.

  18. Heh. I have never, to my knowledge, used either 'womanhood' or 'manhood' when speaking on such topics. I assume (charitably) that there's something in the American culture that means that that's good strategy for them. But, like you, it just rubs me the wrong way, and I doubt it communicates well to most Aussies. So, definitely drop it from Australian evangelical speak I think.

  19. @ Michael - the 'must' was yours, not mine. I was studiously sitting on the fence!

  20. @Mark. It is still tosh. And it is great to see Simone pushing back against it, too! :-)

    Piper doesn't say 'it's not good for either person in the long run to live in a way that cuts against the grain of godliness'. What he says is, quite specifically 'it is bad for men IN THEIR MANHOOD and for women in their WOMANHOOD to do this.' And knowing how he constructs these categories of 'manhood' and 'womanhood' allegedly from scripture I am especially dubious about this statement.

    In any case: the idea that 'godliness is good for you' invites us to calculate how this might be so, or to assume that certain possible messy outcomes are 'good' for us. Good for us in what sense? Where's the eschatology, baby? An example: if medical scientists and psychologists discovered irrefutably that sex outside of marriage is actually not 'bad' for you and that it is even quite beneficial for your general health and wellbeing, I would still say that it is the Christian call not to behave as such. In a fallen world, being a Christian may get you killed, don't forget!

  21. In a fallen world, being a Christian may get you killed, don't forget!

    Meanwhile, in a Christian world, using the words 'manhood' or 'womanhood' may apparantly also get you killed.

  22. @ Mark, I think it's obvious that men and women are different. My point is two-fold.

    1. I don't think we're THAT different - it's not a polarity and our similarities far outweigh our differences. It's also not permanent - in heaven there will be no gender. I wasn't saying that Paul's advice to the churches is arbitrary, only that (contrary to Piper) its pragmatic, based on what works in the here and now not on some essential, immutable aspect of gender.

    2. The way Piper interprets the male role is very different to the way Paul does - Paul focuses on love and self-sacrifice, Piper focuses on leadership. Paul himself says "love is the fulfilment of the law" (Rom 13:10) so the first and last question we should ask ourselves in any situation is "what's the loving thing to do?"

  23. Greetings all.

    @Ben: "Meanwhile, in a Christian world, using the words 'manhood' or 'womanhood' may apparantly also get you killed."

    Comment of the day, bro.

    Hey Michael, I think I disagree with what you're saying here. I'll throw out a few thoughts below to see if I can articulate why.

    "In any case: the idea that 'godliness is good for you' invites us to calculate how this might be so,"

    My first thought was, "Does it really?". Having that as a necessary link implies that we ought to evaluate God's commands for individual benefit. Why does it not simply invite us to trust that God has in mind our good in his commands?

    "or to assume that certain possible messy outcomes are 'good' for us. Good for us in what sense? Where's the eschatology, baby?"

    Sure, but creation as well as eschatology has to come into play. I would say 'good' in the sense of refusing to exchange 'natural' God-given patterns of living for those which result when knowledge of God is suppressed by wickedness. (No, I'm not making any comment about homosexuality here, just referencing the pattern of Romans 1 where sin has consequences for the heart and mind of the perpetrator.) I guess in some respects I'm simply assuming that Proverbs and Romans 1 are convincing arguments for the assertion that living against the grain of God's creation has negative consequences for those who do so. You disagree?

    "if medical scientists and psychologists discovered irrefutably that sex outside of marriage is actually not 'bad' for you and that it is even quite beneficial for your general health and wellbeing"

    That's not just a hypothetical, I would suggest that's an impossibility. Science, particularly social science, doesn't really give those kinds of answers and not with that degree of certainty! That example also seems a little circular. It looks like you assume a circumstance where godliness isn't beneficial and using it as a counterexample for the utility of godliness.

    "In a fallen world, being a Christian may get you killed, don't forget!"

    Being able to cite particular examples where godliness may lead to premature death is hardly a refutation of Piper's point, which is a generalisation about long-term patterns.

    Thanks for reading, hope you have time to respond and help me think through a position I've not considered carefully before.


  24. If I took your line of thinking, Michael, I think I would end up recognising that godliness may have negative consequences and that ungodliness may have positive consequences. Still, I don't think you could say that ungodliness does not have negative consequences.

    Make sense?

  25. @Kutz - Took the words right out of my mouth! That's a surreal experience. You tell 'em!

    @Michael - What Kutz said!

    On top of that, your whole argument here seems to completely deny the possibility of teleological ethics (that what is right is ordered to what is good for us) and claim that any connection of 'good' to what is 'right' is nothing more than consequentialism. That's fine, I suppose, I'm just suprised that someone who studied ethics under Michael Hill and then Oliver O'Donovan would so radically reject their approach to thinking about how we should live.

    And no, obviously Piper doesn't say what I said. I agree. I gave a sentence that explained what I think he means, which meant I used different words than he used. Pointing out he didn't 'say' that again seems, to use you word, 'tosh'.

    And I covered your complaint about manhood and womanhood with another grouping of words pointing out that each specific command God gives is designed to protect and nurture the aspect of humanity that command addresses. Moral instruction about gender has the good of genderedness in its intent was the point of Piper's statement and mine.

    Your complaint seems to be that Piper is wrong about the essence of femininity (response) and masculinity (initiate) and so therefore everything he says on the topic is tosh. I'm not a fan of his initiation/submission explanation, but that doesn't mean he's speaking tosh on everything.

  26. @Jon

    Good to hear that you don't think gender is just a social construct - when you classified Piper's view as pseudo-Platonist and seemed to suggest that there is no 'essence' of gender, it seemed to suggest that you didn't think there was such a thing as maleness or femaleness, just a construct we impose upon people to classify them for our convenience.

    As far your two points go:

    1. a)I think the Bible does present the two genders as a polarity when it makes gender an issue. It'll include them in lists like 'slave and free, strong and weak, parent and child, Jew and Gentile' all of which are polarities in some sense. Now, that polarity isn't always relevant, and usually the Bible gives universal instructions that applies in all contexts and whichever side of a polarity you're on. But some instructions are 'polarity-textured' and quite different instructions are given to the two sides. Gender is clearly like that in the Bible when it is put in the spotlight.

    b) Whether or not gender will exist in the New Heavens and New Earth (and here the Church has had no consensus in its understanding of Scripture's testimony as far as I can see), does not mean that the Bible's moral teaching on gender for this world is simply 'pragmatic' and not based on creation. It's hard to know what if any of the current moral teachings (except for the very abstract 'love one another') will carry over to the New Creation. But that's not because the commands are pragmatic, it's because salvation will involve a new creation. God's instructions for us aren't just pragmatic, by and large, but reflect our human nature and aims to our purpose (s) as human beings.

    2. Sure. Paul almost never tells anyone to exercise authority in any instruction. (Timothy is a clear exception). That might be because Paul is opposed to authority as exercised by or among Christians and so the silence is a positive teaching.

    Or it might be that in the 1st Century in the Mediterranean you didn't need to tell people in authority roles to exercise authority. No-one in Jewish or Gentile society thought anything other than that husbands had authority over wives. So there was no need to push a point that everyone already was doing. What wasn't there was a grasp that the authority was an expression of love and not just raw power.

    Only since the second half of the twentieth century has there been a significant group of people who don't see any inherent authority to being a husband and so need it pointed out. But that's not the 1st century.

    Your argument here is little different from those who point out that Jesus never has anything direct to say about homosexuality and so therefore it wasn't condemned by him. If Jesus wanted to say homosexuality was okay in a Jewish context that universally condemned it, he needed to say something explicit to that effect. Silence simply concurred with the status quo.

    And it's similar for Paul's instructions to husbands. His audience would assume authority unless he explicitly denied it. Which he doesn't.

  27. @ Mark - I agree arguments from silence are generally a little risky as you say, although it cuts both ways. However, in this case Paul is not silent, he is very clear that we should love in a self-sacrificial way, and that this is paramount over everything else. Hence my comments in response to Ben.

    Also "love one another" is hardly abstract and the NT is chock full of descriptions about what this means, including the Ephesians passage. We could use up all Simone's bandwidth discussing the implications of this for Christian ethics but that would be straying far from the point!

  28. Mark - you are being a little bit naughty here. You didn't defend Piper saying what he actually said but rather something else, of your own making. Which isn't just a matter of different words, but actually the substance of what he was saying. It isn't just that he didn't SAY that: he didn't MEAN it, either. So: what I said is, with respect, not at all TOSH. And I only said that Piper is speaking tosh here, not that all his stuff is tosh. Au contraire.

    Now, in general I think Christian discipleship accords with the way the world has been made. I think Christian ethics deals with the real, and not the imaginary, world. My issue ain't with that, but with the fact that we feel we have to calculate - or visibly, tangibly, grasp - what that 'good' is for it to make sense. And that, I am afraid, is not as simple as Mr Piper makes it look. He thinks there are these norms called 'manhood' and 'womanhood' against which he can reference 'good'. But he ends up importing his US cultural understanding of this (IMHO), and infering things from the Bible that aren't there to be infered.

    I happy to accept that my cited example was not well chosen. My point is rather that what is 'good' for one is something that we can only see by faith - or may not see/experience until the eschaton. What that good is, we may not see this side of glory... (which of course is exactly what O'Donovan and Hill would say). Interestingly, the motivation for the different roles given to husbands and wives seems more often given in evangelical, Christological terms than in creational ones.

  29. @Jon. I'm actually a fan of arguments from silence when they're done carefully, but to do it you have to look at how it would be heard by the original audience.

    I agree that Paul stresses love in his instructions to husbands. That doesn't mean that it is 'paramount over everything else' it means that that is the way that the husband is to act towards his wife.

    In 1 Cor 13 Paul makes a similar argument - self-sacrifice, generosity, great faith, great spiritual insight are all nothing without love. That doesn't mean Paul is saying don't exercise self-sacrifice, generosity, faith, spiritual insight et al but try love instead. He's saying do these things in love.

    In Eph 5 Paul never says 'Don't exercise authority'. He says 'love your wife'. Virtually no-one before relatively recently would have understood this as anything other than 'exercise your authority in a loving way'.

    And that's especially the case when the analogy is drawn with Christ's love for the church. And when, in v24 the wife is called on to submit to the husband as the church does Christ - in everything.

    It seems really strained to say, 'the wife submits to her husband the way the Church submits to Christ, the husband is to love his wife Christ loves the Church, BUT that doesn't mean that the husband is to love his wife through exercising authority.' Given the parallel with Christ and the church and how that is used for the wife's instructions, it seems odd to deny authority as being on view in the words to the husband.

    When you say 'love one another' is not abstract and that the NT is full of descriptions of what this means, you've proven my point that it is abstract. Only abstract things need lots of descriptions to 'cash out' the implications to concrete situations.

    Abstract isn't bad, it just means that it is a principle that stands behind a very wide range of concrete circumstances and so transcends all of them. No matter what your circumstances, 'love one another' is going to be relevant.

    But because it applies so widely, the concrete form it takes can vary hugely depending on circumstance. I love this person, should I have sex with them? The love command, by itself, can't tell me. What love looks like differs depending on whether the person is the same or opposite gender, and whether they are my neighbour, mother, sister, daughter or wife. But I can't get that from the love command - I need further, more concrete instruction, to crystalise the implications of 'love one another' to that issue.

    Love one another always applies. Which means we need more specific commands as well to tell us what love will look like (what its content will be) in concrete situations. That's what I mean by calling it 'abstract'.

  30. @Michael, yars, being fairly naughty I think, it's fun. But I think I was being about as naughty as you were.

    I doubt Piper would look at what I wrote and say, 'No that's not what I was saying, Mark'. I doubt he'd even look at most of what you just wrote and disagree with that either. The man is a disciple of Jonathan Edwards, so he's hardly going to be a fan of consequentialism, or of a naive "you'll do well by doing good" kind of approach to godliness. His basic theological approach is going to be what I've tried to claim, although he'll probably use different words and concepts to expound it.

    You're being 'naughty' by applying to Piper a standard of judgement you spit chips about when it's applied to normal whipping boys of Evangelicals like Barth or Wright. You've given him no benefit of the doubt, you've taken the worst possible meaning of his words, and you've ignored the rest of his theology in exegeting a single sentence.

    Again, I'm happy to agree that Piper's view of manhood and womanhood seems to be contextualised to a North American situation. I'm not 100% sure that's necessarily importing culture into the Bible anymore than I think the early church did that when their teaching on the matter was contextualised to their situation, or the Reformers did it when they expounded the Word of God on such matters to their context. But that's probably a different issue again.

    I think Piper would agree with what I 'put into his mouth' and would agree with what the substance of what you wrote. I think he'd be surprised we'd think otherwise.

    He and you and I and Simone might disagree as to what it means to be a man or a woman, or at least disagree on some particulars of how that aspect of our humanity should shape our way of life. But I think we all agree that:

    1. It is good for us to live in a way that the Bible says is right for our gender.
    2. It is bad for us to live in a way that the Bible says is wrong for our gender.
    3. That the 'good' and 'bad' is not extrinsic to our behaviour (like an ice cream as a reward for doing one's homework) but is intrinsic to it (like winning one's beau as a reward for courting them) and so it will affect us positively or negatively in areas particularly associated with our gender.

    And I don't think it's creative exegesis to see that as standing behind his single sentence.

  31. Like I said, Michael, relentless.

  32. @ Mark and all, further thoughts on love and commandments here.


  33. I got a stitch and pulled out of this one, exhausted.

  34. @mark
    You wrote: "You're being 'naughty' by applying to Piper a standard of judgement you spit chips about when it's applied to normal whipping boys of Evangelicals like Barth or Wright. You've given him no benefit of the doubt, you've taken the worst possible meaning of his words, and you've ignored the rest of his theology in exegeting a single sentence."

    Not true. It is precisely because of Piper's wider theological vision in this area (which in fact is exactly what you yourself show) that I groaned at this sentence. Only one of us has been naughty, and it isn't me.

    The three propositions to which you finally come? Well the issue with the first two is that I would add (as you are sort of doing) 'insofar and inasmuch as the Bible says anything about our gender'. The third proposition? Not yet convinced, particularly as you (and Piper) have cast it in such an individualistic way. And the follow-up question ought to be: in exactly what sense is the supposed effect 'bad' or 'good'? Is it measurable? Howso? The commands in Scripture that we are talking about don't actually speak of a good or bad effect resulting for the individual in areas relating to their gender, not at all (or have I missed that). If anything, the commands are 'evangelical' - in 1 Peter and Ephesians 5 the marriage partners are to enact a sign of the gospel, mirroring Christ and the Church...

  35. Michael,

    You don't think that the second half of Romans 1 (I mentioned it earlier) bears any weight here?

    Are you arguing against any necessary negative effects of 'going against the grain' with respect to creation order, or just against the presumption that the negative affects will have some direct connection to gender?

  36. 1) Yes it does. It needs to be part of the picture.
    2) I don't like either of your alternatives.

  37. @Jon, thanks for the notification, I've commented on your post on your blog.

    @Michael, okay I'm naughty and you are 'beyond reproach', I can live with that. :)

    So the disagreement is over my third point. I'm happy to wear that my view (and Piper's) is 'individualistic' - that's been a charge of evangelicalism going back to Luther and Calvin and I think they, and most theologs since, would take an 'individualistic' take on it - sin harms the sinner first and foremost.

    As to the desire to quantify it the way you want, I'm not sure why I need to. Sometimes the Bible indicates that specific outcomes were attached to specific actions, sometimes the 'good' and the 'bad' are left more undefined and all we have is Scripture's testimony that sin is bad for us and righteousness is good for us.

    And we're not talking about marriage here. We're talking about public roles in Church. Last time I checked, 1 Tim 2:11-14 is not evangelical and christological but creational. And that it does seem to link an outcome to the gender specific instructions given...

  38. Now, now Mark: don't pull the old 'my view is more evangelical than your view' ruse. That is just the opposite of guilt by association - a kind of 'virtue by association' move. And it isn't actually relevant. In the context of the discussion, which is the church and its relationships and practices, I think my point makes very good biblical and even (gasp) protestant sense.

    Mr Piper has pointed quite specifically to a way in which this particular 'sin' of women teaching men has an effect, so he supposes: in the manhood of men and the womanhood of women. And as we all know, he has a particular view of what this means, with which we would want to take issue.

    I would agree that in many cases 'all we have is Scripture's testimony that sin is bad for us and righteousness is good for us'. In fact, that is pretty much my argument here. But very often we may not be able to see just exactly how this is without an eschtological vision. But something rather more has been argued for on this thread: that this effect is noticeable and measurable NOW. I take it that it is better for me as a creature to obey my creator, but that, given the fallen state of the world, I may not be able to calculate with any tangibility how exactly that may be so. I just do it because I know God is good.

  39. Michael, not a ruse, a claim that what you are criticising as individualistic - that the sinner is the chief person harmed by their sin - has claim to good pedigree. That doesn't make it right, but if that's a big part of your beef then your critique goes further than Piper and I.

    Only you claimed that Piper's and my view required the effect of sin to be measurable without the eyes of faith. It's not in his words, and it's not in mine - it's certainly nothing that you can point to in his sentence or my paragraphs that we've claimed as part of our view. It's been argued in this thread by you, and you alone. I've rejected it on both my and Piper's behalf.

    And can I assume that you agree that the issue of women having a long term role authoratively teaching a man is, in 1 Tim 2:11-14 based on creation and the fall, (not grounded 'evangelically'), that it does contain a consequence for its discharge and that that consequence, does seem to have some kind of gender specific feel to it?

    In other words, that Piper (and I) are hardly speaking tosh without any biblical basis? You mightn't agree with the exegesis, but it's hardly a strained read of those verses.

    The passage undercuts your claim that in the Bible this issue is not grounded in creation, has no consequences attached, and those consequences have no gender feel.

  40. No, it's a ruse. I was claiming that in this instance, Piper's direction of his comment seems curiously individualistic given the context of this particular discussion (ie, order in the church meeting and common life). If one were to look for a consequence to flow from this particular 'sin' then it would seem natural to look at the collective rather than the individual consequences.

    1 Tim indeed does refer to the creation and the fall, but makes no mention of any consequence for its discharge. Neither can we just assume that it does, or the way in which such an effect might ensue. The passage does nothing to undercut my claim - which is not that there aren't consequences necessarily, but that these consequences aren't the point and may not necessarily be pointable to.

    Ergo: still tosh. It's a fun word to use, and it makes for short comments. :-)

    If Piper's view allows that SIN not be measurable without faith, then ... what is he actually saying? He then isn't saying anything meaningful at all, it seems to me.

  41. Let me rephrase that:
    I am not claiming that Piper's view is that the effect of the sin be measurable without the eyes of faith. We are talking about sin in the life of the believer, so the point is mute.
    Rather, Piper's view must be (it is absolutely reasonable to surmise) that the effects of this sin must be noticeable or tangible in some way NOW. If he's not saying that, then... well, what IS he saying?

  42. [that ought to be 'the point is moot']

  43. I feel like I'm in a Monty Python skit.

    M: Oh look, this isn't an argument.
    A: Yes it is.
    M: No it isn't. It's just contradiction.
    A: No it isn't.
    M: It is!
    A: It is not.
    M: Look, you just contradicted me.
    A: I did not.
    M: Oh you did!!
    A: No, no, no.

    Nonetheless, it isn't a ruse. Really, really isn't. It's a claim. You might think the claim is wrong, but 'ruse' imputes motive - sneaky motive at that. I think that is at risk of a lack of charity.

    You didn't claim that 'the direction Piper's comment was individual when the context of the discussion is corporate'. You just said we 'cast it in such an individualistic way'. By all means make short comments - you're good at them (genuinely so), but this time you didn't say what you're now claiming. The brevity of your words allowed for no such thing.

    You took ONE SENTENCE from a broader answer by Piper and failed it for not explicitly acknowledging a corporate dimension to the effect of the sin. You really would flip, and I've seen you do it, if/when that's been done to theologians on your left.

    In 1 Tim 3:13 Paul says of deacons: "For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus."

    That's a primarily individual consequence for a primarily corporate context (public service in the church).

    I think you've erred, both in criticising Piper for an absence in a single sentence, and then for highlighting an aspect that can be found in Scripture anyway in that kind of context. I'm defending him for the same reason why I defended you over certain absences that someone thought they detected in 'You'. It's just not a fair judgement on someone.

    Second, Piper's view doesn't have to commit to the two bad options you offer him (and me). You offer -
    'noticeable or tangible in some way NOW'
    or 'not anything meaningful at all'.

    Why can't our position be the same as yours at this point - the effect is real and real now, and may or may not be noticeable or tangible now. That seems to be your position. Why deny it to us as simply logically impossible?

    And 1 Tim 2:15 does give a consequence that is carefully linked both to v11-14, and to the material following in the second half of v15. 'Will be saved through childbirth'. Don't teach or have authority over men, but continue in faith, love, holiness and self-control and she 'will be saved through childbirth'.

    Whatever you think that phrase means, it's a consequence, it's a motivation, and it seems fairly gender-specific. If that's unbiblical tosh, then Calvin is guilty of it too - just check his commentary.

    And what are you doing up at 1:43am? That's gotta hurt...you've got my sympathies.

  44. '"I'm defending him for the same reason why I defended you over certain absences that someone thought they detected in 'You'.""

    I appreciate it, I really do. More than words can say. It was brave, done without calculation and ameliorated genuine distress.

    But they aren't equivalent cases. Everyone knows what Piper thinks on this issue, so it is fair to assume he means it here.

    'You took ONE SENTENCE from a broader answer by Piper and failed it for not explicitly acknowledging a corporate dimension to the effect of the sin'.

    No I didn't! :-) Let me clarify: Piper suggests that the effect of the sin here resides especially in the gender of the individuals. I am merely askig: why THIS effect in THIS way? I am not really making some point about individualism/ corporate nature.

    "Why can't our position be the same as yours at this point - the effect is real and real now, and may or may not be noticeable or tangible now. That seems to be your position. Why deny it to us as simply logically impossible"

    If so, we are saying the same thing. It doesn't seem to be what Piper is saying, in my view, nor what was being argued up thread. It's possible he means it, but highly unlikely I'll warrant. Otherwise, why would he be saying what he is saying at all. I think you might differ from him on this.

    'will be saved through childbirth'
    what exactly is it a consequence of again? What behaviour does it relate to or result from? The 'not teaching' bit isn't actually related to the childbirth bit in the way you and JC and JP suggest.

    No doubt you will wish to reply, but I am all done. It has been genuinely fun crossing swords, and reminds me that it is time you came home!

  45. 6:21 AM and 1:43 AM - what are you trying to do, compete with Con Campbell for the 'needs least sleep' award?

    I quite agree that it's been fun and it's time for us to go find another sparring partner. So, not to run the argument further but to try and close it off:

    1. I probably shouldn't have put the 'You' thing in here. There were better ways for me to clear myself of bad motives than to look as though as I was calling in a mark. Apologies for that.

    2. I agree that on my view you and I and Piper seem to be saying the same thing. That's been my position throughout and why I've been surprised at the response to Piper's statement. I understand why the North American take on gender roles and stuff just grates, but I think we need to try and show the same, don't know what the right word is...'flexibility', 'cultural openness'? that we would try to extend to African, Asian, South American Christians, or to 16th century European Christians. I think the reaction is primarily a missiological cross-cultural one. Aussies aren't Americans, we just think we are.

    Obviously you and others on the thread disagree with me that that's what's going on with Piper here, but that is where I was coming from.

    3. Piper would say it if he thought the consequences were real, even if he thinks they can't always be seen. Stretching the categories a bit, but I'd say that on this he's more 'reformed' and so appeals to consequences more (and has more expectation of their visibility) and you're more "Luther's theology of the cross" (both of those categories are good ones, so I shouldn't be slighting either party this way) and see a bigger gulf between the apparent weakness of the gospel in the current age, and the glory of the age to come. But you both think it's real now, and won't always be seen now.

    I don't think you and Piper are any further apart than I think Calvin and Luther were on that issue. Again, I can understand you (and others) disagreeing.

    4. Well vs15 is a consequence at least of continuing in faith, love, holiness and self-control.

    However, v15 starts with 'but' in the English, capturing the Greek conjunction 'de', and the GNT IV punctuates the greek text (in an uninspired way of course) with a comma between v14 and v15, not a full stop.

    Taken together, that suggests that Paul's outcome in v15 is not only for doing the positive things in v15 but also for restraining from doing the negative things in v11-14. Even the editors of the critical greek text see that as the most reasonable way to read this section of his letter.

    Therefore, logically Paul's position is:

    1. Don't teach men or have authority over them.
    2. But continue in faith, love, holiness, and self-control (2 is the alternative to 1)
    3. If you do this (1+2), you will be saved through child-birth.

    Now, grammatically he's put 3 inbetween 1 and 2. I don't think that changes the logic of the construction when the grammar is followed. So I don't think Calvin was wrong to see that the outcome is for this material as a whole, and not push v15 off as somewhat disconnected from v11-14.

    Again, it can be argued the other way (wrongly in my view, but I acknowledge it can be done). But this take on the passage isn't tosh with no biblical support. It's a credible read of the passage, and I suspect stands behind Piper's statement at least in part.

    And I agree, it really is time we came home. But I think our sojourn has a while to go yet...

  46. Always were. I forget that in our brutish way we spar, knowing each other well, but that our sparring may not look like it to others. Apologies for that. And thanks Simone!

  47. You were brutish, I was naughty.

    Yes, thanks for hosting the conversation Simone, much appreciated.

  48. Let's see if Mark can bear not to have the last word!