Friday, March 25, 2011

More John Piper and Other Complementarians in the Bedroom

After reviewing Augustine's challenge on the last BTR show, I pointed out that the complementarians make the show of love and liberty quite complicated because they intermingle matters of social preference with essential doctrine. If they intended to divide the church by doing so, the divisive plan has worked quite well. Our conflicts not only concern behavior, they also involve core doctrine, and it's not just a matter of intramurals as they would have you believe.

They send a host of mixed messages, then don't want to be held accountable for sending them. Somehow, it all falls back on that evil and unsubmissive woman!

By creating a new interpretation of the Trinity, complementarians claim that their intramural gender preference is actually an essential part of essential doctrine. They draw a direct parallel between the Persons of the Godhead as a direct analogy to gender within the family wherein men are like God and women are like Jesus as an eternal suffering servant. They interpret rejection of their preferred rules of conduct for women as a direct sin of rejection of God Himself. You cannot have one (gender) without the other (God's identity) – they are concepts inextricably bound to each other under the new doctrine. (Jocelyn Andersen calls this the Trinitarian Marriage.) Those people who reject this concept are dismissed as non-Christian and are said to worship a false God because deviation from their gender preference is said to outright reject God's own Image. This blog post would then be false teaching and my act of worship unto a false God, all on top of my other blatant violation of their rules about gender (which I would be happy to respect if it didn't involve spiritual and other abuse, as well as semi-Arian doctrine).

It seems to me to be little different from kids on a playground who win against their rivals by crying, “Na, na, na – na, na, na!” No appropriate or effective response will resolve the conflict, because those taunting children don't want to resolve anything. Amongst adults, if necessary, it appears that the complementarians cry, “Lesbian!” and “Open Theist!” instead.

Regarding Piper specifically and complementarians in general, I compared how I view their response to those who reject their teachings in this way:

Rather than unity,   they demand uniformity.
Rather than liberty, they show great intolerance.
Rather than love,     they show aggressive rejection.

Regardless of our differences, we should all call one another back to unity, liberty, and love in Jesus. But how do we do that, given the doctrinal twist?

Back in the Bedroom, And it's Full of Complementarians

 Tomorrow, Jocelyn and I will continue our discussion of complementarian teachings on BTR and how the group focuses on sex at the expense of the central message of the Faith. There is much to say about the subject, and we didn't get to touch on all that we'd planned to mention.

Oddly, at the same time that we announced the topic of our show last week, several other blogs began discussing John Piper. The Wartburg Watch (speculating about “Piper's missing video”) and Emotional Abuse and Your Faith tackled several aspects of this same topic. The timing of these things is always fascinating to me, as Jocelyn and I have discussed the topic of “Piper in the Bedroom” for many months. These posts and the discussions that followed are well worth your time.

Earlier this week, Hannah Thomas and I emailed back and forth about the problem that many followers of John Piper have with us whenever we challenge the inconsistencies in his teachings. People like Hannah and me get accused of all sorts of things like hatred, etc.. We have no agenda other than finding the “right opinion” about how the Bible tells us to live. If we reject a teaching, that doesn't make the teacher a “bad person,” and we're not suggesting that they are. We don't even know these people personally in most all cases, and even if we did, it would not exempt them from responsibility for the inconsistent things that they teach! I don't know what that has to do with anything, except that it might be an expectation that we Christians should never openly challenge other Christians who appear to be “nice.” That's a social convention, not a Biblical one, and John Piper himself is known for challenging others very publicly without concern about whether they are “nice people.”

I only wish to elucidate the truth written in the Bible so we can all have a “right opinion” about how it applies to our lives today. So I ask lots of questions about teachings that seem to me to be either obscure, misguided or outright wrong, but the questions don't deny liberty or negate love. Questioning teachings ought to be considered a function of liberty and tolerance under a spirit of love and charity. (But if you misunderstand unity as uniformity, everything falls apart.) Perhaps our error rests with some social expectation of the appearance of unity (appearance = uniformity) at the expense of discussing or debating right doctrine, an expectation which is not Biblical.

On BTR last week, we made references to a video by John Piper concerning how an abused woman should submit to her husband. (It's a different one from the video I posted last week.) In it, Piper first laughs when he is asked the question. ON BTR, we also mentioned the very strange nature of Piper's very first “tip of the tongue” example of sin that an abusive husband might ask of a wife, noting that we found it inappropriate and a cause for some concern.

My previous post about Piper's disturbing use of falsehood and deception seems rather harsh because I just found so much wrong with what he had to say. Hannah's posts this past week about John Piper's excellent advice to an adult who was abused by their parents in the past broadens understanding of Piper, presenting several important points about his message. In some respects, his rational and unbiased approach to that topic shows us a very different side of Piper than previously presented here. Piper shows us a very compassionate and kind response to heartache, something he extended liberally to grown children who once suffered abuse. And as Hannah has noted, John Piper does this all without laughing like he does when discussing the abuse of women, and all without bizarre, out of place examples like “group sex.”

I'd love to say that this video somehow exonerates Piper from his errors, clearly demonstrating what a nice guy he is. Sadly, as Hannah also details well in her second post in response to this video, the only sometimes compassionate Piper holds a double standard when it comes to women. A grown child can free themselves from the injustice of abusive parenting and can realize forgiveness without bitterness even when a parent rejects reconciliation. Yet Piper also tells us that wives who are mistreated by their husbands must resign themselves to a certain degree of injustice, relinquishing themselves to obedience to their spouse who becomes their new and eternal “obligate parent.” I won't try to duplicate Hannah's review and will refer you to her for an excellent examination of yet another difficult inconsistency in Piper's message about women.

After many words and ideas, I'd like to again invite the reader to be a listener on Saturday as Jocelyn and I discuss more aspects of this troubling problem within the Church.