UPDATE: Piper is not centered here.
This is not a piece to react against Piper's statements. John Piper is not Perkins, or Trump, or Nassar, or Rachael Denhollander's church. I don't say this.
I do say that the dismissal and abuse of women is happening in popular evangelicalism.
And I will say this much about Piper's statements: if we implemented his suggestion that female professors be removed from the pastor's seminary experience (and there aren't many as it is), would the state of things improve? Would these pastoral students become better guides for women like Rachael Denhollander?
For those of you for whom it's not necessary to be this didactic, I apologize.
For those of you who do not see the thread of this piece, here it is: WOMEN ARE GETTING HURT. LET'S CARE ABOUT THEM. Language and policies that discourage men from listening to women and discourage women from speaking end up hurting us all.
If we don't listen, the church will suffer. She's suffering now. If you don't see it, may the Lord open your eyes.
I'm loath to say much about John Piper when it comes to his views on women and Christianity. His platform is huge, however, and his opinions have ripple effects for me and every other woman in seminary, in ministry, in American evangelical Christendom.
You know that evangelicalism in the US is bored and sick when it believes it can bestow mulligans to POTUSes paying off porn stars.
It's especially rich when one of the elder statesmen feel a call--despite the Women's March and #metoo movement and the vociferous voices of lament of abuses swept under the rug or relocated--to casually disqualify and demean half the church, and then pat us on the head, basically saying (to the men of course. Why speak directly to us women?), "They're competent. They just have nothing to teach us."
I won't even link to Piper's post, because, why?
Idle words like this expose
half the church to spiritual neglect and physical abuse. When women are sidelined, the Body loses. If someone is depriving parts of the body of oxygen, or cutting them so that they bleed out, it's bizarre to respond with, "cover up that bleeding kneecap. That'll fix it!"
Piper's words cut the Body off at the knees. Some male leaders, and female supporters, are deceived into thinking that sitting is blessed, when we were made to run. And if we listen to voices like Piper's that belittle and sideline (women, people of color...), we will bleed out powerful, intelligent, spiritual followers of Christ. We will expose our most vulnerable members to exploitation and at the very least, normalize second-class treatment in a space that ought to have no favorites. We already do this.
Perhaps you have heard of a depraved doctor who just got sentenced for serial sexual assault against girls. He was enabled for YEARS. Read this powerful statement from Rachael Denhollander. She spoke out, and received zero support from the university that employed this predator-doctor. Then she revealed her abuse to her church. Her statement includes a paragraph that mentions that her church abandoned her when she came out as an abuse survivor. The church left her alone and isolated.
She got her justice and dignity from God above, and from a judge. Not her church. I would want Rachael at my church. She is brave. She tells the truth. But if we don't know how to treat hurting women, how to hear them, we will continue to isolate them, fail them, and bleed out.
I would want a judge Aquilina in my church. And I want her active, because she's a justice-bringer. She cannot exist in Piper's model. He puts women's voices on mute in a way that Paul himself did not.
And if that's what y'all patriarchy-happy men want to do with your churches--we'll continue to bleed out until God in His mercy hinders your prayers and diminishes your influence until you repent.
Separation breeds fear, exploitation, and deception. Perhaps that's why unity is a thing in the epistles.
There's nothing holy about the cultural condescension and spiritual laziness that treats women as caricatures of perpetual motherhood, infantilized girls, sexual temptresses, or nagging emasculators. This is actually ample evidence of the fall, not redemption. We don't need evangelists for the kingdom of this world.
When men and women work to build up the Kingdom, these tropes get trampled at hell's gates where they belong, and we advance, together.