Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Friday, June 22, 2012

So, This Is The Book

A short little book John Piper wrote in 1990. I'll post about it as I read it.

This seems to sum up the gist of it--

'The tendency today is to stress the equality of men and women by minimising the unique significance of our maleness or femaleness. But this depreciation of male and female personhood is a great loss. It is taking a tremendous toll on generations of young men and women who do not know what it means to be a man or a woman. Confusion over the meaning of sexual personhood today is epidemic.

The consequence of this confusion is not a free and happy harmony among gender-free persons relating on the basis of abstract competencies. The consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity'.


Deb said...

I don't have any problem with someone arguing men and women are fundamentally different. And I see genders as having different roles with equal value in some circumstances. But I think you have to be careful when you go further than that. And specifically I need to be shown where in the Bible an idea of gender behaviours comes from to prove it is actually a Biblical assertion and not just a cultural norm for "nice folks" from wherever the speaker/author is from. I'm not saying Piper does or doesn't prove that point because I haven't read the book obviously. But whenever something like this gets discussed, I try to remember that the gospel was intended for all of God's people in a wide variety of times and cultures. So how a man behaves in a "manly" way will differ over time and place, even if some principles about manhood and womanhood are consistent. How it would play out for an Inuit hunter and a Glasgow officeworker might be quite different. And North American culture in the 20th century is actually different to Australian culture in many respects despite the enormous influence of TV and cinema. The Bible speaks a lot about developing Christian character that applies to men and women. And then it talks some about behaviour when you are in a specific relationship (husbands/wives/fathers/children) but I can't think of a lot of text that talks about the concept of "manhood" or "womanhood" separate from these other things. Proverbs does...maybe some other places but I'm scratching my head. In which case, you have to tread carefully if you want to construct a Biblical picture of "manliness" like "Wild at Heart" does and perhaps Piper (and again I say 'perhaps' because I've only read that one quote you gave us as a teaser).

onlinesoph said...

Hey Ben, I reckon you might like to take a look at this post. It's Andrew Errington's (minister at St Stephens' Newtown) transcript for his talk on gender differences to Sydney Uni.

I seriously think it is the BEST piece I've written on the Bible and gender in a long while. He does a great job of upholding the differences between men and women while understanding the nuances of our culture that have blurred the distinctions (and it is biblical, which is important to me in these discussions).

onlinesoph said...

haha...change "I've written" in the 4th line to "I've SEEN written"...

Belle said...

Soph, thank so much for linking to the article, it was so well written and enjoyable to read.

I didn't agree with his conclusions though; it's interesting that he stresses the potentiality of creation and the eay it develops depending on teh culture, yet ends by saying something like "so let's do things exactly like they did a couple of thousand years ago in the New Testament".

As for the quote from Piper's book, I don't know if he backs up these statements with any statistics or other evidence, if that's even possible, but it seems a stretch to argue that things like divorce and sexual abuse are a result of confusion about gender roles rather than the fact that (as Errington writes in the article) "Almost the moment their eyes have been opened, Adam and Eve turn back into their own self-centred world".

Self-centredness and sin seem to fit together more easily to me (and my understanding of the Bible's teaching) than gender confusion.

Personally, the tremendous toll taken on me as a woman has come from being taught by Piper and his fellow complementarians that women were created for men, to follow their leadership and have their babies. Outside of the church I had no problem at all with my womanhood.

Ben McLaughlin said...

Thanks guys, I'm getting a lot of food for thought. Soph, I've read about half of that link, thanks it's really good. will finish soon and write about it maybe.