With All Due Respect to John Piper . . .
“the apostles tell the churches that . . . the head . . . should be the husband.”
- John Piper (Desiring God 2012 Conference for Pastors)
Ahem. Actually, no they don’t . . . .
At a conference this week, John Piper was talking about masculine Christianity. And he made the above statement, which caused me to squint. Huh?
Now, I should probably qualify my thoughts by saying I love much of what John Piper has to say. I’m thinking specifically about his life-changing teaching about loving God.
But when it comes to his views on gender, he has made some statements that I must respectfully question. Why? Because he makes subtle changes when he quotes the Bible. The quote above is one of them.
We all know there’s a difference between a statement and an imperative, right? And there’s a difference between literal speech and a metaphor.
In the passage Dr. Piper is quoting, husband and wife form a head/body picture of oneness. They share the same blood and breath and life. The wife is the body; but she is not commanded to “be” the body. In the same way, the husband is the head, but he is not commanded to “be” the head. Jesus is the Door, but he doesn’t “become” the Door. In a metaphor, one thing stands for another. And in the marriage metaphor Paul lays out in Ephesians 5, he uses a beautiful metaphor of a head and a body.
Think of how interconnected a head is with a body—two shall become one. The phrase shows up in Genesis at the creation of marriage, and Paul refers back to that phrase after laying out his metaphor for marriage as a head/body interconnectedness.
Again, the husband is not, in fact, ever told to be the head. How can a human become a body part on a literal level? To do that, some make “head” a synonym for leader. But if we do that, we not only turn a unity picture into an org-chart picture, we also leave the word “body” without a synonym.
How does a wife demonstrate a corresponding bodyship to her husband? Paul actually uses an equative verb: X = Y. The head is something the husband is. It’s not what he does.
But that’s not to say Paul leaves out reference to what a husband should do. He does include an imperative—love. That’s it . . . he commands the husband to love. And Paul has in mind something different from feeling-oriented love. He does not, in fact, use the word for friendship love. He uses the word (root: agapeo) for self-sacrificing, lay-down-your-life love . . . the kind Jesus showed for His bride, the church. That’s not to say husband and wife aren’t best friends. They are in this ideal. They are one.
Paul never pairs head and submission in Ephesians. He pairs head and body; and he pairs sacrificial love and submission—because they are the actions that fit the head/body metaphor, especially in the Greek world. And they still have ramifications for us today.
The goal of marriage is not a well negotiated power structure; it’s oneness that leads to the upbuilding of the entire body in love. The thing the apostles taught that the husbands should “be” was (Paul:) full of sacrificial love, like Christ. And (Peter:) respectful and honor-granting, lest their prayers be hindered.
Originally posted on February 3, 2012.
- Kelley Mathews published the article Great Programs + Zero Personal Contact = Swing and a Miss!.
- Matt Perman published the blogpost Millennials: Bringing Back Entrepreneurship in America.
- Kelley Mathews published the article 'Ordinary Miracles: Awakening to the Holy Work of Parenting' [Review].
- Janet Ridgeway published the blogpost High School and Middle School, Oh My! – Back To School 2014.
- Ashley Howland published the blogpost The scoop on salt: You’re probably eating too much.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Why Peer-To-Peer Selling Is Taking Off And What Companies Can Learn From It.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost New Toyota Minivan Will Make It Easier For Drivers To Yell At Their Kids.
- Nils Smith published the blogpost Vemory automagically finds and recreates your best memories.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost What You Should Know About Gen Z And Branded Video.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Consumerism: Ways Brands Can Harness The Wonderful Power Of Teens.
- Dave Dunham published the blogpost Christian Reflections on Lust, Modesty, and Beauty (Part 7): Lust and Responsibility.
- solomon david published the blogpost Magento Fashion Template Development Services From Leading Company India.
- Steve Perky published the blogpost How Will Google’s “Classroom” Change Discipleship? [Video].
- Steve Perky published the blogpost Church’s Website – Content to Connection [Snippet].
- Steve Perky published the blogpost Our modern idea of generations is overrated [Quote].
- Steve Perky published the blogpost Simple Church: Returning to God’s Process for Making Disciples [Book].
- Steve Perky published the blogpost Create Crossword Puzzles to Disciple Children [Video].
- Steve Perky published the blogpost The New .CHURCH Domain Name: Why It Matters To Your Church.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost Jars of Clay celebrates career milestone with ’20′.
- Wayne Stiles published the blogpost Quote by Brad Gray on God’s desires for our failures. [Quote].
- andrea castrillon just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- solomon david published the blogpost How to Choose Best Mobile OS for First Gaming Apps.
- Larry Carter published the blogpost Have You Ever Cut Your Nose Off To Spite Your Face?.
- Brian Dodd published the blogpost 17 Practices Of Highly Successful Leaders: Little League head coach Dave Belisle.
- John Peterson published the blogpost You Don’t Have to Be Retired to Rest and Enjoy Life.
- Kelley Mathews published the article 14 Ways for Christian Parents to Teach Kids about Atheism.
- George Bullard published the blogpost Can Missional Congregations Outrun Their Supply Lines?.
- Kelley Mathews published the article When Your House is Dirty and Your Kids are Screaming, Why Care About Ferguson?.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Video of the Day: What if Michael Bay had Directed "UP.".
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost Watch: Capital Kings new music video and single ‘Fireblazin’.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost ‘…I remember going to church and getting angry’ – E! News Giuliana Rancic.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost Stream Thousand Foot Krutch’s new album ‘OXYGEN:INHALE’ in its entirety.