Thursday, August 20, 2009

John Piper's Three Strikes

(In response to a request, I am trying to assemble these different posts.)

Strike One

John Piper mused about the fact that it might be possible to be too complementarian. The question is this. Is a wife required or not required to request permission from her husband to go to the bathroom? Piper now says this is "sick." The wife says that Piper is the one who taught her husband this,
    I dealt with a couple one time. They were sitting in front of me, and she said, "He learned from you that I have to get permission from him for everything I do." I said, "Really? Like what?" And she said, "To go to the bathroom! He won't let me leave the room without his permission. If I get up and walk out of the room, he says, 'Hey, you're supposed to ask me first.'"
In an extension of this discussion, Piper posted about wife abuse. He wrote,
    So if this man, for example, is calling her to engage in abusive acts willingly (group sex or something really weird, bizarre, harmful, that clearly would be sin), then the way she submits—I really think this is possible, though it's kind of paradoxical—is that she's not going to go there. I'm saying, "No, she's not going to do what Jesus would disapprove even though the husband is asking her to do it."
But short of the "really weird, bizarre, harmful" then what should she do? It really isn't a case of something harmful nor is it group sex to have to ask permission to go the bathroom. I mean, that would not be a weird or bizarre condition if you are a teacher talking to a five year old.

How was this husband supposed to know that he was asking for something that was not part of the biblical authority and submission arrangement between a husband and wife which is so honouring to God? If authority and submission, in and of themselves, glorify God, then what is wrong with this picture? If the husband is truly in touch with his wife's needs, won't this glorify God?

Personally, I don't think Piper handles discussion of wife abuse very well at all.

Strike Two

Piper attacks the TNIV and NIV for not having "therefore" in John 4:45. After requesting help, I found out that the Darby translation does have "therefore" in this verse, but most translations don't. Several commentaries support the notion that the Greek word oun, which may be under discussion, does not usually mean "therefore" in the gospel of John.

This suggests that Piper should not be handing out advice on Bible translations. I wrote an open letter and posted about it on the Desiring God blog.

Strike Three

Piper blogs about the tornado and homosexuality,
    The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.
I also note that an 11 year old boy was killed by a tornado in Ontario this week. What does this mean?


Blake said...

Piper has been a model and mentor for many in the Reformed community. Maybe it's time some of his disciples pull a Paul and tell Peter how it is (looking at you Driscoll, Mahaney, Harris, etc.).

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks for linking to me Blake. Some of these men have amazing charisma, and I would like to see them be more thoughtful especially in their comments about the TNIV. I think Piper speaks in honesty, but has been misinformed.

Lydia said...

you must remember these men live and work in a very closed system. They do not believe that but it is true. They are surrounded with admirers and the colleagues they would listen to think just like them.

The problem with Blake's advice is that the other men live in the same closed world and support one another in this thinking and teaching. There are serious serious problems within the SGM community of sexual abuse being swept under the rug. There are several blogs dedicated to it and the spiritual abuse is documented, too. What we are finding coming out of SGM is more cultic than Christian. I do not say that lightly.

In the comp area, the more Piper tries to explain, the more confusing he is and the farther away he goes from simple disagreements on interpretation. He is already in the area of writing his own Talmud when prescribing application of the text. This is dangerous ground and we can see that by his tortured explanations.

I stopped taking Piper seriously several years ago. But he should be questioned publicly for the benefit of those following him. I appreciate your posts on him.

Anonymous said...

What is SGM?

I've heard of Piper & Driscoll and Comp. & Patriarchy. But what is SGM?


Lydia said...

Sovereign Grace Ministries. The denomination (or whatever they call it) started by CJ Mahaney. Before that, it was called People of Destiny and he had a partner.

They are extreme legalism.

The blogs are

SGM survivors
SGM Refuge

Blake said...

While I'm less familiar with Sovereign Grace than Acts29, I've never gotten the impression they were legalists. Conservative Baptist conventions have legalists (SBC, GARBC, Independents, etc.). I think it's unfair to say the culture of the new reformed movement exhibited by Sovereign Grace, Acts29, the Gospel Coalition and others affirm the kind of thinking that Piper has expressed. Piper's sentiments are ones I've never heard out of Driscoll, Mars Hill, The Resurgence, Acts29, Mahaney, Harris or most of the other Gospel Coalition peeps and never expect to. When The Resurgence blog posted the link to Piper's tornado comments they specifically highlighted the scripture Piper referenced in point 5 about Jesus's comments on the tower that fell. They called it the "money quote." That seems to me a subtle way of distancing themselves from the thought and intent of the rest of Piper's article.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lydia.
Went to both places to look around a tiny bit.
I had no idea.
Very sad.
Wish I knew what to do to help people like them.
God is too good to be so wrongly represented by SGM.
May the people leaving SGM find the real love and nature of God soon and not "throw the baby out with the bath water".


Lydia said...

"I think it's unfair to say the culture of the new reformed movement exhibited by Sovereign Grace, Acts29, the Gospel Coalition and others affirm the kind of thinking that Piper has expressed."

Blake, you need to spend some time with the SGM survivors. Read Noels Story to get an idea of how sexual molestation of a 3 year old was handled from the top.

You may also want to spend some time at a blog of a former Mars Hill member. Did you not listen to Driscolls Peasant Princess series or Spiritual warfare series? He calls women ministries cesspools. He says that women are gossips and he does not allow his wife to hang out with women from the church. He says he even filters her e-mails because women are evil gossips.

He also teaches that women are more easily deceived and that is why they cannot teach men.

This blogger was at Mars Hill

The problem with getting younger men to come to grips with Driscoll is because he is so cool and hip. And you have to follow him closely because he sends mixed messages.

Blake said...

I don't want to play the Driscoll apologist. Driscoll is too good at putting his foot in his mouth to make it worth anyone's time to defend him. However, I still have tremendous respect for him, for Mars Hill and for Acts29. Generally, they've done a lot of good in communities all around the world at encouraging discipleship, respect for scripture, tolerance for the charismatic gifts (with a seatbelt) and transforming people's lives to follow Christ. Driscoll is not the second incarnation of Hitler and A29 is not a neo-nazi movement as many dissenters would make some believe. They are imperfect as everyone is, maybe I just have more tolerance for the imperfections of some groups.

See, I'm a part of the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm very unlike most Southern Baptists. I've never met one that shares many of my theological convictions. I strongly dislike a lot of things about the convention, but I think every Christian is kidding themselves if they can't say about their congregation and/or denomination what Augustine said so long ago, "The church is a whore but she is my mother." Maybe my having to deal with the doofus brigade running the SBC has made me more amicable toward groups like A29 and SGM which (from my view) don't have nearly the issues the SBC does.

You take all of that to mean whatever you want, but Driscoll is not nearly as sexist as you describe. I've listened to over 130 of his sermons in the last year and a half including the series you mentioned and have not gotten the impression you have. I'm sure I've heard the same quotes you'll pull out to defend your position, but I think the context I've seen those quotes from is larger and more open-minded than yours. For every woman that's found themselves hurt or offended in some way by Mars Hill, I think there are many more that are being helped.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I am not sure it you remember this statement by Driscoll? Most of us can't forget it. Please understand that the sexism is not imagined on our part.

Driscoll wrote,

Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. While many irate women have disagreed with his assessment through the years, it does appear from this that such women who fail to trust his instruction and follow his teaching are much like their mother Eve and are well-intended but ill-informed. . . Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality (p. 43).

Is Driscoll really claiming that men are better than women in this regard?

Blake said...

Why couldn't it be the case that women on average are more prone to particular sins and blindspots while men are more prone to other sins and blindspots? Men and women have different biological make up that affects psychology in slightly different ways. If men and women struggles the same way across the board on all kinds of issues it would make much sense that we complement each other and have special contributions to make to the relationship. That seems to me to be the complementarian logic behind this statement.

Have you listened to his most recent explanation of his complementarianism? In his recent Trial series in 1 Peter he preached two sermons called Marriage and Women and Marriage and Men. I found the two sermons well done and the Marriage and Men sermon especially admirable.

Driscoll (and all men) is sexist like all white people are racist. So long as American society tends to be patriarchal all males are inherently guilty of participating in the sexism inherent in the system. His macho attitude and language just don't help his public image with regard to women. Really, he could not address the topic like most pastors and no one would give him a second thought. He has respect because he's honest about how he reads the Bible in every area it addresses even if many disagree with this, that or many points.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I am sure that men and women are different in some ways. That does not mean that men are better at making decisions for women than women are at making decisions for themselves! Men are greater risk takers. Some studies show that female investors outperform male investors, (by only a bit but still.)

Women are NOT better off if they are lead by men, or have decisions made for them by men 0 in any area of their life where they are allowed to gain experience and consult someone skilled in that area. That skilled person may or may not be the husband. The wife needs to be able to hire someone, a plumber, mechanic or financial planner. Or she can learn how to do it herself.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

But I agree that men and women each have something special to offer a relationship. That is certain in my mind.

Blake said...


I don't think Driscoll is saying that men are better at making decisions for women. I think he believes that husbands can make some decisions better for their wives and in turn wives can make some decisions better for their husbands. Driscoll's complementarianism is limited to the family and congregational eldership.

Driscoll has stated in past sermons that women should teach at seminaries in theology, language and bible as well as any other department. I desperately wish the SBC would take that to heart. He has also said that his daughters will grow up to have their own thoughts and opinions on things and he expects potential suitors to acknowledge and respect those thoughts and opinions.

In his recent sermons on marriage Driscoll said that a wife and husband in right relationship with God and each other are not going to be submitting to each other in such a way as is disagreeable to the other, but is beneficial to the other. He gave some examples from his own marriage. Grace (his wife) is very prudent and frugal with the family's money. Mark noticed that her clothes were getting more and more worn out and were fairly out of style and so he gave Grace money and sent her to go buy new clothes for herself. Grace doesn't like spending money on herself in this way, but because she submitted to Mark she was allowing herself to be better taken care of. On another occasion she had thought she wanted to try and home school the kids. Mark was unsure about this prospect because he knows his wife intimately and knows her organizational skills for such an endeavor are not sufficient for the task. He didn't want his wife tired out and frustrated from something she couldn't do so they prayed about it together and he suggested they look at area schools together, public and private and see if there wasn't one that was to their liking. They ended up finding a school they both approved of and Grace thanked Mark for helping her avoid what she admitted would probably have been a problematic situation for her and the family. To turn the tables Mark has often submitted himself to Grace's expectations that he take time off and take vacations and see doctors because he's such a workaholic that his wife knows when he needs to unwind. In this way Mark and Grace submit to each other because they both have insights into each other that give them a bit more objectivity that help them to make some decisions for each other that are better than what they themselves would choose to do.

(to be continued...)

Blake said...

(cont. sorry for double post)

The issue with Mark screening Grace's e-mail is an issue I don't feel qualified to speak to because Grace and Mark are in a position almost none of us can imagine. I imagine they get hundreds of e-mails a day on all sorts of issues and non-issues that somehow this system just seems more beneficial to them. I know that when anyone e-mails Mark through the website that e-mail is screened by many people before it ever reaches Mark if it ever does.

Sometimes I think the term 'leader' is too loaded for this discussion or at least for some people in the discussion. My impression from Pastor Mark (and I could be wrong about this but don't think I am) is that the male is only the "leader" in the sense that he his responsible for what happens in the church and family. It does not mean he does all the thinking, makes all the decisions or moves everyone like pawns according to some grand scheme that only he and God are privy to. Pastor Mark says women can teach and should teach and men can be taught by women and should learn from them because many women are very wise and knowledgeable, but all of this happens under the elders and the elders are responsible to God for all teaching good and bad done by either gender under their leadership.

I want to give one attempt to illustrate another way in which I think this works. In a small company they might have a small accounting department of a few people. One of the accountants in the company's hierarchy is the designated "manager" or the representative and go between for the department. The department being as small as it is and sharing floor space creates a kind of community between each of the accountants so that they have some knowledge of what each other are working on. All of them deal with finances for different parts of the company (parts that work together to accomplish the mission of the company). If one of the accountants tries to embezzle from the company someone in this department will know and it probably will be the one responsible for representing the department to the company. In this small community the "manager" will be held responsible alongside the employee doing the embezzling because the department is so small and his responsibilities include knowing and dealing with such things. The "manager" and accountants all have different areas they work with and different insights into the company and how it works together so that at times when they need to check budgets from different departments against each other because those departments may be cooperating on some project one accountant may have more of an idea about how to deal with discrepancies than another because of his familiarty with certain processes of a department s/he is more familiar with. The accountants to get their work done rely both on their own ability to do their job as well as the knowledge and insight that can be gleaned from their coworkers. This being a small department, even the "manager" is a part of this same system of needing and helping each other. The manager just has the extra duty to the company to be responsible for all of the work being done by his/her fellow coworkers. This illustrates for me how the husband and wife and brother and sister in Christ work together and submit to each other to do what God has called them to do and how it is that the male is the one given the responsibility for the outcomes of these relationships. Maybe you think responsibility should not work this way. If that is the case I will respectfully agree to disagree. Sorry for the long post and derailing the thread.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

No, you are not derailing the thread. On responsibility, there is no such thing as a mother being less responsible to God for her children than the father is. In fact, it is only in horror that I have read complementarian women say that the good side of complementarianism is that the father is more responsible for the outcome of decisions than the mother is.

This is no joking matter. In law, a mother is equally responsible for the safety and well being of her children. This is a serious wrong doctrine in complementarianism. Gender based authority conflicts with moral authority.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I did a quick random google of - wives submit responsible decisions. This comment was my first hit,

"I agree that husbands should recognize the value of our wives as helpmeets and humbly consider what they offer, espeially when they strongly disagree with us. But never is a wife held responsible for decisions of the family, only the husband is. Men should no more submit to their brides than Christ submits to his."

This is morally wrong. It is also illegal and untrue. The wife is equally responsible for any debts, any health or safety problem of the children, any legal issue at all.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I would call this a lie of Satan,

"As leader in the household, God has made the husband responsible. The husband is responsible for the protection of his wife and children. He is responsible for providing for the needs of his family. He is responsible for the spiritual leadership in the home. God will never hold a wife responsible for a poor decision of her husband."

Anonymous said...

Blake, you almost make me like Driscoll, you really do.
And I admit that I have had major reactions to his foot in mouth complex on more than one thing.

You said: : "He has respect because he's honest about how he reads the Bible in every area it addresses even if many disagree with this, that or many points."

The problem with his honesty is that it is honestly from a "man's man" point of view. The problem with his peasant princess series is that he honestly and sincerely reads it through the very thick, coke-bottle-glasses lens of a man with a strong sex drive who is gonna get himself some.
Then mocks those who see the Songs as containing other things besides the explicit sex he sees.
So in this, no, he doesn't have my respect. He might have it if he didn't mock those who didn't agree with him 100%

I've calmed quite a bit from my first major shocks at Driscoll.

I see better now the side of him that DOES mean well.

I can see the point of view of having his wife's emails screened.
I had a pastor very similar to Driscol in the days before email. People tried to go through his wife to get to him. And she had to learn to tell them to go to him with their issues and not through her. So I actually sort of get that email screening stuff. Although I really think that Mrs. Driscoll should be like my former pastor's wife, be an adult and not a child, and tell these people to NOT go through her to get to Mark. She can block them just as easily and probably more effectively than Mark, since Mark has a church to run.


Anonymous said...

Driscoll: "when it comes to leading the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men."

Blake: "Why couldn't it be the case that women on average are more prone to particular sind and blindspots while men are more porne to other sins and blindspots."

Well, when it comes to leading the church, was it you who said the SBC is being led by a bunch of doofuses?

Historically, it has been men who have started the lion's share of cults. It is the men, pastors and elder boards and deacons who have shipwrecked churches. Sure, women haven't lead that many. But that's because the men won't let them and say they are unqualified. I'd say the men aren't really qualified either.

Guess we are all in a fix since no one is qualified to lead.
Driscoll's version of Paul disqualifies women and history disqualifies men.

The solution? Perhaps men and women could rule together, you know the way God made it in the first place, in the garden. Then they could help each other with their blindspots. Wouldn't it be nice to have such balanced leadership in place in the church?


Blake said...


I thank you for continuing this discussion and that you're not put off by the direction it's gone. I think we agree a lot on this issue actually. You say,

"On responsibility, there is no such thing as a mother being less responsible to God for her children than the father is. In fact, it is only in horror that I have read complementarian women say that the good side of complementarianism is that the father is more responsible for the outcome of decisions than the mother is."

In a sense I both agree and disagree with this. I agree that a mother is as responsible for the direction of her children as the father is. I also agree with your disgust that complementarian women think they are getting off more lightly in the relationship with regard to their responsibilities than the male. The decisions we make that we are responsible for as Christian men and women give God glory and none of us should take lightly how much or little glory we give to God by how we live. I think this complementarian woman is taking far too lightly how her actions and her view of responsibility affect the glory she gives to God. In this sense I think men and women are far more equal in the eyes of God than the language used by complementarians suggest.

At the same time I still think there is something valid in the exegesis of Adam and Eve and Paul's letters and other places in the Bible that the complementarians give. The problem I think is that 'more' and 'less' are very subjective terms that mean pretty much nothing when we are at the judgment seat of God. So in that way genders being more or less responsible clouds the issue of real Christian obedience. On the other hand I don't see another way to talk about it (excluding embracing egalitarianism). I do think there is something to men having a kind of "the buck stops here" in God's eyes, but I don't know that it can be expressed without a healthy example lived out in front of people. I think the actions matter more than the words when it comes to teaching biblical complementarianism.

I can't say I've got this figured out. In some sense I'm not sure proper complementarianism can be explained because the language needed is too easy to misunderstand. The people I most often hear talk about complementarianism around me are often not people I look up to as model relationships. I can't say I know Mark and Grace personally, so I can't even say I look to them as a model relationship. I do know who I do look up to as models of good Christian marriage and when I hear Pastor Mark talk about his view of Christian marriage it is those particular couples that come to mind. What draws me to Pastor Mark is that (in my humble opinion) he is as close to egalitarianism as a biblical complementarian can be without being egalitarian. Most complementarians I've met and heard from don't give women nearly the freedom Pastor Mark does and don't live what they preach even if I do agree with them.

You quote someone as saying,

"Men should no more submit to their brides than Christ submits to his."

Whoever said this has a fundamentally wrong view of men and humanity. Men are not God. Christ modeled for men (and women) servant leadership, humility, love and many other qualities. Jesus does not submit to his bride because he is God and His bride is not. Men and women are equally fallen and to not take into account our need for accountability from each other seems to me a grievous error bound to become problematic.

(to be continued...)

Blake said...


You also quoted someone saying,

"(1)As leader in the household, God has made the husband responsible. (2)The husband is responsible for the protection of his wife and children. (3)He is responsible for providing for the needs of his family. (4)He is responsible for the spiritual leadership in the home. (5)God will never hold a wife responsible for a poor decision of her husband."

I need to dissect this, so I have numbered the sentences for easy reference. In an unnuanced way I agree with sentences 1-4. In a nuanced way I am a pacifist so I cannot agree with certain interpretations of sentence 2 that include violence. With sentence 3 I would prefer it be stated more along the lines that the husband is responsible for making sure the family is provided for which may mean that the wife is the one that works. Driscoll would disagree with my stating this so generically because he prefers to say the opposite and then admit exceptions when his arm is twisted. I think I'd be more lenient than even he is on exceptions or even the fact that their may need to exist such a thing as an exception to this rule (I'm undecided as to whether or not male provision as a biblical ideal means it being a rule a congregation holds families accountable to). My nuanced interpretation of sentence 4 I think is being given throughout this dialogue in this comment thread. Sentence 5 I wholly agree with you is a lie of Satan.


I didn't come at his Peasant Princess series as it being the authoritative interpretation of the Song of Solomon. I think it is an interesting interpretation and would encourage people to use it as one of many interpretations to study if they wanted to better understand Song of Solomon. I personally have not studied the book enough or other interpretations of the book to decide for myself how much I agree or disagree with Driscoll's take on it. Nonetheless I still think there is much practical wisdom that can be gleaned from his sermon series apart from any consideration of the authority or validity of his interpretation.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here is some clarification on one point anyway. Grudem wrote,

"Marriage is intended to be a reflection of the divine order in that submission by the wife in marriage reflects the submission of the church to Christ. Help her to see that in neither case is the submission mutual. Christ does not submit to the church, but vice versa, and likewise the husband does not submit to the wife. These roles are not open to redefinition, reinterpretation, or adjustment. Any change represents a deviation from the divine purpose, rendering a marriage no longer reflective of the relationship between Christ and the church."

Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood. Page 205

This gives the distinct impression that a man dishonours God if he ever submits to his wife. It is quite simply a wrong doctrine. Driscoll has become a great Grudem fan in the last year of so.

I have no comment on Driscoll's personal life.

The truth is that egalitarianism does not entail doing anything wrong. It has been defended by many honourable scholars and wonderful role models. I don't know why people are so afraid of it.

Blake said...

Sorry for a third post in a row. I missed Mara's second post when I posted the first two.

When it comes to the SBC and its leadership one of my constant criticisms has been the complete lack of diversity in its ranks especially with regard to gender. I would love to see more women on the various boards and committees in the SBC and more minorities and more people that aren't born and/or raised and/or serving in the South. The problems of the SBC are primarily the cause of its Southern insularity. Some might think it's spiritual in nature which I would agree with, but the symptom that is easiest to deal with and not being dealt with is the lack of diversity in SBC leadership. I don't think the SBC as whole is suffering the spiritual problems that seem to be so common among the southern white men running everything.

I actually have less problem with women in leadership when it comes to congregationalist and democratic structures because I think the biblical support for such structures is not there or at least is not as strong as the case for presbyterian and episcopal structures. I figure if a church or denomination is going to use an unbiblical structure they can at least be consistent and make more room for diversity. My advocacy for complementarianism becomes stronger when referring to elder-led and episcopal structures.

As I said before, I think language is insufficient to demonstrate the complementarian position as I see it biblically. I must admit I am a perfectionist and want to have my cake and eat it too. I don't want to confess egalitarianism but I more readily admire egalitarian couples than most complementarian couples. My perfectionism wants to confess complementarianism because I see it as the most biblical option, but many complementarians would probably suspect I'm egalitarian in my actions even though I'm not. My complementarianism just works itself out in subtle ways most of the time.

I think Driscoll's complementarianism is more subtle than people realize, but because he's such got such a loud and forceful character on stage he misrepresents his position and people too easily dismiss and malign him (his chronic foot in mouth syndrome doesn't help). I would like to think that the complementarianism I am presenting in this discussion is very close to the heart and intention of Driscoll's complementarianism. I could be wrong and am not above correction by those who are closer to the Driscolls than I am. I could be applying too much of my own hopes and wishes to Driscoll's view. I don't think I am because I think I could back up most of what I say with quotes from his sermon audio if I really desired to put that kind of work into it. If anything I've said does misrepresent Driscoll's real thought then I suspect he and I would just disagree on that point because what I am presenting is essentially my view of complementarianism. I've just always attributed my view to the teaching of Driscoll since he's been who I've gleaned the most from as I've listened to him.

Blake said...


Driscoll is a fan of a lot of thinkers that would not agree with each other on a lot of issues. I doubt he would sign his name to everything Grudem writes. I realize Grudem has had a significant impact on Driscoll's theology, but my impression (and I could be wrong) is that that particular quote from Grudem may be one of the areas he would disagree with him or at least give a very nuanced interpretation. Until Driscoll writes his own systematic theology we're left to speculate how all the influences he talks about work together to shape his theology. He often quotes Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Kierkegaard, J.I. Packer, John Piper and others, but he never quotes all of them on one subject especially what he would call a second hand doctrine like women leadership.

I wouldn't characterize myself as afraid of egalitarianism. I disagree with it, but I embrace the scholarly contribution that the egalitarians are making to biblical studies and theology. The arguments for complementarianism don't seem to have changed much ever, so I take more inspiration from the work the egalitarians are doing than the complementarians. Complementarian men are too stuck on fighting a battle when it would be more helpful for them to stick firmly to their commitments while exploring more ways to be humble, loving servant leaders which I think they could learn a lot about from egalitarians.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I don't think complementarianism is just about Driscoll, or even mainly about Driscoll. However, any man that stands in the pulpit and tells women that they have less authority than men, is endangering women and children in some way or other. This is my view.

It hurts, of course, to see male egalitarians some of them, so well respected and treated as brothers ... but us women .... ?

I don't think complementarianims can be redeemed. However, complementarians, as individuals ... often behave like egalitarians, as some comp preachers admit. And vice versa, BTW.

believer333 said...

"I do think there is something to men having a kind of "the buck stops here" in God's eyes"

When each person stands before the Judgement Seat of God, we will be judged only upon our own sins, our decisions (accepting another's decision makes it ours), our own actions (inactions are a type of action). No one can pass on their sin to another to be responsible for. No one can truthfully tell another human being that if they do what we ask, we will be responsible for the doing of it (and suffer the consequences) and not them.

IMO that is part of what happened in the Garden of Eden.

Lydia said...

Blake, what comes out of the mouth is in the heart. With Driscoll,the problem is that foot in mouth is continual.

You may not be aware of his blog post right after the Ted Haggard scandal. I mention it because when one adds up Driscoll's teachings, it looks serious. But he always 'apologizes' but then does it again and again.

He said the biggest reason for pastors drifting in marriage is because their wives let themselves go. Then he went on to describe the fat, ugly preachers wives he has seen.

So, he was putting the blame on women. Just like he did when he called them gossips, evil and easily deceived. (Would that make him continually a willful sinner?)

Of course, the outcry was immense so he took to blog post down and 'apologized'.

I could not help feel sorry for Grace. What if she gets breast cancer and has a mascetomy or a face disfiguring accident. She will always remember those original words. That her looks are incredibly important to the relationship. (Never mind his vulgarity in describing sex)

It is funny how folks can listen to Driscoll and hear different things. Usually it is women who find him repugnant. But more and more men are, too. Do you realize my 8 year old could never be allowed to listen to one of his sermons because of the vulgarity? How could I explain he is a pastor?

Are you familiar with his coup d etat' with leadership of his church and his firing of two ministers who dared disagree with him. And his subsequent sermons on those 'who question' him?

He also once said at a conference (I heard him with my own ears) say that every thing he says on stage is directly from the Holy Spirit. He was proud he uses no notes.

The man is downright scary and I grieve for young men who are following him and being led astray by one I think is preforming for the audience and reveling in his celebrity status.

Blake said...


You said that "what comes out of the mouth is in the heart." It is also true that actions come from what is in the heart and as I recall the saying goes "actions speak louder than words." Mars Hill would not be a mega church if Driscoll dragged Grace around by the hair like the Neanderthal his opponents paint him to be. I know there are a lot of women who have been hurt by Mars Hill, but have you conveniently forgotten the many women that have joined Mars Hill to make it into the megachurch it is today? There aren't 8000 men going there to hear the weekly pep talk from the coach. There are a thousands of women who have found something very positive in the preaching of Pastor Mark and the community of Mars Hill. You can't discount their experiences because it doesn't fit into your view.

I'm aware of all the events you mention. I don't know what happened with the two members. It is disappointing that things turned out the way they did. Yes, Mark put his foot in his mouth again. I wish I was privy to what happened, but I'm not. However, Mars Hill is still going strong. Acts 29 is expanding fast and a lot of people are coming to Christ all over the world. Pastor Mark will answer for his sins before, but I would like to remind you that even Paul praised God for the evangelists that were sharing Christ even if for selfish motives. Whether or not Mark is in that crowd, I don't know. I don't think so and you disagree, so that's just where it will have to stand.

Kay said...


Take into consideration that Christian marriages do encounter circumstances and tragedies beyond their control that render the husband unable to lead, protect or provide for anyone. My perspective on the husband having the protector, provider, spiritual leader role changed because of situations I've encountered in the lives of friends and family members with disabilities, illness and aging who could not fulfill this "role" no matter how much they wanted to.

How could it apply to the life of my friend whose husband suffered a brain injury leaving him in a near vegetative state? God has called her to lead, protect and provide for her husband. My grandmother also had to fill this "role" for a number of years as Alzheimer's took over my grandfather's mind and body.

If a biblical "role" can have even one exception, how can it be a command for every marriage?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

There are a thousands of women who have found something very positive in the preaching of Pastor Mark and the community of Mars Hill. You can't discount their experiences because it doesn't fit into your view.

I don't think the popularity of the belief should contribute to our assessment of whether it is morally right.

I also don't think anyone has come close to saying that Mark mistreats his wife. I am uncomfortable with this being discussed and I think we should respect their privacy and just go back to the general issue.

Personally I see Piper, Grudem and Ware as being more influential. In my view, Driscoll is as complementarian as they are but I don't want to single him out on it.

It is a doctrine which reduces the responsibility and authority of women, which restricts their function and decreases their ability to conduct a normal adult life. For some, it causes a lot of pain. For others, perhaps not. For all women it is a diminishment and restriction, unless this is somehow evenly balanced by other means of influence.

Blake said...


There are exceptions to the rule. The scenarios you mention seem like fine examples of exceptional circumstances. But to use an exception to deny the merit of an absolute ideal is a profound logical misstep. For example I could rephrase what you just said in terms of murder. If the bible says thou shalt not murder, but we as Christians (assuming the non-pacifists) allow for an exception when it comes to war one doesn't completely discard the moral imperative and biblical command that murder is wrong and war is horrible.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Kay mentioned some extreme examples. The facts are that at my age half of all women are single. They now need to provide for themselves, and for many of them, their children. They need to organize their pension. They need to care for parents and siblings.

A good proportion of married women are the main providers in their own family. So more than half of all women my age are the main providers in their own home.

This is because we are human. Some women have always been single, some divorced, some widows, and some have husbands who are unemployed, sick, impaired, etc. etc.

Welcome to the real world. Either Christianity is for real people or it isn't.

I can't think of one good reason for husbands having more decision-making authority than wives, except inasmuch as it pertains to one's own job or function, but not over the other person in the marriage.

Blake said...


I think it is clear that people are suggesting that Mark oppresses his wife by virtue of his complementarian position. Isn't oppression a form of mistreatment?

In my (maybe errant) view, Driscoll's complementarianism is distinctly different from Piper, Grudem and Ware's. I don't align with Piper, Grudem and Ware's complementarianism. That's why I've tried to explain and show how Driscoll's is different and better (or at least how I've heard him). I don't think I'm achieving what I hoped, so unless Kay has more words to exchange I'll make this my last post for this thread. I appreciate the discussion and thank you for your excellent blog. God bless.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I have asked people to stop suggesting things about Mark and his wife.

However, I am unaware of how Mark differs from Piper, Grudem and Ware regarding women. I am truly unaware of the differences.

I hope you don't feel that I didn't listen. Thanks for your efforts to communicate. I know we are rather set in our ways here. Sorry bout that.

Lydia said...

"I know there are a lot of women who have been hurt by Mars Hill, but have you conveniently forgotten the many women that have joined Mars Hill to make it into the megachurch it is today? There aren't 8000 men going there to hear the weekly pep talk from the coach. There are a thousands of women who have found something very positive in the preaching of Pastor Mark and the community of Mars Hill. You can't discount their experiences because it doesn't fit into your view."

Blake, A lot of people moved to Guyana to drink kool aid with Jim Jones. If there is one argument we should avoid it is: if many people like it, it must be good.

Suzanne, Sorry if I brought up something uncomfortable. Mark uses his marriage relationship examples in teaching quite a bit.

believer333 said...

"Mars Hill would not be a mega church if Driscoll dragged Grace around by the hair like the Neanderthal his opponents paint him to be. I know there are a lot of women who have been hurt by Mars Hill, but have you conveniently forgotten the many women that have joined Mars Hill to make it into the megachurch it is today?"

Driscol is a somewhat private person on some things. I don't know that anyone could say much of anything about his family life because we don't know the particulars. He does say some things from the pulpit that are quite bothering. That is all anyone can comment on.

As well, Driscol has a silencing policy that tries to forbid anyone complaining about anything in his church. So whatever not so good things that are going on (and there are) it is difficult for those outside his church to get a good grasp on it. I've seen and experienced those tactics from the Sheparding Movement. They are in fact common tactics of individuals who engage in excessive controlling behaviors.

Complementarian men are generally the ones who make the decision of what church to go to. Thus, a married woman's contribution to Mars Hill mega church status would be pretty nil most of the time. Women have been known to endure much in the name of and for the sake of male dominance. It certainly doesn't mean they agree or approve. And perhaps we should take a look at the amount of people who are and have left and why. Since most of those don't talk about it, the ones who do talk represent more than themselves.

There must be a reason why Mars Hill is a mega church, but I'm not so sure they are indicative of true Christian spirituality and anointing. But I could be wrong on that. God does not remove his gifts even when we misuse them. Even in a spiritually challenged way, people get saved. And that is worth a lot.

Suem said...


A lot of posts about this. An excellent article as well. I have recently blogged about Piper - or more about fundamentalist applications of "scriptural truths", but I don't know as much about him as you lot do - not sure I want to!

I can see he is the worst sort of legalist, it is hardly a step from the taliban, who recently mooted this law allowing men to withold food from wives who refuse sexual demands ( unsure if it was brought in.)

However, I sort of thought , "Oh, those American bible belt weirdos" - but today in my good oldlocal UK Christian bookshop ( Wesley Owen - I know it is evangelical but..) I found a number of books by Piper. A quick flick through made me feel queasy!

Is this stuff ever that far from home?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Hi Sue,

I like the way you articulate this on yout blog. You write,

"Piper is also really concerned about how the wife is going to say," no" but still make it clear that she respects this man and submits him as her leader, he honestly seems to see the woman's continuing submission as the main matter to be resolved."

A good analysis. Thanks.

Suem said...


Well quite and it did occur to me how COULD you continue to really respect such a man? ( man?)

Piper and his ilk should really stop worrying about controlling women's behaviour and mindsets and turn their attention to their very damaged and damaging ideas about masculinity. Anyone who needs to control others to prove they are strong is working from a position of inner weakness and insecurity.

IF we could give men permission to be tender and to value themselves for who they are ( not some ridiculous idea about who they ought to be) we might begin to see some progress. I don't think we do this, even in mainstream "liberated" society.

Kristen said...

I saw in my own marriage the fruit of the idea, "he bears more responsibility; the buck stops with him; he has final say." The fruit was that we did things we shouldn't-- esp. financially, because I would say to myself, "I'm just submitting to him. It's his responsibility if we overspend (or whatever the issue was)." If I had felt my full, equal responsibility, I would have said, "I really don't want to buy that now." So when I would, instead, offer either very mild or no opposition, he would just go ahead, because I wasn't clearly communicating my own thoughts/feelings. The whole setup was bad for both of us.

Now that we consider ourselves equal partners with equal responsibility, we are BOTH more careful with the finances! Go figure!

I had another woman who believed in this less-responsibility thing tell me how nice it was. "I'll be sleeping like a baby while he lies awake worring about stuff." But in what sense is it being his "helper suitable" or "strong aid and companion" (better translation, IMO) if she's acting like one of the children, and all the weight of grown-up life is on him? In the long run, all that weight of unshared responsibility could affect his health!

So, as far as him having more responsibility is concerned-- if the tree were good, it would bear good fruit, wouldn't it? If it bears bad fruit, maybe it wasn't a God-planted tree at all.

Suem said...

I think you are right that this sort of dependency is bad for both partners. There are, of course, "pay offs" for both partners in this "you are in control" scenario. However the burden of living with an adult who acts like a child or the burden of being an adult who acts like a child ultimately saps relationships.Also, far from being part of God's natural law, it actually isn't natural at all - grown ups were made to be grown up!

Hannah Thomas said...

John Piper doesn't stop to think about the damage he causes to children with his advice about abuse within the marriage.

His ignorance just appalls me.

Anonymous said...

I also note that an 11 year old boy was killed by a tornado in Ontario this week. What does this mean?

That the kid would have grown up queer, of course.

When did Theos become Zeus, throwing down thunderbolts and tornadoes and evil omens after his latest spat with Hera?