...the fullest flourishing of women and men takes place in churches and families where Christianity has this God-ordained, masculine feel. For the sake of the glory of women, and for the sake of the security and joy of children, God has made Christianity to have a masculine feel. He has ordained for the church a masculine ministry.The fuller context of these comments can be read here over at Jesus Creed.
Responding to these comments Rachel Held Evans has asked for some men to weigh in on the topic. I particularly learned a lot from J.R. Daniel Kirk's response (who knew the translation of El Shaddai had anything to do with mammary glands?).
For my part, I tend to be late to these parties because I don't follow evangelical culture and they don't tend to follow me.
(Funny story in this regard. Last year the Family Research Council invited me to Washington to speak about the topics I discussed in my post How Facebook Killed the Church. I emailed them back saying, "Have you read my blog?" Invitation pulled. Poor souls, they had no idea who they were inviting to their party.)
I'm also late to the party because I tend to roll things around in my head too long.
But I wanted to say something in light of Rachel's call because I had been thinking about this for the past week or so.
It started with me watching the movie Courageous. Long story about how I ended up viewing the movie, but I did. Courageous is an evangelical Christian film that is mainly about Christian fatherhood, about men "stepping up" to reclaim their roles as providers, protectors, and spiritual leaders of their homes. The film seems to hold to the view that Piper is articulating.
Let me first say this. I don't want to throw complementarians under the bus. I have a lot of conservative friends who just can't seem to see eye to eye with Jana and I on this issue. I also don't want to belittle attempts like those found in the movie Courageous that are trying to encourage Christian men. Because it seems that a lot of men are struggling, really struggling, with finding a place in the church. To be sure, pages and pages could be written about what, exactly, is the problem in this regard. For my part I tried to get into some of the relevant issues in my post Thoughts on Mark Driscoll...While I'm Knitting.
All I want to do is make a simple observation. Specifically, why does Piper say that Christianity has a "masculine feel"? A part of his argument:
God has revealed himself to us in the Bible pervasively as King, not Queen, and as Father, not Mother.Fair enough. Though we could debate the issue as to if the gendered God of the Bible is a feature of cultural context, as well as point to maternal images of God, on the surface we see Piper's point. God is called Father. Thus, Christianity has a "masculine feel."
To this, I have a simple response (and I'll even use the ESV):
Matthew 23.9That's my response. Jesus's explicit command is to call no man on earth your father.
And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.
Here's my point. Okay, fine, God's a father. But there is only one father. No man on earth can take or claim that role. Not in the family. Not in the church. If Christianity has a "masculine" feel, fine, but no human can step into the "masculine" role of authority. Only the Father holds that position of authority. Thus, to claim the title "father" as having authority over any other human being is a sin.
Well, it's a sin if you're a Christ follower.
You often hear the phrase, "God is God and I am not." Well, maybe in some sectors of Christianity it would be nice to hear more of this:
"God is Father and I am not."
Dear Family Research Council: I'm still open to coming.
Just give me a call.