Should men listen to or read Bible commentaries written by women? Listen to this podcast featuring John Piper before reading on.
The answer is: a man can use a commentary written by a woman unless he experiences uncomfortable feelings while listening to it.
Piper says the man can listen to the commentary unless he feels like he has come under the author’s authority(even though his feelings have nothing to do with the quality of the commentary, only the gender of the author). The only reason he has for justifying his refusal to listen to or read the commentary is that it is written by a woman and that makes him uncomfortable. However, if the man doesn’t feel like he is under her authority, he can use the commentary.
The point of 1 Timothy 2:12 isn’t that a man cannot learn anything from a woman, Piper says. He assures us that women do have thoughts(I find it interesting that Piper feels the need to point this out). Okay, so women in your church DO have thoughts. They are competent, intelligent. So why can’t a woman have authority over a man if not because of her stupidity or incompetence? Because of the dynamic of womanhood and manhood. I challenge you right now to stop reading this blog now and find a verse/verses in your Bible that address the dynamic between manhood and womanhood…
John Piper says that the only way a woman should influence a man is if it’s indirect. So what he is saying is this: it’s Biblically wrong for a woman to be direct in her interactions with a man. That is, it’s wrong for a woman to be straightforward or frank with a man, to manage or guide him. What do you think? Is it Biblically wrong for a woman to be/do these things? Does the Bible even talk about these things in regard to the way a woman should conduct herself around men? For my own part, I aim to be as direct as possible in my communication with both men and women. Conversely, how would I indirectly influence my husband to listen to my council or to do things the way I think he should? Through manipulation(notice in the definition of “indirect”, it uses words like not forthright and devious). That’s what this teaching leads to; women manipulating men to get what they want or to even share their opinion, because they’re forbidden to be direct with men.
So a man can read a commentary by a woman, as long as he doesn’t get the feeling she has authority over him. It’s a book, so the woman isn’t right there in his face telling him things he doesn’t know(teaching). It’s indirect, so it’s okay, since the man can’t actually see the woman.
Piper says a man can quote from a commentary written by a woman during a sermon because she is not “in his sight” and therefore takes away the “dimension of her female personhood”. This is gender discrimination, and he doesn’t even try to hide it. If he can learn from a woman, it’s okay, as long as he doesn’t have to look at her female body. We should be horrified to hear a person of such broad influence declaring such things to be “Biblical”.
The ideas John Piper expresses in this podcast are not in the Bible, and they are damaging to women and the relationship between men and women. The challenge for us is simple; study the Bible and ask questions about what influential people teach. Are the ideas Piper expresses in this podcast from the Bible? Is it possible that his traditional views on gender have influenced his interpretation?
For an excellent blog post on this podcast, go here.
(As an afterthought, Piper also implies in the podcast that a man cannot flourish when he is directly influenced by the authority of a woman. So what if my husband’s boss is a woman? Should he quit his job? What if he is the sole provider for the family? Should we be thrust into poverty so my husband’s “manhood” is preserved? It’s something to think about.)