Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On Complimentarianism (and a message to John Piper)

Complimentarianism is "the theological view that although men and women are created equal in their being and personhood, they are created to complement each other via different roles and responsibilities as manifested in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere"( One of the most important Christian evangelicals of our time, John Piper, is also one of the greatest promoters of complimentarianism. He loves it so much he wrote a book about it--"Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood." Here's an excerpt from the book:
"But it never occurred to me to think of my mother and my father in the same category. Both were strong. Both were bright. Both were kind. Both would kiss me and both would spank me. Both were good with words. Both prayed with fervor and loved the Bible. But unmistakably my father was a man and my mother was a woman. They knew it and I knew it. And it was not mainly a biological fact. It was mainly a matter of personhood and relational dynamics. When my father came home he was clearly the head of the house. He led in prayer at the table. He called the family together for devotions. He got us to Sunday School and worship. He drove the car. He guided the family to where we would sit. He made the decision to go to Howard Johnson’s for lunch. He led us to the table. He called for the waitress. He paid the check. He was the one we knew we would reckon with if we broke a family rule or were disrespectful to Mother. These were the happiest times for Mother. Oh, how she rejoiced to have Daddy home! She loved his leadership. Later I learned that the Bible calls this 'submission.'"
The product of complimentarianism is not peaceful relations. It is docile slavery, of both genders. Men are required to engage in terribly abusive behavior and women are required to be terribly abused. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to base present-day gender relations on the two-thousand-year-old Middle Eastern model? That's what John Piper promotes, without apology and with an unruly ignorant candor in hopes of shuttling human civilization back a few thousand years and slightly east. Here are Piper's words about his book:
"I have tried to include enough Biblical argumentation in this essay, especially in the footnotes, to show why I believe this vision of manhood and womanhood is in fact 'according to the Bible.' I hope it will be obvious that my reflections are not the creation of an independent mind, but the fruit of a tree planted firmly in the soil of constant meditation on the Word of God."
John Piper's arguments are entirely derived from the Bible, thus his openly strict adherence to the phrase "according to the Bible." This is the only area in which he gets points for honesty. Fashioning his misguided interpersonal praxiology and gender relations on the Bible makes sense for two reasons: One, the Bible agrees with his valuation and expectations of men and women and calls it virtuous (important), and two, it justifies the actions of his parents (very important).

Consider his words again for a moment: "I hope it will be obvious that my reflections are not the creation of an independent mind, but the fruit of a tree planted firmly in the soil of constant meditation on the Word of God." John, honey, you couldn't make it more obvious that your reflections are from an origin as distant from original thought as humanly possible. All you do is regurgitate two-thousand-year-old (or older) bullshit, supporting your delusional reality that you're doing the right thing and your parents were good people. Your father was abusive and controlling to your mother, your mother and father were physically abusive toward you and likely decreased your IQ by 5 points as a result (, you were treated like a slave being told what to do by your father, and your mother allowed that and chose to raise you in that atmosphere. An emotionally healthy reaction to your circumstances would be anger toward those that have abused you, but instead, you find it sacred, engaging your abusers with empathy and choosing to recycle the same bullshit to your children and the world. You suck huge dick.

1 comment:

  1. At the same time, however, I wouldn't blame the Christian faith or even complimentarianism for creating "bad" parents. Domestic abuse is not exclusive to Christianity or any other faith/non-faith. And I wouldn't blame any child coming from an abusive background for expressing denial.

    The main issue, which is a tricky one and one you begin to tackle, is the extreme evangelical nature of "Southern" Christianity (not sure if I would categorize Piper in this group or not, but it's what I'm familiar with). It's completely logical for a child to be in denial and to attribute the traumatic event(s) to something outside of reason, and Christianity offers a nice story to hold on to. But, as you clearly express, this can often times be dangerous, not only to the one in denial but also to those he/she influences.

    Jesus hung on the cross for all of humanity's sins, and, in a twisted sort of way, Piper (based on what you have said) is hanging the sins of his father on religion. The abuse doesn't fall on the father or the son. It's put into sacred form that gives everyone involved (even the abused wife) a sense of purpose, a sense of serving something/someone larger than themselves. Religion, in this way, becomes a form of compartmentalization–a place to put your troubles.

    We give faith the power that it has. Faith has the power to transform. That is a very Christian notion, but I believe that completely, and I believe that "transformation" can come in a variety of forms with both severely negative and incredibly positive results.

    What I'm trying to get at is this:

    When coming out of a particular belief system, it's easy to become not merely an exile but a turncoat, pointing the gun the other way. I don't think I believe that this is the best method of persuasion, especially when you step back and see that religion is not the only one with its hands bloody.

    But yes, a lot of religious people need to take a good, long look at themselves, and this, perhaps as a result of religion, is being avoided on a large scale. I've lost the plot.