Tag Archives: John Piper

India, Ohio, John Piper, Religion and the Triumph Of Rape Culture

*TRIGGER WARNING*: Domestic violence, spousal abuse, gender violence, oppression in the name of religion


“The churches have language to bring to this discussion that secular society does not. We can talk about gravely harmful behavior without having to resort to legal definitions and loopholes. We can claim that sexual activities, in every instance, should embody love and respect for oneself and the other. The language of sexual activities as an expression of love and respect clearly exposes the misstep that a rape victim could ever be “asking for it” and the mistake of defining consent exclusively in terms of its minimum requirements”

— Julia, of Women In Theology, Sexual Violence And the Church Talking To Teens

“A person who has been whacked around is in no condition to spiritualize the matter. Can you imagine an abused woman being advised to wait before going to the authorities until she “longs for, with a heavy and humble heart, the reestablishment of the abuser’s “nurturing” relationship?” Why does he even assume that there has ever been a nurturing relationship? I can see it now. The woman sitting in Piper’s office, with two black eyes, shaking, and Piper saying “You are not humble enough, woman. Repent.” Good night!”- Dee, The Wartburg Watch, Domestic Violence,, Christmas, John Piper, SGM, and the TGC

“Having “liberated” us from the way popular culture and media objectifies, degrades, and oppresses women, complementarian leaders can now objectify and oppress us in other ways with nicer words (and with support from God).”

– Sarah, Sarah Over The Moon, Some Humans Are More Equal Than Others: Introduction: John Piper, Joshua Harris, Mark Driscoll

““Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality.”-E.J. Graff, The Prospect, Purity Culture Is Rape Culture

Today on the front pages of newspapers and blogs everywhere, after you ignore the crap we are being told about the “fiscal cliff,” there is a disturbing trend I wish to address. As I hear and read stories in silence, horrified at the events that took place in India, where a 23-year-old physiotherapy student died after having to have surgery from being sexually assaulted by several men. To add to that is the Steubenville, Ohio high school rape of a young girl where only 3 suspects are being prosecuted possibly. Rape was nothing more than a practical joke because women’s bodies have become things to be lorded over and owned as possessions. In one instance, writers like E.J. Graff would blame “traditional” religions (I guess that’s code for cultures in the two-thirds world). The conflict between the modernized Western Progressive versus the Backwoods Eastern Religious zealot does not work in the context of rape. Sexual violence is sexual violence, regardless of the culture, race, or religion of the victim. It’s a complete bourgeois move on Graff’s part to take a cheap shot a religion. A religion promoting self-control is not the problem in a late capitalist world of “Gotta Have It” desires. One historical example of chastity/purity gone right for the sake of liberation: one, when the early Black church desired emancipation from the North American rape culture of African enslavement, the few literate black (male) pastors who called upon freed black men to abstain from alcohol as to avoid any suspicion of immorality, and as an expression of dignity in the face of grave injustice.

Purity culture in and of itself is not the villain, it is the double-standards, lopsided sexist emphasis on the chastity for women, making women’s behavior and fashion the blame for men’s struggles with lust. This is an entirely modern phenomenon, by modern I mean post-Reformation/16th century. The early Church fathers, and male philosophers and thinkers in general in their context, believed that men could and should have self-control when it came to sex. Yes, they still affirmed many of them the inequality of the sexes, but when it came to traditional views of sexuality, women were not made the scapegoats (objectified) for men’s sexuality. Time Travel forward to today, and what we have in U.S. American Christianity is a purity culture only geared towards young girls and women, purity balls for girls, purity rings for girls, and purity bears.

The problem with the purity culture in North American Christianity is the very limited notion of what it means to be pure (that is, for generally all people, purity is about abstaining from sexual practices). Abstinence is a good idea, but self-control is far superior, a self-control for the sake of living before God and others. In the Old and New Testament,purity and religion are never separate from seeking justice from others. Religious purity according to James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” shows an understanding of purification that is not limited to sexual purity.

What complementarians (church going men who see women as 2nd class citizens) cling to is exactly what is impure: the power that men have over women. The world in scripture is just not about “the cosmos” or a “large group of reprobate sinners”; the world also refers to the ways that society sustains unjust and unloving practices against human beings. Domestic Violence is ALWAYS out of God’s will. Rape (Todd Akin) IS NEVER PART OF GOD’S PLAN! The social libertarian thrust of TeaVangelicals (church going tea partiers –I refuse to call them Christians)leads to religious impurity, ill-will and antipathy towards victims of sexual violence. Religious persons need to start having a broader understanding of what it means to be pure, and start incorporating nonviolent practices into that discourse. For Christians, we need to stop telling women that they need to stay on the cross of domestic violence just a little while longer to suffer with Jesus. That is not God’s will, Jesus got off that cross, died to conquer the Satan and oppression for us, and rose from the dead as the One and Only needed sacrifice, Once AND FOR ALL. No more sacrifices are required or mandated (Hebrews 10:1-18). The sacrificial system, the scapegoat mechanism. It is finished.

Thanks For Making The Line Clear Between Christianity And Whatever It Is That You Believe.

There have always been “those people” who seem to say outrageous things in the name of Christianity. Often, they are dismissed as crazy-people. Often, they are accepted as examples of what Christians really believe. It seems, though, that the advent of the internet and social media have brought a new level of force to both, and now these folks are being accepted as BOTH crazy-people AND examples of what Christians really believe. This is an attempt to gather all of the crazy together in one place, name it for what it is, and exorcise it (that is, distinguish it from Christianity: what Christ taught).

This is an always updating list, to please use the comments section to add your favorite new or old crazy-person-faux-faith quote.

Category: Sex and Christianity

Author: Douglas Wilson (Prominent “Reformed” Author and Professor)

“When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.”

Why its not Christianity: 1 Corinthians 7 speaks in no uncertain or ambiguous terms about mutual submission, not conquering or colonizing. Jesus brings equality, and pushes against patriarchy, even when it was practiced so staunchly by his own people. Taking a lesson from Jesus, Paul says, “In Christ, there is neither male nor female.” The scripture likes egalitarian stuff. And it is not against pleasure either. So sexually? Go ahead and have an egalitarian pleasure party in your marriage. It’s Biblical. 

Category: Violence and Christianity

Author: John Piper (Prominent Pastor and Loudest Voice for the New “Reformed” Movement)

“It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die. God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs.”

 Why it’s not Christianity: First off, you almost get the impression that he is trying to offend people here, which might not be too far from the truth. Second, God could certainly kill anyone who God desired to kill, but there is that pesky quote that says that God does not want ANYONE to perish (1 Peter 3:9). The fundamental misunderstanding here is a disconnect with the worldview of the Hebrew Bible and our modern worldview. In the Hebrew Bible, the worldview of the people was that God (or the gods) were responsible for EVERYTHING that happened, not just the good or right things. God didn’t tell them that the Divine was responsible if they won a war or lost one, they just assumed that if they won, it was because God was on their side. So you can see how that might have affected the way they wrote about their conquests. Jesus corrects this type of thinking in Luke 13, where he tells the community that God isn’t leveling out judgement because of sin or whatever, bad things just sometimes happen. Also, Christianity teaches that God is love and that we are all children of God. And most of us know intuitively that it isn’t very loving to kill your kids.

Author: George Zimmerman (Shooter of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and would-be NRA hero) (update 7/19/12)

In response to shooting the unarmed teenager after following him without reason, Zimmerman stated, “I feel that it was all God’s plan.”

Why it’s not Christianity: Jesus said, “Love your enemies. Pray for those who curse you.” We might add that we have found it hard to love and shoot to kill at the same time. God’s will? We think not. Racism and overzealous gun behavior? Yes. 

God IS Love: Joshua and the Genocide of the Canaanites, and John Piper

Detail of a stained glass window featuring a r...


Divine Wrath: An Open Theist Affirmation

Today, I want to give a few rejoinders to what’s been going around about the book of Joshua, with the New Atheists and New Calvinists walking hand in hand, sharing the same interpretation.

It was last year that Mark Driscoll preached a sermon why God hates you, and you, and especially you. Anyone who disagreed with him was accused of “not really believing in God’s wrath” i.e., your God isn’t manly enough. Unfortunately, that sermon is no longer available to us on youtube (I can only be left to speculate). Recently, John Piper joined in on the God Is Hate movement with the not so shocking Why It’s Right For God to Slaughter Women And Children Any Time He Pleases. Bible scholar Peter Enns had an excellent response, especially dealing with Piper’s proof-texting.

From a theological perspective, here is my take:

First things first, no where in Scripture does it say that God “objectively hates” groups of people. In fact, it is an impossibility to “objectively hate” anything, because hatred is a very subjective feeling. Simply put and understood in scripture, from the Old Testament to the New, God’s wrath is him moving his presence away from us, and allowing us to experience the consequences of our sinful actions. From what happened to King Saul and his lineage to when the Hebrews were exiled to Romans 1, God leaves us to our own undoing. God’s wrath. This removal of God’s presence is an acknowledgement of our free will and God’s dynmaic sovereignty. God’s power works relationally, what we might call covenant. God chooses to limit Godself in covenant. Where are examples of this; the two most well known are found in Ezekiel (Ezekiel and Judaens must repent, or perish) and in Genesis, with the story of Noah, where at the end, God promises never to destroy the Earth as Noah knew it the same way again. God is bound by God’s word of promise. This is a form of God’s self-limitation contra Piper Calvinism’s god who is free to break the very rules He sets up. Of course the latter idea (Piper’s god above the rules) leads to a very bad human behavior, where people, the lawmakers who set the rules for us in society, put themselves above the law.

Now, to get to the Canaanites. God does not objectively set himself against people out of hate. It is out of love, since God wants all people to know him. If YHWH’s and therefore Moses’ mission was for all of the nations to know YHWH (this knowing can be understood militaristically and religiously), then God has to provide a way for the nations to respond to YHWH’s actions in freeing the desecendent of Jacob. If the Gentile nations fail to respond the way YHWH desires, there are consequences. What literalists like John Piper fail to take into consideration is the fact that #1, history and archaeology show that much of this slaughtering did not take place, and #2, archaeological evidence shows that in fact the ancient Hebrews used Conquering rhetoric out of revolutionary self-defense as a migrant community. I think the difference is crucial, because first of all, this means that war and violence are not necessary, but free choices made by human beings. Narratively, most of the “Divine War stories include the celestial being we call the Angel of YHWH, so in a sense, the Hebrews theologically did not see themselves as depending on the sword entirely. In other words, warfaring nowadays as a human endeavor of self-reliance has more to do with our own violence and prejudices than any reliance on a higher power. Of course, it’s this dependence on God later that leads to Ezra’s Jewish Pacifism [see my post linked here. There are a few more episodes in the Hebrew bible where instead of going to war, God leads Israel break bred with its enemies. Violence towards the Nations is not THE SOLE response by YHWH. The problem with Piper’s reading is that VIOLENCE IS THE ONLY WAY.

God responds to our choices, and the Nations’ choices, just as God does to God’s own people. Take King Saul for instance, Saul loves God at one point, even as one among the prophets, but then Saul sins and disobeys God, and God responds to Saul’s choice wrathfully, but in love. By wrathfully, God’s spirit of prophecy leaves Saul (Is even Saul among the prophets? and a darker spirit enters). Pharaoh faces God’s wrath not because God hates him, but because God wants Pharaoh to know YHWH. In Romans, God “hates” Esau (the Gentiles) because God first loves Jacob (the Jews). But it is not anything that the Jews did to deserve God’s favor, nor the color of their skin, but God’s own freedom to love. That’s the story of Israel in a nutshell.

God’s character never changes. Yes, God’s hates sinners, but only out of his holines and love. God’s wrath spouts forth from God’s love. That is why so many times in the Hebrew Bible God relents YHWH’s punishment, like in Exodus 33 or we can go with his openness to receive our repentance. Based on this, hate is not an attribute of God. The idea of repentance refudiates God “objectively” hating anyone. Violences is not a part of God’s plan, but penance is. It’s God’s will that all will use their free will to repent (thats in Acts), and we should keep it that way.

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