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La posición de John Piper de que las mujeres no deben liderar organizaciones paraeclesiásticas genera controversia

Por Jéssica Eturralde
John Piper preaches at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Video screengrab)

This week, popular author and preacher, John Piper, suggested women should not lead parachurch organizations because it goes against their “God-given nature.” And many fired back.

“Wow! So a women [sic] can’t even lead a domestic abuse ministry for other women, or a children’s ministry – or a youth ministry if there are any men (or boys?) under her authority?” tweeted President Emeritus of World Vision USA Rich Stearns. “What a colossal waste of the giftedness of half the human race.”

Nancy Pearcey, a conservative Christian author and scholar in residence at Houston Christian University, also took exception to Piper’s comments. Pearcey recently published The Toxic War on Masculinity, a book arguing that conservative Christian men are less likely to abuse their wives and divorce than any other group.

“I am a professor at a Christian university. Some of my students are men—which means, I teach men. Many men also read my books, which could be construed as a type of teaching,” Pearcey tweeted.

“Add to that the fact that I get invited to speak at colleges, seminaries, conferences, and schools. That is another form of teaching,” Pearcey added.

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Another woman replied to Pearcey’s tweet: “Parachurch organizations have been my lifeline for using my gifts since I’ve been limited w/in the walls of the church. if that were cut off too, women like me would wither away (maybe that’s the plan?) Doesn’t sound like I’m to be a believer empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

“I’ve found my views on this heavily influenced by Elizabeth Eliot, not just her teaching but example. One [sic] the one hand, she was decidedly complementarian, but she did not see any conflict between that and writing influential books, teaching at a seminary, and influencing men,” responded another.

Parachurch organizations are Christian organizations that work alongside the church to accomplish the Great Commission and/or engage in social welfare. Many conservative Christians, who believe only men can pastor churches, are open to women leading parachurch groups.

However, the issue has become especially contentious lately due to the Southern Baptist Convention ousting churches with women pastors, including prominent Saddleback Church in Orange County, California.

According to a 2022 survey conducted by MinisterioReloj, 18% of the 1,000 largest ministries in the country have women leaders. Referring to that survey, someone tweeted: “So approximately 1 in 5 Christian ministries are living in sin?”

Similarly, a woman named Lindsey asked “Where are the men? Having worked for many years in a christian (sic) ‘para church’ organisation (sic) – teaching juvenile ‘male’ offenders in prisons – I would have welcomed male support / leadership. But where were they? Very few welcomed the hard work commitment and no pay.”

Some, however, tweeted support for Piper’s position.

Zach Terry, Pastor at First Baptist Church Fernandina Beach, tweeted: “Praise God for @JohnPiper staying true to scripture on this issue!”

And a man from Atlanta wrote: “The issue is authority in the church more than teaching. That authority is to be vested in men only. If a parachurch ministry is under the authority of a local church (as all of them should be), a woman can lead it. If, instead, it functions as a defacto [sic] church, she should not.”

Piper’s argument

Piper argued against women leading parachurch organizations in response to a question from a man on Monday’s “Ask Pastor John” podcast on Desiring God.

The man said he worked inside a well-known parachurch organization that recently decided to open all positions of leadership to women.

“Women will be permitted to teach men from the Scripture, to be in positions of spiritual authority over men, to shape and correct doctrine within the organization, and to mentor men in their ministry roles,” the man said.

In the episode, Piper said that with regard to men and women in parachurch organizations, “I think Paul would say, ‘I have taught, Moses has taught, nature teaches that it goes against man’s and woman’s truest, God-given nature to place a woman in a role of regular, direct, personal leadership over men.'”

piper womanhood
Cover image for ‘What’s the Difference?’ by John Piper (Image via Desiring God)

Piper went on to explain that his definitions of the terms “regular, direct, and personal” are clarified on page 58 of his booklet What’s the Difference?

In the booklet, Piper proposes one possible set of criteria with all acts of influence and guidance to help a woman decide if her job responsibilities allow her to uphold God’s order of mature masculinity and femininity. The criteria are described under the two continuums personal v. non-personal relationships and directive v. non-directive interactions.

“When you combine these two continuums, what emerges is this: If a woman’s job involves a good deal of directives toward men, they will, in general, need it to be non-personal,” the book says.

“The God-given sense of responsibility for leadership in a mature man will not generally allow him to flourish long under personal, directive leadership of a female superior.”

Piper’s response to the man’s question on the podcast cited pressures from culture placed on society to “think that being male or female has no natural, God-given differences” that affect our relationships and responsibilities.

“The world today is in a free fall of denial that nature teaches us anything about what maleness and femaleness are for,” he said.

“All of that to say, the argument that the biblical teachings on manhood and womanhood don’t have any bearing on roles outside the home and church is both naive and culturally compromised.”

Piper concluded in his episode saying, “These are days of great shifting in people’s convictions and alignments on this issue of how men and women should relate to each other. So, I pray for our brother who sent us this question, and I pray for myself and all of us, that God would guide us into truth and give us the courage to stand for it.”

This is not the first time Piper’s actions have garnered debate. Piper received criticism for his complementarian views including on a wife’s submission to an abusive husband and for teaching alongside Christine Cain at the 2016 Passion Conference.

In 2022, El Informe Roys (TRR) examined reports of spiritual abuse and abuse of power after three pastors resigned and hundreds of members left Iglesia Bautista de Belén—the church John Piper pastored for over 30 years.

Jessica Eturralde es una esposa militar de 18 años y madre de tres hijos que se desempeña como escritora independiente, presentadora de televisión y cineasta. Las firmas incluyen Yahoo, Huffington Post, OC16TV.

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42 Respuestas

  1. You know what’s great, John Piper, the SBC and the like, aren’t the ultimate governing authority in all things. I know a lot of people who feel ole’ daddy pipes is but, he’s definitely not! He’s another reformed legend who follows the, “do as I say, not as I do!” motto.

    1. Consistency is a good thing, but its more important to be actually right. And his way of thinking has many supporters – “mob” sounds like name-calling to me but you could well argue using that language that he has a pretty effective mob of his own – ask any woman hurt by abuse in complementarian circles.

      1. I can’t edit my previous comment, so this is to clarify that I did not mean to say that supporters ot John Piper are responsible for the pain of all women hurt by abuse in complementarian circles. What I meant to say is that there are many loud and vocal people in his camp – he is not exactly a tiny beleagured figure facing a huge mob alone.

  2. “The God-given sense of responsibility for leadership in a mature man will not generally allow him to flourish long under personal, directive leadership of a female superior.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    replace “God-given sense of responsibility for leadership” with male ego… and then replace male ego with fragile, delicate, & with deep insecurities then maybe we’re getting somewhere.

    1. Thank you for this. It may be true. I read on an online blog that John Piper was quoted as saying, “a woman can give a man directions, but not too directly!! “I wonder what that would sound like??? ( Perhaps consider, but only if you wish to, that you might take a right at the next stop sign???!!) Fagile ego is a good call. (Howver, I cannot recall the source for this claim)

    2. I love Gavin Ortlund’s humble response to this contentious issue. He asserts that complementarians must not look at the other side as Left-leaning theological liberals and egalitarians must not view those who disagree as part of a patriarchal system designed to keep women down. We must strive for humility and love as brothers and sisters in Christ.
      https://youtu.be/F0lRl9kJUlM

      1. as in work together, instead of shunning those with theology that is too icky for one’s fastidiousness?

        love is nice. what about cooperating together despite different conclusions for something that would help others?

        aiming higher… for something more mature than rival gangs of Grease or A Rebel Without A Cause.

  3. so women now cannot teach other women???

    that is patriarchy for you—it has no limits because once a narcicisstic man is in charge, he is always in charge and never to be questioned. His ideas are law and rule over all. i think the bible calls them wolves in sheep’s clothing

    as to women in ministry—-
    – a woman on the mission field preaching christ to lost natives is considered courageous.
    -a woman on the street corner witnessing to a homeless man is lauded and held up as a true christian
    –but a a woman preaching christ from the pulpit to a congregation is considered rebellious, feminist, going waaay out of bounds for what God intended her to do and be.

    same message, same Jesus, but funny how a location from where she speaks these things can turn a woman from being led of God to being misled and many other negative judgements against her.

    ¿Por qué?

    1. Concerning your first statement that is not at all what was said in the article and is false. And I don’t believe you would find Piper in agreement either.

      I would just ask you Susan, how do you read Timothy and Titus and Paul’s words there?

      Lastly, if you believe that a woman can preach that’s ok, while I would say I don’t. This is a second order issue in that believing one way or the other wouldn’t undermine salvation. As an example a first order issue would be that Jesus was both fully man and fully God.

      Unity is our calling, “and they shall know you by your love for one another”. Why are we arguing and slinging mud over issues like this?

    2. Susan, the solution is just to stay away from people who have those belief systems. Life is much sweeter when you are not interacting with people who have contempt for your basic existence. I know a woman who was raised in a remote corner of the earth with missionary parents. She came to the USA to go to college and was ill-prepared for the wall of abusive contempt she encountered. It was shattering for her. She graduated, but chose to go back to the “primitive” country where she could live out her calling unencumbered by men informing her what her “true nature” happens to be. Shake the dust from your sandals! It is a big world.

    3. RIGHT ON. I guess it’s OK for women to lead, teach, preach to men if they are in the mission field evangelizing “savages?” But not in the”civilized” western world.
      In the late 19th century mission organizations recognized the majority of missionaries were single women so went, ‘Ya, hmmm guess we better teach the gals how to teach, lead and preach.’

  4. I’ve served decades in Asia as a church planter where my Christian colleagues are too busy making disciples and dodging persecution to make theological pronouncements like this.

    Once told a US pastor of the Godly women I had worked alongside in China. One was leading house church network with full approval of the men involved. The American pastor shook his head, “they are living in sin.” Which struck me as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

    Privilege, in a safe upper middle class suburb clearly makes men smug and bold to pronounce judgements. Let them live among the Uighur or Rohingya and successfully start churches of new believers. Then we’ll talk theology. Until then it’s just pharisaical judgement that does nothing to actually make disciples.

    1. Yes! Hear Hear!! Women missionaries throughout the ages have been too busy teaching, preaching, discipling to the lost to worry about the nonsense spoken by silly men. I wonder what they say about such as Mary Slessor/Nigeria) , Dr Helen Rosevare/ Africa, Rachel Saint/Ecuador, Gladys Alward/China, Corrie Ten Boom,/ traveling evangelist, Amy Charmicael/India and a long history of many others. Let alone women risking all to share the gospel in persecuted countries. Perhaps they concede women are good enough for some obscure backwater where these men fear to tread!! Thank you for sharing this.

      1. And see Bob Smietana’s report today on Dr. Rebekah Naylor in India!! Along with being a surgeon, she planted churches. And for the SBC, for heaven’s sake!

    2. To Butch, Jeff and Scottie. Please read above what a woman named Saeng Fisher wrote about church planting in China. If evangelizing and church planting doesn’t involve teaching, preaching and leadership I don’t know what does. (If you read all references to Priscilla and Aquilla you will see the word”taught/teach applied) Paul makes more than one reference to women helping him as coworkers. Paul wrote re specific issues for the individual churches. He doesn’t give the same instruction in every letter. Hence the importance in understanding historical and cultural context in understanding and applying scripture. We apply this understanding or attempt to except where women are concerned. As I said in a previous post, it’s not about usurping men but using all using their God given ministry gifts. Also please refer to my post about the outstanding women who have done so. Are you familiar with Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord? ” If not, I strongly recommend you do so. Or who Rachel Saint and Elizabeth Elliot were? If not, please look them up.

  5. I would like to ask John Piper whether he claims to be a follower of Jesus, and if so to point out the verse in the Mathew,Mark,Luke or John where Jesus told women not to lead parachurch organisations.

    Or whether John Piper believes Saul’s letters to wayward fledgling churches have more authority than Jesus?

    Also could John Piper point out where Jesus specifically excluded woman from the great commission to go into all the world a preach the gospel to all creation?

    1. Are you able to explain what Paul meant in Timothy and Titus when he said he forbid a woman to teach?

      Also your statement does Paul’s letters carry more weight than Jesus. Well the WHOLE Bible is the Word of God. Every word not just the ones we like so I would say…yes Paul’s words are as if Jesus is saying them.

  6. The Bible indicates several times in the book of in Acts that a woman named Priscila (mentioned first 3 times) along with Aquilla her husband taught a man named Apollo. What do men such as Piper and MacArthur say about this? Is Paul contradicting himself or rather is there was a clear cultural and historical context in the church he was referring to? Would these men have women waste gifts of evangelism, teaching discipleship and decrease the numbers of those being redeemed and saved??

    Let’s keep those with intractable views happy. Change titles like Pastor and use director or something of that ilk. It’s not about usurping “power” or ” headship ” over men, but women using their God given gifts which at no point Iin Scrioture are gender specific.

    1. In response, Acts 18:26 doesn’t identify Priscilla and Aquila as teachers. It just says that they explained the way of God more accurately to Apollos because, as Acts 18:25 indicates, he only knew John’s baptism (one can explain the way of God more accurately without being a teacher). Furthermore, the New Testament indicates that Priscilla and Aquila were co-workers in Christ with Paul and that they hosted a church at their home (Romans 16:3-5, 1 Corinthians 16:19), but it doesn’t say that they were church leaders (hosting a church in a home isn’t the same thing as leading a church).

      1. “Acts 18:26 doesn’t identify Priscilla and Aquila as teachers. It just says that they explained the way of God more accurately to Apollos”
        ———————-

        so, they engaged in teaching, but they weren’t teachers? is it because they didn’t appear on an org chart & have a nameplate on their 1st century office door?

        “…they hosted a church at their home,…but it doesn’t say that they were church leaders (hosting a church in a home isn’t the same thing as leading a church).”
        ———————–
        in all group activities, someone always ends up being the catalyst & taking initiative for things so people just don’t stand there staring at each other.

        doing this with forethought is the best way, of course (we could call it leading, pastoring). since those who open up their home for groups (picture Thanksgiving) are already doing that, they are the most logical people to be ‘leading’ the group in their endeavors.

        how do you know this wasn’t Priscilla and Acquilla? you have no way of knowing other than conjecture.

        or is it that they can’t be leaders/pastors because Paul didn’t mention that there was an org chart, or website with a drop-down menu of ‘Leadership’, and nameplates on office doors?

    2. “Let’s keep those with intractable views happy. Change titles like Pastor and use director or something of that ilk.”
      —————

      let’s not forget that part of the title of “pastor” is job classification to make job offers attractive to who a church wants to hire. job classifications that open the door to higher salaries & clergy tax benefits. Demoting a woman to director means lower pay (which of course makes the person wearing the HR hat very happy) & no opportunity for those benefits.

      in order to actually live out this theology, one is obligated to treat women very poorly to their detriment.

      i’m wondering how many christians still have a conscience that hasn’t atrophied, withered, & fallen off and are even bothered by this.

      1. Pastor = “job classifications that open the door to higher salaries & clergy tax benefits.”

        That explains a lot. I had been wondering why the title of “Pastor” was such a sacred cow, irrespective of what the employee actually does. It’s not just prestige: it’s money.

  7. It is sad that history is long forgotten, or worse, revised.
    Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, Fuller Seminary, Bethel Seminary all had women in teaching, leadership, preaching roles:
    Frances Townsley Wheaton Collage Faculty member, 19th century.
    Emma Dryer: Dean Moody Bible Institute 19th century.
    Edith Torey faculty teacher Wheaton College, 20th cent
    ETC ETC ETC
    What seminary did men such as John Piper, John McArthur and all the men in the SBC attend? Must not have been these highly respected institutions.

  8. I lost all respect for Piper after his unhinged rant against Donald Trump before the 2020 election. He all but came out and said “vote for Biden just not for Trump because he’s evil”. So are ya happy with that outcome mr Piper? He’s in the same bucket of scoundrels like the name it and claim it group. If you follow his teachings you are being deceived.

    1. I think Piper would still say it today….. Trump is wicked so vote for some else in the Republican primary…… but nope… evangelicals will help carry Trump to the Republican nominee for President.

      Makes one think when Trump was found liable for sexual abuse… and one hears little concern from the Evangelical quarter, except for a few brave men like Piper who is willingly to speak out…

      So maybe Piper does has something to say about women’s roles in para-church organizations…. nah… let’s follow thugs like Trump….

  9. “set of criteria with all acts of influence and guidance to help a woman decide if her job responsibilities allow her to uphold God’s order of mature masculinity and femininity. The criteria are described under the two continuums personal v. non-personal relationships and directive v. non-directive interactions.”

    Sounds complicated, Pastor John. Is there a flow chart or a rubric or something? Ooh, I know! Maybe we need an app! We women have a lot on our plates, you see. So the quicker we could work out if we’re upholding God’s order or not, the quicker we could get on with, you know, doing the work we’re called to do!

  10. I don’t spend much time and energy thinking about John Piper, but when I come across some statement that he made, it saddens me. Certainly, he seems more concerned with pushing his highly questionable hermeneutics than he does about faithfully carrying out the Great Commission.

    1. I feel that there are mischaracterizations of John Piper, and it is disheartening. I saw “I would like to ask John Piper whether he claims to be a follower of Jesus,”(indicating that Piper might not be a Christian), “male ego” (indicating that ego is his motive), “follows the do as I say, not as I do motto” (suggesting hypocrisy), and “seems more concerned with pushing his highly questionable hermeneutics than he does about faithfully carrying out the Great Commission” (indicating the thought that he has selfish or self serving motives).

      I’ve known him for 20 years, on a personal level for 8, and he is consistent, supports his well thought out comments with rigorous orthodox hermeneutics, is the same person in the board room as in the pulpit, and is committed to the Great Commission with his heart, soul and mind.

      The one comment “Privilege, in a safe upper middle class suburb clearly makes men smug and bold to pronounce judgements,” says that the writer does not know John Piper at all. He lives in the city, in the roughest neighborhood in Minneapolis and has for 43 years. He ministers personally to people on the street, but just doesn’t brag about it. He travels and does all he can to support missionaries in the hardest places. He takes absolutely ZERO of his book royalties or speaking honorariums and never has. He gives books away for free to anyone. He is the picture of a godly man, and I know he battles the sinful temptations that any man or woman would who sells a lot of books, pride. He does not pretend to be perfect. But he is consistent. Please refrain from calling him egotistical or a hypocrite.

      1. That’s all very nice and I respect the fact that you know him personally and I have never met him. But I reject the notion that, when a person consistently makes bold public statements (many would argue bold public statements harmful to the church), people who have not met the person have no right to thoroughly evaluate those opinions and even perhaps to speculate on the possible reasons (conscious or unconscious) for those opinions.

        1. My personal knowledge is not the reason for rejecting those notions. And I never said that people have no right to evaluate his opinions. It is the character assassination that is wrong, morally wrong. Speculating on someone’s motives is a dangerous business. Saying that someone is wanting fame or money, or self-promotion are guesses at the least, and character assassination at the most. My reasoning is truth and the pursuit of truth. Most of the things I mentioned are public knowledge. I merely posted them in summary fashion to defend him. Also, I do not think his Ask Pastor John episode mentioned in this article is harmful to the church. As a matter of fact, I believe that complementarian ideas are positive and biblical and supported by the plain teachings of the Old and New Testament.

          1. The notion that it is not harmful to the church to forbid women to lead parachurch organizations is naive at best. I personally know of two wonderful parachurch organizations founded and led by women. One feeds the hungry and the other helps to prepare people biblically for end times. I’m sure that there are many others. While Mr. Piper and his followers criticize, these women continue their faithful service.

          2. And I know that Margaret Thatcher was a fantastic PM. And Ann Graham-Lotz is a very good preacher. And Joni Erickson-Tada always outshines everyone and she consistently teaches men in Christian settings, and is the leader of Joni and Friends. Experiences do not dictate what the Word of God says. I don’t doubt that your friends are great leaders. I just believe that that the tenor of the NT or OT lends itself to female leadership in Christian organizations.

          3. It is interesting that you view “complementarian ideas” as positive. But, you are not a woman, Bob. Question: Do we ever expect black people to attend KKK meetings and listen to speeches that disparage them, assassinate their character, reduce their lives to shadows? But, churches expect this unholy bombardment to be accepted and appreciated by women?

            I have women friends who are surgeons and anesthesiologists, engineers and architects, professors, lawyers and business owners. They all love Jesus and are too busy and too called by God to use the gifted-ness he bestowed upon them to EVER tolerate listening to the kind of belittling, minimizing and condescension found in places which oppress 50% of the group for the aggrandizement of the other 50%.

  11. In reflecting on the certitudes of some of these comments, I must ask if those who interpret passages like Paul’s “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man” in the most out of context ways possible, also obey Paul’s admonition to “greet one another with a holy kiss.” The point is that everybody interprets scripture. The question is how they interpret it.

    1. I do my best to interpret the New Testament consistently. It is not out of context. The context is “how are we to conduct ourselves, worship, interact, rule, follow, etc. in the gathered community of believers?” Greeting one another with a “holy kiss” is simple, we do it in our culture with hugs and handshakes. Sometimes, when we’re in Russian cultural settings, we might kiss on the cheek. But we don’t say that male and female is a cultural construct.

      1. No, of course male and female is not a cultural construct, but people live within cultures and Paul was addressing the situation where some women at the time were uneducated and speaking out of turn in church. Even then Paul does not say “God does not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man” but “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man.”

        1. 1 Cor 7:40 Paul said “and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.” Yeah, the New Testament, when Paul speaks, can be applied to today’s church when it is taken up the ladder of abstraction and then brought back down to today’s situation. So, are you saying that only women who are uneducated and speak out of turn today should be told to be silent in church?

          1. “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit…Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophecy” (Acts 2:17-18). Many people, both men and women, are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Of course, no person, man or woman, illiterate or with multiple advanced degrees, should be speaking in church if they are not speaking the truth in love. The amount of bad theology and outright heresy in too many churches today is appalling.

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