“John Piper has released an extraordinary podcast in which he appears to say the sexually abusive behaviour alleged of public figures such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey is because of an ‘egalitarian’ approach to relations between men and women.
The influential neo-Calvinist Bible teacher and pastor was expanding on an article from November 6, 2017, entitledDo men owe women a special kind of care?
He says in his podcast, entitled Sex-abuse allegations and the egalitarian myth, that egalitarianism has ‘silenced the idea that men as men – by virtue of their created, God-given maleness, apart from any practical competencies that they have or don’t have – men have special responsibilities to care for and protect and honour women’.
He says: ‘It’s a firm conviction of most of our egalitarian culture that men as men do not owe women a special kind of care and protection and honour that women do not owe men. I believe they do. I believe 50 years of denying it is one of the seeds bearing very bad fruit.’
Piper argues that ‘men have a special, God-given responsibility that comes with being a man, not because of practical competency,’ and that failure to recognise this leads to abusive behaviour.
But does what he says really make sense?
Piper is a spokesman for a ‘complementarian’ view of male-female relations, which restricts the role of women not just in the home and in the church but, in his version, in the wider world; he notoriously expressed reservations about women becoming police officers as it would involve them having authority over men.
However, even on his own terms, his arguments don’t appear very strong. He doesn’t address the incidence of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, which is not remotely egalitarian.
He appears to assume it is only during the last 50 years that men have abused women. That is not true: it’s only during the last 50 years or so, since the advent of the feminist movement that sparked the complementarian backlash, that Western society has been progressing to a point where such behaviour is seen as utterly unacceptable.
Egalitarianism is not part of the problem of abusive behaviour by men; it is a big part of the solution.”