John Piper Explains Why Women Shouldn't Lead Men

John Piper, author of What’s the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible, explained why men, and not women, should be the leaders in their homes and the church.

“The Bible really cares about the dynamic between men and women. It has nothing to do with a woman’s incompetency,” Piper said during a 40-minute Q&A session at a recent seminar, “Let the Nations Be Glad!” organized by the Desiring God ministry.

“A man’s headship in the home is not based on his being superiorly competency,” said Piper, the pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., as he responded to the question of what’s the place of women in missions.

Men are not superior, Piper said. “She is more competent than you [men] in most ways.” He said a wife could be smarter, more read, and know her Bible better than her husband. “This has to do with God’s created dynamic of what a man is and what a woman is in their gut with regard to the ballet of leadership and submission.”

Piper explained when he says the Bible calls godly men to be the leaders in their homes and the leaders and elders in the church, “I don’t mean that with regard to ministering to women and ministering to children.”

“That means,” he added, “women shouldn’t be, in general, leaders of the men … exercise a certain kind of leadership of men.”

But that doesn’t mean women have any lesser role in missions, he argued. At the end of the book, What’s the Difference, Piper said he dealt with the question what women can do. And that was a time when the issue was far more sensitive than it is today, he recalled. He said he listed about 80 things women can do according to the Bible and many of them relate to missions.

“Three-fourth of the world, at least, is women and children,” he said. “Probably… three-four billion of them are lost. Do anything to work with them. Is that big enough?” He said a woman could “dream her eyes out with regard to that three-fourth of the globe.”

The theologian said he recently read an article that said the only way a Muslim woman could be reached is through a woman. A man doesn’t get near a Muslim woman, he said, highlighting the importance of women in missions.

Piper holds a complementarian view of gender roles which says a husband should lovingly lead, protect and provide for his wife and family, and that the wife in return should gladly affirm and submit to her husband’s leadership.

While answering another question, why there are more women in cross-cultural mission than men, Piper said women tend to hang around in church for longer than men. And that is reflected in missions as well.

Piper stressed churches needed to encourage men not to leave church and be godly men. Men should have a kind of masculinity that women feel really safe around, he said. There is a strength that can be abusive and manipulative and coercive, and there is a strength that is loving and protective.

Men should be madly in love with their wives and make them feel honored, he added.

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