Theologian and author John Piper is blaming what he calls the 50 years of the "egalitarian myth" that men and women are basically the same for the rampant sex abuse now coming to light.
In a Friday edition of "Ask Pastor John" on the Desiring God podcast the former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church and Reformed scholar commented on the series of high-profile sexual misconduct cases that have emerged in the past several months in many realms of society.
"[E]galitarian assumptions in our culture, and to a huge degree in the Church, have muted — silenced, nullified — one of the means that God has designed for the protection and the flourishing of women," Piper said.
"It 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 — have special responsibilities to care for and protect and honor women. This call is different from the care and protection and honor that women owe men."
He continued to explain that egalitarian Christians and non-Christians alike have for decades contended that men's and women's roles should be based on competence instead of a "deeper reality rooted in who we are differently as male and female."
By contrast, those who consider themselves as complementarians as Piper does, believe that competencies play a role but God has built in to males and females differences that come with unique obligations, he maintained; egalitarian denials of this for 50 years has yielded some "very bad fruit."
Piper argued that his view was rooted in Genesis, noting that when the serpent tempted Eve the text describes Adam as "with her."
"He failed to take some initiative and deal with the devil, to be the leader and protector that God had designed him to be. He failed, and he's been failing ever since," he explained.
"One reason Jesus came into the world was to destroy that failure and cause Adam to own up to the fact that he's got a special burden, a special responsibility, to bear in protecting and caring for and honoring this woman."
A "divine design for men as men" exists that reveals a different kind of care, protection, and honor to be shown to women that is essential for the common good, he reiterated.
"We have put our hope in the myth that the summons to generic human virtue, with no attention to the peculiar virtues required of manhood and womanhood, would be sufficient to create a beautiful society of mutual respect. It isn't working."
"Men need to be taught from the time they are little boys that part of their manhood is to feel a special responsibility for the care and protection and honoring of women just because they are men."
Egalitarians took exception to how Piper characterized their perspective and its supposed implications.
"Egalitarianism, by its very definition, is the belief that all people are equal and that there is no inherent difference of power, authority, worth, or status between men and women," The Sinngergists podcasters Nick Quient and Thomas Horrocks, both of whom have advanced theology degrees, wrote on their blog in a short post titled "No, Egalitarianism is Not to Blame for Sexual Abuse."
"Sexual abuse, by its very nature, is about the exertion and the assertion of power. As experts have long noted, sexual abuse is not about lust or desire or even sex; it is about power and it is about control."
To tie an egalitarian view of the sexes to sexual abuse is unfair as the two are mutually exclusive, they argued, because anyone who views himself or herself as an equal would not even think of abusing another person they consider an equal.
"To state it another way, a person who sexually abuses another has, by their own actions, demonstrated that they are not actually egalitarian because, as stated above, true egalitarianism is inherently and fundamentally incompatible with sexual abuse."