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John Piper plus…

January 5, 2017

This morning I was reading this article by John Piper entitled “Why Are Women More Eager Missionaries?”  One thing you have to admire about Piper is that if you ask his opinion about almost anything having to do with our faith, he has one.  In this article, which you can read in its entirety at the link above, he points out that roughly two-thirds of American evangelical missionaries are married and, of the roughly one-third left over 80% of them are single women.

So why are so many of the singles women?  Piper gives two opinions and he is quick to state that they are opinions, not statements of fact.  He’s been bruised so many times by people outraged about what he has said you have to respect his caution.  Here are excerpts of those opinions:

  1. “Let’s start with the observation that many single women in missions would like to be married, not all….many would like to serve in missions side by side with a similarly called and devoted husband. But by and large, it is men who propose marriage. Women have less control over being married than men do — they can always say no, but I mean taking the initiative in a positive way.”
  2. “Many…of those single men probably avoid missions out of the same personal dynamics that keep them single. Among Christian men who do not get married, say, in their 20s and 30s, they are probably held back from that relationship of marriage by…a sense of inadequacy that they could be a spiritual leader or a fear that they might be rejected as they pursue a relationship or a lack of purpose in life that would give support and meaning in a marriage relationship. Any of those hindrances to forming a long-term commitment of marriage would also explain why he may have a sense of inadequacy about missions or a fear about missions or a lack of purpose about missions.

These two ideas seem connected.  Dedicated women can’t find an equally dedicated man and too many potentially dedicated men wimp out because of fear, a sense of inadequacy, and lack of purpose.  All in all, his opinions seem to be a rather mildly put but clear call for young Christian men to man up.

You could make a convincing case that the female/male disparity in missions is just an extension from the same, if slightly smaller, disparity in our churches.  I am reminded of those (not Piper) who whine about the “feminization of the church,” which as I have always regarded as a cop out.  Men can’t blame women for their own lack of commitment, particularly when churches are always looking for more male leaders.

Many do however.  Just Google church for men or something like that and you can find lots of them pointing accusatory fingers at women. I read one some time ago who actually said that the reason men avoid leadership positions in church is that there are too many capable women.  Oh, the poor men; scared of all those capable women.

But that aside, let me share a secret from my years on the mission field that may also apply.  A lot of things go on there that would horrify our home churches.  We will work together across denominational lines with missionaries from churches the folks back home won’t even talk to.  We don’t get hung upon on doctrinal issues as we work.  Issues like sign gifts and predestination seem inconsequential when you are a tiny band of believers in a sea of strange cultures, hostile opponents, physical difficulties and even danger.

But there is one other big mission field secret – On the mission field women get to teach, preach, plant churches, and exercise gifts not permitted to them back in their home churches. Maybe John Piper could ask why that is.

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Dan permalink

    I would like to know that myself – It is funny how true that is. Even in denominations where women take roles like deacons, co-pastors etc they are criticized quite heavily by the bulk of the christian world.

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