When the Synchroblog admins announced our February topic (cross-gender friendships), I was really excited about it. February is so often given over to romantic love, it’s downright refreshing to see someone discussing non-romantic love just days before Valentine’s Day. And make no mistake: friendship is a unique and special kind of love that’s at least as important as romantic love. That would have been a worthwhile topic all on its own.
But then the US military approved women’s serving in combat roles, and for some reason the Christian blogosphere (at least those sites I follow) started talking about an old essay John Piper wrote basically saying that women shouldn’t serve in the military, not because men are stronger than women physically, bu because they’re hard-wired by God to protect women:
Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.
I’m honestly not sure why this Piper article came up when it did, as it’s five years old and surely conservative Christians have been saying asinine things about gender and combat in the interim, but for whatever reason, once it took center stage you can imagine the kind of response it got. (Jenny Rae Armstrong was particularly brilliant.) On top of that, the latest Forward Thinking prompt asks what we should tell teenagers about sex, so those blogs I read that weren’t rebuking John Piper were almost all responding to that topic. For a while I could barely go a few hours without stumbling across another post about how women and men were really more alike (or not) than we always thought. The Synchroblog topic started to seem almost prescient.