Learning from Women Is Too Hard for Some Men

“I learned a ton recently about the Book of Hebrews.”

“How’s that?”

“It was a short seminar offered at church. The local seminary sends professors over for these a few times a year.”

“Are the professors good?”

“Great teachers. And lots of research too. They’ve all written books and papers on their subjects.”

“So what did you learn about Hebrews?”

“I’ve never had anyone explain all the Old Testament references so clearly. The history gave me the context I needed to get what the writer was telling the early Christian Jewish community.”

“That professor must be a very learned man.”


“What’s that?”

“Woman. The professor’s a very learned woman.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Too bad?”

“Seminary professors should be men.”

“But I learned a lot from her.”

“Maybe, but it would have been better if you’d learned it from a man.”

“Why’s that?”

“The Bible says women can’t teach men.”


“Especially in seminary. Men go to learn to be pastors and their mentors should be other men.”

“So my learning doesn’t count because the teacher was a woman?”

“Not as much as if it were a man.”

“Even though I learned the same thing a man would have taught?”

“You would have gained more from a man.”

“I would? How?”

“Because men are supposed to teach men, so any time you learn from a woman you are learning in the wrong manner.”

“Let me get this straight. Even if the woman gave the same information I would have received from a man, it would not benefit me as much as it would if the man had been the one to convey the information.”

“Now you get it!”

“And because the information came from a woman, the Holy Spirit is powerless to use it to bless me as much as if it came from a man.”

“Well, that’s not quite what I meant.”

“Because God’s not able to use a woman’s teaching to build up his people.”

“It’s not that he’s not able to. He just doesn’t.”

“Ever? You mean every time a woman teaches a man God’s choice is not to use the teaching to bless people? He’d rather let the teaching not be a blessing then?”

“Yes. No. I mean, he’d rather a man had done the teaching.”



“So what do I do with the knowledge I gained in the class on Hebrews? If it’s not a blessing I suppose I should ignore it.”

“Probably for the best.”

“She told me you’d say that.”

“Who? The seminary professor?”

“No, my wife.”

“Your wife?”

“Yeah. I listen to her too.”


Does anyone really think women can’t teach men, especially at seminary? Yes. Desiring God just posted another transcript of a talk by John Piper where he answered this question: Is There a Place for Female Professors at Seminary? His answer is not only an unequivocal no, but he claims it harms men who come to seminary to study to become pastors because women not only can’t teach; they also can’t be pastors. So no matter how much a woman knows and how well she can teach, her knowledge won’t benefit a man like learning it from another man would, according to Mr. Piper.


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37 Responses to Learning from Women Is Too Hard for Some Men

  1. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Thank you for writing this…

  2. Kathy Heisleman says:

    Score!!! Thanks for this!!!!

  3. mindiranae says:

    Now that’s comical! It is sad to me the loss of insight so many men live without because they are indignant on not seeing women as equal in value. That somehow their gender sullies the message coming from God. It’s a ridiculous notion and it really puzzles me how easily people buy into it. In my personal observation, there is a great cognitive dissonance that many Christians have in the matters that are most valuable to God and most relevant in our society. Rather than engaging they fall back on a bad doctrinal formula; an equation that never equals the heart of God.

  4. ROFL!!! Thanks for the comic relief. Much needed.

    Too bad this is still the case among many, many people, though…

  5. We see this most clearly in the resurrection, where the disciples, quite rightly, didn’t believe Mary Magdalene that Jesus had risen from the dead. Peter and John had to run there and get a proper
    male perspective.

  6. joepote01 says:

    Piper said, “The issue is whether women should be models, mentors, and teachers for those preparing for a role that is biblically designed for spiritual men. That’s the way I’m posing the question.”

    That’s the way he posed the question…and that is where he began to go astray. We cannot arrive at truthful answers when we start by asking legalistic questions based on false assumptions.

    This reminds me of a blog post I wrote a few years ago: http://josephjpote.com/2012/04/asking-the-right-questions/

  7. I write fiction and non-fiction Christian books and have been amazed at the widespread acceptance they have received by men. Things have changed since the 1950s and 1960s. Those were the days that, if a woman went to college, she majored in home ec. Enjoyed your column today as always.

  8. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    Thanks for spelling this out, Tim. Piper’s argument is so frustrating. It shows the creeping effects of legalism: more rules, more lines, more restrictions. “Women can’t lead men” is the bottom line, and everything else has to fall in line with that.

    Yesterday on Twitter a woman complained that Piper’s teaching restricts women because of their anatomy, and a guy replied that it’s not because of anatomy, it’s because of Eden. Uh … if I recall Christian teaching correctly, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection ushered in the kingdom and actually DEALT with the problem of what happened in Eden. “He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” We should be living out of that blessing, not letting the very things Jesus came to save us from hold sway in our lives. *rant over*

  9. jacqueline says:

    1 Timothy 13-14 clearly explains one of the reasons why women are not permitted to teach or have authority over men. How can we just say the Word is wrong, or distort it? The Lord doesn’t try and play word games with us,
    Women can teach children, and other women, especially older women to younger women – I am excited about being an older woman, as the Lord gives us women great privileges as teachers. Praise the Lord!

    • Tim says:

      I’m not saying God’s word is wrong. I am saying that context shows a Paul was not issuing a teaching prohibition. He was addressing some odd teaching under the Artemis cult. http://juniaproject.com/defusing-1-timothy-212-bomb/

      • jacqueline says:

        Thanks, Tim. What other scriptures should I write off because they have a cultural relevance (to Paul, at least; I presume that the Holy Spirit was not just addressing some odd teaching under the Artemis cult with His inspired Word?!). I am not being crass, I am interested in where this leads…

        • Tim says:

          All scriptural context helps inform understanding. Labeling this as writing off Scripture is a cheap shot. And I suggest you read the letter need article in order to get where I’m coming from.

        • jacqueline says:

          I am not a Piper fan, as such, but I entirely agree with him –

          “If it is unbiblical to have women as pastors, how can it be biblical to have women who function in formal teaching and mentoring capacities to train and fit pastors for the very calling from which the mentors themselves are excluded?”

          If 1 Tim 13 – 14 is only timely for when that letter was written, and is only Paul’s instruction to Timothy, when was that instruction to stop? Presumably Paul expected Timothy to apply it, and rell others of it, but when would those Timothy taught it to, decide that it no longer applied – when did it become no longer culturally relevant as a command? When were Christians able to say, ‘it doesn’t apply now?’. And other contingent passages, too, one would assume (i.e. Corinthians on head covering and the authority structure) must have ceased at some point to be commands to be taught to all, and just cultural relics? When?

          So much to say on this, but it all seems to confuse the issue when just reading and accepting the clear Word is simple, and we are urged to keep that ‘simplicity’ in Scripture…and I may be undermining my own views by saying any more!

        • Tim says:

          So to get back to my post, if I learn some Scriptural truth from a woman is it less beneficial (per 2 Timothy 3) than if I learned it from a man?

        • jacqueline says:

          If you choose to sit under the teaching of a woman, other than one sharing the Gospel with you, or one who is fellowshipping with you using one of the gifts like exhortation, encouragement, prophecy, hospitality etc., then I would say yes. Or if she is trying to turn Him back to the truth etc., (James 5:19 – 20).
          Otherwise, it may reach the head, but I really don’t believe it will really make a spiritual difference. There may be odd occasions, where the Lord has His own purposes, but we should leave that to Him and not seek it out. And if I were a man sitting under a woman’s teaching, I would be praying to the Lord while she spoke…
          We are commanded to see not what is seen, but what is unseen. What could be happening in the spiritual realm when a woman teaches men? The Lord knows and He has given us His loving Word. When we stand before Him, we won’t be able to say, ‘But why didn’t you tell us….’ And how about now? Have you sought the Lord about this issue?

        • Jeannie Prinsen says:

          I think we draw lines all the time as to what is cultural and what is universal in Scripture. At the end of his letter to Titus, Paul says “Please come to me at Nicopolis” and “Look after Zenas and Apollos.” I’m sure Paul did not write that with the assumption that people in North America 2,000 years later would interpret it as commands for THEM to come to Paul at Nicopolis or care for Zenas and Apollos. All Scripture is inspired by God and instructs and corrects us; our task is to let the word of God (and the Word of God) change us as we respond to God speaking to us in our specific situation. That’s how I see it, anyway.

        • jacqueline says:

          1 Tim 2:11-15 discussing the role and behaviour of women is obviously a different order of phrase to the ones you mention! Paul is obviously teaching Timothy about the general roles of men and women, as the surrounding scriptures show. Once we start to peel one off, they all fall apart. I wouldn’t want to stand front of the Lord and use the argument that you just did, anyhow, and I say that sister to sister!
          But scripture also stands as a whole and we need to look at how it all fits together; take 1 Cor 14:34-36. At the end Paul anticipates our arguments against his instruction (also the Word of God) and says, ‘Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?’. We are not the authors here; we cannot rewrite the Word of God, even if it conflicts with our current cultural expectations and understanding of women.
          Women have a magnificent status in scripture and are created equally in the image of God. This isn’t an importance issue; it is about the order that God has placed. Just as Jesus comes under the Father but is not less, woman comes under man, but is not less – see 1 Cor 11:3: ‘But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ’.
          We can ignore this authority structure and the attendant scriptures and commands if we want, but personally I do not want to step out from the coverings God has placed over me. I really think maybe it comes down to fear of God. He is righteous and holy and His Word speaks in several places about women; we need to examine all the Scriptures as a whole and most see it from His Spirit- led perspective, not our 2018 perspective.
          And in that is freedom – the incredible freedom for us as women comes when we are in the right place scripturally (and that really is a ‘heart’ position’ that shows itself in a life lived in accordance with scriptural instruction); it doesn’t just affect us, either, but all around us – our family, friends, Church, fellow Christians, unbelievers. So it is always more and greater than ‘our specific situation’ – Praise God! And the glory He offers us if we obey Him is far, far greater than any glory we can obtain from fitting scripture to our own limited ideological perspective.

        • Jeannie Prinsen says:

          As I said (and this was the exact point my comment was making), we draw lines all the time as to what’s cultural and what’s universal: which is just what you’re doing when you say that “obviously” the stuff about women is a “different order of phrase.” I appreciate your concern about me standing before God with my arguments, but I’ll be resting in what Jesus has done for me so I’m not worried! Anyway, I appreciate Tim’s creative way of dismantling the arguments about women seminary teachers, and I don’t want to distract from that original focus.

        • jacqueline says:

          OK, thanks, Jeannie. I do not mean to rant, but this topic burns like a fire when I think about it. Bless you for your gracious comments. x

        • This is the context to which 1 Timothy was written. https://youtu.be/tsyQlaC0btY

          It’s about stopping false teachers, not universally banning women from leading. When we interpret Scripture, we first ask, “Who was the author? Who was the original audience? What did this message mean to them in their context?” Once we have more clarity on that, we can begin to understand what the message might mean for us in our context.

        • Jacqueline (Sussex, UK) says:


          In reference to the video you post, it says this ‘cryptic’ scripture. Rarely are the NT commands cryptic. The Lord does not try and trick us. I agree that we should look at original context, Greek etc., using Strongs and many of the great Bible teachers’s own studies. We can use this to inform our understanding. On this particular issue, there are so many verses, so many applications, so many obvious things to say that I really struggle to see how someone with God’s indwelling Holy Spirit can just say none of it applies.
          Woman was created from man, to be his helper. She is under him in the authority structure referred to in Corinthians; she was tempted and led astray; she is man’s glory; she is to be a homekeeper; submissive to her husband etc. There were no female disciples, no obvious female leaders; the roles to be appointed to men refer to having one wife etc.,- presupposing a man. These are just off the top of my head.
          Search the Scriptures; ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom; we have the mind of Christ. Women are man’s glory – think of that; it is magnificence. Do not let Satan’s lies steal God’s glory. Walk with Him, obey Him; we don’t need anything outside of what is permissible in His Word. I can honestly say that He surprises me every day with His treasures.
          Bless you in Christ.

      • Priscilla Hammond says:

        Is the definition of irony a woman teaching a man why women cannot teach men? Just checking.

  10. Julie Frady says:

    As I was reading John Piper’s articles back in the early 1990’s it struck me even back then that he worships his maleness. Also I noticed that there was so much pride in what he wrote. Pride in his maleness. Some years after that and some years ago now, I read that he was taking a sabbatical in order to pray and deal with his pride. He said God had shown him he was too proud, and he needed to take time off from ministry to do that. I was so hopeful then that he’d have a “come to Jesus moment” about his pride in being male, that God would actually be able to get through to him about worshiping another god. But when he returned to public ministry his articles weren’t any better. And now he’s going full throttle down that road.

  11. Belinda McDanel says:

    Thank you Tim. This was a creative and refreshing piece.

  12. Sorry to but in, but Tim, could you pray for me and my family? (Also, could you ask people at your church [or anywhere else for that matter] to pray for us as well?)

  13. keriwyattkent says:

    I love that you used Hebrews as your example, since many scholars believe that Hebrews was written by a woman! (Priscilla) See https://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/article/priscilla-papers/priscilla-author-epistle-hebrews

    • Tim says:

      Good point, Keri. I confess my reference to Hebrews was born of a blog series Aimee Byrd did on the book back in 2012, and I learned a ton from her insights. I consider you and Aimee to be my chief blog mentors from the earliest days.

  14. I sent John Piper a letter on my letterhead “Street Evangelist for Women’s Equality. Signed it and mailed it. I left the letter blank because Piper can’t learn from a woman.

  15. Ruth-Ann McKellin says:

    My elderly parents believed women shouldn’t teach men, until they came to my church and learned from a woman pastor. Then it wasn’t so hard to sign the membership form, requiring members to support women in all roles in the Church.

  16. John Piper is a spiritual abuser, full stop. His teachings facilitate spouse abuse, full stop. Unless and until he repents from this, I simply do not see any value in listening to him when there are so many other teachers that are NOT spiritual abusers.

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