Contemporary Trends, Christianity

John Piper Doesn’t Understand Strength Training

In the essay compilation Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, John Piper quizzically wrote:

Consider what is lost when women attempt to assume a more masculine role by appearing physically muscular and aggressive. It is true that there is something sexually stimulating about a muscular, scantily clad young woman pumping iron in a health club. But no woman should be encouraged by this fact. For it probably means the sexual encounter that such an image would lead to is something very hasty and volatile, and in the long run unsatisfying. The image of a masculine musculature may beget arousal in a man, but it does not beget several hours of moonlight walking with significant, caring conversation. The more women can arouse men by doing typically masculine things, the less they can count on receiving from men a sensitivity to typically feminine needs. Mature masculinity will not be reduced to raw desire in sexual relations. It remains alert to the deeper personal needs of a woman and mingles strength and tenderness to make her joy complete. (RECOVERING BIBLICAL MANHOOD & WOMANHOOD, 40-41)

A lot could be said. Suffice to say, I’ve learned a lot from John Piper through the years and when you write that much you’re bound to say strange things (I revel in saying strange things) but this is just weird.

Briefly, I know many women who lift weights. None of them are attempting to be more masculine (I’m sure there’s some of that in Crossfit circles). Most of them are staving off ageing, death, injury, weakness, and so-on. They’re also adding a degree of controllable trauma to their lives in order to avoid an overly plush life.

I obviously agree with some elements in Piper’s book, as I think sex differences are real and those differences matter for happiness in marriage, work, politics, and friendship. But it’s hard to imagine that finishing it would be worthwhile.

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