Eugene Cho

piper and the female wrestler

Dr. John Piper has been an influential author in my life.  I came to faith at 18 years old and read a few books that impacted me during my early years.  His book, Desiring God, was one of them.  While my views have diverged from some of his views, I still have much respect for him and his ministry.  

Couple years ago, I finally felt comfortable enough in my own skin and in my pursuit of God that I chose purposely and intentionally to place myself  in a position that I can listen to many diverse and divergent voices.  These voices encourage me, sharpen me, push me, and often times in strange way, re-affirm my voice as I seek to honor Christ with my life.

I subscribe to the Desiring God blog and was intrigued by Piper’s article entitled, Over My Dead Body, Son.  Now, I wish that several of the blogs I subscribe to would leave their comments open.  I only respond to handful of my blog’s comments but in general, comments promote dialogue and that – in my book – is a good thing even if there are disagreements.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I am in full support of women in all levels of leadership.  But simultaneously, I’ve chosen to engage in friendship and dialogue with leaders and pastors with different views – for various reasons and so, I tend to receive a few shots from both sides of the fence.  No biggie.  

But having said that, I lean on more ‘conservative’ or traditional ways on some contemporary issues.  For example, I have a really hard time with women in military combat.  I really do.  And while I wouldn’t vote to banish it or come to the same conclusion as Piper about boys and girls wrestling in competition, I don’t support it.  It’s clearly different that the comparison with military combat because one is combat and the other is competition.  But I still don’t like it.

I appreciated the spirit of Piper’s thoughts even though I disagreed w/ the entire reasoning of it because of the whole spiel and over-dramatization about men must protect girls rhetoric.  And I also don’t agree with his claim that boys will start dreaming about their female wrestling counterparts:

If a jock from Northern Minnesota encircles her around the breasts and twists his leg around her thighs, trust me, he will dream about that tonight. Only in his dream she won’t have clothes on. And if he doesn’t dream it, half the boys in the crowd will…

Really?  I disagree but regardless, on a personal level,  I would come to the same conclusion as a father if my son was in the competition and about to face a female wrestler:

There will be no belittling comments about her being ‘a girl.’ There will be no sexual slurs. If you get matched with her, you simply say to the judges, ‘Sir, I won’t wrestle a girl. My parents have taught me not to touch a girl that way. I think it would dishonor her. I hope you will match me with a guy. If not, I am willing to be disqualified. It’s that important.’

I care about both girls and boys and the mentoring, nurturing, and disciplining that’s required to encourage them to grow as women and men that reflect the heart of God. Specifically, I worry about many men in our culture, church and society that act like young boys rather than men after mercy, justice, and humility.  Okay, Go ahead and take your hacks but please be respectful in your conversation and critique. 

  • What about you?  
  • What are your thoughts about Dr. Piper’s analysis? 
  • Do you support this “wrestling competition?”  
  • How about women in combat military?  
  • Am I being duplicitous in my personal views?

—————————————————————————-

Here’s Dr. Piper’s article:

Come on, dads, have some courage. Just say, “Over my dead body are you going to wrestle a girl.”  Of course, they will call you prudish. But everything in you knows better.Yes, I am talking to the boys’ fathers. If the girls’ fathers don’t care how boys manhandle their daughters, you will have to take the lead. Give your sons a bigger nobler vision of what it is to be a man. Men don’t fight against women. They fight for women.

They called it history-making here in Minneapolis. Yesterday, Elissa Reinsma became the first female to compete in the state high school wrestling tournament. It was not a step forward. Some cultures spend a thousand years unlearning the brutality of men toward women. This is an odd way to make history. Relive prehistory maybe.

One cheerleader said, “I’m sure it’s weird for other people, especially if they’ve never experienced having to wrestle a girl.” That’s hopeful. Because it is “weird.” Most people feel it. But who has the courage to trace this sense of weirdness back to the profound principles of mature manhood and womanhood?

It’s just too uncool. The worst curse that can fall on us is to be seen as one of those nutcases who hasn’t entered the modern world. This is not about courageous commitment to equality; it’s about wimpy fear of criticism for doing what our hearts know is right.

Wrestling obliges you to grab, squeeze, and pull with all your might. If a boy tries not to touch or grasp a wrestler around the chest, or not to let his legs entwine with the other wrestler, or not to slam his full body length on hers, he will wrestle with a handicap. Of course, he is being taught that handicap is not a virtue.

Get real, dads. You know exactly what almost every healthy boy is thinking. If a jock from Northern Minnesota encircles her around the breasts and twists his leg around her thighs, trust me, he will dream about that tonight. Only in his dream she won’t have clothes on. And if he doesn’t dream it, half the boys in the crowd will. Wake up dads. You know this.

Manly gentleness is not an epidemic in our culture. Rap videos, brutal movies, fatherless homes, and military madness have already made thousands of women the victim of man’s abuse. Now we would make the high school version of feministic nature-denial a partner in this undermining of masculine gentleness.

When the apostle of Jesus tells us to live with our wives “in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel” (1Peter 3:7), he dumps a truckload of wisdom that fathers should build into their sons.

There is a way to honor a woman. That’s our job as men. This honor “understands” something. It understands that women are the “weaker vessel.” This has nothing to do with less personal worth and in many cases not even with physical stamina. It has to do with pervasive realities that shape the way healthy societies work.

It means that we should raise sons to think of themselves as protectors. Tell them they should lay their lives down to protect girls. Help them know that God designed them to grow up to be a picture of Jesus in their marriage. Nurture the instinct of a boy to fight for girls not against them.

I just watched a wrestling instructional video on line, illustrating some basic moves for the takedown and pin. These two guys are pressing and pulling on each other with unfettered and total contact. And it isn’t soft. It’s what we do not allow our sons to do to girls.

Okay, dads, here’s what you tell your son. You say, “There will be no belittling comments about her being ‘a girl.’ There will be no sexual slurs. If you get matched with her, you simply say to the judges, ‘Sir, I won’t wrestle a girl. My parents have taught me not to touch a girl that way. I think it would dishonor her. I hope you will match me with a guy. If not, I am willing to be disqualified. It’s that important.’”

Be a leader, dad. Your sons need you. The peer pressure is huge. They need manly restraints. They know this is wrong. But then they look around, and the groundswell of conformity seems irresistible. It will take a real man, a real father, to say to his son. “Not on my watch, son. We don’t fight women. I have not raised you that way.”

Filed under: bible, religion, ,

43 Responses

  1. Jonathan says:

    Eugene,

    I love your blog and follow your ministry. I also like the fact that you respect Piper. He is a stud in my book and one of the most significant theologians of our modern times. We need to heed his words about MEN. His blog wasn’t about the girl, mothers, or about any women but simply an admonishment for boys to grow to be godly MEN.

  2. I’d like to respectfully disagree with Piper on this. There are two significant problems that I see with his argument. The first is his idea of “honoring” women seems to have a very particular methodology about it. Protecting a woman may be very fatherly and, at times, even a life-saving action for a man to perform. But it can also be very dishonoring. In this case I think the most honoring thing a man can do for Elissa is to honor her wishes and let her wrestle.

    The second problem is that wrestling is, socially, a weird sport. From the outside even the man-on-man contact looks overtly sexual. For the guys in my high school the first week of wrestling was a period of rationalizing how the sport was not completely homosexual. After that everybody got over the physical intimacy and had a great time.

    Piper seems bothered by the idea that a young man might grab a young girl’s breast in a wrestling match. If it were done with sexual violence or a demeaning attitude this would be an outrage. If it were done in any social setting it would be an affront to her dignity. But if it’s done in the context of a fair fight where the girl has weighed and accepted that possibility than it’s the boy’s responsibility to pick the best hold to try to win the fight. If it leads him to sexual fantasies then that’s primarily his problem. There’s no reason to make a woman carry the burden of his uncontrolled libido.

    I’d be an impostor if I pretended to know very much about the history of the women’s movement. But I do know that a central theme that men constantly forget is that women don’t need our protection nearly as well as they need the freedom to make their own choices and select their own destiny. Even when that freedom leads them down paths that don’t match our hopes for womanhood.

  3. I forgot to mention: there was one lady on my 9th grade football team. She was a little too light and probably felt like an outcast most of the time. But she stuck with it. One of the main drills we linemen would do is rapidly shove into someone’s chest pads to push them back. It only took a couple of minutes for us to get over the novelty that she was a lady. After that she was just one more in our line up of receivers who couldn’t catch a ball to save their life.

  4. I’m weird with this whole issue. I don’t like the idea of women in the military either – but I don’t think anyone having to be in the military. and if my gender keeps me from ever having to fail to love my neighbor by joining a killing force then I’m fine with that.

    And I understand the strangeness of the pseudo-sexual wrestling sports things. what questions arise with how far does one go with this.

    Will gays too be off limits in this sport? If its about sexuality, then that has to be a factor.

    What message does this send to girls? If boys are to tell them that they refuse to play the game with them, that girls aren’t worth the possible complications that including them might entail, what are the girls to come way with? Where does the line get drawn? Is it just wrestling? Any sport? Academics? Politics? Church?

    This is never just about the boys/men. There are messages that get sent and internalized for both boys and girls.

  5. Steve says:

    I appreciate Piper’s thoughts, but unfortunately he is flat wrong here…

    No boy, when confronted with a female opponent is thinking about sex.

    I wrestled for 20 years and coached HS and college for a couple of years.

    What is going through a young man’s mind (and it is always young, because women can’t compete against men much after Jr. High) is, “I’ll never live this down if I loose!’

    Every guy that I ever knew who had to wrestle a girl (myself included) wanted to end the match as quickly as possible, and get off of the mat.

  6. Mike Clawson says:

    I wrestled in high school and there were two girls on our team. It was never any problem. As far as I know, none of us really thought of them in a sexual way when they were out on the mat (and you know how guys talk in the locker room, so I would have heard about it if they had been). And talking to the guys that had to wrestle them (I never did since they were in the lighter weight classes and I wrestled 170 lbs.), Steve is exactly right, the only thing going through those guys’ mind is “I’ll never hear the end of it if I lose to a girl!”

    That may not be any less sexist in its own way, but at any rate, the guys aren’t having any sexual fantasies while they’re out on the mat.

  7. elderj says:

    I wrestled, and I can tell you I would have had a very difficult time wrestling a girl; partially because wrestling would require me to handle a woman in ways that run counter to everything young men are taught about respecting a woman’s physical space, and partially because I wouldn’t want some girl grabbing me in that way either, to have her crawling between my legs to pin me to the ground.

    I agree with other posters that say the issue isn’t really about sexual attraction or anything like that. It is though more about establishing some boundary lines of appropriate physicality between men and women.

    I would like to respectfully push back against Julie’s comments above re:

    What message does this send to girls? If boys are to tell them that they refuse to play the game with them, that girls aren’t worth the possible complications that including them might entail, what are the girls to come way with? Where does the line get drawn? Is it just wrestling? Any sport? Academics? Politics? Church?

    This statement has in it the notion that playing with the boys is somehow inherently superior to playing with just the girls. And yes, though I may be lambasted for saying so, sometimes the complications are not worth it.

  8. elderj says:

    And yes, you’re being duplicitous in your personal views, but most people are to some extent.

    I do think there is something about women in military combat that has transculturally and transhistorically seemed… off (for lack of a better word). Men are physically much stronger than women and women generally don’t match up very well head to head with men in any test of physical prowess which military combat has historically required.

    Besides it is not to be overlooked that men have historically been called upon on a regular basis to live in very rugged circumstances, alienated from “civilization” and with their lives on the line to protect women & children, and for good reason. This is both good and honorable, and to be commended and encouraged. It is to this end that the aggression of men has traditionally been put to good use.

    It is unfortunate in my view that much of what it has meant to be a man has been subsumed under the rubric of “oppression” with nary a word uttered about the principles of honor, duty, and sacrifice that were also a key component of what it meant to be a man in earlier days. In our efforts to elevate (or should I say recognize) the proper place of women in society, we have all too often denigrated man, and endorsed a kind of androgynization of society which serves no one and which dishonors both God and people.

  9. Tom says:

    You’ve got a firm grip on the third rail for evangelical pastors :^)

    Sexual attraction, gender roles, and power.

    Oh my.

    As a disclaimer, I’m an original Piper disciple. Or, more properly, an original follower of Dan Fuller, onetime professor of Hermeneutics at Fuller Seminary. John once said he was simply a tugboat pushing the great achievement of Dan Fuller into the mainstream discussion. I went to Fuller Seminary to take courses from Dan and got my Greek NT courses from him. I still think his book, ‘Gospel and Law’ is one of the most creative attempts to reconcile the tension all protestants feel between grace and obedience.

    Even had a chance to attend “The Fellowship of the Arc’ a few times–basically, a ‘Skull and Bones’ society for folks committed to Dan’s (and by imitation, John’s) very particular Calvinistic/Jonathan Edwardian 16th-18th century world view combined with a rigorous and Enlightenment directed way of interpreting the bible. Some of the brightest conservative types in the 70’s and early 80’s really did do a post-modern mish mash even if they couldn’t really admit it.

    Like a lot of young men I was looking for relatively easy answers from credible father figures who were challenging what we thought was the ‘easy squeezy’ liberal theological, cultural and political status quo.

    I wanted sharp angles and what I thought at the time was a worthy battle.

    A worthy battle today?

    Let’s wrestle, ladies :^)

  10. eugenecho says:

    i just don’t think boys and girls should be competing in certain sports.

    @elderj: of course.

    @julie: i don’t think we need to apply those questions to every single thing. but that’s just me.

    thanks for spearheading the women’s in day synchroblog.

  11. @elderj: I always look for your replies on Eugene’s blog because I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your comments. I happen to disagree strongly with you on this one.

    In your first comment all the things you mentioned about personal space and touching in inappropriate places apply just as much to men as to women. If we applied the same suspension of social norms to women that allow men to wrestle together in tight spandex then the point would be moot.

    And as far as ruggedness and toughness are concerned: globally women have to face far more hardship than men. Across the world women are the ones who have to carry water several miles per day. They till the fields, they raise the children, they nearly always do the cleaning. Proverbs 31 describes a virtuous woman as the one who lives the rugged life (with a special point about strong arms) and even makes the business decisions. The man is described as a socialite who sits all day with other men.

    So, while I agree there’s a certain type of strength that men have more of, I think it’s inappropriate to suggest that men are the ones who have a special hold on honor, duty, and sacrifice. These do not belong to just one gender.

    When you mention the components of “what it meant to be a man in earlier days” – do you have a particular era in mind? When I read that I thought of John Wayne, Robin Hood, maybe post-WWII in parts of America but I had a hard time thinking of a place in time where men were virtuous and women didn’t need to almost entirely look out for themselves.

  12. @eugene: could you elaborate on your comment that you “just don’t think boys and girls should be competing in certain sports”? I think it’s a valid issue (clearly there are many sides) but I’m not sure how you see this issue. How you do evaluate the difference between, say, the high jump and mixed martial arts?

  13. Tom says:

    Come on, Eugene.

    I’m responding to your comments to Julie.

    Your post–and John’s stuff–is chock full of the kinds of sexual and gender and power issues that movie producers and politicians go out of their way to tap into in order to increase ticket sales and votes. Julie–and elderj and jack–and most readers of the blog will understandably read more into it.

    If your post was really about your concern that boys and girls don’t wrestle each other, good for you, and shame on most of us for seeing more here than was warranted.

    But I’m not buying it :^).

  14. elderj says:

    @Jack –thanks for the compliment.

    Certainly my comments about “touching inappropriate places” applies equally to men as to women, though for different reasons. I was no happier about having a man crawl between my legs and pin me to the ground. However that does not carry at all the same social, emotional, and even physical freight as it does between men and women. There is a reason why men and women don’t “chest bump” one another.
    And to be clear, I was relating my personal experience.

    As for the other; I would be the last to deny that women work as hard or in some cases harder than men, though I think hardship is equal opportunity. Inasmuch as women carry water several miles a day, so too do men walk miles to work fields, or mines minerals, or chop down forests. Many many men are killed or maimed in mining, forestry, farming and when called for, historically, in war. Of course women bear and care for children; men cannot physically do that. A biological reality doesn’t make someone more virtuous.

    Men do not have a “special hold” on honor, duty, and sacrifice, but there are the things that have traditionally been insisted upon as part of being a man rather than a boy, and usually that is accompanied by an expectation of a willingness to go to war and die if need be in defense of another. In the same way that being a woman has carried with certain expectations of sacrifice, so too has being a man – sacrifices of a different sort perhaps, but sacrifice nonetheless — especially the expectation (still acknowledged in our country via the Selective Service Act) of death in war in defense of one’s nation.

    When I mention “what it meant in earlier days” I do not have a particular era in mind. Your implication however that women have almost always entirely had to look out for themselves, or that there is no place in time wherein men were virtuous is ill-informed at best and insulting to men. Men & women have together faced hardship throughout time (and still do).

    How many men have gone to hated jobs for years on end because they were honorable men and had a duty to provide for their wives and children? How many men died early from industrial accidents, or black lung, or were maimed while working in dangerous circumstances so that they could send money home? Millions of course. And for years, that was part of what separated men from boys in our society. A honorable man laid aside his boyish ways and settled down and made a life for his family, even at the cost of his health or personal happiness because he had a duty. Now of course we have enshrined in popular imagination and feted the antithesis of this: the irresponsible man-boy, who recognizes no duty other than his pleasure, lacks honor and makes no sacrifice. In times past such a man would be shamed.

    Please don’t mistake my expression of concern about manhood for a denigration of women.

  15. Lori says:

    I agree with Piper. I raised four boys and taught them to respect girls and keep their hands to themselves. Two of my sons were wrestlers in high school. There is a lot of crotch grabbing and other moves that would cross the boundaries should the one being wrestled be a girl. The personal contact is everything I taught my boys not to do. They both had to wrestle girls in their tournaments and were extremely uncomfotable with it. I did get a kick out of it once though because the girl won and it was humbling for my son to say the least.

    I think if a girl wants to wrestle, she should join a girls wrestling team. If there is none, she can start one. My boys also played baseball, soccer, and basketball with girls. I had no problem with that because there was little to no physical contact. The girls were often admired and respected by the boys for their athletic abilities. Maybe the girls should compete against boys in a non-contact sport.

    I also agree with Piper about men, or boys, protecting the women. I am not saying they should be a knight in shining armor and kill anyone who offends the ladies, but to look out for her should someone seek to do her harm. I don’t think he needs to wait until he’s married. Protecting a girl’s honor is a godly thing as long as it is out of pure motives.

  16. Barb says:

    here’s my question–why is wrestling a good sport for either gender? I do know one girl who reached a high level in High School wrestling–I can’t say that it did anything for her in any other meaningful way. As a parent, wrestling is not a sport I would encourage.

  17. Michelle says:

    Am I losing something here? What does male/female wrestling have to do with women being in ministry? That’s an analogy? Or he’s just using this subject to show that men and woman should not do things together? I am a woman in ministry and I hardly look at my male colleagues as someone to wrestle with. The Bible tells us as Christians to submit to one another in love and help each other in our weaknesses…..

  18. Matt says:

    I was uncomfortable fighting girls. when i was a highschooler, I was in a taekwondo place that only had one girl. it came to sparring, and the stinkin master put me up against the girl. I let her pummel me. I never fought back. Psychologically, I just couldn’t do it. just blocked a few kicks. let a few get by. that sucked.

    Lately, now that I’ve grown, and been living in a not so friendly city. I see little teenage high school girls picking fights. one started a fight with me one block away from my house. unprovoked. just started up with me, and a few boys that were with the girls followed up and tried to jump me.
    stinkin girls…

    So, forget the wet dream argument that Piper would have. what would it be like if you’re the girl, who worked really hard, and wanted to be there. then, you see your opponent just walk away from the judges table? refusing to take part in competition? if you want to make some analogies… wouldn’t that be like a woman who goes through all the seminary training, just to have her pastor say that there are no women in ministry?

  19. Drew says:

    Let’s face it, we men ARE prone to sexually perverse thoughts, but guarding ourselves from them shouldn’t be anyone’s responsibility but our own. If a man finds he is not tempted to sin by competing in a wrestling match with a woman, he should be able to do so with a clear conscience. Conversely, it’s his responsibility to not wrestle if he finds that it causes him to sin. This principle would apply to any number of topics: alcohol consumption, what kind of movies we watch, etc. We all have different struggles, and it’s on us to exercise freedom and restraint according to our individual circumstances.

    Regarding men honoring women, I agree with Jack that if the girl wants to wrestle a guy, and is comfortable being that physically aggressive in a non-sexual way, the best way to honor her is to let her compete. To me, this affirms her state of equality with the guy and her ability to exercise her freedom.

    I think we men need to be careful talking about women. For me, there’s a lot of potential for egotism when it’s implied that we’re “stooping to their level” because they’re incapable of taking care of themselves. I believe it’s our responsibility to defend the honor of everyone we interact with, women included. I just hope we see the difference between respecting women and patronizing them.

    I can see Piper’s point, but I think he misapplies (or maybe “over-applies”) it by suggesting we completely abstain from co-ed wrestling matches. Sure, there’s potential for misconduct just as there is with almost any activity. But if we completely prohibit co-ed wrestling for this reason, does that mean we also have to prohibit going to the beach in the summer? Sending our kids to public universities? Turning on the TV?

    Eugene, I think it’s cool (and totally un-duplicitous) that you’ve separate your personal views from what you think should be the law of the land. Maintaining that balance is hard to do, and kudos to you for setting a good example of that in this post.

  20. Karen Claassen says:

    What a fascinating exchange, as much for what hasn’t been said as what has.

    The first two thoughts in my mind as I began reading this passage: Deborah and Jael. Probably b/c of your comments re women in combat, Eugene. Although, of course, since military engagement is increasingly divorced from physical combat, perhaps Rahab would make more sense.

    I have more reservations about football as an appropriate sport than wrestling (in general, not in gender), but I, too, would love for you to post on what sports you think boys and/or girls should not participate in.

    My main critique of Piper: he sounds too much like the missionaries who scattered across the globe from European origins and insisted on the people of the place changing their dress to suit European sensibilities/weaknesses. More than a little uncomfortable with the tone, actually.

  21. Tom Thompson says:

    As a father of a high school wrestler, I have had to face this directly. My son has twice forfieted matches and more than once jumped weight classes to avoid wrestling girls. My responsibility as a father is teach my son to be a man of God. This includes proper respect and honor for women. We as parents need to step up and show our kids that the truths we teach matter. The consequences or rewards of our actions do not affect the rightness or wrongness of the action. My son stood on the bottom step of the medal stand and watched a girl place above him in a conference tournament. It was hard, but he learned that day that some things are worth losing for.

    Secondly, I stood matside a few weeks ago and watched a girl wrestle for the class A state championship in Nebraska. She lost in a close match. The year before she was the first girl to medal in Nebraska and this year she was a the state runner-up. She is a great wrestler. What amazed me was to hear thousands of people cheering for the boy who eventually won the Championship. They were cheering against the girl. I think the crowd instictivly understood that this wasn’t a fair match. If we are going to be fair and honoring to the young women who wish to wrestle, we must develop a girls wrestling league. Letting them join the boys in condescending and unfair. We don’t make girls play on the boys basketball team.

    I recognize that many will disagree with me. I don’t care. As a father my responsibility is to raise my sons to be men of God. If others feel it is alright to wrestle girls go ahead. But what really bothers me is parents who feel it is wrong but give in and allow their sons to do it anyway.

  22. eugenecho says:

    I’m trying to read through most of the comments but can’t. Busy day today. But some responses:

    @tom: not sure what you’re saying. i didn’t post this in order to sell movie tickets. not sure about you but i genuinely struggle w/ these issues.

    @michelle: the analogy between ordination of women and wrestling was not piper but mine alone. i shared that because people often push back thinking that i’m being duplicitous when i’m in support of one thing and not the other. if anything, i’m trying to say that while i believe in the equality of genders, i also see the beauty in our uniqueness. i don’t think we should see women and men duke it out in competition.

    @jack danger: i’m in full support of title ix. full support. and while i’m not necessarily not yet committed to vote against, i don’t think i’d allow my son or daughters [post elementary] to compete in a direct physical confrontational sport against someone of the opposite gender: wrestling, football, judo, taekwondo, boxing, etc.

    @karen claasses: i agree w/ your critique of piper. it sounded overly dramatic but then again, we preachers tend to be…

  23. Liz says:

    I too have a really hard time with women in military combat. I also have a really hard time with men in military combat.

  24. John Choi says:

    To the training “men of God” fathers… really? Have you trained your sons to lay down their lives for the sins of others?

    To the “women and men are unique” crowd… really? What does that have to do with winning a wrestling match?

    To the “boys will have sex dreams” people… really? What happens to a boy who doesn’t have sex dreams while growing up?

  25. Tom Thompson says:

    My son doesn’t need to lay down his life for the sins of others. That’s already been done once and for all. Not sure what your point is.

  26. @Liz: lol!

    @elderj: I think my position on gender struggle might make more sense if I share that I was raised by a single mother and by her mother. I sometimes forget how much that skews my perspective so that I see the world differently from folks who may have had a more traditional (functional) family structure.

    Growing up with a mother who always worked two or more jobs and still faced condescension from the men she worked with has jaded me against the idea that men offer anything special in the way of hard work or protection for women. I’ve seen my mom train all of her bosses at her workplace. It never takes the men long to forget their beginnings and talk down to my mother as a “mere woman.” These are guys who have wives making them dinner each night. My mom had to go from her job straight to another and *then* make dinner.

    So I’ll grant that you’ve probably witnessed some men who struggle for years to prevent their wives and children from facing that same struggle. But I think I’ve seen very little of that. So you can probably imagine that when I think of this wrestling issue I’m less concerned with helping the men protect their sense of manhood and more concerned with letting the lady live her life.

  27. neu says:

    Interesting.

    I’m an athletically built young woman. While I’ve never wrestled, I have been the only girl on the rugby team in high school ( and with scoliosis back then), mind you. I have toed soccer balls in intense street soccer back in Nigeria. Also been in martial arts on and off.

    I don’t know – from experience, I can tell when a guy is “copping a feel” or is just fighting against me. I’m tired of being a sort of “sex object”, some temptress in this gender debate. The irony is that boys have explicitly told me that I am shapeless and do not fit their beauty standards. So, someone tell me how I am a stumbling block? That was a rhetoric question.

    I don’t know what else to say.

  28. Kristine says:

    Have you ever thought about how weird it is that it’s completely unacceptable to see a perfect stranger naked, like on the street or anywhere, EXCEPT in a gym locker room? But at the gym I see people’s private parts all the time. It’s not considered indecent to show people your butt while you’re drying off in the locker room but it would be totally unacceptable on the street.

    So I disagree with Piper because I think people are able to distinguish between various contexts. Why should it be acceptable for boys to crotch-grab other BOYS? We don’t even think twice about it, because it’s just part of the sport. If wrestling had been co-ed for 50 years we wouldn’t be discussing this; co-ed crotch grabbing would seem normal ON THE WRESTLING MAT where it isn’t normal elsewhere.

    So I think it’s a cultural, not a moral issue.

    I’m not thrilled with either men or women fighting in the military. I mean, it’s nasty. But if as a society we decide fighting is necessary, let’s not pretend it’s “noble” by justifying it as the men protecting the women. Let’s apply all our resources, male and female, to get the dirty job done. Women generally are smaller and weaker so maybe they wouldn’t make as good infantry as they would helicopter pilots — but let the assignments be made according to actual skills rather than gender. Some women are pretty brawny.

    The distaste we feel at the thought of our daughters fighting is perhaps what we should feel for our sons as well — but which we’ve lost because we’re used to it.

  29. Christy says:

    Piper said: “Give your sons a bigger nobler vision of what it is to be a man. Men don’t fight against women. They fight for women.”

    I always wonder what statements like that mean exactly. Men may occasionally physically fight OVER women (although that’s mostly on TV and in the movies)but how often do men physically fight on a woman’s behalf? There’s war, hockey, boxing, bar fights, gangs, criminal activity and prison violence – but I have serious doubts about how much any of that benefits me or any other woman. (And given how often systematic rape is used as a weapon of war, I don’t really think that it is waged with my gender in mind.)

    Perhaps Piper is speaking metaphorically – that men should fight for justice for women – except that he vigorously promotes the exact opposite, so maybe not.

    Elderj said: “How many men have gone to hated jobs for years on end because they were honorable men and had a duty to provide for their wives and children? How many men died early from industrial accidents, or black lung, or were maimed while working in dangerous circumstances so that they could send money home? Millions of course.”

    First – yay for the labor movement! Hate to break it to you, but that’s not just a man thing. Only certain classes of women were outside the work force and supported by their husbands – Working class women and women of color in the U.S. have ALWAYS worked – except that they got paid less than the men. Women slaves, of course, worked for free.

    Millions of women and children and men still go to jobs they hate – in factories, in sweatshops – with poor working conditions, low wages, and abusive bosses because that’s what it takes to provide for their families. Here in California, migrant farm workers – men and women – work in the fields together in awful conditions for terrible pay. A few have died from heat stroke in the last year. In the Congo today, most of the dangerous mining work is done by children.

    There is honor in providing for your family, no matter what the job, but people working in crappy jobs under dangerous conditions? That’s poverty and systemic economic and political injustice – not true manhood.

    All of that, of course, has little to do with wrestling, except to say that perhaps we all should devote our attention to matters more important than a weird sport that a few dozen girls wish to participate in. Women are cops and soldiers and prison guards – it seems a little pointless to draw a line in the sand at wrestling.

  30. […] piper and the female wrestler Dr. John Piper has been an influential author in my life.  I came to faith at 18 years old and read a few books that […] […]

  31. Tom says:

    Here’s what I’m saying:

    Women taking on men in actual physical wrestling competitions isn’t a trend right now around the country.

    And from my point of view, God bless those couple of hundred women following their gifts and dreams.

    Maybe not an issue that makes sense spending much time on unless the goal is to spark a more relevant discussion about how men and women relate to each other.

    I would guess John Piper took the extremely rare example of females actually physically wrestling males and weighed in on this to make a point because he’s concerned that traditional gender roles are being eroded and doesn’t like it.

    Pretty much everybody here–whatever their take–responded to the post with John’s larger perspective in mind.

    My comments about my own background vis a vis John’s thinking were meant as a way of showing respect and sympathy for a point of view that I enjoy now only occasionally and responsibly :^) And also to point out that lots of young men are looking for relatively easy and traditional answers.

    And, no, I don’t lose much sleep over those couple of dozen girls wrestling boys around the country or about those many thousands of girls and women in the military. If we’re going to kill people in large numbers to protect ourselves, I’m glad to have some women in the mix.

  32. elderj says:

    @Christy – please do not presume to educate me about history and economics or division of labor in families both presently and historically. Your condescending remarks betray an unwillingness to engage the core issue. Frankly it is rather exasperating to have any mention of anything honorable men have ever done answered with a “so what, women have to” or “well, but men are awful scumbags.”

    In our country, by the numbers, men are often (though not always) worse off in measures of health and well being than are women. They are more likely to commit suicide, die in violent crime, be maimed or otherwise injured on the job, die early, have poor health, drop out of school, be put on medication for behavioral problems while in school, lose access to their children due to divorce or separation, or any number of other really crappy things. When they are the victims of violence or assault at the hands of women, it is rarely reported because they would only be disbelieved or laughed at. If they are the victims of child sexual assault (which they frequently are) it is often very under-reported, and if the perpetrator is a woman, the accusation isn’t taken very seriously at all. Does any of this mean that women don’t face issues in our society, or discrimination, or violence, or a host of other issues? Absolutely not. But strangely it is not permissible to discuss issues related to men without someone bringing up how bad it is for women.

    We spend a great deal of time and energy teaching boys to curtail their aggression, especially towards women. We try to encourage them not to treat women as objects. We try to get them to do what is right. But if things as honor, sacrifice, etc., are mentioned or the good things men have done as examples of things we ought to encourage is discussed, the “so what” chorus strikes up. This is frankly one of the reasons why many men don’t engage in these conversations; they are no win prospects. Their only role is to be a guilty, repentant perpetrator, guilty by virtue of birth and denied even the right to lay claim to anything as being especially manful.

    What does any of this have to do with co-ed wrestling? Very little, but so it always goes. A small issue, a pastor suggesting that maybe it isn’t such a great idea for us to encourage young boys to pin women to the ground in athletic competition, turns to a “the guys need to get over it” discussion without any real consideration of whether the man has a point or not. Sheesh!!

  33. Annah says:

    Gee elderj, tell us how you really feel. Not sure it was necessary to be so ‘aggressive’ in your response to one person. It’s a discussion after all. You know, different points of view….

    Sheesh!!!!!!!!

  34. elderj says:

    @Annah et al:

    My apologies… you’re correct, I was a bit over the top in my response and I didn’t intend for my comments to be directed strictly at one person.

  35. mike says:

    Eugene, you are only in favor of Title IX because you don’t understand it…

  36. Annah says:

    @elderj

    thanks.
    🙂

  37. JMorrow says:

    This is my first time commenting here, but couldn’t resist on this topic.

    I was a wrestler through Jr. High and High School and ended up wrestling a girl twice, once in a tourney another in a regular season match. To affirm what others have pointed out, once the teasing and chatter subsided and the whistle blew the only thing I cared about was not getting beat. Frankly, wrestling periods are so short and require so much energy to pin/avoid being pinned, that I never felt I had the desire or luxury to fantasize. The sport demands finesse, concentration, and skill at reading your opponent. Frankly the spectators off the mat have more time on their hands to think about physicality issues.

    If you can’t handle that kind of physicality regardless of gender or orientation, they you shouldn’t engage in that kind of sport. As one commenter suggested, I’d even be in favor of same-sex wrestling/martial art leagues if that will help so. Ultimately, I think gauging your child’s maturity is key, and its a decision best made together. Especially at the high school level youth are moments away from making choices of much greater consequence. There are multiple values involved in this issue, not just one. My family taught me to value honorable competition as much as to be respectful of women.

    I don’t think there’s one “Christian” way to come down on this issue. Though Piper’s dramatics about this undercut his argument in my opinion. I’ll say this: if we are going to be bashful about dealing with our own bodies and physicality as men and women in Christ, then our difficulties will extend far beyond wrestling matches. Artists and dancers, doctors and emergency personnel, international workers, all engage in fields that often require greater intimacy with the human body. They are forced to adjust their sense of closeness and physicality to new social and cultural conditions. The kind of maturity required for those fields aren’t built up necessarily by shying away from physicality, but rather from learning self-control.

  38. […] to John Piper’s thoughts on female wrestlers by a few bloggers that I read, including Eugene Cho. I am not talking about women flying off the top rope WWF style, but actual high school competition […]

  39. Julie says:

    But losing for a boy IS is sexual thing! What makes a man is the higher testosterone and they are produced in the testicles. Winning or losing all boils down to only one thing for a boy. he is putting his balls on the line! Girls dont have any of this problem and will never understand this. The more muscular the boy is the more testosterone he will have and the more of a “sore” loser hie will be which is quite “natural’ in the scheme of nature. If a girl pins a muscular boy, not only the boy but every boy or man will be affected and feel that she has got him by the balls! This is also the basis later on for sexual dominance or fantasies about being sexually dominated to get rid of the humiliation and anger. Dr. Julie

  40. Alan says:

    Dr. Julie, you’ve been one of the closest. To me it boiled down to (as an over 40 yr. male) not trusting girls in this endeavor in the long run, rather than not trusting the boys. I had complete faith until about 1993 in women and girls. Much has changed. When guys compete both know the other has testicles. Both are putting theirs in the same risk. We also don’t want to fight with women who do not share that same risk, or get shoulder slammed by them in a high crotch lift gone wrong. Wrestling possibly produces the most serious testicle injuries from my years around sports. No cups. When this furthermore comes from a girl, it not the ol’ elbow. It’s a real change for a boy’s many years left to live and remember. Finally, he really does not want to compete with girls, but complete them.
    It’s all wrong, and yet…I want women to be happy and fulfilled. I truly do. And see genders respect each other, like Navy Basic Training where men and women train side-by-side. I just don’t know. Things are respectful for awhile, they always are in the numerous martial arts scenes I’ve been in. After the women learn from sharing, respectful men, the derogatory jokes about groin strikes start occurring a few times a week, get livelier and more colorful, alot of desensitization later some men join in to take on the appearance of the unaffected, confident ones, and we actually have girl bullies in unconventional, sexual ways. It may only be threats with innuendo. “If you tickle me again…” And it happens. And he “deserved it.” But it’s pretty much omnipresent. So in one more area, wrestling, as guys suck it up and do all they can for women, will gender respect really be there? Yes, it is working out at the HS level right now. Yes. In the overall US society I have not seen that anywhere, anywhere near the persentages I’d expect. Even mothers on this site almost happily denigrate their son’s broken collar bone and fewer skills compared to their uninjured daughter. Same mother then proceeds with her daughter is “more powerful!!” going a little far in making a point, forgetting to provide hope, dignity, belief in himself to improve. In fact, most of the arguments heat up only if attempts are made to deny the chance to be free, and to wrestle with co-ed. Then the women usually go overboard. No question, we’re well aware, we all know, who cannot know, plus we heard of childbirth and look up to it and deal with a year of the after effects gladly and supportingly: women are strong and skilled. That isn’t ever the point men are making.
    To the 2 posters that say women work twice a hard, chill there. Only in your mind or self-building (and self-talk does helps, kudos). There’s not enough room left in the body for more training that everyone does at the same times, to still be able to compete. There may be areas of more focus, no concern about injuries to their most prized parts, and more wrestling camps may get attended off season. In those areas more advantages can come. And we all know the top heavy dudes must be on their best game to survive the better balance and women with skill has.
     To the Christian (which I most certainly am) who stated you know how men think, I’d say friend, No. It’s really wide away from the narrow focus implied. Men can love anyone, yes. Most men are attracted to more traditional feminine appearance, they just are – zero knock on women. Attracted to feminity, and I don’t mean happy because she helpless and dainty (that’d be BS). I’m leading to a point – when your survival is at stake, and I always get kind of ruthless myself if a woman is willing to fight me, my alertness is way the F up, because her challenge inherently states she’s may not fight to earn my respect but to hurt me remorselessly, I (and you, if you were a fighter) and teen boys are thinking survive this match. The men may be able into turn focused monster, for an extended spell. When done win or lose, they usually can snap out of their trance. My sister taught me wrestling – her 4 years older and much heavier. A valuable experience.

  41. Alan says:

    Women are strong and skilled (with practice). Actually, although I said, “That isn’t ever the point men are making,” I guess there will be some men speaking about women as flowers about to break. Are they hoping this is true??

    BTW, I do know how to spell some of those misspelled words I just noticed, but I’m pressing on.🙂

  42. Alan says:

    JMorrow: great response IMO.
    Christy…
    You’re educated. In all respect you appear to be fighting for a unilateral victory. If there is a social injustice going on, men can still have “true manhood” and women be honorable in how they both face it, bring home the bacon, and try to make changes. Societal injustices called current laws, and environmental conditions don’t prevent honor, but can encourage it. In a lavish setting is honor more evident? No, of course, not. Taking away from the good that men have done does not help women rise higher, or better cope, or be better human beings, although practically speaking it works short-term.
    Jack Danger Canty: Thanks for saying how it really is. The more honesty that is out there, the better chance of finding a good path. So many arguments one-up for “protection.” (fear). We’re all guilty, but just stating the fears directly is the only productive path. Then vote in the democratic process, then following the laws, changing your sports or responses to violence (if not protected by law).

    Lori, several people have said it’s a no win situation for boys wrestling, and as you attest (I thought at first a little too happily) your son learned and it’s good for him to be humble. That means he won something! I see ANY man here (and the women to a much lesser extent in this particular argument) that will argue against co-ed wrestling to get into a no-win situation. So votes get cast and we next fall in line.

    I do think the boys can learn a great deal wrestling with the girls, and in the end come out of the defeats and wins with an ability to stand up to the crowd (immature “mob” mentality), and stand up for women and themselves in a new and better way.

    Some things can never be 100% “protected” against. Bastions of males may now include “just-one-of-the-boys Girls” — and I don’t mean in wrestling. I’m not sure any of the ever-present, slang conversations on delicate subjects has made women more respectful of men – or men in return. As a man I notice conversations taken over, less said, and men enjoying their lives a lot less. Whether those men were talking good or bad subjects before the women joined them, the enjoyment factor did leave for those men. Just as often, however, men can see better when around the RIGHT women, those who don’t bring 1,000 years of historical repression baggage into today’s moment of interaction. There will never be exactly equal genders [thankfully :)]. Ebbs and flows. Courts are still giving a nearly complete support toward women who grievously injure men, for example, and in divorces, for another example.

    Lori and Piper, you’re right. All women must get into their heads even if a boy if soundly beaten in a wrestling match by a girl, feels little dignity in the media or at school, and is perhaps reminded by women of his weaknesses and crimes committed by his gender over the centuries, and that he deserves excessive violence as a man, and that a real man does this (whatever suits an agenda), and he shouldn’t act insecure when she acting clueless and disrespectful, the desire “TO PROTECT” draws up in him again. That is the way men think. We do it whether we’re appreciated for it or not. It’s how we keep things going in our lives. If we find ourselves not protecting others, from a deluge of negative images, messages, or trauma, then you’d be witnessing a natural disaster in the man, and disasters brewing around him. The fine-line of manhood is simply dignity, not domination. With freedoms for both genders, best selves can emerge. Although men do everything they can not to fight women, they keep getting backed into walls on every imaginable subject. Along with inciting fights, add in some abandonment ( everyone ), infinite negative media images, an instance of easy physical (sexual) abuse from the opposite gender at school, and those men (as women before and still today) get on a warpath against the opposite gender. Where are those men? Everywhere. Coaching the teams and wrestling on the teams.
    The GOOD news is each gender interaction, and especially each response to a bad event can set the example for one’s gender, and be witnessed by the opposite gender, and remembered.
    Throw out the USELESS, over-used, ineffective, put-down arguments and tactics against the opposite gender on every subject to win every argument. They have nothing to do with wrestling. Wins at wrestling are good, and so are the losses.
    Boys learn from losses when in a supportive environment, such as: We can all be beaten at times, and it’s a helpless feeling, and we can’t fully prevent that vulnerability or feeling. The cost to be invulnerable doesn’t exist and if it did would be too high. Trusting others to not hurt them further after they’re defeated is a road boys have to go down – still. People tend to add in an extra measure of hurt, increasingly in a society that thinks manners toward men are unnecessary, a sign of weakness, or patriarchy. Can those boys trust again feeling so vulnerable, or will they carry hate and a pre-emptive angry attitude? What can help them know they were defeated by a good human being? Knowing they’re perfectly safe, free to fail, and with one more good human being around (the victor).
    What fears do the girls go through in wrestling? I think it’s only win-win for females, and if I were a girl I’d probably want to wrestle boys. What can go wrong with a hundred people watching? It feels good to be the underdog always, or at least very supported. I’ve won many a contest with those energies in me.
    Mike Clawson: Right on.
    Julie Clawson: “If boys are to tell them that they refuse to play the game with them, that girls aren’t worth the possible complications that including them might entail, what are the girls to come way with?” Make it complication-free. Can this ever be done with girls (tongue in cheek and some truth, too)? As a HS girl’s soccer coach I was fooled my first year, but no drama afterwards (“You told my friend she didn’t make Varsity because…”) I address it at first practices with humor, “Don’t play the coaches against each other or play me🙂 Just be honest. Also, I don’t know everything about girls. If I miss something important, please let me know.” All the while I’m trying to learn, reading studies, and incorporating training methods to reduce high incidence of ACL tears in female players, and so on. But some opposite gender things we can never quite, fully know, just be empathetic.

    The honorable truth is complications should be ventured into, only if prepared: With the deepest, highest respect for the genders. Like testicular exams have a health benefit, and EEO in the workplace has a social and moral benefit (even if men are left out – men offended by anti-male jokes are enduring sexual harassment from females; offended males are marginalized and “exposed” if their feelings are expressed; offending females smile, “refrain,” and say grow a thicker skin. Another topic…). Hard choices, but how many things in life ARE hard choices THEN we’re glad we did them. The boys are not getting a chance to protest, but they also, to my knowledge, have not been hurt by this. They appear to have been made better and the girls happier as well. It’s the, “Ha!” in your face crowd that rubs girl’s victories in boys face to say we’re equal that starts unnecessary fights. This gets done as natural as winds will be in a hurricane by EVEN the girl wrestlers commenting, not just non-wrestlers with political ideas, and “I don’t care about the boys” start to permeate the conversations again. Tough world, tough choices. Win, and point out wins, and point out sacrifice. Do these things. Win, and state it humbly if it helps the conversation. But never, ever reduce the accomplishments of the other gender, or use bad gender example to try to get more advantages for one’s own gender.
    Kristine: Wrestling isn’t crotch grabbing that we’ve all grown used to. That would hurt (and reduce participation levels). But I think I know what you mean. 🙂
    A confession….
    This early morning I had two similar blogs open, and my 6:48am comments, while I stand by them, referenced content from the other wrestling debate site😦 Sad, I know.

  43. Alan says:

    And sorry about that!

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One Day’s Wages

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The family that karaokes together stays together. #ChoFamilyKPopFamily Family time in one of my favorite cities in the world - especially when the exchange rate is so favorable. Thank you, Vancouver, for being such a great refuge for our souls for the past 20 years. #QuestVancouver It's the day after...that day.
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#PreachingToMyself This is what real life looks like after a crazy couple weeks. Grateful for this woman. I love her. She's gonna scream at me for posting this pic. #ThoseSocksThough Grateful for the opportunity to encourage 2500 youth leaders & pastors at the @youthspecialties conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Had prayed for wisdom to encourage leaders and courage to navigate a word for leaders post election about empathy and compassion for the unseen, marginalized, and those experiencing real fear.

Also, what a joy to have my church's youth pastor, @cobycagle, also here teaching. Some years ago, I was a youth pastor for several years in California, Korea, NY, and NJ. They were meaningful years but filled with challenges and loneliness. Sometimes, I felt unseen and insignificant - in comparison to "real" adult ministry. As a lead pastor now, I want to make sure I don't make those mistakes of overlooking our youth and children's ministry and their volunteers and staff. 
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