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Why John Piper ‘Can’t Quite Make Sense’ of the Pope Approving Blessings for Same-Sex Couples

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L: Pope Francis. Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons. R: John Piper. Screenshot from YouTube / @desiringGod

Author, pastor, and theologian John Piper says that he “can’t quite make sense” of Pope Francis’ decision to approve blessings for same-sex couples. While Piper acknowledged that believers should always seek the good of others, he does not believe that Scripture supports the blessings recently authorized by the Vatican. 

“I’ve tried…to understand the wording of the pope’s proposal,” said Piper in an April 15 episode of his podcast, “Ask Pastor John,” “and I have listened to a Catholic priest defend the pope’s proposal.”

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“I cannot escape the impression that even though the effort is being made not to consecrate the so-called ‘irregular situations’ as marriage, nevertheless, the very effort to provide an official way for there to be a blessing on a kind of same-sex togetherness,” said Piper, “which the Bible warns is evil and eternally destructive, inevitably communicates that the pope does not hold that biblical view, at least not with the same ultimate seriousness that the New Testament does.”

John Piper: An Example of ‘Unbiblical Thinking’

On Dec. 18, the Vatican issued a document allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples but differentiating such a blessing from an endorsement of same-sex marriage. 

“This Declaration remains firm on the traditional doctrine of the Church about marriage, not allowing any type of liturgical rite or blessing similar to a liturgical rite that can create confusion,” said the document. “The value of this document, however, is that it offers a specific and innovative contribution to the pastoral meaning of blessings, permitting a broadening and enrichment of the classical understanding of blessings, which is closely linked to a liturgical perspective.”

It is precisely in this context that one can understand the possibility of blessing couples in irregular situations and same-sex couples without officially validating their status or changing in any way the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage,” the document stated. 

Many listeners wrote to Piper about the pope’s decision, as well as about a contrasting news report, also from last December, about Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye. Ndayishimiye said that God was opposed to homosexuality and that gay people should be stoned.