John Piper: Does a woman submit to abuse?


Mr. Piper’s answer surprised me. Be sure to see watch the whole video to pick up how he frames things. There is one section that honestly and truly stunned me. He advises that women should endure a "season" of verbal abuse or being "smacked" for one night before they tell the church about it. He goes on to say that the solution for this resides in the church. There is no mention of where it might be appropriate to call the police, go to a crisis centre or get out of town.

I can’t say I know much about Mr. Piper, let alone his heart or background, but I find this sort of thinking appalling.  I’ll acknowledge that there is a difference between people getting angry and abuse.  Mr. Piper doesn’t make that distinction, he just draws a distinction between more severe and less severe abuse. 

I believe If conflict becomes physical then people need to be held to account.  If a spouse, man or woman, doesn’t feel safe in their own home and refuse to mention it to anyone because they are trying honour God what does that do to their relationship with God?  Regardless of how people want to interpret  biblical passages on gender roles should we not see our response to abuse through the central of theme of sacrificial love for one another?  If abuse of any form destroys people how can we tolerate it? 

If we tolerate physical abuse of any form in our families what message does that send to our children?  Will little Tommy grow up thinking its ok to smack his girlfriend once a year or so?  If there is a “season” of verbal abuse what example does that send?

If we submission  is so important what of the command for all Christians to be submissive to one another out of reverence for Christ.  If a husband can’t control his tongue and is engaging in verbal abuse should he not then be required to open up about to someone that can help him stop?  Would not any wife have the right to call him on it?

I’ve read stories about other church situations where the church surrounds the abusive man and leaves the women and children out in the cold.  In one sense I don’t get it.  If these men are supposed to be leaders in their church and in their family why are they so afraid to be held to account in such serious situations?  Why are other men so afraid to actually dig in to the situation and shed light on everything?

This stuff disgusts me, it really does.

In another sense I do get it.  The apostle John talks a lot about light.  Light shines in to the darkness and if our deeds are evil we fear the light.  We fear being seen for what we are.  We fear the exposure.  So often the people in charge don’t want people to be damaged by the truth of the situation.  They would rather cover it up, hide it, paper over it.  They don’t want the light exposing the faults and weaknesses in their community and in their leadership.

Paul understood that God’s power is best displayed through weakness.   When we are weak, when we are honest, when we are transparent it gives us the clearest perspective on what God is doing in our midst.  Paul had such confidence in the transforming work of Christ he didn’t have to pretend, project or cover up.  His whole life was on display warts and all because he knew people would see God working in him. 

The church would be wise to earn from his example.

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