A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

John Piper’s “Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse” – are they helpful?

Fresh off the presses is John Piper’s article Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse. He says he has written it to clarify what he said some years ago in his online Q&A video where he was answering the question “What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser?”

When that Q&A video first came out there was a lot of criticism of Piper for his teaching. After a while the video was removed from the Desiring God website, but it remained available at other sites including the blogs Emotional Abuse and Your Faith and Women in Ministry.  One of the things people were critical of was that Piper did not mention nor suggest the option of a victim calling the police but, rather, seemed to encourage an abused woman to allow the church to handle it “in house”.

We, as a team, are interested in your opinion of Piper’s latest article. Please tell us what you think.

Kindly note that we are publishing tomorrow’s post early. Also note that we have removed some of the hyperlinks on scripture verses in the version below,  to be easy on your eyes. The text itself has not been changed.

Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse

by John Piper | December 19, 2012

Several years ago, I was asked in an online Q&A, “What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser?”

One of the criticisms of my answer has been that I did not mention the recourse that a wife has to law enforcement for protection. So let me clarify with seven biblical observations.

1. Every Christian is called to submit to various authorities and to each other: children to parents (Ephesians 6:1), citizens to government (Romans 13:1), wives to husbands (Ephesians 5:22), employees to employers (2 Thessalonians 3:10), church members to elders (Hebrews 13:17), all Christians to each other (Ephesians 5:21), all believers to Christ (Luke 6:46).

This puts the submission of wives and husbands into the wider context of submission to Jesus, to the civil authorities, to each other, and to the church. This means that the rightness or wrongness of any act of submission is discerned by taking into account all the relevant relationships. We are all responsible to Jesus first, and then, under him, to various other persons and offices. Discerning the path of love and obedience when two or more of these submissive relationships collide is a call to humble, Bible-saturated, spiritual wisdom.

2. Husbands are commanded, “Love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19). They are told to “love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Ephesians 5:28–29). The focus of a husband’s Christlikeness in loving his wife is “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

Christian husbands are not Christ. They are finite, fallible, forgiven sinners. They do not stand in the place of Christ. Their wives relate directly to Christ (Hebrews 4:1611:6), not merely through their husbands. Husbands do not have the wisdom or the power or the rights of Christ. Their likeness to Christ in leading their wives is limited and focused by these words: He gave himself up for her . . . nourishing and cherishing . . . not harsh with them.

Therefore, an abusive husband is breaking God’s law. He is disobeying Christ. He is not to be indulged but disciplined by the church. The wife is not insubordinate to ask the church for help. A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police. That would be a biblical failure of her church.

3. But recourse to civil authorities may be the right thing for an abused wife to do. Threatening or intentionally inflicting bodily harm against a spouse (or other family members) is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, punishable by fines, short-term imprisonment, or both. Which means that a husband who threatens and intentionally injures his wife is not only breaking God’s moral law, but also the state’s civil law. In expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is asking her to participate in his breaking of both God’s moral law and the state’s civil law.

God himself has put law enforcement officers in place for the protection of the innocent. “If you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). A wife’s submission to the authority of civil law, for Christ’s sake, may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand that she endure his injuries. This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.

4. The church should not harbor an abusive man or woman whom the civil authorities would punish if they knew what the church knows. We are called to mercy. “Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). But there are times when mercy to one demands justice for another. This is often the case with criminal abuse. Moreover, there are many ways to show mercy toward a guilty person who must pay fines or go to jail. We are seldom in a position where the choice is simply mercy or no mercy.

5. For many women, the thought of a husband going to jail and losing his job and being publicly shamed is so undesirable that they often endure much sin before becoming desperate enough to turn to the authorities. What I want to stress is that long before they reach a point of desperation — or harm — the women of the church should know that there are spiritual men and women in the church that they can turn to for help. By way of caution and lament, I cannot promise that every church has such spiritual, gifted, and compassionate men and women available for help. But many do. The intervention of these mature brothers and sisters may bring the husband to repentance and reconciliation. Or they may determine that laws have been broken and the civil authorities should or must be notified. In either case, no Christian woman (or man) should have to face abuse alone.

6. When Jesus commands his disciples, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39), he is describing one way of love: the testimony that Jesus is so sufficient to me that I do not need revenge. This was the way Christ loved us at the end: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22–23).

But this is not the only path of love open to those who are persecuted. The Bible warrants fleeing. John Bunyan wrestled with these two strands in the Bible of how to deal with persecution:

He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled, Ex. 2:15; Moses stood, Heb. 11:27. David fled, 1 Sam. 19:12; David stood, 24:8. Jeremiah fled, Jer. 37:11–12; Jeremiah stood, 38:17. Christ withdrew himself, Luke 19:10; Christ stood, John 18:1–8. Paul fled, 2 Cor. 11:33; Paul stood, Acts 20:22–23. . . .

Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God’s providence, and the escape countenanced by God’s Word, Matt. 10:23. (Seasonable Counsels, or Advice to Sufferers, in The Works of John Bunyan, volume 2, page 726)

7. When the Bible says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27), it implies that Christians with means and strength take initiatives for the weaker. The “visitation” in this text is not for nothing. It is for help — for provision and protection. The point is: When Jesus commands his disciples, “Turn to him the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:39), he does not mean that, if I can do something about it, I should allow you to be slapped again. Again, it is the camaraderie in the body of Christ that breaks the cycle of injustice.

My closing plea is to all Christian men, and in particular to the leaders of churches: Herald a beautiful vision of complementarian marriage that calls men to bear the responsibility not only for their own courage and gentleness but also for the gentleness of the other men as well. Make it part of the culture of manhood in the church that the men will not tolerate the abuse of any of its women.

248 Comments

  1. These are the comments that really stick out to me:

    “Their wives relate directly to Christ (Hebrews 4:16; 11:6), not merely through their husbands.” (Merely through? So some part a woman’s relation to Christ is “through” her husband?)

    “A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police.”
    (Emphasis here appears to be pointing women to the church  as a means of protection, not the police. Why would they not go to the police who are better equipped to protect them?)

    “In expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is asking her to participate in his breaking of both God’s moral law and the state’s civil law.”
    (What? Who honestly cares if he is asking her to break the state’s civil law? How is it even relevant? In expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is abusing her and she needs to escape. The law doesn’t make the need any more real).

    ” A wife’s submission to the authority of civil law, for Christ’s sake, may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand that she endure his injuries.” (What is being overruled here? A husband never has any right to abuse his wife. And why “may”?)

    Piper is doing his best to be conciliatory here- that’s what worries me.

    • Anonymous

      I am not done reading this article yet, but starting here. Why do we focus so much on the “sin” of children disrespecting their parents, but go so lightly on abusive spouses? Why do we focus so strongly on the “sin” of our responses, but go so lightly on abusive spouses? Why do we focus so strongly on the “sin” of physical abuse, but go so lightly on abusive spouses who drive their victims to despair and hopelessness through emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual and financial abuse? Now I will read on…

      “restoration of his nurturing leadership”. I think there is little understanding here, that even the “leadership” that abusers demonstrate, is still geared toward themselves and can still be just more of their abuse.

      “there are spiritual men and women in the Church they can turn to”. Where? Not in the Church I was in! I am beginning to wonder if the abuse does not get dealt with, because the leaders are abusive themselves, and to them it is like having to address their own sin. Maybe their wives are wondering how they can condemn another man’s abuse, when their husband is an abuser themselves. Funny thing. The first time this one man walked into our congregation, I turned to my daughter and told her, “There is something really wrong with that man!”. I sensed an evil. I just knew it. God just told me. I knew he was looking for a position and that he was not who he presented himself to be. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew. Later, he would be the one who would tell the leaders to bring the charges against me. He is still not in a leadership position, but he is still evil.

      “laws have been broken”. So are we only free if our abusers have broken the law? Because if that is true, then I am really free –

      I concur with Jeff S.’s first response to this article. It sounds like Mr. Piper is grasping at straws to try to find the “right” answer to correct his very bad first response. He is not doing too much better here. I think it may be best, to just allow people who know and understand abusive spouses, to help and counsel and deal with the victims and the Church just needs to focus on all the other areas of error it is currently in!

    • I could hardly read this, why does this person tell us what a Christian woman should or should not feel? Seems Piper is eerily creeping around the edges, the kind of person who would seem helpful to somebody in trouble, but they are very smoothly injecting an insidious venom. Down right scary, Pick through what Pied piper is really saying, the Woman is to bare her husbands torture, mutually responsible especially if she does not get the proper help thats so ” readily” waiting for her…..slick garbage, ugh? Barf”?

  2. Susan Donroe aka Velvet Voice

    I still don’t understand why a marriage needs a leader. In business, a team effort always works best. A leader is only needed if there are weak thinkers.

    • Desley

      I personally think that introducing a power imbalance in an intimate relationship is a perversion anyway, Instead of a union of two equals in partnership, we are left with a relationship that resembles something closer to a parent-child relationship. Sex seems to be the only distinguishing mark between the two relationships.
      Perhaps I do not understand the Complementarian position fully, but I believe that marriages should be characterized by a mutual self-giving and deference to the other, A spouse’s ultimate joy ought to be the joy of the other.
      AsTimothy Keller writes,

      “You will, then, never get a sense of self by standing still, as it were, and making everything revolve around your needs and interests. Unless you are willing to experience the loss of options and the individual limitation… you will remain out of touch with your own nature and the nature of things. …You were made for mutually self-giving, other-directed love. Self-centeredness destroys the fabric of what God has made.”

    • Desley, Keller is a Complementarian, but about as far on the opposite spectrum from Piper as you can be and not be an Egalitarian. He essentially says that male headship is a Biblical principal but how it is applied is up to each individual couple. He also says that his own marriage functions Egalitarian.

      Complementarians don’t even agree on what it all means (Piper won’t allow women to read scripture in church while Keller has preaching and teaching deaconesses) so it’s no surprise that us mere mortals have trouble sussing it all out- and that makes it even more bewildering that Piper puts such a heavy emphasis on it, especially his brand of it.

      I definitely don’t want to get into a comp vs egal discussion (because I agree with Jeff and Barbra that solving that won’t solve abuse issues), but certainly Piper’s specific brand of Complementarianism (women must submit, regret not being able to participate in three-somes due to a violation of God’s law, endure verbal abuse “for a season”, endure being slapped for a night, not be muscular, avoid usurping a man’s authority when giving driving directions, etc) added to his no divorce teaching creates a problematic and ripe-for-oppression view of marriage.

      • Desley

        “but certainly Piper’s specific brand of Complementarianism (women must submit, regret not being able to participate in three-somes due to a violation of God’s law, endure verbal abuse “for a season”, endure being slapped for a night, not be muscular, avoid usurping a man’s authority when giving driving directions, etc) added to his no divorce teaching creates a problematic and ripe-for-oppression view of marriage.”

        I think, for me, the problem is that it is not just Piper who represents Complementarianism this way.

        Kevin Swanson and Susan Bradrick, in the “Are you rasing feminine daughters” program on Generations Radio, in the context of the evils of feminism, claimed that university-educated women are more likely to commit adultery.

        Both the Gospel Coalition and True Woman published posts blaming the women’s lib for woman abuse. They claim that in the absence of these comp gender roles, women really desire to be dominated and men desire to dominate, conquer, and colonize. (Just who is going to be blamed, then, when a woman is being abused?)

        Beth Moore, in her “Living Beyond Yourself” study makes the claim that because the serpent went to the woman first, this means that women alone possess a powerful “influence” which can easily morph into manipulation and therefore must be harnessed through our “gentle and quiet spirits.” Translation: I can’t trust myself, I must fear myself. I must trust my husband more than myself because he is a man and I am merely woman.

        The Driscolls outrightly claim that women are more easily deceived than men.

        Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project” maintains that welfare is against God’s will and that it only makes it easier for women to leave their husbands; The church should be financially supporting real widows and people who are really in need.

        The mother of the Polytechnique shooter was on 100 Huntey Street and suggested that her son hated feminists and killed 14 women because she went back to work when he was a kid. They didn’t even mention the fact that she was a victim of domestic violence at the hand of his misogynistic father while he was growing up, or the fact that his father disallowed his wife from expressing any form of maternal affection toward her son.

        More recently, and perhaps most disturbingly, Charlotte Allen (editor of Beliefnet.com) asserts in the National Review that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting only happened because women were running the school.

        Honestly, I could list a hundred more examples.

        Are these simply extremists? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that the line between these so-called extreme comps and the more balanced is getting a lot more fuzzy – and the extremist position is gaining a lot more traction among younger complementarian evangelicals. Why do the more balanced comps not speak up more against this kind of woman bashing? These kinds of teachings have a direct impact on women that makes it much harder on women to trust themselves and leave their abusers.

      • Yes, Desley, the more hardcore, patriarchal version of Complementariansim is certainly gaining the spotlight. I didn’t mean to suggest the Piper is an extremist in terms of popularity, sadly. He is one of the more prominent Complementarians (and I believe claims having invented the word) but there are many who are in lock step with him. I was only pointing out that while the version those folks follow is certainly oppressive (along with those who are even MORE patriarchal such as VisionForum), they shouldn’t necessarily be used to judge the views of moderates like Tim and Kathy Keller.

      • Desley

        “I was only pointing out that while the version those folks follow is certainly oppressive (along with those who are even MORE patriarchal such as VisionForum), they shouldn’t necessarily be used to judge the views of moderates like Tim and Kathy Keller.”

        Yes, I would agree with that. I have never had a problem at all with the teachings of Timothy Keller around women. In fact, I am not necessarily opposed to biblical headship, I am more opposed to a headship that is defined as being a “trump card.”

        If JP and Doug Wilson actually thought biblical headship is “the glad assumption of responsibility” as they both claim that it is, then I don’t think we would be having this problem with the church enabling and sheltering male abusers or allying with them in the first place. If an abuse victim were to leave an abuse situation, the abuser would be held responsible and he would be told that he had to accept responsibility in the form of “you made your bed now lie in it” or “you reap what you sow.”
        He would be told to commit to leaving the victim alone indefinitely so as to ensure that he would undertake the long process of rehabilitation for the right reasons: not as a tool to try and win back the victim, but because his behaviour has been an affront to God and this grieves his heart. (This is how you would weed out the regenerate from the non-regenerate, and the manipulators from the truly repentant.)
        A truly repentant man will acknowledge the gravity of his actions and will ask for forgiveness without any expectations whatsoever. He will understand and accept it if the victim cannot take another risk with him. He will continue to pursue heart-level changes because this is what God calls him to do to for himself.

        If the doctrine of “biblical headship” in the form of responsibility and accountability were put to use by the church in my situation, my marriage might actually have been salvageable. My husband is not a narcissist or sociopath; he is simply living in sin and bitterness and needed both legal and church discipline. He needed to be delivered “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” This is the only way he could be brought to a place of repentance where he might take responsibility for his choices and behaviours. Simply put, he needed to grow up both emotionally and spiritually. But because my church only gives lip-service to biblical headship as defined by responsibility and spiritual leadership, and instead reduces it to a hierarchy, they did nothing but exacerbate the problem by feeding his immature sense of entitlement and self-justification. They failed miserably to practice what they preach and, in turn, turned justice on its head.

        This is why I am wary of the doctrine of headship. It is too dangerous, in my opinion. Even churches that preach the doctrine as something benevolent and safe, it is only regarded as such in theory. How it is acturally worked out on the pavement of real life – particularly in situations of abuse – is another story altogether. I’ll take egalitarianism any day if it means the risks will be minimized. I think God would prefer an egalitarian marriage to a marriage characterized by power and control.

      • AMEN, Desley!

        Yes, not all abusers are ‘monsters in wedlock’. The people working in men’s behaviour change are saying that their programs are making an impact on the men who are the more common and garden abusers (though it’s not yet known whether the impact is long-lasting) but they admit that the programs don’t make any impact on the more extreme types of abusers.
        Having said that, I think we always need to remember what Jeff Crippen has been pointing out: that an abuser who professes to be a Christian is one of the worst kinds of abusers. Claiming to be a Christian while perpetrating abuse is a horrendous and truly blasphemous form of evil.

      • Desley, what a great comment.

        Your account of your own marriage and how the church failed you is particularly moving and insightful. Thank you for sharing.

      • Barnabasintraining

        He would be told to commit to leaving the victim alone indefinitely so as to ensure that he would undertake the long process of rehabilitation for the right reasons: not as a tool to try and win back the victim, but because his behaviour has been an affront to God and this grieves his heart. (This is how you would weed out the regenerate from the non-regenerate, and the manipulators from the truly repentant.)
        A truly repentant man will acknowledge the gravity of his actions and will ask for forgiveness without any expectations whatsoever. He will understand and accept it if the victim cannot take another risk with him. He will continue to pursue heart-level changes because this is what God calls him to do to for himself.

        +10. Million.

  3. Brian

    I think the average person can get lost in all that stuff he says. A lot of assuming that churches and leadership would actually do the right thing in abuse cases. And from what I have read on this blog and witnessed personally, that is rarely if ever the case.

    • Brian, its simple you are right. He is saying “”alot” of churches are helpful. They mostly do MORE harm, and encouraging abuse victoms to enter into that un educated arena is dangerous, and if he wanted to be accurate….even if the church sincerely wants to “HEAR” the truth, which is NOT the majority of the time, BUT even if they did want to hear, they are so ill equipped in understanding the dynamics the victom of abuse remains trapped. Exactly like this Piper dude who wants to sound all fluffy, he is so tip-toeing through his own field of tulips, just hoping it all smells pretty and looks good to the rest of us. He like most churches out there will end up assisting and supporting the abuser.

    • Joyce

      A lot of good points Desley! I had that idea from Beth Moore but couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Ditto with Piper’s views – thanks Megan.

  4. Desley

    “Which means that a husband who threatens and intentionally injures his wife is not only breaking God’s moral law, but also the state’s civil law. In expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is asking her to participate in his breaking of both God’s moral law and the state’s civil law.”

    I find the silence surrounding the woman’s welfare or the welfare of any children in this sentence deafening.It is blatantly obvious that he elevates the sanctity of these various instutions above the human dignity of women and children.

    “This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.”

    Abusive men rarely ever truly repent. To equate a spirit of love and submission with “a…heart that longs for her husband’s…restoration of his nurturing leadership” is to set the woman up to repeat the cycle of abuse again. Not only that, but if she has children, they have also been traumatized by the abuse and need more than anything to have their mother protect them from further abuse, whether it is directed at her or the children. When women leave abusers only to return again, it undermines the child’s confidence in his mother and undermines his security. It also teaches them that this is the way men treat women. If she has daughters, it normalizes abuse and they are more likely to get involved in abusive relationships.

    A woman can separate and divorce an abusive spouse with no intent or desire for the restoration of his “nurturing leadership” and still maintain a spirit of love and submission to the Lord Jesus. A desire for reconciliation isn’t always taking the spiritual high road. Sometimes women want to reconcile out of unbelief and disobedience to God because separation and divorce is hard. I know this first hand.

    I still think John Piper is grossly ignorant about the realities of Intimate Partner Violence and will continue to bring harm to victims who are looking to him for guidance and direction.

    • “I find the silence surrounding the woman’s welfare or the welfare of any children in this sentence deafening.It is blatantly obvious that he elevates the sanctity of these various instutions above the human dignity of women and children.”

      Yes, he clearly does and pretty much states as much in his position on divorce, he calls it a “high view” of marriage where marriage is more important than the individuals in it.

      “A woman can separate and divorce an abusive spouse with no intent or desire for the restoration of his “nurturing leadership” and still maintain a spirit of love and submission to the Lord Jesus.”

      Piper does not believe in divorce for any reason (including a spouse leaving you and remarrying- then your job is to remain single and honor your marriage vows) so in his view reconciliation is always the goal, no matter what the transgression. This was the view of my church, so I’m quite familiar with how Piper thinks in regards to divorce.

      He has solved the puzzle of “divorce” in a nice and tidy way theologically where every piece fits for him. That real people are destroyed if they try to follow his teaching does not concern him.

      • MeganC

        “He has solved the puzzle of ‘divorce’ in a nice and tidy way theologically where every piece fits for him. That real people are destroyed if they try to follow his teaching does not concern him.”

        That’s it EXACTLY, Jeff S! And what happens all too often! (And what I have been guilty of, in the past)

        It is almost like PIper is just vaguely trying to touch upon abuse here because he really cannot grasp (1) what it is like for any human being to be married to a monster and (2) what the options really are. Like you, his qualifiers bother me . . she “may”, “can”, “merely” . . . . he is glossing over a massive problem with a dreamy theology . . . a Marie-Antionette-ish idea that “it’s gonna work out for everyone” . . . . a “let them eat cake” syndrome.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Yes, he clearly does and pretty much states as much in his position on divorce, he calls it a “high view” of marriage where marriage is more important than the individuals in it.

        Yep. Just like the Pharisees had a “high view” of the Sabbath.

      • Desley

        “Yep. Just like the Pharisees had a “high view” of the Sabbath.”

        Exactly.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, and let’s not forget how Jesus responded to those Pharisees and called them “vipers”, among other things.

  5. Suzanne McCarthy

    Too little too late. Women have lost years of their lives to utter misery and he just does not get it. He needs to imagine what it would be like to share a cell with a violent cellmate for 30 years. He needs to imagine 30 years of living with routine violence and being used as a sex object by somebody bigger and stronger. How would a man like a life like that? He would come out old and gray, bent and broken and be told not to be bitter and not to blame anyone, but to move forward and not dwell on it.

    • MeganC

      Yes, Suzanne. I could not agree with you more. Your words are painfully true!

  6. John Piper seems to be digging his hole even deeper with this. He didn’t need clarification – he needed to apologize. He wasn’t ‘misunderstood’ at all. If he had any true sense of humility he would have done more than clarified years ago.

    He is still leaning towards – come to the church first. He still isn’t going near the terror and harm that abuse causes. He clearly still can’t wrap his head around the dynamic of an abusive relationship.

    The man needs to repent – not clarify. His lack of humility is showing. His lack of responsibility – in his comp prospective is lacking as well. This isn’t a loving statement, but a cover my butt you didn’t understand me the first time ….statement.

    I honestly see no remorse over the what happened at all. That is a HUGE issue. You are to show what ‘leadership’ is by your own behavior – in his position – per their own doctrine. I don’t see that at all here.

    • Barnabasintraining

      John Piper seems to be digging his hole even deeper with this. He didn’t need clarification – he needed to apologize.

      Bingo.

    • joepote01

      “He didn’t need clarification – he needed to apologize. He wasn’t ‘misunderstood’ at all. If he had any true sense of humility he would have done more than clarified years ago.”

      Well stated! I think you pretty much summed up my impression of this statement. As Jeff S mentioned above, it reads as an attempt at being conciliatory, NOT as being apologetic or admitting he was wrong. And it is equally clear that he still believes he was right in his original position and is now attempting to maintain that same position while also including a statement regarding the sinfulness of abuse.

    • Anonymous

      “he needed to apologize” — Yes! AND repent for misguiding, misleading and misinterpreting Christ and the Scriptures, and putting victims at risk and in danger in the process. I think Mr. Piper is just like everyone else who has lost what the mercy of God looks like, in how He loves and deals with His own. No one here is thinking or agrees in treacherous divorce or just walking away the first time a spouse does something we don’t like. I think because they do not live in abuse, they do not understand what life is like with those of us who do live in abuse, and so they can only imagine abuse as someone about to lose their life, because the abuser is so violently physically abusing the victim. This does happen, but the other forms of abuse are also just as horrifically damaging and violent to the victim. Please, let’s find a way to educate completely. If they ignore it or still maintain their views like Mr. Piper does here, then they are just behaving as Pharisees, which means they probably are Pharisees. Anyone who refuses to listen to a victim try to explain the circumstances, and explain what God’s Word really has to say about it, is just not interested in doing things God’s way. Then we have to readjust our views of them as well.

    • “He didn’t need clarification – he needed to apologize. He wasn’t ‘misunderstood’ at all. If he had any true sense of humility he would have done more than clarified years ago. … The man needs to repent – not clarify. ”

      AMEN, Hannah! You nailed it.

    • Anonymous said ” If they ignore it or still maintain their views like Mr. Piper does here, then they are just behaving as Pharisees, which means they probably are Pharisees.”

      Yes. When it looks like a Pharisee, sounds like a Pharisee, has the ‘fragrance’ of a Pharisee, feels like a Pharisee, preaches like Pharisee, then it IS a Pharisee.

      …out of the heart the mouth speaks…. Pharisees speak out of cold, proud, willfully blind hearts.

  7. Jeff Crippen

    Divorce is the watershed issue for me in this subject of abuse. As long as anyone (such as Piper) still insists that an abuse victim cannot divorce the abuser, then I part company with them. We removed all John Piper books and resources from our church library two years ago. His penchant for walking on the edge theologically finally became enough for us.

    You can read between the lines in what Piper says here, and do so quite accurately when you realize that he teaches that divorce for any reason is NEVER permitted by God. For all of his talk of calling the police and of all of these godly people in the church stepping up to protect the victim, the bottom line is that Piper will tell a victim that they cannot divorce the abuser, and therefore you can count on the fact that practically, Piper will prefer that the police not be called, that the victim not testify against the abuser, and that the thing would be handled “in house” in the church. Did you notice his emphasis, by the way, on PHYSICAL abuse. You can bet that for Piper, verbal and emotional and spiritual abuse really are not that big of a deal.

    Preachers/authors/theologians like Piper really disgust me. Their arrogance is overwhelming. If that sounds too harsh of a charge against J.P., then just consider this: Piper knows full well that Christians, including Christian leaders, are not in agreement on this matter of the reasons for divorce. Piper’s own church board is in disagreement as to his position! Knowing this, Piper STILL pushes ahead with all of this preaching and book-writing and shoves this no-divorce-for-any-reason down the throats of all of us.

    • MeganC

      So well-said!!

    • Diane

      Jeff said~

      “Preachers/authors/theologians like Piper really disgust me. Their arrogance is overwhelming. If that sounds too harsh of a charge against J.P., then just consider this: Piper knows full well that Christians, including Christian leaders, are not in agreement on this matter of the reasons for divorce. PIper’s own church board disagrees with his position! Knowing this, Piper STILL pushes ahead with all of this preaching and book-writing and shoves this no-divorce-for-any-reason down the throats of all of us. What does this tell me? It tells me that we have an arrogant man here who thinks he knows better than anyone else.”

      I agree. I hope and pray people just stay away from him.

      Let’s also not forget what I posted in a comment a few months ago about John MacArthur (another one to whom so many look for guidance). It was his recent “We Can’t Edit God”

      http://www.christianpost.com/news/john-macarthur-on-divorce-we-cant-edit-god-75083/

      (where he states what he says the bible “clearly teaches” are the two grounds for divorce), and the sermon link where Rick Holland (ex JMac elder) relates an interesting story about MacArthur and his “I have God’s truth on divorce, so we better not be editing His unable to edited grounds for divorce” attitude. Holland mentioned in a sermon that JMac revealed if he had one question he was able to ask Jesus this side of heaven, it would be not one, but more than one question about divorce. I cannot comprehend anyone teaching so authoritatively on divorce (entitling an article “We Can’t Edit God” –implying he must know God’s unable to be edited truth which cannot be edited) and then admitting that you have questions, not one question, but questionSSS on the very subject you are teaching so confidently. I think that is so reckless…so reckless. It makes me so sad for people who listen to him and take his advice. Piper’s advice, too.

    • Caroline

      I have to agree with you Jeff. When I went to my church for help, they said they would help me, but when it came right down to it, they didn’t really believe I was in that much danger, since it was “only” emotional abuse. In the end, they did nothing. My abusive husband was allowed to stay in his leadership positions in the church, and in para-church organizations, as well as getting his MDIV at the local seminary. When I finally got a restraining order, they asked me to step down from MY leadership positions in the church unless I was willing to take steps to “seek reconciliation”. Meanwhile, my husband had never done anything close to repenting.

      • Caroline, we’ve heard stories just like yours time and time again. Welcome to the club. The club we never wanted to be part of. But Christ was crucified outside the city walls, and it is often outside the camp that we find his truest disciples.

      • Anonymous

        Amen, Barb! To you Caroline, let me just say that Barb is right. Too many of the victims have been re-victimized by the “church”(?) as they handle it their way, instead of really digging into finding out what is truly God’s way. You will find a lot of that here. Unfortunate, but true.

    • YES!!!

  8. Barnabasintraining

    I am sorry but this is sick.

    This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband,

    Here you go. Here it is. A wife is still to be in submission to an abusive husband.

    Or they may determine that laws have been broken and the civil authorities should or must be notified.

    They may determine that laws have been broken? They who? Does this abused woman need the church’s permission and approval to call the civil authorities before she can act? 911 is out of the question? She cannot use common sense and Spirit led wisdom to act on her own? Because if she does, she is not under anyone’s authority? There has to be a chain of command that puts the church before the civil authorities, and before the abused wife’s right to obey Christ directly? And she is to do all this under submission to her husband? Yes, this is what he’s saying.

    Therefore, an abusive husband is breaking God’s law. He is disobeying Christ. He is not to be indulged but disciplined by the church. The wife is not insubordinate to ask the church for help. A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police. That would be a biblical failure of her church.

    Notice how much priority he gives to the church. He goes out of his way to do this. “A Christian wife should not feel the only help available to her is the police” is a clever way of making the police secondary. He wants her focus to be on the church and his “biblical chain of command,” not on the legal means at her disposal that the church would come along side of and cooperate with. The church has preeminence and she is not to act without their permission.

    4. The church should not harbor an abusive man or woman whom the civil authorities would punish if they knew what the church knows.

    Again, he assumes the church knows first, before the civil authorities.

    He hasn’t changed anything. He still says she should endure abuse for a season, until she can get to the church leadership and they can figure out if the authorities “should or must” be called. Once she has the church’s permission then she can incorporate the civil authorities.

    Contrary to what he says in the beginning, he does not portray a woman as first under Christ. If he did, he would affirm her right to call first responders (911) before going before the church so they can figure out if the authorities “should or must” be called. He would say she should not submit to abuse, call the police, and the church will come along side her and help as they can. But the final decisions of what to do are up to her as led by the Spirit of Christ. That would really put Christ first.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Barnabas – Yep, apparently she has to dial 666 first and only 911 if 666 gives her permission to do so.

      • Anonymous

        : ) good one!

      • Barnabasintraining

        Barnabas – Yep, apparently she has to dial 666 first and only 911 if 666 gives her permission to do so.

        Ooo. Good one!

    • Diane

      BIT said~
      “They may determine that laws have been broken? They who?”

      Elders.

      “Does this abused woman need the church’s permission and approval to call the civil authorities before she can act?”

      Yes.

      “911 is out of the question?”

      They determine.

      “She cannot use common sense and Spirit led wisdom to act on her own?”

      No.

      “Because if she does, she is not under anyone’s authority?”

      Right.

      “There has to be a chain of command that puts the church before the civil authorities, and before the abused wife’s right to obey Christ directly?”

      Yes.

      “And she is to do all this under submission to her husband?”

      Yes.

      “Yes, this is what he’s saying.”

      Yes. Crazy, isn’t it?

      • Barnabasintraining

        I don’t know how these people live with themselves.

  9. It’s good that Piper has seen fit to review his teaching on this issue; at least he is acknowledging that his earlier teaching was inadequate. But he’s still not got to the root of the problem.

    Christian husbands are not Christ. They are finite, fallible, forgiven sinners. They do not stand in the place of Christ. Their wives relate directly to Christ (Hebrews 4:16; 11:6), not merely through their husbands. Husbands do not have the wisdom or the power or the rights of Christ.

    I agree with all of that except for the Trojan horse “merely”. We all know that the more patriarchal versions of complementarianism teach an implicit chain-of-command doctrine that the wife relates to Christ by obeying her husband and complying with his direction and leading as the will of God for her life. Piper seems to be having it both ways, trying to keep all camps of his followers happy. He says “wives relate directly to Christ” to keep the soft-complementarians and the borderline egalitarians happy, but he adds “not merely through their husbands” to keep the chain-of-command mob happy too. Is his language carefully chosen because he’s employing “humble, Bible-saturated, spiritual wisdom”? I don’t think so. It seems he’s chosen his words in order to please men.

    I believe Piper ought to have written: “wives relate directly to Christ (Hebrews 4:16; 11:6). Wives do not relate to Christ through their husbands; that would make husband mediators between wives and God, and there is only one mediator – the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5)

    A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police. That would be a biblical failure of her church.

    I am guessing that Piper meant this as a stern word to the church, an admonishment to churches that have not been sufficiently helpful to abused wives. But the trouble is, Piper has no appreciation of how that word “should” will be heard by victims of abuse.
    Let me spell this out. Imagine an abused wife goes to the police and applies for a protection order against her husband, or asks the police to lay charges. She later tells her pastor. The pastor might turn to her and say “You should not have felt that the only help available to you was the police. You should have felt free to come to us.”
    What’s wrong with that? She’s been ‘should-ed’ on once again. She should have felt this, she should not have felt that… Everything she does and feels is criticized; every choice she makes, she gets told she should have done it differently.

    If Piper understood what this is like for victims, and how much victims get should-ed on left right and center, he would never say “an abused wive should…[anything].” That kind of phrasing is always going to be damaging to victims.

    If Piper’s statement had been phrased differently, it would not have been potentially hurtful to victims. He could have delivered the appropriate admonishment to churches without any risk of hurting victims. He could have said, for example:
    “The church ought to support and help abused women, whilst encouraging women to feel that they may seek other sources of support as well, including the support of the secular justice system. To do otherwise would be a biblical failure of the church.”

    A wife’s submission to the authority of civil law, for Christ’s sake, may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand that she endure his injuries.

    When a husband has injured his wife, he has no right whatsoever to any duty of submission from her. It’s not a matter of which obligation overrules which other obligation. By his wicked behavior the husband has nullified his wife’s obligation to submit to him. A nullified obligation is void; it cannot be ‘overruled’ because it is already leveled to the ground. Therefore it is nonsense for Piper to suggest that the wife’s submission to the civil law ‘overrules’ her submission to her husband.

    But not only is it nonsense, it is pernicious nonsense. Why? Because Piper’s wording obscures and minimizes the responsibility of the abusive husband. The principle of wifely submission is made void when a husband abuses his wife. The abusive man voids it. He does this himself, by his evil deeds. To suggest that the principle still residually exists so as to then be overruled by another principle of submission (submission to civil law), is to obscure the enormity of the abuser’s conduct.

    I have more to say, but this will do for starters.

    • MeganC

      Excellent, Barb. You wrote:

      Piper seems to be having it both ways, trying to keep all camps of his followers happy. He says “wives relate directly to Christ” to keep the soft-complementarians and the borderline egalitarians happy, but he adds “not merely through their husbands” to keep the chain-of-command mob happy too.

      I struggled deeply with this view of complementarianism while being married to someone who seemed to have no relationship to Christ at all. What Piper is suggesting here is, not only anti-Biblical, but impossible! And, in my attempts at being a “good wife” throughout an abusive marriage, I could not make this work because I could not trust a husband who abused the children and me all the while addicted to pornography and lies. There was a moment for me of being set free from Piper’s fallacy . . . I really want to say that it came from one of Philip Keller’s books on either Psalm 23 or John 10. But, I remember reading, “The tiny sheep gate is only big enough for each little lamb to go through the gate one at a time.” That “one at a time” got my attention. When we begin to add another person (other than Jesus) to our salvation or sanctification . . . a darkness overcomes us that is difficult to escape. We enter through that gate . . . one at a time . .. listening to *Christ’s* beckoning — not a husband’s.

    • Anonymous

      “Christian husbands are not Christ”. I am so sick of hearing that mindset that says that spouses are not perfect, so don’t expect not to be abused. How many excuses are people like Piper going to make for abusers? Soon, we will be making excuses for sexual offenders who molest children, and just dealing with that “in house” and making the children forgive their offenders and continue to sit on their laps, etc. Oh! I guess I forgot! We already are doing that, aren’t we!! I pray God’s judgment on every Church, that call it Christ and then practice these forms of ungodliness!

      • Diane

        I was reading a popular mega church’s (Summit in NC) new-ish sexual abuse policy they have put online as a resource for other churches to use. They named it SART–Sexual Abuse Response Team. You look at it very carefully and what do you see? They pastors want to be notified first…they will “help” you if police when/should be notified.

      • So agree.

        According to Mr. Piper God does not allow divorce under ANY circumstances.

        That would mean then that God supports abuse within a marriage, if we are going to go as far as calling it a marriage, which he is saying? I am so confused? and a little nauseated!

    • Belle

      “Wives do not relate to Christ through their husbands; that would make husband mediators between wives and God, and there is only one mediator – the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5)

      Amen!

      ” The principle of wifely submission is made void when a husband abuses his wife. The abusive man voids it. He does this himself, by his evil deeds.”

      Is there a post on the blog outlining that teaching from the Scripture?

      • Belle, I’ve had a look through the posts in our ‘submission’ category and can’t find a post to refer you to that expounds this idea thoroughly as its central point.
        The principle of wifely submission is made void when a husband abuses his wife. The abusive man voids it. He does this himself, by his evil deeds.
        – I actually hammered those sentences into shape last night for the first time, when composing my comment.

        You may like to read our page What Headship and Submission Do Not Mean as it has quite a few links to articles on submission.
        And if you read over the posts we have our categories for ‘submission’ and ‘divorce’, you’ll find lots of posts that are in harmony with the idea that a wife’s submission is made void when a husband abuses his wife. Look in the sidebar on the right for our Category Search bar.

    • Sophie

      …She’s been ‘should-ed’ on once again. She should have felt this, she should not have felt that… Everything she does and feels is criticized; every choice she makes, she gets told she should have done it differently.

      If Piper understood what this is like for victims, and how much victims get should-ed on left right and center, he would never say “an abused wive should…[anything].” That kind of phrasing is always going to be damaging to victims.

      If Piper’s statement had been phrased differently, it would not have been potentially hurtful to victims. He could have delivered the appropriate admonishment to churches without any risk of hurting victims. He could have said, for example:
      “The church ought to support and help abused women, whilst encouraging women to feel that they may seek other sources of support as well, including the support of the secular justice system. To do otherwise would be a biblical failure of the church.”

      That’s exactly what I thought, but I wondered if I was being pedantic. However, Piper has presumably chosen the words of this statement very carefully, as a fuller and more detailed expression of his beliefs. Nothing in this statement has been written casually or in a way that misrepresents his views. You’re completely right to call him out on it.

      The principle of wifely submission is made void when a husband abuses his wife. The abusive man voids it. He does this himself, by his evil deeds. To suggest that the principle still residually exists so as to then be overruled by another principle of submission (submission to civil law), is to obscure the enormity of the abuser’s conduct.

      Your comments are very insightful and to me they seem to cut straight to what’s wrong here.

      I think abuse within religion – whether it’s rigid authoritarianism, Pharisaical demands, the systematic concealment of child abuse, or whatever else – generally comes when leaders put principles or systems before the people those principles or systems were designed to serve. In this case, that’s exactly what Piper has done.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Right on the bullseye, Sophie! And thus in the end, it is these “leaders” who get served by the very sheep they are supposed to shepherd.

      • Wendell G

        Something in this struck a chord in me. My wife and I went through a training program for a group called Marriage Savers (been a long time now) and the teachers went into great detail of marriage being a covenant and how seriously covenants were taken in the Old Testament. They went to great lengths to point out that divorce was a breaking of the covenant and must never be countenanced.

        What they failed to understand or explain is that, in the case of abuse, divorce is not the breaking of the covenant. Just as adultery (aka, sexual sin…aka the porneia in the Greek) is a breaking of the covenant, so is abusing one’s partner. The covenant is broken at that point and the “escape clause”, the remedy allowed in the contract, can and should be enforced.

        If you look in Scripture, what were the end results of the Israelites breaking covenant with God? First, the tribes were divided, 10 in the northern kingdom of Israel and 2 in the southern (Judah). In the case of Israel, they fell into gross idolatry and even forbade their people to go to worship at God’s temple in the southern kingdom, which resulted in the loss of their national identity by being overrun by the Assyrians. They no longer were considered a part of God’s people. In essence, God exercised the remedies clause and divorced them. The relationship was over, and there was no national reconciliation with Him (Something He warned them about time and again). (Deut. 29: Joshua 24, as well as others). The abuser is engaging in a form of idolatry, mistreating the partner in many ways, including preventing their partner from participating in the covenant relationship.

        Note: I realize the analogy is not perfect as Judah had to go through captivity for their own sins….

        Forgive me for coming so late in making this connection, but it appears that Piper as well as much of the church are looking at divorce as the covenant breaker, when it is actually the escape clause in cases of abuse. The abuser is engaging in a form of idolatry, preventing their partner from participating in the covenant relationship. In short, divorce is not breaking a covenant which no longer exists.

      • Jeff S

        My ex would tell me that I was breaking our vows when I determined to divorce her and I would tell her that she’d already broken them.

        The problem with divorce being the think that “breaks” the covenant is that it reduces marriage to one defining characteristic: commitment. Everything else becomes optional.

      • Sophie – Well stated!

        Wendell G and Jeff S – I have found myself beginning to alter my terminology slightly. Rather than saying “break covenant,” I say “violate covenant vows.”

        To me, they mean the exact same thing. However, I have become aware that, to many people, “break covenant” means “file for divorce.” That is wrong thinking, and using the phrase “violate covenant vows” helps clarify the point, I think.

        Who violated the covenant vows? The abuser, or the abused who was forced to file for divorce for their own protection when their covenant partner acted in direct opposition to their covenant oath to love, honor and cherish?

      • Wendell G

        Good idea Joe. This is what I had thought, but it wasn’t until now that I was able to figure out an articulate way to say it.

      • ‘ Rather than saying “break covenant,” I say “violate covenant vows.” ‘

        Thanks, Joe. I’m tucking that into my kit bag.

  10. He seems to be attempting to dance a fine line of keeping the authority of Scripture above that of the government. The problem is that the authority of the local church does NOT trump the authority of law enforcement in issues in which both God’s and society’s laws are being broken. In fact, in many states now, teachers, pastors, counselors and others in positions of authority are mandatory reporters in matters of abuse when minors are involved.

    Yes, the church should be a safe place for a woman to go to seek rescue and advice for how to best handle situations of violence. One good point Piper did make (and the culture of hiding the negative within the church has contributed to this) is that the fear of exposure and embarrassment and ruin keep women in abusive situations years longer than they should have to endure such situations. This is the fault of the church.

    If women in abusive situations were removed IMMEDIATELY, the men placed before BOTH church and government authorities for intervention, counseling and whatever legal consequences are required, reconciliation MAY POSSIBLY be a possibility in the future. But to ask a woman to stay in an unsafe situation while men in the church quietly attempt to rehabilitate a man to repentance is irresponsible at best, life threatening at worst.

    The situation should not be dealt with by EITHER the church or by law enforcement, but ideally by both, each handing their part with faithfulness and consistency. The church should work toward spiritual wholeness, the law enforcement working toward the consequences required by the very authorities to whom God says we are to submit. Even when church members (or leaders) don’t like the results of a church member being held accountable to the law, it is necessary, according to God. He says He has placed governments in authority for our protection and for our good. We should use that arrangement for just such a reason, and protecting the most vulnerable of our congregations should be the best reason for getting law enforcement officials involved.

    Still falling short, Mr. Piper. It’s both/and, not either/or in terms of which authority should be involved.

    • MeganC

      Wow! Well-SAID, Bekah! And welcome!!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Bekah – Good words indeed. I would just add this. AND if the victim of the abuse decides to divorce her abuser, the church is to support her in that decision.

    • joepote01

      Frankly, I cannot think of any church I know of (and I know a lot of churches) that I would consider competent to handle a situation involving immediate physical abuse or threat of harm and endangerment. Call the civil authorities! That’s what they’re there for.

      The best role most churches can and should play is one of love, encouragement and assistance to the abused spouse REGARDLESS of what decisions they may make in regard to the marriage, divorce and/or pursuit of legal action.

      • Joe, I can’t imagine a church who would WANT to feel competent to handle a situation involving immediate physical abuse. I mean, they went into the vocation to preach and teach the Gospel, not physically wrestle and restrain dangerous men, right?

        Jeff C, how much desire do you have to be the “handler” of a DV situation?

      • joepote01

        Exactly! I completely agree, Jeff S!

        So…why the position by Piper to call the church first and only consider the civil authorities as a secondary option of last resort?

        Why call the church in regard to any issue for which the church is poorly equipped and the civil authorities are well equipped?

        It makes no sense!

      • Joe, it makes sense if evil isn’t really evil. That is, if people don’t actually murder or hurt their spouses. If people don’t actually suffer in marriages.

        There’s this whole idea of Reformed teachers saying stuff like “I’m the worst sinner I know”. Even with this shooting last week there was someone on The Gospel Coalition site blogging about how she was just as evil as the shooter.

        When we say stuff like that and we know we wouldn’t ever hurt our spouse FOR REAL, then we think the problem doesn’t really exist. We don’t need specialists.

        And yeah, I’m a Reformed guy, but I don’t believe that is the theology of the reformation. Sorry, but there ARE people out there more evil than me. In fact, there are people out there more evil than I was pre-conversion. Real evil exists and it really destroys people.

        “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
        -Verbal in “The Usual Suspects”.

      • Just Me

        Jeff S. “Even with this shooting last week there was someone on The Gospel Coalition site blogging about how she was just as evil as the shooter.” That sounds along the lines of “all sin is equal in God’s eyes.” I’ve always wondered about that statement. Surely God can see the difference in someone stealing an apple to feed their starving child as opposed to this massacre of precious children. Are all sins equal in God’s eyes? I don’t think so. Otherwise would God have protected Rahab after she lied to protect Israel’s spies?

      • MeganC

        I might have a bit of a different take here but . . . stealing an apple to feed a starving child is not sin anymore than David stealing the temple bread to feed a starving army would be sin. Sin is “anything that breaks down a relationship”. Rahab lying was not sin, either. Abuse is sin . . . I could not even begin to describe the effects abuse has on EVERYONE surrounding it . . . not submitting to an abusive man is NOT sin. How does not submitting to an abusive man sin? It does nothing but protect the victim. In a sense, it would be a sin TO submit to an abusive man. Submitting to an abusive man is dangerous (talk about the break-down of relationship). We need an entirely different frame of mind, when discussing some sins being greater than others. I think, first, we all need to understand what sin IS before making flippant, thoughtless statements like “I am just as evil as the shooter . . . ” Really?? Really?? That is a terrifying thought!

      • Just Me

        Thank you, Megan. Good point.

      • Desley

        “We need an entirely different frame of mind, when discussing some sins being greater than others. I think, first, we all need to understand what sin IS before making flippant, thoughtless statements like “I am just as evil as the shooter ”

        I agree completely, Megan. All of the ten commandments relate to our relationships with others as well – first God, and then others. Which is why Jesus could make the statement that love is the fulfillment of the law. That all the commandments could be summed up in this: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

        Jesus also made distinctions in sin. Just because I have evil in me doesn’t mean I am as evil as I could be. There is a difference.

    • Bekah, you’ve made some good points, but don’t feel entirely comfortable with your wording here:

      The church should work toward spiritual wholeness…

      We maintain that abusers cannot be Christians, it’s an impossibility for a man or woman to be born again and have the Spirit of Christ within them and regularly abuse their spouse. Such a person cannot be regenerate. Therefore, it’s not a matter of ‘working towards spiritual wholeness’, it a matter of telling the abuser he is unregenerate.

      An abuser needs to be told:
      “You are not a believer. You have never been born again. You are not in Christ. You need to repent not just of this or that sin which you’ve done to your spouse, but of your entire attitude of being the ruler of your own life. You are dead in your sins and you need to made alive in Christ. You need to make Jesus LORD.
      “And because you have demonstrated a track record of proclaiming to be born again when you’re not, we are going to be very very cautious about believing any further such claims from you. We will not be listening to your words; we will be watching your actions, over the long term, and even then, we will have an attitude of suspicion towards you, which you will not be able to overcome by your own efforts; only the Spirit of God can make a man new in Christ.”

      And the corollary to this is that churches need to excommunicate the abusers – strip them of their church membership. That is the Biblical thing to do, and anything less is weakness (1 Cor. 5:11-13).
      You wrote

      Even when church members (or leaders) don’t like the results of a church member being held accountable to the law, it is necessary, according to God.

      I would prefer to say it like this: Churches need to declare to their congregation that the abuser is to be treated as an unbeliever. When an excommunicated abuser is held accountable to the secular law, a church need not feel uncomfortable or ashamed, because it has already acted to remove the leaven.

      • Martin

        Now that sound better, and is much more rooted in God’s Word. Thanks, Barbara.

      • Still scared

        “the entire attitude of ruler in your own life”
        Oh so very very true!!

  11. keeping this anonymous

    I used to agree with Piper on this issue. (Don’t throw the rotten tomatoes!) But not anymore. When my divorce was finalized and the last court date was over, I finally tasted freedom. I had no idea how bound I was until it was all over.

    My guess is that many who agree with his stance on no divorce under any reason and no remarriage even if you had a valid reason for divorce are those who don’t know have a clue what it’s like to be betrayed by one’s spouse. His view romanticizes staying “faithful” to the “marriage” and minimizes the pain and suffering of the wronged party. It reminds me of a form of pious asceticism where one is willing to accept mistreatment as though the suffering is salvific.

    It is unfair and cruel to say to a wronged spouse that they should stay faithful to the “marriage” because Jesus is faithful to the church no matter how much a mockery of real marriage it is. Jesus remains faithful because He has the power to discipline, convict, and restore those who are truly His because He is God. (I believe in the perseverance of the saints.) But no human has that power. The comparison breaks down immediately IMO.

    Marriage is only an analogy, a very imperfect one at best. When it’s elevated to this degree it becomes idolatrous.

    • MeganC

      “It reminds me of a form of pious asceticism where one is willing to accept mistreatment as though the suffering is salvific.”

      Wise words, friend! And welcome to our site! You are right on!

      • Of course, it’s a pious asceticism that Piper’s completely exempted himself from. Figures. What was it Jesus said about tying up burdens we’re not willing to lift?

    • Just Me

      Ha ha! No rotten tomatoes from me! I too am on a journey of re-evaluating and changing my thinking. I probably would have agreed with that video as well at one point if I had seen it earlier. And to be honest, I am still trying to accept that God allows for divorce/remarriage for abuse, especially emotional/verbal abuse which is the case for my marriage. I believe it in my head, but it hasn’t fully sunk in on a heart level yet. But the longer I hang around here, the more I can see the Pharisee in myself and the more correct my thinking becomes. I’m getting there!

    • Hi, K A A, welcome to our blog. I agree with you completely. You’ll find many posts here that echo and agree with what you wrote. For example: When Is Suffering God’s Will for Us?

      • And no rotten tomatoes from me, either. I used to be sympathetic to Piper’s teaching. When I first saw that video of him teaching about a wife’s submission to an abusive husband, I was actually trying to defend him. Hannah, who commented above, can tell you the story of how I argued with her and others over this issue. :(
        But for some time now I’ve been seeing through Piper’s simpering, hand-wringing “humility” and reading the real messages that are in between the lines.

  12. Just Me

    I agree with everyone’s comments. As I read this post, lots of little thoughts popped into my head–most of which were touched on by everyone else.

    Namely what Hannah said.
    “John Piper seems to be digging his hole even deeper with this. He didn’t need clarification – he needed to apologize.”

    Yes!! Where in this article is his sense of compassion and his regret for women and children who submitted to violence for “a night” and paid with broken bones, broken spirits and perhaps their lives? If something that you were responsible for had led a woman or child to be seriously hurt or killed, wouldn’t you be absolutely broken about it? Why would it take so many years for you to correct it? And he doesn’t nullify anything that he said in that awful video. Where is the “I am sorry. I was wrong. Please disregard anything I said in that video.” It’s more like he’s saying “I stand behind what I said in that video, but I realize that I wasn’t complete in what I said, so I’m adding some additional information here.”

    But he disguises it in such a clever choice of wording, just like a politician running for office. He’s trying to stand behind all his initial views while still throwing enough out there to satisfy those who vehemently opposed what he said in that video. (BTW, I was especially horrified by the little giggle he gave before he actually answered the question).

    “a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.” This part irked me the most. This implies that there was a point in time where there was nurturing leadership in the first place. This reminds me of how the marriage books and marriage counseling seem to start. “Remember that time when you were first dating, and all you wanted to do was talk to each other and spend time with each other, and when you were apart, all you did was think about the other person?” Yuck. I never had that. Only this feeling in my gut that was telling me to run away from him. But I could never get away. And now, here I am. I kept telling our marriage counselor that there is no point in our relationship that I would ever go back to. I’m sure that most abused wives can’t look back on a time in their marriage where there husband displayed “nurturing leadership.”

    The only positive points I can make are that:

    1. He acknowledges that if a woman goes to the church, there are no guarantees that the church will help her. We all know this to be true. BUT, if he does see that this is a huge problem within the church, what is he planning on doing about it? Probably nothing.

    2. It does seem like he heard the backlash against his video (even if he did a lousy job rectifying it, he still heard it). This means that our cry for justice is getting out!

    • I agree, JM. My skin crawled at these words from Piper:

      a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.

      Probably by now I’ve heard and read of thousands cases of domestic abuse where the husband was the abuser, and in the vast majority of those cases there never WAS nurturing leadership from the husband – not in the courtship, not in the early part of the marriage, nowhere. And if there was a little bit somewhere, it turned out to be only another tactic of abuse, to hook the victim in to trusting him so he could (re-)subjugate her.

      Piper is living in a fantasy world of his own making. He’s spent too much time feathering the fine edges of his doctrines so they all fit together like a splendid castle of stone, but he’s not spent nearly enough time listening to the accounts of survivors while shackling his impulses to rush to judgement and deliver pontificating solutions.
      He needs to just sit with us and listen, and keep listening, till one day he finally believes us.

  13. Martin

    Generally speaking, it would appear on the surface that Piper is attempting to batten down the hatches on domestic abuse. His words, on their face, appear to carry little or no tolerance for abusers in Christian community. However, while the front door may be locked reasonably well with (1) through (5), he takes the back door off the hinges and puts a “WELCOME ABUSERS” sign out with (6):

    6. When Jesus commands his disciples, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39), he is describing one way of love: the testimony that Jesus is so sufficient to me that I do not need revenge. This was the way Christ loved us at the end: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22–23).

    To describe Matthew 5:39 as “one way of love” in a Christian marriage context is perhaps his most expensive exegetical error we will find in the modern church. That passage, delivered as part of the Sermon on the Mount, is directed at persecution that will be at the hands of the “evil one” (Matt. 5:39,45) and more generally “enemies” (Matt. 5:43,44). In Greek, the “evil one” (πονηρός), who appears in verse 39 as the striker on the cheek, is represented as the worst sorts of reprobate evil throughout the NT. Consider, for example, in the Parable of the Sower where it is used to refer to the Devil himself:

    Matthew 13:19 (ESV):”When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one (πονηρός) comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.

    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ teaching on ‘turning the other cheek’ is specifically addressing persecution from non-believers, reprobate evil, not spouses in Christian marriage or even followers of Christ in general. As Piper illustrates elsewhere, such violence is strictly prohibited by Scripture without excuse.

    A further misuse of Scripture here is Piper’s use of Peter’s illustration of Christ’s suffering in 1 Peter 2:22-23. As D.A. Carson and so many others have aptly demonstrated, 1 Peter is about persecution being faced at the hands of a predominantly pagan society. The passage which follows Piper’s selective quote, 1 Peter 3:1-12, describes the peace and harmony that should exist inside Christian marriage and community despite the otherwise prevailing persecution. Peter did NOT write this passage to believers being persecuted by other believers, let alone believers being persecuted by believing spouses. Again, Piper’s application to Christian marriage is well beyond the context of the original text.

    Christian home and community is, by God’s design, a source of peace, support, strength, encouragement, and growth. The NT attests that Christians will be persecuted by the unbelieving world. There is not one suggestion in the NT that Christian violence toward other Christians should somehow be tolerated.

    The truth is in the Word.

  14. keeping this anonymous

    “For many women, the thought of a husband going to jail and losing his job and being publicly shamed is so undesirable that they often endure much sin before becoming desperate enough to turn to the authorities. ”

    I think a deeper reason for this is that women are taught that their submission or lack of is responsible for their husbands’ behavior. How many women are being misled by certain schools of thought on “biblical” womanhood? I still consider myself a complimentarian, but enough of the “you didn’t submit enough” or stories of how “submission/the love of a good woman” changed a man. The only thing that can bring genuine conviction, repentance, and transformation is the Holy Spirit. For those in the reformed camp, we should know better and stop putting Pelagian burdens on people.

    • Spot on, Sister!

    • Sophie

      “For many women, the thought of a husband going to jail and losing his job and being publicly shamed is so undesirable that they often endure much sin before becoming desperate enough to turn to the authorities. What I want to stress is that long before they reach a point of desperation — or harm — the women of the church should know that there are spiritual men and women in the church that they can turn to for help.”

      I’ll bet Piper thinks that women SHOULD be upset at the thought of their Dear Leader (ie husband) being publically shamed for a mere matter of poor leadership (ie abuse), and that you should wait until you have a ‘heavy and humble heart’ at the thought of your husband’s public shaming.

      This may be worse than the original video – the original video was so obviously repulsive but this ‘clarification’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

      • Jeff S

        Piper does an awful lot of talking about what women want and desire for not being one.

      • “This may be worse than the original video – the original video was so obviously repulsive but this ‘clarification’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
        Bingo, Sophie!

        It’s like a ship sailing the ocean in pre-modern days. The instruments for navigation could be slightly in error, causing even the most experience ship’s captain could set his course slightly wrong. An error of a few degrees could lead the ship onto rocks or into ice. And an error of even half a degree could lead to disaster, when you’re traversing a long stretch of unmarked ocean, like the journey between the Cape of Good Hope (the tip of South Africa) and the south-eastern coast of mainland Australia, where people were flocking to dig for gold.
        Now, if the ship’s course was several degrees wrong, signs in the sea, wind, currents and weather might give cause for the captain to suspect he’d set the course wrong, so he would attempt to correct it. But if the error was only half a degree wrong, it would be harder to detect: there would be fewer signs that he was heading in the wrong direction… But the shipwreck coast along the southern coast of Australia has been named for good reason. Many vessels were shipwrecked only a day or so from reaching Melbourne, and many souls lost.

        Piper’s first video was so wrong it was pretty obvious. (Admittedly, when I first saw the video I tried to make allowances for Piper at first, but others persuaded me to take off my rose coloured glasses…) But this second missive, this ‘clarification’, is less obviously wrong, so the wrongness is harder to detect.

        All of which Sophie said in one sentence, but I’ve rabbited on with a long illustration.

  15. Kay

    I appreciate all the comments here and would like to add some of my own.

    “restoration of his nurturing leadership.” An abusive man having nurturing leadership? Oxymoron statement! Just from that statement, I do not think Piper understands what abuse is!

    I am also upset that he used these verses in his discussion:

    When Jesus commands his disciples, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39), he is describing one way of love: the testimony that Jesus is so sufficient to me that I do not need revenge. This was the way Christ loved us at the end: “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly”

    From my understanding of scripture, these verses have nothing to do with a marriage! And I resent that a pastor would include these verses that imply a wife can love by choosing to “turn the other cheek”. That’s like condoning physical abuse in my mind. Suffering for Jesus at the hands of evil people does not include a marriage relationship.

    I agree with someone else who said, the article felt like a political speech – too many words that were not clear.

  16. Barnabasintraining

    Jeff C,

    Particularly from you as a former cop, how does it strike you that these churches want victims to consult them before the police? If you were to put your cop hat back on, what would you say to this?

    • Jeff Crippen

      I would say, 1) The church has no legal authority to arrest, to incarcerate, or to put on criminal trial. So what is the point of them investigating? 2) The church has no expertise in investigating these cases and all they are going to do is muddy up the waters of the case and compromise the ability of the police and prosecutors to determine the truth. 3) And I would say as I heard my fellow officers say before, “I am getting sick and tired of these born again Christian types covering up for crooks!”

  17. Wendell G

    I really wonder if the exegesis of people like Piper starts with the “horrific” D word and then builds around it? I mean, divorce is so anathema to them that they are willing to portray God as a cruel taskmaster, requiring that a person stay in a life destroying relationship, all for the obedience to the anti-divorce theology. Did not Christ come to set us free? Is our God so cruel as to condemn a believer to a life of such misery that it saps the energy and vitality of the abused until they are an empty shell? Of course not!

    I walked with my daughter through this kind of thing. I watched her get mistreated by the pharisees of the church. I still watch in horror as her ex-husband tries to manipulate and scare her, but he has church leaders so convinced that he has the moral high ground, nothing can be done. I have been in services where a church leader basically admitted that an abused spouse must stay with the abuser, all to maintain their doctrine on divorce. Needless to say, I haven’t been back, and this is a church where I used to be involved in the marriage ministry.

    I had to evaluate my own position on the issue and I came to the conclusion that while divorce is still bad, a life cannot be ruined in the process of saving a “marriage”. I somehow wonder if Piper knows the difference between marriage as an institution and a marriage as consisting of 2 individuals? It seems he is willing to sacrifice one of the latter to maintain the former.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Wendell- This is a painful but GREAT story! You are a man and a father who has been through this very evil we are trying to expose. If you would like to share your story with us in more detail (you can still remain anonymous if you want) then please email me at swordtrowel@gmail.com We are trying to get these stories out there on this blog for all to read and see. I think perhaps you are one of the first fathers of a victim who sees the thing clearly who has contacted us and thus your story is particularly valuable for us to learn from.

      Yes, the big D. Man is made for marriage, not marriage for man. That is how Piper and his disciples view it. It is their “precious.” Others have used that same word for their idols as well.

    • Martin

      Wendell –

      Your comment: “I had to evaluate my own position on the issue and I came to the conclusion that while divorce is still bad, a life cannot be ruined in the process of saving a ‘marriage.’”

      Many of us that follow the blog have had to go through the same process – evaluating and even changing our own positions. It would benefit us all to learn more about the change in your position and how it developed over time.

      Thanks for your post!

      • Wendell G

        Wow Martin, that could take a while. It probably goes back to the days of when I was a young associate pastor of a small Baptist church that was trying to change our name and focus. I was put in charge of creating new bylaws and statement of faith. Everything was fine there until we got to the topic of divorce, and then all the disagreements began. We had people on both sides of the issue and I struggled to find a common ground, especially on the concept of the serving of divorced people in leadership.

        This whole thing got me to thinking about divorce in the Bible, and trying to reconcile Jesus’ teachings about divorce being only allowable in the case of adultery. Then I started looking at Paul’s teachings on the subject and on the surface, there seemed to be an instant conflict between the two. Well, in my hermeneutics classes, I was taught that there are no real contradictions in Scripture, so that when there appears to be one, there must be something else at play that I just don’t know yet. The problem was I didn’t know what that was, so I put things on the back burner for a while.

        In the meantime, I started doing some weddings and dealing with both young marrieds and engaged couples and came face to face with men who had the attitude that the wife must submit to everything the man said, or else. That was quite a shock to me. How do I address that, because to me, the man was ignoring his responsibilities and being selfish by demanding only that the wife fulfill hers. No matter how much I tried to explain the mutual responsibilities of husbands and wives in Scripture and explaining that a man cannot expect anything if he doesn’t fulfill his role, they wouldn’t listen. No matter how often I asked how demanding obedience was sacrificing himself for his wife, they would always come back to “…wives, obey your husbands.” Something seemed so very wrong there, but I didn’t know how to handle it, but pray that their hearts would soften.

        Also during this time, I began to deal with people whose marriages were in trouble, and they were getting divorced, I quietly felt that they shouldn’t divorce under any circumstance, but I didn’t say much. Others did though, and they were often condemned and ostracized by the same churches that should have been trying to help them. There really seemed to be a real disconnect in the church, as it appeared that divorce was the second unpardonable sin in the eyes of many; however, I still could not reconcile the exclusivity of the adultery reason.

        Things just kind of simmered for a while and I became a co-pastor of a church here, but since it was mostly college students, we didn’t have much of this kind of thing to deal with. That church folded and I left the ministry, so again things had not come to a head yet.

        It wasn’t until the academic became reality in my own life when I had to deal with my daughter’s divorce and the abuse that suddenly came to light that I had to deal with it once and for all. My daughter introduced me to a book by David Instone Brewer titled, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church and that finally brought all the pieces together in a hermeneutically sound way. He used the basic principles of Scripture interpreting Scripture, language and culture of the time to explain what Jesus and Paul were both talking about in their teachings on the subject as well as the Old Testament rules on divorce.

        When you couple that with the evolving realization that abuse and divorce are affecting real people, real souls and not just an ecclesiastical doctrine, I was able to not only accept my daughter’s divorce, but also look with a different eye on all those who have been suffering in silence in abusive marriages out of fear of being ostracized by well meaning, but legalistic Christians (among other fears). I came to realize that God is not a slave master, requiring that we stay in harm’s way because of some pharisaical view of this particular doctrine. When all is said and done, it is people, hurting and helpless that we are called to save and if our holding to a legalistic approach is actually enabling further the abuse and danger, then perhaps we are making an idol of this doctrine.

        Sorry this has been so long, but I warned you! I will write more of my experience with my daughter in a separate post. I already warned Jeff that I can wax prolfic behind the keyboard! Blessings to all of you! Wendell

      • Wendell, thank you so much for this account. You are on our page, believe me. I am glad you have come to our blog. Maybe you will be able to tell others about it too, like your daughter.
        We know there are many sincere Christians who are sorely perplexed about the traditional doctrine(s) of divorce and many are hurting in isolation, frightened and guilted into not disclosing the abysmal state of their marriages, and condemned by the church if they do disclose and seek divorce.

      • Martin

        Wendell –

        David Instone-Brewer’s book also had a major impact on my view.

        It amazes me that with nearly every application you will find pastors make from the Bible, they will go to painstaking ends to make sure their contemporary application fits somehow neatly into the historical context of Scripture UNLESS it has to do with divorce. If “the big D” is in play, then the rules all go out the window.

        I hope you follow along on the blog and continue to offer your insights. You will find many like-minded followers of Christ here along with many broken and contrite spirits that could use your encouragement.

        Thanks!

      • Thanks Wendell. It’s great to read your story because it shows how people who truly want to see God’s heart treat the scripture.

        And it wasn’t too long at all. Wait until you get used to reading my posts- I have a gift for saying in 200 words what can be said in 20!

      • well if we’re going to have a competition of apologizing for being long-winded, I’d like to nominate myself :)

      • Barnabasintraining

        Wendell G,

        Thanks so much for sharing that. It seems the process is similar for a lot of us to get to where we are. I hope you do write more here.

        When you couple that with the evolving realization that abuse and divorce are affecting real people, real souls and not just an ecclesiastical doctrine

        This is the thing. This is not white tower academic theory. This is reality and the theory needs to work outside of the think tank.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Hi Wendell G,

      I agree with Jeff and Martin. I’d love to hear more too.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Wendell – I think I know what you mean when you say divorce is bad. That’s not how a marriage is supposed to end. From another perspective, divorce (ie, filing the necessary legal paperwork) from an evil spouse is a very good thing. I would go so far as to say that it is God’s will.

      • Wendell G

        Jeff, when I say that divorce is bad, it is only in the overall context of sin having perverted the concept of marriage. Divorce, as recognized in both Old and New Testaments, is an unfortunate necessity due to the fall. I’m not trying to say that it is never God’s will, but only that it is tragic that sometimes it is necessary. In an ideal world, all marriages would be healthy and successful, with no abuse. I recognize that unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. It is more of the sadness that we are so broken, rather than any kind of condemnation.

        Certainly by the time the legal paperwork is necessary, the actual marriage has already ended. It is only the legal shell that is left at that point.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Understood. Well-stated, Wendall.

  18. Laura M Shola

    I have to wonder why Mr. Piper’s church would require vows in marriage ceremonies. If divorce is forbidden in all circumstances, and there are no ramifications for breaking one’s vows, why not be consistent and omit vows, simply stating “Until death do you part.” At least the participants and onlookers would know exactly what they are commiting to.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Great point!

    • Bingo!

    • Jeff Crippen

      ’til death do they part, alright! Unfortunately that is exactly how some of these non-marriage marriages end.

      • How can that be a binding promise? Abusers can literally bring death physically and spiritually…..I do not believe a woman or person is bound by a promise made by somebody like that, you do not willingly committ oneself to torture, of any kind. The promise was not real or meant by one person, therefore it cannot be a sacred vow. Did I knowingly make a packed with the devil? I think not. I wonder how many abusers have in the back of their minds thought “”SHE is keeping me bound to her until ONE of us dies””….

        yep vows generally do not include “”Until I kill ya”” Looking back I can say GOD was not in our marriage vows, because abusers do not honor any previous comittments, hence the lack of true repentance……those vows were just another outward attempt to “”appear”” christian.

  19. Jeff Crippen

    I talked at length today with a young woman (well over 18) and wonder what Piper would have told her. Her father is an abuser. He is a professing Christian and uses the Bible to lord his authority over his family. You know the type – ALL must obey his every word and any discussion about what he orders them to do or not do is rebellion against him and against God. He moves them frequently, including hopping from church to church. He isolates them. He has raged before and done things that if reported to the authorities he would have been arrested for (the young lady is anonymous, I cannot report the crime).

    Would it be rebellion for her to move out of her father’s home, even when he commands her not to, to marry someone that he does not choose for her, to choose her own friends, etc? No way. However, she put a good question to me and I now pass it on to you. “Where in the Bible does it say that when a son or daughter reaches a certain age they are no longer under the authority of their father?”

    If Piper were consistent, he would have to say that…… well, you tell me. What would Piper say? Because if a wife cannot divorce her husband for abuse, then surely sons and daughters cannot “divorce” their parents for abuse, right?

    • If only Mr Piper would publicly answer that question!

    • Anonymous

      Well, one area would be where Jesus was choosing the disciples and said, “Come, follow me” and the Bible says they left their father and went and followed Jesus! Hallelujah! So, in other words, they were still “with” their father in life, or it would not have said that they “left” their father. Another aspect would be that in those times, the young ladies were usually married around 15 years of age, so they would no longer be under their father’s authority. The Bible also says, “Children, obey your parents IN THE LORD”, so there has to be an “age” that children are no longer children, right? Also, if authority is lost when it is abused, then this father has no authority (actually) and she should find another father from within the Church, if that is possible, to help her. Sounds like she may have found one already, Ps. Crippen!

      • Anonymous

        Oh! I forgot. As for Piper and what he would have to say? Who cares. He has already said enough – We have enough hurting people being held captive due to abuse, because they look to J.P. and others like him for help and unfortunately, they trust him.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thanks Anon! Good observations. That helps.

  20. Just Me mentioned above the notion “all sin is equal in God’s eyes.”
    For those who are interested, there was quite a lot of discussion about that erroneous idea in the comments in the post A case study of the language of an abuser (‘abuserese’)

    And there is a little discussion about it here as well, in the comments on the post Repentance and Abuse: Real Repentance Bears Fruit.

    And a little more (!) here, in the comments on the post Why an Abuser Cannot be a Christian: The Argument Re-stated – by Jeff Crippen

    Clearly, we need to create a new post exclusively on this question “Are all sins equal in the sight of God” and put all these comments into one place. To start the ball rolling, I’ve just created a new category called sin- are all sins equal in God’s eyes?

    • Anonymous

      And when you do that Barb (smiley face) could you also include thoughts about what are real sins and what are not? The mention of Rahab and stealing the apple to feed hungry children, etc., etc., are interesting and I think worth noting and discussing. We have all been taught, that we sinned when we stood up for ourselves while being abused, or that we disrespected our spouses when we told them to “stop it” in an unkind way. I know I could use some clarification from God’s Word on this!

      • Got it. Starting a draft now, before I forget.

  21. This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.

    Can you hear a Catch 22 in this? I can. If a wife needs protection from police and the courts, her church might well counsel her taking their cue from Piper, by saying (imagine the haughty authoritative voice):
    “We believe that a wife many take recourse to the secular justice system with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership. The question is, do you have a heavy and humble heart? Do you long for your husband’s repentance? Do you long for the restoration of his nurturing leadership?”

    The wife will feel slaughtered by these questions. She’ll be thrown back into the maelstrom of self examination and self-blame she’s been engulfed in for years. Her ruminations are going to run something like this:
    Is my heart heavy and humble enough? Probably not. :( What am I feeling? Fear, terror – numbness? anger? shock? … but I don’t know whether I feel humble.
    I don’t know what I feel except that I can’t bear the thought of being with him, so I guess that means I’m not longing for his repentance. And longing for – what did they say? – the restoration of his nurturing leadership? – that doesn’t even compute. He never showed nurturing leadership so how can I long for it to be restored? I can’t even imagine what it would look like. To continue in this sham of a marriage would be like being nailed into a coffin. But they’re saying I shouldn’t go to the police because I’m not feeling heavy and humble enough. … I’ve got to get my attitude right before I go to the police…”

    How do I know that survivors search their inner attitudes so much? Because I get emails from them, expressing those self doubts over and over again. Most of these survivors already have more self-doubting ruminations than they can handle. These self-doubts arise almost instinctively because they’ve been so conditioned to doubt and distrust their own hearts. They don’t need any more doubting Thomases throwing them curved balls from outside. They’ve got enough balls bouncing round in their heads already! :(

    • Still scared

      I can’t even pray for him…And, as I have said, my church is wonderful and supported me divorcing him but still exhort me to pray for him, to not “be bitter”. he’s ” your children’s father” . I just think they really still don’t get abuse. They picture it short term and as incidences not all the time, lifestyle of control and slavery. I don’t know how to describe it in a way they can truly get it, maybe they don’t want to.

      • Still Scared…sorry just cannot let this slip by “your childrens father” is just an ignorant way of making you feel guilty for being firm. As we all know A GOOD FATHER, ONE THAT IS WORTHY OF THAT TITLE, DOES NOT ABUSE HIS CHILDRENS MOTHER and here is my big fat PERIOD. Abuse inherently sows the division between the child parent bond, does he pray for you because he cares so much for his children? If he cared for his children he would not abuse, abusers make it so that YOU are the one bending over backward to repair their bond with the children, while THEY work over time destroying relationships. NOT your responsibility to pray for his relationship he has destroyed. If you do not pray for him. thats NOT a reflection of bitterness, its God giving you permission to let go. He is not worthy. If they are pulling the whole “”He IS their father after all????”” they dont want to get it. Biology does not make a parent. Thats like telling you your kids should not anticipate or ask for any better example of fatherhood!!!! Just the title of “”Father”” should be sufficient and you are suppose to respect the title itself, along with your kids. Barf!!!

    • Barnabasintraining

      But they’re saying I shouldn’t go to the police because I’m not feeling heavy and humble enough. …

      Even if we allow them this point, how much is enough and how would you know you’d arrived at enough? And who would make that determination?

  22. The church should not harbor an abusive man or woman whom the civil authorities would punish if they knew what the church knows.

    I have to say it’s nice to hear Piper ‘should-ing’ on the church here, rather than on the victim. And this sentence is reasonable, so long as it’s talking about spouse abuse.

    But I’m wary of that sentence if it’s extended to child abuse. In suspected child abuse, I believe Christians and all people of morality probably ought to notify police or child protection. I take the view that mature people of integrity are morally bound to report child abuse (or persuade the protective parent to report it) even when they are not mandated by law to report child abuse.

    This is not a red herring, extending it to child abuse. Spouse abusers are often child abusers as well:

    Overlap between the existence of violence against different family members. Other research has revealed considerable overlap between the existence of IPV in a family and other forms of violence (for example, child abuse and sibling abuse). For example, Jaffe and colleagues, reporting on Canadian research, stated that ‘The majority of studies reveal that in families where there is spousal violence or child maltreatment present, in 30% to 60% of the cases both forms of abuse exist’ (Jaffe P, Crooks C & Bala N 2006, Making appropriate parenting arrangements in family violence cases: applying the literature to identifying promising practices, Department of Justice Canada, Family Children and Youth section [2.4]).

    “Different Types of Intimate Partner Violence – An Exploration of the Literature” by Dr Jane Wangmann, Issues Paper 22, Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, Oct. 2011. Bold font added by me.

    • Wendell G

      After reading some of the comments made about how the church should involve itself, it reminded me of an incident when I was Assoc. Pastor. The elder board was called in to try to resolve a dispute between two families. The teenage son in one family was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with the elementary school girl of the other.

      Talk about being in an awkward position! One family wanted us to punish the accused, who was the son of some very active church members. It was very hard for us to even come to grips with it, as we realized that our role was limited to essentially determining if this young man would remain in fellowship of the church or not. It turned out that the charges were false, but none of us felt comfortable or qualified to “rule” on it. One thing the family of the alleged victim did not have an explanation for was why they did not call the police, as what they were accusing this teenager of was clearly illegal.

      One thing I learned from all this is how so many church leaders just don’t want to deal with tough situations like this. In fact, they don’t want to make any tough decisions for fear of losing members, or having an embarrassing scandal in their midst. As uncomfortable as we felt, several of us knew that we had confront the situation and take appropriate action within our realm of authority, lest we become like the Corinthian church, harboring blatant sexual sin. To do otherwise would send the message that any perpetrator would have a safe haven there to do whatever they wanted.

      The same is true for abuse. The very fact that the abused, especially if she is the wife, is often not believed and is expected to unconditionally submit, makes the church an enabling society, rather than a place of refuge for the hurt and distressed.

      • Wendell- it’s a breath of fresh air seeing your perspective on this. Too often either pastors don’t struggle with this stuff, or they certainly won’t admit to it.

        I highly recommend Jeff’s book “A Cry For Justice”- I think a lot of it will resonate with you.

      • Wendell, you were the Associate Pastor, not the Senior Pastor in that situation. Your conscience was sorely troubled and you were afraid of the church having a scandal in its midst. Perhaps you were also weighing up the implicit or potential pressure from various patriarchs and matriarchs in the church, big tithe givers, established families who felt they owned the church…
        I’m wondering how many Associate Pastors have been in your position, and ended up wanting to pull in the opposite direction from the Senior Pastor and the Board. You are not the first compassionate man we’ve heard from on this blog who was in ministry but is no more. I’m wondering how many such men left their lower rung ministry positions because they couldn’t stomach the cover-ups and image management of the Senior Pastor and the heavies on the Board.
        Just speculation…

  23. … there are times when mercy to one demands justice for another. This is often the case with criminal abuse. Moreover, there are many ways to show mercy toward a guilty person who must pay fines or go to jail. We are seldom in a position where the choice is simply mercy or no mercy.

    Okay…. but. What on earth is Piper implying in talking about showing mercy towards a guilty person who must pay fines or go to jail?
    I somehow don’t think he’s only referring to taking the felon some cookies and Christian literature while he’s incarcerated. Hmm. One can only speculate, but knowing the landscape of the so-called evangelical church, its easy to imagine Christians thinking that Piper means “Be nice to the person once they’ve served their sentence and paid their fine; take them back into the church, don’t be hard on them, let them mingle again with the flock.”

    Why is it so hard for Piper to just say “… there are times when mercy to the victim demands justice for the perpetrator,” and leave it at that?
    It seems to me that his only reason to mention mercy for the criminal perpetrator is that he’s trying to please the hardliners who pay big tithes and control the church, the ones who generally ally with the abusers.

    • Barnabasintraining

      Why is it so hard for Piper to just say “… there are times when mercy to the victim demands justice for the perpetrator,” and leave it at that?

      Because if he does that then he’s going to have to admit that justice for the perp would allow for divorce from the perp.

  24. Still scared

    “Why is it so hard for Piper to just say “… there are times when mercy to the victim demands justice for the perpetrator,” and leave it at that?”

    Amen

  25. Anonymous

    I just wanted to be the 100th commenter on this post! Too much to be said and even more to be done when it comes to this issue. Perhaps Mr. Piper would like to know about and read all of these comments. You think?

  26. Marisa,
    One additional thing- I would encourage you to read this open letter to Piper. It’s not about attacking him- it’s about the pain his teaching has caused.

    https://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/a-open-letter-to-john-piper-about-his-view-on-divorce/

    • Delsey your MIW sounds just like mine. I am sure I have said enough today but I have to quote one of my favorite idiot quotes from a pastor, keep in mind this was when they were faced with the reality of his beatings…..i was told “”Maybe it is Gods will for you to go home at the hands of your husband” followed by “”If he hurts the children then it is YOUR responsibility to make sure he does not do that” by applying the following techniques- “”pray, submitt, put out when he wants you to, regardless if he is angry. let him BE the parent do not butt in you”ll only cause the children confusion”” oh and my classic favorite “”Make your home a sanctuary”” They wrote the perscription to my childrens and myselfs death sentence.

      I feel a little Resident Evil Zombie slayer comin on!!!!

      I wish I knew then what I KNOW now!!!! God gave me alot of verses in that time, HE promised me HE would set my children free, He would shut the mouths of kings, that He had already gone before me, that HE was my rear guard….I am not a great theologian like others here, I cannot spell one bit either. BUT I am hurting and angry for you in that situation!!!

      • Desley

        Theolgian or not, your words are full of wisdom and power, Memphis. I am so grateful to God that He set you free from that bondage and made you as strong as He did. You truly are a woman of valor. :)

  27. I have lived it, and understand it and that is why it is so important to STAND against it, I have never felt that any kind of attacking or malicious intent is made on this blog. Hurt does not breed abuse, hurt is caused by abuse, we ARE entitled to FEEL hurt when somebody abuses us. Anger is also a result of being abused, abuse should make you angry, righteous anger has no taste of bitterness, just truth that sometimes sounds harsh when you are exposing such a devastating evil that alot of us have had to endure. That is the effect of abuse, Piper has a opinion that is perpetrating abuse in the church. He is soft on his views, so of course people who have suffered at the hands of this type of thinking are taking a firm stand against it, Abuse is a vicious evil, rampant in places, like you have said that you hope to find support and understanding. Church is where many of us have looked for that same support, and this is the place his thinking, and many other churches alike have not handled abuse situations as God would intend them to do. I hope you reconsider, and read through past posts, and look deeper into the support and REAL understanding of the nature of ABUSE here on this website.

  28. I agree with Marisa …she does understand on a totally different level….

    Aside from that I would not see Mr. Piper as a teacher getting his “feelings hurt” over abuse victoms sharing thoughts and feelings on their experiences of being on the recieveing end of un sound doctrine, that in effect perpetuates abuse in the church. He obviously is a smart intelligent man, who would not be crushed over correction in any fashion. I do not imagine he needs your sympathy to move in the right direction.

    “”Not that I think for one second you are willing to see another side””

    There really is not another side, there is NO debate ABUSE exists, there is no debate that within the church there needs to be a strict “”NO TOLERANCE”” when it comes to abuse. Mr. Piper, clearly just does not understand the dynamics involved on this subject and that is very dangerous to people who sufferer from abuse, he will without a doubt perpetuate abuses inside the church when it comes to handling this matter. Im sure he does not willingly want to aid and abed abusers in Christs name.

  29. One more point, when Instone-Brewer did an article for Christianity Today, Piper did not hesitate to attack his view very publicly, calling his well researched Biblical view that abused and neglected souses could divorce “tragic”. The resulting comments directed at Instone-Brewer were far more hurtful and hateful than anything I’ve read on this blog (and were not from people directly harmed by any of Instone-Brewer’s teaching; conversely, I know some people commenting here have been oppressed directly because of Pipe’s teaching). I’m NOT blaming Piper for those comments, but I am saying that public response to public articles is normal and expected- he engages in it himself.

    If he did read these comments, my hope is that he would see the pain and have compassion on those whom he has hurt. I would be overjoyed for him to humbly recant his divorce position and become educated enough about domestics violence to use his powerful voice in the fight against oppression. The impact for the cause of Christianity in this broken world would be incalculable. Abusers would flee in terror from churches that would follow his lead (because people do follow him) and unbelievers would see a very public Christian personality show the kind of humility and repentance that only comes by the Holy Spirit. He might be hurt if the saw fhis blog, but I’d hope he could see that these are voices just trying to be heard; just trying to see if anyone will have compassion on them and hear they pain they are in.

  30. Anonymous

    I agree with Jeff’s response above. Jesus is to be our example, and when it came to teaching false things, He had something to say, and it was not all love and hugs. He was frank, honest and deliberate in what He had to say and warned others not to accept the “leaven” of the Pharisees. Was this wrong for Him to do? Of course not! So, why do we think that we can never act with anger or firmness or address (attack) someone else’s false beliefs and/or teachings? I think it demonstrates standing for the truth. Of course, some of us, me included, are really wounded and hurting right now and this blog is a place where we can talk to someone else who has been there and done that. I apologize, if I have sounded harsh, angry or bitter. I and my children have been abused forever it seems, and now by the church as well. So, I guess God is angry too and perhaps some of the anger I feel, is His anger toward the situation as well.

  31. Anonymous

    Well, maybe in light of Marisa’s comments, we should develop some sort of team, that travels to these pastors/elders/leaders and gives them Biblical instruction, as well as living examples of what life is like with an abuser. I wonder how many of them would be willing to meet with our team. Hmm…

    • Pippa

      You can submit a comment at http://www.desiringgod.org/about/contact-us
      A whole article appears to fit though it does not appear as an answer/ comment on the blog…suppose it just goes to a Piper staff. So I guess they want to know what others think about what they are doing but they don’t want any discussions to be open.
      At one point you or one of the editors wrote an open letter to Piper (or to ?pastors???) and I posted the whole article there….Think I gave the appropriate credit…No one’s heard from them as far as I know.

    • Thanks for nudging me on that, Pippa.
      I knew Desiring God had an email option on their Contact page; I’ve just re-checked it and I don’t think it has changed since I last looked.
      When you are filling out their web-email form, it requires you to select a Subject for you email. These are the only options it gives, and I’m copying them in the order they appear on my screen:
      Donor Correspondence
      Copyrights and Permissions
      Employment Request
      Press and Marketing Inquiries
      A Question About Our Resources
      Testimony or Encouragement
      Website Support.

      There is no option for submitting critical feedback about their resources. There isn’t even an ‘Other’ option in that list. They accept questions about their resources, and encouragement, but they don’t seem interested in any critique or suggestions about their resources. To me, that list suggest they think they know it all, so therefore they can answer questions and dispense pearls of wisdom, but they can’t receive criticism. It seems fairly closed minded to me.

      Nevertheless, I shall try again. (Now I think about it, I probably did send them an email using their Contact form in August, as well as sending them a hard copy of my August 3rd post).
      So I have just this minute submitted a comment using their ‘Questions About Our Resources’ subject line. Here is what I submitted:

      Are you aware that there is a lot of discussion of John Piper’s post ‘Clarifying Words on Wife Abuse’ over at the blog A Cry For Justice?
      We hope you come over and have a look.
      kind regards
      Barbara
      cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com

    • Pippa

      Yes, it wasn’t a space intended for a “critique” or a letter but I probably just picked the category you did. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a reply.

  32. Desley

    “Well, maybe in light of Marisa’s comments, we should develop some sort of team, that travels to these pastors/elders/leaders and gives them Biblical instruction, as well as living examples of what life is like with an abuser. I wonder how many of them would be willing to meet with our team. Hmm…”

    Well I don’t know about Piper, but I do know that I have tried several times to plead with the leadership of my church to try and understand where I am coming from. It’s like hitting my head against a wall. Just a few weeks ago I explained to my pastor that my husband did not simply need anger management – that his issue was really a sense entitlement and a need to control us. The pastor looked at me with a blank stare for a few moments and then quietly confessed, “I am not sure it is wrong for your husband to feel entitled.” Apparently he believes men have a God-given right to control and micro-manage the people in their homes.
    Somewhere else throughout the conversation I was trying to get through to him that the issue ran deep and that he had an overall disposition to treat my son like crap. I relayed to him the instance where my husband had forced my son to walk an hour’s walk across town in knee-high snow (it had just snowed and the plows were not yet out) with only ripped up sneakers on his feet. He asked me, “was he trying to discipline your son for something?” (He wasn’t, but I don’t see how that would justify it anyway.)

    The appointment ended by him explaining to me that the reason the other elder will not support me is because “the children need their father.”

    My church (and particularly my pastor) is a John Piper wannabe. He hangs on the guy’s every word, goes to all the conferences, reads every book, does every bible study, and quotes him regularly. My pasor refuses to “get it” because it doesn’t fit neatly into his system. I don’t imagine John Piper would get it either, since he kind of packaged and sold that particular system to my pastor and church. I hope things change though…and perhaps if people attempted to meet with him face-to-face he would be forced out of his fantasy land.

    Here’s to hoping…

    • Just a few weeks ago I explained to my pastor that my husband did not simply need anger management – that his issue was really a sense entitlement and a need to control us. The pastor looked at me with a blank stare for a few moments and then quietly confessed, “I am not sure it is wrong for your husband to feel entitled.

      That’s it in a nutshell. The blank stare.
      “What’s the problem with a man feeling he’s entitled to things?”

      I believe this is why, to some degree, domestic abuse is a gender issue. I don’t want to start a grand debate as a side-thread here; we try not to get into gender statistics on this blog. But our society, and the conservative church even moreso, privileges men over women. By virtue of their socialization, men have more privilege than women, and by and large men don’t even realise how privileged they are compared to women.

      Don’t let’s get too sidetracked with this. I only speaking in broad generalizations. But I think it’s true. And so do the secular professionals (both men and women) who specialize in the domestic abuse field.

  33. I mention the “”men”” pastors because men are generally the teachers in the church, as far as leaders put in place.
    ALL the contributors that work on this blog REALLY understand how HUGE of a NEED there is for REFORM in the teaching of the Christian community within the pulpits, in regards to ABUSE!!
    You can not eradicate something if you are not even aware of it existing. If the pressure is to NOT talk about it, or put in the proper place before you can talk about it, then yes they would fall short, of a clear purpose.

  34. I agree with Memphis. The truth is the truth regardless of whether or not we want to hear it or it is particularly appealing to us. It is our duty to prayerfully measure all things by the word of God – whether or not we like how it was presented.
    Honestly, I just don’t think that a blog strictly for doctrine and theology surrounding abuse would be as effective anyway because it allows us to detach from the personal side of it.

    Part of what makes abuse so wrong is what it does to people’s faith. Guess what. Abuse makes people angry. Abuse makes people bitter. Abuse distances people from God and His people. It takes much work to heal after one has been abused, and it is much harder when one has been further abused by the very institution that was intended by Jesus to be a refuge and place of healing – the church. Many of us no longer trust the church. Is this right? I don’t know. But it is what it is.

    To be honest, I resent that I am being expected to be throughtful of John Piper’s “feelings” when he is obviously not held to that same expectation to be thoughtful of the very lives and livelihoods of scores of women and children out there. I can’t speak for the A Cry For Justice team, bu I have an agenda alright. And it is not to change John Piper’s heart. Only God can do that. My agenda is to raise awareness and let other VICTIMS out there know that what they are being told by their churches is NOT THE WILL OF GOD and is an utter PERVERSION. And I don’t remember Jesus talking kindly about those who were using the word of God to hurt people either.

    If you ask me, all of this talk about the need for two blogs is nothing but a diversion anyway.

    • Jeff Crippen

      I appreciate all of the input in these comments.

      Let me explain something to everyone. As a pastor now for 30 years, as a pastor who has studied abuse for about 4 years – more than studied it, I have lived and breathed it. I have spoken to a few churches. We have written a book. Barbara has written a book. We have emailed pastors and churches and para-church organizations. I have written an open letter to pastors that has gone round the web. I have announced to the fellowship of churches that our church belongs to that there is abuse hiding in our churches, that victims are being dealt horrid injustice, and that we have written books and I have asked these pastors and elders to read those books. We began this blog one year ago and I live for hours on it almost every single day. Today I went to watch the Hobbit and checked on the blog 3 times during the movie. Two days ago I spent over an hour on the phone with an abuse victim and that is a typical and frequent activity of mine. We write personal emails in response to those that are sent directly to us from confused, hurting victims. And I find this ministry to victims of abuse, especially Christians, incredibly rewarding. They are the most grateful bunch of people I have ever ministered to. YOU are the most grateful bunch of people I have ever ministered to.

      But guess who I almost never hear from. Guess who, even within our own fellowship of churches, that I have heard virtually nothing from in response to the fact that we have written a vital, important book that affects every single one of them. Pastors. Ask Dale and Faith Ingraham about it in their ministry to try to expose sexual abuse in churches. What have they found? A giant wall. Denial. Hiding. Blowing victims off. That is why we are seeing victims starting to sue their churches. Because finally people are saying “enough!”

      You see, we have tried to be heard by pastors and church leaders and denominational leaders. Oh believe, me, how we have tried. And you know what we have found with very rare exception? (And there are some exceptions). We have been met with denial. With “hey, I don’t want to hear about that stuff.” Or, “Oh yeah, in the past 20 years I have had a case or two of abuse in my church, but we handled it just fine, no problem.”

      So let me add this observation learned the hard, hard way — if anyone thinks that there are just tons of pastors and church leaders out there who are simply not knowledgeable about abuse and that they really would desire to know the truth if someone would just come along and tactfully and kindly explain the facts to them, then I have to tell you that you are dreaming. How many of our readers, having suffered terribly from abuse, went to their pastors and church leaders and sought help and found that all they needed to do what explain what was happening and here came the Cavalry with trumpet sounding the charge to their rescue? You know the answer. It is these victims, you see, that we speak for here.

      What we are in this ministry for the most part is more akin to the Old Testament prophets going to the people of Israel and announcing “there is sin here among the people of God!” So perhaps one of the things we need to do is change our byline at the top of our blog page to “awakening the evangelical church to the sin that is hiding in the camp and calling for repentance.” You see, the pattern in God’s Word has always been, first repentance of sin, THEN instruction in the ways of the Lord. But where there is no repentance, neither will there be acceptance of God’s Word.

      The fact is, as the experiences of our victim/survivor/readers proves all too clearly, that the Christian church of our day is in a sad condition. Many, many local churches are abuser friendly and even sin friendly. And the people love it so. That is why so many of you here are “outside the camp” when you finally step up and say “that is enough. This isn’t right.” So you make your exodus from abuse and you are put out of your church formally or informally as a result while your abuser remains a member in good standing. Do I exaggerate? No way.

      So this has been my journey, you see. It has been Barbara’s and it has been Megan’s and JeffS’ and Martin’s. It began in most all of our cases with “surely these pastors and Christians and churches will listen to our case, their eyes will be opened, and they will wake up and do right.” Over time, we found that such is just not the case.

      How do we proceed then? We keep crying for justice. Louder and louder and louder. We help abuse victims get free of the abuse that they are experiencing not only at the hands of a domestic or sexual abuser, but at the hands of their own churches. We validate and vindicate them. We say “you are right. You have been wronged. What was done to you should never, ever have happened. You are not crazy, and you are not damned by God for divorcing your tormentor.”

      And if, along the way, we happen to find a pastor here or there or a Christian or a church elder or a seminary professor who will listen, who comes with honest questions (and we have a few of those right now that we are communicating with), the we praise Christ for it. We will honestly and sincerely and kindly deal with their questions and direct them to good resources. They won’t get hammered.

      May the Lord bless and keep each one of you, and us, and guide us into His truth and His will. And may He work mightily to open the eyes of His church, of the true shepherds of His church. May He sustain the many, many oppressed victims who are suffering right now and lead them out of their Egypt. May He smite wicked abusers who will not repent and prevent them from hurting anyone else. And may He in His might and incredible mercy, even lead an abuser here and there to genuine repentance. Amen!

    • Well now I’ve read Jeff C’s reply above, I feel mine (below) is lame indeed. Thank you, Jeff, for your powerful words and for that prayer.

      … if anyone thinks that there are just tons of pastors and church leaders out there who are simply not knowledgeable about abuse and that they really would desire to know the truth if someone would just come along and tactfully and kindly explain the facts to them, then I have to tell you that you are dreaming.

      I know it’s hard to take in, but it’s true. We are not the only ones who have found that pastors are, by and large, not interested. The Rev Al Miles, author of Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know says the same thing. Whenever he’s given seminars or workshops, who is conspicuously absent? Pastors. Now admittedly, he’s a liberal theologically, but he certainly understands domestic abuse. He was a hospital chaplain for years and he says that of the many, many women he’s spoken to in their hospital beds after being beaten by their husbands, not one of them identified herself as “a victim of domestic violence”.
      To me, that says the church need to take the mute button off, and face reality.

      And what is the most common question churches ask when someone like Al Miles offers to give a talk in their church? It’s not “How much does this pastor know about domestic abuse?” It’s “Where does this guy stand on gay marriage and abortion?” And if he passes the gay marriage and abortion test, the next question would probably be “What is his stand on divorce?”

      But having said all that, I’m still mulling over how we can make the transition into this blog less shocking (confronting) for new readers. Maybe there is something we can do, albeit something small like a paragraph on our “new readers” page, which might make the transition easier. I’m thinking on it.

    • I’m late to the ballgame on this thread, but Jeff C, I may not have said it publicly, but it needs to be said. I greatly appreciate what you as a PASTOR do for abuse victims not only in your church, but in the world-wide church. You are absolutely right about the lack of pastoral involvement on this topic and Dale is another pastor who stands alone in dealing with sex abuse. I am very fortunate on my blog, which deals with abuse in church (spiritual, sexual, etc), there are two regular readers who are pastors. One of those pastors, Ken Garrett, has experienced spiritual abuse himself and studied it extensively and it is a very important topic. Another pastor, Craig Vick, found my blog by way of the media and has stayed, learned, provided encouragement and support for victims. I have been so appreciative of these godly men who see a problem and are not afraid to be a support to my blog readers.

      For some reason, the church seems to require that only pastors identify these problems of abuse. Congregants, specifically women cannot call out “abuse”. We do not have a voice or the right to label what we have seen or experienced as abuse. Abuse seems to only be validated when someone with “authority” ie, a pastor will take it seriously – - – OR – - – when a church gets slapped with a lawsuit (such as Sovereign Grace Ministries currently is facing). When I contacted pastors about the abuse I was dealing with, pastors wanted to counsel me on my responsibilities as wife/mom, dismissing the issues of abuse. This is what happens in domestic abuse cases as well. Pastors are very important in this fight. Jeff, you give abuse credibility among your peers – the church leaders who should be protecting the flock. Thank you for standing alone among your peers in fighting this battle.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Thank you Julie Anne, and thank you for your ministry as well, and for naming those other pastors who are on board as an encouragement to us. By the way, as Martin pointed out to me recently, why is it that so few Christians and pastors are standing to defend the oppressed? Matthew 25 gives us a very sobering possibility:

        Matthew 25:31-46 ESV
        (31) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
        (32) Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
        (33) And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.
        (34) Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
        (35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
        (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
        (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
        (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
        (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
        (40) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
        (41) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
        (42) For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
        (43) I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
        (44) Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
        (45) Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
        (46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

      • Wendell G

        You know, I’ve been thinking on this and am wondering if part of the reason that more pastors don’t get involved in this is that they may be afraid of letting the camel get its nose into the tent on divorce and submission Could it be that they are afraid of starting down what they see as a slippery slope? If I allow for divorce in this circumstance, then eventually it will be allowed in all, so we just won’t deal with the issue?

        Also, dealing with the hurting, especially abuse in the church has all the potential of doing what almost every pastor dreads, destroying unity and possibly causing the loss of members. It is one area where the church is definitely called to take sides, especially if both parties are in the church.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Wendell – you are absolutely right. The irony is however that in my opinion, allowing divorce for abuse will REDUCE divorces. How? Well, it means that when I do pre-marriage counseling, I am telling the guy and gal – “These are the vows. If you hard-heartedly and unrepentantly break these vows, then he/she can divorce you and this church will back up that right to divorce.” Well, maybe it wouldn’t prevent divorces — but it sure might prevent some marriages!! When it comes to the divorce rate now, we have already slid down the slope anyway.

        And yes, dealing with abuse victims means that we cannot remain bystanders. There is no neutrality. To stand by is to side with the wicked person. To defend the victim means to take action, to pay costs, and to rile up the anger of the wicked toward us. To say to our churches “choose this day whom you will serve — the Lord or yourselves!” I can tell you from hard experience that this is indeed costly. People leave. After all, the thing sounds so harsh. We are supposed to maintain a very pleasant place for people to come and have a refreshing time every Sunday. Now there is this trouble. This conflict.

        I think Jesus had a few things to tell us about being in a war if we follow Him; about being hated by the world and by those who aren’t truly His; about having to be willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross or He simply won’t have us. A real, genuine Christian will give a cool drink to the oppressed and like the Good Samaritan, come to the aid of victims.

        And there’s no money in it. At least not this side of heaven.

      • Just Me

        “These are the vows. If you hard-heartedly and unrepentantly break these vows, then he/she can divorce you and this church will back up that right to divorce.”

        Jeff C, I’m going slightly OT, but I think this is exactly the position that the church should be taking on pornography. It is rampant. Megan’s post on it from a few months ago has really stayed with me. It ruins people and it ruins impressionable adolescents/teens when they are exposed to it. Drastic measures should be taken to eradicate pornography from our congregations. If spouses were supported by the church in their right to divorce a habitually porn using spouse, I think we’d see a very sharp decline in it’s presence within the church.

      • Good point, JM.
        That issue “Is habitual use of porn grounds for divorce?” is a really big one. And at the moment, by not allowing divorce for abuse, the conservative churches are managing to keep the question of divorce-for-porn pretty much off the agenda.
        Perhaps they know in the bottom of their boots that if they start allowing divorce for abuse, they’ll have to contemplate allowing divorce for porn addiction. And that would be ginormous!

        Of course readers here know that if there IS porn addiction there are almost certainly other kinds of abuse going on too. But many Christians won’t be thinking along those lines. They could be just thinking “I know there is a pretty big problem with porn in the church,” but they mightn’t be putting that together with domestic abuse in general.

        Wherever the cascade begins, whether in allowing divorce for porn addiction, or allowing divorce for domestic abuse, once one has started, the other one will be provoked to cascade as well. I think conservative Christians are going to have their socks knocked off when the avalanche starts. We are not talking about opening the floodgates for divorce for incompatibility. We’re only talking about allowing divorce for heinous unrepentant sins the like of which are listed in 1 Corinthians 5:11.

        And fornication is on that list. To argue that habitual unrepentant use of porn is not equal to fornication, is pretty indefensible, IMO.

      • MeganC

        Oh, Barbara. I feel like shouting “Amen!” in response to this. I WISH more churches could see the link between habitual pornography and abuse. And, it didn’t matter how many times I brought up the fact that habitual use of porn is equal to fornication . . . it seemed I was speaking in a vacuum. Because it is “every man’s battle”. Ugh.

      • Desley

        I second that “Ugh,” Megan. …”Every man’s battle”

        How is that not demeaning to men? Porn is made up of a whole slew of grown child abuse survivors, most of which started making porn in their teens. These people are suffering, addicted to drugs, abused on set. And instead of heeding to the call for us Christians in Isaiah 58 (my absolute FAVORITE scripture!) to clothe the naked when we see them, and free the oppressed, and loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, we use these people’s misery for self-gratification?

        Countless women and children have been sexually assaulted by men who’ve been conditioned by pornography. I once caught my husband looking at images of a fourteen year-old girl online. And now we are even discovering links between mainstream porn and the illegal trafficking of women and children on an international level. Particularly internet porn…there is no way to ascertain whether or not that person on the other side of the screen is of age, or has been trafficked…or what else that pornographer is up to.
        Excessive use of porn is the trademark of all sex tourists who go and pick up little girls and boys in third-world countries. There are cases where girls as young (and younger, I’m sure) as two have been violated by so many men that their intestines literally fall out of them.
        How is participating in this wickedness “every man’s battle?” How dare we profit this industry with our consumption when we know full-well what it will mean for other human beings! Every man’s battle. Ugh, is right.

        And now that I got that off my chest…

      • MeganC

        I appreciate your passion about this, Desley, and I second it ALL! I feel it, too! I am repulsed and shocked at what porn is doing to women . . . children . . . marriages. And, FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I do NOT understand why (in the world?!) it is not addressed more!! This is serious!

        One of the biggest arguments I had with my ex (which turned out to be a dark day for me), was when I realized that my ex saw pornography as an evil that wanted to take “godly men over”. On this day, I found out that he had had a porn addiction from the time he was 11 until now . . . and that he blames the women for being temptresses. I remember trying to explain to him that most of the women were trafficked, beaten, kidnapped, abused . . . he would have none of it, insisting that women were inherently evil and wanted to destroy men. I am convinced that his abuse of my daughter and me (ESPECIALLY the psychological abuse) is due to the fact that he truly TRULY hates women, as he abuses them on the internet.

        Looking at internet porn is joining in with the abuse of said women. It is contributing to the abusers’ power.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Definitely, Just Me. And I maintain that in the long run we would also see fewer divorces in the church. If nothing else, enforcing vows like that (and letting it be known in pre-marriage counseling that they will be enforced like that) will work to prevent abusive marriages. Some marriages won’t happen at all if a bride or groom is actually a disguised abuser. Think of it. If the whole church were on board with us in this abuse issue and dealt with it properly, abusers would LEAVE the church!! The marriages that they devastate would happen outside the church.

      • Just Me

        There’s a moment I wish I could go back to, and it was when we went to our pre-marriage counseling (with his pastor). We were in one of the sessions and husband was talking and the pastor abruptly interrupted and said “Hold on.” Then he turned to me and said “Are you okay with the way that he talks to you?” I was so used to it at that point that I didn’t even catch what he said that stood out to the pastor. To this day, I don’t know what it was. I asked the pastor what he had said, and he said “If it didn’t bother you, I’m not going to make an issue where there is none.” I really, really wish that the pastor would have taken a stronger stand at that moment. It may have saved me.

      • MeganC

        Yes, Just Me. I had a similar experience where an older pastor found me alone in one of the church classrooms. He said, “Megan . . . is your husband KIND to you?” He looked like he knew. And I just kind of chuckled and said, “Yes!” I am not sure I was convincing at all because he looked at me for a minute, as if to try to gauge my fear and anxiety. He did not press; I wish he had.

      • Just Me, this comment of yours is GOLD! And Meg’s reply to you is also.
        I am going copy and paste them over to Jeff S’s more recent post Allowing For Divorce is Not Enough where Jeff talks about how pastors need to be doing more than just allowing divorce: pastors need to be identifying victims who are still in the fog, and helping them wake up from it.

        The key point I think JM and Meg have made is that the pastor needs to *press*. Not in front of the perpetrator, of course, and not so hard that the victim shies away never to willingly listen or open up to him again. It’s a matter of the pastor calmly but concernedly stating to the victim his perspective and his observations of her relationship, and also asking her gentle, non-judgmental but pressing questions, and asking them consistently, shall we even say relentlessly – probably rephrasing and repeating them over many occasions – to help the victim to wake up.

      • You are right on both counts, Wendell.
        Regarding the fear of opening the floodgates on divorce, it’s an understandable fear for pastors to have. But pastors can be reassured – that fear can be laid to rest.
        I was very grateful that when William Heth read my book he saw that it doesn’t open the floodgates. Here’s what he wrote:

        This book removed the scales from my eyes and brought me face-to-face with the plight of victims of abuse who entered their marriage promising to honor Jesus’ command ‘not to separate what God had joined together’. Several years ago I changed my mind about the scope of this seemingly absolute prohibition.
        Not Under Bondage will help you wrestle through the when and the why of how you might be exempted from a marriage covenant that has been violated by various forms of abuse. Roberts is definitely not trying to ‘open the floodgates’ of excuses for divorce.
        William Heth, author of ‘Jesus and Divorce: How my mind has changed’; contributor to Remarriage After Divorce in Today’s Church.

        [okay, that was a plug but I think you can see it's related to Wendell's comment.
        You can read other reviews of my book here.]

      • Labeling non sinful things sin to stem the floodgates is something that Pharisees do.

      • Yes, spot on, Jeff S.

  35. In speaking up strongly and identifying statements to which victims will react, you show amazing support for victims – you verify our experiences and reactions as valid – a very necessary step in our healing. However, to those who have not been victims or do not yet understand abuse, this strong emotional language is seen as inappropriate and as an over-reaction – simply because of a lack of knowledge and understanding. I don’t think this audience is being reached through this blog, and they are an audience that we need to reach – they have shown interest by being here!
    …Maybe we should have two [blogs] – led by the same people – but clearly designed for two different audiences – audiences that respond to the same language in two ways. So in the end, the same messages about abuse, but different ‘languages’ so that each can hear in his own ‘language’.

    I think you (Mama Martin) are right to put you finger on the problem as ‘the strong language’. Yes, I know that can be off-putting for people who are new to this area. I appreciate you and others for calling our attention to this. And I will be giving more thought to what you’ve said.

    While I can see some positives in the idea of having two blogs, or dividing this blog into two subsections, I don’t think I for one have enough time or space in my brain to bring that about. I’m flat out just with what is happening already. If someone can find a way to clone me into several Barbara’s (can we have six or seven?? that would give a couple of me time to work on the next book) I’m happy to oblige. But as things stand, it’s not realistic with the amount of time in the day and the energy I have. Some of you may not realise, but I do this full time. Apart from my garden and my dog, this is pretty much my life. Not complaining: I love it.

    However, if anyone wants to take it upon themselves to re-blog the articles that they think would be palatable/helpful for newcomers who are not ready for the strong language, then by all means, go for it! However, you need to be aware that if you start a public blog on this topic, you will get comments from perpetrators who want to hijack what you are doing and use your blog to disseminate the myths about abuse that prop up their self-justifications. Myths such as “It takes two”; “It’s caused by alcohol and drugs and a poor upbringing and mental illness”; “Perpetrators aren’t really responsible for what they do, they can’t help it if they snap sometimes”; etc., etc.) You would need to trash such comments before they got published, to keep the blog safe and sound. And that requires some experience and expertise in identifying the language of abusers. You could, however, avoid that problem by not opening your blog to comments, just keeping it a place where you re-blog the suitable posts from ACFJ and provide the links to the original posts here.

    • Wendell G

      I know I am new here, but I see this blog as fulfilling the dual purpose of helping abuse victims AND educating/warning of the abuse heaped on the victims by the church. This isn’t a perfect analogy, but I see this group, and Pastor Crippen as being similar to The Good Samaritan.

      Imagine the abuse victim as the person who was beset by the abuser (robbers), wounded and bloodied by the road of life. The priest and Levite are the church pastors and leaders that cross to the other side, ignoring the plight of the victim and leaving them vulnerable to more abuse. The outcast, who is willing to buck the system even if it means being ostracized, is those in this group (Samaritan). He is willing to help the one who the church leaders reject, going out of his way and sacrificing to heal the victim’s wounds.

      To extend the analogy, I also see this as like any number of the prophets, trying to call Israel back to repentance, yet being ignored and risking persecution. Like the prophets, many just wish you would go away, yet you continue on.

      I believe both these roles are vital. You will never please everyone, nor should you try. Keep on moving in the direction God has called you. Minister to the hurting and continue to try to hold the church accountable. Even if it seems you are ignored, remember that not everyone has bowed their knees to Baal!

  36. Desley

    Well said, Wendell!

  37. Joyce

    I love this blog because you guys don’t “sugar-coat” abuse and subjects relating to it to make it more palatable to those of more delicate opinions. I have noticed that Jesus didn’t do that either. I hope y’all don’t change a thing. You are bringing healing to my life and refreshment from the outrage over seeing these issues in the church for the last thirty something years. I don’t think there is a way to make it pretty and still be real. This is an ugly subject.

  38. KayE

    I am so grateful for the way this blog tells the truth in black and white. In my situation I desperately need to know there are people with the courage to stand up for people like me. It gives me hope. I’m not particularly concerned about the feelings of church leaders who have hurt me and my children so much, over so many years.Such leaders always remind me of this:
    “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores”.Luke 16:19-21
    I have really appreciated reading all the thoughtful comments on John Piper’s statements.
    I wish I had been able to hear such arguments years ago, it would have saved me from a great deal of suffering.It gives me such hope that so many people are challenging the cruel false thinking.

  39. Wendell G

    I am like Barbara in that I am not so much concerned about what the pastors who may be subjects think about such posts. I learned early on in the ministry that there will always be criticism some warranted and some not. in fact, I welcomed it and asked for it upon occasion, just so that I can double check my own teaching and doctrine. To me, a good teacher will always open themselves up for questions, taking the strong emotion with the simple questions. In fact, by accepting the strong emotions, good pastors often have an opening to inquire further about what is driving those emotions and to begin dealing with the core issues. Often, they will find that the complaint that is originally presented is not what the real issue is. It does bother me that Piper does not seem to have a mechanism for that discourse, but it could simply be a logistical issue with such a large ministry.

    Yes, there has been a lot of heat generated here in this thread, but I think it has been handled well. Most of it has been aimed at Piper’s teaching, which is fair game. There is ample evidence for it in Scripture, both with Jesus and Paul in how they handled false teaching.

    I think that we have to accept the fact that people come here with different needs and those needs are not mutually exclusive. There are those who are more interested in trying to help those abused, but have not been abused themselves. There are those who have been abused and want healing. Others are on both sides of the issue, like me. I have not had to suffer spousal abuse, but I was severely emotionally abused by my mother growing up, and then had to help my daughter through her spousal abuse. (I still quiver some when I hear, “I wish you’d never been born, etc.)

    In all of these groups (and others I may have missed), they will have different priorities. Some only want one type of post, others another, but I think there is a vast group that wants both. It is for that group that I think this blog should stay as it is. Many people need to know both how to deal with the abuser at home (or former home) and the abusive practices of the church, including bad teaching.

    Another, more mundane issue, comes into play here. When you are dealing with online resources such as web pages and blogs, you have a very finite and short time to get someone’s attention and hold it. In this generation of net users, a bifurcated blog will likely result in less views than a single page blog. When I was studying for my Master’s in Library Science (now Information Science), this is one thing we came across constantly. It is called information seeking behavior and in a nutshell, studies have shown that simpler is better when presenting information online. People have a tendency to skim, left to right and top to bottom, and are not often willing to go searching multiple tabs or pages for things. They generally just move on. They can usually tell in the first few sentences if it is something that interests them

    Finally, I agree with Barbara on another point. We cannot be responsible for how people react to something we say. Certainly we should try to be circumspect in our discourse, but how you react to my writing is up to you, not me. My responsibility is to speak the truth in love. I am not responsible for how anyone treats it. When I am a listener, I have a responsibility to look past the words spoken and try to discern the heart and if I have a negative emotional reaction, to try to find constructive ways to express it and deal with the speaker (if necessary). Everyone is at a different place in this and raw emotion can short circuit the process, but I believe that mature believers and especially those trained in counseling can handle that.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Wendall. Very good insights and wisdom. Nope, we won’t please everyone. We each one have our differing gifts and exercise them in the role Christ calls us to. So our blog here presses on, just as it has, doing what it has been doing. Over time as the Lord gives us a suggestion here or there we can “tweak” this or that, as we have in the past. But A Cry for Justice remains A Cry for Justice.

  40. Song

    I am so eternally grateful for this blog!! I have done a lot of research trying to find out what was happening in my marriage, and I did not find one Christian-based blog that addressed the issues like this one does! I have stood in awe at the consistent integrity of character of Jeff and Barbara and in their ability to be real, to stand their ground when needed, and to apologize when they’ve needed, to be understanding, to be serious, to be deep, to be light, to be humorous, to be sarcastic, to be loving, to be forgiving, to be encouraging, to be accepting, to be protective, to courageously walk through the process knowing that growth and learning, etc. involves trial and error…and most important to me….for understanding that the myriad ways of trying to communicate what we were experiencing in any form of abuse fell on deaf ears!! In our efforts to communicate to people, churches, spouses, families, friends, etc. what was happening to us; we were gentle, we were rough, we stumbled over our words, we were articulate, we cried, we were stoic, we gave examples, we had only a feeling, we were meek, we shouted, we tried reasoning, we gave up, we begged and pleaded, we were indifferent, we ran for our’s and our children’s lives, we stayed. We tried everything in our power to communicate so that people would understand! And, as many of us know all too well, that what happens inside someone else’s head is out of our control. We can’t make them change their minds.
    I understand the great need for good communication and information and having it available. Part of that good communication and information comes from the reality of our lives, our feelings, thoughts, beliefs, experiences, choices, our stories. I’m putting my vote in at this time to keep the blog as one. I don’t want to see a separation of “church and state”, so to speak, with theology separated from the state and reality of life.
    Jeff C., Barbara, Megan, Jeff S., Martin, for all those who tell your stories here, a big grateful cyber hug and thank you for allowing the voices of so many to be heard.

    • MeganC

      Big hugs, Song. That was beautiful. :)

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Song. You are a real encouragement to us as well.

    • Song, as one writer to another, let me say how much I love this superb piece of prose:

      In our efforts to communicate to people, churches, spouses, families, friends, etc. what was happening to us; we were gentle, we were rough, we stumbled over our words, we were articulate, we cried, we were stoic, we gave examples, we had only a feeling, we were meek, we shouted, we tried reasoning, we gave up, we begged and pleaded, we were indifferent, we ran for our’s and our children’s lives, we stayed. We tried everything in our power to communicate so that people would understand!

    • Just Me

      Song, Those are some amazing words. Thank you!

  41. Desley

    I haven’t yet read all the previous comments and hope I am not repeating anything. But I was just listening to a message from Timothy Keller on the healing of anger and thought it was especially pertinent to the debate going on here.

    He explains that if you never get angry you don’t love anyone because if you love, and you see the thing you love threatened, you’re angry. Rabecca Pipper writes, “Anger isn’t the opposite of love; hate is. And the final form of hate is indifference.”
    True love gets angry. Anger, in its pure form, is love in motion toward a threat to that which you love. If you love something you get angry at the thing that’s threatening it – and that’s why anger pulverizes and disintegrates. It’s disintegrating the thing that’s endangering that which you love. When you see someone you love being ravaged by unhealthy relationships, do you respond with benign tolerance like you would to a complete stranger?

    We could tell if our anger is just or unjust if we look at the things in our hearts that most anger us and then ask this question, “what am I defending?” And what I see is that Jeff C is defending God’s sheep. He is angry at the cancer that is destroying the sheep that God made and that He loves with His whole being.

    Jesus, Who is perfect, is seen getting angry at the money changers in the temple (John 2), He is angry at the religious leaders (Mark 3). Timothy Keller points out that the Greek words that are used to describe His anger are incredibly strong: He “bellows” with anger; He “snorts” with anger. Why would He get so angry? Because he is a man of love.

    Now, a man indifferent (or hateful) to abuse victims might chuckle when addressing the sin of domestic violence instead of getting angry with a holy anger. And if this indifferent man then counsels others to remain in dangerous situations and, out of arrogance, refuses to have a conversation around his teachings which are posing a threat to God’s children, this leaves a loving man very angry – both at the threat of the Domestic Violence and the threat of the teacher who is perpetuating the problem of DV in the name of God.

    The victims who are looking in at this blog have their own suffering validated when the anger reflects the crime. In this way Jeff has been healing force. But this is not the only reason I think you would be doing a disservice to your goal by dividing the blog.

    The anger has to be proportionate to the gravity of the threat or the threat will not be taken seriously by the teachers who already minimize it and laugh it off.
    My fear is that if you separate the heart of God – the angry heart of God – from this issue, you will not be doing justice and will not affect change. William Wilberforce did nothing to turn people’s hearts with gentle words and theological arguments. No, he had to make it personal. He had to cut through their indifference by forcing the people to smell the dead bodies of the slaves and be in their faces relentlessly with the inconvenient (and might I add, unpopular) reality of what they were doing.

    And Do we really think there weren’t people turned off by Jesus’ angry outbursts? Those who truly desire to learn and who aren’t prioritizing an allegiance to any one theologian above TRUTH will be able to filter out what they don’t personally find helpful.

    I know that in the end this blog’s team will make the best decision…but I think the blog already has a good balance between all of you and your respective personalities and approaches. That’s what makes it such an effective blog. You already have resources listed for those Christians who are open to learning. But I was under the impression that this blog was to stand up against the injustice being perpetrated by so many Christian teachers who are stubbornly unwilling to stop hurting people through their teachings. If that is the case, every word that Jeff wrote was entirely right.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you Desley. Those are wonderful and biblical insights into just and righteous anger. One of the things that Lundy Bancroft has been saying is that we NEED to be angry about what abusers are doing to victims – very angry. God certainly is. This anger will work to protect victims and render justice to abusers. It is not to be separated from theology but proceeds directly from the truths of Scripture. No, we won’t be changing the methodology of this blog ministry. We won’t be “coolly and dispassionately” discussing issues that have profound effects upon the lives of people. It’s all mixed up together on one page and that is how it needs to remain. We all realize this.

      When the study of Scripture and biblical theology are carried out in some ivory tower of academia, removed from the muck and gunk of real life’s nastiness, erroneous conclusions and applications and interpretations are inevitable. That is the problem with the concept of “Scripture as our only authority” thinking which translates into “no matter how ridiculous our conclusions are when it comes to applying them in real life, we must stick to them anyway because God’s ways are higher than our ways.” Well, I believe that Scripture is indeed our only authority and I do not believe that we cram it into life and make it fit simply for our own selfish conveniences. But when those conclusions are such that they effect mercilessness and injustice, then we know we have gone wrong. Instone-Brewer is correct when he says that the widespread beliefs about divorce are wrong because they simply don’t work in real life. Oh yes, I can hear the critics screaming “foul! You are saying that pragmatism is our real authority and not Scripture!” No, I am saying that God is righteous and just and merciful, that He is the defender of the weak and oppressed and down-trodden, and when our take on Scripture turns Him into something other than that, then we have gone wrong.

      As you have said above, God is angry about the abuse of the weak by the strong and powerful. If we aren’t, then something is very wrong with us. We need not be ashamed of hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

      • Desley

        “When the study of Scripture and biblical theology are carried out in some ivory tower of academia, removed from the muck and gunk of real life’s nastiness, erroneous conclusions and applications and interpretations are inevitable.”
        Yes!

        “He is the defender of the weak and oppressed and down-trodden, and when our take on Scripture turns Him into something other than that, then we have gone wrong.”

        Amen!

      • Barnabasintraining

        Oh yes, I can hear the critics screaming “foul! You are saying that pragmatism is our real authority and not Scripture!”

        Isn’t it God’s word that tells us to look to the ant and consider the lilies? Isn’t God constantly appealing to things like pottery and metal refinement? God appeals to experience a lot.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Very good examples BIT. General revelation, our conscience, our experiences, though not final in authority nevertheless help us in our understanding of God’s Word. Jesus’ many parables were so often taken from real life to illustrate and enlarge upon His truth.

      • Regarding this idea that we cannot be influenced outside of scripture, I’m going to plagiarize myself from a comment I left on another thread over the weekend:

        “I think it’s also helpful to look at other issues where the church has gotten it really wrong in the past and it was experience that helped us understand things better. For instance, slavery. There was a time when Christians, even ones well regarded and read today, supported and engaged in the terrible practice of chattle slavery, which is NOT at all the kind of slavery that was dealt with in scripture.

        Now it wasn’t someone just waking up and reading scripture who finally figured out that this practice was evil; it took our collective experience as a nation working this out to understand just what we were dealing with. Even today we can all say that it is wrong, but how many of us truly “get it”? Not very many. I certainly don’t. I know it is wrong on an intellectual level, but ive never felt the personal offense of being owned as property and controlled that way. What I imagine of that experience is probably extremely limited to how it actually was. Fortunately, today we don’t need people to have that experience to understand its wrong, but at one point we did. At one point the church did need to be awakened about how to properly apply scripture to the issue of chattle slavery- and God used experience to do it, not intellectual debate alone.”

  42. Just Me

    I have appreciated the strong wording that is sometimes used on this blog. It helps me to feel safe and protected. I love the analogy above of Jeff C being the shepherd who is watching out for his flock. It’s very true. Dangerous people aren’t welcome here.

    I find that in my case, there are days where I am really hurting and those are the days where I struggle the most to find my voice. It is such a blessing to come to this blog and have people who are wiser than I am who will protect me, validate my experiences and sometimes even put words to what I am feeling. So when I read something like John Piper’s position on abuse, or I read comments like Jim Eliff’s comment yesterday, it often will send me into a spiral. The strong responses truly help to pull me out.

    Anger is a strong emotion. And for years I have been told that I shouldn’t be angry and that self-protection is not biblical. I need to see people show anger in a biblical way in order for it to sink in that it is okay for me to be angry. And it’s okay for me to be angry because I have been wronged. Self-protection is okay.

    I am grateful for the love that I have been shown by everyone here–owners, administrators, contributors and commenters. You don’t even know me. Only Jeff C and Barbara know my first name. And yet, you show me love. It’s such a gift.

  43. I come from a church where the Pastors had million dollar homes, the white dove would fly out of the sanctuary at just the right time, peoples “”experiences”” where based on just that an “”experience””….were they entertained? Did they get the seat they were after? Did the parking for the mercedes end up close enough not to spend an hour getting out of the parking lot?….Being a newly saved christian, I was taken back by the glamour, but even being the newborn that I was, I felt nothing there, nothing but the taste of a 2 dollar burger that came with coke and chips. I had alot of time being introspective while sitting in the beauty there, especially when I generally was traumatized by my spouse on the long drive there. I wondered how they had been so godly for so long and not hear my suffering, then in the parking lot I would see the display of false humility, the pastors son on purposely would drive this literally beat up car, park it on display. wear his jeans and a t-shirt, then preach about giving. I was not smart like them, I could not remember to feel much less, remember to pray or memorize a piece of scripture……..church became more like a puzzle for me to piece together, an enigma of sorts. the draw they had to evil, my spouse? The draw they had to appear filled with peace, a sanctuary without dust. My spouse, and those same pastors alike would point their fingers at me and my children, if I did not support my MIW, yet everyone was okay with the Barbies, the hair fresh from the salon, the cleavage falling out every where, as long as it was attached to a pastor, as long as their arm candy was in place making them look good…as long as they did not speak poorly of the other spouse for ANY reason….( was NOT intended to bash the wives, but was intended to show how they expected, were entitled to expect their wives to make the family look good at all times…I wanted to be just like them….anything but what I had become…perfect was a long shot but I wanted it….may have looked so good but i knew it did not exist, I knew the facade…..because of the well known rumors surrounding my marriage, I never was included in knowing any of them.

    I am just being honest and sharing my random thoughts I would have at church. I was bleeding from my head, my insides hurt, but what was around me helped me to actually LOOK. Nothing seemed to match up, i questioned myself all the time, maybe he had finally done brain damage, maybe the manly banter about getting a gun, was just that, manly banter. Maybe it was not for me to worry about, maybe he thought I could not hear? Maybe he was trying to make light so I would not worry so much about my impending murder?

    Now those were just my swirling thoughts as I sat next to my MIW, with his hands in the air, praising the random doves I suppose. My fantasy always wandered to what ifs, What if everybody there at that moment stripped naked and were in their underwear?. What if a red light shined on every abuser in the crowd and we could all see every one of them? What if I suddenly disappeared? What if all of us victoms were left to raise up that church? What If all the victoms suddenly disappeared would anybody notice? What if my kids wanted a play-date with the pastors kids?…. I assumed all the door men were abusers, it was the job they would try to get my husband to do, so that he would be of service…… BUT what if they heard me? What if they understood and felt my plight? Would their pain and despair make them turn away more than one half of their tithes? Would the walls, and the flat screens, and the mountain retreats, would all their worldly goods be worth holding onto any longer?

    Having my light taken from me from the abuse i suffered, having the honeymoon with Christ abruptly over, I look back and because of that small tear, me not being able to “FEEL” god, I think that is when GOD opened my eyes. Every look of support, every pat on my spouses back, every phone call taken, every tithe they took from him while we were starving, with each tone they had, with each scripture used to defeat me …. was a dagger to my flesh…with each stab, I saw them for who they were…..NOT FOR ME. And not what God had intended for them to be.

    • Memphis, I feel that there are no words that could even come close to an adequate acknowledgement to what you wrote. All I can say is thank you, thank you for letting us be witnesses.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Nice Memphis. Very, very good descriptions and insights. No real believer could square the “sanctuary without dust” with the religion of Christ. You were in a plastic cathedral filled with plastic mannequins. When Christ touches us, we become real people. The mannequins dont get it. They have eyes but see not, ears but hear not. They play dress up and that is all their religion is.

    • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27, 28 ESV)

      Really that whole chapter there but this is what comes to mind.

      Very powerful observations, Memphis.

      • Wendell G

        And this “34 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. “. Ezekiel 34

  44. Laura M Shola

    Concerning Questions to Ask When Preparing for Marriage on John Piper’s Desiring God site, I think that number one should be as follows:

    Are you aware that if your spouse hard-heartedly and unrepentantly breaks the marriage vows, abuses you or your children in any/every way, is addicted to pornography, dates other people, exhibits hatred or any other type of cruelty including physical, emotional and mental torture, we will not support you, but will rather guilt you into continuing in that relationship until you die? If you will not submit to our rule, you will be shunned and face church discipline. We forbid divorce for every reason.

    .

    • //stands up and applauds

      Yes, Laura. It’s amazing how we define these rules late in the game. I remember going to a marriage conference with the subtitle “I signed up for what?!?”

      No, I really didn’t sign up for that. I’m sorry you think I did. And when you can prove to me that that’s what you signed up for, then we’ll talk.

    • Bingo, Laura!

  45. lydiasellerofpurple@yahoo.com

    “Having said that, I think we always need to remember what Jeff Crippen has been pointing out: that an abuser who professes to be a Christian is one of the worst kinds of abusers. Claiming to be a Christian while perpetrating abuse is a horrendous and truly blasphemous form of evil.”

    Bingo. This is it.

    So, I have a question. Do they think abusers are Christians? Do they think that Hebrews 10: 26-31 does not apply to an abusive Christian? I don’t get it.

    Do they think this form of sin that hurts another is lesser sin than divorce? Do they believe that the hierarchy they preach in marriage is more important to God than living in abuse.

    To me, his article read like this: Men are more important. And this would fit as women are to submit, are easily decieved and listening to them read scripture is a sin for men.

    Why is anyone surprised at his flowery but vacant statement. Piper always uses tons of adjectives and verbs to soften the blow. He says nothing really that he did not say before. Still the church has to decide whether she has a humble spirit and wants reconcilation with an abuser. All he has to do is say, sorry, I repent.

    They really do think very little concerning women, these “great” men of God.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Lydia- Bingo indeed! Hebrews 10 is by no means the only place in Scripture that says “either you are or you are not” a Christian. These guys must think otherwise. Think through what an abuser is, how he thinks, and what he does. With no true conscience. It is inconceivable that such a person is regenerate.

      Yet such people are widely pronounced to by sons of God when Jesus says they are sons of the devil.

    • Wendell G

      Hmm, ever challenge one of them to tell you whether or not women will have a separate heaven than men, or whether they will have separate and inferior mansions? Was Deborah a lesser judge of Israel? I honestly have never asked someone that question, but it would be interesting to challenge them in the context of their submission teachings!

      • Desley

        “Do they believe that the hierarchy they preach in marriage is more important to God than living in abuse.”

        Actually, yes. They believe that the ultimate purpose in marriage is to reflect what they believe is the intra-trinitarian relationships (i.e. the son submits to the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son). It has been talked about on the blog here before, I think. They think that if we fail to live this out within our marriages it is an impediment to the Gospel. That is why they now call Complementarianism a “Gospel issue.”

        Furthermore, along with the backlash against feminism came the propping up of the role of the father to such a degree that many now believe that an abusive man in the home is still better than no man at all. (And that’s when they actually believe the woman that there is abuse). I have been told this outrightly by one leader in my church (that he believes this). In some cases they have gone so far as to demonize the role of the mother and thus they fear that without a man in the house to govern and keep the woman in check, everyone will fall apart and the children will not grow up properly.

        Hierarchy above all. Even in abuse it MUST be maintained, as you will notice in John Piper’s words.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Desley – Excellent description of the mentality. I think we all do agree that marriage IS to model Christ to the world, His love for His church, and even in His submission to the Father (as the husband submits to Christ). But what blows my mind is how in the world anyone can think that a so-called “Christian marriage” that is not Christian at all because an abuser has turned it into a terrorist camp, should continue? I mean, I am to preach God’s Word from our pulpit every week. But if I start to preach heresy, is the church supposed to keep me there because it is better to have a preacher of heresy than no preacher at all? Of course not. Out with the guy! When God has found Himself in a “marriage” with a covenant people who mock Him, abuse His prophets, and refuse to obey the terms of the covenant, does God say “well, you know I have to keep this marriage going because it is modeling My love for my people to the world”? Hardly. He divorced Israel. He throws the wicked out. And THAT act of divorcing actually models the glory of God to the world.

      • Desley

        Wendell, I think most of them would maintain that the purpose of the hierarchy is temporary – a shadow of things to come. Once we reach heaven we will no longer need shadows and symbols because we will have the substance of things unseen. When I believed in this hierarchy above all, I held that the woman’s role of submission was equally valuable in God’s economy as the man’s role to lead, since they are both viewed as indispensable roles with the same purpose.
        I don’t honestly believe that most of these people really think women are second-class citizens; however, I do think this sytem can teeter on the edge and will definitely draw in male-supremacist men – especially when many of the complementarian apologists use language describing the Father as the “Supreme” member of the Trinity.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Desley – I don’t like to think it, but I am much closer now than I used to be to the conclusion that in fact people who refuse to give justice to abuse victims do indeed believe women are second class, inferior beings. Maybe some don’t even realize it – I am probably racist to some degree but I don’t even know it. When a woman who is being abused comes to a male pastor and male elders in a church where men are the leaders of the church and are the head in their marriages, those men need to do some real self-examination because the fact IS that they are going to view a woman who comes to them VERY differently than they would view a man who walks through their door. And most often this difference is NOT to the woman’s benefit.

      • I concur with Jeff C here; I think many men do not realise how much they view women through a different lens than they view men, and that lens often devalues women in very subtle ways….

        It’s often hard to see our own prejudices because they are so fundamental to our thinking that they operate a lot of the time below our conscious awareness (a little like changing gears on a car is an unconscious process). But imagine for a moment you are reading a blog on some controversial social issue that has some bearing on gender justice, and you come across a comment from someone called “Lesley”. Almost he first thing you want to know is “is this Lesley male or female?” The same thing happens when someone uses a screen name that doesn’t denote any gender. We probe their comment to try to figure out whether it is a man or a woman.
        Why do we want to know that? Because we use a different set of presuppositions and expectations when relating to a person, depending on what their gender is. And why do we do that? It’s not just because each sex tends to have its distinct characteristics (very broadly speaking); it’s also because socialisation and experience teaches us that men have more privileges than women in certain situations, and this privilege conditions the quality of their lives.
        Feel like I’ve been rambling but will hit the button anyway.

      • Desley, I had the same “”thought”” shoved down my throat that it is better to have a man than no man at all. My abuser played well with this thinking. I can remember many instances, like one paster saying outloud to somebody else “”Well little Asher(my son} was surprisingly well behaved in class??????” ….and this guy NEVER met my son before!!!??? But it turned out, my MIW, and the pastors all unanimously agreed that without his fathers influences, he, my son, would turn out to be some sort of rotten apple. Of course why wouldnt he be? Left with his loving, but hapless mother? The across the board thinking is be a shi..!@#$%!!!y father, and thats good enough…..but as a MOTHER you are held to an entirely different standard, one step in their wrong direction and YOU are no longer a good mother, and that is NOT good enough according to their playbook! Just like an abuser thinks, If the kids act out, its YOUR fault, and if any time in their adult lives they have ANYsort of trouble? Well you know that will be your fault too, because YOU as the victom are the one responsible for making YOUR man a better parent!!!! Geeesh when will you ever learn???? Pffffft!

      • Desley

        “because YOU as the victom are the one responsible for making YOUR man a better parent!!!! ”

        Oh Memphis, don’t I know it! The woman sets the atmosphere when her husband gets home, they say. Dress the kids up, wear perfume and a pretty dress, they say. Don’t deprive him sexually,they say. If the woman would just submit and speak gently to her husband, all the while affirming his wonderful leadership (even if it is not good at all) – If a woman let’s go of her expectations of her husband and instead esteems her husband he will live up to that and even surpass her expectations…but if she “complains” about him he will stop trying altogether. If a woman disagrees with her husband over discipline of the kids she must submit and trust the Lord to change her husband’s heart, bla bla bla. If she doesn’t, she is going to make things worse by undermining his authority. She is then a foolish woman tearing her house down with her own hands instead of being a wise woman who builds it up. So submission is always the best route…even in what you think is abuse. Oh yes, the greatest comfort has come to me during the times I submitted to my husband beating my kid by listening to the proverb “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

        In fact, I remember emailing my pastor one evening because my husband came home angry because I didn’t have dinner ready and I was reading a book. I got up and put dinner on, but because I didn’t have it done for him he continued to be angry. My son went into the kitchen and thought he’d help by stirring the sauce. My husband totally flipped on him and choked him. And the first words in the pastor’s response? “If you know it;s going to make ________ mad by not having dinner ready, why do it?”

        It will always get turned around on the victim. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not because the victims are so ready to change in order to make things better, and it’s just easier for them to “fix it” by counseling the victim to avoid his anger than having to actually deal with the abuser.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Desley- that pastor committed a crime by failing to report the assault on your son. We all should start reporting these non-reports to the police for prosecution. He endangered you all.

      • Yes, pastors (and social workers, and legal workers, and child protection workers) are often afraid of the perpetrator, and that’s why they prefer to counsel the victim to change, rather than tell the abuser to change. Confront an abuser and what do you get? A barrage of evasion, excuses, diversionary red herrings, blame-shifting, fake pain, fake repentance, fake empathy, cunning manipulative lies. Who wants to deal with all that! It’s much easier to admonish the victim. She may not even say one word back to you – because your admonishment may render her speechless. How easy it is, if the victim is silent, for you to rattle on with your pontificating pearls of wisdom…

      • Desley

        I don’t think you were rambling at all, Barbara. You and Jeff make a lot of sense. I think it is unconscious sometimes. I believe that the leadership in my church sees me as equal in value to my husband. I thjink the problem comes from the fact that they think I am less on the rational level, or more vulnerable in my discernment of reality in some cases. Like how I was told many times that my husband wasn’t really abusing my children; I was just more tender and emotional owing to the fact that I am a woman, and I am also oversentive due to my own history of abuse.

        I’m still trying to work out in my own head how it is that these good Christian men could get it so wrong. I can see a link between how they believed me (or didn’t) and what they believe about certain gender roles. Basically, a woman’s testimony, if I may, is worth only a fraction of that of a man because of biological/physiological/hormonal/chemical,etc differences betweem men and women. They don’t believe necessarily that a woman is inferior to man; only that she is not built to make decisions apart from men and initiate and reason. But there are things she is more suited for, they would say, such as nurturing, multi-tasking, communicating emotionally, intuition, etc.That’s why they think that women are most productive and excel as “biblical women” in their functions in the domestic realm.
        But does this spring from an attitude of male-superiority? In some things, I guess. I can’t seem to figure it all out.

        Who’s rambling now?

  46. and how quickly and easy it was for them to snuff out my fears, all it took was for him to say “”she cheated on me!” you know cuz I had nothing but free unsupervised time on my hands with being stalked continually……then the atittude was “well whats a guy suppose to do??” All he had to do was open his mouth, and all my claims, and proofs thereof were dismissed, minimized, and made into my thinking at the time “” Maybe its NOT as bad as this feels”” then backed with “”Maybe you are being too emotional, he doesnt need the stress”…….ugh, incoming pain in my stomache!!!

  47. Katy

    Barb – I just found this blog and I’m furiously trying to read the whole thing, but I just want to pop in and say:
    “the principle of wifely submission is made void when a husband abuses his wife. The abusive man voids it. He does this himself, by his evil deeds.” -
    YES!
    I’ve been divorced for years from my abuser, no thanks to my church of course. For a while I thought this was a “Southern baptist problem” so I switched to the Reformed church. And then I got hit with the Pied Piper. So I’ve been feeling sad and confused again, wondering if I get remarried someday I will be an adultress etc.

    Just wanted to let you know – I was praying in the car about this again a few weeks ago, and I have all but abandoned the scriptures on headship and submission because i can’t understand them, and I felt like God said “He gave up his authority over you WILLINGLY.”
    so to see you write that here really confirmed it for me. YES. The first time he threatened to beat my face in, all the way to the point where he abandoned us — HE GAVE UP all of his authority, responsibility, etc ON HIS OWN. no one needed to take it from him!

    • Jeff Crippen

      Katy – Ephesians 5 is clear that being the head means loving one’s wife. A head loves its body. What kind of a head destroys its body? We can submit to Christ as our Head because He loves us and gave Himself up for us. That is what a husband is supposed to do. That is headship. Submit to that kind of headship? No problem. It’s natural. BUT you are totally correct. There is NO headship and thus no submission to a head that has a brain that is abby-normal. Any husband, any pastor or theologian or any woman that teaches that headship means obeying a wicked head is either grossly ignorant or intentionally perverting the Word of God for their own power and control. Yes. He gave up all of his authority when he did not love you and give himself for you.

      I am seeing the same problem in both reformed churches and dispensational churches. I do believe, at least in the few reformed Baptist churches that I know well enough to say this, that there are a higher percentage of genuine believers in these churches because they expect a person to show fruit of salvation. But it is still a big problem and the perversion of the headship/submission doctrine of Scripture is one of the main weapons of the abuser and his allies.

    • Oh bless you Katy, so glad you found confirmation here. Welcome to our blog, we look forward to hearing more from you, sister!

    • joepote01

      Katy – So glad you stopped by and have received confirmation of what the Holy Spirit has been telling you!

      Exodus 6:1 records these words spoken by God, to Moses, in regard to Israel’s coming redemption from Egypt, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.’”

      When Pharaoh chose to “drive them out of his land” Israel was released from their covenant obligation. At that moment, Israel was divorced from Egypt. The covenant was dissolved, and Israel was free to proceed to the Promised Land with no obligation of allegiance to Egypt.

      In fact, the Hebrew words translated here as the phrases “let them go” (shalach) and “drive them out” (garash) are both translated elsewhere as divorce (Malachi 2:16, Leviticus 21:14).

      God has redeemed you from that former covenant of bondage. Not only are you no longer under obligation to that covenant, but the covenant, itself, has been dissolved…it no longer exists. You cannot be under obligation to a non-existent covenant.

      You are free, in Christ!

  48. Mary Smith

    “By way of caution and lament, I cannot promise that every church has such spiritual, gifted, and compassionate men and women available for help. ”

    Perhaps there are counselors or community places of refuge where a woman can go to for help if there is no one in the church who can help her.

    • Desley

      Yes, there are women’s shelters full of professionals in the field who run programs and offer counseling for victims of abuse. Instead of relying on church’s or victims to discern which whether or not they are giving or getting good counsel, why not just send victims to those who actually know what they are doing? Wouldn’t this minimize the risks? I don’t understand why John Piper is so adamant about the church being the primary source of help for victims…unless he is afraid that the women might be counseled to separate from her abuser…or that they will throw all of their support behind her and help her with safety and all the legalities if she chooses to divorce.

      But if this is why he neglects to include women’s shelters as viable options for an abuse victim (and it probably is), why doesn’t he just say so?

    • Yes indeed, Mary, there are secular counselors and refuges where victims of abuse can find help. Such places usually deal with victims way better than the church usually deals with them. And it’s tragic that so many Christians are told “Don’t go to any secular services!” It’s almost as if Christians think that unbelief is contagious, like the common cold.

  49. Mary Smith

    Porn is abuse. I wish the church would deal with porn as an addiction, and would actively be involved in helping the users of porn to stop using it, and protecting the victims of porn. But so far the church seems silent on the issue of porn.

    • Mary, I’m not an expert in regards to how and what the church is doing about combating porn, but I do think that to be involved in helping the users of porn to stop using it, it’s like any addiction: the addict really needs to want to stop. If that is lacking, no amount of help from others is going to make a dent on the addict’s addiction. I do hear of some Christian ministries that are addressing sex trafficking and the recruitment of underage girls into the porn industry. Mending the Soul is one such ministry.
      Thanks for your comment and your views. We love you coming to our blog!

  50. Hannah has posted about John Piper’s ‘clarification’ at her blog. Here’s the link http://eaandfaith.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/john-piper-domestic-violence-in-church.html

    • Bethany

      Wonderful link. Thank you :)

    • Barnabasintraining

      Thanks for posting that, Barbara. Hannah transcribes some of the video (I think it’s posted somewhere on this blog if anyone needs to see it):

      A woman’s submission to her husband is rooted in the word of God, calling her to be—for the Lord’s sake, for the Lord’s sake—submissive to him. Which means she always has a higher allegiance, namely to Christ.
      Therefore Christ’s word governs her life. And Christ has many words besides “Be submissive.” “Be submissive” is not an absolute, because her Lord has other things to tell her, so that if the husband tells her something that contradicts what the Lord tells her, then she’s got a crisis of, “To whom do I submit now?” And clearly she submits to Jesus above her husband. The reason she is submitting to her husband is because of her prior superior submission to the Lord.
      So if this man, for example, is calling her to engage in abusive acts willingly (group sex or something really weird, bizarre, harmful, that clearly would be sin), then the way she submits—I really think this is possible, though it’s kind of paradoxical—is that she’s not going to go there. I’m saying, “No, she’s not going to do what Jesus would disapprove even though the husband is asking her to do it.”

      Hannah then makes this observation:

      This time he decides he needs to remind her of all the people, offices, etc. that she is in submission to.

      I haven’t read further than that yet, but she already is going right exactly where I went as I read the quote. Piper here makes so much of a submission burden for this woman by reminding her of all these layers she has to traverse to get to the right course of action. This is just a way of laying heavy burdens on people. God’s will really isn’t that complicated. Jesus was trying to deal with this same kind of thing all through the Gospels, from Thou shalt love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul, and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself to it’s lawful to do good on the Sabbath, He is forever correcting the burdening of the people with extraneous commands He did not make that burden the poor soul who wants to do His will. Piper does the same thing with this complicated submission doctrine. Paul set that straight with submit to one another and let the peace of God rule in your hears, etc. Just like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, these people have made things waaaayyyy too complicated. Christ’s yoke is easy, His burden is light, and His commands are not burdensome, until they pass through Piper’s pen.

      • Just Me

        Excellent, BIT.

      • Barnabasintraining

        (I think it’s posted somewhere on this blog if anyone needs to see it):

        I mean the video is posted somewhere.

  51. Jeff Crippen

    We are, believe it or not, hesitant to call an abuser an abuser. Or to call a well-known pastor/teacher a spiritual abuser. And we should be hesitant. But our hesitancy can be dangerous. “Let’s see, bullets are zinging past our heads, but is that guy with the gun really our enemy? Maybe he is just mis-informed.” Jesus said that by their fruits we will know them. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Pharisee fruit proceeds from a Pharisee. Pharisees are not good.

    Abuse victims find it difficult, for many years, to understand that their abuser is evil and in fact does not and never did love them. We don’t want to believe such a thing. Yet there comes a time when we must and in retrospect we generally find that we wish we had come to that conclusion much sooner. Better for everyone involved.

    I don’t want to label a man a sexual predator of children. But this very hesitancy is what just such a man counts on in all of us. While we are hesitating, he is stalking. Grooming. Deceiving.

    So when we hear pastors and teachers and theologians and really any professing Christian teaching and wanting to enforce this no-divorce-for-any-reason position, and when we hear them speaking and we realize that they are actually minimizing the horror of abuse, when we see them enabling abusers and increasing the suffering of victims, then even in our hesitancy, we must come to the conclusion that all of this bad fruit is proceeding from a bad/evil heart.

    No pastor, no matter how famous, no matter how many books he has written or how many followers he has, is sinless. In his sinful flesh, as in all of us, evil still lurks. Evil that he very well is blind to. And that evil is quite capable of producing poisonous apples that look shiny and good. We dare not take a bite.

    • Diane

      “I don’t want to label a man a sexual predator of children. But this very hesitancy is what just such a man counts on in all of us. While we are hesitating, he is stalking. Grooming. Deceiving.”

      I understand this and I appreciate your willingness to be strong and call things the way you see them. Even If it is obvious, we still like to say,…well, maybe it really isn’t thaaaaaaat bad…(when it really is that bad and for some reason many people would like to push evil away than look it straight in the eye). And churches are places abusers go because of this very thing: they know the Christians there will want to believe that abuse couldn’t happen in a church–why–that’s where the Christians are!!!….so it is all safe and secure.

      I really do not get this divorce is acceptable… “permitted”… for adultery and not physical abuse. When a spouse commits adultery, you are not physically hurt (although the mental pain can cause physical symptoms but you know what I mean). You are emotionally devastated….but not physically. You are alive and not fearing for your life. You will not die.

      But with physical abuse, you certainly can die. You are not only emotionally devastated, you are physically harmed….and it can lead to death. Not to mention DV is a crime, where adultery is not (in the USA). Seems physical abuse is a much worse offense than adultery since it involves both emotional and actual physical harm… and professing Christian pastors are not seeing this.

      • Well said, Diane, and as you know, physical abuse is not the only kind of abuse that devastates a spouse. Emotional, psychological, financial, social, sexual and spiritual abuse can all devastate as well, and often their effects last way longer than the effects of physical violence.

    • Jeff C you are right. And when a teacher has been admonished and pleaded with by many many Christians over a long period of time, as Piper has been over his ideas on domestic abuse, and yet STILL doesn’t get it, that makes it even more certain that, in this topic of domestic abuse, he is a Pharisee.

      If he had responded with repentance and humility when he was admonished by many survivors four years ago after he put out that notorious video, then we would have seen him as ignorant but at least willing to learn – and we would have rejoiced. But the fact that for four years he’s been sitting on this and now comes out with this ‘clarification’ that indicates he still isn’t seeing clearly at all, then we have to assume he is purposefully refusing to listen to the survivors and their advocates (people like us) who have been trying to educate him. He’s not ignorant; he’s obstinate.

      • Diane

        Barbara said~

        “…and as you know, physical abuse is not the only kind of abuse that devastates a spouse. Emotional, psychological, financial, social, sexual and spiritual abuse can all devastate as well, and often their effects last way longer than the effects of physical violence.”

        I do hope I did not sound dismissive of the other forms of abuse…I so agree with you. I just addressed physical violence as that is the “clarifying” Piper is supposedly addressing. But yes, emotional abuse can destroy a life, psychological abuse can cause psych disorders lasting a very long time, I am not sure what social abuse is, sexual abuse can cause a death to future intimacy in adults if perpetuated in childhood, and spiritual abuse can leave one quite untrusting and unwilling to ever believe God again. All horrendous. All killers.

      • It’s fine, Diane, I guessed you were responding to Piper who only addressed physical violence in his ‘clarification’ article. No probs. I was just adding that for new readers who might not know how we understand abuse on this blog. Apologies if I came across as peremptory. :(

        Btw, social abuse is the way the abuser isolates the victim, making it difficult if not impossible for her to maintain meaningful relationships with friends and family. It can be effected by the abuser literally imprisoning the victim in the house so she can’t leave, by setting strict time limits on her out-of-home activities, by badmouthing and lying about her to her social network so they turn against her, by moving the family frequently to new towns/states so the victim never has a chance to develop a support network, and other cunning things like that which have the effect of her compulsorily or ‘voluntarily’ giving up her friends and family connections.

      • Diane

        “Apologies if I came across as peremptory.”

        Barbara—not at all. :-)

        Thanks for the definition of social abuse. I was thinking about what it could mean and thought maybe shunning by a church could be called that. Bullying in school by children, too, maybe.

      • Yes, you’ve got it, Diane. Discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic group can also be forms of social abuse (and often financial abuse too). The Jews shunning the Samaritans was a form of social abuse.

  52. Katy

    My pre-marital counseling included the pastor berating me about submission and headship. I tried to protest because I had a really bad feeling and I struggled horribly with the idea that women have to “obey” their husbands. The pastor practically sneered at me, said that my protests were ridiculous and my arguments were poor (he being a Bible scholar, and me being a peeon female, I suppose)
    Then I said I didn’t want my wedding ceremony to be a sermon on submission. He told me that a portion of the wedding service would be his determination only, and that I had no say in it, nor would he be letting me know beforehand what it was about.
    Lo and behold, on my wedding day, we were treated to a 30 minute sermon on wifely submission. I felt like I was going to puke, like he really ruined the day for me. Funnily enough, my husband always said he thought that was his favorite pastor. I always have a terrible feeling looking back, that that particular pastor might have been an abuser as well. It’s amazing what you can see in hindsight isn’t it?

    • Oh Katy, so sorry that happened to you. :(
      Your story reminds me a little of what I’ve read about secret societies like the Freemasons or the Loyal Orange Lodge. In the membership ceremony where they induct new members, the candidate doesn’t know beforehand what vows they are going to make. The guy conducting the ceremony reads out the wording of the vows and the candidate repeats the words after him, parrot fashion. I believe it’s highly unethical making someone utter a vow that they haven’t mentally evaluated and consented to beforehand.
      And for that pastor to then to sermonize for 30 minutes about wifely submission: it’s like grinding you face in it.

    • Still scared( but getting angry)

      So sorry for you Katy!! But isn’t it good to know your gut instinct was right..You are smart and wise and can make wise decisions when given a chance.

    • IMHO, and coming from someone who has done weddings, making everyone endure a 30 minute sermon during a wedding is its own form of abuse! Of course, if you mess up the charge at your own daughter’s wedding (younger daughter, not the abused) like I did, it can provide some comic relief!

      • Katy

        Wendell this is so funny – when our pastor asked us which verses we wanted to use in the ceremony, I said I really liked that section of Ruth “Where you go I will go, your God will be my God, your people shall be my people ” etc – because my husband was from another culture/country.
        The pastor put me down and said those verses have nothing to do with marriage. He said my choices were the traditional “Love is patient Love is kind ” or maybe Ephesians or something he approved of. Just amazing – I wasn’t allowed to have one single say in my own wedding ceremony. Foreshadowing, don’t you think? I suspect that the pastor recognized that I might be a fledgling rebellious egalitarian, and he was trying to stomp on me as hard as he could.

      • Katy, That pastor was out of line. That is supposed to be a day of joy, not a day of pain. I think the verse out of Ruth is perfectly appropriate. I didn’t mean to make light of the pastor lecturing on submission, so if I offended anyone with my comment, please forgive me. I tend to find humor in many things and sometimes will express it to lighten mood.

        I was always taught that weddings should be short, and it isn’t about the pastor. It seems that the one who preached so long failed on both counts.

    • Barnabasintraining

      I always have a terrible feeling looking back, that that particular pastor might have been an abuser as well.

      Certainly sounds like it to me. What he did was profoundly unethical. I think it is quite safe to say he abused you. He stripped you of all dignity as a person, a bride, and a woman specifically. He could not tolerate any independent/insubordinate thought, especially that you voiced it to him, and that in front of your fiance. He made you pay publicly for what you said privately in counseling, and that at your own wedding. He essentially stole your wedding from you and used it as an opportunity to dominate you publicly on the day that is supposed to be all about honoring you, the bride, as everyone knows. And more than likely you were the only one besides him who really knew what was going on, with the possible exception of the groom. Everyone else probably thought it was a lovely ceremony and had no idea what he was putting you through….

      I’d say this guy is pretty well into the monster category, probably.

      • Katy

        Wendell – no offense taken, I can find humor in it truly, since it’s been many years in the past. ;)
        Barnabas – I never really put it all together that way – but you’re right. “He made you pay publicly for what you said privately in counseling, and that at your own wedding.” Yes, it was surreal. Nobody else knew. Later I told my husband “Don’t you think that was kind of mean for him to make the whole sermon on submission?” – and my husband acted like he had no idea what I was talking about. So I felt like I was overreacting.

      • Honestly Katy, he may well not remember. Unless something unusual happens, a lot of people don’t remember many details of their wedding. You do because you felt your pastor was out of line at the time. It stuck in your memory, just like my faux pas at my daughter’s wedding stuck with everyone!

      • Jeff Crippen

        Barnabas- I’ve seen the same thing in action in some pastors. Guys that act like Katy’s did toward her have all the marks of being an abuser. I have said this before, but I will rewind and say it again. If you were an abuser, entitled to power and control over others, wanting to keep people in fear of you so you could control them, what better profession could you possibly find than to be some kind of clergy? I mean, you’ve got God backing you up and you can lay HIS threatenings on anyone who tries to question you. There is that pulpit you can hit and thunder from. People come to your office and ask “Rabbi, is there a blessing for the Czar?” And the women. Ah, the women. You can keep them down. What a trip!

    • Jeff S

      Katy, that is a horrible thing that pastor did. Yes, that was abusive. I wonder if he routinely preaches that at weddings? Seems like the wrong father-of-the-bride could be trouble if he pulled that too often.

      Anyway, I can’t believe he took your wedding and cheapened into his need to push you down. What a disgusting thing to do.

  53. Katy

    And I want to add on the subject of Piper’s “carifications”:

    the part that made me feel sick was where he expected that wives would say “honey, i would just love to submit to some more of your nurturing awesome leadership but Jesus won’t let have that threesome with you, or watch pornographic movies, but I’m trying my best here so please don’t beat me”

    at least that’s what it sounded like. This man is so clueless, it’s astounding that he’s been a PASTOR for as long as he has! Assuming that a man beating his wife or attempting to force her into degrading sexual acts is normally a “nurturing leader” – why do I feel like the Christian world has gone crazy when I read this stuff? Why do we assume that men are awesome leaders deserving of submission, when they’ve done nothing to demonstrate it?

    • Still scared( but getting angry)

      It’s like they truly are either abusers themselves or really have no clue what abuse is truly like. There are so few and far between that “get it” . My pastor is wonderful and has supported me the whole time and still repeatedly is surprised when the idiot shows his true nature. My pastor will ask me questions if I think ” did something happen? or ” Is he not taking his medication?” When it’s just the normal he’s-bored-again-needs-something-new routine. My pastor who’s supported me for two and half years now of this; thinks still in terms of instances rather than daily patterns. I don’t know when/ how it clicks in “normal” peoples minds. I know it does but I don’t know how. I still occasionally( and my friend does too) call my friend who has gone through something similar and say ” I was thinking this way and am I right , what’s normal, am I wrong” and we can attack the problem/ issue from a godly and knowledgeable about abuse perspective. I hope that horribly, grammatically wrong sentence made some sense.

      • yep it made sense to me, :)

    • Bethany

      I would have never dared to say anything like that to P&P (Plague and Pestilence my new nickname for my abuser :) ) he wouldn’t have stood for it. I would have been beat either verbally or physically for my un submissiveness or shunned for several days for not obeying him. A lot of good that advice does in real life huh?

      • I Iike P&P, thats a good one!

    • I have to agree with you Katy, I too feel like the Christian community on the front lines have gone completely mad!!! Most the stuff I read also makes me want to follow through on a nauseating feeling. I grew up in the Catholic church, when I was a kid of course I never questioned the nuns. I also think that a lot of the roles are filled with people who desire power over others. I do not need to go into my perceptions of the Catholic church, its all been made very public, yet once that Pope speaks, people listen to his pacifying crap, because he has got God almighty in his bag of tricks. I think Jeff Crippen is right these roles tend to attract alot of sickos. Like high school teachers, Boy scout leaders, youth pastors……the last church we attempted to attend the youth pastor was getting all excited over telling 8-10 year olds about abortions, and sexual immorality…..I was like whoa! Called him up after service and said “”Dont you think that is a little explicit for the age group you are dealing with?”” He was polite on the phone, but would not look or talk to me after that at church. Apparently as usual, the MIW found out where we were and my STANDING up for my children was easily coinciding with the MIW stories of my rebellion against authority, mainly his. I wonder why your spouse would not remember the vows? I would be offended either way, he did not remember? Or he could care less? Or he agreed with the tone of them? Obviously you did not over react they were YOUR freakin wedding vows???? Not this Bozos.

      I like poking things with sticks. …..its fun…..you can test the texture, look at the insides. see if its going to bite, or if its even alive? I am very cautious too, before I poke, sometimes I will toss a rock that direction just in case it can leap or fly.at me… In that event, forget the poking, turn around and run like ……
      ……you know like really REALLY fast!!!! But dont forget the stick!!!

  54. Little Chrissy

    Hi, I am new to the conversation here and just watched the John Piper video. My main observation after seeing Mr. Piper is that he is just like the little man behind the curtain in the city of Oz! Just take him for his word and do as he says – forget that his position makes no Biblical or logical sense!

    It is all too easy for cowards like him to tell women what they should endure or forgive, but I guarantee that if that little man had to spend a “season”‘ of his life getting “whacked” around or dealing with an abuser like those talked about on this blog, he wouldn’t have the stamina to survive. And forgiveness? Nope, I bet he’d have his people whip out a lawsuit faster than you can say “restoration of his nurturing leadership.”

    • MeganC

      Welcome, LC! Thank you for your comment. I had not thought about how quickly he would whip out a lawsuit rather than forgive. That is a very good point.

    • Hi Little Chrissy! You are one cool chickadude! The man behind the curtain… and whipping out a lawsuit… I like your turns of phrase :)
      Welcome to our blog.

  55. What concerns me about what Piper is not saying is he doesn’t seem to address what the leadership needs to be able to deal with these abusive relationships when they do happen, as they do in almost EVERY congregation. What each and every leader whose heart should be ruled by a desire to help the “orphans and widows” needs is training on what is abuse, what is sexual abuse of children, what the cycle of domestic abuse is- to learn about all those little red flags we have often felt as we have encountered either some behavior that felt abusive or just sensed something was wrong, but since we couldn’t put our finger on it, we let it pass. They should serve on a victim’s help line as part of their leadership training. And safety of the victim should always be their first concern until the other issues of the abuse, contacting police, etc are addressed.

    Oh- and why do people not start the discussion at this verse- they always seem to leave it out…

    Eph 5:21
    Wives and Husbands
    21   * And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    • Hi Marie
      thanks for your comment, and welcome to the blog! Yep, pastors sure need training in abuse. Lots of it.

      • I think John Piper is ill equipped to talk about abuse in marriage… his clarification only compounded most readers’ opinion that he is ignorant about these matters and that he lives his life by the letter of the Law and not by the Spirit. Compassion and mercy are first and foremost attributes of a Christian walking in the Spirit… the Spirit of Jesus… He seems to be lacking fruits of the Spirit such as wisdom and love, As for my own experience of the Church during my own trials of spousal abuse and rape- they virtually blamed me for everything and absolved him of his need of self control and repentance. They don’t know what they are doing most times and seem embarrassed to “be there”. Try getting help from the Church out of hours when most desperate times happen… It’s people like John Piper who turn people off the Church and sometimes, sadly, off Christianity. I can only thank God that He helped me keep the faith. A lot of people don’t.

  56. If I may just give a quick example of pastors being ill equipped to advise abused women..
    I was having counselling from my pastor when I was having death threats from my now ex-husband. Fear was an ongoing occurrence that never let up. During one counselling session, I told him that I was going to leave my husband. His response? to ring him and advise him that I was going to leave him! I was nearly vomiting with fear!

    So at midnight when he was safely on night shift, we had the deacons come and take me and my four children to a refuge! And to cap it off, the pastor rings me whilst waiting for the deacons to admonish me for and i quote “this cloak and dagger stuff!” I endured another 16 years of abuse before I had enough….

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