“John Piper is Living in a Parallel Universe” — Ruth Tucker
As she discusses the error of couples counseling in her new book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife, [affiliate link*] Ruth Tucker addresses John Piper’s faulty teaching regarding domestic violence and abuse. She nails it (him), although she is kinder to him than we (Jeff C and Barb) would be. She has debated him personally in an academic setting.
Ruth Tucker writes:
But if I managed to survive without a lot of doctoring, I often wonder how women manage to survive the doctoring [i.e., counseling] accompanied by bad advice. I truly do not believe this happens intentionally. Rather such doctoring is given by those who truly believe it is the best medicine. I put John Piper’s counsel in this category. He writes:
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 considerations.
As others have pointed out, Piper’s confession ominously suggests that for several years, any wife following his advice would not have sought out law enforcement. In his lengthy clarification, he does not apologize to any woman who may have been gravely harmed by that oversight. Here is a representative piece of his clarification:
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.
I often wish that John Piper, author of the bestselling book Desiring God [NOTE: ACFJ does not recomment that book], would not share so much online. I like him. He’s actually a very kind individual. [NOTE: Once again, we would not call a person who brings victims into this kind of bondage, “kind”]. But it seems he almost sets himself up for criticism. [NOTE: One more interjection here. Yes, Piper DOES “set himself up,” but he does so intentionally for attention]. Indeed, there is something terribly wrong in even his clarification. He is asserting that a husband who demands that his wife ‘endure his injuries’ is still the rightful head in the marriage. She must be submissive to him unless the authority of civil [not criminal] law overrules. How does civil law overrule without a court case? How does a wife seek civil protection and at the same time make sure ‘it does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband.’?
It’s almost as though Piper is living in a parallel universe. He just doesn’t seem to get it. Does he have any understanding at all of the law or of tyrannical husbands? The only civil protection a wife can obtain in such circumstances is a restraining order, and until the matter goes to court, she would be expected to flee the dangerous home. There is no such thing as ‘civil protection’ that arrives at the beck and call of a beaten wife and hangs around her home to protect her. And let’s not be naive. Is the abusive husband really going to give her permission to leave him and perhaps take the children with her? The scenario has no relevance to the real world and carries dangerous implications.
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NOTE from Jeff C and Barb
Piper and people like him who give advice, thinking it is the best medicine, are still accountable — just as a physician is held accountable for malpractice.
*Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
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