Crying Out For Justice had noted on their blog that John Piper wrote an article (after how long?) to ‘clarify’ his position on Wife Abuse. I had written a piece called, John Piper’s Ignorance is killing Children. I had taken a video from John Piper when he spoke about wife abuse, and what submission to your husband looks like in such cases. I uploaded his video to youtube, because his website stated you could ‘share’ their content.
I never in a million years would have expected them to take the video down off their site (Desiring God), and never say a word about WHY they removed it. Most people that I have noticed feel they wanted to pretend it didn’t happen.
I had no idea the firestorm that would start over this video, and when I check my youtube account? It tells me it has been shared all over the place, and is quoted quite often. To this day I still received comments on youtube under the video itself.
John Piper made some awful comments about domestic violence in the church in 2009. This is 2012 – almost 2013. It took John Piper almost 4 years to ‘clarify’ his position on domestic violence in the church. Most people that feel they are misunderstood tend to correct the misunderstanding within weeks. John Piper decided that years was appropriate in this case.
We don’t need clarification – you need to repent!
Sadly, he didn’t clarify anything. He basically gave another confusing message, and maybe its time he shuts up completely on this subject. It’s clear the man has no clue what type of dynamics are involved within an abusive relationship, and all he seems to be doing is pandering to different sides of his following.
Clarifying Words on Wife Abuseby 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.
We will look at his seven biblical justifications (ahem – I mean observations), and compare them to what he said the first time.
He isn’t showing the humility he asks from others – per scripture. He doesn’t offer to repent of his errors, or even offer an apology for some misunderstanding. No. He wants to clarify.
He feels his ignorance towards this issue and its realities for many families was awesome, but misunderstood. People just didn’t understand him. In truth its not his communication skills that are lacking but comprehension of the issue he speaks of.
He knows people feel this, and takes the coward’s way out. Repentance is what is needed – not clarification.
Its very saddening to me personally. We can assume his viewpoint has not changed. That’s scary! The lack of police wasn’t the only error he made. Notice also he placed this in writing, because last time he caught it over giggling at the question. Lets look at a portion of what was said last time:
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.This time he decides he needs to remind her of all the people, offices, etc. that she is in submission to. Once again, he is asking her to call on her church with his comment, ‘is a call to humble, Bible-Saturated, spiritual wisdom’. Yes, he hints at the source all through his piece. This is just your first taste of it.
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.” – From John Piper’s video 4 years ago
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).His second statement on domestic violence is a bit more complicated than his first. The first time we heard his speech on the wife’s submission to her husband ‘for the Lord’s sake’, and then he goes into some strange speech about ‘group sex’. Now he reminds her (and others) of all the authorities people are to submit to, and how it takes discernment in order to juggle all of them.
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.
Why he can’t just tell her that it is OKAY to call the civil authorities when she feels she is in danger? He is over doing this WAY too much. Honestly, he is confusing the issue more than it needs to be. Its wise to call the authorities if you feel threatened in this way. During this period you don’t have time to juggle of this stuff he rambles about. That wasted time could cost lifes.
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).Sadly, an abusive man does not love his own body. He can’t grasp the concept of nourishing and cherishing in the way that John Piper speaks of. He is not capable of being what God commanded, and when you understand that part? The rest of what John Piper states here doesn’t make any sense.
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. 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.
No one can relate to Christ ‘through’ an abusive person the way he means it. Sadly, they are too broken. They can’t ‘lead’ their wives in the way he speaks of either. This assumption alone shows how disconnected he is from this circumstance. The way he is presenting this? The husband is a good, honorable Christian Husband – that failed miserably in some fashion. It goes much further than that.
The biblical failure of the church is why these articles are needed to begin with. The way submission is taught is confusing most of the time as well. When you write books, and you tell women that if a man stops by your house to ask for directions – you need to do it in an submissive way in order to honor his gender is just a bit over the top. This is why he has to tell woman its not ‘insubordinate’ to ask for help in the first place. That alone should tell you there is a failure within the church.
What's the Difference – By John Piper, Page 60
appropriate ways. there are ways for a woman to interact even with a male subordinate that signal to him and others her endorsement of his mature manhood in relationship to her as a woman. i do not have in mind anything like sexual sugges- tiveness or innuendo. rather, i have in mind culturally appro- priate expressions of respect for his kind of strength, and glad acceptance of his gentlemanly courtesies. her demeanor—the tone and style and disposition and discourse of her ranking position—can signal clearly her affirmation of the unique role that men should play in relationship to women owing to their sense of responsibility to protect and lead.I have wonder if they don’t make these teachings confusing on purpose so that people have to constantly come back, and ask how to do something right. They are made to be dependent on them for even the most simple tasks in life. Why in heaven’s name do you seriously need to instruct a grown woman on how to give driving directions when asked? It should be common sense – Be nice and offer them!
it is obvious at this point that we are on the brink of contradiction—suggesting that a woman may hold a position of leadership and fulfill it in a way that signals to men her endorsement of their sense of responsibility to lead. But the complexities of life require of us this risk. to illustrate: it is simply impossible that from time to time a woman not be put in a position of influencing or guiding men. for example, a housewife in her backyard may be asked by a man how to get to the freeway. at that point she is giving a kind of leadership. she has superior knowledge that the man needs and he sub- mits himself to her guidance. But we all know that there is a way for that housewife to direct the man that neither of them feels their mature femininity or masculinity compromised. it is not a contradiction to speak of certain kinds of influence
Sorry but when you get these types of confusing messages? Yes, you are better off going to the police. You don’t time to juggle the colliding submission levels, and all that jazz. You end up being busy double thinking things to make sure you doing it as your pastor would wish, and the protection of the family comes second. This should not be!
So the short answer, I think, is that the church is really crucial here to step in, be her strength, say to this man, “You can’t do this. You cannot do this! That’s not what we allow. That’s not what Christ calls you to be.”An abusive man needs to hear more than what is offered here, and an understanding of his mindset is essential. It’s a pattern of behavior, and most of the time you find that the woman (or man) that is being abused doesn’t recognize it for what it is.
I can’t go in to all the details, but I would say to the woman, “Come to a church that you feel safe in. Tell them the case. Let the leaders step in and help you navigate the difficulties. -John Piper’s Video on Abuse from 4 years ago.
Anyone can have a good day, and be nice. Yes, even abusive personalities. Too often we use that simplistic example to avoid looking at his core being. That core doesn’t change with a session of church discipline – or even a number of them. We also need to acknowledge that humans have a choice to see their sin, and turn from it – or refuse to. That part is something John Piper ‘refuses’ to acknowledge or in fact deal with at all here.
If you can’t deal with that part? You need to stay silent. It’s a reality for so many people, and has been inside and outside the 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.
Most that call the authorities do this out of fear for their safety. The speech about where her heart maybe be at that point? It shows how completely gone he is with the realities of these circumstances.
Do people call the police when someone breaks into their homes out of a heavy and humble heart that wishes their repentance and restoration? NO! They call because they are scared, and maybe harmed..and want help and protection! The rest? Granted could come later.
The way he presents this will make the family feel badly about calling for help. Their terror wasn’t enough, because they were not thinking of love and submission. Seriously, what a dumb statement! The picture I submitted here is showing how to do this the WRONG way. Bleck!
John Piper needs to understand the systematic breakdown of her personhood over time by her abuser’s words. They way he presents this places DOUBT in their MINDS!
John Piper’s added extras don’t help, but render things. Romans 13:4 is all you need.
Here is a partial look at the relationship…
Some repeated comments include: She will never make it without him, and the children will be homeless. No one will want her, or believe her. She is crazy, and everyone knows it.
An Abuser once told his children, ‘Without me? You will be living under a bush, and eating BUGS!”
He builds a dependency on him, and any anxiety in his life no matter how small? Its spilled over all this family, and you can bet he has them scared to death.
The family sadly already has an unhealthy sense of responsibility towards him, and his abusive behavior.
When John Piper speaks of domestic violence in the church, and he uses phases like: ‘maybe the right the thing to do’ or ‘may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand’ leaves doubt in her mind. That is the LAST thing she needs!
The abusive person has already brainwashed her into thinking she can’t make a plausible decision to SAVE her life, and the church is going to believe HIM. Remember she is crazy, and everyone knows it. She already feels incapable of making decisions due to his treatment of her (ie: verbal and emotional abuse – or in Piper’s words verbal unkindness), and may not feel capable of the biblical gymnastics he was asking of her. Remember this is a time of terror and trauma. Not the TIME to think and feel all the junk Piper has in mind. She needs to hear someone that can be blunt, and Piper isn’t doing that.
Calling the police is taking every OUNCE of energy, and bravery she has. She doesn’t need some speech about where her heart should be – or maybe. It just confuses things for her. She needs to hear support.
She knows the church will ask her to look her sin, and what they don’t understand is she may not be able to balance that in a rational way. The family has already been trained to owe sins that are NOT their’s to own anyway. Their approach needs to show appreciation to this concept. John Piper does not do this.
All the family will feel is shame – it’s a normal environment for them. The abuser’s words of how awful they are, and how life is their fault? It’s a normal mindset for them, and they feel they are already condemned. She already FEELS like a piece of dirt on the bottom on his shoe. The abusive person LIKES IT THAT WAY, and Piper doesn’t seem to grasp that either. Its his form of control, and its full of entitlement for HIM – not God. He is too broken to grasp God’s moral law, because all he sees is how people wronged him.
Does this SOUND like a person that LOVES his body, and is capable of cherishing and nourishing others when he can’t do that for himself?
When you can’t get to point A – understanding the mindset of the abuser or family – you will not help the abusive person or the family get to be point B. All the silly spiritual pixie dust you place in between doesn’t change that fact.
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.I have to be honest that this partial comment about ‘would punish if they knew what the church knows’? It makes me very uncomfortable, because YES the church does have a reputation of covering up. John Piper knows this. They feel they can do a better job – in house. It also tells you she has gone to them first, and they are wrestling with calling the authorities.
Unfortunately, when you have people in a church that tend to feel they know better than anyone else? People get hurt. John Piper has not shown his discernment on this issue yet. You need the law, and you also need people in faith behind you – full of support and encouragement.
Most of the time the church tends to look for the ‘accident’ instead of the ‘pattern of behavior’. Churches HAVE used the excuse that being a card carrying Christian means abusers won’t manipulate the circumstance. They won’t wail at the alter in repentance when their fingers are crossed behind their backs. Abusive personalities didn’t get that way because of martial issues. Its been a long journey for them, and they know how to play their cards.
The church gives out to much benefit of the doubt – or feel they will see right through them. It never dawns on them that is the other way around. The abuser will play them as well. Sadly, Piper are too focused on the Disneyland Happily ever after. They never wish to look at the core issues, because it may not turn out ‘biblical’ enough for them. That’s a problem!
In most cases – they couldn’t discern the proper type of justice or mercy in these cases if their life depended on it. Instead of being FIRM, and letting the family know they WILL be their support system the way they need it? They go down rabbit trails. This needs to be a time of encouragement, and so far? It hasn’t been. I agree we are seldom in a position where choice is simply mercy or no mercy. We also need to allow natural consequences to happen, and at times allow God to take the wheel.
Problem is you give the wrong type of mercy if you don’t have a good grasp on whom you are dealing with.
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.No doubt women do think about jail, job, and being shamed publically. The church needs to make her feel that the shame of the circumstance is not her’s to bear. Shame should be felt by the one whom harmed others. Why does that message NOT come out of the church’s clearly enough for all to see? Will that red flag be enough to seek changes, or will we make excuses and simplistic comments about it?
Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church. – Piper’s comments from 4 years agoHe confuses people because prior he told the women to take things for a season, or wait until you are hit. There was no clarification as to how this changed since his more recent statement (or Ahem – clarification).
Are they going to asked if they waited a season, or asked WHY they waited until harm came?
Could those past statements be part of the reason WHY families become ‘desperate enough to turn to the authorities’.
Yes, of course they can. You see John Piper some of the statements and attitudes towards domestic violence within the church need to owned and repented of. Your list of the 7 justifications doesn’t cut it.
People can be mature believers, and still not know HOW to handle this type of circumstances. It’s not a putdown at all. You need a special type of help with experience in these matters. Once again, there is no clarification on this either. He leaves this damning statement out there for people to wonder about.
Since he can’t make up his mind – due to NOT clarifying police action or not…how do they determine if they will contact civil authorities? You see, he didn’t clarify anything here. This was to be the WHOLE purpose of his new article. There is no mention of separation during this ‘intervention’ either – just intervention of the abuser. Would separation even be on their minds? Still no comment.
The bible does speak of those that do not choose to repent, and turn from their sin. The actions towards that person – if they happen to be a spouse – is ignored they feel ‘biblically’. Quite honestly even if he did repent instantly (which we love to look at, and yet we are to see if they can live it also)? Do they forget the family is still scared? Will he be allowed to live and marinate with that reality he left his family in? I’m sorry – forgive me shouldn’t be enough for anyone yet.
Their only true focus it seems is reconciliation. The reality of the marriage not working out the way they feel it must makes the church wiggle with anxiety. Now we switch from the abusers' anxieties to the churches. That doesn’t help the terrified family, and you have to wonder when their time comes….
The churches focus is on the future – with hopefully no divorce or remarriage.
The family wants to feel safe, and is wondering what type of attack the abuser will attempt now that they are outed. Where does their future lie? How will they get by? Where will they live? Will they ever be safe? Those questions are NOT due to thinking of divorce or remarriage – its out of personal safety and well being. Something most are used to, and they have not had the luxury of. They are scared to death!
The church worries about reminding the family that they need to think of income from the husband. How children can get screwed up if they don’t grow up in a two parent home. The shattered family makes the church nervous, and although some maybe well intended PUSH the repentance and reconciliation way before its even a healthy time to embark on that journey.
The family may feel at this point that their fear is frivolous to the church – due to their reaction. The church will say it is NOT, but they won’t put their own anxieties to the side long enough to make that family feel safe. They feel steamrolled without options this time, and if you listen to most family members? They hear manipulative comments coming from these compassionate brothers and sisters. “How will you live if your husband is in jail?”
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).‘I do not need revenge’, is again NOT on the list of priorities for the family during this period of time. John Piper doesn’t understand this, and I guess has ignored proven concepts like it’s the most dangerous time for them is when they escape. They will be reviled and threatened – NOT the abuser! They want to hide – not get back at him. Anger may come WAY later, but its more over the treatment they had to endure and are finally able to allow it to safety surface. That is called righteous anger, and not the sinful type he is hinting towards here.
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)
When you can’t wrap you head around this additional concept, it also shows how completely disconnected he is to their reality.
He seems to be looking at the family within a different environment. One in which someone attacks the family, and the family – as a unit – wants to lash back at them. We aren’t speaking of an outsider coming to harm the family. We are speaking of an insider that they live with that has been harming them, and is going to be royally ticked off that he has been exposed.
If they separate from him? He is going to go nuts over that aspect alone. Granted the church maybe able to calm him down at the moment, but its not something that will stick completely within him. His resentment and contempt for them is still firmly seeded. John Piper can’t seem to even conceive of this at all. He is barking up the wrong tree here!
The only ‘stood’ parts you see hinted at here is the reconciliation of the family. Its not time to deal with this yet! STOP rushing! I realize its unreasonable to ask for him to look at the fact that the abuser may not wish to change due to choice. So life without him is not something he will ever speak about.
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.So, in other words: being complementarian, and living HIS version of it is the answer. We have seen plenty of churches that can speak a good game, but you find they also ‘tolerate’ quite a bit. Saying you won’t tolerate something is just words. Showing compassion, and following up with the right type of action is what is needed.
You need to be responsible with speaking about abuse. You haven’t been, and this little piece still shows the ignorance that you held on to all this time. John Piper you didn’t clarify anything. You just cemented in what you said the first time. Your courage was lacking in correcting your errors, and there was no gentle humbleness. Lead by example! Its time to repent – NOT CLARIFY!
We don’t need your 7 biblical justifications. That’s all you did here. You justified what you said last time, and it shows who your ignorance is killing children, and their families.
Open Letter to John Piper about Divorce – Written by a man
Domestic Violence, Christmas, John Piper, SGM and TGC
Double Standards in the true Confusion – Video shows how John Piper approaches those that suffered abuse – other than spouses. HUGE difference!
John Piper, and Domestic Violence in the Church