Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Piper on abuse

Piper responds to concerns about wife abuse.

    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."

    She's going to say, however, something like, "Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership. But if you ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can't go there."

    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.

    Every time I deal with somebody in this, I find the ultimate solution under God in the church. In other words, this man should be disciplined, and she should have a safe place in a body of Christ where she goes and then the people in the church deal with him. She can't deal with him by herself.

What do you think?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

This manner of interpreting scripture - not only wrt to men and women, but definitely including that - is one of the reasons I am not a Protestant anymore.

Two weeks ago I was a presenter at a "Bible Day" at a friend's Orthodox church- the only female presenter. I was talking about N.T. Wright's take on certain themes in St. Paul. In the audience was a priest and two seminarians, who were actively listening and taking notes. Nobody's panties were in a bunch over me being female, or even for being newly Orthodox. I was accepted as a human person with blessing and gratitude for what I brought to the seminar.

Dana Ames

Gem said...

Whatever she cannot do in faith is sin, so anything her husband asks of her that she cannot do in faith, she must not do.

I find disturbing that he is preaching "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,"

I think its most unhealthy advice to instruct people that christian women should endure verbal abuse and physical abuse for a minute, much less a "season". Such robbery of a woman's God given authority to protect herself (and her children) in her own home is probably why the divorce rate is so high in the church. What a travesty to neglect teaching women their calling and authority to guard the household as the oikouros and oikedespoteo link)

Such teaching also robs husbands of the ezer/help he intended. A wife is her husband's first line of accountability and her "no" and "stop it" regarding verbal and physical abuse needs to be respected the very first time and without needing to seek "help from the church" (which doesn't work. I've tried it. The church either cannot or will not hold him accountable. Only the wife can give him the "help"/ezer/accountability he needs.)

Gem said...

oops

Such teaching also robs husbands of the ezer/help he intended.

where He=GOD

Lin said...

If he is verbally abusing her or smacking her, he has a serious spiriual problem. The last thing she should do is affirm his authority over her. It could very well lead to worse abuse.

My question is why doesn't Piper, as her brother in Christ, offer to take the verbal abuse and smackings for her?

Blake said...

Paige Patterson preached something similar once where he related a story about a Christian woman he knew was being physically abused. The woman came to Patterson asking advice about what to do about her husband and her situation. Patterson, being the sexist/chauvinist complementarian that he is, responded by saying the next night just as her and her husband were about to go to sleep that she should get up and pray audibly by the bedside for her husband. This, of course, enraged the husband. The woman showed up to church Sunday morning, stormed up to Patterson, pointed out a black eye and asked if he was happy with the outcome of his advice. At that very moment the husband showed up and came to his wife and Patterson with tears in his eyes and asked to be prayed for because he couldn't believe his wife would pray for him when he beat her. As the story goes, the husband became a Christian and everyone lives happily ever after (so far as the audience knows).

Now, I am no fan of the advice Patterson and Piper are dispensing on this matter. It is not the advice I would give or hope any pastor I meet would give. However, I still don't know what to think about it. I can't be unhappy with abusive husbands becoming Christians and being changed because their wives submitted to a very literal reading of scripture to their own initial detriment. Is the advice "redeemed" if the abuser comes to be as well?

SingingOwl said...

I can't say much about the first part. It is disturbing. I find this, "Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership" sickening. As for the answer always being in the church, a "safe place," oh, if that were only so. The church is, sadly, often the last place I'd tell an abused wife to go for help and counsel. I'd be to afraid she'd be told to go home and submit to abuse. I once blogged about someone I knew in church who was given that advice, followed it, and was murdered.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I would honestly hope that a wife could stop submitting when things got just a little weird and harmful rather than "really weird and bizarre." I find that sentence to be bizarre actually. I wonder what Piper has in mind.

Anonymous said...

Is God really so powerless that it takes a wife getting beaten (or "smacked") in order for the husband to derive spiritual blessing?

What Patterson described may be true, or perhaps it's not. Piper seems to be speaking of a hypothetical situation. Both are condoning serious sin in the name of a husband's alleged "leadership" of his wife, and both are putting the husband's potential for change above the well-being or even the life of the wife. All is well and good just so long as the wife is "submissive" enough, or the husband miraculously sees the light and repents. Notice, however, that Patterson offered no follow-up report on the wife-beating husband. It's highly likely that he didn't stop beating his wife just because he "got saved." Again, if the story's even true, there's no way to know. And if Patterson would advocate her going back for more beatings once, by his code, he'd have to tell her to keep on doing it, because he's her "authority" by virtue of his being the man and her being a woman.

More of the rotten fruit borne of the church's co-option of this world's sinful preference for the stronger ruling over the weaker. I continue to pray that such men, who lead so many men (and their wives) into deep, habitual sin with their false teachings, will very soon recognize the harm they're doing and go back to the people who've trusted them, to confess their sin and bring in trustworthy servants of God to re-teach their flocks what God really requires of men and women.

--Mary

Jay Seidler said...

I thought to write a response to Imam Piper's comments you posted, but I find myself speechless. My only thoughts are sick, sick! How perverted can this line of thought he is promoting go?

Suzanne McCarthy said...

No Piper is not talking about a hypothetical woman. He is talking about the woman who was not allowed to go to the bathroom without permission. She said that Piper has taught her husband to behave like that. Naturally Piper denies it in horror.

Lynne said...

I am sickened. When did one, unclear, verse about "submission" become more important than all the many, many verses on treating EVERYBODY with love, decency an honour?? I hope Piper is just speaking out of ignorance of what real abuse (psychological or physical) is like -- if he knows what he is talking about that was, I believe, an evil thing to say

Janice said...

So if this man ... is calling her to engage in ... something really weird, bizarre, harmful, ... then the way she submits ... [is] She's going to say ... something like, "Honey, I want so much to follow you as my leader. God calls me to do that, and I would love to do that. It would be sweet to me if I could enjoy your leadership. But if you ask me to do this, require this of me, then I can't go there."

This scenario is beyond weird. It's completely unrealistic. Can anyone imagine a normal woman responding that way to a request from her husband to do, "something really weird, bizarre, harmful"? She's supposed to stuff down her shock, outrage and fear, and deliver a sugary speech?

It reminds me of something Jesus said about the Pharisees. "They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them." Mt 23:4 NRSV

Anonymous said...

"Now, I am no fan of the advice Patterson and Piper are dispensing on this matter. It is not the advice I would give or hope any pastor I meet would give. However, I still don't know what to think about it. I can't be unhappy with abusive husbands becoming Christians and being changed because their wives submitted to a very literal reading of scripture to their own initial detriment. Is the advice "redeemed" if the abuser comes to be as well?"

I have been around Patterson for 25 years and he is known for his down home-spun tall tales. Anyone who has followed his shenanigans for a long time does not believe it for a minute. But no one dares call him out on it. Unfortuantly, the young guys he mentors to be pastors, do believe it. And therein lies the biggest danger.

Anonymous said...

No Piper is not talking about a hypothetical woman. He is talking about the woman who was not allowed to go to the bathroom without permission. She said that Piper has taught her husband to behave like that. Naturally Piper denies it in horror.

Can someone give us a link to this incident?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Piper would think if the woman who got smacked one night was his daughter?

Kristen said...

And what about the children (especially the little girls) who see this treatment of their mother by their father, who absorb the idea that this is God's will-- and then grow up to never want anything to do with such a God ever again?

Believe me, it happens. The more I read the stuff men like Piper are preaching, the more flabbergasted I am at the way God would have to be, to be the kind of god they say He is-- a god who is unjust, unkind, unloving, arbitrary, capricious-- who created women to be "niggahs" for men. Strong words, I know-- but this is the god they want us to worship, instead of the God who sets men and women free.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Anonymous,

I have given more details in this post.