Dianna E Anderson – John Piper, Spousal Abuse and Empowerment


I have spoken on this blog numerous times about the aberrations that abound lately in the public statements of the famous pastor and Bible teacher, John Piper, who started well and promised a lot, but lately became sort of a fundamentalist as he hardened in his stance as a promoter of the neo-reformed ideology.

Nowhere is his skewered version of Christianity more obvious that in his  position on the supposedly biblical requirement of absolute submission of wives to their husbands.

Dianna Anderson takes Piper to task on his still misogynistic reformulation of an outrageous statement he made four years ago about abused women, which was taken down from his website in the mean time.

Here is what Dianna has to say:

Four years ago, John Piper was asked a question in a video series about husbands abusing their wives and what the response should be to that. His infamous reply was taken down from the Desiring God website, though it is – of course – still widely available elsewhere on the internet, thanks to people making copies and transcripts. In this original post, he said that wives should “endure abuse for a season” and compared their abuse to Christ’s sacrifice for the husband’s well-being.

Three and a half years later, Piper has offered some “clarification” for those remarks. I’m guessing that suggesting a wife who gets beat up by her drunk husband is a martyr for Christ hasn’t gone over too well with a lot of people, and he felt explaining himself would put that discussion to rest.

Sorry, Rev. There’s no way I’m dropping this one, especially since your clarification still left a lot of things to be desired.

Piper’s clarification goes over multiple points as to how and why a woman can seek outside help on an abusive relationship. The last three have to do with seeking help through the church, and the first few have to do with whether or not a woman is disobeying the authority of the husband by seeking outside help. [Note that he never actually says a woman may divorce her husband, but one could generously read that sentiment between the lines of his point on “fleeing.”]

But the meat of the discussion happens in his point about civil authorities. In order to keep his conception of headship intact – because if a man is the authority of the home, then bringing in outside sources would be usurping that authority and therefore sinning. Piper sees this logical end, and instead of saying that a husband has given up his “rightful” authority (though he slightly nods toward that direction), he says that, in a case of abuse, a woman can, “with a heavy and humble heart,” seek the rightful authority of government figures, as that is also a correct obedience to authority.

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. [emphasis mine]

Nowhere, in Piper’s entire clarification, is the abused woman given the room or space to be a victim and to own the disenfranchisement and damage that abuse entails. Even when he is beating her, a woman’s heart and mind must be working toward the well-being of her husband, not herself. She must seek civil authorities (ie, the police) in a case of domestic abuse not because the abuse is prima facie wrong and she needs to escape, but because her husband is failing to correctly use his authority and seeking outside help is a last resort for the woman who cannot help her husband to be put back on the straight and narrow.

[It should be noted here that Piper’s reliance on civil authorities such as the police is dependent upon them being trustworthy, which is quite often not the case for many women.]

Even in cases of abuse, according to what Piper has told us here, a woman must place her husband’s heart and needs above her own.

Read HERE the entire text.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

One thought on “Dianna E Anderson – John Piper, Spousal Abuse and Empowerment”

  1. this is really sad. the husband is violating (read: SINNING against) his VOCATION. the woman is not to submit herself to sin.


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