It appears the issue of abuse against women is getting some attention from Christians lately…
I think it’s great that some complementarian leaders are addressing this issue and want to do something about it. On that note, I thought it would be interesting to look at how two complementarian pastors* view the issue of abuse, particularly the scenario of husband as the abuser and wife as the victim.
What follows are two very different views on abuse:
~Here is a video of John Piper telling women how to “submit to abuse”. Many readers may have seen this video; it’s been around for a few years. I just want to qualify that I believe John Piper is my brother in Christ and does not want women to be abused. However, he is a public figure who purposely makes strong statements that may have negative consequences. I don’t wish ill on him at all; what I do wish is that he would see the error in what he says on this video. He appears to be ignorant on the issue of abuse. (At least, I hope what he says in this video is out of ignorance.)
Abuse is so much more than the physical. It can go on for years and years as emotional and verbal(“verbal unkindness” as Piper states), as it slowly chips away at a woman’s core self. The damage can last a lifetime. As abused women have told me, the bruises fade, but the emotional scars never go away. John Piper doesn’t seem to realize that a woman living with an abusive man will have to endure the destruction of her inner self, her very soul, sometimes for years before her abuser lays a hand on her….Piper calls this “simply hurting her“. (How is hurting someone simple??) By the time her hypothetical abuser hits/punches/pushes her it may already be too late. The truth is, the more a woman submits to abuse, the worse the abuse gets. Therefore, if submission encourages the abusive behavior(which it does), then a woman should NEVER submit to abuse. Ever. I’m going to assume Piper simply doesn’t realize this.
~In contrast to Piper’s attitude, consider this letter written by Jeff Crippen, a pastor who recognized the abuse of women in his church, and humbly took action to do something about it. This man saw the destruction being done and took steps to learn about the causes and consequences of abuse. He read books about abuse and confronted his attitude toward women in general. In his letter he states:
“I had to ask myself, “Jeff, just exactly what is it that is going on in your head when a woman walks into your office and asks for help?” The answer I ultimately saw was “I see her as an inferior being and I talk down to her.” Really, and with ruthless honesty – “What does Pastor _________ think about a woman who walks into his office?” “What does he think about his wife?” Don’t rush to answers. The first responses we give are usually wrong.”
I find Pastor Crippen’s letter to be humble, kind, and repentant; this man knows that he failed the women in his church. How admirable, how encouraging it is to know that there are men out there who are willing to be honest with themselves and the rest of us, who will face their prejudices head on and acknowledge what is really going on in their hearts….and then repent and make changes! If only we could see this kind of honesty from more leaders.
*It appears Jeff Crippen may hold to complementarian beliefs…if I’m wrong, please correct me:)