Godly Women Do NOT Endure Abuse

I recently came across this video, which was apparently first released in August 2009. It is no longer available on Piper’s Desiring God website, so I have downloaded it from YouTube. I feel a strong need to address Piper’s response to the question of a woman enduring the abuse of her husband because I believe it is a dangerous and unbiblical view of the meaning of submission in marriage.

To say the least, Piper’s response to the question is disturbing. Why does he laugh after reading the question? Why does he discount verbal abuse as mere “verbal unkindness”? How can he, as a pastor, be so incredibly ignorant about abusive relationships and the dynamics of them?

I could spend several blog posts dissecting this video and addressing a myriad of errors that I find in his teaching, but, for today, I really only want to address the erroneous idea that when a woman submits to abuse, she is behaving biblically or abiding by scriptural teaching.

As a victim of intense verbal abuse, which I “endured” for seven years, I know personally that the submission taking place in an abusive relationship has nothing to do with God. An abused person’s life revolves around her abuser and doing everything that she can to avoid the abuse. She will go against her own beliefs, against the leading of the Holy Spirit, against God’s Word, against the advice of her family and friends, if she thinks that her abuser will approve of her and give her some relief from the abuse. In other words, in the abused person’s life, God is not first; her abuser is. He is her god.

This state of mind means that the abused person is breaking the first of the ten commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me.” It also breaks Jesus’ command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. The person enduring abuse is consumed with the abuser and only her abuser, at the expense of all of her other relationships, including her relationship with God.

Any teaching that encourages a woman to live in a way that separates her from God is wrong. I truly believe that, in an abusive situation, the best way for a woman to serve God (and any others who may depend on her) is to leave the abusive situation and get help.

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  1. Thankful for this, Karla. You have very wise words and your message needs to be heard. Dr. Piper needs to take responsibility for what his teaching produces. And that laugh…it makes me shudder. 😦
    Peace to you!

    • Thank you, Ellen. I agree that he should be held responsible. This teaching is so damaging. How many women are enduring abuse, believing that they are pleasing God by doing so? How many men justify their abuse based on teachings like this? It breaks my heart to think of it!

  2. Debbie

     /  April 17, 2011

    I grew up in a church that promoted ” unquestioned obidience-submission”. When my mentally ill mother began setting up dates for me at 14, I was expected to obey. At 16 I was told I would be going out with a 26 year old and he scared me. I saw a pastor hoping to persuade him to intervine. His response was “she is not asking you to commit a sin, so you must obey her and God will protect you.” When I was left on the church lawn in shredded clothes, there was no compassion from the woman who found me-only accusations,”what did you do to provoke him, no man does something like this without being provoked” the gossip that followed almost destroyed my life.
    Now 36 years later, I can truely say God is good. And I can see why I married a verbally and emotionally abusive man.Though I didn’t realize that fact until very recently. His friends would Never believe this of him. He is very publicly charming. He even has a couple convinced that I abuse him-and had tried to justify his adulterous affairs.

    • Oh Debbie, how heartbreaking, especially that it all happened within a church, a place where we should feel safe and protected. Abusers are often very charming people, and that’s how we end up being drawn to them. They are very good at choosing people that fall prey to their charm and avoiding people that see them for who they really are. My ex-husband is getting help from people who believe that I was the monster. But I encourage you to keep talking to people. Pray about who you should share your situation with. One thing I have learned now that I am out of the situation is that many people who knew my husband are not surprised that he is an abuser. There are people who can see through his facade. These are the people that you need to find. People that will tell you the truth about what they see and what you need to do. I will be praying for you, sister. Be encouraged by Joshua 1:9 and Isaiah 54. Grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ. He holds you in the palm of His hand.

  3. Debbie

     /  May 27, 2011

    Thank you for praying. I’m still finding it difficult to talk to others. For over three decades I believed my husband when he said “You don’t have friends”. I adopted his attitude that his friends were “our” friends. I don’t think either is the truth.
    I have a woman I walk with; we walk and pray. Her husband was physically abusive and left her for another woman many years ago. We’ve walked for several years now. It seems that as soon as I started this, he started to find fault with her.
    The leader of my bible study group reached out to me last year when I fell apart after finding out about my husband’s unfaithfulness/mistress. Her feedback and support have been very helpful.
    My husband and I are in counseling, but she is not experienced. Please continue to pray.


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