Submission In Marriage: What If The Husband Is Abusive?
Christian Submission seems to be a very sensitive and controversial topic. It seems that a lot of women will call themselves women of faith but when the topic of submission comes up, it becomes a little more complicated. Of course there are women of faith who absolutely believe in submission, wholeheartedly practice it and are happy in their marriages, but there are also some who don’t.
A question that comes up a lot about submission is what a woman should do if she finds herself in an abusive marriage. A prominent Baptist pastor, John Piper recently wrote a blog post clarifying the issue of submission and how a woman who still has the desire to be a submitted wife should handle the situation.
Well-known pastor John Piper recently offered a statement clarifying his thoughts on a wife’s submission to an abusive husband.
Piper, who preaches at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, had been criticized earlier for only mentioning the church and not law enforcement as recourse for protection.
In a blog post this week, Piper clarified, “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. But recourse to civil authorities may be the right thing for an abused wife to do.”
The Reformed theologian explained that a husband who physically abuses his wife is breaking both God’s moral law and state 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),” Piper cited. “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.”
Piper was first asked about a wife’s submission to an abusive husband in 2009. In his videotaped response, the longtime pastor asserted that a person’s higher allegiance is to Christ – above his or her spouse.
In that response, he also advised that the wife seek help from the church and have the husband disciplined by church leadership.
“She should have a safe place in a body of Christ where she goes and then the people in the church deal with him. The church is really crucial here to step in, be her strength, say to him ‘you can’t do this.’ … Let the leaders step in and help you navigate the difficulties.”
He received criticisms for his answer, he said, for not pointing to law enforcement as another form of help.
In his updated response, Piper wrote that every Christian is called to submit to various authorities so a wife’s submission is put into the wider context of submission to Jesus, civil authorities, each other and the church.
“This means that the rightness or wrongness of any act of submission is discerned by taking into account all the relevant relationships,” he stated. “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.”
He also stressed that while churches are called to mercy, they should not harbor someone whose abuse would be punishable by civil law.
“[T]here are times when mercy to one demands justice for another,” he stated. “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.”
While a church may be able to bring the abusive spouse to repentance and reconciliation, there may also be cases where a church determines that civil authorities must be notified.
“In either case, no Christian woman (or man) should have to face abuse alone,” he highlighted.
In a plea to churches, Piper called for a culture where the men will not tolerate the abuse of any of its women.
23 Responses to Submission In Marriage: What If The Husband Is Abusive?
Derrick December 29, 2012 – 7:39 am
What about abusive women? You have a lot of women, who beat their mates, also. Most men are afraid to report this woman abuse because they fear to be looked upon as pu*nks and weak!!!
I’M TIRED OF ALL THIS BLACK MAN BASHING!!!
Hey Derrick – I absolutely agree with you. Women have gotten away with murder (literally in some cases) as most men won’t report that abuse. Trust me, I know a lot of abusive women too and I don’t associate with them. Nobody should have to tolerate abusive.
It got worse when negroes and many whites all over america jumped all over chris brown when the retarded rihanna beat him down continually, and then got all that support when he finally defended himself. The fool should have told his side of the story, but since he didn’t he looks entirely guilty and women who secretly harbor resentment toward all men are beating innocent men down, expecting to get away with it.
No Wooman Christian or not is expected to stay in an abusive relationship Husbands according to the bible are expected to treat their wives with kindness and deep respect and love them just as they love themselves if this is done the wife will submitt to his headship willingly and on the other hand the same principle applies too the wife.Submission does not mean that she stoop and bow to any and everything A husbands headship should be balance not dogmatic and not my way or the highway there should be a coming together in all things with good communication. The book of Ephesians outline the standards that both wife and husband are expected to live up too and was so authorize by the one who instituted the marital arrangement when this is put into play along with it yields peace between the two that leads to a long, loving,and a successfull marriage.
cambie December 29, 2012 – 10:36 pm
Rosemary you are correct. The submission between a husband and wife should be mutual. Too many men ruin their lives and that of their families because they refuse to submit to the will of God in their lives. Christian men often hide behind the Bible as they attempt to control and dominate their wives. A lot of men want a maid and not a wife. Marriage should be a partnership. Those who spend their time trying to dominate others often cause needless drama and destroy their relationships. Often men abuse their women and then try to use the Bible to keep the woman in the relationship. Pastors are often of little help in matters of the family. If you are being abused get out of the relationship. An abusive man is an abusive man. Some men may profess to be Christians but their actions do not match up with the actions of Christ.
It is amusing to me that pastors often attempt couples counseling to the members of an abusive marriage. The victim becomes viewed as part of the problem. The abuser is the problem. Abusers will try to tell the victim that it is their fault,”they need to be more submissive.” The truth is that an abusive man abuses no matter what the lady in his life does.
Regarding the Chris Brown Rehanna issue. Chris was wrong. There is no excuse for how he hurt that girl.
In my work I have encountered instances where women were killed by husband or boyfriends. Abuse is no joke. The church hurts women because it encourages men to think that they have the right to rule over women and that women are objects for their gratification.
Gender equality is the only answer to the issue of submission. A man is not better than a woman.
Thanks Cambie I try to base my views on what the scriptures says regarding the Wife and Husbands role in a marriage each one have to do their part in order for things too work when their is genuine love and mutal respect couple with loyalty toward each other than there is no room for abuse
H. James Roseau December 29, 2012 – 9:16 pm
Religions have turned people into programmed robots, nothing else! People have ceased to reason unless their reasoning is influenced or governed by religious bullshits.
Miss T December 30, 2012 – 1:30 am
I was raised that a man NEVER hits a woman. Fathers (men) would NEVER hit their daughters (girls). Today some of these women are manish. They’ll kick a man’s azz in a hot flash. H. James Roseau got this thing correct. For some reason men think they can jump on a woman, maybe because she is his possession, I don’t know. I’m single today because I can’t see going through that mess again, and after watching what other people go through just ain’t worth it. Synonyms for submission are: obedience, subjection, subordination; damm who is he my man or my father. GTHOOH! Are these church counselors professionals or are they only qualified in bible verses? Seems this dude will have you stretched out and casket sharp.
Derrick December 30, 2012 – 6:47 am
Miss T, you talk more shyt than a toilet stool! I like the way you pour that Truth…raw, real, and righteous.
My Dad told me NEVER hit a woman, but if a woman acts like a man; then defend yourself. No man is gonna just sit, and let a woman whip on his azz because, that AIN’T NO MAN…period!
If man or woman has to relate to violence in ANY relationship, you must get out before it comes to “fist-a-cuffing”. Only professional fighters get paid to fight, I dont have a title…do the math!
In all my relationships with women, I NEVER HAD A REASON TO HIT THEM!!! It never got that serious. I was married for 15 years and never raised a hand at my EX! We did some cussing and dis-cussing, but no FIST-A-CUFFING!!!
I AIN’T GOING TO NOBODY’S CLINK FOR BEATING A WOMAN…IT AIN’T WORTH IT!!!
A negroid male will beat a woman, but they’re too scared to SPEAK UP to a white boy!!!