Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Together for the Gospel conference was cancelled. Attendees had the option to watch live stream speeches and receive their books that came with the ticket purchase.
Included on the list of speakers was John Piper. Below is a two-minute video from John Piper, whom I assume is answering a question from Ligon Duncan (his name is mentioned at the end) on Complementarianism and abuse.
There’s a lot to digest in these two minutes, but here is what stood out to me:
First, Piper states that Complementarianism stands in the gap between patriarchy and Egalitarianism. Note that Piper says Complementarianism was “created in the first place” and “brought into being” to stand in the gap. Thank you, Piper, for acknowledging that Complementarianism is a man-made ideology. Complementarianism was not created by God, but by a group of people who wanted to bring gender order back into the home and the church.
Piper also states that Complementarianism has a higher ground over egalitarianism because Egalitarians do not attribute a higher calling to men to provide for and protect women. To which I ask, why isn’t it enough for Complementarians to say you don’t abuse others because “humans don’t treat humans that way?” Why must there be gender order for abuse to be wrong? Your gender doesn’t matter because God calls Christians to love others. Abuse of any kind by anyone is wrong. It’s really not that difficult to understand, but Complementarians make it seem like it’s so hard to know what to do if there are no defined gender roles.
It’s really not that difficult to understand, but Complementarians make it seem like it’s so hard to know what to do if there are no defined gender roles.
Finally, Piper revels in the “beautiful and safe and flourishing relationships” that Complementarians experience. Of course, Egalitarians do not experience these types of relationships because they are not living in a Biblical manner. Let’s remember that this is how Piper defines Complementarianism (biblical manhood and womanhood):
At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships. At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, page 29
Abuse is about power and control and the heart of Complementarianism is hierarchy. The husband is responsible to lead; the wife is to affirm and receive that leadership. Established order in a relationship allows abuse to thrive. Does this mean that abuse will not exist in Egalitarian relationships? Absolutely not. Abuse is abuse and knows no boundaries. However, I think that the established gender role order in Compelmentarian relationships makes it easier for abuse to thrive.
I will never trust John Piper when he says that Complementarians are less likely to abuse. He says the right words at the right time to sound the right way. Let’s not forget Piper’s view on submission: ” she endures verbal abuse for a season and she endures perhaps being smacked one night.”
24 thoughts on “John Piper on Complementarianism and Abuse – #T4G20”
It’s an interesting argument, but it fails the “bathroom” test. See, “you have a unique responsibility to protect your wife from abuse” doesn’t give the complementarian church the ability to excommunicate a man who requires his wife to get permission to use the bathroom. The egalitarian church can say, no human has that sort of ownership over another.
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Even if you take the positive of the argument, it is still completely ridiculous. We need men to own women because if men don’t own women we can’t argue that they are uniquely required to take care of their own property?
So, I take my baseball bat to two cars. One car is my property, and the other car belongs to my neighbor. Piper would argue that it’s a far stronger case that can be brought against me for destroying something that is my property than destroying something that is not my property?
In actuality, it is quite the opposite, and it is thus completely rational that complementarian churches gloss over spousal abuse all while claiming that their theology is “Biblical”.
In what sort of bizarro world is this a rational argument?
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Mark, I am confused by your comments. It is hard to figure out if you are defending Piper or being cynical.
Celeste, Piper’s claim is that complementarian theology gives the church more basis to insist that men treat women well than egalitarianism. It’s a load of crap.
The “bathroom” tests refers to one of Pipers articles (what submission is not) where he says that in a counseling session a woman told him that her husband required his permission to go to the bathroom. Piper says that he chastised the man, but the omission is obvious that he didn’t tell the woman not to submit to that requirement.
So, in egalitarianism, the wife would laugh at her husband for even suggesting that, and in complementarianism, it’s an unsatisfactory visit to the pastor where the pastor has no grounds to fix the situation.
In the second example, I challenge his actual premise – that complementarian theology teaches that man’s “unique position” of having authority/ownership of women (1) makes him more likely to protect them, and (2) gives the church more ability to intervene when he does not.
(2) is ridiculous. Whether or not the church thinks it has the power to intervene, the complementarian church has always taken the stance that ownership and control must be protected more than the rights of the little people. The lack of protection makes abuse more likely in comp churches.
My math teacher liked to talk about “hand waving” and I wouldn’t be surprised that the more animated Piper is the more crap he’s trying to peddle.
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Mark, I was telling Kathi the other day when someone has to resort to such exaggerated hand gestures and tone, something is messed up. His gesturing reminds me of CJ Mahaney.
Thank you, Mark. Piper is a harmer, not a helper.
Julie, I was watching his body language. I think his arms and hands are telling his real message. Crazy hand jestures distract from even crazier, harmful, incorrect words.
Well, for starters, If you are treating women as equals to start with, you don’t have so much to protect them from..I’ve always though this argument about some men, protecting women from other men, wasn’t particularly helpful. Like..yay? I’m super grateful to these men theoretically protecting me from other men, and patting themselves on the back about manly they are. Meanwhile women aren’t actually threatening me, pretty much ever. So.
Second, and i know i’ve said this before, the stronger should protect the weaker wherever needed. This is not always gender based like Piper likes to think. Adults should protect children, younger adults should protect older adults, the well should protect the sick, etc. This obsession with gender obscures so many things and the only reason to obsess over gender is to give one power over the other, which is a situation that creates abuse, rather than stops it.
And of course in practice, when you think more of men then women, and consider women to be basically feeble children who shouldn’t be believed, you never ACTUALLY protect the ones who need protecting. Piper just likes to say words, but they don’t translate to helpful actions.
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Imagine defining femininity in this way. I.
In complementarianism all men have to do is be born with a penis and then the world is his oyster. All comp men have to do is get their butts kissed. That is all! Quote self-serving bible verses. Live like newborns. And while they are living like spoiled babies they want their wives and children to reassure them they are men, real men, and manly men. A real grown man would be embarrassed by this.
“Complementarianism is hierarchy.”
Complementarianism is about the dumb, selfish, insecure, men-wannabes having trapped female slaves who have to live like little girl sex slaves.
“The husband is responsible to lead; the wife is to affirm and receive that leadership.”
The husband is entitled to a trapped *SS kissing woman who can’t tell the husband no. She has to hold up his feeble selfish ego while living like a child sex slave.
Comp men have already decided they have every right to beat and rape their wives and their wives have to kiss their *sses and not divorce them for it.
John Piper has giggled about wife abuse and said she needs to coddle her abuser and kiss his *ss.
The comp wife is a child slave. Just the way comp men prefer their women. Comp men have much in common with pedophiles. They can’t handle being married to a grown woman who has power and can tell him to get lost and never find your way back. Phillip Garrido needed this same arrangement.
Protection is in the top three HUGE lies comp men peddle.
I grew up with comp men and none of them protected any child or any woman. They protected many pedophiles and many wife beaters. Pedophiles and wife beaters are the darlings of the comp cult.
Comp men protect wife beaters.
Comp men protect wife rapist.
Comp men protect child abusers.
Comp men protect pedophiles.
While they are seeing to it that these men do not lose anything and are getting their butts kissed they want us, victims, to pretend with them that they are really looking out for us.
Complementarianism was dreamed up by selfish, insecure, abusive men. To use and abuse trapped women.
One of the many embarrassing things about comp men is they tell abused women and abused little girls our business.
The comp man who sexually abused me tried to tell me how to handle it. He was not a girl. It was not happening to him. HE was the one getting something out of it.
Imagine if I told Mexican women they had to be my *ss kissing trapped slaves. Then I told these women that me telling them that was not abusive and condemning them for not agreeing to be my *ss kissing slaves. I would actually feel embarrassed and evil to do that. Comp men do not have the morals or decency to feel guilt or shame about their selfishness and cruelty.
When it comes to abuse of women and girls comp men need to sit down and shut up. They are selfish users pretending what they want to be true is true (things that benefit them) and pretending things that are true aren’t.
Comp men saying comp isn’t abusive is just as stupid, know-nothing, and selfish as the Taliban and ISIS saying their slop isn’t abusive.
John Piper is adding to the bible.
John Piper is promoting his fetishes and condemning his pet peeves. Of course, this is all about the comp man’s ego, pride, and insecurity.
Egalitarians believe women have a right to tell men NO and men have a right to tell women NO.
Men who actually have merit are fine with this arrangement. Men who know deep down they are duds don’t.
In complementarianism, women can’t tell men NO. But, men can tell women NO. The sickest evil men on the planet have always arranged this for themselves.
Complementarian men are the MOST self-serving, self benefitting, self-elevating, self-important, self-promoting, self-worshipping creeps in all of Christiandom.
Comp men always decide it is women and girls who have to live in pain so comp men can live in pleasure.
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Piper is a spiritual abuser and his teachings facilitate abuse, full stop. However, he must either repent from his horrendous teachings in this area or deny the reality. Guess which choice he has made up until now?
Unfortunately , ministers who are complimentarians study Piper’s books for their sermons and philosophy instead of the Bible and sound commentaries. Their brains atrophy quickly.
What do you all think about his behavior? He’s always been very animated with his hands and wide ranged tonal inflections. I’m wondering if he is coming off as more manic because he’s used to having an audience before him. He’s doing this talk virtually, and that may be throwing him off.
We can’t face these things too often…we require no king at home, everyone can gladly look to Jesus and pledge ourselves to serve Him.
I hope our daughters will defy the very unwise elders who crave power and claim the birthright that is theirs with ordinary joy.
A “freeing” disposition? Is that supposed to mean “liberating”?
Question for Piper: If it’s so inherently “liberating”, then why do so many women in gender comp relationships report feeling trapped?
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Exactly, SKIJ. When talking with emotionally and spiritually abused women, they do not feel free at all. They are not free.
“Taking pleasure from the pain of others” is the textbook definition of “Sadism”.
Don’t a lot of sermons say the same thing about pornography?
Based on similarity of effects, it’s not much of a stretch to describe the Pious Piper’s “sermons and philosophy” as “Spiritual Pornography”.
Well said, very true!
Ironically, what women need protection from the most is men. Since a leading cause of death in women is their intimate partners and those partners include pastors, Christian husbands, deacons, good ole boys. The news reveals that the faith of the abusers doesn’t make their wives immune from shooting, battering, strangulation or what ever method the man with power chooses to end his property’s life.
As a female I’ve been aware from childhood don’t trust men bearing candy and as a former wife of a Christian batterer, don’t trust men quoting the bible to love ,honor and provide a “covering”. I was not alone in the numbers of women assaulted by the Christian patriarchy in the home, I refer to as domestic terrorists. Its not nearly as uncommon as the Piper’s abuse enablers of the world would have us believe.
When divorce laws made it easier for women to get out of their prison of abuse, the death by husband homicide rates correspondingly improved. In practical terms, a living divorced ex wife is better than a dead submitted one.
As always Christianity Hurts, your comment thread values the truth over lies, and I appreciate your honesty and integrity. Your life experiences, as well as others who have lived out “complementarian abuse,” including myself, are never meant for the compost pile, dung heap, or any other snarky “pile” the religious/c’hurch elite love to impose on others as a form of hierarchal abuse. Many know and feel your pain, and some/I get it more than you shall know.
How odd it is, that the word “complementarianism” has been added to the holy writ, is that not blaspheming the Holy Spirit with false doctrines that seek to replace Jesus Christ with another form of authority? As stated in another comment thread, I personally, used to listen to the teachings (or lack thereof 🙂 ) of John Piper while I was attending a 501c. 3 baptist c’hurch, and what he said, lined up perfectly with the AOG p’astor m’an’s teachings and his l’eadership minions.
I find it ironic that most of the marriages were “complementarian” within that particular denom (in name anyway) and the divorce rate was quite high within that c’hurch. A few of the women called my home in tears over the abuse (verbal and emotional….they did not confess physical abuse) they were experiencing from their “comp” toddler husbands. The comp marriages that I observed were quite unhappy within the “male headship” hierarchal marriages, meanwhile, the few egalitarian marriages that I observed carefully, were quite happy and functioning in such a way that the children were also confident and well adjusted……the family as a whole were much happier, content, and exhibiting more of the fruits of the Spirit than those families who suffered under “complementarian” rulership.
And JP’s teachings are quite popular with in the baptist religious system here in our rural areas. How odd it is, that c’hurch folks refer those of us who are the lessers, purveyors of the compost pile mentality, to the teachings of man, ie. JP, rather than pointing us to Jesus Christ and His Ways. It takes a bold Christian in this day and age, to point individuals to our Messiah, Jesus Christ and His Ways, for when a believer does so, they are persecuted with words and actions from false christians as god’s police force here on earth.
If I had to choose either Jesus or JP to protect me in my minute of need, I would choose Jesus Christ, hands down with no hesitation.
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Something I’ve noticed before that I’d like to point out now:
Go to that Pious Piper video at the bottom of the blogpost, just above the comments. Do not click on it. Study the still rest screen, notice the Pious Piper’s pose and posture.
Doesn’t he look like some sort of quivering hyperactive kid?
Fists half-clenched, body tense, about to bounce up and down uncontrollably?
Like Horshack from the old TV sitcom Welcome Back Kotter —
“OOOOO! OOOOO! PICK ME, MISTER KOTTER! PICK ME! OOOOO! OOOOO!”
I admire John Piper for his convictions and his pursuit of the truth even if his opinions and theology ruffle feathers. like the the feathers of people on this blog .. John Piper had a publication banned from youtube because of people that had their feathers ruffled by the truth … I think that Piper is more in line with scriptures and our Lord and Saviour than some of the people who have commented on this blog …
John Piper is a spiritual abuser that should repent. He has done great harm to the Kingdom of God.