Are Complementarians Tough on Abuse?

Complementarianism, Desiring God, Domestic Abuse

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-by Kathi

Desiring God featured a guest article by Rebecca McLaughlin titled, “Complementarians Should Be Toughest on Abuse.” I appreciate Dr. McLaughlin’s words and I think her intent is honorable. She addresses pastors and men to call out abuse, warns Christians to not be naive about abusers, and emphasizes that abused women need support and assistance.

Because this article is posted by Desiring God, I want to address the author’s thoughts according to how John Piper addresses marriage and focus on dynamics within domestic abuse. Why John Piper? Because Desiring God was founded by Piper and he is considered the lead teacher for the site. Any guest posts should be compared to what Piper has set as precedent for the site.

1. God calls husbands to sacrificial love:

McLaughlin says:

Some summarize complementarian theology as “husbands lead, wives submit,” but this is not what the Bible says. God calls wives to submit (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1). But the primary command to husbands is not lead. It is love (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33; Colossians 3:19).

Her point does not fit the Desiring God narrative on complementarian relationships. John Piper defines headship and submission as:

Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.

Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.

Let’s not forget Piper’s, “Should Women Be Police Officers?” :

On the other hand, husband and wife, very personal and, hence, the clear teaching of the New Testament that the man should give, give leadership in the home and she give glad partnership in supporting and helping that leadership uh come, come into its own.

There is no way to work around complementarian’s view of the husband as the leader, especially when the wife’s role is to honor, affirm, and support her husband’s leadership. The “primary command” may be to love, but he is definitely the leader.

2. Strength is for honoring, not control:

Why is McLaughlin solely focusing on physical strength?

From a biblical perspective, the relative physical strength of men is not a tool for power play, but a motivation for empathy and honor.

Physical strength is not the only tool used in abuse.  She neglects addressing how words and manipulation are used in verbal and emotional abuse. A man may never use physical strength against his wife, but is still able to show power and convey his strength through his words, intimidation, and manipulation.

Strength is important in the complementarian view of man. Piper’s definition of headship includes protection. He used the following illustration as a definition of manhood:

Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.

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The article where Piper states this addresses women in combat roles. He opines how men are naturally not able to follow a woman’s direct orders. Why did he even need to address this? Is a complementarian man that afraid that his manhood is being compromised if he has a woman with some type of authority over him?

The driving force behind abuse is power and control. While abuse may happen in any type of marriage, complementarianism provides structure to a marriage which allows power and control to exist. As long as men and women are different in roles and responsibility, there will always be a power differential.

3. Spousal abuse is gospel-denying sin:

For the most part I like what McLaughlin is saying here. I think she could do without the “gospel-denying” bit. The gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Sin is sin. She does call pastors to hold abusers accountable and support victims.

**Side note: Is she teaching men here? Does McLaughlin writing  this article go against complementarian doctrine of the role of women in the church?

But what about the victim? How should she respond to her abuser? Let’s not forget John Piper’s words in 2009 (from video below):

If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.

 

**I will never stop referencing this video. I hope he is held accountable one day for his callous remarks about women affected by abuse.

Piper followed up with a post four years later to “clarify” his statement. His clarification only added bringing in civil authorities:

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.

While he did state in this clarification post that abuse is wrong, he neglected to state that what he said was wrong. He continued to reiterate the view that women must submit, whether it be to civil or church authorities or to her husband. At what point do complementarians think that it is dangerous for a woman to submit? How many women continued to endure abuse because John Piper says that a wife’s role is to submit to her husband?

4. Jesus teaches vulnerability and protection:

From McLaughlin:

Due to its distortions and misuses, some believe complementarian theology must be abandoned to keep women safe. But imagine Paul and Peter had said nothing about wives. An unthoughtful pastor might use Jesus’s own words to justify sending a woman back into a dangerous situation. “Do not resist the one who is evil,” says our Lord. “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). In Christ, we all enter the world with a posture of vulnerability.

With this I reference back to unthougthful Piper and his words: “she endures perhaps being smacked one night.” Remember, he never said that he provided wrong advice.

5. You’re twice as safe with a Christian man:

In McLaughlin’s final thought she says:

No woman wants to acknowledge spousal abuse. Many will suffer in silence, while their husbands maintain a godly pretense. We need you to work with your wives and sisters in Christ to ensure that no one in your sphere is issuing scars or hiding them. We need you to be like Christ to your wives, and to be like Christ in your church, speaking up with courage, standing up for women, and hating abuse in all its forms. Twice as safe is not enough — let’s make women a hundred times safer with Christian men.

What I struggle with most about this article is that even though I think the author’s intent is to bring awareness about domestic abuse and accountability toward abusers, she holds on to the premise that a complementarian marriage should be the answer for abuse. The words are good, but the fact remains that there is a hierarchy in marriage and the church. Remember Piper’s definition of submission for a wife. The wife’s role is to “honor and affirm her husband’s leadership.” Why does she not have any autonomy on her own? The husband’s headship is to be the leader of the home. Why does the weight of this fall solely on the husband’s shoulders? Why can’t the two work as one?

Are there good, non-abusive complementarian marriages out there? Of course there are. And for those people I say, “I wish you well.” Even though the good exists doesn’t mean the bad marriages do not. It is for this reason that I have a problem with a non-essential gospel doctrine that enables power and control to an abusive spouse.

K.B. Davies Says Domestic Violence is No Excuse for Divorce Even in Case of Death

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-by Kathi

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K.B. Davies frequently comments on Lori Alexander’s Facebook page, The Transformed Wife. Lori allows his comments to stay and doesn’t challenge them. Why Lori leaves comments from men like K.B. and Trey unchallenged is mind boggling. Personally, I would distance myself as far away as possible from someone who uses the Bible to support domestic abuse. The fact that he comments on a women’s-only teaching page is for another day.

Digging a little deeper, he blogs and markets himself with the following: “Transformational Change Agent. Thought Leader. Spiritual Coach. Author & Speaker. Self Development. Personal Growth.”

K.B. Davies recently posted this on his Facebook page: Continue reading

Lori Alexander, Advocate of Women Staying Married to Their Abusers

 

-by Kathi

deleteLori Alexander at The Transformed Wife continues to advocate that there is no room for divorce for a spouse experiencing physical abuse.

A commentor at her post, For Those Considering Divorce – Stop!, speaks about her mother’s best friend who would show up with bruises and black eyes. With valid reasoning she questions Lori about not divorcing due to physical abuse. Continue reading

Paige Patterson called an abuse advocacy group “as reprehensible as sex criminals”

Paige Patterson, Sex Abuse, Southern Baptist Convention

 

Admin note:  This blog was written and submitted to Spiritual Sounding Board. The author wishes to remain anonymous. ~ja


Paige Patterson called an abuse advocacy group “as reprehensible as sex criminals”

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Did you hear about the movie Spotlight? It won Best Picture in 2015.

It’s a true story about an investigative reporting team from the Boston Globe who uncovered systematic hiding of sexual abuse and abusers in the Catholic Church. The Spotlight team accomplished their exposé, published in 2002, with the help of the organization Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

When the movie aired in 2015, many who had never before heard of SNAP now found out the heartbreaking and heroic work they’d been doing for decades.

But there’s a SNAP outreach for Baptists too, and Christa Brown, the author of the outstanding book This Little Light, was in 2008 the leader of that outreach, having recorded in that book and at www.stopbaptistpredators.com  her work of many years in calling for the Southern Baptist Convention to deal with abuse seriously and establish a database of predators so that churches would better be able to avoid filling their pulpits with them.

These efforts failed.

But this does bring us around to Paige Patterson. Continue reading

Analysis: Paige Patterson’s Teachings on Domestic Violence Keep Victims in Harm’s Way

Paige Patterson, Domestic Violence, SBC, Divorce

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Over the weekend, an old recording of an interview from 2000 with Paige Patterson resurfaced, causing an uproar because of his response regarding domestic violence. Paige Patterson is a prominent Southern Baptist leader and president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS).

I have been familiar with this recording for several years, but numerous attempts to address this issue have been ignored. Until now – when the world is paying attention to sexual abuse, harassment, and violence against women especially. It’s about time! Patterson caught wind of the responses and felt he was misrepresented, so he issued a statement yesterday (April 29th). As of this writing, both The Washington Post and Christianity Today have picked up the story.

I have taken a close look at the transcription from the interview and the new statement. The old statement is shown in orange font, the new statement is in purple font and indented. My editorial comments are in black. While Paige Patterson has attempted to clarify his position on domestic violence and respond to the recent firestorm, his new statement in his press release leaves me even more confused. He contradicts his original statement. The new statement sounds more like a fairy tale, rather than a factual incident. Continue reading

Paige Patterson on Domestic Violence: Audiofile Transcript and Resource Links

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On This Page:

  • Series Resource Links
  • Updates
  • Introductory Notes and Key Links
  • Chronological Documents, Analysis, and Commentary
  • Select Resources and Historical Sources
  • Transcript for Audiofile of “Paige Patterson (SBC) Advice to Victims of Domestic Violence”

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Series Resource Links

Resource Links, Part 1 – April 28 through May 22. Historical background resources, audiofile transcript, news articles and social media responses from April 28-May 22.

Resource Links, Part 2 – May 23-28. News articles and social media responses.

Resource Links, Part 3 – May 29 through June 3. News articles and social media responses.

Resource Links, Part 4 – June. Focus on statements and news articles related to topical and institutional issues in advance of the SBC annual meeting of June 11-12.

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Updates

May 12, 2018. This bibliography grew far larger than expected, with delays in finding and posting links to earlier articles. Starting today, new items will appear at the bottom of the section for items from that date of publication, and will be marked with the date the link is added to this bibliography. For readers who just want the latest listings, search for [Link added DATE, 2018.] and fill in the date. Continue reading

Domestic Violence, Ministry, and Controversy in Conservative Christianity: A Guest Post on Historical Context and Perspective

This is a guest post by brad/futuristguy, and is cross-posted on his blog.

Although Brad Sargent is known for his more recent research writings on spiritual abuse from a systemic perspective, he has written and edited on other forms of abuse and violence since the 1980s.

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Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Contemporary Conservative Christianity and Questions About Abuse

Contention over abuse and violence in Christian communities has heightened in the era of #metoo and #churchtoo. However, controversies over theology, advocacy, and actions have been with us for a very long time. Recently, comments on abuse made by Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, resurfaced and ignited a social media firestorm. Continue reading

God Loves Victims More Than Saving an Abusive Marriage

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Personal Story: What Did the Church Teach You about Yourself?

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A Personal Story and a Sad Conclusion When Pastors Failed to Respond Appropriately to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, Church response, Rob Porter


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Will Those in the Real Gospel-Centered Churches Please Stand?

Gospel-Centered Movement, TGC, YRR, Calvinists, Jared Wilson

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BREAKING: Leaders at Doug Wilson’s Christ Church Put Woman in Abusive Marriage Under Church Discipline

Mike Lawyer, Counseling, Abuse in Marriage, Abuse of Authority

I have been in contact with a woman named Gen, who has agreed to let me post this letter she received from Mike Lawyer, “on behalf of Christ Church Session.” Christ Church is Doug Wilson’s church in Moscow, Idaho. If you would like to learn more about Doug Wilson and his extra-biblical and spiritually abusive ways, see his name in “Categories” in the side bar.

Gen told me she was in an abusive marriage. She was not physically abused, but was emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and financially abused. She and her husband sought counseling, and were in counseling both together and separately.

Gen also told me that she didn’t respond appropriately to the abuse – that she reacted by yelling and crying. I don’t think that’s an inappropriate response to abuse, do you? That seems very normal. I’m not sure where she learned that she was responsible for her response, but that concerns me because it takes the focus off the perpetrator and places it on the survivor – as if they are both equal sinners.

This following letter was sent to Gen on January 18, 2018. Mike Lawyer has decided he knows her spiritual condition and has determined that she is not living up to being a proper wife, etc. Because of her “unwillingness” to deal with her sins, she is being put in church discipline.

It’s important to understand that Doug Wilson believes that husbands are the heads of the home. He believes in Patriarchy. If husbands are the priests of the home, who do you think they would believe first, the husband or the wife? Continue reading

The David and Louise Turpin Family Homeschool Cult

David and Louise Turpin, Homeschool, Cult, Abuse, Torture


David and Louise Turpin, homeschool, cult, abuse, torture, chain, padlock, quiverfull full-quiver, Christian

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Most likely you have heard the news about the large homeschooling family, the Turpins, from California. The parents, David, 57, and Louise, 49, Turpin who were arrested for torture and child endangerment, with bail set at $9 million each. Here are some of the key facts:

  • David and Louise Turpin are the biological parents of 13 children ranging in age of 2 years to 29 years old.
  • They live in Perris, California, not too far from Los Angeles.
  • Their 17-yr old daughter escaped from her home early Sunday morning by climbing out of a window, and used a deactivated cell phone to contact authorities. She showed the police photos of the living conditions of the home which convinced authorities to do a welfare check at the house.
  • When authorities arrived, they found several children shackled to beds or furniture by chain and padlocks.
  • The children were found pale and extremely emaciated.
  • It was reported that the 17-yr old looked to be approximately 10 years old. The other adults, too, looked very young for their age.
  • David and Louise Anna Turpin were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment.
  • The minor children were taken to one hospital, and the adult children were taken to another. All were given food and drink, and admitted for treatment.
  • “US reports say Louise’s parents had tried to visit their daughter and son-in-law in the past, and had to turn back at the airport when the Turpins refused to provide their street address.” Source
  • They were known to be hoarders, and the home was dark and had a foul odor.
  • The children were rarely seen outside. Neighbors had no clue there were 13 children (and adult children) living in the home.
  • They were deeply religious, and were forced to memorize chapters of the Bible
  • David Turpin registered his homeschool under the name, Sandcastle Day School in 2011.

Continue reading

Book Review Series – “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Stuffing Feelings and Pretending to Be Joyful

The Power of a Transformed Wife: Lori Alexander, Trusting God, Emotions

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-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9  Chapter 10   Chapter 11  Chapter 12   Chapter 13   Chapter 14

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Chapter 15 – The Disciplined Mind: Trusting God & Doing Good

I must admit, it is getting more difficult to read through The Power of a Transformed Wife and garner up the motivation required to continue writing these reviews. I guess I need to trust God to get me through.

This entire chapter can be summed up with the following: 1) Life sucks, 2) Trust God, 3) Think good thoughts, and 4) Do good. Well, this is all fine and dandy if you’re not in an abusive relationship, dealing with anxiety or depression, dealing with a looming financial crisis, or experiencing a chronic medical condition – all of which Lori’s readers have commented on her blog or Facebook page. But, wait! Lori does deal with chronic pain, so what is her answer? Continue reading

Bethlehem Baptist Church Excommunicates Victim of Domestic Violence

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First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

#MeToo, #ChurchToo, Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Church

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The hashtag #MeToo has been trending for quite some time on Twitter. Women who have been sexually harassed or abused have been identifying themselves as survivors of sexual harm, indicating it with the hashtag, #MeToo. But now, there is a new trending hashtag, #ChurchToo. The stories that you can read in one little tweet are heartbreaking.

I wanted to share some here, and also invite those who have been on Twitter to feel free to share more here if they like.

If you are new to Spiritual Sounding Board, this is a blog that deals with abuse in church or church groups. We have dealt with all kinds of sexual abuse: sex abuse of children, sexual abuse in marriage, sexual abuse by clergy, wives of pedophiles, church leaders who have failed to report sexual crimes, church leaders who have blamed victims for sexual crimes, and also spiritual abuse which often occurs when a church leaders are involved in any capacity (perpetrator, counselor, spiritual advisor).

If you have been harmed sexually, this is a safe place. If you would like to share your story in more detail, you can in the comments, or to me privately: spiritualsb@gmail.com. Please feel free to comment using a pseudonym. This is your place to use your voice where it will be heard.

~Julie Anne Continue reading

Lori Alexander Refuses to Talk About Abuse

Lori Alexander, Domestic Violence, Biblical Submission

Lori Alexander, domestic violence, abuse

Images used on The Transformed Wife blog posts. Left: “Married to Angry Men” on 9/9/17. Right: “Too Many Angry Wives” on 7/20/17

-by Kathi

There is nothing new under Lori Alexander’s sun. She still writes about submission, and I’m sure she always will. Every once in a while she will write a post that gives us an extra glimpse about how her teachings may keep women in abusive relationships. In “Sweating Bullets While Teaching Submission,” Lori tells us why she does not write about abuse.

Lori will write about submission and never mentions abuse because:

If you read other biblical marriage blogs, you will see that most of them have warnings all over them about abuse and what submission doesn’t mean. If you notice, my blog doesn’t have this. I have written many posts about submission and never even mentioned the word abuse on most of them. I do this purposefully because abuse and submission don’t go together as many today try to do by twisting and perverting the beauty of submission. (Yes,  I have a post on my side bar for those who are in marital crisis but it has nothing whatsoever to do with submission since even wives who aren’t submissive are physically abused.)

On purpose, Lori will not discuss abuse because she believes that “biblical submission” is not abusive. Continue reading

Single (Divorced) Woman Asks About Her Friendship with a Married Man from Church

Single Christians, Divorced Christians, Cross-Gender Relationships, Church Response

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A woman found SSB and sent me an e-mail about her situation. The e-mail is from a single/divorced woman and the friendship she has with the praise and worship leader at her church. She, too, is on the praise and worship team. This kind of situation seems to get people nervous. Evidently, single women should not have a friendship with a married man.

Here is her e-mail (which she gave me permission to post): Continue reading