Are Complementarians Tough on Abuse?

Complementarianism, Desiring God, Domestic Abuse

12017697_10153204847656818_6017274371347814815_o

-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.

dv3

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.

Domestic Violence: A Call to the Church – Reevaluate Your Beliefs

Domestic Violence, Church Response, Beliefs

purple ribbons

-by Kathi


I am pausing our Sunday Gatherings for the rest of October. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and I would like to take this time to talk about how the church can effectively respond to domestic violence.

 

The church can be incredibly helpful to victims of domestic violence, or, it can be incredibly damaging to victims. The way in which a church responds to a victim depends upon the beliefs that the church has about domestic violence. This is an open challenge to the church to re-evaluate a few beliefs which may keep victims within abusive relationships. Continue reading

John Piper on Complementarianism: A Hill to Die On

John Piper, Desiring God, Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, Gender Roles

alliances-1619392_1280

-by Kathi

Desiring God recently posted an episode of Ask Pastor John titled, “Is Male Headship a Lost Cause?

The question posed to John Piper comes from a seminary student in the United Kingdom who is discouraged to see more churches in his country move toward egalitarianism. Add in the legalization of gay marriage, and this distraught seminarian wonders if male headship will endure.

John Piper starts his answer in only the way John Piper can:

Complementarianism will endure. It is not a lost cause. The reason I think it will endure and is not a lost cause may not be exactly what you think. Let me give you three reasons it will endure that are not the reason I’m going to give.

Is anyone confused from the start? Please speak clearly John Piper.

He moves on to list three reasons why complementarianism will endure. I’m assuming that these are the three reasons we expect to hear. Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – Get to Work! and Is This the End?

Complementarianism, God’s Design, Gender roles

Owen sitting on book.jpg

The Watch Dog may not be a sheep dog, but he’s fluffy like a sheep.

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

This is a very sad day, children. This is our last day to talk about God’s Design. I know, I know….we’ll get through this together. Today, we will talk about work and summarizing everything we’ve learned. Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – The Church and Learning About Things We Already Know

Complementarianism, Women in the Church, Gender Roles, Proper Church and Family Roles

20170306_191504

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about God’s design for the church and how to learn God’s ways (as if this hasn’t already been said enough). Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book “God’s Design” – Married/Single; Husband/ Father; Wife/Mother

Complementarian, Gender Roles, Being Married, Being Single, Desiring God’s Influence

married-couple

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, children, we will talk about marriage and singleness, husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers.  Continue reading

Review of Children’s Book, “God’s Design” -Examples of Godly Womanhood

Ruth, Mary, Sarah and Proverbs 31: Examples of Complementarian Women

28669797673_55471a9088

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.

Today, young girls have the chance to learn what makes a godly woman. I know you all were thinking hard about who the examples might possibly be. Now’s the time to find out! Continue reading

Children’s Book “God’s Design” and its Teachings on Homosexuality as a Distortion of God’s Design

God’s Design, Homosexuality, Complementarianism, John Piper & Wayne Grudem’s Influence

female-1294230_1280

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

This week children, we will talk about homosexuality. This topic may potentially become heated. I ask that discussion please be civil and hope that we can acknowledge that as fellow Christians (better yet, as fellow human beings), we recognize that we may come to different conclusions. I ask that in our discussion we always maintain that it is the person that God created that is most valued and not our ideas or theology. Continue reading

“God’s Design” – Rebellion, a.k.a. It’s All Her Fault!

God’s Design, Headship, Complementarianism, Biblical Gender Roles, The Fall

****

Adam & Eve

Who started this whole mess?

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

Today, children, we are going to learn about how man and woman rebelled against God’s design. Spoiler alert!…We’ll talk about one more than the other. Continue reading

“God’s Design” – Headship, Helper, and an Answer We Already Knew

God’s Design, Headship, Complementarianism, Biblical Gender Roles

***

statue-1580499_1280

Image: Pixabay

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below (except for The Answer We Already Knew) are chapters in the book.

Today, children, we learn about God’s perfect design for man and woman. Oh, and remember how men and women are equal, but different? We’re totally equal. (sigh) Continue reading

“God’s Design” – Know Thyself, Creature

creation

God and Adam having a serious talk about who’s in charge.

-by Kathi

This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below are chapters in the book.

Today we are gathering children around to discuss the first three chapters of God’s Design. Here we will learn that we have a creator and we are his creatures. Continue reading

Vaccinating Children with Complementarian: Series Introduction – Review of “God’s Design” Gender Role Book for Children

Complementarian, Egalitarian, Teaching Children, Children Desiring God, John Piper


Series Introduction

Vaccinating Children with Complementarianism

by Kathi

Owen God's Design

The SSB Watch Dog  gives “4 Paws Down” for this book.

I spent many years reading books to my children. Homeschooling families know all too well the importance of reading. However, I can say that I never read a book like this to my kids.

God’s Design is a children’s books which teaches about the importance of  gender roles.

Oh, yes. You read that correctly. Continue reading