Recently John Piper had a podcast telling a woman how to deal with a “harsh” husband.
It was atrocious advice–especially since women in emotionally abusive relationships would listen to this advice and think that it pertained to them (since most women in abusive relationships would describe their husbands as harsh).
We’ve talked about this before in a blog post on Piper’s original article about harsh husbands, and Rebecca and I recorded a Facebook Live talking about it.
So many people asked us to upload it to our podcast so they could share it more easily that we decided to do that.
So Katie edited it down, and here it is! Plus Keith and I added a bit on the end that will BLOW YOUR MIND about what it means to turn the other cheek. Seriously blow your mind!
Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:
Timeline of the Podcast
0:10 Biblical advice?
1:45 Overview of the situation with John Piper
7:15 Thinking of the readers and not just the question writer
16:30 How could this be handled differently
19:45 Piper’s misplaced priority of advice
46:10 What does it mean to turn the other cheek?
55:50 People deserve their dignity
John Piper and Harsh Husbands
Rebecca and I walk through the transcript of his podcast, and show the glaring red flags. Just as a reminder, John Piper also told women that they should endure being smacked around for a night, or endure abuse for a season, if it brought him to Christ. And he believes that the way you deal with abuse is to bring it to the elders of your church–even though his very church has excommunicated women who have divorced for abuse (Natalie Hoffman from Flying Free is a big example).
It is vitally important that pastors understand that when they quote John Piper, they implicitly condone what he has said about abuse. Women in their pews hear this.
We need to start standing up against the harm that is being done in our church communities. Instead of thinking someone is a man of God simply because he preaches well, can we please look at the fruit of his teachings with regards to real people, on the ground?
That’s what Jesus did. Christianity is not an intellectual exercise. Christianity is flesh and blood.
And John Piper is hurting flesh and blood. That should matter to us.
(AND ONE CLARIFICATION: In the podcast, I said that you can tell your husband to see a licensed counselor, and if he won’t you can go yourself. What I was picturing was him going ALONE and you going ALONE, but I didn’t specify that, and it sounds like I was saying you should go together. Seeing a counselor together when you’re in an abusive relationship is NOT recommended. Sorry for the confusion!).
Let’s rethink “turn the other cheek”
I get the best stuff from readers, and one reader sent me this article from Dr. Alison Cook on what it means to turn the other cheek. Keith and i discussed it at length and read a lot of it, but here’s just a taste:
It’s so important to understand this passage on a deeper level. When Jesus says to turn the other cheek, he does not mean to invite more abuse. His message here is much more subversive than that.
Rather, in context, to turn the other cheek is a demonstration of strength. Theologian N.T. Wright unpacks a subtle, but powerful lesson on boundaries implicit in this passage. Here is what he says:
“To be struck on the right cheek, in that world, almost certainly meant being hit with the back of the right hand. That’s not just violence, but an insult; it implies that you’re an inferior, perhaps a slave, a child, or (in that world, and sometimes even today), a woman. What’s the answer? Hitting back only keeps the evil in circulation. Offering the other cheek implies: hit me again if you like, but now as an equal, not an inferior.”1
Think about that for a minute. Seen in this light, turning the other cheek is a brave countermove. It’s not being a doormat. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Turning the other cheek is a way of standing your ground, communicating “You will not belittle me. You cannot take my dignity.” It’s countering bullying from a position of strength.
You’ll love this discussion!
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Things Mentioned in This Podcast:
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- John Piper article on harsh husbands:
- Our original Facebook Live (expanded content from this podcast, extra 13 minutes on end):
- Our article talking about John Piper and harsh husbands:
- Dr. Alison Cook on Turning the Other Cheek
- Gretchen Baskerville on why divorce isn’t always harmful for kids
What do you think of that idea of turning the other cheek? How should we handle teachers like Piper who enable abuse? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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