Safety First

John Piper is not (to borrow the Biblical metaphor) my servant. He works for Jesus. It’s up to Jesus to evaluate Piper’s performance in His service. I’m not about to call him out or criticize him in any way (although doing so might mean some more traffic for this blog), but I am going to hi-jack a thread from Preacher Mike which consists of a video of Piper answering a question. See it here.

I’m not a pastor but I’m going to take a shot at answering this person’s (probably a woman) question:

Safety first. Abuse, whatever its form or degree is essentially harming another person. When faced with potential or actual harm, the appropriate response is to seek safety. Not retaliation. Not revenge. Safety. So, if a woman is being abused by a man, her chief need is safety. Nothing else matters until she is safe. The same applies to Christian wives being abused by their Christian husbands. Safety must come first.

It is not a sin to seek safety from an abuser. A Christian woman who separates herself (and children) from an abusive husband has not sinned in doing so. She has not violated the apostolic teaching regarding wives’ submission to husbands. To invoke this teaching as justification for abuse is a sin that will be judged by Jesus when He returns.

As you can see, I’m not really answering the question as it was worded and the reason is simple: I can’t. The wording of the question betrays a certain confusion about priorities. It’s like having someone with a gushing head wound going to see a dermatologist and asking if a mole on his nose looks cancerous. Cancer is serious but at the moment, the head wound takes precedence. Likewise, the Biblical teaching regarding submission (to God, human authorities, parents, husbands, wives etc) is important and needs to be addressed but only when the abused is delivered from the abuser. Only in a safe context, probably after some healing, is it appropriate and wise to seek to understand what it means for followers of Jesus to submit in the various contexts in which we are called to submit.

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