Submission In Marriage: What If The Husband Is Abusive?

abusive_husbandsBy Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Christian Submission  seems to be a very sensitive and controversial topic. It seems that a lot of women will call themselves women of faith but when the topic of submission comes up, it becomes a little more complicated. Of course there are women of faith who absolutely believe in submission, wholeheartedly practice it and are happy in their marriages, but there are also some who don’t.

A question that comes up a lot about submission is what a woman should do if she finds herself in an abusive marriage. A prominent Baptist pastor, John Piper recently wrote a blog post clarifying the issue of submission and how a woman who still has the desire to be a submitted wife should handle the situation.

Well-known pastor John Piper recently offered a statement clarifying his thoughts on a wife’s submission to an abusive husband.
Piper, who preaches at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, had been criticized earlier for only mentioning the church and not law enforcement as recourse for protection.

In a blog post this week, Piper clarified, “A Christian woman should not feel that the only help available to her is the police. That would be a biblical failure of her church. But recourse to civil authorities may be the right thing for an abused wife to do.”

The Reformed theologian explained that a husband who physically abuses his wife is breaking both God’s moral law and state civil law.

“God himself has put law enforcement officers in place for the protection of the innocent. ‘If you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer’ (Romans 13:4),” Piper cited. “A wife’s submission to the authority of civil law, for Christ’s sake, may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand that she endure his injuries.

“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.”

Piper was first asked about a wife’s submission to an abusive husband in 2009. In his videotaped response, the longtime pastor asserted that a person’s higher allegiance is to Christ – above his or her spouse.

In that response, he also advised that the wife seek help from the church and have the husband disciplined by church leadership.

“She should have a safe place in a body of Christ where she goes and then the people in the church deal with him. The church is really crucial here to step in, be her strength, say to him ‘you can’t do this.’ … Let the leaders step in and help you navigate the difficulties.”

He received criticisms for his answer, he said, for not pointing to law enforcement as another form of help.

In his updated response, Piper wrote that every Christian is called to submit to various authorities so a wife’s submission is put into the wider context of submission to Jesus, civil authorities, each other and the church.

“This means that the rightness or wrongness of any act of submission is discerned by taking into account all the relevant relationships,” he stated. “We are all responsible to Jesus first, and then, under him, to various other persons and offices. Discerning the path of love and obedience when two or more of these submissive relationships collide is a call to humble, Bible-saturated, spiritual wisdom.”

He also stressed that while churches are called to mercy, they should not harbor someone whose abuse would be punishable by civil law.

“[T]here are times when mercy to one demands justice for another,” he stated. “This is often the case with criminal abuse. Moreover, there are many ways to show mercy toward a guilty person who must pay fines or go to jail. We are seldom in a position where the choice is simply mercy or no mercy.”

While a church may be able to bring the abusive spouse to repentance and reconciliation, there may also be cases where a church determines that civil authorities must be notified.

“In either case, no Christian woman (or man) should have to face abuse alone,” he highlighted.

In a plea to churches, Piper called for a culture where the men will not tolerate the abuse of any of its women.


63 Responses to Submission In Marriage: What If The Husband Is Abusive?

  1. What about abusive women? You have a lot of women, who beat their mates, also. Most men are afraid to report this woman abuse because they fear to be looked upon as pu*nks and weak!!!


    • Hey Derrick – I absolutely agree with you. Women have gotten away with murder (literally in some cases) as most men won’t report that abuse. Trust me, I know a lot of abusive women too and I don’t associate with them. Nobody should have to tolerate abusive.

    • It got worse when negroes and many whites all over america jumped all over chris brown when the retarded rihanna beat him down continually, and then got all that support when he finally defended himself. The fool should have told his side of the story, but since he didn’t he looks entirely guilty and women who secretly harbor resentment toward all men are beating innocent men down, expecting to get away with it.

    • Stabmaster Arson

      You gonna let your woman beat you up? Don’t be dating big girls if you’re such a small fry, LMAO.

  2. Pingback: Submission in marriage: What if the man is abusive? | YNaija

  3. No Wooman Christian or not is expected to stay in an abusive relationship Husbands according to the bible are expected to treat their wives with kindness and deep respect and love them just as they love themselves if this is done the wife will submitt to his headship willingly and on the other hand the same principle applies too the wife.Submission does not mean that she stoop and bow to any and everything A husbands headship should be balance not dogmatic and not my way or the highway there should be a coming together in all things with good communication. The book of Ephesians outline the standards that both wife and husband are expected to live up too and was so authorize by the one who instituted the marital arrangement when this is put into play along with it yields peace between the two that leads to a long, loving,and a successfull marriage.

    • right rosemary

    • Rosemary you are correct. The submission between a husband and wife should be mutual. Too many men ruin their lives and that of their families because they refuse to submit to the will of God in their lives. Christian men often hide behind the Bible as they attempt to control and dominate their wives. A lot of men want a maid and not a wife. Marriage should be a partnership. Those who spend their time trying to dominate others often cause needless drama and destroy their relationships. Often men abuse their women and then try to use the Bible to keep the woman in the relationship. Pastors are often of little help in matters of the family. If you are being abused get out of the relationship. An abusive man is an abusive man. Some men may profess to be Christians but their actions do not match up with the actions of Christ.

      It is amusing to me that pastors often attempt couples counseling to the members of an abusive marriage. The victim becomes viewed as part of the problem. The abuser is the problem. Abusers will try to tell the victim that it is their fault,”they need to be more submissive.” The truth is that an abusive man abuses no matter what the lady in his life does.

      Regarding the Chris Brown Rehanna issue. Chris was wrong. There is no excuse for how he hurt that girl.

      In my work I have encountered instances where women were killed by husband or boyfriends. Abuse is no joke. The church hurts women because it encourages men to think that they have the right to rule over women and that women are objects for their gratification.

      Gender equality is the only answer to the issue of submission. A man is not better than a woman.

  4. Religions have turned people into programmed robots, nothing else! People have ceased to reason unless their reasoning is influenced or governed by religious bullshits.

    • What are you babbling about? Based on your words, you have allowed the anti-Christian media to program you, to influence you to govern your thoughts and words. Humble yourself and stop being quick to judge things you have no basis for judging.

  5. I was raised that a man NEVER hits a woman. Fathers (men) would NEVER hit their daughters (girls). Today some of these women are manish. They’ll kick a man’s azz in a hot flash. H. James Roseau got this thing correct. For some reason men think they can jump on a woman, maybe because she is his possession, I don’t know. I’m single today because I can’t see going through that mess again, and after watching what other people go through just ain’t worth it. Synonyms for submission are: obedience, subjection, subordination; damm who is he my man or my father. GTHOOH! Are these church counselors professionals or are they only qualified in bible verses? Seems this dude will have you stretched out and casket sharp.

    • Miss T, you talk more shyt than a toilet stool! I like the way you pour that Truth…raw, real, and righteous.

      My Dad told me NEVER hit a woman, but if a woman acts like a man; then defend yourself. No man is gonna just sit, and let a woman whip on his azz because, that AIN’T NO MAN…period!

      If man or woman has to relate to violence in ANY relationship, you must get out before it comes to “fist-a-cuffing”. Only professional fighters get paid to fight, I dont have a title…do the math!

      In all my relationships with women, I NEVER HAD A REASON TO HIT THEM!!! It never got that serious. I was married for 15 years and never raised a hand at my EX! We did some cussing and dis-cussing, but no FIST-A-CUFFING!!!


      A negroid male will beat a woman, but they’re too scared to SPEAK UP to a white boy!!!


  6. Pingback: Submission In Marriage: What If The Husband Is Abusive? | eddielouis

  7. Abusive relations have been condoned in congregation for many years . I believe due to negative media attion something can an will be done . With that being said to acomdate the cry out for help .
    There for all in all no abusive should be taken lightly. Ask yourself if it were you how would you feel the one place that should exist for healing can cause the most pain.

  8. The subject of abuse us a difficult one for me.
    I was married twice. Once unsaved and once saved. They both ended due to abuse. Once I called the law and got a protection order. The ither I contacted the church. The church did nothing. No one ever came to the house to check on me and the childern…never. I left that man and I left that church. No real man will ever abuse his woman. The church do not deal with abuse of any kind…they just preach about it. Now I do whats in my Heart do concerning my life.

  9. I for one am glad that this approach to marriage is becoming a thing of the past. if you want a successful marriage, keep the Bible and these charlatans out of your life!

  10. Yes, our relationship to Christ is first and foremost. All other relationships fall into second place. Now, with that being said, any man that values and follows Christ is going to honor and respect his wife the way that Christ honors, respects and loves her. Therefore, that means that he will not physically or verbally abuse his wife, not if he wants to consider himself a true follower of Christ. People, Christians and non-Christians alike, tend to take the submission issue out of context, making it seem as though it’s somehow morally right for a man to rule over a woman with an iron fist and an equally iron tongue and it’s the way God intended for the family to function.

  11. You go Boy! JESUS IS LORD! I wholeheatedly thank GOD for our blessings. Incidentally, could you please post this on the organization’s website? This must be shared with the world!

  12. a lot of people open your mouths and say a lot of nothing. When you marry– yes it is supposed to be love. But some times in a short time, one or the other says “now, I got you and I’ll teach you.” If you want to beat someone get a bear who can whip your a$$ as well. Your spouse is not you child. You can not let yur frushtration out on your partner.I remember a couple who got married, went to his parents house where they were going to live, She never took off her gown. He started to beat her. His parents never came up stairs to find out what was happening, But when it got quiet, they came to investergate and found that she defended herself. Their son was now dead. Why didn’t they come up to stop their loving son.

  13. MovingInTheSpirit

    I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who do not read Ephesians 5:22-24 in isolation rather than to read the entire passage Ephesians 5:21-33.

    In the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Ephesians 5:21-33 is entitled “The Christian Household..” Ephesians 5:21 first states: “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 5:23 “Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives OUGHT
    to be, in everything to their husbands…the very next paragraph,
    5:25, in that same passage states: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water and the word…5:28, “”IN THE SAME WAY, HUSBANDS SHOULD LOVE THEIR WIVES AS THEY DO THEIR OWN BODIES. HE WHO LOVES HIS WIFE LOVES HIMSELF. FOR NO ONE EVERY HATES HIS OWN BODY, BUT HE NOURISHES AND TENDERLY CARES FOR IT, JUST AS CHRIST DOES THE CHURCH. (v.30) so because we are members of his body…(v.33) Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself and a wife should respect her husband.

    Now, if the husband loves his wife as described in the scripture then he is not abusive. But a question is: Does the wife-beater-wife-abuser love himself? Not to mention does he love her, his wife? Women who choose to remain in abusive situations, whether physical, and/or emotional/and or emotional, physical, or mental, perhaps should then asked themselves do they love themselves? Does God intend for them to have is temple abused? Does God intend them to remain in unloving marriages?

    God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) When the Pharisees asked Jesus: (Matthew 5:7) Why did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and divorce to her. He (Jesus) said to them (Matthew 5:8) It was because your were SO HARD-HEARTED that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Does one who abuses his wife love her or has he become hard hearted?

    Finally for those who would ask: “What about the statement: “What God put together, let no man put asunder(separate)? My response is: “Who said God put it together, or did God just allow the marriage?

    When people are in abusive marriages, it is better to say: there she or he goes than to say here she or he lays..

  14. Oh boy…no man or women has the right to abuse! I was abused for many years starting at the age of 16 and when I had my child I ended it because I didn’t want my child to grow seeing that! How is it male bashing when talking about a man who beats a women??? I would hope most of us know that all men are not abusive and I would suggest anger should be aimed at people who think its ok to beat,burn, another human being instead of perceiving it .. to be male bashing!

  15. No violence on his nor her side. Arguments should be verbal only disagreements which are common to ALL marriages to sustain clarity and understanding. Abuse is negative and harmful whoever starts it. Religions are man-made seekings to know God from the human position so because of the human subjective nature the finite mind resources individual “point-of-reference”
    thinking as opposed to objectivity. Don’t live with ANYONE who hurts you physically, emotionally or otherwise. Use your God-given Brain and get out.

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