On John Piper’s Troubling Views on Divorce by One Who Has Been There: Guest Post by Divorce Minister

Divorce is a fire exit. When a house is burning, it doesn’t matter who set the fire. If there is no fire exit, everyone in the house will be burned! –Mehmet Murat ildan link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=32337&picture=the-broken-heart
The Broken Heart

I am so excited to present a post David Derkson. I discovered his writings a few months back and have been impressed on how he handles the issue of divorce. What really jumped out at me is care for the wronged person in a divorce. Contrary to popular opinion in certain religious circles, there can be a wronged person who did not contribute to the divorce. I realized that there are many people in evangelical circles who need to hear this.

He addresses two other concerns that I have in this area. John Piper's rigid view of divorce has permeated today's churches. I believe Piper is dead wrong in his pronouncements and Rev. Dave addresses this directly.

Secondly, I have been increasingly concerned by Christians who believe that Hosea is proscriptive and should to be applied to everyone's marriage. Once again, Rev. Dave addresses this.

Although I do not know the details, Rev Dave endured an ecclesiastical trial for divorcing his adulterous wife. This broke my heart. Not only was his world turned upside down due to his former wife's infidelity, he had to face another trial by his own denomination. He understands the pain of those who have had to withstand such cruelty. 

I think many of readers will find his thoughts helpful and  comforting. I will be linking to his blog permanently at TWW.  (All highlighted words within paragraphs is due to Dee wanting to be sure you saw something she found interesting.)


Dee approached me a few months back to write a piece sharing my story, my ministry, and addressing John Piper’s take on adultery, divorce, and remarriage.

For those who do not recognize his name, John Piper is a prominent pastor emeritus, theologian, author, and influential leader in the Neo-Calvinist movement. He has had very public disagreements with pastors/theologians N.T. Wright, Gregory Boyd, and Rob Bell to name a few. John Piper and I share the same home state of Minnesota, even though I have never personally met the man. My concerns are not with his person or character but with his position regarding adultery/divorce/remarriage and that public position’s negative impact on Christ’s Bride.

Before I get into dissecting Piper’s position, I will share a little about myself and the ministry I have to adultery survivors and their supporters.

Introduction:

My name is David Derksen. I am a family man, football enthusiast, amateur weight trainer, coffee connoisseur, passionate blogger, ordained evangelical minister, and professional chaplain. As far as credentials are concerned, I have a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College in philosophy, a Master of Divinity from Yale, five units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), endorsement for chaplain ministry from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), ordination from the Lutheran Evangelical Protestant Church (LEPC/EPC/GCEPC), and hold the status of being a Board Certified Chaplain (BCC) with an affiliate of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC). My current day job is as a hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator. This is just by way of saying I understand pastoral care having specialized my training in this area and am, thereby, a professional with authority to speak on such issues.

Besides my formal training, I have also had informal training in the school called “Life.” My story includes the dark valleys of being abandoned by my first wife, adultery discovery, an ecclesiastical trial to retain my minister’s credentials, exposure to toxic Christianity, and the death of my first marriage by divorce. I am certainly one who is acquainted with sorrow.

Out of these awful experiences and my professionalized training, God birthed a passion and a ministry. About a year ago, I started a blog–Divorce Minister: Taking Adultery Seriously (www.divorceminister.com). I started it as a pastoral care resource to those who have found themselves in similar dire straits and for other Christian leaders interested in helping. Little is out there for evangelicals on these matters, and what is out there is often times very destructive spiritually and emotionally. My efforts on the blog are especially concentrated in correcting–as I see it professionally and personally–horrific pastoral care failures and wickedly twisted practical theology on these matters. Plus, I spend a good deal of time encouraging people as I know how important such encouragement was for me when I was in the pit.

As a brief sampling, my blog teaches the spiritual truth that adultery is “soul rape” drawing this principle from I Corinthians 6:15-17. Plus, I spend a great deal of time correcting the abuses of Biblical texts including Malachi 2:16, the book of Hosea, and Ephesians 5:22ff to name just a few frequent flyers.

On top of correcting the abuse of those texts, I spend a great deal of time writing correctives to what I call “The Shared Responsibility Lie.” This is the idea that adultery/infidelity is partly the faithful spouse’s fault. It is not. Pastors–of all people–ought to know better as Jesus was clear such sin flows out of the sinner’s heart–i.e. the adulterous spouse’s heart–alone (e.g. Mark 7:21-23). Please, visit the blog if you are interested in reading more…

Thanks for bearing with me during my lengthy introduction. Now, I will address John Piper’s position on adultery, divorce, and remarriage as requested by Dee.

Piper’s Position:

John Piper takes an extremely conservative position against divorce and remarriage.

He does not even permit divorce for the innocent Christian party when adultery has taken place! (see http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-the-bible-allow-for-divorce-in-the-case-of-adultery).

If divorced, he teaches–as a moral imperative–that the divorced Christian must remain single until the other party dies or takes back the divorced Christian in remarriage.

To be clear, this is a vast departure from long-held positions in Reformed Protestantism. As evidenced of this fact, “The Westminster Confession of Faith” (1646) does not share Piper’s position. This historical document makes provision for a faithful spouse to divorce their adulterous partner, whereas Piper does not. So, I would not characterize Piper’s position as traditional; instead, I would contextually characterize his position as extremely conservative to the point of being outside of mainstream, historical Protestantism.

Without going through each proof text and Biblical argument Piper makes to support his position, I will just highlight two places where I consider his arguments especially weak. I will be drawing his position from his short and focused piece on these matters referenced earlier (see http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-the-bible-allow-for-divorce-in-the-case-of-adultery).

1) Treatment of Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 (Porneia)

Piper goes on to dismiss the exception clauses for divorce in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 as not referring to adultery but rather fornication as the word Jesus uses (original is "porneia") may have that meaning. He makes the argument that Jesus was thinking of his parents in their situation prior to his birth as Jesus said this and was encouraging people to marry not letting past sexual sin (i.e. fornication) prevent them.

Honestly, this argument is far from coherent. If you are not married, then you cannot get divorced. Even if Jesus is thinking of the betrothed situation of his parents (similar to legal marriage today), Joseph's decision to divorce quietly (see Mt. 1:19) was attributed to his righteous character!

It makes no sense to say this is about encouraging marriage after Scripture clearly states the decision to not marry–i.e. to divorce Mary quietly–was a perfectly fine choice of a righteous man. Furthermore, this interpretation misses the point that Mary was with Child by the Holy Spirit (i.e. she did not fornicate, even if wagging tongues said otherwise).

Finally, I will point out his interpretation hangs on his tenuous treatment of "porneia" as only meaning one thing sexually–i.e. sex before marriage (fornication). This restrictive definition is contrary to what my Greek lexicon says, and I trust my Greek lexicon more than any one pastor's highly selective interpretation of a word.

Furthermore, I have seen it argued that this word–"porneia"–was used to expand, not restrict, the sexual exception clause for divorce as it made it more broadly about sexual sins and not just the specific sexual sin of adultery (Richard Hays, New Testament professor at Duke Divinity School makes this case for interpreting "porneia" more broadly in his book, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, pp 354-355.).

2) Treatment of Jeremiah 3:8. (Separation versus Divorce)

This verse explicitly says that God divorced Israel over her adulteries: “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery” (Jeremiah, 3:8, NIV).

Piper tries to explain this clear text away by stating,

“And God, ultimately, never divorces his people. There are separations: she goes into exile in Babylon. And you get divorce-type language. You've got to be careful in Jeremiah! It says he gave her a bill of divorcement, but not really” (http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-the-bible-allow-for-divorce-in-the-case-of-adultery).

So, Piper is making the argument here that the Bible does not mean what the Bible actually says. Yikes! God did not divorce Israel but only had a “separation” even though the Bible clearly states God divorced her sending her away even!

He has to make that contortion to keep his extreme position against divorce even in the case of adultery. If God divorced Israel over adultery–even metaphorically–that suggests such divorce cannot be sinful as God did it (i.e. God cannot sin even if it is only metaphorically). So, a faithful Christian–following God’s example in Jeremiah–is allowed to divorce in light of adultery. Piper disallows this permission; ergo, he is left trying to convince others that God meant “separation” when He said “divorce.”

Some may buy Piper’s argument, but I find it extremely weak and setting awful exegetical precedence where one can argue away the plain meaning of words when they directly conflict with one’s theological position.

3) Some other passages.

Piper also invokes Ephesians 5 in his argument plus the Hosea example. I will not spend much time on those overused and abused texts here.

As a short rebuttal, I will point out that someone living in adultery is not living as one redeemed by Christ. In other words, their place in God’s family is put in serious question by their rebellious actions (see Hebrews 10:26 and I John 3:6)–only God knows their salvation status for sure. Ephesians 5 is about Christ and His Bride–i.e. not those who have rejected His offer of forgiveness in word and deed. It is not applicable. And even if it was, that does not explain why God found adultery an acceptable–and even mandatory–grounds for ending a marriage in the Old Testament (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:22, Jeremiah 3:8, etc.) and no longer views it as such in the New Testament.

If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. Deut.22:22

I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. Jer 3:8

Second, Hosea is a special calling just as Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac was a special calling. We do not teach Christians to literally sacrifice their children–even though God did Jesus; similarly, it is bad hermeneutical practice to make a special revelation a moral command as in requiring faithful spouses to welcome back adulterous spouses like Hosea did Gomer (by the way, even Hosea required repentance and fidelity with the reunion–see Hosea 3:3).

Pastoral Concerns:

On a personal and pastoral level, Piper’s position on divorce following adultery and remarriage is destructive and hurtful. Piper is stating that a divorced victim of adultery must remain unmarried until the adulterous former spouse dies as what God demands. The “must” implies to do otherwise is a sin.

To be clear, Piper is taking a stance on an interpretation plus personal conviction and not a command found in Scripture while underplaying passages where God takes adultery seriously. This is hedging awfully close to spiritual abuse as it is making a command out of an extreme conviction and pushing that view from a pastoral position.

What hurts my heart about Piper's position is how it causes incredible suffering for faithful spouses. Faithful spouses have already been abused, in my opinion, and are extremely vulnerable after being sucker-punched by their faithless partners. Now, the pastor–whether Piper himself or someone under his influence–is telling the faithful spouse that God demands that they remain married to the person who raped their soul through committing adultery (see principles found in I Cor. 6:15-17). Or if they are remarried, these pastors are teaching such a remarriage is as bad as the original adulterous betrayal (since Piper teaches the first marriage covenant is still in effect while both parties live)!

I find such teachings abominable and shameful for a godly man to even seriously consider as coming from God.

If that is not bad enough, Piper’s position is not qualified with the need for complete repentance upon the cheater's part. Such repentance takes second-seat to avoiding divorce and remarriage. For someone big on matters of holiness, this is a very odd position to hold. Piper’s position actually encourages an atmosphere of continuing abuse as the divorce is what needs to be prevented primarily–not the ongoing adultery and accompanying sins.

Such teaching also causes damage in how people see God. It teaches the wrong things about God’s heart on these matters. Such teachings alienate people from God and can damage their image of Him. I know this is the case as I pick up the pieces from such awful teaching regularly through people who come to my blog. Piper’s position falsely teaches that God finds adultery more acceptable than divorce. And these teachings suggest God condemns innocent parties of adultery for remarrying. While this might be Piper’s God, this is not my God. And I do not see this as the God of the Bible, either.

Conclusion:

My hope is such positions as Piper’s fade into the background as sounder and more compassionate teachings on these matters emerge. I am grateful for The Wartburg Watch and other similar blogs who are willing to challenge powerful religious voices when they have become spiritually abusive or harbor evil in their midst. But the day when such blogs are no longer needed is still far away. So, I will blog on as Divorce Minister taking adultery seriously…

Thank you, for reading and thank you, Dee, for this opportunity to share with your online community!

*Some of this material previously appeared on divorceminster.com

Comments

On John Piper’s Troubling Views on Divorce by One Who Has Been There: Guest Post by Divorce Minister — 515 Comments

  1. 1st?

    Divorce is part of the provisions of Grace, on this side of the cross. One must judge between “hardness of heart” and “GODLY SORROW.”

    Foot

  2. I would love to hear more of John Piper’s theology picked apart. Oh in addition to divorce where to start?

    -Membership
    -Disaster

    How about those for starters! 😀

  3. Yes!!

    I, too, am the innocent party in my divorce. Going by Piper’s rules, I could not remarry even though my ex-husband (the adulterer) has married again.

    In my opinion, the modern evangelical church tends to make an idol out of the institution of marriage. They cater to young married couples with children and don’t know what to do with older singles or people who are divorced. It’s a real shame, and it’s a big reason why I’ve stopped going to church.

  4. Pingback: Guest Post On The Wartburg Watch | Divorce Minister

  5. I know I am in the minority at TWW(for a lot of reasons), but I generally like a number of Piper teachings….but this one….I remember hearing it a while ago and saying….”whhhhaaaattttt???”

    Thought I have had recently about the celebrity pastor world….CS Lewis once quipped that we should read more old books than new, because the old have proven their value, while the new have yet to do so.

    In the same way, history has a ways of softening the rough edges of pastors and theologians and winnowing down their influence to that which was truly Spirit filled and valuable. Too many modern pastors desire to be as big as “Spurgeon” by the time they are 40. And in our media saturated age we just know too much about their shortcomings. Give Pipers work 100 or more years and then we can see what lasts…if anything at all.

  6. “If that is not bad enough, Piper’s position is not qualified with the need for complete repentance upon the cheater’s part. Such repentance takes second-seat to avoiding divorce and remarriage.”

    Piper has gone this route with other issues. For example, he taught that if a husband asked his wife to engage in a threesome, the wife was under obligation to maintain her husbands “headship” while politely begging off. Can it get more ridiculous than that? Not one word about the husband’s soul. He was only concerned with her submission and his “headship” (whatever that means)

    In another teaching Piper claimed the wife should “take abuse for a season”. Again, he is more worried about the marriage pecking order than he is for souls.

    Piper is a bizarre man who is treated as a great theologian by many young minds full of mush who do not question his declarations or interpretations.

  7. Had a friend who’s belief was similar to Pieper’s…..until he married and his wife had a string of affairs. She too was a professing Christian. It was affair number 6 before he divorced her….
    Two major rules here at my house….” no beat, no cheat….” For either partner. Both are grounds for divorce.

  8. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Give Pipers work 100 or more years and then we can see what lasts…if anything at all.

    What? Why give him and his weirdness 100 years? Just think how many more lives will be ruined by 100 or more years of Piper’s bizzarro teachings. I think we are fully justified in calling him out right now, and I’m glad to see it happening.

  9. Very glad to see this post! I agree, this is a harmful teaching, especially when coupled with his teaching on spousal abuse (“endure being smacked for one night”). Still no word from Piper’s successor, in the wake of his recent sermon on abuse, about whether Bethlehem’s position on abuse and divorce has changed.

    Along with Rev. Dave’s point that Piper’s position is radical (outside traditional Protestant teaching), it’s worth noting that the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church were not able to come to full agreement on this issue when Piper was senior pastor. They crafted a position that went as far as they all could agree to, and then individual elders/pastors followed their conscience beyond that; e.g. some will remarry a person who divorced due to adultery, and some will not. But many of them did not subscribe to Piper’s view on this issue. That says a lot.

    Relevant links:

    http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/divorce-remarriage-a-position-paper

    http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-statement-on-divorce-remarriage-in-the-life-of-bethlehem-baptist-church

    http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/what-god-has-joined-together-let-not-man-separate-part-2

  10. To be clear, Piper is taking a stance on an interpretation plus personal conviction and not a command found in Scripture while underplaying passages where God takes adultery seriously. This is hedging awfully close to spiritual abuse as it is making a command out of an extreme conviction and pushing that view from a pastoral position.

    This is what Piper does. He tells us what the Holy Spirit meant to say. IMO, Piper is anything but conservative when it comes to the actual texts. He *is* conservative with his *interpretation* of certain texts and conflates his *interpretation* of what God said with what God actually said. He is holier than God himself and wiser than the Holy Spirit to boot. Piper and Grudem have, together, rewritten the story of the Bible and made it into a rule book that rivals professional baseball or golf.

    Why are these this man so popular with so many?

  11. Adam Borsay wrote:

    Give Pipers work 100 or more years and then we can see what lasts…if anything at all.

    None of us will be here in 100 years. And we are responsible for this generation. This is why we discuss the things with which we disagree.

  12. Gram3 wrote:

    Why are these this man so popular with so many?

    Good question Gram3.
    I’ve often wondered myself:

    Who gives a rat’s… er… ah… rip what Piper says?

  13. “So, Piper is making the argument here that the Bible does not mean what the Bible actually says. Yikes! God did not divorce Israel but only had a “separation” even though the Bible clearly states God divorced her sending her away even!”

    I left a church behind when I finally realized that many of the teachings were explained by saying that the Bible really doesn’t mean what it is saying. This church was very Piper-friendly. Birds of a feather….

  14. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    In my opinion, the modern evangelical church tends to make an idol out of the institution of marriage.

    Agreed! They’ve done the same thing with marriage that the Pharisees did with the Sabbath. Marriage was made for man; not man for marriage imo.

  15. Gram3 wrote:

    Piper and Grudem have, together, rewritten the story of the Bible and made it into a rule book that rivals professional baseball or golf.

    Excellent comparison! I can’t help but think personal fear and uncertainty in their own marriage is behind this rigid interpretation. Speculation, I know, but I’m stickin’ with it. 🙂

  16. Gram3 wrote:

    Why are these this man so popular with so many?

    I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but I will say it again: These people will never change. It is up to individual Chritians to educate themselves and grow some discernment, so that when piping Pipers come along, they are marginalized and laughed at. Why they are accorded great honor and such just leaves me baffled.

  17. 18th!

    It’s bedtime in Blighty, but I will read the article and comment properly tomorrow.

    Also happening tomorrow are the Ladies’ (i.e., women’s) singles semi-finals at Wümbledon, as former champion and enduringly posh lassie Virginia Wade calls it. Serena vs Shriekapova could be a title-decider; in the other semi, I’ll be supporting Agnieska Radwanska as my sister-in-law is Polish.

  18. I don’t remember reading Pipers name in my Bible. I am sure he is not mentioned. It bothers me when people like Piper have the “Holy Ghost Jr” added to their name. I think everyone knows what I mean.

  19. Gram3 wrote:

    Piper and Grudem have, together, rewritten the story of the Bible and made it into a rule book that rivals professional baseball or golf.

    This!!
    Grudem and Piper’s interpretation of the Bible is beyond bizarre. They come up with things that you simply cannot get from the text, the fathers, or any tradition. They also use terms in a new and novel way. For example, a wife is subordinate to her husband but equal to him. How anyone can read something like that and not have one’s jaw drop to the floor in incredulity is beyond me! But, I have heard that position repeated by more than one Christian man.

  20. “John Piper’s rigid view of divorce has permeated today’s churches.”

    That strikes me as a huge exaggeration.

  21. Victorious wrote:

    Ooops, forgot to say thank you, David, for an excellent post! Much appreciated!

    Most welcome, Victorious! And I agree that they are doing things to marriage that is far from godly. Marriage made for man NOT man made for marriage, indeed.

  22. The writer makes an excellent point. If divorce is not an option, what would compel a cheating partner to quit their philandering ways? A whole new doctrine could be built around this idea. Like’ “Honey, my fling was just a test to enrich our marriage.” Or “I love you, but you don’t give good b*** j*** (think Mark Driscoll) like Suzy Q does.” The spouse who is cheating will have all the control in the relationship and the victim either has to suck it up or try to compete with the flavor of the month. I wonder if Piper’s attitude is purely academic or —–? Great article!

  23. Will M wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    Piper and Grudem have, together, rewritten the story of the Bible and made it into a rule book that rivals professional baseball or golf.
    This!!
    Grudem and Piper’s interpretation of the Bible is beyond bizarre. They come up with things that you simply cannot get from the text, the fathers, or any tradition. They also use terms in a new and novel way. For example, a wife is subordinate to her husband but equal to him. How anyone can read something like that and not have one’s jaw drop to the floor in incredulity is beyond me! But, I have heard that position repeated by more than one Christian man.

    …and, which is even sadder, by more than one christian woman.

  24. Ann wrote:

    The writer makes an excellent point. If divorce is not an option, what would compel a cheating partner to quit their philandering ways? A whole new doctrine could be built around this idea. Like’ “Honey, my fling was just a test to enrich our marriage.” Or “I love you, but you don’t give good b*** j*** (think Mark Driscoll) like Suzy Q does.” The spouse who is cheating will have all the control in the relationship and the victim either has to suck it up or try to compete with the flavor of the month. I wonder if Piper’s attitude is purely academic or —–? Great article!

    Well, considering some of the voyeuristic tweets I’ve read, sometimes I wonder, too.

  25. My ex was having casual sex on a consistent basis, whoever she could pick up. Got pregnant by one of them, had an abortion, went back to the casual sex. I gave her an option — loyalty or divorce, she chose divorce. And today, if one partner wants a divorce, it cannot be stopped. So next week, we celebrate the 38th anniversary of her divorce. Over a year later, I met a young woman with whom I have been blessed to be married for 36 years, with two children for whom I have great respect, each with a spouse I also love and respect, and now really great grandchildren. God has blessed me for standing up against willful, casual adultery, by giving me a great family.

  26. Thanks for writing this. God forbid I ever have to personally apply any of it (happily married for over 2 years!), but it is comforting.

    I know of a man living in misery partly because his wife left him for another man, and his church won’t approve of remarriage or even another relationship because of theology like Piper’s. It’s always sat wrong with me.

    I think someone else made the point here already – This theology caters to judgmental 20-something know-it-alls who’ve yet to fail, but brings nothing but pain and guilt to the older folks in the church or coming into the church who’ve been through hard times and failures. What kind of “grace” are they offering to those folks?? That is not my Christianity any longer. I can’t do it.

  27. “… one can argue away the plain meaning of words when they directly conflict with one’s theological position.”

    New Calvinism is all about applying theological presuppositions to Biblical text. Calvinists have mastered this technique by painting the simple with complex strokes of the brush, so that the plain message gets lost in the mumbo-jumbo. Piper’s treatment of the Word when it comes to divorce is eisegesis, not exegesis. He is reading into it his own ideas, which are contrary to several distinguished theologians over the course of time. He is speaking from his limited intellect, not by revelation. He is not the final authority on this issue, even though he acts like he is. He will tell you that most of Christendom disagrees with him on his treatment of Scripture pertaining to divorce … and he would be right!

  28. @ GovPappy:

    Situations like that young man is why I blog (besides feeling the call to do so, of course). An alternative to those sort of churches needs to be articulated from an evangelical perspective. Such controlling behavior needs to be exposed for how unbiblical it truly is. I hope it doesn’t permanently turn him off from God. That is NOT God’s heart towards him. God loves him and God’s heart broke when his wife betrayed both of them! He is not into punishing the victims.

  29. K.D. wrote:

    Had a friend who’s belief was similar to Pieper’s…..until he married and his wife had a string of affairs. She too was a professing Christian. It was affair number 6 before he divorced her….

    As I was just saying on some other thread here the other day, people who like making these rules or love having other people follow them soon turn against them when it happens to them personally.

    It figures your friend was all into Piperesque “no divorce for any reason, not even if your spouse is abusive or has affairs” theology – until it happened to him. 🙂

    Yes sir, those rules don’t look so godly when you are personally and adversely affected by them.

    Then mercy and leniency starts to look very appealing.

  30. Thanks, David, for your post.
    Does anyone else here find it troubling when married people say, often with some degree of pride, in regards to their spouse: ‘Murder, yes but Divorce? Never!’ I have noticed it said most often by Christians, most recently on South African television with the news about Archbishop Tutu and his wife celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary and their son quoted his parents as having said that phrase at times.

    Maybe I am refining too much, but I find it a very troublesome sentiment that elevates breaking one of the ten commandments above ending a relationship, even though it is said to raise a few laughs and show how committed you are to the marriage.

  31. Hey everyone, if you’re ever happy, have self esteem, and think that you’re intelligent enough to understand the Bible, you’re a fake Christian who doesn’t *desire* God.

    Can I have a column on Desiring God now?

  32. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    In my opinion, the modern evangelical church tends to make an idol out of the institution of marriage.

    They cater to young married couples with children and don’t know what to do with older singles or people who are divorced. It’s a real shame, and it’s a big reason why I’ve stopped going to church.

    Preach it!! 🙂

    If these posts had “Like” buttons, I would so hit the “Like” button on this post of yours a million times over.

  33. Gram3 wrote:

    Why are these this man so popular with so many?

    Has HUG weighed in on this yet?

    I’m guessing HUG would tell you it’s the fluttering hands, and I’d add it could also be the flowery speech.

  34. I posted a question which is currently in moderation but realise I won’t be around to engage in discussion for the next few days until Monday. I’m not ignoring y’all but will be out of wifi reach, hopefully getting in some mountains walks. Hiking may be a bit ambitious with a four year old who still wants ‘uppy.’

  35. Here’s my newest post. This one came about due to my Youtube feed. I don’t keep up with Christian music like I once did. Some of it is just bad. That said, Youtube recommended Glorious Unfolding which is form Steven Curtis Chapman. It was after the recommendation for The Thinking Atheist.

    That said three lines grabbed me when they asked did you ever think this would be the story of your life? So I decided to pen about my life. Did I ever think I would live in DC? Did I ever think I would have a faith crisis? Did I ever think I would have a close call in the ER? Did I ever think I would face a false accusation from a military officer?

    Then I ask a lot of questions that others might resonate. Did you ever think you would have a child dealing with an eating disorder? Did you ever think you would have a miscarriage? Did you ever think you would have a loved one attempt suicide.

    I write about pain and suffering in this as well.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/how-to-choose-a-church/

  36. roebuck wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:

    Give Pipers work 100 or more years and then we can see what lasts…if anything at all.

    What? Why give him and his weirdness 100 years? Just think how many more lives will be ruined by 100 or more years of Piper’s bizzarro teachings…

    Perhaps Adam means that no one should read Piper for 100 years, at which point new readers can decide if what he has written is rational.

    I could get on board with that. 😉

  37. Ann wrote:

    The writer makes an excellent point. If divorce is not an option, what would compel a cheating partner to quit their philandering ways?

    The same thing happens in abusive marriages, where one partner is physically and-or emotionally/verbally abusive of the other.

    A lot of Christian people (usually women) end up staying in abusive marriages much longer than they should because of all these faulty teachings by preachers about marriage, divorce, and remarriage out there.

    I’ve seen some testimonies where the wife (who later divorced the abuser) says that her preacher told her that staying and enduring the abuse from her husband was good, that it was meant to make her more godly, or to try to make some kind of point or example to her husband.

  38. @ Divorce Minister:
    I am so glad that you wrote a post for us. I think you bring hope to those wounded by rigid churches. Piper’s stand on this is ridiculous.I know a woman whose husband was abusing her. She divorced him and was thrown out of her church. He stayed on as an elder.

  39. GovPappy wrote:

    I know of a man living in misery partly because his wife left him for another man, and his church won’t approve of remarriage or even another relationship because of theology like Piper’s. It’s always sat wrong with me.

    Could you tell me the denomination and any affiliation (Acts 29, etc) of that church without breaking confidence?

    GovPappy wrote:

    This theology caters to judgmental 20-something know-it-alls who’ve yet to fail, but brings nothing but pain and guilt to the older folks in the church or coming into the church who’ve been through hard times and failures

    Its funny. When kids are little parents are convinced little Johnny will be an Olympian or are the smartest children on the planet. Then, somewhere around middle school, things begin to even out and little Johnny is now an average baseball player and little Susie is doing above average but not a star.

    Then the parents believe their kids are the “godliest” kids in the church.Meanwhile, the rebellion is beginning to brew and things begin to happen. Suddenly, the parent who knew “exactly* what to do to raise godly children who are also genius scholars are caught by surprise.

    Also, I will never forget being told that a couple had the strongest Christian marriage that anyone had every seen. That is until a year later when he had affair and left home.

    Life happens and the usual 20 somethings don’t get it. They know how to do it perfectly and they will wake up one day with imperfect kids and imperfect marriages. It happens to everyone who is honest.

    Gov Pappy-you are wise beyond your years!

  40. Ann wrote:

    The writer makes an excellent point. If divorce is not an option, what would compel a cheating partner to quit their philandering ways? A whole new doctrine could be built around this idea. Like’ “Honey, my fling was just a test to enrich our marriage.” Or “I love you, but you don’t give good b*** j*** (think Mark Driscoll) like Suzy Q does.” The spouse who is cheating will have all the control in the relationship and the victim either has to suck it up or try to compete with the flavor of the month. I wonder if Piper’s attitude is purely academic or —–? Great article!

    Exactly, it is truly about the power. I write about that here (http://www.divorceminister.com/when-divorce-is-always-unacceptable/). As long as divorce is always unacceptable, that make everything else in the marriage acceptable including some pretty awful and destructive sins.

  41. @ Patrice:

    I say that everyone should be required to read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is free on line. Then they have to explain to me why the stuff, particularly by Grudem and Piper is normal.
    I want everyone to see what these guys are really saying. And, if you don’t get what I mean, ask me. But I think most of the folks who come here will understand. Some of it is downright weird.

    Here is a link to read the entire book online.

    http://dwynrhh6bluza.cloudfront.net/resources/documents/5153/Recovering_Biblical_Manhood_Womanhood.pdf?1343677387

    And here is a quote from Piper in that book that is downright creepy.

    ““Consider what is lost when women attempt to assume a more masculine role by appearing physically muscular and aggressive. It is true that there is something sexually stimulating about a muscular, scantily clad young woman pumping iron in a health club.

    But no woman should be encouraged by this fact. For it probably means the sexual encounter that such an image would lead to is something very hasty and volatile, and in the long run unsatisfying.

    The image of a masculine musculature may beget arousal in a man, but it does not beget several hours of moonlight walking with significant, caring conversation. The more women can arouse men by doing typically masculine things, the less they can count on receiving from men a sensitivity to typically feminine ”

  42. @ dee:

    Dee, it’s a honor to post here. My hope is that more people realize the true God is not the god of such religious, rigid churches. He is always on the side of the humble and brokenhearted while opposing the proud.

    Sorry to hear about your friend’s situation. So backwards. Whatever happened to protecting the vulnerable? Not to mention, how could anyone really support an elder like that as being qualified per 1 Timothy 3 requirements?! Crazy.

  43. @ dee:

    Oh gosh, it’d either be the most insignificant post in the blog’s history or I’d turn into Matt Walsh Lite. Thanks though 🙂

  44. @ dee:
    Piper is a creepy old man, who used to be a sexually repressed middle aged man when he wrpte that…

    Funny how he knows that a muscle bound woman working out in a gym is only good for a short tryst. How in the world does he know such things?

  45. dee wrote:

    I say that everyone should be required to read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

    I have it on my phone. I’ve tried. It’s an exercise in eye rolling.

  46. doubtful wrote:

    Funny how he knows that a muscle bound woman working out in a gym is only good for a short tryst. How in the world does he know such things?

    You know, I never thought about that! That question gave me the best laugh of the day!

  47. dee wrote:

    The image of a masculine musculature may beget arousal in a man

    It does? For all of them?

    I bet Piper doesn’t know that “Dad Bods” and “Mom Bods” are “in” and popular now.

    But yeah, that whole passage of his was really weird.

  48. @ Divorce Minister:
    BTW, I found this post of yours very interesting.

    http://www.divorceminister.com/israel-truly-divorced-and-not-restored/

    I would love to have a discussion with you on this-perhaps over on your blog. If one looks at the OT, there is a pattern of sin, banishment, repentance, restoration-nan ongoing, never ending cycle. That is why I have a bit of a problem with the State of Israel being part of some prophecy of restoration. This would be the first time God restored the people to their land without a widespread show of repentance within that one people group for the collective sins that sent them into captivity. Many of those Jews, as well as Christians, became slaves to the Romans and were scattered throughout the Roman empire.

    There was no specific prophesy that this was a punishment aimed at the people of Israel at the time of the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD when the final diaspora took place. God had turned his attention to all people who would be grafted onto the root of Jesse.

    Anyway, don’t get me going-I could wax semi eloquent about this for hours just because I find it interesting-not because I have any answers whatsoever.

  49. Daisy wrote:

    But yeah, that whole passage of his was really weird.

    As I used to say in my Boston accent “Gave me the willies.”

  50. Corbin wrote:

    It’s an exercise in eye rolling.

    It was that particular book that made me realize that something was seriously off kilter with the gender role crowd. They are rereleasing the book now. I am dumbfounded. If they hope to attract thoughtful people, that book should be sidelined. I may need to do a post why I think that book is super creepy!

  51. dee wrote:

    If they hope to attract thoughtful people, that book should be sidelined.

    Well, many of the new kiddies probably haven’t read it yet. It’s like compism’s little blue (instead of red) book.

  52. dee wrote:

    And here is a quote from Piper in that book that is downright creepy.

    ““Consider what is lost when women attempt to assume a more masculine role by appearing physically muscular and aggressive. It is true that there is something sexually stimulating about a muscular, scantily clad young woman pumping iron in a health club.

    The Williams sisters at Wimbledon ……(snicker, snicker). Venus is 6’1″. I would love to see Piper take her on in an arm-wrestling competition! Shoot, I’d just love to see the look on Piper’s face if he just had to meet her and grace her an obligatory handshake!

    So, divorce is unacceptable. Has Piper ever heard of a man called Moses. Moses committed MURDER, but God chose him to lead Israel, anyway. Oh yeah, how many wives did King David already have when he committed adultery??? Yet, David was still a man after God’s own heart. How is divorce worse????

    I’ve read some of “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” I don’t know whether to be angry, or just laugh. Either way, I will never “conform” to their version of “Christianity”.

  53. dee wrote:

    Why?

    Practically everything I can recall hearing or reading on this subject from conservative evangelical commentators has acknowledged abandonment and adultery as acceptable grounds for divorce. I don’t doubt there are people like Piper who take a different view. But I’ve not seen evidence that that view has ‘permeated’ the church. I’d be interested in seeing some data supporting that characterization.

  54. Mark Thomson wrote:

    But I’ve not seen evidence that that view has ‘permeated’ the church. I’d be interested in seeing some data supporting that characterization.

    I’d also be interested to know how widespread the views are. I have seen lot of complaints that easy divorce has permeated the church. Unfortunately the complaints are not usually very discriminating in terms of what are valid reasons for divorce and re-marriage.

    There does seem to be a tendency to automatically tar both parties in the case of divorce. Suspicion is cast upon the innocent partner even when the other is guilty of adultery. I’m aware of at least one person who has concerns that their spouse may divorce them despite all their attempts to make the marriage work and that they will then be “marked for life”. So what do you do if there is no adultery but one spouse wants a divorce? How do various churches deal with remarriage in a culture with no fault divorce when one person had no choice?

    It would be interesting if Barna or some other researcher has some data on beliefs and teachings on this subjects.

  55. Mark Thomson wrote:

    Practically everything I can recall hearing or reading on this subject from conservative evangelical commentators has acknowledged abandonment and adultery as acceptable grounds for divorce.

    You and I have definitely been in different parts of the conservative church. The idea that “porneia” only refers to divorce during the betrothal period has been taught in many, though not all, of the numerous churches where I have been a member. More importantly, it has been absorbed into the culture and is informally accepted by many even when not explicitly taught. IMO, that teaching comes from good motivations to elevate the seriousness of marriage, but that comes at the expense of making legalistic dogma that the actual texts do not support. I would say that if you have not come across this, you are in an exceptional place in the conservative church.

  56. Bill M wrote:

    So what do you do if there is no adultery but one spouse wants a divorce? How do various churches deal with remarriage in a culture with no fault divorce when one person had no choice?

    There are churches that teach, informally or formally, that the innocent party should remain unmarried until the divorcing party remarries. After that, the innocent party is free to remarry without committing adultery. As a practical matter, I think that people don’t realize that forcing people to stay in marriages where one party has broken the covenant is not the way to uphold the value of marriage. It is also part, IMO, of the view that marriage is preferable to singleness, despite the textual evidence to the contrary. I think that the people who promote the “no divorce” view are reasoning backward from the question of “what do we do about the rampant divorce?” Strengthening marriages and relationships within marriage is a very good thing. Shackling people together does not make a marriage.

  57. dee wrote:

    Mark Thomson wrote:

    “John Piper’s rigid view of divorce has permeated today’s churches.”

    That strikes me as a huge exaggeration.

    Why?

    Dee, I attended Neo-Cal churches for 15 years, and knew of their sister churches and many people who attended “like-minded” churches. I never knew one of them to hold to Piper’s views on divorce. They all held to the abandonment/adultery exceptions of historical Protestantism that Mark Thomson noted in a comment just above mine. Not only this, but I had no idea Piper even believed these things until I read this blog post.

    I don’t doubt Piper’s influence in Neo-Cal circles would cause churches to believe the same way, and there is a widespread belief in doctrines that prohibit divorce and/or remarriage even for adultery, but these are strongholds of fundamentalism that have nothing to do with Piper. No doubt Derkson has heard from many people whose churches believe the same as Piper, but I, too, would like to see some evidence that this view permeates the church to a large degree.

  58. Patrice wrote:

    Perhaps Adam means that no one should read Piper for 100 years, at which point new readers can decide if what he has written is rational.
    I could get on board with that.

    Can I just decide now based on current writing and speaking results? 😉

  59. I’ve thought through this difficult subject since the early 80’s when someone asked me about it. I soon realised how complex it can get. I’ve become a late and somewhat reluctant adherent of the ‘non-dissolublist’ view of marriage, having become increasingly bothered by the effects of a more ‘liberal’ view on this by teachers whom I greatly respect and who take the bible seriously.

    This in effect means I largely agree with Piper on this, having carefully read his papers a while ago, though I formed this view before I had ever heard of him. Incidientally, because Piper says highly questionable things on other matters this does not mean he is wrong on this.

    I think Jesus gave commands that the modern evangelical church are trying to avoid.

    One is that he forbade his disciples to divorce, something echoed by his apostle Paul. Those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder (= by divorce).

    He designated remarriage after divorce as adultery. Luke 16 v 18 refers. (Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.) Also echoed in the other gospels and Paul.

    Modern evangelicals have concentrated on whether there are any exceptions to this to such an extent the the rule has been forgotten. Hence all the arguments about what Matthew’s exception clause refers to and just what porneia means, and whether divorce for desertion permits remarriage. And does the exception relate to just the divorce, or to the divorce and remarriage?

    I am aware of the pastoral implications of this. Who’d be a pastor or bible teacher! If my view is wrong, then some innocent parties would be refused a second marriage unnecessarily. If it is right, then second marriages that are contracted are adultery. I have personal friends in this second category, those who have remarried where the exception by any understanding does not apply. What should they do? Jesus doesn’t give instructions on this, because he does not expect us to disobey him and therefore need to know the answer.

    I have never heard this subject mentioned in sermons in churches I have attended (in the UK), and it is small wonder the problems this is storring up. Marriage is in the most appalling state there, with the church ever more tempted to follow the culture around it.

    When it comes to marriage and divorce, looking at the modern church shows very clearly to me how Paul was right that no-one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ and really mean it without the Holy Spirit.

    I’m not writing this to stir things up, but this is an issue where the sayings of Jesus which we are obligated to follow and the actions of the church are diverging. What matters isn’t Ken rules or opinion, nor Piper’s rules, but Jesus’ rules.

  60. @ dee:
    SBC. There is a lot to like at the church, but that’s not one of them. They love them some Piper.

    And thanks for the kind words, Dee. I about fell over when I read that.

  61. Piper and Grudem represent the frightened establishment that doesn’t trust God enough to let people listen to the Holy Spirit themselves. They must create list of new rules for people to follow. Control freak behavior has no place in Christianity.

    I would hope that if their daughters or granddaughters ever found themselves in the kind of marriage I had, Piper and Grudem would get them out post haste.

  62. A good resource critiquing Piper’s views on divorce: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/07/21/good-men-please-start-denouncing-the-permanence-view-of-marriage-that-denies-any-reason-for-divorce/

    A sample:
    Good men: please denounce the Permanence View of Marriage that denies any reason for divorce.
    Barbara Roberts ♦ July 21, 2014 ♦ 47 Comments

    The Permanence View (PV) of marriage is the view that divorce is not allowed for any reason whatsoever and that no matter what happens in a marriage, marriage vows are a commitment for as long as you both shall live. We have critiqued this notion often on this blog, because we believe it
    1.is deeply unbiblical
    2.has led the church astray on the doctrine of divorce
    3.has muddied the waters of the doctrine of divorce so much that it’s hard for good Christians to figure out what on earth to believe about divorce and remarriage
    4.and all this causes immense harm to victims of abuse.

    John Piper, Voddie Baucham and some (many?) in the Quiverful and Family Integrated Church movements hold to the Permanence View, but those camps do not have a monopoly on it. You can also find the PV in other Christian circles and subgroups. Some Permanence View folk permit separation, or permanent separation, and suffer (tolerate) Christians obtaining civil divorce, but they say that it’s possibly/probably/certainly sinful for a Christian to engage in those things and that remarriage after divorce is certainly sinful, although, if confessed as sin, it can probably/certainly be forgiven…
    [more of this post at the link above.]

    The website uses tags and the tag for Piper lists many in depth articles: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/john-piper/

    Deebs, I recommend you consider adding this website to your Blogroll.

  63. dee wrote:

    Here is a link to read the entire book online.

    http://dwynrhh6bluza.cloudfront.net/resources/documents/5153/Recovering_Biblical_Manhood_Womanhood.pdf?1343677387

    I only skimmed through that pdf (a while back), because it is very annoying. Thus I missed that Piper quote.

    This guy is so self-centered that he is unaware of how tasteless and intrusive it is to tell everyone about his own sexual preferences. Way TMI! That he frames them as from God is naked narcissism.

    Besides that, he is nonsensical. How does a woman having marvelous muscles preclude moonlit walks/conversation? And, having a fit body can elongate s*x through more control and endurance, not make it “very hasty and volatile”. Well, unless one likes it that way. Sheesh!!

    IMO, Piper is not very bright, has no wisdom at all, and is diagnosable. But he is canny for power and position—-thus here we are writing about him.

    And so ok, here is a strange messed-up power-hungry man—lots of them out there. What I do not understand is why so many people have given him respect. I do not get that, at all.

  64. dee wrote:

    I may need to do a post why I think that book is super creepy!

    If you can stand sticking your nose in it for that long, it would be excellent.

    Apparently, there are many who desperately need careful teaching about these twisted ideas. They chain people, lay heavy burdens on them and then expect them to be happy about it!

  65. Bridget wrote:

    Can I just decide now based on current writing and speaking results?

    Sorry, Bridget, but no. You likely won’t last another 100 years.

    However, you are responsible for the writings and speeches from 100 years ago. Umm…women’s suffrage? You go, girl.

    lol

  66. This post is one of the best I’ve seen on TWW. The writer seems like an excellent person in every way and clearly sets out his position (I think the same one as Cry for Justice, Barbara Roberts’ blog–excellent also). IMO John Piper is still a fundamentalist–he may hold to TULIP (Calvinistic soteriology) but he holds to believer’s baptism and this view on divorce and remarriage which is not Reformed. I think his fame has gone to his head in a most disturbing way. I thought he took off time to repent of his pride? Interestingly, John Wenham (Anglican) and William A. Heth published a book on the topic and Heth later changed his mind:
    http://www.wisereaction.org/ebooks/heth_mind_changed.pdf I am happy to hear that the “Divorce Minister” has been able to proceed with a good life after his many troubles.

  67. doubtful wrote:

    Piper is a creepy old man, who used to be a sexually repressed middle aged man when he wrpte that…
    Funny how he knows that a muscle bound woman working out in a gym is only good for a short tryst. How in the world does he know such things?

    Exactly! So many Freudian slips from this guy!

  68. Steve Scott wrote:

    there is a widespread belief in doctrines that prohibit divorce and/or remarriage even for adultery, but these are strongholds of fundamentalism that have nothing to do with Piper.

    @Divocce Minister

    Part 1

    Let me say yes, but and also let me take it way back to non-fundamentalist earlier years in the SBC. That would be when I was young. Divorce was held suspect and perhaps completely forbidden by unwritten ‘rules’ believed and practiced by what I was given to believe were not just large segments of the faithful but by the huge majority of the faithful. In my extended family, including those ‘by marriage’ family there were two classic cases of this. In each case there was a total separation which went on for years and years until the death of the separated person, but no paper work and no divorce and in neither family was this called or labeled a divorce. In one case the female spouse was able to continue as an association level employee of an SBC organization ( Lydia: that would be the Long Run Association. ) and in the other case the female spouse continued as a public school teacher–unsullied in the eyes of anybody with the label ‘divorced.’ This was how people thought back in the day. In these two cases one was SBC and in the south and one was Methodist and in the north. In both cases it was the generation prior to mine-people born in the early decades of the 20th century. In the case of the SBC person, she married a second time shortly after being notified of her husband’s death.

    In my generation in our extended family there have been several troubled marriages, some of which resulted in legal divorce and some not. In one case the spouses lived apart for years and then moved back in together.

    If one looks at the issues of divorce and annulment within the RCC, and if the secular media are to be believed, one sees a similar picture of increasing incidence of both divorce and annulment being reported. I believe they are about to have a conference (?) about marriage and family issues shortly; again my source is the secular media.

    (continued)

  69. Part 2

    I mention these things to point out (1) that what Piper is saying is not new, it is some old stuff that has mostly fallen out of favor in the last few generations; (2) divorce issues are not limited to either protestant or catholic in application and not limited to classic fundamentalism and (3) this is still believed and practiced, as far as I can tell, by some people who cannot today be classified as classic fundamentalists. For example, see statement by “Ken” above.

    Note to Divorce Minister: I am divorced. I did not remarry, though I did consider the issue at one point. I faced both pressure and disapproval from fellow believers for my refusal to consider remarriage for myself-my ‘failure’ to remarry. The Idea of ‘yes, you can remarry’ is being turned into ‘yes, you ought/must remarry’ by some people. This is a two-edged sword. It can feed right into the salvation-by-marriage-alone doctrine which is also out there. This attitude is there for all to see in the local SBC mega which I have previously mentioned in prior similar conversations here.

    We are a loooooong way from solutions in the area a marriage.

  70. @ Ken:
    The problem here is your insistence that humans were made for marriage, not marriage for humans. Therefore, most people will ignore your law or no longer get married.

    You use the same approach to “Those whom God as joined together, let no man put asunder.” If a partner was poorly chosen, (say the man beats the woman, thinks it fine), God never joined them. He wouldn’t do that.

    And “let no man put asunder” doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t think it wouldn’t happen. We sin. No sin is unforgivable, but also none comes without relational consequences. If someone breaks their marriage covenant (either very seriously once, or over and over again in smaller ways), that covenant is broken and the relationship is destroyed. Those are the consequences. To insist that a broken contract and relationship be upheld is a recipe for disaster.

    Also, to demand that a person who poorly chose a partner and was trashed by that partner, either remain married to him or never again have opportunity find a partner that God would bless—–well, that’s human-heart punishment, a mean-spirited unforgiveness that has no part in the heart of God.

    You don’t like it that women’s push for peer value has made marriages more difficult. Me neither. It is very difficult for men to make the necessary adjustments because they have to give up some lovely bennies they’ve always had. I always wished I could have a wife to take care of things for me but I am a woman. Men are slowly changing, but some go reactive and stubborn. Meanwhile marriages continue to suffer and fail. Ach

  71. In my neck of the woods most baptist churches are SBC affiliated. A a friend of mine was married to a man who committed adultery repeatedly, physically abused her and their children, and dealt and took drugs. She finally divorced him. A couple of years later, her ex died in a car accident. Years later, her pastor ( one of my former pastors) was widowed. 12 years after the pastor’s wife died, my friend and the pastor married. The church the pastor was at at that time fired him because he married a divorced woman, in spite of the fact that her ex was dead. And, nasty gossip about the couple abounds, not just at the one church, but across our entire area.

  72. Gram3 wrote:

    This is what Piper does. He tells us what the Holy Spirit meant to say. IMO, Piper is anything but conservative when it comes to the actual texts. He *is* conservative with his *interpretation* of certain texts and conflates his *interpretation* of what God said with what God actually said. He is holier than God himself and wiser than the Holy Spirit to boot. Piper and Grudem have, together, rewritten the story of the Bible and made it into a rule book that rivals professional baseball or golf.
    Why are these this man so popular with so many?

    Why? Because Seeker-Friendly movement has produced evanjellyfish. Although they’ve been instructed to “read your Bibles…” they’ve also been trained to, “…but come to us to understand what it means.” (a very Roman Catholic mindset)

  73. @ Patrice:
    When folks see marriage as a working picture of salvation, with the man functioning as Christ, and the woman as the sinner, and you also hold to eternal security (we can’t give up Christ even if we want to), you got a recipe for abuse.

  74. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    Although they’ve been instructed to “read your Bibles…” they’ve also been trained to, “…but come to us to understand what it means.” (a very Roman Catholic mindset)

    Read your bibles is not enough. I was recently expressing some consternation that people did not seem to understand whatever it was, but it was not religious. The resident educator at my house, currently a high school teacher with 20+ years of teaching in various settings, shot this back at me. “You don’t understand why people read something and still don’t have a clue, Mom? You have obviously never taught school.” She then went on to explain some reasons why and how people read something and still do not have a clue.

    I hear some folks saying that there is no need for teachers in the area of religion. I think there is. Reference for example the initial conversation between Phillip and the ethiopian eunuch. Not to mention the other mentions of teaching and teaching function in the NT. Is teaching the only way that people learn? Of course not. That does not make it unnecessary however.

  75. Mark Thomson wrote:

    ut I’ve not seen evidence that that view has ‘permeated’ the church.

    Take a look at the recent abusive discipline action against Karen Hinkley at The Village Church. Their is an increasingly restrictive view on divorce for adultery, abuse, etc.within the confines of the Neo Calvinist movement. What i should have emphasized is within the Calvinista clans.

    The baloney that was spewed during Karen’s ordeal included references to Hosea, a naive view of pedophiles,the insolubility of a covenant-be it marriage or church membership. We have discussed on this blog, women being told to return to abusive marriages and really pray hard.

    One woman whose husband had molested their daughter, was told by a well known Calvinista personage to return home and put locks on the bedroom doors and to never let her daughter takes baths when the pervert was home so as not to tempt him.

    And there is one infamous non Calvinist, Paige Patterson, who told a woman to return home to her abuser and rejoiced when she came back with two black eyes because her husband finally came to church.

    From the transcript (We listened to the entire audio of this when we started blogging.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2009/06/16/a-call-for-paige-pattersons-resignation-from-the-ministry/

    “I had a woman who was in a church that I served, and she was being subject to some abuse, and I told her, I said, “All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy.”

    “And what she didn’t know when we sat down in church that morning was that her husband had come in and was standing at the back, first time he ever came. And when I gave the invitation that morning, he was the first one down to the front. And his heart was broken, he said, “My wife’s praying for me, and I can’t believe what I did to her.” And he said, “Do you think God can forgive somebody like me?” And he’s a great husband today. And it all came about because she sought God on a regular basis. And remember, when nobody else can help, God can.”

  76. @ GovPappy:
    That’s very clearly said. Awful beliefs.

    Pushing a metaphor so far that it dies = believing male humans are little gods because Paul said that husbands need to lay down their lives for their wives like Jesus did for us all.

    + TULIP + ESS = perpetual slavery of the shorter half of humanity.

    (“I’m melting, melting. What a world!”)

  77. Mark Thomson wrote:

    ’d be interested in seeing some data supporting that characterization

    Its kind of like trying to get data on how many churches cover up child sex abuse. It happens, a lot. We have documented case after case on this blog. Christa Brown has documented this in Stop Baptist Predators. http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm

    How many churches do you know who would willingly admit that they try to stop people from divorcing a pedophile. In fact, Doug Wilson presided over the marriage of a serial predator to a young woman in his church.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/07/18/the-real-doug-wilson-encouraged-presided-over-the-marriage-of-serial-pedophile/

    Covering up child sex abuse and encouraging women (or men) to stay in an abusive marriages is rampant in the church of today. Try getting churches to admit it-well, that’s another story. But,we can ignore it and claim there is no data as case after case is reported in blogs and abuse groups.

    I have to totally disagree with you. I have been at this game for 6 years and I have heard one too many stories. There is a problem and that is one of the reason I blog.

  78. If a preacher maintains that Hosea is a prescriptive example to be followed by all spouses of unfaithful partners, then he should preach naked. (Is. 20:1-4)

  79. Janey wrote:

    They must create list of new rules for people to follow. Control freak behavior has no place in Christianity.

    Exactly! These New Calvinist gurus are always looking for some new “revelation” from Scripture that God has given only to them … some tasty morsel they can throw to their YRR followers … a one-line tweet to astound their audience with their brilliance. If you are first on the block with a direct line from God on an issue, you can create a feeding frenzy for your wisdom that will sell more books. In the process, they are controlling your mind while you sit there saying “Wow, daddy wow!” These guys are taking a generation of young gullibles for a ride. If you listen to Piper’s divorce/adultery lectures on youtube, you will hear him say “lots of people don’t agree with me on this” … and for good reason, he is dead wrong!

  80. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    ecause Seeker-Friendly movement has produced evanjellyfish.

    As a Christian, I had not attended churches that stressed Piper and Grudem. In fact, I would have to say that I have had excellent, thoughtful and scholarly pastors who do not think much of rigid Calvinista theology.

    I find the either Piper or *stupid* is a paradigm forced on the church by the NeoCalvinists and it is far from the truth.

    There have been people throughout the history of the church who attend and are Bible Lite and who believe anything thrown at them.That is nothing new. This will continue until Jesus returns. Do you really think the churches of the 1950s were somehow more pure? What about the 1900s? Need we go into the church around the time of the Civil War?

    -Even our admired *serious* Christians screwed up. The Puritans and the witch trials, the SBC and Jim Crow, Luther and the Jews, Calvin and the Anabaptists, etc.

    The church today is no different than the church in the past. We just like to think that the people who came before us were somehow more godly. They weren’t.

    I believe that I have had fine teaching throughout my Christian experience. To say that I didn’t because I should like Piper and Grudem would be silly. In fact, I did something many have not. My husband and I taught a room full of people through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and pointed out our disagreements with him.

  81. Abi Miah wrote:

    then he should preach naked. (Is. 20:1-4)

    Be careful! I could see Ed Young Jr doing just that. Do not give these guys any ideas!!!

  82. @ Nancy2:
    Thank you for this account. One of the ways the church has been able to turn a blind eye to domestic violence, infidelity and child sex abuse is to pretend that there is no *data* to support the claims. Things that are done in the dark in churches in which the leaders control the microphone are rarely reported in the open.

    Churches tell their people to hush and stop gossiping. This controls the info flow as well.

    Thankfully, blogs are opening up the churches to the light and many leaders don’t like. There silly and dangerous ideas such as returning a woman to an abusive home are now being reported.

    The Gospel Coalition is part of the problem. They claim they care about child sex abuse, domestic violence, etc and say it should be dealt with. But not if it is one of their own. TGC has yet to report on the fiasco at The Village Church, for example. What happened there should be discussed thoroughly but it will not be.

    Unfortunately I think I will need to keep blogging about these things since if seems the current leaders are not paying attention.

  83. “If someone breaks their marriage covenant (either very seriously once, or over and over again in smaller ways), that covenant is broken and the relationship is destroyed. Those are the consequences. To insist that a broken contract and relationship be upheld is a recipe for disaster.”

    Yes. This right here. ^^

    My ex-husband broke almost every one of our marriage vows. I was nearly suicidal when I finally told him to move out. He abused me emotionally and spiritually. He told me that he had decided he was no longer a believer, but I couldn’t divorce him because it was against MY religious views. He had one affair that I know about and may have had others. He broke the contract.

    Under John Piper’s rules my divorce was not valid because I told the unbeliever to leave and because my ex-husband swears he didn’t have sex with that woman during our marriage. (Shades of Bill Clinton!). I might not be alive now if I had stayed in that marriage. It was horrific.

    I spent most of my 25-year marriage in churches that teach the two “biblical” reasons for divorce…but then go on to say that divorce isn’t REQUIRED in those cases. Then they add on a dose of garbage about how an unbeliever can be persuaded by a spouse with a “sweet and gentle spirit” and if that doesn’t work Hosea makes an appearance. Divorce even for valid reasons is strongly discouraged here in the Bible belt.

    And if you have the audacity to get divorced, you’d better get married again if you want to be accepted at church. Almost all adult Sunday School classes and small group programs are for married couples. I didn’t know even one Christian who was divorced and still single when I filed. Even now, I know very few.

  84. @ Godith:
    I am so pleased that you liked this post. When I started reading reading Davis’ blog and also reading some of his comments, I realized that he has so much to say!

  85. Lydia wrote:

    Piper has gone this route with other issues. For example, he taught that if a husband asked his wife to engage in a threesome, the wife was under obligation to maintain her husbands “headship” while politely begging off. Can it get more ridiculous than that? Not one word about the husband’s soul. He was only concerned with her submission and his “headship” (whatever that means)
    In another teaching Piper claimed the wife should “take abuse for a season”. Again, he is more worried about the marriage pecking order than he is for souls.

    I think this picks up an important principle we see in Piper’s circles – sticking to a supposed Biblical principle (if it even is such) is more important than any amount of human suffering. I see the exact same thinking in those who cover up child sexual abuse – in circles in which a person who was a fornicator/adulterer would be vilified & asked to desist – that in order to ‘save Christian face’ somehow terrible wrongs are allowable to the most vulnerable people as long as it preserves something they consider important, here both the idea that ‘such things don’t happen here’ as well as ‘if they do the power of Christ is wonderfully shown in the repentant paedophile’. Suffering hurt human beings are cut to shreds on their wonderful Christian principles. Where is the love?

  86. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    I spent most of my 25-year marriage in churches that teach the two “biblical” reasons for divorce…but then go on to say that divorce isn’t REQUIRED in those cases. Then they add on a dose of garbage about how an unbeliever can be persuaded by a spouse with a “sweet and gentle spirit” and if that doesn’t work Hosea makes an appearance. Divorce even for valid reasons is strongly discouraged here in the Bible belt.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I have heard that statement “It isn’t required” which is often used to strong arm people to stay in an abusive marriage.

    I love the dolts who smugly bring up Hosea in this situation. These are the same people who follow Piper and Grudem and appear to be so *serious* in their faith. I find them as uneducated as the Bible lite people in the *seeker* movement.

    One time, someone brought up the Hosea Gotcha. I then asked him why he didn’t go out and grab a streetwalker and marry her. He only wanted to bring home the point of staying in a bad marriage. He wanted to overlook the *marry a hooker* part.

  87. @ Divorce Minister:

    I’m aware of quite a few divorces where there was no wronged party. It was simply that the couple realized they both made a mistake or slowly grew apart until the point was reached where they no longer desired to remain married. The divorce was amicable. Such marriages may have lasted a few years or as long as 25 to 30 years. Have you encountered such divorces in your professional experience?

  88. Piper wrote:
    “I read a book one time by Geoffrey Bromiley called God and Marriage, about 120 pages. And it’s divided into two sections: The Trinitarian God of the Old Testament and Marriage, and The Trinitarian God of the New Testament and Marriage. And he pointed out that in the Old Testament, every marriage is a rotten marriage. They’re all painful. He took every patriarch’s marriage and shows how horrible they were.

    You’ve got polygamy involved, you’ve got Hagar and concubines involved. Every marriage you look at in the Old Testament is horrible! And there is no divorce anywhere in the Old Testament among patriarchs. They all endured. They all gutted it out. But it was just a mess! It was horrible.”

    Wow, just wow, and really? People trust anything coming from Piper?

  89. Okrapod wrote:

    Part 2
    Note to Divorce Minister: I am divorced. I did not remarry, though I did consider the issue at one point. I faced both pressure and disapproval from fellow believers for my refusal to consider remarriage for myself-my ‘failure’ to remarry. The Idea of ‘yes, you can remarry’ is being turned into ‘yes, you ought/must remarry’ by some people. This is a two-edged sword. It can feed right into the salvation-by-marriage-alone doctrine which is also out there. This attitude is there for all to see in the local SBC mega which I have previously mentioned in prior similar conversations here.
    We are a loooooong way from solutions in the area a marriage.

    Sorry to hear that is your experience. I do not think we ought to insist that our convictions be anothers. That includes pressuring for remarriage. Personally, I knew marriage was a gift for me. God was kind enough to bring an amazing gal into my life after my divorce, and we are very happily married. The difference this time around has been drastic…in a very good way. But remarriage is not for everyone; just as being single isn’t. As a church, we would do better supporting people where they are at instead of shoving our convictions down their throat, IMO.

  90. Ken wrote:

    I’m not writing this to stir things up, but this is an issue where the sayings of Jesus which we are obligated to follow and the actions of the church are diverging. What matters isn’t Ken rules or opinion, nor Piper’s rules, but Jesus’ rules.

    Christians cannot agree on what Jesus said on divorce, remarriage, and other topics.

    You might want to read this:
    What God Has Joined – What Does the Bible Really Say About Divorce
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/october/20.26.html

  91. @ Joe2:

    I have. However, my focus on the blog is about the intersection of infidelity and divorce primarily. It is my focus because it is the clearest examples for allowable divorce in Scripture as well as it was my personal experience. So, I try to keep the focus there with occasional excursions elsewhere. My thought is that if we are getting the clearest examples wrong then we have no hope for getting the more difficult cases right either.

  92. Godith wrote:

    I am happy to hear that the “Divorce Minister” has been able to proceed with a good life after his many troubles.

    Thanks! God thrives at bringing beauty out of ashes. He has definitely done so in my life.

  93. Janey wrote:

    I would hope that if their daughters or granddaughters ever found themselves in the kind of marriage I had, Piper and Grudem would get them out post haste.

    I would hope so too.

    But men who believe like this sometimes get very mixed up by it. Some of them hesitate because they are torn, they are so torn up with their theological views about marriage.

    I’m amazed that some Christian men would hesitate, as in, “I don’t want my daughter to be hurt anymore, but golly gee whiz, I do think Jesus was totally anti-divorce, so can I really tell my kid to dump her abusive husband?”

    I’m reminded of this blog post, which raises a similar point to what you’ve made:

    “Bible believing” pastors and the enabling of domestic violence
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2015/04/bible-believing-pastors-and-the-enabling-of-domestic-violence/

  94. @ raswhiting:

    Thank you for linking to that.

    For all the people above saying they don’t believe these teachings are that common.

    I don’t have any stats, sorry, but if you bother to read books and blogs by and for Christian women who had to divorce their abusive Christian husbands, these views do turn up a lot.

    Many of these women say that when they went to their churches for help, they were told divorce is a no-no, that divorce is not allowed, not even for abuse.

    Some of these churches are telling women divorce is never, ever allowed, or only allowed in cases of adultery.

    I don’t have any studies, but I’ve seen enough anecdotal stuff over the years on sites for domestic violence with testimonies by Christian women to tell you it’s fairly common.

  95. The good side of Twitter, from a discernment perspective, is we get the raw, unfiltered thoughts from Piper and those like him. Without the help of a publisher/editor to dress up what they are thinking so that it sells, we get things like Piper’s tweet after the Minneapolis-St. Paul highway bridge collapse. That moment is when he lost all credibility with me.

    The amazing thing is his thoughts on marriage and divorce got through in that venue unfiltered–

  96. Patrice wrote:

    Besides that, he is nonsensical. How does a woman having marvelous muscles preclude moonlit walks/conversation?

    That’s what gender complementarians do. They create these very rigid roles for each gender to play.

    In their universe:

    Having muscles = mannish

    Moonlit walks on beach = feminine

    Ergo, a muscular woman cannot or should not enjoy feminine pursuits such as moonlit beach walks.

    I was a tom boy as a child, and even remain a bit of one as an adult. I never fit into the Christianized (gender complementarian) cookie cutter, gender /girly role, where all women are supposed to be (or want to be) quiet, passive, enjoy wearing pink dresses, etc.

    When I visit gender complementarian sites for women, they never fit in women such as myself who are Star Wars fans and-or single and childless. It’s assumed that all of us women want or need butternut squash soup recipes and parenting tips.

  97. Steve Scott wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Mark Thomson wrote:
    “John Piper’s rigid view of divorce has permeated today’s churches.”
    That strikes me as a huge exaggeration.
    Why?
    Dee, I attended Neo-Cal churches for 15 years, and knew of their sister churches and many people who attended “like-minded” churches. I never knew one of them to hold to Piper’s views on divorce. They all held to the abandonment/adultery exceptions of historical Protestantism that Mark Thomson noted in a comment just above mine. Not only this, but I had no idea Piper even believed these things until I read this blog post.
    I don’t doubt Piper’s influence in Neo-Cal circles would cause churches to believe the same way, and there is a widespread belief in doctrines that prohibit divorce and/or remarriage even for adultery, but these are strongholds of fundamentalism that have nothing to do with Piper. No doubt Derkson has heard from many people whose churches believe the same as Piper, but I, too, would like to see some evidence that this view permeates the church to a large degree.

    Few are as bold as Piper in proclaiming such views explicitly. That does not mean they do not exist, though. And when such views are in practice, the stated theology may be in direct contradiction.

    A “good” example of this was with Karen Hinkley where they held to the traditional adultery/abondonment views. However, they denied her ability to annul the marriage FOR MONTHS based on clear evidence of pedophilia (certianly a sexual sin under “porneia” clause of Mt 5:32, 19:9). When called on it by the blogosphere, Matt Chandler agreed this was wrong. My point in recounting that is the expressed theology was not the same as the practiced theology there at The Village Church, initially at least.

    Another example is from my former denomination. In their required reading for all pastors, they have an explicit statement standing against unbiblical divorce prejudice. This statement is roughly 20 years old. Even after going through a horrific trial to retain my license and being given an exception to their policy against credentialing a divorced minister, an official of that denomination did not see it as problematic to STILL be voting on my credential based on my recovery from divorce performance essentially. All the right words were there. The practice was not. This denomination is heavily influenced by Piper where he is held in high esteem. It may not be an exact cause and effect here. Divorce prejudice is very much still alive in that denomination.

  98. Godith wrote:

    IMO John Piper is still a fundamentalist–he may hold to TULIP (Calvinistic soteriology) but he holds to believer’s baptism and this view on divorce and remarriage which is not Reformed

    I read about a married couple, I believe they were Fundamentalist Baptist, who fell out of love, and their marriage was not working out at all.

    So, they lived part but refused to divorce. The wife stayed inside the house, but the husband lived in an RV on their drive way. They lived like that, rather than just make a clean break of it and divorce.

    I’m sorry, but if your relationship is to the point one of you is living in a camper on the drive way, IMO, that ain’t no marriage. You should just go ahead and divorce at that point.

    I actually think holding on to a dead marriage to that degree actually makes a mockery out of marriage and true love.

  99. Okrapod wrote:

    I am divorced. I did not remarry, though I did consider the issue at one point. I faced both pressure and disapproval from fellow believers for my refusal to consider remarriage for myself-my ‘failure’ to remarry. The Idea of ‘yes, you can remarry’ is being turned into ‘yes, you ought/must remarry’ by some people. This is a two-edged sword. It can feed right into the salvation-by-marriage-alone doctrine which is also out there.

    This is similar to a point I read in a book by unmarried Christian authors about singleness and Christianity.

    Singleness is so disrespected and disliked by so many Christians, that these authors said in their research, they noticed most books and sermons about divorce just assumed (or promoted) re-marriage for divorced people.

    Hardly any of the sermons or books these authors saw even tossed out the idea that it’s okay to remain single after you divorce.

    I am over 40 years of age and have never married and began to see by my mid 30s that some types of Christians have some real serious antipathy or dislike of adult singleness, despite the fact that the Bible says God is fine with singleness, and Jesus was single/celibate.

    I guess the anti-singleness bias held by lots of Christians creeps into attitudes on divorce and remarriage.

  100. @ Max:
    Well put. A sort of theological version of “Emporer’s New Clothes” — and way too many people have bought into it. I have not made much of a study of Piper, and so I have few facts at my disposal to bring into play when my friend from our former church expresses her appreciation of his works.

  101. Stan wrote:

    Hey everyone, if you’re ever happy, have self esteem, and think that you’re intelligent enough to understand the Bible, you’re a fake Christian who doesn’t *desire* God.
    Can I have a column on Desiring God now?

    Is that really what Piper teaches (and his ilk)? Wow.

  102. @ Steve Scott:
    The latest example is Karen Hinkley. Think about it. There were a number of elders involved. Her small group was involved. Many ministers were involved. This went on for months.

    They didn’t want her marriage annulled or dissolved by divorce. There reasons were many. Hosea was brought up. Covenants were held up. It was only when this thing was exposed along with a possible lawsuit which the church would have lost big time was the doctrinal position moderated.

    Chandler is not some fundy. He is held up as the current Pope of the Neo Cals-the kinder, gentler leader.
    Watermark Church’s pastor defended their decision-prior to the apology.

    We are talking hounds of people who agreed to this approach. Since the apology-everyone involved has remained dead silent.

    I like to watch trends. Since I have an active blog and receive thousands of emails outlining situations, I believe that I’m in a position to begin to define things the way that i am seeing them. I believe that Calvinistas are as close to the fundamentalists as one can get. There are now some people writing on this subject, including Roger Olson.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2015/07/stretching-the-evangelical-tent-right-and-not-left/

    IMO, the Calvinistas have taken the legalism of the fundamentalists and morphed it into the “freedom to obey.” Therefore if one does not obey, one is not free.

    I know that some of you may disagree with me but I have been thinking about this for a long time and feel that I amy be on to something.But, then again I could be dead wrong. That is why I believe that we should have lots and lots of comments with people challenging one another. It is good for all of us.

  103. Eagle wrote:

    Then I ask a lot of questions that others might resonate.

    I am having trouble breathing. You just now ripped the guts right out of me.

    I don’t know if I can read this article you just posted, not today, anyhow. But I want to thank you for all the thought-provoking, thoughtful posts you are sharing on your blog.

    This stuff can be so… hard. And that’s not the right word, but it’s all I can manage now.

    Please permit me a few seconds of gallows humor; maybe that will help me breathe again.

    “Combat can be so disheartening,” said the Black Knight as Galahad’s lance pierced his breastplate.

  104. @ Ann:
    In the long run, didn’t God leave his first chosen ones based on a discrete people group and open it up to people based purely on faith through the Cross and Resurrection?

  105. Daisy wrote:

    I’ve seen some testimonies where the wife (who later divorced the abuser) says that her preacher told her that staying and enduring the abuse from her husband was good, that it was meant to make her more godly, or to try to make some kind of point or example to her husband.

    Isn’t that the essence of John Piper’s teaching? I forget the exact quote, but I know I’ve read it.

  106. @ dee:
    I don’t completely trust my (lack of) discernment at the present time. I used to swallow stuff like this (and Doug Phillips, and Phil Lancaster, and Stacey McDonald and LAF and…) whole. It was things like reading Hester’s “Scarlet Letters” blog, where she picks apart a lot of the stuff I was force-fed and told was “good” — it was reading well-written and thought-out critiques that helped me to begin to question this brainwashing and spiritual/emotional/mental conditioning.

    So I still don’t trust myself to read it, because what if I don’t notice that something is actually “creepy”?

    I have no confidence anymore.

  107. Daisy wrote:

    I guess the anti-singleness bias held by lots of Christians creeps into attitudes on divorce and remarriage.

    It does. And here I think is another aspect of it. Back in the day when there actually were single sex SS classes (all women or all men) and people could say things out loud they would not say in mixed sex classes I used to hear something of this sort from time to time from older women.

    Someone would say, for example, something like: Well, I just don’t think all this divorcing is necessary. If every woman divorced every man who strayed a bit, nobody would still be married to anybody. Why, George (her deceased husband) had to have himself a little fling when Susie (her daughter and third child) was still just a baby, but we got through it. But George was always a good father to those children and a good provider, and you all know that is true. So I told Susie to just stick in there and see if things don’t work themselves out. I never had told her before about her daddy, of course. It was hard to do but it had to be done.

    This would be met with mostly silence and downcast eyes and nods while someone sitting next to her would reach over an pat her back or something.

    I have heard this opinion and advice in various formats on several occasions. I am not at all sure what I think of all that, but I am convinced that God has not called me to tell her what to do. Either way.

  108. dee wrote:

    I may need to do a post why I think that book is super creepy!

    Yes! Yes! Please do. It would be a help to (formerly, I hope) uncritical readers like myself.

  109. Abi Miah wrote:

    If a preacher maintains that Hosea is a prescriptive example to be followed by all spouses of unfaithful partners, then he should preach naked. (Is. 20:1-4)

    LOL. 🙂

  110. @ Divorce Minister:
    -and-
    @dee
    There’s no faulty theology resulting Pipers’s divorce teachings / complimentarianism / Gothardism / authoritatian churches, etc. It’s not a missguided reading of Scripture. It’s completely intentional.

    “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,” From that point on, Satan has had a special hatred of women.

    “The Shared Responsibility Lie”. That’s not poor understanding of the text, or some such thing. It’s slander of innocent parties. It’s what The Slanderer does. It’s what The Accuser does. That’s why he is called Devil and Satan, “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

    The Advisary wants as many Christian women as possible to feel trapped in marriages
    to abusive, domineering husbands. Not for some grand plan or conspiracy, but just spite. He hates women.

    Satan’s opposes women by twisting the Words of God just as he always has. ” Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Therfore, “it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.”

  111. Gram3 wrote:

    There are churches that teach, informally or formally, that the innocent party should remain unmarried until the divorcing party remarries. After that, the innocent party is free to remarry without committing adultery.

    I have heard this taught, too, though I never saw any biblical basis for it.

  112. Okrapod wrote:

    I have heard this opinion and advice in various formats on several occasions. I am not at all sure what I think of all that, but I am convinced that God has not called me to tell her what to do. Either way.

    Well, I guess the whole nation just about has heard this approach on Duck Dynasty. Now I really don’t know what I think about all of it.

  113. Steve Scott wrote:

    I don’t doubt Piper’s influence in Neo-Cal circles would cause churches to believe the same way, and there is a widespread belief in doctrines that prohibit divorce and/or remarriage even for adultery, but these are strongholds of fundamentalism that have nothing to do with Piper. No doubt Derkson has heard from many people whose churches believe the same as Piper, but I, too, would like to see some evidence that this view permeates the church to a large degree.

    It’s interesting. In the church some of my family members are attending now, they hold Piper in very high esteem, even though they admit that they don’t agree with all of his teachings.

  114. @ dee:
    And if he’d killed her, she could join the ranks of the martyrs for the faith. It’s a win-win! (taking off my sarcasm now)

  115. dee wrote:

    One of the ways the church has been able to turn a blind eye to domestic violence, infidelity and child sex abuse is to pretend that there is no *data* to support the claims.

    This reminds me of something similar that took place on Julie Anne’s blog a few months ago.

    Some of us ladies were discussing how gender complementarianism negatively impacted our lives, and how it can and does lead to abuse and other problems, including testimony from one dear lady who had been repeatedly sexually abused by her Baptist father who bought into gender comp (she has posted to this blog before too).

    Despite all of us ladies talking about the harm gender comp had caused us, one or two guys on Julie Anne’s blog kept jumping into the comments demanding that we “prove” that gender comp can or does lead to mistreatment, abuse, or disrespect, or more so than other teachings about gender, marriage, etc.

    This one guy on her blog in particular really wanted to see cold, hard, scientific studies or polling, which I had none to give him. (I think Barbara Roberts later gave him some links to some studies on some of this stuff.)

    Or, it’s kind of like the Bill Cosby (TV actor, comedian) story.

    Even after 40+ women have said that Cosby sexually assaulted them, some people still want to believe he was innocent.

    Until his testimony was leaked this last week, where Cosby admitted to drugging women to take advantage of them!

    Then more people who had previously been skeptics were like, “Okay, maybe those women were telling the truth after all.”

    Why does it finally take Cosby admitting it?

    Why can’t people suspect something is up after the first two, ten, 20, whatever number, women all say the same thing?

    Some people insist on seeing the cold, hard facts in triplicate, in spite of the fact they have a trillion people all agreeing on the same thing and testifying to the same thing. I sometimes find this baffling and frustrating.

  116. dee wrote:

    The Gospel Coalition is part of the problem.

    The Gospel Coalition is really The Calvinist Coalition. The New Calvinist who’s-who take care of their own … a blood-pact to the death.

  117. I would love to get a link to the actual sermons where he taught this because I have a feeling you either are taking his comments completely out of context or you are flat out lying. I’ve listened to piper for years and have never once heard anything of this sort. @ Lydia:

  118. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Then they add on a dose of garbage about how an unbeliever can be persuaded by a spouse with a “sweet and gentle spirit”

    Yes. I have heard this many times, used as a weapon against a believer to hold him/her in a marriage with someone who appeared to be a believer when they married (it appears that some people put on a mask, because they are infatuated with a believer who won’t date them otherwise, because of the “unequally yoked” thing), and then walked away from “the faith”.

    We have one of those in our extended family, except the unbeliever is not abusive, and is not using that excuse to keep the spouse in the marriage. The unbeliever simply stopped going to church, and sees no reason to go to church. Of course, this person may not be an “unbeliever” but the spouse and church see this person that way, because of the non-churchgoing. We never got into a deep theological discussion, but this “unbeliever” seems like one of the kindest people I know, and very long-suffering as well.

  119. @ Elizabeth Lee:

    I am so very, very sorry for everything you endured. It’s bad enough your husband mistreated you, but your church added to it by being awful about it.

  120. Beakerj wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Piper has gone this route with other issues. For example, he taught that if a husband asked his wife to engage in a threesome, the wife was under obligation to maintain her husbands “headship” while politely begging off. Can it get more ridiculous than that? Not one word about the husband’s soul. He was only concerned with her submission and his “headship” (whatever that means)
    In another teaching Piper claimed the wife should “take abuse for a season”. Again, he is more worried about the marriage pecking order than he is for souls.
    I think this picks up an important principle we see in Piper’s circles – sticking to a supposed Biblical principle (if it even is such) is more important than any amount of human suffering. I see the exact same thinking in those who cover up child sexual abuse – in circles in which a person who was a fornicator/adulterer would be vilified & asked to desist – that in order to ‘save Christian face’ somehow terrible wrongs are allowable to the most vulnerable people as long as it preserves something they consider important, here both the idea that ‘such things don’t happen here’ as well as ‘if they do the power of Christ is wonderfully shown in the repentant paedophile’. Suffering hurt human beings are cut to shreds on their wonderful Christian principles. Where is the love?

    By the way, where did Piper teach these? (the “threesome” and the “take abuse for a season”). Do you have a source? I know I’ve read “take abuse for a season” on blogs, but I’d like to know what the original source was, so that if I discuss this with my friend, she can’t claim the information was taken out of context or misquoted.

  121. @ Beakerj:

    This brings to mind abusive work places. I did a lot of reading on that issue after having been harassed by a manager on one of my jobs.

    A lot of employers would rather fire the victim rather than punish the bully boss (or bully co-worker), one reason being they want to uphold this notion that theirs is a wonderful place to work – there is no workplace abuse there (even though there is).

    It’s easier to maintain this fiction that it’s a great environment to work in if you get rid of the victims of the abuse. Out of sight, out of mind.

    I see this same thinking crop up in some of the stories I see about spiritually abusive churches, or churches that try to cover up child or spouse abuse.

  122. Daisy wrote:

    Why can’t people suspect something is up after the first two, ten, 20, whatever number, women all say the same thing?

    Some people insist on seeing the cold, hard facts in triplicate, in spite of the fact they have a trillion people all agreeing on the same thing and testifying to the same thing. I sometimes find this baffling and frustrating.

    I have this same frustration with my Gothard-supporting acquaintance. Until he admits it, in public, in 20-point type, well… it never happened.

    And if he says it happened, but he’s sorry, then… it never happened.

    ‘Cause you know god throws our sins away, as far as the east is from the west, and remembers them no more.

  123. refugee wrote:

    my friend from our former church expresses her appreciation of his works

    Refugee, the problem with deception is that folks don’t know they are deceived because they are deceived. A careful study of 1,2,3 John shows how easy it is for even Christians to be deceived if they don’t have their spiritual eyes and ears engaged. We don’t “test the spirits” as we ought in the American church; thus, error can so easily creep into the mix and lead folks astray.

  124. Patrice wrote:

    Therefore, most people will ignore your law or no longer get married.

    I deliberately worded the post to say I don’t have a ‘law’. I’ve read enough on this subject to appreciate how easy it is to fall into the trap of treating the various passages on this in the bible as legislation.

    I’m not happy with treating Jesus’ absolute prohibition of remarriage (in that it constitutes adultery) as hyperbole. I can very much see the argument that porneia could not only constitute grounds for legitimate divorce, but also allow re-marriage. If the exception clause does cover both, this would be the only ground for divorce amongst believing Christians, and ought never to happen. Highly exceptional. I might be persuaded back to this view, I only abandonned it very reluctantly.

    I’ve wondered a remarriage by the guilty party would free the ‘innocent’ party to remarry, as there no longer any possibility of the original union being restored, and this I think is the reason for Jesus being so strict on this issue.

    I think we need to start with Jesus’ teaching on marriage in the gospels, affirming what God ‘ordained from the beginning’. If we start with people and their needs, and the temptation to think ‘God would never want anyone to be unhappy’, we can end up side-lining God’s definition of marriage and substituting our own. This is particularly a danger in a society that has been taught that personal fullfillment and happiness are the highest good, and are a human right.

    I don’t think divorce is the unforgivable sin, nor would ever want to deny the grace of God in this – after all, Jesus came to save sinners. I have in my time talked a couple out of separating because they realised they had contracted a sinful marriage.

    But we dare not presume on the grace of God either, nor give the impression that vows made in the presence of God can be discarded (lightly or otherwise) because we’ve hit bad times or the feelings have gone.

    There is a reason why traditional church wedding services emphasise that marriage should only be entered into after the most careful thought possible. We could perhaps learn something from previous generations in this regard.

    The secular UK takes marriage very lightly, surely something the church should not follow.

  125. @ refugee:

    Sorry I am not trying to cause pain. I’ve been through a lot in my life. Faith Crisis, brush with Sovereign Grace, a false accusation given birth to by an Air Force Academy graduate and officer, pancreatic cancer, brain tumor, my sister’s schizophrenia, etc…

    I didn’t mean to spook you. My apologies if I did. Tomorrow I am writing about Michelle Van Loon’s article an spiritual abuse. I am doing it from a differing perspective. Michelle and I cam from the same churches in Wisconsin so I feel our paths have been similar. 🙂 And then on Saturday I am throwing up some music from musical theater.

  126. @ Daisy:
    Daisy, you sound like a kindred spirit.

    It grieves me that a girl I know doesn’t want to be a girl because she’s always been the way you describe yourself (which is the way I felt, growing up, until I tried to shoehorn myself into the “proper feminine role”). She wants to be a boy instead. I think she calls herself transgendered, though I could be wrong. I’m not quite up on all these terms.

    I try to tell her she’s a *person* with personal preferences, but maybe I’m wrong, and maybe she really is a boy in a girl’s body?

    Or maybe she’s (biologically) a girl and (psychologically) an individual who can’t stand to be female because of what she was brought up to believe about females.

    I don’t know what to think.

  127. dee wrote:

    I find them as uneducated as the Bible lite people in the *seeker* movement.

    My perception is that some of these guys are educated in the Bible.

    They study it and know it quite well. They are very intellectual types. The problem as I see it is that they mis-apply what they read and are legalistic in application.

    It’s like the conversations Jesus had with the Pharisees about things like this.

    Jesus told them they read their Scriptures a lot, and knew if backwards and forwards (he sort of commended them on this point), but, he said, they still missed the point, misapplied parts of it, etc.

    Satan knows the Bible really well too, as you can see in his debate with Jesus. The thing is that Satan distorted what it said or applied it incorrectly.

  128. Patrice wrote:

    Besides that, he is nonsensical. How does a woman having marvelous muscles preclude moonlit walks/conversation? And, having a fit body can elongate s*x through more control and endurance, not make it “very hasty and volatile”. Well, unless one likes it that way. Sheesh!!

    Me thinks Piper is suffering from a severe case of vagina envy and is desperate to cover it up by assuring us all that the Almighty is still thundering out of Horeb through him. Behind the mask, I think he’s scared you-know-what-less of the primal power of women.

  129. Patti wrote (quoting Piper):

    And there is no divorce anywhere in the Old Testament among patriarchs.

    But did women in awful marriages way back then have any other choice?

    If a woman left her husband back then, I think her options were limited.

    It’s not like today, where a woman can take continuing educations courses, get a degree, and get an honest, paying job, so she’s not as reliant on a spouse for financial support and protection.

  130. Divorce Minister wrote:

    Personally, I knew marriage was a gift for me. God was kind enough to bring an amazing gal into my life after my divorce, and we are very happily married. The difference this time around has been drastic…in a very good way. But remarriage is not for everyone; just as being single isn’t.

    I am happy for you that you are in a good marriage now, but, I find some of this thinking troubling.

    I don’t think God brings or sends anyone a spouse. I’m over 40, have never been married, and would like to be. Despite doing all the tactics Christians said to take to get married (everything from trying dating sites, to having faith, to praying, etc), none of them worked, and I am still single.

    I don’t feel that being single is necessarily for me either, but marriage has not happened, so I find myself single anyhow.

  131. Gs wrote:

    I would love to get a link to the actual sermons where he taught this because I have a feeling you either are taking his comments completely out of context or you are flat out lying. I’ve listened to piper for years and have never once heard anything of this sort. @ Lydia:

    Why would you accuse someone of “taking his comments completely out of context or flat out lying?”

  132. Eagle wrote:

    I didn’t mean to spook you.

    Oh, no, of course you didn’t. And I hope you didn’t take what I said as an attempt to silence you, or cause you to censor yourself.

    These are tough issues, and need to be dealt with. There’s even a bible verse in one of the letters to the Corinthians, I think it is, that talks about us suffering and then being able to later encourage others who suffer (presumably because we’ve walked where they are now walking).

    It’s just that… you hit too close to the center of the bulls-eye for me, in that comment. Boom-boom-boom, one thing after another.

    But that just shows me that there’s a lot more junk to deal with. Eventually.

  133. @ Gs:
    They were videos which seemed like vinyettes of a one sided interview in snippets. Most likely others here saw them, I think back around 2009 or so.

    My experience with Piper fans, which goes back about 15 years, is they find a way to parse anything uncomfortable he says. And there is a lot to parse.

  134. refugee wrote:

    Isn’t that the essence of John Piper’s teaching? I forget the exact quote, but I know I’ve read it.

    I don’t know about Piper specifically, but I’ve seen a lot of abused wives say those are the very lines and rationales they’ve gotten from their preachers when they’ve gone to them for help when their husbands were abusing them.

  135. @ refugee:

    I didn’t like being a girl when I was a girl, or even into young adulthood, precisely in part because of the gender role views I was given in church, in secular society, and by my well-meaning Christian mother.

    I was more into things such as Star Wars or bike riding (as opposed to holding tea parties or wearing nail polish and other feminine things), but my mother would try to get me into playing with girly Barbie dolls and so on.

    (She eventually did start getting me the Star Wars toys, though).

    But I repeatedly got the message directly, or indirectly, from church/ culture/ school/ parents that being a girl or woman meant being a passive doormat, and having certain qualities.

    That girls were supposed to want to have children of their own one day, were supposed to enjoy giggling and acting like a doofus airhead, but none of that appealed to me.

    As a kid, I would see Han Solo in the Star Wars movies having exciting adventures in outer space, and I wanted to be him (not that I wanted to physically be a man, I mean, I just thought his life looked fun and exciting).

    The old fashioned, so-called “Biblical womanhood” perspective, (gender complementarianism), actually made me dislike being female, because I was being taught and pressured to think that all the stuff I found fun, interesting, or exciting, was for men only and it made me unfeminine if I wanted to try it out myself.

    It’s ironic that the gender comps think they can halt transgenderism, or other related issues, by insisting very strongly on restrictive gender roles, but it actually backfires.

    They make women like me hate being a woman because they teach I am inferior to men, I cannot hold leadership positions; I’m a temptress who should be avoided; I am to be valued for my physical looks above all else; I should be a weak, giggling, sex kitten; I should always defer to a spouse, should I marry; etc. I see nothing appealing in any of that.

  136. @ Daisy:

    “I read about a married couple, I believe they were Fundamentalist Baptist, who fell out of love, and their marriage was not working out at all.

    So, they lived part but refused to divorce. The wife stayed inside the house, but the husband lived in an RV on their drive way. They lived like that, rather than just make a clean break of it and divorce.

    I’m sorry, but if your relationship is to the point one of you is living in a camper on the drive way, IMO, that ain’t no marriage. You should just go ahead and divorce at that point.

    I actually think holding on to a dead marriage to that degree actually makes a mockery out of marriage and true love.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    but aren’t you imposing a ‘form’ onto marriage just like the forms which are imposed onto singleness which you despise? (as do I)

    there is such variety in humanity.

    perhaps this couple enjoyed companionship and friendship with each other, and this arrangement enabled them to make the most of it. they can cook together if they want, eat together if they want, watch TV together, talk, laugh. They can help each other out when needed. or perhaps there is comfort in being at ‘home’. the lot, the place, as well as the human connection.

    to be honest, an RV in the driveway is not a bad idea (at least now & then). it’s better than the doghouse. certainly more honest than the passive aggression of sleeping on the sofa. or mutually balancing on opposite seams of the mattress all night long.

    my maxim these days: we can impose ideals beyond right & wrong onto ourselves and onto others that may fit like poorly-made shoes which are at least 1 size too small. and then we die. what’s the point of that?

  137. Muff Potter wrote:

    Me thinks Piper is suffering from a severe case of vagina envy and is desperate to cover it up

    I saw in the news a couple of weeks ago that the majority of transgender changes are by men who want to be women. I think it’s three to one? There are way more men who want to be men than women who want to be men.

  138. @ Gs:

    Here is one of the vignettes I was able to find. If you are able, strip away the Piper flowerly verbosity, the facial and body language so akin to Piper’s “passionate” delivery and listen to exactly what he is teaching here because there are several big problems if you are able to strip away the body language and flowery verbosity.

    Hint: He is sick and creepy when it comes to women.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OkUPc2NLrM

    I don’t have time to look up the one he where he mentions the ménage a trois.

  139. Sorry, I need to correct my last post, where I wrote,
    “There are way more men who want to be men than women who want to be men.”

    That should be,
    There are way more men who want to be women

  140. Bridget wrote:

    Why would you accuse someone of “taking his comments completely out of context or flat out lying?”

    The funny thing is, too, is that GS was asking for links to the very sermons.

    According to one or two blogs I went to in search of the links to give him, Piper removed the sermons after he got criticism.

    One blog saved one of the videos anyway, and the guy (or lady?) posted it to his/her blog. I gave a link to that in another post up the page.

    If Piper is going to delete any and all traces of his controversial sermons and comments, I don’t know how anyone here can give GS the citations he needs, unless someone out there saved one of the pages or videos before it was scrubbed from the web.

  141. @ Daisy: Yes, I remember when he finally responded 3 years later. That video made the blog rounds because he never once mentioned her being able to protect herself with governing authorities. She had to “take it to the church” for his discipline. Right. Like anyone who is informed would trust that. In most states, striking another person is a crime and should be reported. Grown ups don’t go around hitting each other out of anger unless they are defending themselves.

    So Piper needed to clean it up as it was becoming embarrassing. He made the rounds to women’s conferences teaching about marriage and then not long after had to take a sabbatical to “tend to the garden of his marriage”. (His flowery verbosity wears me out and hides most of creepy teaching) Of course, Noel was never a ministry partner of his and he was gone all the time. So he was teaching something to other women his own wife was not able to sustain. Hypocrite.

  142. @ elastigirl:

    You will notice I said “IMO,” meaning “in my opinion.”

    And the story I read about – the couple hated each other, they were unhappy with each other.

    The only reason they had the RV situation is that divorce was the one unpardonable sin in their church.

    As to sexless marriages… if both partners are fine with that arrangement, and the husband and wife agree to have separate bedrooms and be more like friends than lover, I personally don’t have a problem with that, if they choose to live their marriage out in that manner.

    But in marriages where one or both partners are unhappy or angry with any of that, that ain’t no marriage. You might as well divorce.

    So no, I don’t think I’m imposing anything on anyone.

  143. @ Daisy:

    Well, his recent history of tweets is not hiding his creepy obsession with women and sex very well. Unless he has deleted them before anyone got a screen shot. Problem is, his followers have been so desensitized with him they cannot see it. Deep unto Deep…anyone? Quoting Psalms to discuss necklines?

  144. dee wrote:

    That is why I believe that we should have lots and lots of comments with people challenging one another. It is good for all of us.

    yes. That is why we must discuss what freedom means. Whether it is in Christ (which includes the Holy Spirit) or as people living in a democratic composite society with many who don’t agree with us or others.

  145. elastigirl wrote:

    my maxim these days: we can impose ideals beyond right & wrong onto ourselves and onto others that may fit like poorly-made shoes which are at least 1 size too small. and then we die. what’s the point of that?

    Excellent maxim, Ag (symbolic for silver on the periodic table) again elastigirl.

  146. @ Muff Potter:

    “Ag (symbolic for silver on the periodic table)”
    +++++++++++

    silver…. as opposed to gold?

    (I much prefer silver to gold, for inherent beauty of the metal.)

  147. @ Muff Potter:

    I think there are deep psychological problems. On the one hand, his father was an early Bob Jones Evangelist who had a falling out and went to the SBC with his fundy beliefs. IOW, he grew up extremely fundy as an only child. His dad traveled a lot. Mom and little John stayed home. On the other hand, he has spoken of how capable his mother was running things while dad was gone but that she immediately went into total submission mode when his dad came home. Even to the point that dad picked the table at the restaurant. Dad took over everything when he came home except the typical woman stuff. He was very specific about this.

    I can imagine how that might wreck havoc with an only child’s view of marriage “roles”.

  148. elastigirl wrote:

    my maxim these days: we can impose ideals beyond right & wrong onto ourselves and onto others that may fit like poorly-made shoes which are at least 1 size too small. and then we die. what’s the point of that?

    Who decides right and wrong? ;o) Isn’t that part of the problem?

  149. Daisy wrote:

    They make women like me hate being a woman because they teach I am inferior to men, I cannot hold leadership positions; I’m a temptress who should be avoided; I am to be valued for my physical looks above all else; I should be a weak, giggling, sex kitten; I should always defer to a spouse, should I marry; etc. I see nothing appealing in any of that.

    Yes. I know one formerly fundie girl who, about the time I lost track of her, was saving up for a sex-change operation. I know another who wants to change her name to something male and live the life of a male. We have had a few discussions — is she really a boy in a girl’s body, or is she a person who has preferences that are labeled “boyish” in our society, where they could apply to any *person* with those preferences.

    I mean, I played with my brother’s trucks when I was younger. They were way more interesting than dolls. But that didn’t make me feel like I was really a boy trapped in a girl’s body.

    I’m still wrestling with transgender issues, after glossing over them for so many years, as I was taught to do. (“It’s all sin…” or “It’s personal choice, not something inborn…”)

  150. @ Lydia:

    barring forays into sociological research, and sexual things, my observation is that people in general agree on what is right and wrong.

    is there any sane person who would disagree with things Jesus is quoted as saying?

    to me, it seems the decisions of right/wrong are more on the level of how to manage circumstances so they best line up with understood right/wrong. (Philadelphia, honesty/dishonesty, generosity/hoarding, kindness/unkindness, responsible/careless…)

    but, see,…. this is a drive-by thinking-out-loud. just driving by here, lobbing my thoughts…

  151. Gs wrote:

    I would love to get a link to the actual sermons where he taught this because I have a feeling you either are taking his comments completely out of context or you are flat out lying. I’ve listened to piper for years and have never once heard anything of this sort. @ Lydia:

    Here’s a short 4 min. video where Piper answers a question about women’s submission and whether or not they have to endure abuse. He says that if he’s asking her to do something clearly against God’s laws, no. But if he’s “merely hurting her or she endures verbal abuse for a season, or perhaps being smacked one night….” Then she can seek help from the church.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OkUPc2NLrM

  152. @ Daisy:
    Thanks Daisy. It’s also easy to find gems like this one:
    Submission is an inclination of the will to say yes to the husband’s leadership and a disposition of the spirit to support his initiatives. The reason I say it’s a disposition and an inclination is because there will be times when the most submissive wife will hesitate at a husband’s decision. It may look unwise to her. Suppose it’s Noël and I. I am about to decide something foolish for the family. At that moment Noël could express her submission something like this: “Johnny, I know you’ve thought a lot about this, and I love it when you take the initiative to plan for us and take the responsibility like this, but I really don’t have peace about this decision and I think we need to talk about it some more. Could we? Maybe tonight sometime?”

    Does anyone else feel like this is just a bit..off? Why doe she have to do this in such an appeasing way, as though she’s afraid of setting him off? Maybe it’s just a cultural thing, but this doesn’t sound like one adult who can express an opinion to another freely.

  153. @ Beakerj:

    Wow, that sounds just like the way you have to write a critical comment on TGC without it getting deleted. At least immediately, that is.

  154. @ Daisy:

    i was responding to the ‘imo’ part.

    since the couple hated each other & were only maintaining the appearance of marriage for the sake of whatever, sounds very silly indeed.

  155. I have some extended family members who follow Pipers’ thinking on this (not sure if they follow him directly) and it has caused nothing but fractured relationships and pain. My mother, retired from lifelong service in missions, remarried an old friend (a retired pastor) after my dad died. Most of my siblings and I were really happy for both of them, but my mom was shunned by numerous extended family members, and one of my siblings was convinced the union was sinful. Absolutely nuts.

    As others have noted, the other thing that Piper’s thinking doesn’t account for is abusive situations. I’ve known people who stayed in a clearly abusive marriage because of this kind of thinking. What I told them in one case was that their abusing husband made a covenant to treat them as Christ treated his bride and that to abuse is without a doubt to have broken that covenant about as badly as it can be broken, so they should not feel any guilt about walking away.

    Piper’s theology was cooked up in an upper-middle-class American ivory tower of Calvinism with a strong stream of Puritanism. In other words, a very narrow intellectual world. I don’t think it works in the mess of real life on the streets, and I’m not at all sure even the Bible characters he so often cites would recognize it if it came to the messy and earthy world they inhabited.

  156. @ Gs:
    Not so hard to find. Here is a transcribed portion of the video mentioned & linked to :
    ‘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…[The church then must] step in, be her strength and say to him, “No, you can’t do this.”’
    Even though it’s in the context of ultimately stopping abuse it is mind boggling that submission, to JP, means enduring this. Have you ever been verbally abused? For a season? Or hit for a night? Seriously wrong.
    That has come from this source:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sarahoverthemoon/2013/01/some-humans-are-more-equal-than-others-john-piper-abuse-submission/

  157. @ Okrapod: thanks for the history on this.

    @ Divorce Minister: thanks for your reply.

    As somebody who was divorced prior to becoming a Christian (ex-wife had an affair, then divorced me against my wishes), I have had various issues within a number of churches I attended, not to mention issues created by individuals in those churches. I even had opposite and mutually exclusive views of divorce/remarriage told to me at the same time. It’s weird out there.

  158. Beakerj wrote:

    Does anyone else feel like this is just a bit..off? Why doe she have to do this in such an appeasing way, as though she’s afraid of setting him off?

    That is part of the theory of the fragile male ego. This also used to be taught to females. The theory being that if the male is injured in his ego all sorts of terrible consequences will ensue. I am not saying that one should not be nice in such a situation. Nice is always nice. But this excessive flattery and ego building talk is over the line. Trouble is-it can be rather effective in dealing with those who believe that they should be talked to in this manner. And yes, it is in a large part cultural. I can see somebody who grew up in a Bob Jones style family, both fundamentalist and paternalistic and southern, doing just that. I have to say, that we ran into some of that when we moved from one place to another about 40 years ago. Failure to do this was one of the original mistakes I made professionally-failure to flatter those to whom flatter is due that is. I was accused of being ‘too plain spoken’ meaning just saying something while omitting the cajoling flattery and self deprecation that was expected from a female in some situation or other.

  159. Divorce and remarriage are topics within the church that are far from “settled” doctrinally. Part of the problem as I see it is the drive to hold black and white thinking. Holding to a belief in, say, “no divorce or remarriage for any reason whatsoever” can be an overly simplistic way of solving all problems without actually having to think about the issue with much effort.

    This is a very complex issue because people’s lives are complex. One thing often forgotten in dealing with marriages with problems is mercy, as we recently saw in a TWW post.

    Also, we don’t always think of how our views carry themselves out logically. Some do, however, and are comfortable with their absurd conclusions. Thanks, Dee, for bringing this topic up.

  160. I suppose my overall problem, again, is that in these situations a woman is to put correct submission to the correct authority over her safety…almost as if her safety does not count as much as her obedience…

  161. Beakerj wrote:

    Comments about group sex etc are also made in this video.

    So, I just got back from a grocery store run. I decided to look in on the comments. Yours was the first that I saw. I thought-Whoa, what happened while I was away!!! 🙂

  162. As for the teaching that the innocent divorcee needs to remain single as long as the ex lives…

    I wonder how many have been tempted to off the ex. I mean, if you off your ex and get away with it, you are free to remarry! Not so if they’re still alive!

  163. Max wrote:

    . The New Calvinist who’s-who take care of their own … a blood-pact to the death.

    i hate to say it but you seem to be correct. “Blood pact to the death.”

  164. Patti wrote:

    You’ve got polygamy involved, you’ve got Hagar and concubines involved. Every marriage you look at in the Old Testament is horrible! And there is no divorce anywhere in the Old Testament among patriarchs. They all endured. They all gutted it out. But it was just a mess! It was horrible.”

    Can you imagine being married to Jael? I can hear the literalists now.

    “It is biblical to stay married to someone who is going to point a peg into your head while you sleep. It is God’s perfect will for you.”

  165. Another complication with doctrinal beliefs on marriage and divorce is that Jesus and Paul addressed different audiences. Jesus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and didn’t speak much to the Gentile world. He spoke about marriage and divorce in a Jewish context. Paul hit the Gentile world head on. Pitting Jesus against Paul shouldn’t happen.

  166. Beakerj wrote (quoting Pied Piper):

    If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her…

    Hurting her or, for that matter, him, because it’s not only women who find themselves in abusive marriages *, but that’s not my main point here. It’s this whole thing about Well, it’s only cruelty and suffering; it doesn’t really matter as long as it isn’t “sin”.

    Let’s ignore one elephant for a second: that cruelty and abuse is, itself, sin. (!!!!!!) The implication, that I hate, is that God doesn’t give a divine scheiß about anybody but himself. The disempowered and the downtrodden must endure a world of hardship – they must put up with “sin” – but God can’t. Why did God sacrifice his only Son? Certainly not for love of the world, nor so that whosoevereth shouldst believeth unto him thereof shouldst haveth unto eternal life. No, it was to clean the smudges off his mirror so he could go back to admiring himself, content in the knowledge of the glory all the victims would bring him.

    Like ****.

    * As a matter of further note, there’s a UK charity called Broken Rainbow that addresses domestic violence within the LGBT community as well. Abuse is abuse, and no victim should suffer alone. Broken Rainbow’s campaign poster is worth a quick look: brokenrainbow.org.uk

  167. Cousin of Eutychus wrote:

    Without the help of a publisher/editor to dress up what they are thinking so that it sells, we get things like Piper’s tweet after the Minneapolis-St. Paul highway bridge collapse.

    These folks go from being pastors/prachers and become God’s mind readers. That is a dangerous business.

    Funny aside: I was once *reported* to someone who was on a committee with me that I had called some celebrity God’s mind reader when he said that God caused Hurricane Katrina because of gay marriage being approved in some state. I was told that the guy didn’t say it. I showed him the quote. Then he said I needed an *elder* to oversee this blog and he was going to do it!! Can you imagine? The offer was declined and he quit the committee.

  168. @ Nick Bulbeck:
    Nick, I couldn’t agree more. That attitude chills me, but it is entirely consistent with a calvinist worldview where the eternal suffering of sinners will glorify God, & where they were created purely for this purpose. That is the God I can’t, & don’t worship.

  169. Divorce Minister wrote:

    My point in recounting that is the expressed theology was not the same as the practiced theology there at The Village Church, initially at least.

    This is an excellent observation.

  170. dee wrote:

    Then he said I needed an *elder* to oversee this blog and he was going to do it!! Can you imagine? The offer was declined and he quit the committee.

    Good grief! Talking about power and control issues to say nothing of arrogance! Someone, after all, had to look after the little lady…. /sarcasm

  171. dee wrote:

    @ Divorce Minister:
    Have you ever considered substance abuse, domestic violence, and pornography issues?

    Yes, I have. A few posts on blog about those situations. However, I try to keep my focus on clear situations like divorce and adultery. Plus, those situations aren’t directly addressed re: Bible but I think a case can be made via abandonment clause found in I Cor. 7. I am loathed to make a firm stand on something that isn’t crystal clear in the Bible, though.

  172. Max wrote:

    The Gospel Coalition is really The Calvinist Coalition.

    They function like a cartel rather than a mere coalition.

  173. Ken wrote:

    I think we need to start with Jesus’ teaching on marriage in the gospels, affirming what God ‘ordained from the beginning’. If we start with people and their needs, and the temptation to think ‘God would never want anyone to be unhappy’, we can end up side-lining God’s definition of marriage and substituting our own. This is particularly a danger in a society that has been taught that personal fullfillment and happiness are the highest good, and are a human right.

    IMO you are assuming that people who disagree with your interpretation are only doing so because of cultural pressure. Do you think it is possible that there might be another way of looking at what Jesus and Paul said without being accused of abandoning the authority of Scripture? I really wish that you would think about your embedded presupposition about the motivation of those of us who do not question the authority and, in my case, the inerrancy of the original manuscripts, but who *do* question the *authoritative* interpretations which are being put forth as the “clear teaching” of Scripture.

    There is much I could say about this, but I am mentally and physically sub-functional today and cannot do that. I hope you will check back because you are advocating a very cruel approach which doubly-victimizes people and which is a caricature of what God designed marriage to be.

  174. nathan priddis wrote:

    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,” From that point on, Satan has had a special hatred of women.

    yes. Patriarchy is a result of sin and taught as a virtue by guys like Piper.

  175. @ elastigirl:

    I tend to stick with actions or non actions when it comes to right and wrong. When we get into “thoughts” and “speech” that is a dangerous area that should be allowed to be debated, discussed, questioned, etc. Not forbidden.

  176. Daisy wrote:

    They study it and know it quite well. They are very intellectual types. The problem as I see it is that they mis-apply what they read and are legalistic in application.

    I agree that they mis-apply what they read. The most recent encounters I have had with the fanboys of the Gospel Glitterati provided no evidence whatsoever that they have any idea at all of what is in the Bible. They have studied their gurus and can recite their teachings backward and forward. But when I asked them to show their exegetical work, I got silence and a shocked/perplexed/concerned look. Followed by the usual accusations veiled as questions of disobedience, a usurping spirit, cultural accommodation, etc. IOW, I have yet to get a substantive response, and I believe that they cannot provide it because their belief system is based on the peculiar personal obsessions and false conclusions of a few highly-influential men. They cannot back up their teaching from the Bible because God did not put it there. And that is why Piper and his cohorts are such promiscuous eisegetes and textual editors.

  177. @ Daisy:
    I also have found little evidence that they are intellectually inclined or really very curious about much of anything. They are into formulas and rules and magical thinking rather than rigorous or even mildly taxing intellectual inquiry. That, IMO, is why they are so brittle personally and theologically.

  178. nathan priddis wrote:

    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,” From that point on, Satan has had a special hatred of women

    I’m of the firm opinion that the enmity is because Eve exposed satan as the deceiver. God told the serpent “because you have done this….” And to Adam “because you have done this…” But not because Eve had intentionally done anything but confessed to being deceived.

  179. Beakerj wrote:

    Even though it’s in the context of ultimately stopping abuse it is mind boggling that submission, to JP, means enduring this. Have you ever been verbally abused? For a season? Or hit for a night? Seriously wrong.

    His “advice” has the exact opposite effect on one who does such things to another. It emboldens them because the other person who “takes it” devalues themselves. If someone has the propensity to verbally abuse or “smack” another around, they need to know immediately, it will not be tolerated. At. All.

    That is why guys like Piper are dangerous to believe or take as credible sources for anything.

    If Piper were a true “pastor” he would insist on taking the abuse for her while he helps her get out. Put himself on the line.

  180. Divorce Minister wrote:

    As long as divorce is always unacceptable, that make everything else in the marriage acceptable including some pretty awful and destructive sins.

    Another quotable line!

  181. Corbin wrote:

    Well, many of the new kiddies probably haven’t read it yet.

    if the kiddies’ like it, then I will be shocked.

  182. Nancy2 wrote:

    ’ve read some of “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” I don’t know whether to be angry, or just laugh.

    It seems a bit kooky to me. I think it would be worthwhile to feature some of the stuff. The only thing that worries me is they will pull it down. That is why I have made a copy or two.

  183. Bill M wrote:

    So what do you do if there is no adultery but one spouse wants a divorce?

    Many reasonable churches treat that as desertion and have no difficulty in divorce in that instance.

  184. Ken wrote:

    One is that he forbade his disciples to divorce, something echoed by his apostle Paul. Those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder (= by divorce).

    I have a different view on the time that Jesus was here during his ministry. He also said that that unless you care for the poor around you will not go to heaven

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ” He said that if you lust in your heart, you have committed adultery. Also, unless you forgive, then God will not forgive you. He told the woman to go and sin no more.

    However, that now means that in order to get into heaven you need the forgiveness of Jesus AND feed the poor, no sinning, always forgiving, etc. That makes no sense since it is only the forgiveness of Jesus that we need.

    I believe that Jesus was showing us just how far the Law extended. That is why we needed the grace of jesus. The Pharisees played games with the law and did not apply it to their hearts. Jesus’ words were painful to them because they believe that they kept the Law and were very pure.

    Jesus told them that they should not divorce just like he said not to lust, feed and care for the poor, always forgive others and sin no more. Frankly, there is not one of us who could meet those standards unless we want to cook the books like the Pharisees did.

    Jesus then went to the Cross to forgive us when we did sin again and again, when we overlooked the poor, when we couldn’t forgive others, and when we did sin more.

    I think people can get caught in a trap by attempting to live up to everything Jesus said. I am nt sure that is what he meant. I think he was showing us something far deeper. We should want to obey but our understanding of the need for the Cross and Resurrection means that we will not.

    I do not think that Jesus was saying “only adultery.” I believe he was saying only in serious cases should we divorce. Adultery is loving another more than your spouse. That means substance abuse, desertion, pornography, violence, etc. could fit into that category.

    The arrogant Pharisees were able to divorce their wives by saying “I divorce you” three times. Jesus told them they were totally screwed up and the heart issues went so much further.

    But, perhaps you are one who can go and sin no more. Perhaps you have forgiven everyone totally, and you always take care of the needs of the poor around you. If so, you are one in a million. I can assure that I am not one of those who fit that category of doing it all right. That is why I need the forgiveness of Jesus.

  185. Lydia wrote:

    Of course, Noel was never a ministry partner of his and he was gone all the time. So he was teaching something to other women his own wife was not able to sustain. Hypocrite.

    The only men and women I know who take multiple separate vacations from one another per year are highly complementarian or patriarchal. I’m not talking about an occasional trip. I’m talking about regular separate vacations. Is that because I’ve mostly known patriarchal/comp people or is it because patriarchal/comp teaching does not emphasize oneness or partnership but rather rigid roles which make “breaks” from one anther necessary? That is an observation, not evidence, but I think it is interesting.

  186. Daisy wrote:

    This one guy on her blog in particular really wanted to see cold, hard, scientific studies or polling, which I had none to give him. (I think Barbara Roberts later gave him some links to some studies on some of this stuff.)
    Or, it’s kind of like the Bill Cosby (TV actor, comedian) story.
    Even after 40+ women have said that Cosby sexually assaulted them, some people still want to believe he was innocent.

    Great comment. Thank you.

    Paige Patterson did this same things with Darrel Gilyard who was abusing teen girls. he wanted witnesses to the abuse. Thankfully, he was found out through no help of Patterson and others
    http://stopbaptistpredators.org/scandals/gilyard_and_patterson.html.

  187. @ Divorce Minister:

    David, I looked briefly at several posts on your site that deal with divorce, but unless I overlooked it, saw nothing about the importance of the Writ of Divorce. If I’m not mistaken, every time divorce or “putting away” is mentioned in scripture, the Writ of Divorce is as well.

    I think the importance of that document is missed many times. I know of no document that is mentioned in scripture that proves a marriage has taken place, but one that proves it’s dissolution is. Some say that remarriage constitutes adultery as God sees the original couple as still married. But in God’s mercy, the law of Moses implemented this document as a safeguard for the many women being put away by their husbands as proof that she was no longer married. Without that document, she would have been considered an adulterous had she remarried.

    It served two purposes imo. One it documented the number of divorces taking place and gave the woman legal proof that she was free of marital obligation.

    We take that document for granted today, but it was a radical gesture of mercy and protection for women and men later when Rome allowed women to divorce their husbands.

    It’s significance is reflected when God Himself mentions it when He divorced Israel.

  188. Gram3 wrote:

    There is much I could say about this, but I am mentally and physically sub-functional today and cannot do that

    I hope you are OK Gram3 – take care of yourself…

  189. Gs wrote:

    I’ve listened to piper for years and have never once heard anything of this sort

    Wow! If you have been listening for years, I am surprised this one went past you. It caused a tremendous amount of chatter on social media. Piper has been roundly criticized for it. Just plug in endure abuse for a season and piper and see the links. Here is the original video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OkUPc2NLrM

    I also dissected some of his words here.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/12/26/domestic-violence-christmas-john-piper-sgm-and-tgc/

    So, do you agree with him on women not developing muscles so they can avoid violent sex?

  190. dee wrote:

    @ Dee
    I say that everyone should be required to read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is free on line. Then they have to explain to me why the stuff, particularly by Grudem and Piper is normal.
    I want everyone to see what these guys are really saying.

    About 20 years ago I was giving lip service to complementarianism. Then, in order to better know my talking points, I read RBMW … and it was so nonsensical and Piper and Grudem used such poor reasoning and outright eisegesis that I really began studying the issues in earnest … and became an egalitarian. I think the example of how a woman should submissively respond to a man asking for directions was the tipping point.

  191. @ dee:
    I think you are reacting to something I haven’t said, along the lines of justification by works if we do what Jesus says.

    My point, in essence, is that Jesus cuts right across our notions or marriage by reinstituting what God intended in the first place. That excludes divorce which is a human institution, but I did explicitly say this was not unforgivable. But once we know what Jesus teaches on this, we should not put ourselves in the position where we need to ask forgiveness.

  192. Dee, I wonder if women like the ones connected with CBMW have elders overseeing their blogs to make sure they stay in line -scripturally-.

  193. @ dee:

    “. . . they all gutted it out.” That sounds like a phrase I might use when I am envious of another’s choices to free themselves when I have chosen to stick something out. Piper’s wife must be thrilled that he is guttn’ it out.

  194. Ken wrote:

    we should not put ourselves in the position where we need to ask forgiveness.

    I do not believe that anyone who divorces due to a spouse’s addiction to kiddie porn, illegal substance , violence-either to her (him) or the children, needs to ask for forgiveness for the divorce unless they married them knowing that they were like that. Then they should ask for forgiveness for putting themselves into danger. But they do not need to ask for forgiveness for the divorce.

    I actually think I do know what you are saying and I am disagreeing with you. I am saying that you may be misunderstanding the intent of Jesus’ words. You believe that they are proscriptive an extremely limited in this case. I am saying that they are not. I believe he is sending a message that goes way beyond the literal. I believe you are being literal and may not be seeing the deeper meaning.

    I know a woman who absolutely believes that there is an actual gate in heaven with an actually pearl. I say that it goes much, much deeper than that.

  195. On a sideways note, it’s Serena vs new girl Garbine Muguruza in the Ladies’ Final. Two, or three, sets stand between her and the Serena Slam. Plus, Jamie Murray continues his fine tradition at Wümbledon following his and doubles partner John Peers’ semi-final victory today, so that’ll be at least one Murray in a final.

    But the Gentlemen’s Singles is intriguing. Djokovic/Gasquet is a walkover, but Murray/Federer is very hard to call. Could be the match of the men’s tournament this year; and both are playing so well on grass this year that Djokovic’s victory in the final is by no means certain.

    And the First Test is finely poised in Cardiff. Much depends on how well England bowl in the first part session tomorrow.

    I hope this is helpful.

  196. @ NJ:
    There are only men, some of them quite young, in the upper echelon overseeing the CBMW message.You betcha men are mandating what is said.

    Here is the Board of Directors. http://cbmw.org/board-of-directors/

    Now look at the council members of which their are 5 women. Note how they list their credentials-it is a chuckle. Also, CJ Mahaney is on the council. Can you imagine?

    http://cbmw.org/council-members-2/

    Here is a listing of the staff-se who is in charge and look at the numbers of women.Also, there are no people of color on the staff.

    http://cbmw.org/staff/

  197. John wrote:

    Piper’s theology was cooked up in an upper-middle-class American ivory tower of Calvinism … I don’t think it works in the mess of real life on the streets …

    Which makes it even stranger that an army of YRR follow the Pied Piper. He’s the weird uncle you should avoid and they idolize the man!

    P.S. For those who have noted the comments on Piper’s Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, you should know that New Calvinists preach to men … period. Women are lesser citizens in the Kingdom and treated as such in NC churches. Sooner or later, young women caught up in this movement will get wise to that and lead a mass exit out.

  198. dee wrote:

    So, what did you think of the USA woman’s soccer (futball) team.

    That’d be fitba’, hen.

    Well, clearly, they can score goals. And it did make a nice change to see a major final that wasn’t decided on penalties or by the odd goal in a cagey or scrappy encounter.

    But can they make a Thai peanut sauce * sauce worthy of pan-seared salmon?

    * May contain nuts. Can aid slimming only as part of an alternative reality.

  199. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Let’s ignore one elephant for a second: that cruelty and abuse is, itself, sin. (!!!!!!) The implication, that I hate, is that God doesn’t give a divine scheiß about anybody but himself. The disempowered and the downtrodden must endure a world of hardship – they must put up with “sin” – but God can’t. Why did God sacrifice his only Son? Certainly not for love of the world, nor so that whosoevereth shouldst believeth unto him thereof shouldst haveth unto eternal life. No, it was to clean the smudges off his mirror so he could go back to admiring himself, content in the knowledge of the glory all the victims would bring him.

    Exactly! The Neo-Cal junk is just plain weird and it certainly is not based on the text. Not only do you have this narcissistic Trinity that sits around basking in one another’s glory, whose only motivation is to glorify themselves (including preordaning people to suffer in hell for eternity). But you also have God have two wills. From Piper you have Christian hedonism.
    Not only is this stuff bizarre theology, as has been pointed out, it can be harmful. Since, God does not love us because he love us, but is glorified by his love for us, then we see (contrary to what the Bible teaches) that love is not the primary thing, but glory is. Thus, when we have somebody who is being abused, we do not first try to love and protect them, but try to see how God we can glorify God. That turns things upside down, but that is where the guys seem to be coming from.

  200. Max wrote:

    Which makes it even stranger that an army of YRR follow the Pied Piper.

    Why doesn’t everyone else call him that? I mean, how much more gift-wrapped could it be?

  201. Beakerj wrote:

    Does anyone else feel like this is just a bit..off? Why doe she have to do this in such an appeasing way, as though she’s afraid of setting him off? Maybe it’s just a cultural thing, but this doesn’t sound like one adult who can express an opinion to another freely.

    An odd analogy just popped into my head. I do a lot of hiking and and the issue of trail etiquette and horses often comes up. The recommendation is hikers yield to horses but that basically just means when presented with a situation when hikers meet head on with horseback riders, when all else fails the hiker should yield.

    This recommendation does not mean the the horse rider cannot leave the trail to allow hikers to pass and it doesn’t mean that horseback riders should act like they own the trail and demand all should step from their path and be lectured in the process.

    I don’t provide this aside to force an analogy into support of how women should yield, I use it as an example how a simple recommendation to keep peace on a trail is used instead by many to lord it over others.

    I am fighting off the urge to tell stories of some of the horses pitutes, er riders, I’ve come across over the years but suffice it to say it is better to rely on treating your fellow man in a kind and thoughtful manner than demand conformity to what you think the law is.

  202. @ dee:
    Dee, from my experience with 2 different camps of Fundies (Hyles-Anderson and Ruckmanite) and the feel I got for the 9marks bunch I was around, I’d say the 9marks bunch is… sneaky bad? Maybe worse in that regard – when you walk into a Fundy church, you know it. It’s culture shock. Either you dig it, or you’re done after one service. The neocal bunch is under-cover crazy – it was a breath of fresh air at first, really. Simple service, great music, great focus on the word and just letting it speak, focus on the finished work of Christ – that’s the first impression the missus and I got. Great honeymoon stage, for a recovering Hyles-Anderson-Ruckman Fundy.

    Of course it’s later, after membership has been pushed on us several times, the missus comes home in tears from a women’s meeting, a guilt-trip to sign up for a conference…. The little alarm in the head goes off.

    Maybe it would be helpful to write on my experiences, comparing them both.

  203. I remember reading about Piper’s position awhile back and was appalled. But then, after watching his “Ask pastor John” videos on youtube, I noticed a trend. He would nuance bible verses way beyond their plain meaning in order to fit a theological narrative that suits his Reformed theology. He reminded me not of a “scripture twister”, but of an out of touch professor whose spent so much time in his books that he’s lost touch with common sense Christian life. God is complicated, but not incomprehensible. Piper’s God is incomprehensible. Therefore, he is difficult to know.

    And while I don’t think Piper is a bad man, I do think he is a wrong one in many, many ways. And the hero worship he receives is deeply alarming. Has anyone in the Reformed community openly disagreed with Piper on this? If so, I haven’t heard of it. It’s glossed over and tacitly accepted because Mr. Piper is as infallible as the Pope in Reformed circles. (which is odd, considering the Reformation was a rebellion against Papal authority.) As I told one of my good friends (who is a Piper fan, but not a worshipper) “No Reformed Christian would ever question Piper on anything. I’ve never heard anyone do so. They just listen to him and assume its Biblical”.

  204. @ Ken:
    Ken, there is so much more to this, per context at the time of Jesus’ ministry, than you are allowing for. My suggestion is that you do some reading, but not inthe sources you usually go to. It might be outside your comfort zone, but should be illuminating.

    One good source (which draws on scolarship by xtians as well as Jews) is The Annotated Jewish NT. Amy-Jill Levine is one of the editors, and her name is listed 1st under the author’s heading. She also deals with related issues in some of her other books. Sheis vety accesdible per writing style, and, since she teaches NT studies at Vanderbilt, is exvellent at both understanding your perspective (without being judgy) and addressing the kinds of questions and objections that you have raised here.

  205. @ dee:
    I do not think this is about most people “playing games with the law,” but about *some* of the Pharisees. Besides, you can see (in Hosea and elsewhere) that God is very upset by those who dump their wives simply to go off with another, presumably younger (or fertile) wife.

    Fwiw, Jesus refers to “a certificate of divorce” (“get” in Hebrew). Not sure where you heard saying “i divorce you” 3x is how things were done in Jesus’ time – iirc, the 3x is supposedly something done by some Muslims, but i am wondering if yhat is real or an urban legend. In any case, ghe Orthodox still use the get, to this day.

  206. @ numo:
    I know JeffS highly recommends a book by David Instone-Brewer. Am sure you could eadoly locate a copy via Amazon or similar.

  207. dee wrote:

    Now look at the council members of which their are 5 women. Note how they list their credentials-it is a chuckle.

    Oh my… how obvious is that?? Of course, none of the males are identified as “head of my wife” or “manager of household”….

  208. Gram3 wrote:

    The only men and women I know who take multiple separate vacations from one another per year are highly complementarian or patriarcha

    Oh me too. One such comp couple in my family have 2 homes and spend 6 mos per year apart. But they can talk “comp” perfectly.

  209. @ Muff Potter:
    Ken wrote:

    I deliberately worded the post to say I don’t have a ‘law’. I’ve read enough on this subject to appreciate how easy it is to fall into the trap of treating the various passages on this in the bible as legislation.

    Ken, I had to say “your” law because I don’t think your understanding is Jesus’s understanding on law, even though you said you are merely showing Jesus’ law. The differences are seen in the story surrounding “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”

    IMO, you do to marriage/divorce what the religious leaders did to the sabbath. If a marriage crashes, like an ox falling down a hole, you refuse to allow the couple to end their suffering—to pull the ox out—because you view law as immutable.

    But people are alive. They shift/move/grow/slip. Laws without sinews and muscles cannot be applied to life. When law is a brick wall or a plate of iron, life is destroyed by hitting itself hopelessly against it. One of Jesus’ accomplishments was to give Law sinews/muscles, so that he could declare that all OT law and prophets hung on the Two Great Commandments, Love God first, and others as much as self.

    That being so, there is no room for love in a destroyed relationship chained together by an immutable law against divorce. Thus, requiring it is against Jesus’ law.

  210. Max wrote:

    Which makes it even stranger that an army of YRR follow the Pied Piper. He’s the weird uncle you should avoid and they idolize the man!

    Some people need a sense of certainty and Piper provides that. Everything is cast in black and white, right or wrong. No ambiguities or gray areas. Some people eat that up, and come to depend on it. It’s part of the reason they defend it so strongly when challenged.

  211. @ Ken:

    Ken, I highly recommend David Instone Brewer who is a Hebrew Scholar with Tyndale House. I came across him, ironically, when Piper was trashing him. That intrigued me so I started studying his stuff. (Those Piper trashes are usually very interesting, like NT Wright)

    Instone-Brewer goes through it all from Deuteronomy to the NT to point out what Jesus was really talking about when it comes to marriage/divorce/remarriage. It is not like reading Piper at all. There is real scholarship involved. And it is a big mistake not to take into consideration what was going on at the time it came up. And besides, these points are all moot since women could not just get a divorce that easily and were usually neglected or abandoned. A man could easily divorce, though. So take that into consideration, too, in a time of arranged marriages with much younger women to much older men.

    It is usually a glaring tip off to me when teachers and/or pastors imply that people divorce because they are just not happy. They might want to ask themselves why such shallow people feel so comfortable at their church. (I have seen several mega’s where this should have been asked so I know where you are coming from) Or perhaps the whole “not happy” mantra is something much deeper….with the pastor or teacher?

  212. dee wrote:

    IMO, the Calvinistas have taken the legalism of the fundamentalists and morphed it into the “freedom to obey.” Therefore if one does not obey, one is not free.

    It’s worse than that. If one does not obey (all these myriad laws of man), one is not saved. Obviously not one of the Elect.

  213. Ken wrote:

    But we dare not presume on the grace of God either, nor give the impression that vows made in the presence of God can be discarded (lightly or otherwise) because we’ve hit bad times or the feelings have gone.

    That wonderful passage about God’s grace, how great and wide and deep it is, how blessed we are to be the children of such mercy and kindness, ends with “So do we sin, that grace may abound?” Of course not!

    So when marriage fails—-and it is always deeply painful when it happens even when too quickly done or because of bad choices—there is no need to be concerned about presuming on God’s grace. His grace is hardy and bountiful. God wants us to be working towards what He originally made us to be, not taking on heavy burdens because His grace might not be large enough to handle our failures.

    We need to concern ourselves with the lessons of failed marriage, as with all failed relationships, so that we become wiser and better equipped to continue our awful rowing towards God. This is a huge need the church can address, but it would require humble study in psychology…

    I repeat, a big reason so many marriages fail is that women have been moving towards peer value and men are having a hard time giving up their bennies for the sake of relationship. Yes, that is a moral failure, so where is the church tackling that? We are in this together, yes?

    How many women live alone raising children? It’s not fun. The work at job and home is perpetual. There’s constant “making do” and a deep loneliness/inadequacy when raising children alone. Where in the church is support for them? Instead, we go on about wives submitting to husbands.

    And over the last decade, marriage failure has been deepened by economic distress. If Christians want something to chew on, they would do well to also work against the false religion of neo-lib/neo-con economics rather than cranking on each other, spending precious energy parsing Bible verses for ever-more purified theologies.

    Condemning any reason for divorce when half of adults don’t even marry anymore? I don’t understand this.

  214. Lydia wrote:

    I was hoping Max would trademark it. I saw him use it first a few years back on another blog. :o)

    Lydia, I suppose I should have trademarked “Pied Piper” … along with noting tweets as “Piper Points”, “Mohler Moments”, “Driscoll Drivel”, etc. … but I don’t want to profit pointing out their sins. Please feel free to use my stuff!

    By the way, are you really Peter Lumpkins? ;^)

  215. Victorious wrote:

    dee wrote:
    Now look at the council members of which their are 5 women. Note how they list their credentials-it is a chuckle.
    Oh my… how obvious is that?? Of course, none of the males are identified as “head of my wife” or “manager of household”….

    I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Susan Hunt does not have “homemaker” in her curriculum vitae. Pity her poor husband.

  216. John wrote:

    Max wrote:
    Which makes it even stranger that an army of YRR follow the Pied Piper. He’s the weird uncle you should avoid and they idolize the man!
    Some people need a sense of certainty and Piper provides that. Everything is cast in black and white, right or wrong. No ambiguities or gray areas. Some people eat that up, and come to depend on it. It’s part of the reason they defend it so strongly when challenged.

    Yes. I think this is why it resonated with me for so long. I came from a chaotic upbringing. I had no role models I cared to follow, from my formational years. I might have found a healthy mentor/group, but the YRR got there first.

  217. Lydia wrote:

    @ Ken:
    Ken, I highly recommend David Instone Brewer who is a Hebrew Scholar with Tyndale House. I came across him, ironically, when Piper was trashing him. That intrigued me so I started studying his stuff. (Those Piper trashes are usually very interesting, like NT Wright)
    Instone-Brewer goes through it all from Deuteronomy to the NT to point out what Jesus was really talking about when it comes to marriage/divorce/remarriage. It is not like reading Piper at all. There is real scholarship involved. And it is a big mistake not to take into consideration what was going on at the time it came up. And besides, these points are all moot since women could not just get a divorce that easily and were usually neglected or abandoned. A man could easily divorce, though. So take that into consideration, too, in a time of arranged marriages with much younger women to much older men.
    It is usually a glaring tip off to me when teachers and/or pastors imply that people divorce because they are just not happy. They might want to ask themselves why such shallow people feel so comfortable at their church. (I have seen several mega’s where this should have been asked so I know where you are coming from) Or perhaps the whole “not happy” mantra is something much deeper….with the pastor or teacher?

    I remember one Kay Arthur series where she said, “God wants you to be holy, more than he wants you to be happy.”

    Is that a reasonable conclusion from scripture? I was just wondering. My eldest has just joined a Kay Arthur study on the Beatitudes, and there is an index with a lot of material on proper roles. I used to enjoy Kay Arthur and Precept, but now I don’t think I can join our eldest at this study, even though she’s invited me.

  218. John wrote:

    Some people need a sense of certainty and Piper provides that.

    Only the Holy Spirit provides certainty. Folks need to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, not the teachings and traditions of men. Piper is just a mere man. Young believers would do well to turn Piper off, read the Bible themselves, and pray for discernment. If a man can give you a (false) sense of certainty with his teaching, another man can take it away with theirs. You can trust the Holy Spirit to provide the assurance you need for the long haul.

  219. refugee wrote:

    the YRR got there first

    A disturbing, but true, statement of the condition of the American church … to leave a generation of young folks at the mercy of such movements. Young man, the generations of Christians before you have done a miserable job of discipling young believers. When we were dishing out pizza parties to keep you occupied, we should have come alongside you to study God’s word and pray with you. Forgive us.

  220. Daisy wrote:

    I was a tom boy as a child, and even remain a bit of one as an adult. I never fit into the Christianized (gender complementarian) cookie cutter, gender /girly role, where all women are supposed to be (or want to be) quiet, passive, enjoy wearing pink dresses, etc.

    I was a tom-boy too, Daisy. Maybe bucking the girlie-trend when young makes it easier to do so when adult.

    I am glad, though. I like roaming freely from subject to subject, activity to activity, place to place, and not feeling the pressure to stay within confines and make the best of it. We both did the latter for a while (me longer than you, I think) and there wasn’t much joy, nope.

  221. @ Patrice:
    I wasn’t all that girly (sterotypically) as a young person, and I’m not now. Was talking about princess mania with my mom yesterday. It turns out that she hated the iterations of that in her childhood, which was, well – 80-plus years ago. I told her that if princesses in stories had advejtures and traveled and *did* things, i might well have enjoyed pretending to be that kind of princess. But helpless damsels? No freakin’ way, ever!

  222. Muff Potter wrote:

    Behind the mask, I think he’s scared you-know-what-less of the primal power of women.

    Def something is deeply awry. I have a few ideas but only he knows for sure, if anyone does.

    But it’s embarrassing as it stands.

  223. refugee wrote:

    So I still don’t trust myself to read it, because what if I don’t notice that something is actually “creepy”?

    I have no confidence anymore.

    My sympathies, refugee. I remember being in that place. Everything is up in the air and you can’t see one thing from the next thing. It feels awful!

    Give yourself time. I promise it’ll all slowly settle back down in newer healthier patterns. You’ll be glad it happened, once it’s over (and may it be over soon, for you.)

  224. Max wrote:

    Only the Holy Spirit provides certainty. Folks need to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, not the teachings and traditions of men. Piper is just a mere man. Young believers would do well to turn Piper off, read the Bible themselves, and pray for discernment. If a man can give you a (false) sense of certainty with his teaching, another man can take it away with theirs. You can trust the Holy Spirit to provide the assurance you need for the long haul.

    Hmmm. I seem to notice that those who claim to be led by the Spirit do not agree with each other any more than the academics agree with each other or than the read-the-bible-for-yourself people agree with each other. Hence our plethora of denominations not to mention individual differences of opinion.

  225. @ refugee:

    I think he wants us to grow in wisdom and be maturing. This is a theme throughout the OT. Jesus told them to be “perfect” like our Father is perfect. Looking at that word in Greek denotes maturity and completion. I don’t think Jesus would tell people to do things that they were not capable of doing.

    And we cannot mature following the same gurus for years. We have the Holy Spirit.

  226. lydia wrote:

    Lol!

    So it’s still a great mystery.

    Speaking of Piper Points, here’s a recent one for you to sleep on tonight Lydia: “If an old dog can’t learn new tricks, there’s no God in heaven.” Whew! Deep stuff. Wow, daddy wow!

  227. Okrapod wrote:

    plethora of denominations

    Yes, but only one true church. There has always been the Church within the church. It’s by the Spirit, thus saith the Lord! Unfortunately, organized religion has done a fine job of grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit. In many places, the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit has been relegated to the back of the church, as if it’s something that gets on the pentecostals and we don’t want it on us! Personal relationship with Christ and “religion” often collide. I hope I live long enough to see religion’s funeral preached! In the meantime, I try to carve out a place of ministry within the confines of the teachings and traditions of men … but always listening for that still small voice to lead me and help me sort out truth from error.

  228. numo wrote:

    if princesses in stories had advejtures and traveled and *did* things, i might well have enjoyed pretending to be that kind of princess. But helpless damsels? No freakin’ way, ever!

    I know right? Someone draws your bath, combs/pins your golden hair, sews your silk be-jewelled dress and helps you into it. Someone tenderly situates the princess crown upon your head and and all you do, all day every day, is flutter your eyelashes at potential princes, and make sure you don’t eat too much. Oh, and embroider. That’s not a story. There’s no there there.

    It would be a story if this princess became so bored that she ran away and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men chased her through the Black Forest. And since she’d never learned to care for herself, a bird nested in her mess of hair and her clothing slowly disintegrated from lack of washing. The soldiers finally tracked her down via the jewels that fell from said dress. And also cuz the smell of her went fore and aft.

    But that story has nothing to do with John Piper. Well, it could. But it doesn’t.

  229. Gs wrote:

    I would love to get a link to the actual sermons where he taught this because I have a feeling you either are taking his comments completely out of context or you are flat out lying. I’ve listened to piper for years and have never once heard anything of this sort.

    Since you must be google-search disabled (and I have sympathy for the disabled, being one myself), here is one link:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OkUPc2NLrM

  230. from Dee’s quote of Piper:

    “The image of a masculine musculature may beget arousal in a man, but it does not beget several hours of moonlight walking with significant, caring conversation. The more women can arouse men by doing typically masculine things, the less they can count on receiving from men a sensitivity to typically feminine ”

    on Twitter a while ago:

    “Down by the river the teenagers would go to make out. I watched them drive back. They never looked happy. Especially she.”

    Maybe she was too muscular and things went too fast?

  231. Daisy wrote:

    Divorce Minister wrote:
    Personally, I knew marriage was a gift for me. God was kind enough to bring an amazing gal into my life after my divorce, and we are very happily married. The difference this time around has been drastic…in a very good way. But remarriage is not for everyone; just as being single isn’t.
    I am happy for you that you are in a good marriage now, but, I find some of this thinking troubling.
    I don’t think God brings or sends anyone a spouse. I’m over 40, have never been married, and would like to be. Despite doing all the tactics Christians said to take to get married (everything from trying dating sites, to having faith, to praying, etc), none of them worked, and I am still single.
    I don’t feel that being single is necessarily for me either, but marriage has not happened, so I find myself single anyhow.

    I do believe a spouse is a gift from God (e.g. Proverbs 19:14). But I understand how it can be frustrating when we want something, but it is not happening. I have friends and family in that place right now about marriage–i.e. wanting it and it not happening.

  232. Victorious wrote:

    We take that document for granted today, but it was a radical gesture of mercy and protection for women and men later when Rome allowed women to divorce their husbands.

    It’s significance is reflected when God Himself mentions it when He divorced Israel.

    Interesting Victorius. I never saw that angle before. It might be worth pursuing to uncover more. Let us know if you come up with something.

  233. @ Patrice:

    No problem. Loved your comment about the Sabbath and marriage though! It reminded me of an instance back when I was an ELCA Lutheran in which a young woman in her last year of Seminary gave an early service sermon. Her sermon was on God’s hatred of cruelty and the way she dismantled the old fiction of shepherds breaking the legs of sheep ‘for their own good’ was both moving and masterful.

  234.   __

    “Tyndale’s Plowboys Now Denigrate Scriptural Interpretation or Pastorial Leadership Reserve Biblical Interpretation For Themselves?”

    (where have we heard that before?!?)

    @ Gram3,

    hey,

    John Piper is a 501(c)3 professional Christian  gurus, that ‘you can’t possibally go wrong with…’   🙂

    -snicker-

    Ha! Ha!

    hmmm…

    huh?

    Q. Why is this man (John Piper) so popular with so many, you ask?

    Ans. IMHO Cuz trustingly Kind Folks don’t do their homework, and let these 501(c)3 pastorial individuals do their thinking for them…

    (sadface)

    An example would be the pulpit pounders of SGM/SGC declaring sternly from the pulpit, that the congregation was to defer to pastorial interpretation of scripture from their pastorial leaders, because (the excuse was) ‘members could get it wrong’ ™. ‘We will read and interpret your bible for you, trust us,  you are in good hands!’ (r) The SGM/SGC pastor then preceeded to assert a ‘strong’ view of pastorial authority from the pulpit for the interpreting the bible on one hand, and denigrated of congregational inquiry into the pages of the Bible, — the authority for Christian belief and conduct on the other.

    (can you believe it?)

    What?

    Ya know, the last time I checked, John Piper, like C.J Mahaney, is a 5 point Calvinist who’s Augustinian doctrine is long known to descerning minds to twist scripture for other purposes than a simple belief in the gospel [1] of Jesus Christ.

    [1] John 3:16

    (tears)

    ATB

    Sopy

  235. John wrote:

    Some people need a sense of certainty and Piper provides that. Everything is cast in black and white, right or wrong. No ambiguities or gray areas.

    I think you’re underestimating. Instead of some I’d say most.

    My observations over these many years indicate to me that most people want easy answers. No gray allowed. So someone who never talks about the gray or admits it even exists will draw followers in large numbers. No matter what nonsense this approach leads you to.

  236. No relevance here, but last night one of y’all’s handles showed up in my dream.

    Muff Potter.

    There must be deep significance. I should start a cult.

  237. Muff Potter wrote:

    Interesting Victorius. I never saw that angle before. It might be worth pursuing to uncover more. Let us know if you come up with something.

    Well, at the time the Pharisees were questioning Jesus about divorce (Matt 19:3), there were two schools according to Adam Clark’s commentary:

    At this time there were two famous divinity and philosophical schools among the Jews, that of Shammai, and that of Hillel. On the question of divorce, the school of Shammai maintained, that a man could not legally put away his wife, except for whoredom. The school of Hillel taught that a man might put away his wife for a multitude of other causes, and when she did not find grace in his sight; i.e. when he saw any other woman that pleased him better.

    So the Pharisees were evidently confronting Jesus with their justification of putting away their wives for “any cause” which had been their practice for eons. But Jesus reminds them of the original design for marriage in Genesis. They continued to challenge Him with the command of Moses allowing for divorce with the use of a Certificate of Divorce. Jesus responds that the reason for that document was because of the hardness of their hearts; i.e. sending their wives away for petty reasons.

    The Writ of Divorce was an effort to regulate the horrible treatment of women and afford them the opportunity to remarry as they could provide written, legal proof that the marriage had been dissolved (by her husband).

    That document has survived centuries as a legal proof of the dissolution of marriage so that either party would not be guilty of adultery if they remarried. I believe adultery was against the law in many cultures and deserving of the most serious punishment.

    So it is my opinion, that it was a merciful concession to the design of lifetime marriage of one man/one woman because of hard hearts. One would not be guilty of adultery if they had legal proof of a divorce.

  238. Ah, sorry I missed the conversation thus far, as this is one that is close to my heart. When I was divorced, nothing hurt worse than the way my church handled (it hurt even more than the divorce itself), and they directed my toward the teachings of Piper. Reading his teaching on this nearly destroyed me.

    I knew that if Piper was right, then God despised me. I’m so thankful that Instone-Brewer’s work was thorough and convincing enough to show me that the God of the Bible could take a different position than “You must suffer so that your spouse can be free to exploit you and somehow that will be honoring to me”.

    A revealing statement by my pastor regarding my divorce was “If God wants you to remarry, he can take [my now ex-wife] at any time”. Sick stuff.

  239. This is probably worth it to add to the discussion: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/10/10/a-open-letter-to-john-piper-about-his-view-on-divorce/

    I am the one who wrote that letter, and it was written in the midst of trying to see straight through my faith. I never intended to send it when I wrote it (which was six months before it was published on ACFJ), but part of my healing process was writing honest letters to people who hurt me and then not sending them. I realized it was more about expressing myself than trying to change their minds.

    But Barbara and Jeff thought it might do others good to read it, so I allowed them to publish it.

    I’ll admit, at the time I had more respect for Piper’s teaching than I do now, so that last paragraph is not something I agree with now. But, it was honest.

  240. Max wrote:

    Which makes it even stranger that an army of YRR follow the Pied Piper. He’s the weird uncle you should avoid and they idolize the man!
    P.S. … Women are lesser citizens in the Kingdom and treated as such in NC churches. Sooner or later, young women caught up in this movement will get wise to that and lead a mass exit out.

    You got me thinking of this classic News Flash:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wljPHtQ3dXM

    I’d love to hear about the young women you mentioned reacting to the Pied Piper just like these mice. Oh, what it would do to his ego… hee hee hee…

  241. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Why doesn’t everyone else call him that? I mean, how much more gift-wrapped could it be?

    “Call me Pied, baby, Pied.”

    P.S. See the video link in my previous comment if you’re wondering what the blankety-blank I’m talking about. 😉

    P.S.S. This:

    Can aid slimming only as part of an alternative reality.

    is awesome. Love your sense of humour!

  242. Jeff S wrote:

    A revealing statement by my pastor regarding my divorce was “If God wants you to remarry, he can take [my now ex-wife] at any time”. Sick stuff.

    The hell, man?? What in the hell?

    Not sorry for the language, Deebs.

  243. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    reacting to the Pied Piper

    It’s catching on!

    The true purpose of the “Pied Piper” parody * is not, of course, to take lazy potshots at Mr Piper himself, but to satirise the broader tendency within Christendom (and other belief-systems, for that matter) to congregate behind ideological figureheads.

    * This phrase wasn’t meant to be as alliterative as it turned out to be. CF “Preacher Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”

  244. Ken wrote:

    My point, in essence, is that Jesus cuts right across our notions or marriage by reinstituting what God intended in the first place. That excludes divorce which is a human institution, but I did explicitly say this was not unforgivable. But once we know what Jesus teaches on this, we should not put ourselves in the position where we need to ask forgiveness.

    Are you talking about the “sin” of a woman divorcing from an abusive monster for her own safety and sanity, and that of her children? That kind of “sin”?

    I hope not, because it sounds a lot like blaming the victim. Which is something I can’t respect. And I can’t worship a god who would demand that she stay in a “marriage” that only exists on paper, and in fact is nothing more than a black hole of abuse and co-dependency.

  245. @ Victorious:

    That is certainly how I always heard it preached in church. If somebody is not doing that any more I would hold them suspect until proved otherwise. For those interested in the take on various things within Judaism I recommend a website called Judaism 101.

    In the gospel account of what Jesus said he did take sides in the issue and he did address the issue of hardness of heart as the reason for the Mosaic allowance of divorce. And his disciples did understand him to be maintaining a position which they felt was difficult, to the point of questioning whether it would not be better to refrain from marriage in the first place. The gospel writer(s) and the Holy Spirit saw fit to include all that in the scripture-I would say obviously for some purpose.

    And yes Jesus did link lust and adultery, again talking about heart issues and not just legal issues.

    Neither casual dismissal of all this nor a deliberate attempt to make it either more or less than it is would be a path which I would think would lead to some level of truth.

    Paul did not either try to deconstruct this nor did he try to create a comprehensive book of canon law to cover all issues. He addressed specific issues. Again, this is helpful and should not be either disregarded nor elevated beyond the original intent.

    In my opinion, and for what that is worth, there are some guiding principles here which are valid cross culturally and over the centuries. There is also room for the pastoral approach to specific situations, as illustrated by the fact that Paul did it, and did it with obvious attention to individual needs and differences.

  246. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    The true purpose of the “Pied Piper” parody * is not, of course, to take lazy potshots at Mr Piper himself, but to satirise the broader tendency within Christendom (and other belief-systems, for that matter) to congregate behind ideological figureheads.

    Amen Nick! And the purpose of watchblogs, such as this one, is to provide experiences and concerns with popular movements such as New Calvinism that will address overconfidence in their leaders and belief system. Mr. Piper is but one “influencer” in this popular movement; many others are also playing a trumpet with an uncertain sound.

  247. Sean wrote:

    And while I don’t think Piper is a bad man, I do think he is a wrong one in many, many ways. And the hero worship he receives is deeply alarming. Has anyone in the Reformed community openly disagreed with Piper on this? If so, I haven’t heard of it. It’s glossed over and tacitly accepted because Mr. Piper is as infallible as the Pope in Reformed circles. (which is odd, considering the Reformation was a rebellion against Papal authority.) As I told one of my good friends (who is a Piper fan, but not a worshipper) “No Reformed Christian would ever question Piper on anything. I’ve never heard anyone do so. They just listen to him and assume its Biblical”.

    I would say within the Reformed community I know there are different views on this and I don’t see in the circles I run any big push of Piper’s view on divorce.

    I do remember one time when Dever disagreed publicly with Piper over the value of practices like fasting and simplicity, Dever saying that Piper was giving too much value to them. It was in a panel discussion of some sort. So it has happened. Can’t think right off hand of any other times, but I haven’t really searched it out.

  248. Jeff S wrote:

    This is probably worth it to add to the discussion: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2012/10/10/a-open-letter-to-john-piper-about-his-view-on-divorce/

    Thanks for sharing. My parents divorced when I was sixteen. I used to believe in the “it takes two” argument because in my case, both of my parents contributed to it, but I realized much later that it’s not always true. That in many, many divorces there is a perpetrator and a victim.

    It’s a shame John Piper doesn’t seem to realize that. I just don’t understand how, being a pastor for 30+ years, how he could come to such an insensitive (and unbiblical) conclusion on divorce. So glad I never went to Bethlehem Baptist.

  249. js wrote:

    I do remember one time when Dever disagreed publicly with Piper over the value of practices like fasting and simplicity, Dever saying that Piper was giving too much value to them.

    Hmmm. Wondering about Dever giving too much value to church (or is that elder?) discipline. Or giving to much value to helping CJ and Caroline Mahaney leave their church behind and flee when their actions were called into question? Leaders seem to pick and choose their priorities.

  250. Okrapod wrote:

    In my opinion, and for what that is worth, there are some guiding principles here which are valid cross culturally and over the centuries.

    Yes, I agree. My point was more directed to those who teach that if the innocent party in a divorce remarries, they are guilty of living in an adulterous state. That equates to unforgiveable sin but adultery and divorce are not unforgiveable sins anymore than murder, lying, theft, or any other sin. To teach such a thing makes the cross of no effect.

    Deut. 24 clearly stipulates that the woman who is sent away from her husband and remarries, that husband may not take her back. Then we see the prevalence of such complacency about marriage when the very next verse speaks about the next husband sending her away! He must issue a Certificate of Divorce as well.

    Again, of interest, is I can find no guidelines or commands as to how two people are to marry. Cultural, yes. Commands or legal contracts, not to my knowledge. So that makes this legal document so radical and beneficial imo.

  251. Gs wrote:

    I would love to get a link to the actual sermons where he taught this because I have a feeling you either are taking his comments completely out of context or you are flat out lying. I’ve listened to piper for years and have never once heard anything of this sort.

    She’s not lying. (And I say that also as a long-time attender of Piper’s church.) Here’s a link for his teaching on how a woman should still maintain a spirit of submissiveness while begging off a request to participate in group sex, and it’s followed immediately by his teaching on enduring “being smacked for one night”:

    http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2009/08/21/john-piper-on-submission-in-abuse/

    We’re not making this up or taking it out of context. He really said it, and he still really believes it. Re-read what Lydia said: The priority concern Piper expresses here is that the wife maintain submissiveness no matter what. This echoes what Beakerj said above: “sticking to a supposed Biblical principle (if it even is such) is more important than any amount of human suffering”.

  252. Patrice wrote (to Ken):

    IMO, you do to marriage/divorce what the religious leaders did to the sabbath. If a marriage crashes, like an ox falling down a hole, you refuse to allow the couple to end their suffering—to pull the ox out—because you view law as immutable.
    But people are alive. They shift/move/grow/slip. Laws without sinews and muscles cannot be applied to life. When law is a brick wall or a plate of iron, life is destroyed by hitting itself hopelessly against it.

    The attitude of guys like Piper reminds me of Auto, the robot auto-pilot of the starship Axiom in the movie “WALL-E”. All he can think about is Directive A113: “Avoid Earth at all costs”. And nothing — not the desires of the human race, not the passage of 500 years, not even the proof that life has returned to Earth — will convince him that the directive no longer applies. For Auto, it is The Law.

    For Piper, it seems the Only Directive seems to be, “Avoid divorce at all costs.” And no amount of human suffering or misery will help him see that divorce can be necessary, or even the right thing to do.

  253. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    Adam Borsay wrote:
    Give Pipers work 100 or more years and then we can see what lasts…if anything at all.
    None of us will be here in 100 years. And we are responsible for this generation. This is why we discuss the things with which we disagree.

    But then, Bilbo, every time Adam Borsay has been on these threads, he’s been defending the CELEBRITY (and Calvin) like a faithful little lapdog wanting his pat-pat-pat on the head from the MoG.

    P.S. Deb, Dee, everyone: I’m on vacation through next week so I won’t be posting much (if at all). Started out Wednesday as one of United Airines’ victims.

  254. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    For Piper, it seems the Only Directive seems to be, “Avoid divorce at all costs.” And no amount of human suffering or misery will help him see that divorce can be necessary, or even the right thing to do.

    I wonder if Flutterhands HAS to keep his own wife from leaving him…

  255. Serving Kids In Japan wrote:

    Are you talking about the “sin” of a woman divorcing from an abusive monster for her own safety and sanity, and that of her children? That kind of “sin”?

    But it is SIN SIN SIN — if YOU’RE the abusive husband.
    You gotta keep your punching bag With Benefits(TM).
    Because “What *I* Wanna!” is all that matters.

  256. numo wrote:

    I wasn’t all that girly (sterotypically) as a young person, and I’m not now. Was talking about princess mania with my mom yesterday. It turns out that she hated the iterations of that in her childhood, which was, well – 80-plus years ago. I told her that if princesses in stories had advejtures and traveled and *did* things, i might well have enjoyed pretending to be that kind of princess. But helpless damsels? No freakin’ way, ever!

    I was more excited about playing “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” — we could run around the neighborhood and talk into ballpoint pens, boys and girls alike — than “Army” (if you were a girl, the boys relegated you to the role of “nurse”). And princesses were stupid, insipid things — until Tales of the Kingdom came out. I don’t know about the theology of the people who wrote that series, but the princess was not insipid.

  257. @ refugee:
    (and I might clarify that the “Tales of the Kingdom” trilogy came out well after I was grown up, but my own tomboys enjoyed those stories very much)

  258. NJ wrote:

    from Dee’s quote of Piper:

    “The image of a masculine musculature may beget arousal in a man, but it does not beget several hours of moonlight walking with significant, caring conversation. The more women can arouse men by doing typically masculine things, the less they can count on receiving from men a sensitivity to typically feminine ”

    I shall let Josie Cotton deliver what has always been my response to that:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=457N1m4oUZw

  259. Max wrote:

    Speaking of Piper Points, here’s a recent one for you to sleep on tonight Lydia: “If an old dog can’t learn new tricks, there’s no God in heaven.” Whew! Deep stuff. Wow, daddy wow!

    Like those “DEEP THOUGHTS(TM)” on Saturday Night Live.

  260. dee wrote:

    IMO, the Calvinistas have taken the legalism of the fundamentalists and morphed it into the “freedom to obey.” Therefore if one does not obey, one is not free.

    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

    And who needs Christ when We Have CALVIN?
    Who needs a Bible when We Have CALVIN’s Institutes?
    CALVIN who Had God All Figured Out!

  261. Patrice wrote:

    It would be a story if this princess became so bored that she ran away and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men chased her through the Black Forest.

    I think this is why my (then young) teens so enjoyed the modern stories of girls training as knights, and princesses who went on adventures.

  262. Muff Potter wrote:

    the way she dismantled the old fiction of shepherds breaking the legs of sheep ‘for their own good’ was both moving and masterful.

    I would love to hear such a thing. That old illustration is burned into my brain.

  263. refugee wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:

    the way she dismantled the old fiction of shepherds breaking the legs of sheep ‘for their own good’ was both moving and masterful.

    I would love to hear such a thing. That old illustration is burned into my brain.

    The last thing any shepherd would need is a sheep with one or more broken leg that couldn’t keep up with the flock. He would have to carry that sheep – if possible. If carrying was impossible for some reason or other, he would have to abandon that sheep.

    The idea that a shepherd (who needs to move his flock from one place to another) would on purpose incapacitate a sheep and thus make his own job harder can only be the product of an authoritarian mind.

    And the shepherd’s staff was only there to guide, and if necessary, to catch a sheep – hence the crooked far end of said staff. Not to wound the sheep.

    But anyone who repeats that old illustration in his teaching clearly shows one thing:
    1. Not only does this person have no idea of the culture he is talking about
    2. Wounding the sheep is on his mind

    Beware!

  264. dee wrote:

    And here is a quote from Piper in that book that is downright creepy.

    “Consider what is lost when women attempt to assume a more masculine role by appearing physically muscular and aggressive. […]”

    I don’t know what it is, and why, but after reading this and bumerous other infamous Piper quotes om what women should and shouldn’t do (from “giving directions” to “muscular body”), I can only assume that self-assured women scare Piper sh**less.

    This is just not normal.

    Maybe he needs some professional help.

  265. @ GovPappy:

    Yeah, pretty brutal stuff. But it is the logical outcome of what Piper teaches. And what I was struggling. As painful as my marriage was, I did not want to start hoping for her death.

    But if you are in pain and the only release is the death of the person hurting you, what is the natural hope going to be? It’s a sick, sick theology.

  266. Gus wrote:

    I can only assume that self-assured women scare Piper sh**less.
    This is just not normal.

    I made a comment under my genetic engineering post that seems equally appropriate here: Wed Jul 08, 2015 at 09:53 AM

  267. Gus wrote:

    The idea that a shepherd (who needs to move his flock from one place to another) would on purpose incapacitate a sheep and thus make his own job harder can only be the product of an authoritarian mind.

    I can remember way back in my Calvary Chapel days Papa Chuck was quite fond of this meme. Smith can also be credited with advancing the ‘Moses model’ for church governance which holds that the Lord ‘anoints’ a pastor as autocrat to rule ‘biblically’ over the churches and franchises under his aegis.

  268. @ Gus:
    Wow. And the whole point, as I recall, was teaching the Lord’s tender care for his flock. If a sheep kept straying, because of its foolishness, he’d break its leg and then carry it on his shoulders until the leg healed. Thus the sheep would learn to trust him over the time it was helpless.

    Perhaps an interpretation of the scripture that goes something like “He will lead his flock like a shepherd. He will carry his lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Those are the lyrics to a scripture-based song, anyhow. I remember looking it up at the time I learned the song, and it was almost word-for-word, something in Isaiah, if I remember right. We learned that song, along with that broken-leg teaching, at a christian women’s retreat.

  269. Victorious wrote:

    So it is my opinion, that it was a merciful concession to the design of lifetime marriage of one man/one woman because of hard hearts. One would not be guilty of adultery if they had legal proof of a divorce.

    Thanks Victorious! I think that your comment dovetails well with Patrice’s comment about the dangers of taking any passage or series of passages in the Bible as obdurate stone slabs and iron plates which must be obeyed woodenly and with no regard to circumstance. Of all the sins committed by the children of men, I’m firmly convinced that cruelty is the worst in the eyes of the Creator.

  270. And now, sport.

    So: Djokovic/Federer it is.

    And at Cardiff, England were tidily all out just at close of play; so day four will begin with Australia requiring 412 to win. In the unlikely event that any of you are not familiar with cricket: a fourth-innings run-chase of 412, though not unheard of, is a big ask, so the advantage has to be said to lie with England in what has nevertheless been an intriguing match that could yet go either way.

  271. @ refugee:
    the sheep would get an infection due to the break… no antibiotics back then, so likelihood of death – plus all the pain, etc. – would be extremely high.

    the whole thing hinges on causing an innocent being to suffer – i mean, we don’t break babies’ legs when they crawl too far, too fast. but the idea/principle is the same. apply the whole thing to God and he becomes the ultimate abuser.

  272. Yessssss…. OK, so this idea that carrying the sheep around would teach it to trust the shepherd… after the shepherd had broken its leg and thereby taught the sheep that it could not trust the shepherd.

    Some people have to reach up to touch the bottom of stupid.

  273. dee wrote:

    @ Patrice:
    I say that everyone should be required to read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. It is free on line. Then they have to explain to me why the stuff, particularly by Grudem and Piper is normal.
    I want everyone to see what these guys are really saying. And, if you don’t get what I mean, ask me. But I think most of the folks who come here will understand. Some of it is downright weird.
    Here is a link to read the entire book online.
    http://dwynrhh6bluza.cloudfront.net/resources/documents/5153/Recovering_Biblical_Manhood_Womanhood.pdf?1343677387
    And here is a quote from Piper in that book that is downright creepy.
    ““Consider what is lost when women attempt to assume a more masculine role by appearing physically muscular and aggressive. It is true that there is something sexually stimulating about a muscular, scantily clad young woman pumping iron in a health club.
    But no woman should be encouraged by this fact. For it probably means the sexual encounter that such an image would lead to is something very hasty and volatile, and in the long run unsatisfying.
    The image of a masculine musculature may beget arousal in a man, but it does not beget several hours of moonlight walking with significant, caring conversation. The more women can arouse men by doing typically masculine things, the less they can count on receiving from men a sensitivity to typically feminine ”

    That is bizarre. It takes only a few seconds to think about the situations in which women (or men for that matter) need to go to a health club to get muscular: only in cultures where there is leisure and the job specificity to sit on your rear end all day. In most cultures in the past, only the elite would be free of physical labor like that, which means that most women who have ever lived have done the kind of daily work which would have led to muscle gain. How on earth is having muscle–which God put on all of us– masculine?

    We also know sitting all day is bad for the human body and that people who have strong muscles live longer, etc. Could something that we know contributes to poor health (ie a nonmuscular body) actually be the Maker’s design for women?

    Good grief.

  274. @ Abi Miah:

    “Could something that we know contributes to poor health (ie a nonmuscular body) actually be the Maker’s design for women?”
    +++++++++++++++

    if it’s for the convenience of the likes of John Piper & co, apparently yes.

  275. dee wrote:

    I say that everyone should be required to read Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

    I’ll get right on that. I still have some prescription antiemetic on hand.

  276. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Yessssss…. OK, so this idea that carrying the sheep around would teach it to trust the shepherd… after the shepherd had broken its leg and thereby taught the sheep that it could not trust the shepherd.

    Some people have to reach up to touch the bottom of stupid.

    Lol! Exactly. I have never heard the “break the leg of the sheep” metaphor. It sounds more like Stalin than Jesus.

  277. Muff Potter wrote:

    I can remember way back in my Calvary Chapel days Papa Chuck was quite fond of this meme.

    With a leg-breaking hammer in his hand?

  278. lydia wrote:

    Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Yessssss…. OK, so this idea that carrying the sheep around would teach it to trust the shepherd… after the shepherd had broken its leg and thereby taught the sheep that it could not trust the shepherd.

    Some people have to reach up to touch the bottom of stupid.

    Lol! Exactly. I have never heard the “break the leg of the sheep” metaphor. It sounds more like Stalin than Jesus.

    My gosh, I’d forgotten that story.

    Why did this make sense to me back then?? Why?

    Why.

  279. I do not subscribe to this view. I have never heard this view taught in my almost 40 years in evangelical churches.

    Also not that the International Missions Board of the SBC just relaxed its rules on divorced people serving as missionaries. And the change was made by the new leader at the IMB who is reformed.

  280. Victorious wrote:

    I’m of the firm opinion that the enmity is because Eve exposed satan as the deceiver. God told the serpent “because you have done this….” And to Adam “because you have done this…” But not because Eve had intentionally done anything but confessed to being deceived.

    ? Not sure I get that.

  281. @ oldJohnJ:
    Read that. Very good point. Another thing that confirms God has a sense of humour – unlike some of the people we’re discussing here.

  282. @ Nancy2:
    How about queens? Princesses do not rule, after all.

    I wonder how guys like Piper would fare if fave to face with Elizabeth I, or Eleanor of Aquitaine. Something tells me they’d be hightailing it of court with shouts of royal displeasure following… (i really like the idea, i must confess.)

  283. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Some people have to reach up to touch the bottom of stupid.

    I should perhaps give a little context to this.

    Somebody, somewhere, came up with the leg-breaking-shepherd nonsense and first announced it from the pulpit. They are the one who has to reach up to touch the bottom of stupid. I don’t mean that anybody believing it in a congregation is necessarily stupid, because up to a point, a congregation is entitled to expect that the lecturer in the pulpit has researched his material and isn’t just lazily spouting convenient urban myths. After all, truth really can be stranger than fiction, and there’s a big world out there in which a lot of odd, and grotesque, stuff happens. And there are urban myths everywhere that are widely believed; not just in Christian circles.

    Incidentally, as I can’t remember whether we’ve covered this one on TWW, you cannot boil a frog by gradually increasing the temperature of the water. When it gets too warm the frog will jump out. However, you can persuade people to accept radical loss of freedom by building their trust one carefully-disguised lie at a time.

  284. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    After all, truth really can be stranger than fiction, and there’s a big world out there in which a lot of odd, and grotesque, stuff happens. And there are urban myths everywhere that are widely believed; not just in Christian circles.

    And there are some stories of abusive horse taming and training techniques, some of which are quickly noted on a google search, and which seem to be true stories. So animal abuse is easy to believe.

  285. @ Okrapod:
    There is still a *lot* of abusive horse “training,” as well as many events (like the Calgary Stampede) where animals’ lives and well-being are very much st risk.

    As for rodeo, i won’t go there. There is a lot of cruelty.

    In other countries, there is hare coursing. Foxhunting (for live foxes) might be unbanned in the UK, which would be, imo, a very bad thing.

    A ton of farms in this country and Europe are operating in ways that are truly appalling.

    And so on…

  286. *
    *
    *
      __

    “Joy To The World!”

    hmmm…

    Whereas 5 point TULIP Calvinism says “Some” are offered salvation, the true gospel of Christ Jesus says “All”.

    What?

    I am here to share with you that the Father of Christ Jesus can afford to be generous, first the Jewish nation, then through the Apostle Paul to the gentile nations (– that is everyone outside the Jewish nation of Israel)

    Good News?

    You bet!

    The Father’s offer is to all,
    God’s word says if you will believe in Jesus you can receive forgiveness of your sins, and obtain eternal life when you mortal life is over.

    Joy to the world!

    Choose God’s generous offer today?

    Ya can’t loose!

    ATB

    Sopy

  287. @ numo:
    Thank you for speaking up on behalf of abused animals numo. I am convinced that (we humans) don’t want to know the backgrounds of animals that are in zoos, circuses, aquariums, are being transported and exported, used for entertainment (racing, rodeos), raised for breeding or consumption or medicinal purposes, or being slaughtered. The end$ justifies the means.

    I think that’s why I like people who stick their necks out on these issues for ‘dumb’ animals, they pay a great price. Temple Grandin is one such person I admire.

  288. Haitch wrote:

    I think that’s why I like people who stick their necks out on these issues for ‘dumb’ animals, they pay a great price. Temple Grandin is one such person I admire.

    Thanks for this Haitch! If there really is a Spirit who is also Holy I think He’s far more concerned with the cries of his animals than with who marries whom and under what conditions. Especially when it’s we humans who have the power to act on their cries put an end to their suffering.

  289. @ Abi Miah:

    The irony of Piper’s silly words about women building muscle is that a few years ago his wife, Noel, wrote a blog post about working out at the gym. Complete with pics of her Piper. So evidently it is not a sin when Noel “works out” and builds muscle. This hypocrisy was discussed on this blog at the time.

    You see a lot of this sort of selective teaching with these guys. Years back a new “seminary wife” was complaining about this very thing. It was necessary for her to attend a “seminary wife” orientation with Mary Mohler who was emphatically teaching about modesty in dress as seminary wives. Soon after, the new seminary wife saw Molly Mohler proudly prancing around the seminary in a mini skirt and spike heels. Not to mention, soon after, Molly went to work in DC for a Senator as a single when her dad was publicly teaching girls like her should marry young.

    They are above the legalism they teach others.

  290. Anonymous wrote:

    Also not that the International Missions Board of the SBC just relaxed its rules on divorced people serving as missionaries. And the change was made by the new leader at the IMB who is reformed.

    I did not know David Platt had that much power all by himself. Anyway, the old rule was stupid but a lot of “reformed” folks went along with it at the time. but now, it is becoming harder and harder to find candidates who have not been divorced. And of course, singles are not ideal, either, in that SBC world as foreign missionaries.

    But we are still awed by Platt putting himself in danger at the Dubai Hilton–basically billed as his experience in foreign missions. He was a celebrity appointee meant to impress the young boys. But it seems “Radical” did not follow him there. When he took the IMB appointment, did he move to a ghetto and insist on a very small salary? That is what he taught his congregation at Brook Hills.

    Platt is just another celebrity fraud for Jesus.

  291. @ Haitch:
    Funny – I’m also a Grandin fangirl, and *very* concerned about (and somewhat involved in) rescue myself. Both of my bunnies were adopted from a rabbit rescue, and i could go on and on about rabbits all day! (Am also a former rider and very fond of horses – rabbits are similar to them in many ways, physiologically and per behavior, too.)

    Animal cruelty makes me so sick, and very angry at times. I so admire the folks who are able to deal with cases of severe abuse; not sure i could do that.

    I believe very strongly in the innate worth of other living creatures; also that *many* species are FAR more intelligent than we will, at this point, even come close to admitting. After all entire ecosystems where humans are peripheral, at most, are all around us. Who’s to say that the creatures who inhbit them are any less valuable to God than human beings?

  292. refugee wrote:

    Yes. I know one formerly fundie girl who, about the time I lost track of her, was saving up for a sex-change operation. I know another who wants to change her name to something male and live the life of a male. [etc]

    Gender complementarians (and liked minded people) really do make the idea or reality of being a woman totally un-appealing to a lot of women (men get to have all the fun and/or power in their world view).

    Then some of them have the gall to wonder why some women buck against their views.

    They think it’s due to the fall and women wanting to usurp some magical authority men supposedly have from God.

    No, it’s about them putting unbiblical and unfair restraints on about half the human population, and just for being born women.

  293. Victorious wrote (quoting John Piper):

    “merely hurting her or she endures verbal abuse for a season, or perhaps being smacked one night….” Then she can seek help from the church.

    One thing I wanted to mention about that is that verbal abuse can be just as horrible to endure as physical abuse.

    Too many people, including Christians, think that verbal abuse is not a big deal.

    I was subjected to years of verbal (and emotional) abuse by an older sibling – and a milder form from my father growing up. It had very detrimental effects on me that I am still dealing with to this day.

    I’ve read blogs and books on the topic of verbal abuse.

    A lot of married women have to divorce their verbally abusive spouse. Months and years of verbal abuse can be psychologically damaging.

    Verbal abuse (as one counselor explains) comes in different forms, not just direct name-calling and insults (which is of course damaging too).

    Some verbal abusers use their words or behavior to intentionally undercut their spouse, make her feel inferior, or as though she is going crazy, that she is stupid and incompetent, etc.

    Verbally abusive partners treat their victim as a target, as an enemy, not as an equal to love and to share life with. There’s no mutual respect or love there.

    It’s not a “real” relationship (one of give and take and affection) but a perpetual power struggle where the “bully half” of the couple asserts dominance over the target by using verbal abuse.

    It can take years for women in such a relationship to finally realize they are not in a mutual relationship, but one where their partner is only interested in controlling them.

    A lot of women in such a partnership end up divorcing their spouse after years of this treatment, according to the books and blogs I’ve read about this. (I had to cut back contact with my verbally abusive sibling myself.)

  294. @ Beakerj:

    Another thing about that too:
    The older I’m getting, the harder I am finding it to always preface all my comments with supery nice rhetoric so as to make any negatives I’m about to mention go down easier.

    I just don’t have the patience to dance around everything indirectly like I used to do.

    It depends, of course. I do sometimes soften some of my comments depending on the context, the person with whom I’m speaking, etc.

    But if I’m a married woman, and I think my husband’s choice in something is stupid, depending on what it is and my mood, I may just blurt out I find his idea bad.

    I’m not going to spend ten minutes massaging his male ego with flowery hints and language all so he can more easily take an indirect, “sweetie, do you REALLY think that thus and so is a good idea” comment.

  295. elastigirl wrote:

    since the couple hated each other & were only maintaining the appearance of marriage for the sake of whatever

    Yep, as the story was told on another blog, the couple did not like each other.

    They were only staying together because their fundy Baptist church thinks that divorce is the worst sin ever.

    If you’re in a marriage that bad, where you dislike each other and don’t even want to stay under the same roof, I just don’t see the point. I think you’d be well off just divorcing.

    In situations where both people are okay with a situation like that, I don’t care. Whatever floats their boat and all that.

    But if one or both people in a marriage find it upsetting, or don’t like each other, I think it’s goofy and a total waste of time to hang in there just for the sake of your keeping your church’s approval, or keeping a joke of a marriage intact.

  296. John wrote:

    I’ve known people who stayed in a clearly abusive marriage because of this kind of thinking.

    That is bad in and of itself, but I find some of the theological mumbo jumbo given to rationalize it about as annoying.

    I’ve seen these guys rationalize having a woman stay with an abuser for reasons like, “marriage is supposed to make you holy not happy,” or, “God will use your suffering to purify you,” or, “God will use your quiet submission to win your abusive husband over.”

    All of which is so idiotic and only enables the abuse to continue for years, until the wife’s eyes get open, or she gets so fed up with it, she finally leaves.

  297. Steve Scott wrote:

    As somebody who was divorced prior to becoming a Christian (ex-wife had an affair, then divorced me against my wishes), I have had various issues within a number of churches I attended,

    I sometimes wonder about this. My post here is not just for Scott but for anyone who’d like to chip in.

    Is there any reason, when you join or attend a new church, why the new people at the church need to know all about a person’s history?

    Is it really any of their business if you’ve married before or been divorced?

    The older I’m getting, I’m not seeing how stuff like this is any of their business.

    I’ve never married, so I’ve never divorced, but if I had been divorced, I don’t think I’d tell anyone at a new church. I would just say I’m single if asked about my marital status, or a MYOB.

    You know what, though? Churches I’ve gone to since I’ve been in my mid 30s ASSUME I am divorced. They just assume I’ve been married before and that I have kids.

    I’ve never married or had kids, and it annoys me like you would not believe when people assume that just because you are over 40 years of age and show up alone at church or where ever you must be divorced and have kids

    But anyhow. Is there any real reason why people at a new church need to know all about a person’s background, including any martial situations?

  298. Okrapod wrote:

    That is part of the theory of the fragile male ego. This also used to be taught to females.

    About women being taught to use flowery language and tip toe around delicate male egos, as well as the evangelical teaching that men are too easily controlled by lust:

    I think both those points work against their view that only men should be leaders.

    If men are so easily brought down or swayed by injury to their pride of by sexual temptation, as some Christians teach, those are reasons why men should be barred from leadership roles.

    But Gender Complementarians want to have their cake and eat it too.

    In gender comp circles, men get to be fragile, dainty things who are easily controlled by their libido, but gender comps tell women that women are unqualified from leadership due to some inborn traits all women supposedly possess.

  299. @ Steve Scott:

    This is one of the things that trips me up about all this.

    It’s so easy for people not facing a particular problem (like a failing marriage that may need to dissolve via divorce) to wag their index finger at divorced people… until it happens to them.

    There’s been a preacher or two who were staunching anti-divorce, but when it happened to them, one of them started giving sermons saying the church needs to soften up on the topic.

    The other guy, a TV preacher, bombasts against the evils of divorce but never mentions (not in any telecast I’ve seen) that he himself is divorced.

    It’s very, very easy to lecture against certain types of failures, problems, or sins (or the people who are involved in them) when you’re not the one living under them or through them.

    I’ve never been married myself (I was engaged awhile back), but I can see how a marriage may fall apart, and I can see there is a need for divorce.

    It’s a little odd to me (who’s never married) that I can be more empathetic on this issue than some married preachers are.

  300. Beakerj wrote:

    I suppose my overall problem, again, is that in these situations a woman is to put correct submission to the correct authority over her safety…almost as if her safety does not count as much as her obedience…

    Definitely. That is my impression as well. Very well put and succinctly stated.

  301. Steve Scott wrote:

    I wonder how many have been tempted to off the ex. I mean, if you off your ex and get away with it, you are free to remarry! Not so if they’re still alive!

    This reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw back in the 1980s:
    “I still miss my ex, but my aim is improving”

    (It was meant to be silly, not taken seriously).

  302. dee wrote:

    Have you ever considered substance abuse, domestic violence, and pornography issues?

    Speaking of the porn subject.

    There is a Christian sociologist who actually wrote a paper several months back telling single Christian women such as myself (who’d like to marry) that a Christian guy using porn should not be a “deal breaker.”

    Single women, he was saying, should just marry porn users, even if it goes against our standards, or we’re troubled by it.

    One of the reasons the guy is advocating this position is he is concerned that marriages among Christians are about nil or don’t happen until later in life.

    So single women are supposed to just compromise on this.

    They’re not even trying to uphold sexual purity standards.

    It also bothers me that guys like this think they can or should over-ride an individual woman’s conscience on this.

    I suppose if a woman marries a guy knowing in advance about his porn habit, that’s her choice and that’s all fine and dandy, but it seems wrong to me for Christians to shame and guilt trip single ladies into doing this sort of thing.

    It’s scary how far some Christians will go in spreading or perpetuating tacky or dangerous teachings to either 1. promote marriage or 2. to keep marriages intact at all costs (usually at the woman’s cost – sometimes men are harmed by this stuff, but it usually seems to impact women more).

  303. Gram3 wrote:

    I also have found little evidence that they are intellectually inclined or really very curious about much of anything.

    Some of the authors and preachers, and some of the laypersons I’ve come across on the internet, fancy themselves scholars and as being very intellectual types.

    The variety of Neo Calvinists I’ve come across brag about all the college degrees they have, that they know how to read ancient Hebrew, koine Greek, and are very familiar with patristic writings.

    The ones I run into frequently like to pass themselves off as very learned and have a tendency to dismiss any who disagree with their beliefs as being hay seeds, backwards, or as being ignorant about what Calvinism really is.

  304. Lydia wrote:

    His “advice” has the exact opposite effect on one who does such things to another. It emboldens them because the other person who “takes it” devalues themselves. If someone has the propensity to verbally abuse or “smack” another around, they need to know immediately, it will not be tolerated. At. All.

    Absolutely.

    All the books and articles I’ve read over the years about domestic violence, work place bullying, being a doormat, etc, all teach those very concepts:

    Usually, the more you try to win over, appease, please, coddle, or submit to a bully, the longer or more intense the abuse or bullying will become.

    (Passive behavior may be necessary and life-saving in a very narrow set of circumstances and temporarily in an abusive marriage, like, for a woman who is being physically beat in the moment, but in the long haul, it’s not going to halt abuse to be passive, be submissive, etc.

    One book I read about work place abuse says that standing up for yourself immediately when being bullied by a peer or boss is necessary, that if you don’t say something right then and there on the spot, that if you ignore it or keep submitting, the bullying will only continue, and even in some cases embolden the bully, so that things get worse.)

  305. dee wrote:

    Divorce Minister wrote:
    As long as divorce is always unacceptable, that make everything else in the marriage acceptable including some pretty awful and destructive sins.

    Dee replied:
    Another quotable line!

    Sorry to be a broken record, but, I think singleness is unacceptable in Christianity, which is I guess why I’ve seen some very weird or legalistic teachings being put forth by Christians that aim to get single Christians married no matter what.

    I am seeing some Christian groups or spokespersons pressuring kids to marry before they are 22 years old, Christian authors who blog where they are shaming single women into marrying porn addicts, etc, weird stuff like that.

    Think about what they’re saying with some of this:it’s better for a women to betray her own standards by marrying a porn user than to be single. Because being single is a fate worse than death and oh so sinful.

    They are really sending some bad messages about singleness with this hogwash they’re promoting.

    And like someone was saying above, divorced people who do not want to remarry (they want to stay single) get all these troubling messages too.

  306. @ Leila:

    Your story is kind of funny to me. Like you, it was complementarianism itself that drove me to reject complementarianism. 🙂

    I was brought up on that stuff. I tried to believe in it. The more I studied it and looked the biblical text the more I saw problems with it.

  307. Ken wrote:

    But once we know what Jesus teaches on this,

    I think I already mentioned this up thread, but Christians, well-intentioned, who take the Bible literally and with respect Christians, arrive at different conclusions at what Jesus taught on divorce / remarriage.

    I don’t see a consensus on what Jesus meant or taught about divorce / remarriage.

    I’m not sure why you (seem to) think yours is the only correct interpretation on these subjects, or the only one that uses a conservative hermeneutic that respects the text.

    There are other equally conservative Christians who respect the text who take it literally who don’t share your views on this.

  308. Patrice wrote:

    If a marriage crashes, like an ox falling down a hole, you refuse to allow the couple to end their suffering—to pull the ox out—because you view law as immutable.

    Isn’t this also like the Pharisees getting bent out of shape because the disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain on a Sabbath?

    And Jesus countered with that’s okay, because they were hungry, and remember that David ate the bread meant for the priests that was in the Temple?

  309. Patrice wrote:

    Condemning any reason for divorce when half of adults don’t even marry anymore? I don’t understand this.

    Most evangelicals don’t notice or don’t care that singles outnumber married couples.

    The ones who’ve picked up on it only insist on shaming singles for being single, not supporting singles with whatever issues they may be having.

    But yes, I think it’s somewhat ridiculous the staggering amount of continual attention marriage gets in most (American) churches and denominations when over half the adult population (in the USA) is single.

  310. Okrapod wrote:

    Hmmm. I seem to notice that those who claim to be led by the Spirit do not agree with each other any more than the academics agree with each other

    That is true but you’re probably less apt to be controlled by other people or a church, or to allow them to control you, if you’re relying on your own decision making processes or you felt led by the Holy Spirit.

  311. Divorce Minister wrote:

    I do believe a spouse is a gift from God (e.g. Proverbs 19:14)

    I just don’t see Scripture teaching the view that “God grants spouses / gifts a spouse” in such a manner as to say God determines if you marry or not.

    I believe it’s a combination free will with some luck tossed in.

    I don’t think someone requests a spouse and God sends them one.

    There are too, too many Christian women (such as myself, tho I’m partially agnostic now) who spent decades praying for one, and one never showed up.

    There’s something else at work.

  312. Daisy wrote:

    But anyhow. Is there any real reason why people at a new church need to know all about a person’s background, including any martial situations?

    Juicy Gossip.

  313. Daisy wrote:

    I don’t think someone requests a spouse and God sends them one.

    Only in Christian Testimonies of How I Met My Wife(TM).

  314. Jeff S wrote:

    Point 1.
    could take a different position than “You must suffer so that your spouse can be free to exploit you and somehow that will be honoring to me”.

    Point 2.
    A revealing statement by my pastor regarding my divorce was “If God wants you to remarry, he can take [my now ex-wife] at any time”. Sick stuff.

    Re: Point 1.
    This thinking pops up among other topics. I’ve read books about workplace abuse, some by Christians. Christians who are being bullied at their jobs are told by church-goers, when they ask for emotional support, are told to just sit and be a doormat, because by allowing themselves to be used and walked all over, it somehow reflects Christ (supposedly) and/or may have a conversion effect on the bully.

    My mother was big on that too, from the time I was a kid into adulthood. Like when I was bullied as a kid (and I never provoked incidents), I’d come home crying or angry, and she’s basically tell me to just suffer in silence, don’t rat out the bully.

    She thought me being passive and a doormat in the face of the harassment would be godly or loving. For the bully at least.. it was okay if I suffered emotionally or had a hard time concentrating on my school work, apparently.

    Point 2. This sort of relates to what I was just saying above to Divorce Minister.

    Seems a lot of Christians have this mystical view of things, that if it’s meant for you to be remarried, God will arrange it to “bump off” your living ex spouse.

    Or, it’s assumed if you are still single but want marriage, God must be behind it, because God always sends spouses to anyone who wants one and prays for one.

    I read in a book about a man who is 50 years old and still single. He would like to marry.

    Every time he begged his preacher, elders, or buddies at church to pray God would send him a wife, they would tell him no at times.

    When the dating service he used burned down to the ground (this was in the days before internet dating sites), and he told some of them about it, one of the church guys told him something like,

    “See, God burned down your dating service because he’s upset you are relying on man to get a spouse and not on him. If it’s in God’s will for you to marry, he will send you a spouse without a dating service.”

    I just do not see the Bible teaching this concept that if your life is like “X” at the moment that it’s due to God’s doing or will.

    As I get older and see how life really plays out, I suspect (with some biblical passages in the back of my mind as I think this over), that a lot of this stuff is due to sin being in the world, and that some biblical passages are not teaching what some Christians THINK they are teaching.

    Real life is not panning out with certain interpretations of Scripture I see tossed out on Christian TV, in books, or Christian blogs, by other Christians.

  315. refugee wrote:

    boys and girls alike — than “Army” (if you were a girl, the boys relegated you to the role of “nurse”).

    My brother and I have sometimes had a bumpy relationship over the years, but I have to say at this, he was pretty good.

    When we were kids, and we played with plastic Army guys, he would fight me like an equal.

    Except for the time he claimed his imaginary Air Force flew over my guys and dropped a nuke on them. That was unfair. 🙁 🙂

  316. Abi Miah wrote:

    How on earth is having muscle–which God put on all of us– masculine?
    We also know sitting all day is bad for the human body and that people who have strong muscles live longer, etc.

    Every year when the weather warms up, I go on a lot of bike rides. As a result, my quads get pretty built (they are now).

    I’m not intentionally trying to get built or ripped, but it’s the natural consequence of frequent bike riding, especially on days I’m having to pedal against strong winds.

    I guess Piper would insist I stop bike riding?

  317. Haitch wrote:

    Thank you for speaking up on behalf of abused animals numo. I am convinced that (we humans) don’t want to know the backgrounds of animals that are in zoos, circuses, aquariums,

    I think I may have posted here a long time ago about this:
    http://www.stopcrush.org/

    There are people who get off sexually on seeing animals tortured and killed, and this torture is filmed and the videos shared.

    That site (Stop Crush) consists of people who are trying to get that stopped, get tougher laws against it, etc.

    Currently, that main page I linked to does not contain any photos of violence, and usually does not.

    Also, there are petitions to get YuLin dog and cat meat festival halted. You can google for more information on that.

    (Many articles about that, though, do contain graphic photos of dead or dying dogs and cats, so be forewarned if you go googling for that term.)

    The dogs and cats are tortured in the annual YuLin festival (such as, blow torches applied to living animals, they are boiled in water, beaten, etc.) before being killed for human consumption.

  318. Lydia wrote:

    but now, it is becoming harder and harder to find candidates who have not been divorced. And of course, singles are not ideal, either, in that SBC world as foreign missionaries.

    I agree.

    Now that more and more people are staying single (not marrying or not until much older), or getting divorced, they’re not going to find as much of their preferred demographic of people who are married by the age of 25 with kids living at home.

    I don’t know why more Christians don’t want to adapt to society as it is, rather than living like it’s still in the past, or like what they would prefer to see.

  319. @ Haitch:

    I don’t know how muscular she is, but I don’t think Piper would approve of this (in his universe, police women like this are only supposed to stand there batting their eyelashes at bad guys and wait for a man cop to show up, I would take it):

    “Slice of the action: Young policewoman lauded as a hero in China after fighting off violent robber wielding 2ft machete with her BARE HANDS in five-minute struggle”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/peoplesdaily/article-3040450/Slice-action-Young-policewoman-lauded-hero-China-fighting-violent-robber-wielding-2ft-machete-BARE-HANDS-five-minute-struggle.html

  320. Daisy wrote:

    petitions to get YuLin dog and cat meat festival halted.

    I’ve been keeping one eye on this, it’s so horrific it doesn’t feel real.
    However, unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve got any moral authority at all – we’re no better I believe. In 2015, this is still occurring:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-07/inquiry-told-hunter-puppy-farms-traumatising-animals/6599978

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/pet-industrys-top-dogs-overlooked-puppy-factory-cruelty-complaints-20150704-gi4dpu.html

  321. Daisy wrote:

    As a result, my quads get pretty built

    But Daisy, you must always ask yourself, are my quads ‘biblical’ (TM) ?

  322. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Only in Christian Testimonies of How I Met My Wife(TM).

    Yeah, those testimonies also occasionally show up in “How I met my husband” stories by Christian ladies in Christian magazines or blogs I’ve read.

    It’s interesting some Christians assume they got a spouse due to God’s intervention, when maybe they got one because they tried a dating site, or a friend set them up on a blind date; some hum-drum, monotonous, everyday cause like that.

  323. Haitch wrote:

    But Daisy, you must always ask yourself, are my quads ‘biblical’ (TM) ?

    I hadn’t thought of that. I might have some repenting to do. 🙂

  324. Hi all. I haven’t read all these posts, so forgive me if I have missed a salient point. Really, who cares what John Piper thinks? Why give him so much space? Are you changing any body’s mind? One good thing comes from all these posts, a sense of community. People becoming friends on the list.

  325. Daisy wrote:

    Divorce Minister wrote:
    I do believe a spouse is a gift from God (e.g. Proverbs 19:14)
    I just don’t see Scripture teaching the view that “God grants spouses / gifts a spouse” in such a manner as to say God determines if you marry or not.
    I believe it’s a combination free will with some luck tossed in.
    I don’t think someone requests a spouse and God sends them one.
    There are too, too many Christian women (such as myself, tho I’m partially agnostic now) who spent decades praying for one, and one never showed up.
    There’s something else at work.

    Agreed. We are talking about how human free will and God’s Providence work together. That is a true mystery that hasn’t been “solved” for thousands of years. They both exist, though.

    We play a role. And God does something as well. Why some–who desire a spouse–find a spouse and others do not is a mystery along the lines I just pointed out above. I do not see myself as better or more favored from God than my single friends who want a spouse still. We all have different gifts from God.

    I do not understand God’s timing. Nor do I understand completely how my activities influence such events. It remains a mystery along with the mysterious God I serve.

  326. Daisy wrote:

    Is there any real reason why people at a new church need to know all about a person’s background, including any martial situations?

    Yes, this needs to be known in regards to leadership positions. Is this person a person of integrity? I say this as some serial cheaters are smooth operators and may use positions in church to prey upon the vulnerable. It is legitimate to ask someone about their background before entrusting them with authority and a position of power.

    From the perspsective of a divorced person myself, I find it is necessary to share this information to find genuine community. While I might share this to start at a church, I will want to share this information at some point. Some people cannot handle being around divorced people in church having prejudices of their own. I would like to know that up front before I dive deeper into relationship with them in a small group setting, for example.

    Also, I want to be known and accepted as who I am. One chapter of my story is divorce following my ex-wife’s adultery. It’s not the totality of my story, but it IS a significant part of it. If you do not know that chapter in my life, you likely do not really know me. There’s limit placed on intimacy with another as long as that is hidden. Again, I wouldn’t necessarily share that as a first thing–perhaps, except as in a Divorce Care (TM) group.

  327. @ Haitch:
    This is, unfortunately, a thing in the US as well. Some of the worst puppy mills in my home state (which is to say, some of the worst in the country) are owned and run by Amish people. Sad to say, many (though not all) of them have what i will somewhat euphemistically call an *extremely* utilitarian view of animals.

    I could go on and on about how badly breeders treat rabbits, but had better not get started on that. What goes on in the racing world and what happens to racehorses that don’t make the cut is also brutal.

  328. @ Hanni:
    Hanni, since this blog targets abuse by churches, ministers, etc., there is good reason for going after both Piper and his views on domestic abuse, divorce and much more.

  329. I know this is childish, but he should change his name from “piper” to “pooper”…that’s all that comes out of his mouth!

  330. I am going to take the neo Calvinism out of the equation and place conservative Baptist into the equation. I was taught what Piper teaches in my baptist church. I thought remarriage was a sin. My view changed when I met

  331. wonderful Christians outside my baptist tunnel who had been divorced and remarried. Pipers view isn’t fair or right or even as this interesting blog by pastor Dave alludes to, even biblical.

  332. numo wrote:

    @ Haitch:
    This is, unfortunately, a thing in the US as well. Some of the worst puppy mills in my home state (which is to say, some of the worst in the country) are owned and run by Amish people. Sad to say, many (though not all) of them have what i will somewhat euphemistically call an *extremely* utilitarian view of animals.
    I could go on and on about how badly breeders treat rabbits, but had better not get started on that. What goes on in the racing world and what happens to racehorses that don’t make the cut is also brutal.

    ***

    __

    “Puppy Mills?”

    https://m.youtube.com/results?q=puppy%20mills&sm=3

    🙁

  333. @ Hanni:

    “Hi all. I haven’t read all these posts, so forgive me if I have missed a salient point. Really, who cares what John Piper thinks? Why give him so much space? Are you changing any body’s mind? One good thing comes from all these posts, a sense of community. People becoming friends on the list.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    because unless church goers are aware of what goofy, sick ideas are out there in circulation, they are at the mercy of whatever the church leaders espouse.

    church culture is a heady environment, with the concept of “GOD” plus peer pressure dulling reason and sense. church goers have every reason to know and understand who and what is influencing professional Christians who lead churches. Much of it is utterly life-ruining.

    I do believe that frank discussion at TWW is playing a part in changing people’s minds.

  334. @ Bilbo Skaggins:

    I left a church behind when I finally realized that many of the teachings were explained by saying that the Bible really doesn’t mean what it is saying. This church was very Piper-friendly. Birds of a feather…

    It’s interesting that this complaint used to be the preserve of theological liberalism 🙂

    Then of course it was a distaste for the supernatural that led to the supernatural. In contemporary evangelical circles I increasingly conclude its because the Bible refuses to conform with the diktats of movement conservatism (most notably the equality of women and the possibility that the economic treatises of von Mises, Hayek and Rand may not have beem divinely inspired)

  335. Ben Denison wrote:

    it’s worth noting that the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church were not able to come to full agreement on this issue when Piper was senior pastor. They crafted a position that went as far as they all could agree to, and then individual elders/pastors followed their conscience beyond that; e.g. some will remarry a person who divorced due to adultery, and some will not. But many of them did not subscribe to Piper’s view on this issue. That says a lot.

    It says he is not the dictatorial ‘pope’ his detractors often paint him to be, at least not on this issue. I think in this regard he ought to be commended for not imposing his views on others on this difficult question, but allowing for conscience for those who have read the same texts and come to different conclusions.

  336. Daisy wrote:

    I’m not sure why you (seem to) think yours is the only correct interpretation on these subjects, or the only one that uses a conservative hermeneutic that respects the text.
    There are other equally conservative Christians who respect the text who take it literally who don’t share your views on this.

    Why are you saying this when if you look at what I actually wrote, not only did I not claim my view was the only one, but do respect those who differ even if I currently disagree with them?

  337. RIchard wrote:

    the possibility that the economic treatises of von Mises, Hayek and Rand may not have beem divinely inspired

    Heh, I’ll leave HUG to respond to you on this one…

  338. @ Mark:Piper is in essence a fundamentalist. He has tacked on 5 points of Calvinism. He is harsh and appears to still be proud. He ought to shut up.

  339. Daisy wrote:

    Real life is not panning out with certain interpretations of Scripture I see tossed out on Christian TV, in books, or Christian blogs, by other Christians.

    Yes. This is actually a HUGE statement and something that has been on my mind for a while. So much is sub-culture nonsense that doesn’t work because it isn’t actually Biblical. Yeah, we have to understand real life in light of scripture, but for our understanding of scripture to be true, it also has to work in real life . . .

  340. Daisy wrote:

    I think I already mentioned this up thread, but Christians, well-intentioned, who take the Bible literally and with respect Christians, arrive at different conclusions at what Jesus taught on divorce / remarriage.

    I don’t see a consensus on what Jesus meant or taught about divorce / remarriage.

    I’m reminded of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). Jesus told her that she had five husbands and the man she has now is not her husband. I believe it is reasonable to assume the Samaritan woman was divorced several times, probably gave up on marriage and decided just to live with a man.

    This situation could have been a great teaching opportunity about divorce / marriage or about marriage in general. Jesus didn’t do that, but rather told her that he is the Messiah. Maybe the topic of divorce / marriage is really not all that important.

  341. Joe2 wrote:

    This situation could have been a great teaching opportunity about divorce / marriage or about marriage in general. Jesus didn’t do that, but rather told her that he is the Messiah. Maybe the topic of divorce / marriage is really not all that important.

    I think Jesus understood the prevalence of men putting their wives away and had compassion on this woman. Women, after all, were not afforded the right to divorce their husbands so either all her husbands died or she was divorced by each of them.

    How gracious was Jesus’ interaction with her to offer her living water. 🙂

  342. Joe2 wrote:

    Maybe the topic of divorce / marriage is really not all that important.

    That is a far stretch from that illustration. What bothers me about that is the fact that Jesus did talk about marriage/divorce/remarriage and this was reported in the gospels. In this case there are just a whole lot of things he did not talk to her about-surely they are not all to be considered unimportant.

    The thing is, to a whole lot of those who are divorce survivors the issue of marriage/divorce/remarriage is important. We do not all have to agree about what to think concerning it, but to dismiss it as perhaps unimportant is a very dismissive and harsh thing to say.

  343. @ Gram3:
    Firstly, I hope you are better.

    I would reiterate what I’ve already said about assuming I neither know or have any interest in the different views on this subject. I don’t know where you get the cruelty or victim-blaming from either.

    I think two issues get confused here that need to be separated (no pun intended). One is when or if divorce is ever permitted, and the other is once a divorce has taken place is there a right to re-marry without this being adultery.

    Regarding the former there is general agreement that Jesus permitted divorce for porneia, which is either fornication before marriage or sexual immorality after having been married, that is, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality. There is a second case where believers are in mixed marriages in 1 Cor 7, where if the unbelieving spouse wants out, the believer whether husband or wife is not bound, i.e. is not ‘enslaved’ to keeping the marriage going. This too is an exception to the general no divorce view that Jesus himself and Paul enjoins on Christians.

    The second issue is whether a divorce in these circumstances also entails a right to remarry without this second marriage being adultery. The absolute ‘rule’on this in Luke 16 and Mark 10 that those – every one – who divorce and remarry ‘go on’ committing adultery. I used to think that it did, that the exception clause in Matthew’s gospel covers both divorce and remarriage. It leaves the ‘innocent’ party free of the consequences of the unfaithfulness of the guilty party. Grace to You takes this view, for example – hardly liberal theology!

    I’m now nothing like so sure that is the case, and tend to the view that divorce is permitted but not remarriage, that God does not recognise under the new covenant the divorce ending the marriage. The thing that tipped me over the edge was Paul quoting Jesus on this – To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) — and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
    If a divorce does take place, the wife is to remain single (humanly speaking) or be reconciled, which would be in harmony if Jesus did not intend his exception to allow for remarriage. It is also in harmony with Paul’s statement that a wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives.

    I’ve also gone in this direction because of weaknesses in the argumentation in favour of remarriage (Jay Adams comes to mind) and that in practice Jesus would have made a rule from which his exception would exempted a considerable proportion of remarriages, if you consider why marriages break up. This latter of course does not determine the meaning of the relevant texts on this.

    Of course this isn’t popular today, people don’t like the idea of being committed to someone else for life, and in my experience pastors won’t teach on the subject presumably for fear of the reaction in the congregation.

    If this view is correct, then the title of the piece should be something like ‘the troubling views of the Lord Jesus Christ on divorce’. People will argue about the exception till the cows come home, but by any reckoning I think Jesus reinstituted God’s original intention for marriage as it was ‘from the beginning’ for those who follow him. He want back to this rather than get bogged down in debates about what reason might justify getting divorced.

  344. Jack wrote:

    I know this is childish, but he should change his name from “piper” to “pooper

    You need to meet my husband. He loved your comment and laughed all the way up to bed last night.

  345. Ken wrote:

    Regarding the former there is general agreement that Jesus permitted divorce for porneia, which is either fornication before marriage or sexual immorality after having been married, that is, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality.

    Do you think that he allowed divorce for domestic violence, child pornography usage by the husband, chronic substance abuse, and serious criminal activity? If not, why not? Do you believe that the list mentioned by Jesus was a “that’s all” list? If so, why?

    Ken wrote:

    Of course this isn’t popular today, people don’t like the idea of being committed to someone else for life, and in my experience pastors won’t teach on the subject presumably for fear of the reaction in the congregation.

    Really? You think people don’t like to be committed to another for life and that is the reason they want to divorce? You bet I would not be committed to another who got his jollies out of watching little children be sexually molested. And I don’t think the Scripture says that I must. The same goes for a husband that whacks me around or a husband who is involved in criminal activity which could bring my and my family to harm.

    I speak as one who has been married to my husband for decades.I would never divorce for minor reasons. I also believe that Jesus and Paul were not discussing divorce for things like abuse, pornography, etc. They were talking about the everyday things “I just got tired of him” nonsense.

    Thankfully, there are many theologically sound people who disagree with you and Piper on this matter. In fact, I think the majority of them do so. You imply that I don’t want to believe it because I refuse to listen to Jesus. You cant say that since you do not know me.

    There are many reading this who have been divorced due to abuse, etc and are now remarried, having found happiness in their lives. I want you to know that I support your decision and believe that you have nothing to be ashamed about.

  346. @ Ken:
    I am better, thank you, though not where I would like to be which is younger and healthier. 🙂

    I disagree with what I understand to be your view that no divorce or remarriage is the only reasonable one for someone with a high view of the authority of scripture to hold. Where I believe the divergence occurs is that your view seems to me to be concerned with “what the rules for marriage/divorce/remarriage are” where mine is more concerned with “what the point of marriage is and what the nature of marriage is and why it matters.”

    I believe that the Lord was actually addressing the “rules” paradigm held by the rabbinical schools by asserting and refocusing on the purpose and nature of marriage as God intended from the beginning. That original purpose is God’s ideal and should be our goal. But an ideal and a goal is not a rule that binds people and which does not allow for greater principles to govern lesser principles. An example of that, IMO, is requiring a man or woman either to endure abuse or infidelity or abandonment *or* remain forever essentially a hostage to their spouse’s sin.

    That rule violates what I would consider the greater principles of justice, mercy, holiness, love, and the very serious nature of the covenant which has been broken by one party. God is a covenantal God, and I believe that he takes covenant-breaking very seriously. Where you and I disagree, I think, is which party broke/dissolved the covenant and when said covenant ceased to be.

    I believe that what Jesus and Paul were both emphasizing was the necessity of not acting rashly or trivially when either seeking to enter or to exit a marriage. I do not believe that either Paul or Jesus were making a judicial decree. IMO, the idea that they were is where a lot of things go off-track such as the suggestion that either being single or being married is God’s ideal. We do not live in God’s ideal world, and we need to apply wisdom rather than mere rules when dealing with the realities of a sin-filled world, lest we bring even more pain into this world.

    I think that if we make an appeal to Creation in order to support the idea that marriages cannot be dissolved, then that restriction applies to all whether unbeliever or believer. And if that is true, then Paul is being incoherent when he allows a Christian the freedom to let their unbelieving spouse go and to remarry. The point is that marriage is a mutual covenant between equals, unlike the unilateral covenants such as the Abrahamic covenant which God made with humans. I do not believe that marriage is that kind of covenant.

    That said, I also believe that those who are in Christ and who have themselves been forgiven should have a disposition of forgiveness. Not a rule or rules about forgiveness, but a disposition and a heart of forgiveness. In addition, as parts of the New Creation, we can expect and strive to move toward God’s design for marriage in his original Creation. So, for example, when Gramp3 and I minister to people in difficult marriage situations, we encourage/exhort/support/facilitate any moves toward true reconciliation in whatever way we can. But if one or both are unwilling to be in a real covenantal marriage, then we cannot impose a rule that makes a covenant designed to be lived together into a sentence to be served by one. That makes a spouse/partner(and sometimes the children) into a hostage. Rather than upholding the value and sanctity of marriage, such a rigid rule makes a mockery of what God intended and, ironically, that is exactly what the “rule” is supposed to avoid doing.

    So, I would argue that Paul and Jesus were both pointing to the weightiness of marriage which is rightly charged in the traditional marriage ceremony.

  347. Ken wrote:

    Ben Denison wrote:
    it’s worth noting that the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church were not able to come to full agreement on this issue when Piper was senior pastor. They crafted a position that went as far as they all could agree to, and then individual elders/pastors followed their conscience beyond that; e.g. some will remarry a person who divorced due to adultery, and some will not. But many of them did not subscribe to Piper’s view on this issue. That says a lot.
    It says he is not the dictatorial ‘pope’ his detractors often paint him to be, at least not on this issue. I think in this regard he ought to be commended for not imposing his views on others on this difficult question, but allowing for conscience for those who have read the same texts and come to different conclusions.

    I still say it is a BIG problem. Let’s apply it to a situation with more verses. Think if the issue was slavery years ago. Some actually argued it was Biblical and acceptable to own slaves. That’s the problem when a view has significant negative impact like this one.

    Personally, I do not think it is “good enough” to say each pastor will decide. That’s like saying it was good enough to turn a blind-eye to slavery allowing each person decide for himself/herself if owning slaves was immoral or not. It’s unjust and such treatment furthers destructive goals…i.e. the continuing of an immoral institution–i.e. slavery–and in this case, an unbiblical divorce prejudice against those remarried after suffering adulterous betrayal.

  348. Divorce Minister wrote:

    Sorry to hear that is your experience. I do not think we ought to insist that our convictions be anothers. That includes pressuring for remarriage.

    Divorce Minister wrote:

    Personally, I do not think it is “good enough” to say each pastor will decide. That’s like saying it was good enough to turn a blind-eye to slavery allowing each person decide for himself/herself if owning slaves was immoral or not. It’s unjust and such treatment furthers destructive goals…i.e. the continuing of an immoral institution–i.e. slavery–and in this case, an unbiblical divorce prejudice against those remarried after suffering adulterous betrayal.

    This sounds contradictory. Are you saying that one should act one way if the person is a divorced person but a different way if the person is a pastor? Why would it be OK to insist that Piper change his tune about remarriage but not okay for people to have insisted that I get married again?

    While I think that Piper’s ideas are extreme and are a minority opinion, I am thinking that once we begin insisting that somebody see or do things our way in this particular issue there is no stopping that.

    And as bad as divorce is to experience I really do not see that it is on the same level as slavery. Admittedly while I am divorced I have never been a slave, but I fail to see the equivalence.

  349. @ Okrapod:

    They are both injustices is my point. And people have abused Scripture in both cases to justify the continuation of such injustices. You are correct in saying that they are not equivalent. That is not my point.

    One person calling an injustice “okay” under the guise of conviction–as I see Piper doing here–furthers that injustice. That is the bigger point I am making.

    Taking Piper’s position to its logical conclusion–as I do in my post–suggest any faithful spouse who remarries is committing adultery. That is victim-blaming. It is cruel and merciless. And it is unjust.

    People in church leadership are influenced by Piper and his position also religates divorced Christians to the “B squad.” In other words, it furthers unbiblical divorce prejudice.

    Piper is allowed to have his own convictions, of course. But his convictions impact many people. And I do not think freedom of conscience ought to be abused to further injustice.

  350. Jeff S wrote:

    we have to understand real life in light of scripture, but for our understanding of scripture to be true, it also has to work in real life . . .

    Amen! Real people living real lives get forgotten by ideologues. I sat listening to a coworker berate his wife today. He belongs to the very patriarchal sect known as the Latter Day Saints. I felt sorry for the wife. Again it is a real world but I thought “Oh my” as I listened to the angry monologue. I perceived he was treating his wife like she was a child. Is there a kind of parallel between patriarchal/ complementarian and women being viewed as children? This does relate to John Piper. Incidentally Glenn Beck, a Mormon, is viewed as a hero at Edwin Young’s church. Are evangelicals welcoming Latter Day Saints into their fold? Sorry I have some doctrinal and religious practice concerns with the Latter Day Saints sect.

  351. Victorious wrote:

    I think Jesus understood the prevalence of men putting their wives away and had compassion on this woman. Women, after all, were not afforded the right to divorce their husbands so either all her husbands died or she was divorced by each of them.

    How gracious was Jesus’ interaction with her to offer her living water.

    As you know, the Samaritans had an imperfect adherence to Judaism. I wouldn’t assume that their society and religious practice regarding marriage and divorce (men putting away their wives) was structured the same as mainstream Judaism.

    John 4:39 mentions that many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” She didn’t say everything that happened to me as would be the situation if she was a victim and put away multiple times; she said everything I did. Therefore, she took the responsibility for her marriages / divorces.

  352. Gram3 wrote:

    I disagree with what I understand to be your view that no divorce or remarriage is the only reasonable one for someone with a high view of the authority of scripture to hold.

    I’m glad you are feeling a bit better.

    I’m afraid I can despair over this sometimes, you are not the only person who has read a post to then take me to task for something I haven’t said, or even said the opposite. What I wrote was:

    Regarding the former there is general agreement that Jesus permitted divorce for porneia, which is either fornication before marriage or sexual immorality after having been married, that is, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality. There is a second case where believers are in mixed marriages in 1 Cor 7, where if the unbelieving spouse wants out, the believer whether husband or wife is not bound, i.e. is not ‘enslaved’ to keeping the marriage going. This too is an exception to the general no divorce view that Jesus himself and Paul enjoins on Christians.

    So here there are two occasions when the NT writers allow for divorce – immorality and desertion. The harder part is whether re-marriage is permitted following such divorces. I very much agree with you that trying to get an answer to this means looking at what Jesus said marriage was for. When the Pharisees wanted to discuss the grounds for divorce, he answered them with ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’. So too the discussion today can revolve around grounds for divorce and exceptions for re-marriage to the detriment of considering what marriage is and what defines it.

    Despite this being such an emotive subject, I think the ‘spirit’ for want of a better term in which you disagreed with me (all the more so as you mistakenly thought I was a ‘no divorce ever’ proponent) is the only way to sensibly go about the topic. No-one says it’s easy. There are two reasons for this: one is simply understanding the different texts on the subject in their own right, and the other is that the Lord Jesus Christ and the NT writers are, whatever you precise understanding of the divorce texts, mostly in headlong collision with modern Anglo-Saxon society on this issue, both in theory and practice. Two very different world views.

  353. Joe2 wrote:

    John 4:39 mentions that many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” She didn’t say everything that happened to me as would be the situation if she was a victim and put away multiple times; she said everything I did. Therefore, she took the responsibility for her marriages / divorces.

    It’s highly unlikely that she had married and legally divorced 4-5 husbands. It would be the first and only case of polyandry in scripture while the opposite is found not infrequently. In fact, I’ve not found one instance of a man married to one woman during his lifetime. I could be wrong, but the practice of polygamy seems to be the norm even though it was not the original design.

    Even among pagan nations in the early ancient Mesopotamian area there were fairly stringent laws concerning family life; i.e. the Code of Hammurabi which is the most well known. But divorce, though discouraged, was only available to the husband. A wife could remarry if she lacked the means to support herself which is a common condition we see throughout scripture, particularly among the Jews who favored a patriarchial system of family life.

    Scholars differ in their opinions about the Samaritan woman, but based on scriptural and historical evidence, it’s highly unlikely she was able to divorce 4 husbands.

  354. @ Gram3:
    This ties in to other aspects of faith as well.

    As Christians we’re expected to follow certain commands, many of which are not easy to see in hard, black and white terms. How do you know I’m really loving my neighbor as myself? What does sacrificial giving mean for me? What does loving and laying down my life for my spouse look like in my circumstances?

    I don’t think the attitude behind trying to make some measurable sense out of these commands and expectations is always bad, but the meaning and the beauty of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is lost when we try to codify the Christian walk for others.

    It’s easy to lose sight of the purpose of a command in the attempt to keep it daily, and dead legalism or compete abandonment is the end of such tunnel vision in our walk. In that regard I guess I would consider divorce and a broken home more of a consequence of sin, rather than inherently a sin in all cases. Divorce isn’t awful because we believe God declared it arbitrarily to be awful, but because of what led it to be necessary. Divorce is usually a result of a long train of failings, by one party or both, and may be a direct result of immature partnering to begin with. As you said, putting the “let no man put asunder” command on a pedestal above all else while the marriage itself is a miserable sham hurting one or both parties plus children is not a proper view of marriage. Because a godly marriage should be a certain way does not mean we force it to look that way where there may not be any real regard for working towards a godly marriage.
    As always, it’s easy to take a hard line interpretation of passages and apply it indiscriminately to others, until you’re the one stuck with the abusing spouse holding your beliefs hostage for their own ends.

    That’s a bit rambling, I know. Just trying to work through my thoughts.

  355. dee wrote:

    Do you think that he allowed divorce for domestic violence, child pornography usage by the husband, chronic substance abuse, and serious criminal activity? If not, why not? Do you believe that the list mentioned by Jesus was a “that’s all” list? If so, why?

    Fair question and I will try to give a straight answer. As far as the church is concerned, violence and abuse and criminality as a way of life indicate (prove?) the perpertrator is not a Christian, and therefore in these circumstances a believing spouse is not under obligation to continue in the marriage. This doesn’t mean no attempt should be made to deal with the problems before divorce is considered, but if all else fails, is there much of an alternative? (fwiw I don’t believe in a cheap grace, easy believism/decision for Jesus, your salvation could never be put in jeopardy/your best life now/God wants you rich bastardised form of Christianity – and I use the term deliberately, this kind of ‘Christianity’ is illegitimate. There are a lot of churchgoers who are pretending to be something they are not, and the word for this is hypocrite.)

    You also said You think people don’t like to be committed to another for life and that is the reason they want to divorce? Current UK practice would to a considerable degree bear this out. If you take Jesus’ exceptions on divorce, in 2012 about 15% of divorces were for adultery and less than 1% for desertion. Amongst family, friends, and colleagues I seen divorce simply because they parties have grown tired of each other, so they want a “new relationship”. The concept of marriage being life-long has been steadily eroded. Plenty of these marriages have to be considered adulterous or ‘consecutive polygamy’ (Pawson). Who’d want to be a pastor trying to sort this kind of mess out.

    Thankfully, there are many theologically sound people who disagree with you and Piper on this matter. I know that, I’ve already said this. Piper’s view is an interpretation. Those who allow limited re-marriage are also giving an interpretation, and Piper himself held this view for 40 years. IF the newer Piper understanding is correct, then he is correctly expounding the revealed will of God (as is also true of the limited re-marriage veiw). Rejecting Piper’s view because it is Piper who is expounding it means it is not Piper who is being rejected, but the revealed will of God.

    I listened to Piper on this last night – thought I would get his view from the horse’s mouth as it were. I’ll try to finish off the series tonight, see whether he is convincing or not – keeping as open a mind as possible. One thing I have to say is that he spoke very powerfully, and imo very movingly of the grace of God, the forgiveness of God, the utter faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ to his bride the church, in all its waywardness and sin, including towards those who have gone wrong on this and broken up and remarried when they should not have done so. I found it very moving and in fact uplifting. Going by what I have heard so far, painting him as a sort of monster on this subject is grossly unfair.

    I like the hargy-bargy of views expressed on here. I come from a conservative evangelical background which I don’t think is particularly extreme or dogmatic. But then I wouldn’t. This constituency does seem surprisingly underrepresented here, and I do hesitate posting sometimes as I don’t want to be ‘Ken posting again always being contrary to the general flow’. I do wish people would make a bit more effort to actually engage with what I say if they want to. I don’t have any problem with people disagreeing, there’s little value in preaching to the choir, but I have got tired of having to repeat things because a subject is controversial and commenters are seeing things in there that are not there, or are keeping themselve fit, as so many do in churches, by ‘jumping to wrong conclusions’!

  356. Ken wrote:

    Who’d want to be a pastor trying to sort this kind of mess out.

    For the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would think personal problems such as divorce need to be “sorted out” by a pastor. But that’s just me…I have confidence that two adults can make their own decisions without a mediator if they choose to do so. Often it just muddies the water anyway.

  357. Ken wrote:

    listened to Piper on this last night – thought I would get his view from the horse’s mouth as it were. I’ll try to finish off the series tonight, see whether he is convincing or not – keeping as open a mind as possible. One thing I have to say is that he spoke very powerfully, and imo very movingly of the grace of God, the forgiveness of God, the utter faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ to his bride the church, in all its waywardness and sin, including towards those who have gone wrong on this and broken up and remarried when they should not have done so. I found it very moving and in fact uplifting. Going by what I have heard so far, painting him as a sort of monster on this subject is grossly unfair.

    You need to read everything on CBMW site from Piper (unless it has been deleted) and listen to much more than one series which include his speaking gigs you can find on audio to various young pastor audiences.

    These guys have a way of presenting different information in a myriad of different ways depending on the audience. That is how they played the ESS game for so long. And with Piper, you have to strip away all the flowery verbosity and passionate delivery to get to real substance which often is not there.

    But then if he is saying something you like it is easier to ignore actual scholarship on this subject from someone like Instone Brewer. And if people in the UK and American are divorcing because they are simply bored with their spouse, what exactly can you do about it? Change the laws? That is what I find most scary about those sorts of views. They want the non Christians to “act” like Christians when it comes to marriage. I find that bizarre.

  358. Victorious wrote:

    For the life of me, I can’t imagine why anyone would think personal problems such as divorce need to be “sorted out” by a pastor. But that’s just me…I have confidence that two adults can make their own decisions without a mediator if they choose to do so

    Exactly. It is just more micromanagement of our lives from people who know best for us.

  359. Ken wrote:

    It says he is not the dictatorial ‘pope’ his detractors often paint him to be, at least not on this issue. I think in this regard he ought to be commended for not imposing his views on others on this difficult question, but allowing for conscience for those who have read the same texts and come to different conclusions.

    Piper made a big deal long ago about some disagreement he had with some elders on Baptism, too, to show it is “elder led” not pastor ruled. Piper’s influential teaching OUTSIDE of Bethlehem is what needs to be analyzed and discussed in any event as his main audience has always been indoctrinating young pastors and he had an aggressive speaking calendar.

    However, he was able to convince Bethlehem that women should not be allowed to read scripture aloud in worship as it would be “teaching men”. Sounds like a dictatorial type of church to me.

  360. @ Victorious:

    Very interesting. I had not really given this much thought but you are right about her not being able to divorce so many times in that culture whether it was Samaritan, Jewish or even Roman.

  361. @ Lydia:

    And what are the chances all four of her husbands died? And if anyone knows of a formal contract that legally marries two people in scripture, I’d like to know where to find it. So where does that leave the Samaritan woman and the man she was living with?

  362. Ken wrote:

    The harder part is whether re-marriage is permitted following such divorces. I very much agree with you that trying to get an answer to this means looking at what Jesus said marriage was for. When the Pharisees wanted to discuss the grounds for divorce, he answered them with ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’. So too the discussion today can revolve around grounds for divorce and exceptions for re-marriage to the detriment of considering what marriage is and what defines it.

    I sincerely apologize for misunderstanding your view. I greatly respect you and the way that you interact here and appreciate what you say. Usually. We share many core views regarding the authority of Scripture, and I am with you in the conservative tail of the distribution here. Full disclosure, I knew Bill Heth and am very familiar with the thinking which framed his first view of marriage and divorce. Since I knew him, I knew that his heart is/was to preserve what is good rather than to punish people. To his great credit, he changed his view after studying much more and published that change in the SBTS journal. His view was the dominant view at DTS many decades ago, and it is also reflected in Andy Stanley’s views. Or at least what his view was at one time. Thus, it is easy for me to assume the best of people with this view while also saying that it fundamentally misses the point just like the marry-and-divorce-on-a-whim does.

    When it comes to Piper, I don’t dismiss his views because the view is Piper’s. I disagree because I do not believe that the view is consistent with either God’s design or Jesus’ instructions or Paul’s instructions. It is consistent with a culturally-formed view whether the culture informing the view is fundamentalist evangelicalism (Piper) or Roman Catholicism or postmodern Western hedonism. If we want to get our views from the texts and not from culture, then we need to look at all of the texts in their context. Which is one of the tedious things I say which will surely be engraved on my tombstone. The problem is that too many times the middle interpretive step of first understanding what the speaker/author meant within his cultural context is skipped before immediately jumping to an application in a completely different cultural context. I believe that the Holy Spirit inspired texts which are transcultural when interpreted carefully and consistently.

    The fact is that Jesus was correcting the view of some males that women remained wives at the sufferance of the husbands. The wives were little more than chattel. I believe we can see this in the astonishment of the disciples at his teaching. He was removing the exclusivity of the male’s agency in the marriage relationship and pointing back to what God intended. I do not believe he was making either a rule with or without exceptions. I believe he was recalibrating their moral compass. It was no longer sufficient to merely dismiss a wife with a slip of paper per the rabbinical instructions. Just as in Malachi, Jesus was emphasizing that God hates treachery in covenant relationships. Men who were dismissing and abandoning their wives were committing treachery against those women. The mention of adultery is interesting because there was already a “cure” for adultery, namely stoning, after which the husband would have been free to remarry in any case. The fact is that Jesus was introducing some radical mercy into the picture by saying that divorce, rather than stoning, is the response to adultery.

    Paul explicitly said that the abandoned Christian spouse is not bound. Or is loosed from their marriage bond. That means, as far as I can see, that they are then free to remarry just as a surviving spouse is no longer bound and is free to remarry when their spouse dies. If not, then a women who was a new believer who had been abandoned by her unbelieving spouse would have been condemned by Paul to a life of poverty or prostitution or both. There were no options for abandoned women in that culture. Does that sound like anything Jesus would demand of an innocent and wronged party?

    I agree with you that the discussion revolves around the Rule and the Exceptions rather than the Principle and the Purpose. That, I’m afraid, is because as humans we tend to gravitate toward the poles of licentiousness or legalism. The Gospel says we are New Creatures who should strive to live like New Creatures, but this present reality is not the New Creation just yet, and we are to live wisely in an evil age, bringing the light and love of Christ to people rather than the condemnation of humans who have missed the larger point.

    I believe that Piper makes the ascetic mistake, and I believe that his fundamental paradigm for the disposition of God toward humanity is flawed. I believe that God is like the ultimate Good Father, as Jesus said. Notice I did not say the Indulgent Grandfather. There is a big difference. Piper, I believe, thinks that the fundamental disposition of God toward humanity is barely controlled rage, and I think that is a slanderous view of God’s nature. He is holy *and* loving, just *and* merciful, and I think we see that in the record of the earthly life of Jesus.

  363. Like I have said before I want to see some bio on somebody before I read or listen to what he has to say. So I have just read a short bio on David Instone Brewer written by the man himself. Understand that I believe that a person’s life experiences influence his thinking but that this does not necessarily make a person’s conclusions invalid-only that this has to be taken into consideration because bias is ever among us all.

    David Instone Brewer is a Brit. He wanted to be a doctor but flunked out of medical school. So he went into the ministry. (To my credit I kept on reading.) As a pastor he got into the business of marrying divorced people whose own anglican or catholic churches would not marry them. This was before he did his research and before he apparently had formulated his later opinions as to how okay this was. (Again, I kept on reading but by now I was having an attack of my own bias.) This got him interested in what the bible says about divorce and he noticed that not a lot of attention had been given to rabbinic teaching so he focused there. (To my credit I kept on reading.) His understanding of rabbinic teaching and OT scriptures led him to different conclusions than what most people were thinking (by his own admission.) It also got him hired to do research at Tyndale House. Papers and articles and book followed. His story ended there.

    I am thinking that this man got into a line of work in which there was a growing market and he has succeeded in further growing it.

  364. @ Ken:
    I should also have said that I believe that Piper’s fundamental paradigm for relationships is similarly flawed. I think that he views relationships as being about about roles and rules rather than mutual love and respect. This flawed view is carried into his view of the intra-Trinitarian relationships, the relationship between God and humanity, the relationship between church leaders and laity, and the relationships between husbands and wives/males and females. I believe that the evidence shows that Piper cannot conceive of a relationship between/among equals that is not rank-ordered, and I think that he believes any such non-rank-ordered relationships would be inherently disordered). He cannot conceive of a relationship between unequal parties, as between God and humans, being reciprocal in any way. I think if you read/listen to what he says and writes with that in mind, that will be apparent. Whether you agree with my assessment or not.

  365. @ Gram3:
    He was studying rabbinical sources regarding some aspects of Paul’s though and writing prior to finishing his degree. I have to say that i think you might wish to re-read his informal bio. again. It is not looking the same to me as it did to you.

  366. @ Okrapod:
    FWIW, I haven’t read Instone-Brewer, as far as I can recall. That said, he may be lurking somewhere on a shelf or box in my house. My kids have frequently taken and deposited books with us at will, so I can never be sure.

  367. @ numo:
    Oops, soory – this comment was in reply to Okrapod.

    I personally have a rough time that many in the CofE refuse to solemnize second marriages, but that is just my view. I have seen and heard it applied harshly in a non-Anglican church by someone who was ordained CofE, as well as being then used to police peoples’ lives *and* also as the foundation for personal attacks on individuals who chose to get married to divorced people. In one case, i saw it used as an excuse to ignore/cold-shoulder a couple who had recently gotten married, and the whole thing was hideous. I can’t even begin to imagine how they felt, though not,long after, i ended up being subject to much the same treatment…

  368. @ numo:
    Have a rough time over the fact that…

    There are many different “wings” in the CofE. I suspect that the bishops who got angry about the recent consecration of the 1st woman CofE bishop are also anti-second marriages, no matter what the circumstances.

  369. Ken wrote:

    Rejecting Piper’s view because it is Piper who is expounding it means it is not Piper who is being rejected, but the revealed will of God.

    Good night! I would never reject something piper said just because Piper said it. However, due to the incredible number of weird things said by Piper through the past years, I must admit that I take what he says with a grain of salt. And I check it out. And sometimes I am correct.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/12/05/important-cross-conference-please-take-down-this-john-piper-video-pronto/

    Any guy who supports CJ Mahaney and never once responded to the pleas of the victims in the SGM saga speaks volumes to me. He may *sound* moving but he does not act in a manner which demonstrates that kindly soul which you claim is there.

    Ken wrote:

    As far as the church is concerned, violence and abuse and criminality as a way of life indicate (prove?) the perpertrator is not a Christian, and therefore in these circumstances a believing spouse is not under obligation to continue in the marriage.

    I thought Scripture said that one must remain with an unbelieving spouse unless said spouse asks for a divorce. So, in your paradigm, how can the abused spouse leave?

    Ken wrote:

    I do wish people would make a bit more effort to actually engage with what I say if they want to. I don’t have any problem with people disagreeing, there’s little value in preaching to the choir, but I have got tired of having to repeat things because a subject is controversial and commenters are seeing things in there that are not there, or are keeping themselve fit, as so many do in churches, by ‘jumping to wrong conclusions’!

    This is a blog and not a face to face communication. It is impossible for me t o read every comment and know exactly what the author intended. Also, people visit the blog and do not know the history of either the blog or the people who post here.

    I am sorry that you are tired having to repeat things. However, there is just one of you and maybe a handful of people responding to you. I, on the other hand, have hundreds and hundreds of comments and emails, some of which ask repetitive questions or “jump to conclusions.

    I try mightily to see the person behind the comment. So, if someone jumps to a conclusion, I might wonder if they have been hurt by other Christians saying things in a similar manner. Iy takes a lot of effort and love to communicate effectively on blogs. There are bound to many mistakes on all sides.

    That is why patience and kindliness go a long way in this medium.

  370. numo wrote:

    Do you think all rabbinic sources are biased?

    I would think that rabbinic sources are biased toward the Jewish understandings of God and the law, certainly. That is what makes them rabbinic sources. Anti-Jewish rabbis would not still be being held in esteem and quoted I am thinking. What is wrong with that?

  371. @ Gram3:

    There is no ‘Nancy-Okrapod.’ I am trying to sever any link to Nancy for privacy purposes. That is no doubt useless but it is important to me for personal reasons.

  372. @ Okrapod:

    I am surprised he was that honest in his bio– usually ministry bios are puffed up. Ever read JD Hall’s?

    I actually started with Instone-Brewers videos because John Piper was trashing him so I had to check him out. I had done enough research at that point to know if it was off the charts or not.

  373. @ Victorious:

    If she was unable to conceive there is a chance she was marrying much older men subsequently. Just a thought because of the divorce laws.
    Ken wrote:

    When the Pharisees wanted to discuss the grounds for divorce, he answered them with ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’. So too the discussion today can revolve around grounds for divorce and exceptions for re-marriage to the detriment of considering what marriage is and what defines it.

    Ken,

    here is something else to consider about “God’s way” of marriage:

    1) Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deut. 21:11-13)

    2) “Lay hold on” a virgin who is not betrothed to another man, and “know” her, but afterwards pay her father a sum of money. Then she’s yours. (Deut. 22:28-29)

    3) Find a prostitute and marry her. (Hosea 1:1-3)

    4) Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock.–Moses (Ex. 2:16-21)

    5) Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal.–Boaz (Ruth 4:5-10)

    6) Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife.–Benjaminites (Judges 21:19-25)

    7) Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you a rib.–Adam (Gen. 2:19-24)

    8) Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a wife.–Jacob (Gen. 29:15-30)

    9) Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife.–David (1 Sam. 18:27)

    10) Even if no one is out there, just wander around a bit and you’ll definitely find someone.–Cain (Gen. 4:16-17)

    11) Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest.–Xerxes or Ahasuerus (Esther 2:3-4)

    12) When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.”–Samson (Judges 14:1-3)

    13) Kill any husband and take HIS wife. (Prepare to lose four sons though.)–David (2 Sam. 11)

    14) Wait for your brother to die. Take his widow. (It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!)–Onan and Boaz (Deut. or Lev., example in Ruth)

    15) Don’t be so picky. Make up for quality with quantity.–Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3)

    Personally, I think you are misunderstanding this: When the Pharisees wanted to discuss the grounds for divorce, he answered them with ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’.

    They made vows before God they were breaking. That was the “God joined together” part. Otherwise I would have to believe God “approved” of Polygamy and all sorts of horrid things rather than allowed humans the choice to behave badly.

  374. Gram3 wrote:

    There is a big difference. Piper, I believe, thinks that the fundamental disposition of God toward humanity is barely controlled rage, and I think that is a slanderous view of God’s nature.

    Yes. And the fact that God can have some grace for a few chosen before Adam sinned “elect” in the midst of that rage is called “grace”

  375. Okrapod wrote:

    Understand that I believe that a person’s life experiences influence his thinking but that this does not necessarily make a person’s conclusions invalid-only that this has to be taken into consideration because bias is ever among us all.

    I totally agree with this. And it is one reason I encourage people to check many sources when studying. I have been doing this for the last 10 years or so on many doctrinal issues and you start to get a sense how literal understandings, bad translations and cultural context are a huge problem when we are trying to “apply” scripture to our lives. You also start to get a feel for who out there is seeking understanding and who is indoctrinating for a reason or cause.

    And everyone is different in that quest and how it manifests itself. For me, several big epiphanies happened over the years. One was studying the translation of teshuqa in Gen 3. Another was giving myself permission not to read Genesis literally but more as a creation narrative probably written during or after the Babylonian exile as the Israelites were losing their identity. And the big one was reading the Gospels ONLY over and over for 3 years to get a real sense of Jesus Christ, what He did, did not do, etc, etc. It really helped me when it came to Paul because I was really starting to have problems with Paul. :o) Now, I translate Paul through the Jesus filter and not visa versa as so many pastors tend to do.

  376. @ Okrapod:
    But even then, Jewish opinion was extremely diverse. So there was no single “Jewish view” – not then, and certainly not when the Talmud was being written and compiled, let alone now.

    I think Instone-Brewer and other xtians who specialize in 2Temple and later Judaism are much nedded, actually, but that’s partly to do with my background in history.

  377. @ Lydia:
    Yes. I believe that, as a Father, God is deeply grieved by our sin, just as any good human is grieved at the sin of their children. I believe God is very angry with sin in general because that is not how he made us to be, and sin causes so much suffering. But, as a loving *and* holy and good Father, I believe he loves us in spite of ourselves and respects what he has made enough to let some go their own way if they choose not to love him in return. I do not think that God’s love is coercive or manipulative or arbitrary or capricious. Those are what the pagan gods and sinful humans are like, however.

  378. @ numo:
    I would say that Jesus of Nazareth was the Rabbi that the rabbis were waiting for and which some did not recognize. Like Paul, I wish that my Jewish friends could recognize him as their true and good Elder Brother.

  379. @ numo:
    I agree. It is so hard to explain without people jumping to “Law” conclusions. Jesus is to me what the Isrealites were supposed to be like as the light of the world and His intention for them.

  380. Gram3 wrote:

    believe he loves us in spite of ourselves and respects what he has made enough to let some go their own way if they choose not to love him in return. I do not think that God’s love is coercive or manipulative or arbitrary or capricious. Those are what the pagan gods and sinful humans are like, however.

    Yes!

  381. @ Lydia:

    Well said. I too had moments of insight into myself and what I perceived, but they were quite different from yours. I had an ‘epiphany’ as you say at age 4 when I totally realized that my parents were lying to me and I knew that I knew that I knew that there was no easter bunny and no santa claus and no jesus and that they were laughing at me for believing their lies. The important thing here is (a) my epiphany was only partly true no matter how much I believed it at the time and (b) we do paddle our rafts on top of a veritable cess pool of lies all the time. That epiphany at that young age is soooo still a part of how I see things.

    I had a self-realization when I realized that at heart I was not a baptist, even though immersed in baptist thought and practice, mostly because I do not believe in sola scriptura. At the time I did not realize that the majority position within christianity as a whole is indeed not sola scriptura. I thought that my ‘realization’ just meant that I was an unbeliever and therefore damned if the baptists were correct. Eventually I got more information and was able to accept who I was religiously. One might say I came out of some religious closet and quit pretending to myself about it.

    So, I am less inclined to do with ‘scripture’ what the sola people do. I do believe there are other truths also, and I do not care nearly as much about what happened in another era and to other cultures and such as some people do. I am far more concerned with also knowing what has been the experience of christianity over the centuries as they have tried to deal with it all and what other disciplines (for example science) have to say about their own areas of expertise and which impact our understandings of just a lot of things including but not limited to scripture.

    And I am skeptical of almost everything at least until the barnacles are scraped away and one can see if there is any real underlying value and what the limiting parameters of that value may be. I am, like gram3 accurately noted, an optimistic pragmatist at heart. And now well on the way to being an anglo-catholic episcopalian. We do not choose who we are. To that extent the calvinists are correct. What that means about God, well that is a different matter.

  382. Through the grapevine: Joel Beeke of Heritage Reformed Churches, was the faithful spouse of an unfaithful wife. He divorced. His former denomination, the Netherlands Reformed Churches (located primarily in Michigan), wouldn’t let it go (didn’t accept it as allowed by the Bible). He remarried and started a new denomination, Heritage Reformed Churches. If someone else knows the whole story I would love to hear it. Just goes to show how rampant the whole anti-divorce teaching is in the world.

  383. numo wrote:

    @ Gram3:
    Jeff S speaks very highly of his work.

    Very. I wish more books were written with the level of detail and thought that “Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible” was.

  384. Okrapod wrote:

    I would think that rabbinic sources are biased toward the Jewish understandings of God and the law, certainly. That is what makes them rabbinic sources. Anti-Jewish rabbis would not still be being held in esteem and quoted I am thinking. What is wrong with that?

    FWIW, the way IB uses the rabbinic viewpoint is not to assert that the viewpoint is correct, but so that we can understand how the audience of Jesus would have understood the words he was teaching. He also points out the places where Jesus corrects and admonishes the rabbinic viewpoint of the day.

    IB has an example of contemporaries saying almost word for word exactly what Jesus said about divorce, so it’s a pretty safe assumption that he meant the same thing they did (and his audience would have heard it the same). For Jesus to say the same thing, in the same context, to the same audience, is simply unjustifiable. But that is exactly what Piper asserts.

  385. Jeff S wrote:

    For Jesus to say the same thing, in the same context, to the same audience, is simply unjustifiable.

    I meant to say, “For Jesus to say the same thing, in the same context, to the same audience, AND MEAN SOMETHING DIFFERENT, is simply unjustifiable.

  386. Lydia wrote:

    Personally, I think you are misunderstanding this: When the Pharisees wanted to discuss the grounds for divorce, he answered them with ‘what God has joined together, let not man put asunder’.

    Ahem, take a look at the first sentence of the post of mine you quoted near the top of your post …

    🙂 🙂

    I agree with you that post fall, God (seems to have) tolerated activities well below the ideal commanded in Gen 2, but under the new covenant this original has been reinstated. The OT descriptions shouldn’t be understood as prescriptions.

  387. @ Lydia:
    I’ve just seen what you are getting at: you should have kept the last two short paragraphs as one!

    oh dear …

  388. @ Ken:

    Again, I haven’t been following the entire conversation here, so forgive me if I go a path that is already well worn here.

    I hear a lot of talk from people emphasizing the original goals and design for marriage. Yes, Jesus did that. It’s an important part of it. What drives me bonkers is the tacit implication that high divorce rates are because people who divorce don’t have a high regard for marriage.

    The truth is, Jesus wasn’t addressing the question of a marriage in which one spouse is beating the ever living crap out of another. In the context of that discussion, talking about the original design for marriage isn’t really on topic. Once a spouse has gotten to the point of beating another, you’ve left all considerations of “the original design for marriage behind”. Whatever God intended marriage to be, he did not intend that.

    And to be clear, “beating the ever living crap” is not the only example of abuse. Emotional, financial, sexual, etc. It’s just that physical abuse evokes the visceral reaction that makes things clear and straightforward. The other, more subtle forms, cross the same lines: in to an area God never intended marriage to go.

    But anyway, to presume that the answer Jesus gave to the question “Can a man dump his wife any time he feels like it?” is related to the question “Can a wife leave a man who is abusing her?” is just way out of bounds, even though that’s what people do over and over again. He was rebuking evil, entitled men for abandoning their wives, not people who were leaving spouses because they were being destroyed.

    I realize that we all have our pre-conceived ideas of how many people divorces over convenience and how many divorce because of abuse, but I think the latter is far higher than most evangelicals want to recognize. It seems the gut reaction by most evangelicals is to suspect claims of abuse as people trying to justify leaving a marriage. The question I have is, why do we assume that people want to leave good, healthy marriages? Yes, people get selfish and sinful, but by and large I don’t understand this idea that we all somehow want to flee healthy marriages and cry “abuse” to justify it.

    The men who were abandoning their wives “for any cause” that Jesus was addressing were examples of selfish, abusive men who had no regard for their wives. Yeah, they were the ones trying to get out of their marriages. But there’s not reason to assume that is true for everyone.

    The disheartening thing is that evangelicals seem to regard divorce as a bigger problem than abuse. It’s so sad, because the result is a picture of God in which he endorses spousal abuse in he name of “purity” of marriage. That is a sick picture, and not one I can reconcile with a Father who loves his children.

  389. Gram3 wrote:

    I sincerely apologize for misunderstanding your view. I greatly respect you and the way that you interact here and appreciate what you say. Usually

    I appreciate your post here, and in particular the word usually made me smile! I don’t want to witter on about being misunderstood too much, it’s only it gets a bit wearing sometimes. All the more so when it’s humid and in the top 30’s centigrade…

    I read Heth’s change of heart on this. It was interesting this was at least in part because of the low acceptance of this stricter view from the evangelical community, who preferred the traditional understanding.

    I agree with a lot of what you say, especially about the Good Father versus the Indulgent Grandfather. Yes! Although not using that terminology, a lot of charismatics went in that direction, the result being widespread immorality amongst charismatics including well-known leaders, and divorce and remarriage.

    Let me run an idea by you. It is fine to argue against the Piper/Pawson betrothal view of the exception clause, and argue the meaning of porneia, upon which the whole remarriage question rides. No problem.

    What I see, however, is a rejection of the stricter view not based on studying the text, but because the implications of it are too hard. Jesus couldn’t mean what it looks as though he means because he surely wouldn’t make such demands of us as disciples. Someone upstream here said they would be unhappy with a God who put holiness before happiness. I think though the former is vastly more important to God than the latter.

    I think we’ve got to take the Jesus the gospels reveal to us, not one adapted to our personal expectations or current culture. Otherwise we can dismiss or ignore a ‘hard saying’ in advance, or interpret it away to suit our preferences.

    This manifests itself in churches where bits are left out ‘because we wouldn’t want to put people off’. Where ears are tickled. This may be OK for a while, but personally I would rather be taught things that are uncomfortable, challenging or even unpalatable than endlessly being told to feel good about myself. A diet of lukewarm gruel: downloaded, second-hand Robert Schuller gruel.

  390. Divorce Minister wrote:

    People in church leadership are influenced by Piper and his position also religates divorced Christians to the “B squad.” In other words, it furthers unbiblical divorce prejudice.

    This definitely happens at Bethlehem. I’ve talked to several divorced/remarried people who attend Bethlehem regularly who say they feel like “second class citizens”/”damaged goods”/etc. when the divorce/remarriage issue is raised. And single people, to some degree, experience this “two-tier” effect. It’s one thing to hold marriage in high esteem and discourage divorce for selfish/trivial reasons, but that can easily (as I think it has at Bethlehem) lead to an unspoken but strongly felt message that those who are divorced (even for legitimate reasons) or still single are somehow “lesser”.

  391. Lydia wrote:

    Piper made a big deal long ago about some disagreement he had with some elders on Baptism, too, to show it is “elder led” not pastor ruled.

    There was an interesting story about the baptism issue. Bethlehem (like most Baptist churches) teaches believer’s baptism (credobaptism), and also requires people to be baptized before becoming members. Piper became convinced that if someone came from another church background and had been baptized as an infant, and did not want to be re-baptized as an adult for reasons of conscience, that in this specific case it should not be a bar to becoming a member. At one Q and A meeeting I remember Piper noting that well-respected theologians/pastors from other Reformed churches (e.g. Presbyterian), with whom we agreed on everything else, wouldn’t be able to become members of Bethlehem.

    What was interesting about it was that the elders were in agreement (can’t remember if it was perfectly unanimous, but large majority anyway) and brought a proposal to the congregation for a vote, to change the constitution for just this one specific case. And the congregation rejected it. In my ~25 years at Bethlehem that’s the only significant elder proposal I can remember being rejected, and we have had some really controversial ones. This could not have happened at some churches (e.g. Mars Hill) where the members don’t get a vote. And it reconfirmed for me the importance of congregational approval for constitutional-level changes, even if you believe that a church should be elder-led.

  392. Ken wrote:

    Of course this isn’t popular today, people don’t like the idea of being committed to someone else for life…

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but what I don’t like is the idea of anyone — especially a woman — being forcibly committed to a criminal, a pervert, or a sociopath. And committed to the extent that, even if she’s allowed to divorce him, she isn’t allowed to find some measure of earthly happiness with someone who treats her right. I see nothing loving or Christlike in that.

  393. Ben Denison wrote:

    This definitely happens at Bethlehem. I’ve talked to several divorced/remarried people who attend Bethlehem regularly who say they feel like “second class citizens”/”damaged goods”/etc. when the divorce/remarriage issue is raised….. It’s one thing to hold marriage in high esteem and discourage divorce for selfish/trivial reasons, but that can easily (as I think it has at Bethlehem) lead to an unspoken but strongly felt message that those who are divorced (even for legitimate reasons) or still single are somehow “lesser”.

    Disclaimer regarding my own bias: been there and done that

    Two thoughts. Apparently this feeling they have is not bad enough that they left that church and went to a different one???

    How would anyone in the general congregation know whether or not somebody divorced ‘for legitimate reasons’ when there is no marriage tribunal to determine the church’s position as to what is legitimate and what is not and to determine for church reasons who was culpable of what and who was not.

    Well, so would people then actually want to submit themselves to such a tribunal or would they want to maintain their own autonomy in making their own decisions in their own circumstances?

    It is a trade off, and I am thinking you can’t have both. The minute one takes a position of ‘it is nobody’s business but mine’ one forfeits any ability to claim that their situation has been examined by the church and found ‘legitimate’ and that any failure to acknowledge that their divorce was ‘legitimate’ is itself an illegitimate position. And, without presenting actual evidence to some tribunal why should anybody believe the usual stories that are so prevalent in our society? He cheated on me. My wife did not understand me. She kept a messy house. He ran up the credit cards. We could not agree on how to raise the children. And that goodie for the middle aged male–she just suddenly went slap crazy. Who wants to listen to that all the time?

    Even so, not everybody in the church would sign on to some church’s declaration regarding some particular divorce because people do not relinquish their own opinions. In my experience the only thing to do is make peace with oneself and move on. Worrying about what other people think is ineffective and is wasted energy.

    The person who marries did make the decision to marry, and to marry that particular person. The person who divorces did make the decision to divorce, thinking I am assuming that the consequences of divorce would be less destructive than the consequences of staying in the marriage. Often they are correct. Often they had no choice for the sake of themselves and their children. But not always. But there are consequences either way-stay or go. It is not realistic to think that the consequences can all be made to go away. They cannot. Surely nobody’s mama ever told them that life is easy.

    We have all heard about the pedestrian who crossed the street with the green light but was hit by a car anyhow. But hey, he was right–dead right. Consequences and being right do not have a 1:1 correlation.

  394. Okrapod wrote:

    The thing is, to a whole lot of those who are divorce survivors the issue of marriage/divorce/remarriage is important. We do not all have to agree about what to think concerning it, but to dismiss it as perhaps unimportant is a very dismissive and harsh thing to say.

    I think your above comment is kind of uncharitable. I never wrote that the topic of marriage / divorce is unimportant or dismissed it as perhaps unimportant.

    When Jesus met the Samaritan woman he told he that he was the Messiah. And that revelation was far more significant than instructing her about marriages. She went back to her town and told people about the Messiah. But churches today seem to have elevated the topic of marriage /divorce to such a high level that they idolize marriage and may even have a “salvation through marriage” kind of mentality. It’s the relative importance that churches place on marriage that causes problems for the never married and divorced.

  395. @ Okrapod:
    But none of us can avoid the reality of trying to read the NT in the context of its own time, can we? Because doing so has bred horrors, like the various Inquisitions.

    Every time we read any part of the NT (or most anything else) we are, by default, interpreting the text. I do really believe that a better understanding of contexts helps us with that, rather than hindering us. Absent time travel, it’s the best we can do.

  396. @ Ken:

    Ken, I don’t think I communicated my point well at all! :o)

    IOW, I do not believe God arranges marriages. I was focusing on the vows/promises made. Those would be the “God has joined together” part. And examples of vows from that era bear out the idea of not keeping the vows/promises is the “let no man put asunder”, part.

    This is just one more area of our lives where determinism and dualism have become ingrained to some degree focusing on God arranging our choices instead of our responsibility. I do believe that all relationships are meant to be more contractual in nature. That does not exclude love but enhances it in all spheres. What is more loving than people doing what they are supposed to do? Or people treating others as they want to be treated? (That is a whole other topic but fits with the bigger picture but what I mean by “contractual”)

    We have been trained to look at the other side of the equation in the name of cheap grace. An example would be vows/promises were made but one party was totally misrepresenting themselves the whole time. They had no intention of keeping the promises and were basically frauds in the whole deal but that was not discovered for a few years. The fraud broke the vow and “put them asunder”.

    But we are trained to focus on the person who is NOT a fraud and kept the promises and then focus on them to keep the vows because for some reason the “non frauds” vows are more important to keep! And we are talking big things here: Neglect, psychological abuse, etc. We have trained ourselves NOT to focus on the person who broke the vows. Instead we have been trained to look at the person who wants out…as in modern day divorce. And they become the “sinner”.

    The whole “any cause” divorce issue was about getting around those vows for any reason to make it “legal” (as in the Law). They were not big issues but issues of selfishness.

    And to wrap this up, we are talking about divorce/remarriage in a Christian setting. I am at a loss why we would expect unbelievers to buy into any of it and I certainly do not want to live in a theocracy. YET, unbelievers or nominal ones often have much better marriages! Probably because they don’t focus on all this silly stuff and hold each other accountable for behavior/actions, I suppose.

  397. Okrapod wrote:

    The person who marries did make the decision to marry, and to marry that particular person. The person who divorces did make the decision to divorce, thinking I am assuming that the consequences of divorce would be less destructive than the consequences of staying in the marriage. Often they are correct….But there are consequences either way-stay or go. It is not realistic to think that the consequences can all be made to go away. They cannot. Surely nobody’s mama ever told them that life is easy.

    I agree 100% And that was the scenario I presented to @ Divorce Minister. Two people can get married and then both realize the marriage was a mistake. There is no “somebody has done someone wrong.” Why can’t they just get divorced?

  398. Okrapod wrote:

    So, I am less inclined to do with ‘scripture’ what the sola people do. I do believe there are other truths also, and I do not care nearly as much about what happened in another era and to other cultures and such as some people do. I am far more concerned with also knowing what has been the experience of christianity over the centuries as they have tried to deal with it all and what other disciplines (for example science) have to say about their own areas of expertise and which impact our understandings of just a lot of things including but not limited to scripture.

    That is totally understandable and thank God for scientific types! I love seeking the historical context of scripture and even reading about the process that took place in deciding what books to include and all of Christian history which is an evil bloody mess.

    I do not view scripture as the 4th person of the Trinity as many sola scriptura types do. Frankly, if Christianity had been practiced as I believe it was meant to be instead of the oppressive mess it became early on, my guess is that science would have advanced much faster.

  399. @ Ben Denison:

    I am surprised they had a congregational vote. Did the congregation vote on the issue of disallowing women to read scripture aloud in worship because it would be teaching men?

    I heard the pastor the succeeded Piper changed the rule.

  400. Lydia wrote:

    And to wrap this up, we are talking about divorce/remarriage in a Christian setting. I am at a loss why we would expect unbelievers to buy into any of it and I certainly do not want to live in a theocracy.

    If those who do not have the bible do what it says, it will bless them…

    Leaving aside the remarriage aspect, re-reading 1 Cor 7 it struck me there that there is a concrete example of the apostle Paul not imposing a Christian standard of marriage on an unbeliever. v 10 and 11 are the no divorce for believers part, but in a mixed marriage he later does in fact allow for divorce, the Christian is not forced to continue the marriage if the unbeliever simply refuses to do so.

    This is hardly a mandate for imposing Christian standards on a world that doesn’t want them.

  401. @ dee:
    Whatever Piper’s comments on other themes, what he says on divorce and remarriage has to be judged on his teaching on that, not his hangups about submission or muscular women. (He’s often been criticised for not intervening in SGM, but is it his job to police the church, especially as a baptist, who usually leave this to the local church? He’s not an ‘apostle’ or bishop with a translocal ministry surely.) I did incidentally finish his divorce sermons, and found them very good. He was quite up front about his view being held by a tiny minority of evangelicals, and I was impressed by his words for those who have divorced and remarried.

    As for someone being abused by an unbelieving spouse, I think they are permittted to divorce. The hard question is whether they may remarry, but I for one certainly don’t think this means they must ‘remain’ with the unbeliever, staying under the same roof and facing physical danger.

    As for the rest of your answer, I wasn’t in any sense having a go at you, my comment was meant more generally but not expressed very well. I can imagine you get enough nasty communications from those who idols you are hacking down, and I would never want to add discouragement to that.

    On a personal note, someone asked me about divorce and remarriage in 1984 or thereabouts. I got married in 1985, and I remember taking a whole year to finally decide whether to pop the question or not! I was very aware that marriage does involve a loss of freedom, and that God intends it for life, there is no get out clause for believers (not unless you commit sins of such gravity as to put your salvation in jeopardy). So you need to make sure it’s what you really want. I also remember how quickly the vows went during the service – 3 minutes or thereabouts for a life commitment!

    Move forward to the Willow Creek church here in Germany and this issue raises its ugly head again. It turned out from a mixture of word of knowledge and asking for information that a girl in the music group had left her husband, and was currently living unmarried with her boyfriend. This simply didn’t seem to bother anyone. Now I think you could go to that church for 150 years and never hear anything that would disturb this cosy arrangement (I hope I am not being unfair here). After all, God is a God of love, that’s all you need. It was one of the reasons why I left it: the indifference. What’s the point if blatant, unrepentant sin is left alone, those bits of the bible side-lined and it used for ‘positive’ purposes only or replaced by psychology? So regardless of the correctness of Piper’s views, someone needs to address this, and try to undo the damage that seeker-sensitive/building your self-esteem type evangelicalism is doing the church at large. David Pawson from a long itinerant ministry in the UK has often said he (almost?) never goes into an evangelical church now where sexual immorality is not known about and tolerated. It’s no wonder that a church that cannot or will not deal with its teenagers activities or wayward marriages finds itself unable to deal with serious child abuse.

  402. Ken wrote:

    people don’t like the idea of being committed to someone else for life

    What? Where are you getting this idea? Are there statistics that show this somewhere?

    People LOVE the idea of being committed to someone else for life. They love it so much that it is a persistent theme in TV Shows, music, movies, books, and just about every form of fantasy that we enjoy.

    High levels of divorce is not evidence that people don’t like the idea of committing to another person, and I don’t understand why you jump to that conclusion. It can be the evidence of a lot of things, one being that people are breaking this commitment by destroying their spouses who they committed to love, honor, and cherish. But no, put the blame on the person who seeks safety and refuge in divorce? Why do Christians do that?

    As far as the “you may not remarry” position, there are huge consequences here. It’s not just a doctrinal position, and you should be very, very careful about the people you harm by holding this position. Because yes, by even holding the position you do you harm those who would read your words, think it a noble goal, and decide to try and go it alone.

    To those who can’t or don’t want to get remarried, more power to them. We all have our different paths. But I can tell you this: my son is better off with a mother than without one. The idea that he should be punished for my ex-wife’s behavior is ludicrous, and it angers me that anyone would desiring that for him (to say nothing about the goodness that my remarriage has brought to me).

    So yes, this tweaked me a bit. And Deebs, I’m sorry if I’m out of line, but I’m tired of people thinking treating this subject like it is some ivory tower parsing of doctrine. These are real people, created in the image of God, who are being harmed by this teaching. My son has been so affected by my ex wife’s behavior it is tragic. He has trouble attaching to people because he’s only known one adult he can really trust in. It’s so sad to watch.

    And now, such a blessing, there is a woman in his life who loves him, and who he loves. So much that in the past week he told her “I wish I could have been in your tummy when I was a baby”. Yes, that is how he feels about my wife, and well he should. He barely gets to see his birth mother and she has essentially not been any significant part of his life. It’s harmed him greatly, and it hurts my heart to see it. My wife is an amazing woman, and she has been a huge blessing to my son. Because of her, he is learning to overcome some of the emotional problems that came from a detached mother who never engaged with him. The improvement in just the last six months has been amazing to behold.

    And yet you, in your doctrine, look at this and call it sin? You’d rather sacrifice my son’s well being on the altar of making the pieces fit? Even worse, you blame this attitude on God himself? Do you think God hates my child so much?

    I know that not every child needs two parents. There are single parents who have done an amazing job and their calling was not to remarry. But in *my* situation with *my* son, it’s so clearly better for him to have her that I can’t understand anyone saying it’s sin.

    It’s not sin, it’s good. And yes, it angers me when someone would call it sin, because the Jesus I know loves my son. He doesn’t hate him so much as to deny him a wonderful relationship that will impact his life for decades to come.

  403. numo wrote:

    But none of us can avoid the reality of trying to read the NT in the context of its own time, can we?

    Ancient documents should indeed be seen at the time of writing in relation to the times and ideas of their day. That would be good scholarship. I did not say otherwise. I said that is not so much a focus of mine. But there are problems.

    We have those who have put their entire lives and considerable intellects into such academic study of the NT and have concluded that while the NT is rather interesting it is so riddled with inconsistencies and errors and misunderstandings that it is nowhere near some reliable divinely inspired document.

    We have those who identify a particular statement or instructions in scripture with a specific place and then say something like there is no indication of elders and deacons in scripture and I Tim does not count because Tim was not pastoring in Chicago or something. Does that make good sense?

    We have those who say that a lot of what Jesus taught can be rejected as aimed at the Jews who were his audience at the time and we are not that. Indeed we are not.

    And then we have a book I am reading by Ehrman right now The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot in which he digresses somewhat into discussions about how our understanding of (limited) and ideas about (limited) gnosticism have changed since the days of the church fathers because of the recent discoveries of various manuscripts. In other words-boy were we mistaken about out assumptions. I am thinking that we don’t really know enough about a whole lot of ancient stuff to come to conclusions to the extent that we do about who meant what and why, speaking specifically here about the NT. We don’t know as much as we thought we did. The early fathers may have not known as much as they have been given credit for, or so Ehrman suggests regarding gnosticism. So we would have to say ‘based on what we know about–Ephesus for example–we tend to think whatever but we have no indication of the actual extent of our knowledge in detail.” In other words, we do not know how much there may be which we may not know. And we would continue to say that sort of thing until the next book comes out or the next manuscript is found or the next scholar thinks something different.

    If there are no self-existant truths in the NT then what is the point? If it is all culture bound and era specific why bother? And if we can’t tell the difference, then we need to be looking elsewhere than the NT for whatever it has been that we thought we needed the NT for.

    Obviously I think there are some truths, some of which I like and some not so much, but that is another discussion.

  404. @ Lydia:
    In a covenantal framework, ISTM that God acts as the Witness who is also the Enforcer of the terms of the covenant which the man and woman have made with one another. So, if that is true, then God would enforce penalties against the one who breaks that covenant. And that would be the one who was unfaithful in some respect to love, honor, and cherish as the traditional vows put it. The covenant witness did not enforce the covenant terms against the aggrieved person. The covenant is nullified when one of the parties breaks it. And that, IMO, is why God’s covenant with Abraham and the subsequent New Covenant are unilateral. God knew that we are, by nature after the Fall, covenant breakers who need a Faithful Covenant Keeper to be their substitute.

  405. Gram3 wrote:

    So, if that is true, then God would enforce penalties against the one who breaks that covenant. And that would be the one who was unfaithful in some respect to love, honor, and cherish as the traditional vows put it.

    Can you give me chapter and verse on what exactly the ‘vows’ are that must be included in a christian marriage ceremony. Or for that matter what all the ceremony should entail and who should perform it and what legal papers should be drawn up to satisfy the NT instructions for marriage.

    I note that you left out the older word that used to be used in marriage ceremony vows: ‘obey.’ So I am thinking that said vows are not specific in scripture is they are subject to change?

    Okay, I am being snarky, but you get the point. Why would God enforce some vows which he did not prescribe in a ceremony for which He gave no rules?

  406. Jeff S wrote:

    I’m tired of people thinking treating this subject like it is some ivory tower parsing of doctrine. These are real people, created in the image of God, who are being harmed by this teaching.

    Being in the middle of a divorce…well actually waiting for the 2 years to be up so I can get a no-fault divorce as he wont let me cite any grounds…I could not agree with you more. Piper & his ilk would have me stuck for the rest of my life, as I was for the last decade, with a man who genuinely believes I am an outrageously needy (punishably needy actually) for wanting to be spoken to every day. Just verbally acknowledged mind, not an actual conversation or anything ludicrous like that. Basically he wants a life size toy to sit on the sofa with him, be asleep in bed with him & have no mind, no heart, no nothing unless he felt like it when I was supposed to suddenly be a happy doting wife. This is what these doctrines would sentence me to a relationship with no relating in it, & extra coldness & dislike if I ever mentioned it. Brilliant.
    So glad to hear about your son Jeff, neuroscience is very positive about the effect of later strong attachments overcoming a good proportion of the deficits from poor early ones with a parent.
    I’d like to think I’d meet someone again one day who actually acts like he likes me & doesn’t think my humanity is a boring chore. Right now I just feel ground down & totally worthless in a relational sense.
    So yes I hear you when this subject angers you Jeff 🙂

  407. Jeff S wrote:

    So yes, this tweaked me a bit. And Deebs, I’m sorry if I’m out of line, but I’m tired of people thinking treating this subject like it is some ivory tower parsing of doctrine.

    Not thinking of Ken specifically, but it is well and good to live in an ivory tower until the earthquake(s) hit. In the rubble is often where faith is gained or lost, depending on where that faith really lies.

    I’m thankful that you and your son have been given such a good gift. And I’m sure your wife is thankful for her good gifts as well. For some reason, stories like yours cannot be seen as redemptive. But, ironically, if your divorce had happened before you were a believer, then it would have been OK in many circles that might not regard your situation as being OK. IMO, that is incoherent, and a robust principle cannot be derived that would yield an entirely opposite judgment about those two fact sets. We cannot make an appeal to marriage as a pre-Fall Creation ordinance, conclude that means no remarriage, but then say that it doesn’t apply to people who were not believers at the time of their marriage. Or at least such a principle isn’t apparent to me because that judgment is grounded in Creation which should apply to all people for all time. I think it is much wiser to consider that God is a realist when it comes to fallen humanity, and he knows our frame and that we are dust.

  408. @ Okrapod:
    I cited the traditional vows as an example not as a formula from Heaven. I don’t think there are magical words or vows but rather that marriage is two people committing themselves to one another and that God takes those covenant vows seriously. Such a covenantal view would have been familiar to the Israelites as well as the other ANE people. NT Wright has probably written on this.

  409. Okrapod wrote:

    Why would God enforce some vows which he did not prescribe in a ceremony for which He gave no rules?

    The covenant witness was also the enforcer since he was the one to observe the vows being made. The witness did not compose the vows or impose his own vows on the parties. In the case of marriage, God is the witness who takes the vows seriously, and that is a very good reason for people to take any kind of vow seriously.

  410. @ Beakerj:

    I’m sorry for what you are experiencing- and I’m thankful you are getting away from that. My wife and I talk often about our previous marriages and what they were like- what you describe sounds very much like what she experienced. And now, she’ll tell you that the difference is amazing. To have a real companion who is interested in her thoughts and ideas- who welcomes her insights and wants to engage with her- it makes her come alive.

    I say that to say this: if anyone would imply that what you have is what marriage is supposed to be, they are mistaken. It can be so much better, and then you realize just how ridiculous that perspective is. It’s such a low view of marriage, ironically.

  411. @ Gram3:

    I am sorely lacking in understanding the Presbyterian idea of covenant as applicable to things like church membership and marriage. Sure, the ancient Jews did it. But I am really lacking chapter and verse about taking marriage vows as some do today or for that matter forming a covenant relationship with a church. How a newborn would be considered a child of the covenant for example? I am thinking that if baptists got into the covenant idea they would have to start baptizing said infant children of the covenant like the Presbys do or else they would have to have serious biblical reasons why they covenant this and not that and so forth. Way back in the day the word covenant was not used in baptistism where and when I was except in relation to OT covenants and of course the ‘new covenant’ but not between individuals or between an individual and an institution. I was gone from baptistdom before they took this up apparently.

  412. Gram3 wrote:

    NT Wright has probably written on this.

    He thinks that the church is part of the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. More than that I have no idea what he thinks.

  413. @ Okrapod:

    In fact, and I just remembered this, I was taught as a child immersed in baptistdom of that day and place, that one should never make a vow. Ever of any kind. I have forgotten all the reasons why but one was the possibility of discovering that one should have not made the vow and that would be a problem. There was some bible quote or two and I hope they will float back into accessible memory but right now I do not recall what all was said.

    The issue of swearing in court was discussed but we were told that was an exception to the rule of never make a vow. I do wish I could recall all the arguments.

  414. @ Okrapod:
    I would draw a distinction between the idea of “covenant” in general and Covenant Theology. Certainly Covenant Theology is derived from the covenants God made in the Bible, but I would argue that Covenant Theology is based on inferences. As is non-Covenant theology of various kinds.

    AFAIK, Baptists have always strongly believed in the biblical covenants though most historically have not followed Covenant Theology. Some of the English Baptists adopted a “baptized” version of the Westminster Confession in the 1689 LBCF. IMO the primary purpose of that document was political, much like the WCF was, in order to assure everyone concerned that Baptists were within orthodox bounds but merely dissented on the subject and nature of Baptism.

    It is important, I think, that we understand the basic cultural framework of the audience to whom the Bible was written. They understood the idea of a covenant, and I don’t see how we can make sense of what a “covenant” means to us unless we first understand what it meant to them. And why God chose to use that understanding to convey important truths about himself and what he is doing and will do.

    To make matters even more complex, the YRR version of Reformed Baptistism isn’t 1689 Covenant Theology but rather New Covenant Theology. Of course, they would likely say that New Covenant Theology is the 1689 rightly understood.

  415. Okrapod wrote:

    How a newborn would be considered a child of the covenant for example? I am thinking that if baptists got into the covenant idea they would have to start baptizing said infant children of the covenant like the Presbys do or else they would have to have serious biblical reasons why they covenant this and not that and so forth.

    Some Baptists would say that Zwingli came up with proto-Covenant Theology to justify continuing to baptize infants, given his precarious legal and religious position between the Anabaptists who said no infant baptism and the Roman Catholics who said that infant baptism regenerates. The justification he came up with for denying baptismal regeneration but also providing for continuing the practice of infant baptism is that there is one overarching Covenant of Grace and that the infants born under the New Covenant enjoy the same privileges as those born under the Abrahamic Covenant. Baptism is viewed as the successor initiation rite into the New Covenant (outwardly) just like circumcision was the initiation rite into the Abrahamic Covenant. Obviously, I’m a Baptist, so I don’t find that reasoning persuasive, but others have gone from Baptist to Reformed because they *do* find it persuasive. Still others have other views and reasons for their views of the Biblical covenants and what they mean and what we should do/not do in light of that.

  416. @ Jeff S:
    Thanks Jeff. It would have killed me to stay, I would have just starved to death emotionally.Funnily enough I had a conversation with a very significant ex-boyfriend the other day & in a single conversation,almost in a single sentence, over facebook nonetheless, he showed more genuine interest in me & sympathy for my emotions than my husband ever did. It really shocked me to be noticed. Ironically this is the lovely guy I didn’t marry as he wasn’t a christian( I loved him & wanted to, just thought it was wrong), damaged him a lot in the process, but now he is happily married to someone he describes as his best friend. Trying to do the right thing by the religious establishment has led to terrible outcomes for me in the realm of personal relationships.

  417. Ken wrote:

    Leaving aside the remarriage aspect, re-reading 1 Cor 7 it struck me there that there is a concrete example of the apostle Paul not imposing a Christian standard of marriage on an unbeliever. v 10 and 11 are the no divorce for believers part, but in a mixed marriage he later does in fact allow for divorce, the Christian is not forced to continue the marriage if the unbeliever simply refuses to do so.

    Ken, I confess to not really understanding where you are coming from. I honestly believe that trying to impose 1st Century societal aspects to today causes a ton of problems. That does not mean there is nothing to learn, believe me. Your interpretation begs the question: What is a “Christian”? And that is a deeper discussion. Anyone can profess but do they live as believers or are they frauds? A wife or husband would know, would they not at some point? What if you learn your spouse is a fraud but cannot really prove it? It begs the question: Did Sapphira have grounds for divorce according to Paul?

    The other objection I have to how we interpret this as we are not in 1st Century Corinth where being married to a pagan and converting would cause horrible problems. We are reading about a culture that was not so composite and marriage was much more political. And beside the fact that it is obvious from this verse the women can only “separate” herself but the husband can more easily divorce if he so desires.

    Here is the irony. The “divorce” problem really exploded when women were considered equal and even later when more financial freedom was awarded them in terms of bank accounts, credit, etc. And that would have been as late as the 1960’s in America unless the woman started out wealthy in her own right.

  418. Ken wrote:

    . (He’s often been criticised for not intervening in SGM, but is it his job to police the church, especially as a baptist, who usually leave this to the local church? He’s not an ‘apostle’ or bishop with a translocal ministry surely.)

    Not true. He has been criticized for going to the trouble to speak to the NEW SG Church plant after all the lawsuit information came out and say how much he supports Mahaney. He has actively promoted, protected and supported Manhaney. That is not an expectation of “policing”. Quite the opposite. IOW, I can only come to the conclusion that Piper thinks it is a good thing to sin level with molesters/victims, protect them and believes it was a good thing for SGM to deal with it in house. If not, why the bother to promote him and support after the facts came out? He lent his own credibility to Mahaney. that says it all for me.

  419. Ken wrote:

    David Pawson from a long itinerant ministry in the UK has often said he (almost?) never goes into an evangelical church now where sexual immorality is not known about and tolerated.

    But look at what is also tolerated. A pastor will expect a large salary and much time off while teaching a single mom with nothing she must tithe. I see that all the time here. Or how about a pastor seeking fame for his “ministry”? Or how about hiding horrible problems in the church like protecting molesters? How about a pastor who teaches that he is God’s anointed for the people? That people who disagree with him are rebellious and in sin? Those are all ultimately lies about Jesus Christ and WHO He is in relation to the Body of Christ.

    There is quite a bit of sin that is not only “tolerated” in churches but not even seen as sin. The young girl living with her boyfriend is easy pickins as in low hanging fruit to pick. She IS devaluing herself, sadly, but I am not prepared to claim she is worse than the pastor behavior I have seen for years.

  420. @ Okrapod:

    Not sure what you were taught about vows but we were told not to “swear by something” and to let our yes be yes….etc. That was seen more as a responsibility to carry out whatever we declared we would do– sort of thing.

    Again, I go back to the idea of relationships being contractual (covenant is another word for that) in that we treat others as we want to be treated and we do what we say we are going to do…sort of thing and expecting the same from others.

    Not saying this is how it works but perhaps how it should work?

  421. @ Beakerj:

    I empathize. I remember when going through my divorce I had the very jarring realization that on the balance, the church had done me more harm than good over the years. I also realized I was too quick to give up my sound judgement in obedience to others. It nearly killed me, so I understand that.

    In the end, I never felt God was unfaithful, but the church experience left a mark. I still remained convinced I wanted to find a Christian if I was to remarry, but God really did break the mold with my wife (at least, as a match for me). We both feared we were going to have to compromise in order to find a person of faith- our experiences were just too full of Christians who couldn’t or wouldn’t question the world around them. To find each other has been a delight and a joy. Both Christians, but both observers who wrestle with what we see. And I’ll stop there before I make people here gag 🙂

  422. @ Jeff S:
    Despite the gagging I’m very happy for you 🙂 I’m not sure where I’m at with faith right now, so not sure what my criteria might be. But I would do things different from before, & rely on my gut instinct & common sense much more.

  423. Lydia wrote:

    [Piper] has been criticized for going to the trouble to speak to the NEW SG Church plant after all the lawsuit information came out and say how much he supports Mahaney. He has actively promoted, protected and supported Manhaney. That is not an expectation of “policing”. Quite the opposite. IOW, I can only come to the conclusion that Piper thinks it is a good thing to sin level with molesters/victims, protect them and believes it was a good thing for SGM to deal with it in house. If not, why the bother to promote him and support after the facts came out? He lent his own credibility to Mahaney. that says it all for me.

    Exactly. This. If Piper disagreed with what Mahaney did while people were being abused in SGM, but felt it wasn’t his job to “police Mahaney’s church,” then he could have stayed silent. Conversely, if he guest preaches at Mahaney’s church, starting with “nobody had to twist my arm to come here; I was glad to do it,” and says nothing (then or ever) in support of those who were abused… then what are those victims (and we) to conclude, but that he doesn’t see the abuse as any big deal? As you say, he is lending tacit support and credibility to Mahaney. If I ever get a 1-on-1 conversation with him again, this is the first thing I’m going to ask him: Have you thought about what you communicated to those abuse victims by your tacit support of Mahaney?

  424. Lydia wrote:

    There is quite a bit of sin that is not only “tolerated” in churches but not even seen as sin. The young girl living with her boyfriend is easy pickins as in low hanging fruit to pick. She IS devaluing herself, sadly, but I am not prepared to claim she is worse than the pastor behavior I have seen for years.

    Yes, this is very true, IMO.

  425. @ Lydia:
    Lydia wrote:

    I am surprised they had a congregational vote. Did the congregation vote on the issue of disallowing women to read scripture aloud in worship because it would be teaching men?
    I heard the pastor the succeeded Piper changed the rule.

    Regarding the baptism issue: They had no choice to have a congregational vote, because the constitution requires such a vote for any proposed change to the constitution, which this was. Again, making me glad that whoever wrote the constitution set it up that way, as opposed to the new-fangled “since we’re elder-led, the elders can change the constitution by themselves” method.

    Regarding women reading scripture during worship: No vote there, because it isn’t a constitutional issue, just one of practice. And no, it hasn’t changed, at least at my campus… the sermon text is always read by a man, usually an elder or BCS seminary student (pastor-in-training). I have noticed, however, that our worship leader sometimes has women on the praise team read scripture as part of congregational readings. I guess that one slips by with no one calling it out.

  426. Regarding Piper and “policing” I would only say that Piper’s main schtick is policing the way people live and policing how they think. He is certainly the the policeman for gender and God’s Glory. His entire career is built on policing this and policing that and generally being a naggy nanny.

    He is complicit in Mahaney, but Mahaney has the correct views of the Primary Doctrines according to Piper, so Mahaney gets a pass. Same with Piper’s promotion of Doug Wilson. Practice, and even wacko doctrine, is overlooked as long as the Primary Doctrines of male supremacy and *Piper’s* understanding of God’s character and glory is upheld.

  427. @ Jeff S:
    I’m glad I’m not opposing what you wrote and it was my job to do a rebuttal, your comment was very well said.

  428. @ Beakerj:

    I’ve been there 🙁

    When I was going through my divorce, my faith was very touch and go. It took a mountain of the right people and ministries put in just the right places to keep me in the faith. God’s grace all around for sure.

    I wasn’t sure about what kind of person I would date, and as it turns out the very first woman I went out with post divorce was a very committed Christian, and that really helped me a lot. As things progressed, it turns out we weren’t really very compatible in the way we processed the world (she really wasn’t interested in deep dive type discussions, which is completely cool, but I realized after that I did need someone who could at least appreciate the way I try to dig into ideas and concepts- and for her part, I think she probably found my topics of discussion kind of annoying!), so we ended up moving on. However, it was very helpful for me to be around someone who was committed to Jesus in a different way from those who hurt me.

    At the risk of self promotion here, I did record a bunch of songs that represent my journey through my divorce and back to healing, and perhaps you might identify with some of the things I thought and felt: http://www.noisetrade.com/steadyon/through-the-darkness In particular, the song “Stream of Grace”:

    “I must admit where I am right now, is not where I’d like to be.
    My strength is gone and I am so weighed down by what should be little things
    And the hours I spend in this desert land they seem to waste away
    I’m just so weak that I can only seek what gets me through the end of the day”

    That’s a pretty good picture of how I felt in a spiritual sense as I was going through the divorce. It was certainly more about survival than anything else.

  429. Ben Denison wrote:

    Very glad to see this post! I agree, this is a harmful teaching, especially when coupled with his teaching on spousal abuse (“endure being smacked for one night”). Still no word from Piper’s successor, in the wake of his recent sermon on abuse, about whether Bethlehem’s position on abuse and divorce has changed.
    Along with Rev. Dave’s point that Piper’s position is radical (outside traditional Protestant teaching), it’s worth noting that the elders at Bethlehem Baptist Church were not able to come to full agreement on this issue when Piper was senior pastor. They crafted a position that went as far as they all could agree to, and then individual elders/pastors followed their conscience beyond that; e.g. some will remarry a person who divorced due to adultery, and some will not. But many of them did not subscribe to Piper’s view on this issue. That says alot.

    Frankly if things were as John piper believes they are in regard to marriage I wouldn’t have gotten married…. It is dangerous to not have boundaries a partner in life can’t cross

  430. Angelacfr wrote:

    Frankly if things were as John piper believes they are in regard to marriage I wouldn’t have gotten married…

    Nor would I. I do not agree with Piper, but your statement reminds me of this:

    The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
    Matt 19:10 NIV

    Fortunately, this is not the only thing in scripture about marriage, and fortunately some folks have a lick of horse sense (not Piper) but just saying.

  431. Beakerj wrote:

    Trying to do the right thing by the religious establishment has led to terrible outcomes for me in the realm of personal relationships.

    Raises hand – I relate, paid the price. I shut down my own good judgement trying to conform to religious rules. I envy those who have been raised away from fundamentalist mindsets, they have less to try to recover later, less emotional damage to try to reverse. The centre cannot hold.

  432. Harley wrote:

    I don’t remember reading Pipers name in my Bible. I am sure he is not mentioned. It bothers me when people like Piper have the “Holy Ghost Jr” added to their name. I think everyone knows what I mean.

    Well said!! This describes how Piper is treated by people who should know better.

  433. Re: “endure being smacked for one night”

    Abuse rarely occurs just once or twice. It most always increases both in intensity and frequency. I used to suggest victims make some kind of indistinguishable mark on their calendars to enable them to visibly watch the escalation.

    If Piper had even a smidgeon of common sense, he would never have said such an outrageous thing.

  434. @ Jeff S:
    I wasn’t very happy to say the least my posts had evoked such anger. In the spirit of ‘a soft answer turns away wrath’, can I add the following?

    I was asked about divorce in a church. I’ve studied it on and off for years since then. Someone has got to do this, and then get up in front of a church or with individual believers and try to faithfully explain just what the bible says about this theme, neither adding nor subtracting. No easy task these days considering modern society and a church that considers obedience to be legalism. Everyone should read the bible for themselves, not everyone has the time or inclination to wrestle with this kind of subject.

    May I introduce some friends of mine? The first contracted a sinful remarriage, indeed married for every wrong reason there is. They considered, upon reading the gospels and Jesus’ words, that they might need to split up. That is to me authentic, Spirit-filled Christianity. A willingness to obey regardless of cost. I pointed them away from this course of action, I have no doubt rightly so. What did God do with that marriage? Forgave it, sanctified it, even beautified it – despite its imperfections – into an Eph 5 type marriage; a godly, Christ-honouring marriage. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven is an expression that comes to mind.

    Jesus died on that cross to forgive people who have sinned in the very way he said in the gospels.

    The second friends after years of a good marriage finally parted company, even though they were both believers. It was 1 Cor 7 10 – 11 in a nutshell. I was surprised to hear of this, but shocked when Mrs sent an e-mail saying she has subsequently remarried.

    Another case is of a man – a believer – abandonning his wife for a recently deserted wife in the church. He divorced and subsequently remarried.

    What do you do in these cases? There is clearly no ‘right’ of remarriage in these circumstances. Luke 16 : 18 is there like it or not, cannot be ignored. I think this is more serious than just needing to say a quick sinner’s prayer and move on. I would echo David Pawson’s question in a similar situation when teaching about this, are you prepared to do whatever is necessary, regardless of cost, to put this right in the sight of God? I would never say though that this is unforgivable.

    This kind of behaviour runs counter to God’s command for marriage, and breaks the 7th commandment. I don’t claim to have some easy answer to this, it ought not to happen amongst believers. But in a church, there is no way this can ever be academic: it does happen. But I can understand your anger to an extent if you think this all there is too it as far as I am concerned. Idle curiosity. There’s the bible, and then real living, damaged people who need compassion and mercy – and truth. These are people I have known for years who have gone badly wrong on this issue, possibly even put their salvation on the line? (This too is not academic – I baptised one of them, it matters.)

    I don’t think any church I know round here, except perhaps Calvary Chapel, will take what Jesus and his apostle said about this subject seriously. As a parting thought, I would point again to what Jesus actually said on this, this is what counts. Not my opinion, or anybody else’s for that matter. I hope at least there can be agreement on that.

    We probably still might not agree on this topic, but I do regret making you so angry, although it was never my intention.

  435. Victorious wrote:

    If Piper had even a smidgeon of common sense, he would never have said such an outrageous thing.

    God’s Anointed Elect have no need of common sense.

  436. Gram3 wrote:

    He is complicit in Mahaney, but Mahaney has the correct views of the Primary Doctrines according to Piper, so Mahaney gets a pass. Same with Piper’s promotion of Doug Wilson. Practice, and even wacko doctrine, is overlooked as long as the Primary Doctrines of male supremacy and *Piper’s* understanding of God’s character and glory is upheld.

    Purity of Ideology, Comrades.
    Purity of Ideology.

  437. Gram3 wrote:

    To make matters even more complex, the YRR version of Reformed Baptistism isn’t 1689 Covenant Theology but rather New Covenant Theology. Of course, they would likely say that New Covenant Theology is the 1689 rightly understood.

    And this time they WILL achieve True Communism!

  438. RIchard wrote:

    In contemporary evangelical circles I increasingly conclude its because the Bible refuses to conform with the diktats of movement conservatism (most notably the equality of women and the possibility that the economic treatises of von Mises, Hayek and Rand may not have beem divinely inspired)

    Only as divinely inspired as the economic treatises of Marx & Engels.

  439. Being nearly 70 years old and I breathed subordination of women in the church before it had a name, or ever I spent a conscious moment even pondering the topic. And I spent my working life feeling embarrassed and being put down that our family needed two incomes because my husband was “serving” in a small Christian college that was “glad I could supplement his income” by being a nurse. But when I was 50 years old a life changing event occurred. A WOMAN handed me the communion plate! With no warning I burst into tears! In that instant the scales fell from my eyes and I became a GROWN UP real Child of God. A quiet peace and joy came over me. With the blind man I can say “this one thing I know, once i was blind but now I see” and that sums it up and settles it all for me. When I read the debates and think about the issues and begin to be stressed I remember my sister’s hand extending the plate and my eyes following up that arm to see HER face. Try it some time gentlemen!