"God ends the one-flesh relationship of marriage only through the death of one of the spouses."
"The grace and power of God are promised and sufficient to enable a trusting, divorced Christian to be single all this earthly life if necessary." – John Piper: Position paper on divorce link
Update 1/28/17: I grew up in Salem MA as did my dad. When I became a visiting nurse, I was shocked by what I learned about some families. The nicest people on the outside were very different behind closed doors.
I have been getting pushback, particularly about Barbara Roberts tweets. Barbara has apologized as well. We have removed all but one of her tweets.
But…not only have I heard from Barnabas supporters who claim he is a good guy and not patriarchal like his dad, we have also heard from others who would not agree. We are keeping up the post since I believe me comments were directly based on his post.
Thank you all who have contacted us, pro and con.
Update 1/27/17 8:46 PM: I am getting a lot of pushback about this post. Apparently, my "credibility and influence" is on the line. I am still trying to figure out which Calvinistas believe I am influential and credible. That is sure a surprise…. I have asked for specific information and if I can get something, I will post it. Until then, this is a speculation but there is no question that Piper blames his wife and we are supposed to accept that as the truth.
Barnabas Piper, son of John Piper, alerted the Twitterverse, that he had written a post on his recent divorce. He did this in at least 5 tweets around January 10.
He also wrote about it on one of his Facebook pages. Along with the tweets dealing with his divorce post, there were other tweets dealing with his soon to be released book.
Barnabas Piper is close to his dad, John Piper, which makes his particular divorce narrative more interesting.
When anyone alerts people to a post on divorce as many times as Barnabas Piper did, one may assume that he wants people to take notice of it. His narrative is particularly interesting since he is close to his father, often talking about the books his dad writes as well as his relationship with him.
1. John Piper has troubling and rigid views on divorce.
TWW featured a guest post by Divorce Minister on Piper's views. He had divorced his wife after she had an adulterous relationship, and this resulted in serious repercussions for his ministry.
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.
2. John Piper believes that married women should endure abuse for a season and should have a good attitude when they finally go to the police.
The Cry Out for Justice website posted Piper's *clarifying comments* on this statement. Piper believes that abused women who seek the help of the authorities should do it with the right motivation. He exhibits profound naivety in the following statement, which assumes that the abuser was once a *nurturing leader.* Piper exudes a condescending attitude that an abused woman should be able to be both humble and have a heavy heart that longs for a restoration of his leadership while she is lying in the Emergency Room.
A wife’s submission to the authority of civil law, for Christ’s sake, may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand that she endure his injuries. This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.
3. Piper's own church, Bethlehem Baptist, excommunicated and shunned a woman who divorced her long abusive husband.
The GBSFV website wrote about this in The Toxic Theology Of John Piper Bears Wicked Fruit Again. Domestic Violence Victim at Bethlehem Baptist Facing Excommunication and Shunning. They did not believe the woman's side of things.
They say I was not emotionally abused by my Ex for 24 years. Like they know. They call my story a “biased narrative” so they can minimize and dismiss it. They say I have no right to divorce him. They dismiss the 23 years I worked my butt off trying to fix my marriage, cooperate with all the men-leaders, be respectful, be vulnerable, grovel in sorrow and repentance, and obey – and when I finally say I can’t do it anymore – my kids need me, I need to heal, to focus on God, to move forward, they call me “resistant.” I needed and asked for friendship and love. They betrayed me with a smile on their face and a Bible verse on their lips. They use spiritual abuse to control women and children and even other men.
4. John Piper is a council member (along with CJ Mahaney- can you imagine?!) of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which holds to a strict gender role differentiation in marriage, claiming it leads to happier marriages.
CBMW emphatically states that complementarian marriages are happier that egalitarian marriages.
So, in the eternal wisdom of God, he has chosen to create marriage to help us see the glorious picture of Christ's love for his Church. It is this model of marriage, we suggest, that leads to the path of greatest happiness to humanity and honor to God. Any distortion of God's instruction for us in marriage also distorts his chosen means in which he displays his eternal love and satisfaction for his bride. For the sake of the gospel and the glory of Christ, this truth should sober and encourage every husband and wife to pursue God's model of marriage.
Barnabas Piper wrote about his divorce in When a Marriage Dies.
Please read through his short post before reading my comments and the thoughts of others. I am interested in seeing if you disagree with me. Think about the fact that Barnabas, who loves his dad, was indoctrinated on his father's views on gender roles, which may have affected his marriage.
For the detractors out there, Barnabas Piper made this an issue on social media, and it is perfectly appropriate to question his narrative in light of what we know about his father's teachings on the matter.
1. He was shocked that she wanted to end the marriage. How well did he really know his wife?
2. He seems to blame her for pursuing the divorce.
Eleven and a half years- that’s how long it lasted. Eleven and half years of marriage and then gone. It ended in death, though nobody died. Just the marriage. I say just, but it is a death as much as any person. When she told me she was finished it was like a knock at the door from the police chaplain – utter shock, not real, numbness, anger, fear.
3. Yet he seems to admit that things have been really bad for a number of years.
…While these last years have been ferociously difficult for me they have been the proving ground for God to me. Never have I been lower and never has He been closer or greater.
…2016 was a year of losses celebrities, heroes, icons, and American hope and decency all seemed to pass away. For me it was the year I lost my marriage. Actually that’s not true. It was the year the loss of my marriage was completed. It had been dying for a long time despite every effort to resuscitate and recuperate it.
…By the time it ended and the signed order from the judge came through it wasn’t shock any more. It was the final breath of one dying from a wasting disease,
4. He appears to present himself as the obedient Christian who believes in marriage, while she was the one who gave up.
And strangely I believe more in marriage now than I ever have. I believe it is worth fighting for and investing in. I belief it is worth pain and tears and patience and forgiveness and then doing all of that again and again. I believe it is a gift, a gift that God gives and gives and gives each day. It only ends when one or both stop accepting the gift any longer. I see marriage as a miracle, designed by God and utterly dependent on Him.
…It just did not want to live any longer because, unlike kidneys, one cannot make up for the loss of the other and do the work of two.
5. Barnabas is aiming his story towards his readers to make sure they understand his situation. He wishes to contain the inevitable explosion.
I found the juxtaposition of his post with his soon to be published book interesting. Divorce is viewed in a negative light within the Christian community. Could this be his way of *nipping it in the bud* by getting out in front of the story and fashioning the narrative? "It was her fault, not mine." I fight for marriage."
So I write this now, reader, so you will know the place from which I write. It is not a confession. It is not a memoir or an exposé. Neither is it an argument for or against anything. It is simply a writer revealing his context a bit so that his readers, if they care, can know from whom they hear.
…I want to be forthright and honest. People feel deceived when they sense a thing is hidden or when it is confirmed it was.
…So I write this to diffuse the explosives, or maybe explode them in a controlled environment.
6. He is also a church consultant in leadership development, which makes this divorce even more awkward.
6. He claims his goal is for people to trust him.
My hope is that readers will trust me as much or more after reading this.
… But I offer this piece as a show of respect, for the relationship (if that is the word) I have with readers through the written word and the common pursuit of truth. I want to be trusted and not just trusted – trustworthy.
7. He uses words to convey that he is in pain over this divorce.
- Life is brutal and hurts so much there are not words.
- It was the final breath of one dying from a wasting disease,
- No band-aid has stopped the bleeding yet
- I feel as if I am dying daily
Barbara Roberts from A Cry for Justice responded on Twitter.
Barbara is an expert on domestic abuse. She read this post by Barnabas and shared some interesting thoughts on the matter.
– First and foremost, I am sorry that a divorce occurred for this couple. No matter the cause, I am sure both sides are in pain.
– Was it one-sided? It appears he is implying that his wife was the one to blame for the divorce.
– Was he the good guy and she the bad wife?
– He appears to cast himself as the long suffering hero while she was the quitter.
– If their marriage was in trouble for years, what in the world was going on? That sounds serious.
– Was his wife bombarded with her need to submit to him and to be gender role specific in her life?
– He does not mention that he loved his former wife.
– He does not express concern for his children or even mention that they exist, for that matter.
Some interesting things to consider:
I am not a complementarian in my approach to marriage. However, I am well aware of the mores of that group.The following questions do not necessarily stem from my beliefs but from theirs.
Barnabas Piper admits he has a history of lying, which is why people might question his account. (Update 1/27/17 5:56 PM.)
Barnabas is a young man and will have to live a long life as a single man. Will Piper change his views on divorce and remarriage since it is now up close and personal?
This is the second well known complementarian divorce I have heard about in the last two months. One I cannot talk about. Piper and friends are going to have trouble claiming that complementarian marriages are happier. I bet they are no happier than egalitarian marriages.
Barnabas seems to be throwing his former wife under the bus. Is this warranted?
Who has custody of the children? Will they equally share the responsibilities of caring for the children?
Some leaders in the complementarian movement will chastise the man for the divorce, claiming he didn't lead his family well. Does Daddy Piper believe that about his son?
Since Barnabas is divorced and he is teaching church leaders, will this divorce sideline him like it would other men in his situation?
Will his family name cut him a break?
Since John Piper believes that every tile you choose in Scrabble is ordained by God, one has to wonder whether he believes that God specifically ordained this divorce.
An offer to Lesley Piper, Barnabas' former wife
Lesley, perhaps Barnabas portrayed your divorce accurately. From our vantage point, It appears he believes you were to blame for the divorce. Being somewhat skeptical, especially when it comes to these matters, Deb and I wonder if you might have a different perspective. You are welcome to make any comment of any length or we can write an entire post featuring your thoughts. We also understand that you might be under a gag order and may be unable to publicly comment.
We are sorry for your situation. You married the son of a highly influential man (in some circles). If there is any way that we can be of help to you, please let us know. We will keep any communication with you strictly confidential. We don't give a hoot about John Piper's influence. Our thoughts are with you and your children.