Some time ago, John Piper engaged in a Q&A about wives submitting to their husbands and what to do in the case of wife abuse (see a video here). This caused quite a bit of a stir, and rightly so, because it gave the impression that wives should just suck it up for the glory of God.
Thankfully, however, Pastor John has offered some remarks to clarify (and I think modify) his views on this matter, including the statement:
God himself has put law enforcement officers in place for the protection of the innocent. “If you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). 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.
Not everyone will like Pastor John’s vision for Christian marriage, I’m not saying that I endorse everything he says, but I think this is a step in the right direction. Even on the complementarian scheme, when imperatives conflict, one has to take precedence, and it is the safety of the wife and any children that has an ethical priority over any sense of submission to an abusive husband.