Quoting Quiverfull: Submission & Abuse?

Quoting Quiverfull: Submission & Abuse? January 15, 2013

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

John Piper on the blog Sarah Over The Moon “Some Human Are More Equal Than Other: John Piper on Spousal Abuse and Submission “- January 11, 2013

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.”

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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Yeah, because abusive men are really good at listening to the church and changing their ways…

    What good does enduring abuse for a season do? I don’t understand his point there. Is he saying women are too hasty to point out abuse?

    This reveals that committing sin is far worse in their eyes to being hurt and abused. It doesn’t recognize the damaging effects of abuse. It’s as if anyone can jump right back from being treated this way. It’s a very simple minded view of human psychology and frailty.

  • Nightshade

    What if the church says ‘tough luck, but you’re his wife, so shut up and be submissive’? Then what is she supposed to do?

  • Nea

    Be thankful she has a husband to smack her around rather than be one of those miserable divorced women, at least according to Debi Pearl.

    Or, alternatively, get free of abusing man and abusing church in any way she can.

  • newcomer

    This may be a reflection of how they view God, as the ultimate authority figure. If He’s to be feared and obeyed, with every terrible event in our lives either meekly accepted as unquestionably deserved punishments or part of some greater plan for our ultimate well-being, then by extension it makes a sick sort of sense to use that same template for women and their husbands (once you place those husbands in a position of unquestioned authority over their families, that is). That women are supposed to believe that the men who are abusing them are just acting within that authority, and that even when it doesn’t make sense to them take it on faith that those men’s reasons are just, so they should just endure and only look inward for the reason. They can only expect help if either he chooses to relent, or if the other authorities (each serving as the god of their own home) see fit to intervene. This brand of patriarchy has a decidedly golden calf feel to it, have to say.

  • redpill

    Wow! You just explained the “reasoning” in a nut shell. To think that for so many years this was how I “reasoned”, that it was all my fault. That somehow I deserved either by my husbands authority or by gods to be continually talked down to, called “woman” in a derogatory way and scared into submission via verbal and physical threats. While I can say life is more peaceful on the other side it is also very lonely. I have lost everyone except my children and a few family members that were thankful to have “me” back. It is hard and there are times when I am tempted to go back but then I take a long walk thinking about how dead I felt inside and know that there is no turning back now. If anyone out there is still in and feels like giving up, don’t. There is hope…never give up.

  • redpill, believe me, there will be people and friends again in your life. There is hope on the other side. It just takes time and healing. For me letting down my interior walls to allow people close to me was so hard but incredibly worth it. Hang in there..

  • Dana

    Enduring mild abuse meekly for “a season” just ensures that the abuse will get worse. That’s how the human psyche works. If you’re going to grant that the woman should get help once it gets sufficiently bad/has gone on for “a season,” then you ought to grant that she should put her foot down the first time he does anything slightly abusive, and make it known right from the start that it isn’t acceptable.

    It’s a hell of a lot easier to nip things in the bud by having a backbone from the start, than to try to get a thoroughly abusive man to re-learn how to relate to you after he has established patterns of abuse.

    Don’t get me wrong: I am not blaming women who don’t do that. If a woman, especially a young woman, has been trained to be submissive and doesn’t even really know how to stand up for herself and has been told she has no right to, then probably she’s not going to be able to stand up for herself until it gets REALLY bad. But that’s not the unfortunate truth, it’s not what they should be TOLD to aim for.

  • newcomer

    I’m so incredibly sorry that you’ve gone through that. I hope you can remember that the people who really love you are the ones who value the things that make you ‘you,’ not the ones who make you feel like everything you do and are is wrong unless you’re trying to be what they want you to be. Wishing you a life full of the first kind of people, and free of the second kind; you deserve nothing less than that.

  • Andrew

    She should be be like the preachers wife in Tennesse who blew her husband away with a shot gun and got acquitted.

  • Sal

    How telling to say that he’s “merely” hurting her. Requiring her to sin would be a super-serious problem!!!!! but if she’s just being hurt, whether physically or emotionally, that’s no big deal because her well-being is not important. That’s the kind of logic that kept me in abusive relationships for a long time – the belief that I didn’t have any right to my own well-being, and that I existed to behave as others demanded.

  • Persephone

    I think he’s stating the standard patriarchal response that it’s not the woman’s place to do anything, but the church’s. The woman must be in submission at all times. I think he’s also saying that there must be a pattern of abuse for the church to respond.

    The men I’ve found that love this crap also seem to be the biggest wimps. If they were ever hit or screamed at or slapped by anyone, they’d be filing a police report.

  • Persephone

    Did you see the footage from the trial where she showed the stripper shoes he made her wear and talked about the things he made her do? I’m finally out of an abusive relationship, and it made me sick to watch it.

  • Persephone

    I don’t know how long you’ve been out, but time does help. These groups count on the negative consequences of leaving (losing family and friends) to help control their members. I lost most of my family. It’s hard. It’s been over 30 years, but it’s still hard sometimes. Mostly, I get angry. I don’t dwell on it, or let my hate simmer, as that will only hurt me, but whenever I start missing some of my relatives, or that I couldn’t attend my grandmother’s funeral, I get angry for a few minutes, then remind myself that if I had stayed I would probably have killed myself, or have been committed.

  • Lisa J

    I have to admit. I came from a Baptist upbringing and through a long winding course ended up finally in an abusive marriage. I also ended up going back to church about halfway through it. Rather than being supportive of any kind of intervention, I was quoted 1 Peter 3 and told to endure all of the abuse because through my submission I would ‘save’ my husband and bring him to Jesus, too. I was told the only approvable reason for divorce would be if he was cheating on me and unrepentant (if he was cheating on me and told me he would quit when confronted, I had to take him at his word and STILL keep him). Further, it was said that the only reason cheating on me was not acceptable was because US law did not permit polygamy. Since he could not marry the other women he chose to have sex with, he was unfortunately stuck with being loyal to just one wife because he couldn’t marry them and was thus committing adultery with them. If he could marry them, though, as long as they weren’t married already he would be fine having more than one wife since it wasn’t Biblically prohibited.

    Ended up enduring him for about eleven years. He finally used the joint bank account to fund a week-long orgy after one of his girlfriends admitted to me that they were regularly intimate (and also confessed her guilt and undying love of me because I was such a sweet person?). He left me with more than $3000 in bounced checks and charges (since he didn’t tell me he did that when he left me) and quite a journey after that.

    In the end I was free of judgment about the ending sticking it out this way (some are horrified that I did though) and God was faithful in the time afterwards (which was astonishing and miraculous). However, I have continued to grow this small belief that maybe there are a lot of literalists out there who have no clue about the heart of God. Otherwise they would preach love and tolerance, provide for the poor without complaint, not discuss overthrowing their legal government (don’t remember that happening with early Christians), establishing a theocracy of sorts, etc. They would embrace providing better lives for all, would embrace reaching out to sinners without judgment to share the fact that God loved them enough where they were to make the ultimate sacrifice to be closer to them.

    And they would recognize their own naked sinfulness is bad enough that they do not have time to try to clean up everyone else’s lives. 🙁