In an episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast in 2020, John Piper responds to a question from a woman whose husband regularly demeans her.

Piper’s response can be listened to in the video above, is worth hearing in its entirely.

Piper points out that this man is obviously in significant bondage to the root sin of selfishness and pride, which we today would call narcissism.

He then explains how the Bible would diagnose the five sinful, damaging mistakes this man is making and should be held accountable for:

  1. He thinks that creation has a built-in subservience for women.
  2. He infers from creation a built-in superior-inferior relationship. 
  3. He infers from his superior-inferior paradigm for men and women that he may therefore rightly treat his wife in demeaning ways.
  4. He lives now with anger and aggressiveness in his prison cell.
  5. The result of living in the bondage of sin and delusion is acting like a jailer or a pathetic child throwing a temper tantrum.

He then closes with this counsel for her:

Now, she didn’t ask me for any counsel; she just wanted me to say something that might be helpful in general when women are dealing with a man like this. But let me go ahead and say what I think. I’m assuming there hasn’t been physical abuse. She didn’t say that. And the reason I’m telling you that is because what I’m about to say would be different if there were. In other words, if he is brutalizing her, then she is, I think, obliged — rightly and legally — to go to the police and to the ways that the arm of our government has set for helping women or men deal with that kind of brutality.

But short of that, she should be stepping forward — and I do hope she’s in a church where this is possible. I hope she can go to trusted elders, tell them her situation, and ask for them to intervene. I think it’s part of the elders’ job at a church to step into the lives of the sheep — men and women — and to be a part of their protective shield, and to give them guidance and wisdom for how to move forward.

Piper also addresses a question from a woman about emotional or verbal abuse in the home, and Piper applies Scripture to his response, showing that this would require discipline (depending on the spouse’s response) and possibly excommunication. He argues: “There should be in every Christian marriage a web of relationships in the church, in the community, and among friends that can exert correcting, rebuking, and healing influences.”