A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

They will turn again and rend you — Matthew 7:6

This post is just a compilation of quotes from Bible commentaries on Matthew 7:6. It needs no further explanation from me, as I’m sure our readers can draw their own conclusions and applications. My only thoughts are that since so may commenters have accurately nailed the meaning of this verse, it’s a shame that we rarely hear it applied to domestic abusers.

Here is the verse in a few different translations:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (ESV)

Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. (NLT)

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (NASB)

Give not that which is holy to the dogs, neither cast you your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (American King James)

Do not give a sacrifice to dogs; neither throw your pearls before wild boars, lest they trample them with their feet, and return to run you through. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

the word “holy” has been supposed to mean “flesh offered in sacrifice,” made holy, or separated to a sacred use; but it probably means here “anything connected with religion” — admonition, precept, or doctrine. . . . The meaning of this proverb, then, is, do not offer your doctrine to those violent and abusive people who would growl and curse you; nor to those especially debased and profligate who would not perceive its value, would trample it down, and would abuse you.

Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible:

Give not that which is holy to the dogs.  Here the phrase is used in a metaphorical sense; and is generally understood of not delivering or communicating the holy word of God, and the truths of the Gospel, comparable to pearls, or the ordinances of it, to persons notoriously vile and sinful: to men, who being violent and furious persecutors, and impudent blasphemers, are compared to “dogs”; or to such, who are scandalously vile, impure in their lives and conversations, and are therefore compared to swine;

neither cast ye your pearls before swine. But since the subject Christ is upon is reproof, it seems rather to be the design of these expressions, that men should be cautious, and prudent, in rebuking and admonishing such persons for their sins, in whom there is no appearance or hope of success; yea, where there is danger of sustaining loss;

lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you: that is, despise the admonitions and reproofs given, and hurt the persons who give them, either by words or deeds; see Proverbs 9:7

Vincent’s Word Study:

That which is holy — The holy thing, as of something commonly recognized as sacred. The reference is to the meat offered in sacrifice. The picture is that of a priest throwing a piece of flesh from the altar of burnt-offering to one of the numerous dogs which infest the streets of Eastern cities.

Pearls before swine — Another picture of a rich man wantonly throwing handfuls of small pearls to swine. Swine in Palestine were at best but half-tamed, the hog being an unclean animal. The wild boar haunts the Jordan valley to this day. Small pearls, called by jewellers seed-pearls, would resemble the pease or maize on which the swine feed. They would rush upon them when scattered, and, discovering the cheat, would trample upon them and turn their tusks upon the man who scattered them.

Turn — The word graphically pictures the quick, sharp turn of the boar.

Rend — Literally, break; and well chosen to express the peculiar character of the wound made by the boar’s tusk, which is not a cut, but a long tear or rip.

People’s New Testament

The dog was regarded an unclean animal by the Jewish law. They probably represent snarling, scoffing opposers. The characteristic of dogs is brutality. To try to instill holy things into such low, unclean, and sordid brutal minds is useless.

The swine were also unclean. They would have no use for pearls, and perhaps would rush upon those who scattered the pearls. So, too, there are men so dull, imbruted and senseless, as to reject the pearls of truth. It is our duty to help and to try to save others, but we must use common sense.



6 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  2. Barnabasintraining

    The victim I know was confronted with a different application of this not so much with her abuser but with her pastor. She judged the situation she was in with this pastor to be so hostile that she realized it would be futile to try to explain her situation with the abuser. So she didn’t and she was right. It would have been a complete waste of time at best.

    • Memphis Rayne

      I had to read this several times over to wrap my knuckle brain around it. I still have like old twisted scriptures stuffed into my mind….the way the MIW used, and painted his pictures of what they meant. The MIW actually used the “The dog returning to his vomitt” and somehow contorted the real meaning of what Barb has presented here. Its SO twisted and demeanted that Im not sure I could even put that in words? I can say however, that perhaps he knew what he was doing? But I fear that would be giving too much credit?

      I can say that anybody that ever (there were a few) stood up to him, or tried to place any blame onto him, or if he sensed they would not align their thinking with him, they were either shunned, or verbally trashed, or even physically hurt…..I do believe it was ALL wasted effort. There was no spirit to be “regenerated”. On the other hand, this verse was contorted by the MIW, as to say “YOU(me) if YOU are so pure, and Holy, YOU just keep throwing yourself in front of me to be trampled(the thinking of an abuser “if I am SO BAD then why are YOU still here?) Then he would switch tracks, as to be the sad, sorry, sack of a useless human, that no body loved? Then tell everyone how lovely and perfect I was, and how he was just like a useless swine. Ugh? My head just fell off my shoulders!

      So I hope I grasped onto the point. Save the innocent people that may be stuck in the fog, but as far as abusers go, they are on their own….helping them, in an effort to help the victom is useless. As far as Christian marriages, if an abuser is half the pie, there is NO marriage. You cannot join God and Satan together under “HOLY” matrimony.

  3. anonymous

    This verse was on my mind long before I knew the word “abuse.” I really felt like it applied to my situation. Why offer any type of correction? Why bring up any offenses? Why should I keep trying to work out the marriage when I feel like I am verbally attacked for doing so? Even though I thought of this verse often, I had a hard time really taking it for myself since my husband is a professing Christian.

    This post is validating for me, Barbara. Thank you.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Anon- I (JeffC) have been reading a book by Sandra Brown, a Christian and a therapist. The title is a bit misleading because it sounds like it is a book about the flaws of women who get connected with abusers. But it isn’t. It is about how the abuser thinks and functions and about the harm such a person does to his victims. The title is Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm With Psychopaths, Sociopaths, and Narcissists. One of the things that Brown emphasizes is that when a victim comes to understand the nature of such an abuser (whichever of these 3 categories they fit into), she is freed up because she begins to understand that SHE did not cause the abuser to be what he is and furthermore – that he is most probably never going to change. She can’t pray him into a right mind. She can’t love him into it. And so Brown would very much agree with what you have written here, Anon. Why try to keep trying to point things out? Why keep trying to work out a marriage relationship with such a person. Why? And the answer is, you can’t. All of the change has to originate in the abuser himself, and cases in which that happens are exceedingly rare. And as I have concluded, the ones who claim to be Christians and who for years put on the outward mask of saintliness are the worst kind because their conscience is the most hardened.

  4. “And as I have concluded, the ones who claim to be Christians and who for years put on the outward mask of saintliness are the worst kind because their conscience is the most hardened.”

    Barb, good study on Matt 7:6. Helpful! JC, Jude will back up your conclusion, esp vs 12-13: “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water…wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”

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