A Cry For Justice

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

Wise Words about Abusers from Proverbs

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
(Proverbs 26:12)

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” (Proverbs 26:18-19)

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. (Proverbs 26:20-21)

The Bible is filled with wisdom about abusers. Proverbs in particular exposes him for what he is, calling him most typically a “fool” and even identifies his tactics. As you read through Proverbs you will surely realize that there is no hope for changing a fool. Not this kind of fool anyway. He is the abuser.

Consider the verses above. First, the fool is wise in his own eyes. Abusers are arrogant, egocentric, me-centered people. You can’t tell him anything. He knows better than anyone. So there is no hope for him. In fact, he is the fool of the fools! He isn’t going to change.

Then you have the typical tactic of the abuser using words that are firebrands, arrows, death, and deception. Like a dragon breathing fire, he blasts away with his verbal abuse and then, guess what he does? When he is called out for it, or when he sees his victim hurting, he comes out with the oh-so-common, “I was only joking!” Proverbs identifies this business very clearly here, right? I mean, what is hard to understand here? And yet somehow most people miss it.

And then there is the abuser’s tactic of stirring up quarrels. He kindles strife and the fires of conflict are set raging.  Why? Because abusers love to get everyone else duking it out with each other and thus taking their eyes off him, the real culprit. Notice the cure given. Take away the wood. Do away with the whisperer, and the fires of quarreling will come to an end. So why don’t we do what Scripture tells us? Why don’t we put these wicked types out from among us?

It really is an amazing exercise.  Go through Proverbs with a pen and underline every verse and phrase that addresses the entitled-to-power-and-control abuser we deal with. I can assure you, there will be a lot of verses underlined before you are done.

14 Comments

  1. debby

    Thank you so much for this. It has been my experience that the church will adhere to this EXCEPT when you are MARRIED to the abusive person. They will use all the supposed “submission” (for women only I guess) verses and conveniently skip over all that God has to say about abusers. As soon as I understood this, I was set free and have been able to make huge changes in how I respond to my h and it has made a world of difference. For some of your readers, understanding this will give them the freedom to completely sever ties with their abuser instead of just “taking it” and “suffering for Christ” (yikes! talk about out of context!) but it is everything I believed for 30 years. So glad for ACFJ and hurtbylove.com that have shed so much light into my understanding!

    • M&M

      Agree!! Although I haven’t had nearly as bad of experiences with church as those I’ve read about, I’m still amazed at how much sense ACFJ makes compared all other interpretations of scripture I’ve heard. I’m also a little embarrassed that before ACFJ I didn’t realize how much the Bible discussed abusers because I didn’t realize how they are the same as “fools”, “wicked”, and “oppressors”. When I saw “worthless men” in the Old Testament I used to fear that God would call me worthless because those guys were human and I am human. However, if “worthless” means a violent and unwilling to change person, it doesn’t apply to me!!

  2. Not Alone

    I actually went through Proverbs this past summer and recorded 8 pages (8 1/2 x 5 1/2) of references describing a fool. It was very enlightening to say the least, as well as encouraging to see how Scripture describes such antics. After finishing my list, I went back and recorded what Proverbs has to say about dealing wisely with said fools. Again, a very helpful exercise. The book “Foolproofing Your Life” by Jan Silvious was my inspiration for doing this.

  3. cindy burrell

    “So, there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

    A very enlightening piece, Pastor, Jeff – clear and direct.

    There are times when we wonder if the harmful person with whom we are dealing is somehow unique and whether we should pity them rather than expose them. In this day and age, speaking up against these abusive types is viewed as being judgmental. That is incorrect. Identifying such people based on their behavior and the outcomes of that behavior represents righteous judgment, not to somehow elevate ourselves, but to protect one another from their schemes. Overlooking their behavior only begs more of the same.

  4. Bitter But Getting Better

    I am not able to go on to Facebook to leave a comment on your thread about Dr. Dobson. I could not let this pass without standing up for this great family advocate. Perhaps Dr. Dobson is wrong on the issue of abuse and perhaps not but the integrity of this man is undisputed. I attended church with him many years ago and was on the front lines fighting against a thousand wicked attacks on our nation and on the family. He walks the talk along with talking the talk. If I could be just a little like him I would feel like I served my Savior with honor and integrity. I am thankful for this website but please don’t slander a man of God because he may not be right on this issue.

    • KayE

      I don’t think it’s slandering someone if you explain the error of their public statements. One of the biggest problems faced by victims of abuse is that so many well-meaning people hold misguided views on the real nature of abuse. A great deal of that misinformation comes from Christian “celebrities” like Dr Dobson and needs to be corrected.

    • Hi Bitter But Getting Better 🙂
      Firstly I want to honour you for your courage in expressing an opinion that is at variance with most of the opinions that are being expressed on that FB post of ours about Dobson’s teaching on A Violent Spouse.

      Secondly, I respect your right to have a different opinion from me/us, and I acknowledge the fact that Dobson’s modelling of Christian courage and leadership has helped you grow as a believer.

      Thirdly, I have a different opinion from you regarding his ideas on how a wife should deal with a violent husband. Dobson may have done some things right in his career, but I think he got this particular teaching very very wrong. The reasons I think that have been well articulated on that FB thread by myself and others, so I won’t go into them again here.

      Thirdly, I disagree with you that we have ‘slandered’ Dobson.
      What is ‘slander’? The Oxford Dictionary entry says:

      Slander
      Noun 1. The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation:
      he is suing the TV company for slander
      1.1 A false and malicious spoken statement:
      I’ve had just about all I can stomach of your slanders
      Verb Make false and damaging statements about (someone):
      they were accused of slandering the head of state

      We think what we have said about Dobson is neither false nor malicious.
      Why do you think we have been either false or malicious in what we’ve said about Dobson?

      PS You don’t have to continue with this discussion if you don’t want to — and I recognise it is off-topic with this blog post but I’m happy to engage in it here since you don’t want to use FB. We know that some survivors avoid FB because of the risk of stalking from their abuser.

      • Bitter But Getting Better

        Barb, thank you for responding kindly to my inquiry. It was difficult to disagree with the group but that is the fruit of what you all have taught me here. To stand up for what we believe in. I chose the word slander carefully and believe some of the comments were slanderous such as these:

        Dr. Dobson is a misogynist who believes that slutty women are responsible for men’s immorality.

        Smut indeed. Male braggadacio about penis size. Dobson is in the same camp as Piper, just can’t help himself from letting his twisted thinking leak out!

        Worship of the Family/Marriage ( He was the lone voice in the wilderness speaking out against the destructive assault on the family @ a time when no one else was. Just like Pastor Crippen is a voice for women today. I don’t believe Pastor Crippen is worshipping abused women.)

        The bottom line is that scripture tells us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I would want my friends to stand up for me when my good name is being muddied and so I wanted to be a voice for the millions of people that have received wonderful help from Dr. Dobson over the years.

        His thoughts on abuse may be wrong but that does not take away all the wonderful work he has done and that thread was so negative and I wanted to stand up for him.

        Again I am so thankful for CFJ and the great work you do!!!!!!!

      • Thanks for explaining your concerns in more detail, BBGB.
        I went to our FB post and found the two things that concerned you, and the second one was written by me.

        One of our FB readers had commented:

        Dr. Dobson is a misogynist who believes that slutty women are responsible for men’s immorality. And then there’s this other weirdness… http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/06/24/541003/-James-Dobson-and-showering-with-boys#

        I read article she linked to. It said:

        Every time I hear the name James Dobson, this utterly repellent quote unfortunately leaps to mind:

        Meanwhile, the boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.
        — James Dobson

        Then wrote this reply to our reader’s comment:

        Smut indeed. Male braggadacio about penis size. Dobson is in the same camp as Piper, just can’t help himself from letting his twisted thinking leak out!

        I have now double checked and found that Dobson has indeed given that advice.
        See this link which will take you to Google Books and the exact page of Dobson’s book where he says those words.

        So, I have established to my own satisfaction that Dobson did advise that a father “can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.”

        Now the question is, did I go too far by describing Dobson’s words as “Smut indeed. Male braggadacio about penis size. Dobson is in the same camp as Piper, just can’t help himself from letting his twisted thinking leak out!” I think I may have indeed gone too far. On reflection, I think that Dobson’s advice to fathers was not smut (thought some pedophile-inclined fathers would use it to justify abusing their sons, but that’s another matter). Nor do I now think that Dobson was displaying male braggadacio about penis size. I am sorry I said that, and I will remove that comment of mine from our FB page.

        However, I do believe that Dobson’s advice to fathers was ill-judged. It was given in the context of Dobson offering advice about homosexuality and how to help prevent boys becoming homosexual. I believe (though I’m no expert) that the jury may be still out on the causes of homosexuality and whether or not a father’s relationship with his son has much if anything to do with the son becoming a homosexual in adulthood.

        Thank you for calling out my rash words, BBGB. I was running off at the mouth. 😦

      • M&M

        I appreciate this honest discussion because it shows the difference between hating abuse and hating misguided people, which I’m sure isn’t easy. At least for me I can see the problems of being too harsh or too soft and it’s not clear to me where to draw the “line”. Too soft (on bad teachers) invalidates victims and ACFJ clearly understands that, but being too harsh runs the risk that the theoretical victim will see you as harsh about everything and not want to talk. I don’t know where your “line” ought to be so I appreciate the honest discussion. Also I imagine that some who “like” Dr Dobson or Mr Piper don’t necessarily know their views on abuse. That was me before finding this site. Such people are uninformed, but not malicious.

  5. Cherie

    Thank you for this post. These very scriptures were the very ones that assisted me in recognizing the abusive cycle and gave me the stamina to break free. Now I am free indeed!

    • Hi Cherie,
      Very glad to hear your are free indeed! And welcome to the blog! We direct new users to our New Users’s page found one top menu bar. It gives tips for staying safe when commenting on the blog. One thing we are quite mindful of are screen names that are too identifying – which is why you will notice I modified your screen name a bit. If you have any questions regarding your screen name you can email me at twbtc@gmail.com.
      Again, Welcome!

  6. Bitter But Getting Better

    Thanks again Barb for being sensitive to my concerns. I appreciate it. Blessings to you and everyone @ ACFJ.

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