Living with an Abuser is Like Rooming with a Cobra
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” (Rom 3:13-17)
A few years ago we were riding our bicycles along an old railroad bed (tracks long since removed) that goes from the mouth of the Deschutes River (pronounce it De-shoots) at the Columbia River some 17 miles along the Deschutes. It is east of the Cascade Mountain range here in Oregon so that means the climate and landscape are quite different from the greenery on the west side. Sagebrush, not too many trees, much hotter and so on.
Anyway, as I was cruising along I looked ahead and right in the middle of the track there were two snakes near a rocky outcropping. As I got a bit closer I could see that they were in fact Northern Pacific rattlesnakes. They didn’t scurry off right away and I had my firearm along and thought about blasting them so no one would get bitten but decided not to when they slowly moved off the track and back into the rocks.
How do you feel when you come across a rattlesnake? Or, for that matter, if your idea of snakes is like mine, when you come across ANY kind of snake? I can tell you. Your danger warning signs start to go into gear. Heart rate kicks up a bit. Nervous feeling. Caution warnings. You are in the presence of danger, at least with a venomous snake. They have fangs, and poison, and they can kill you.
Now, I hear that most snakes would just as soon clear out and get away from you. Rattlesnakes even have a rattler that buzzes and says “keep away or I will bite you.” But I understand that there are a few species who are very aggressive, the black mamba in Africa being one of those. Those suckers will come right at you and their venom makes rattlesnake venom look like a bee sting.
Abusers are like poisonous snakes. Specifically, they are much more like the mamba than the more docile rattler. No warning buzz. No slinking off away from you. Nope. Abusers have, as the Apostle Paul states in the text above (a quote from the Psalms by the way) the venom of asps hidden under their lips. They’ve got fangs you see. And the Bible calls these kind revilers. Want to know what the Lord thinks of revilers? Here you go:
For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (Mat 15:4)
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Cor 5:11)
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)
The Greek lexicon (dictionary) defines this word translated “reviler” as reviler, an abusive person. So much for the wooden literalist interpreters who demand we show them THE word “abuse” in the Bible. Well, here it is. Reviler. Abuser. Reviling is more than just “talking back to one’s parents.” It is mocking. It is holding in contempt. It is cursing someone. It is biting and burying poison-filled fangs into them. In other words, reviling is verbal assault with murderous intent. And that is what abuse is.
So, with this all in our minds, let us ask this question — How many churches are allowing murderers to sit in their pews? How many churches have venomous snakes holding hymnals, making public prayers, preaching sermons, counting the offering and generally playing the role of the finest saint of God Sunday after Sunday? You know the answer.
One final thought about the reviler:
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. (Isa 11:8)
Apparently even a cobra is redeemable. The reviler who plays the Christian masquerade? I will bet on the cobra before the reviler.