Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Wisdom from Proverbs about Abusers

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.


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  1. Yes, and this is where my denominational experience, for trying to keep salvation doctrine correct (total depravity stated in Lutheran words), I believe minimizes truth. Somehow once we got around to Proverbs, there was some kind of spiritual interpretation to the words in Proverbs, or the proverbs are the Law as “guide” and of course saints stumble due to the old nature, so the actual meaning of the sentences I was seeing there in black & white, well they don’t mean it like that.

  2. Anonymous

    Oh, that “only joking” line. I’m tired of being told how I just don’t get his jokes, quit being so sensitive, why do I take everything literally, etc. Ty for pointing out that verse.

  3. Free

    The entire 31 Proverbs have been a blessing in the recovery. Loads of reminders of how much abuse IS NOT biblical grounds for staying married, and how to deal with an abuser. You don’t.

  4. Innoscent

    If king Solomon wrote his book today, the fools, stupid, scorners, evil men, etc. he’d name them abusers, predators, narcissicists, psychopaths, sociopaths…
    I took on your suggestion (copied and pasted the book on a Word doc and highlighted the references) starting on chapter 1. To see the 2 sides so clearly contrasted will give me more discernment.
    I wish someone had told me to do that when I was a young Christian, it would have equiped me to stay clear of the fools.

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