Bold Love – Responding to Fools

Back in 2006, my mom bought me a book that had changed the way she saw things, a rare find that she felt was actually biblical 100% of the way through, it was Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III’s book, Bold Love.

This is a fascinating and intellectually stimulating book on how to love like Jesus Christ did – not passive or nice, but unpredictable, cunning, and sometimes offensive in how it causes a person to come to face with the reality of their depravity – and forces them to look at the evil they do, to feel the pain that is designed to help that person deal with their patterns of diseased sin that is damaging the way they relate to other people.

One of the things I enjoyed about this book when I first read it, is that it confronts a wife’s capacity to sin (and sin greatly) against her husband.  So often women are viewed as only being capable of goodness and purity, however, as a woman, I will be the first to tell you that I believe we are capable of severely evil acts against others – I myself, have done and said things I deeply regret.  I am constantly on a path of trying to allow God to convict me and show me where I need to change unhealthy patterns, or in how I respond to foolish or evil people.  But I’ve often found that women in our society, are often given an out, given an excuse for their depravity, “Oh, he caused you to do (fill in the blank).  If he hadn’t pushed you to that point, you wouldn’t have had to do (fill in the blank).”  This kind of response is of course, ridiculous, and doesn’t force the woman to deal with the fact that no matter what someone did to provoke her, she is still responsible for her reactions.  She is still called to react like Christ, no matter the initial offense or how deeply wrong she feels.

Bold Love covers many topics, but one I truly love is how a foolish person (woman or man) is capable of hating knowledge – hating to face the facts of the depravity of their own heart so much, that they bypass a deeper relationship with God and the chance to become a different person than they were.

When you allow God’s knowledge and truth to shine light on the way you’ve been acting in diseased depravity of your sins, you become changed – and you will NEVER quite be the same again.  The knowledge literally transforms you, because all knowledge is connected to God – it comes from God.

The foolish woman or man, hates the knowledge of their sin, and cringes or reacts in a flood of anger at it being called out; whereas a wise person acknowledges the knowledge of their sinful depravity, feels remorse, and works to deal with it, in order to change.  A fool takes steps back in spiritual growth, whereas a wise person earnestly tries to allow God to move them forward.

Fools automatically go into assault/attack mode when faced with the reality of their sinful heart or actions.  It is easy to spot because they easily fall into rude or abusive humor, slinging insults, and doubling down on insisting people know “their side” of what happened.

Unless they are at what Dr. Allender calls a “vulnerable point” of remorse, or forced to feel “the piercing exposure of shame,” a fool’s hope for redemption is honestly slim.  It is second nature for them to feel an increased, ungodly rage when a person points out their failures (past or present), and they are almost incapable of achieving real, lasting change from their old behavior.  Lasting change requires an admittance that what they were (or are) behaving like, is wrong.  The best tactic to forcing a fool to see their own actions is exposure that causes them shame.

“Expose with a mood that is matter-of-fact, strong, and benevolent.  Such a mood is like passing a red cape before an enraged bull; it will incite and intensify the fury.  When we “set up” the fool for further exposure, as the Lord did with the rich young ruler and the woman at the well, we set ourselves up for attack.  We need to be prepared to move out of the way with a light step.  This is the most difficult principle to describe because it requires such freedom of heart to operate with spontaneity, humor, and power.”

Exposure must be designed to leave the fool ultimately alone, so that they can face God with the shame of their reaction.  A foolish man or woman will never repent unless they feel pain.  And genuine pain only comes from truly acknowledging the depravity of their actions, but that pain produces beauty.

The authors have many more tenants for setting up a fool, for having boundaries and consequences set in place, all so that the foolish person is forced to deal with their own foolish behavior.  Oftentimes, your reaction must be the opposite of what they would expect, because in many ways, our own reactions enable the sinful behavior of the fools we have to deal with.  By surprising them with unexpected behavior or an unanticipated reaction they thought they’d get from us, we violate a sense of their being all-knowing or in control.

“Consequences must have a bite.”  In dealing with a foolish person, sometimes the best thing is to show kindness at just the right moment where it surprises them and knocks them off guard.  However, more often with a foolish person, the consequence has to be a “natural consequence,” that they don’t enjoy having to deal with.

Tomorrow I will write on an example of a husband dealing appropriately with a wife who is mean-spirited.


7 thoughts on “Bold Love – Responding to Fools

  1. Dragonfly,

    Your statement:
    ““Consequences must have a bite.” In dealing with a foolish person, sometimes the best thing is to show kindness at just the right moment where it surprises them and knocks them off guard. However, more often with a foolish person, the consequence has to be a “natural consequence,” that they don’t enjoy having to deal with.

    Tomorrow I will write on an example of a husband dealing appropriately with a wife who is mean-spirited.”

    That is so true that consequences must have bite. I also agree that sometimes we must catch our wife off guard by showing kindness when she is not expecting it.

    That is why when I talk about husbands disciplining their wives and even parents disciplining their children we must remember to show grace and mercy at times. Sometimes we do something kind(grace) for our spouse or child when they know themselves they don’t deserve -why? Because God does that for us.

    Some times we show mercy and don’t let the natural consequence happen to them that should, we intervene on their behalf as God sometimes does for us.

    But if we cannot always give things that are not deserved, and not punish wrong doing – to do so would be to reward bad behavior and further enable sin.

    So its definitely a balancing act.

    Also I think the reason that women get a pass often on sin is because of rampant emotionalism. Emotions are used to cover all manner of sins, but God does not give us a free pass to sin because we have been wronged or because we feel a certain way.

    Jesus overcame his emotion in the Garden where he sweat blood and he did his duty and went to the cross. We should follow his example and do what is right, despite how we sometimes feel.

  2. I agree completely, especially in showing grace and mercy to our kids even when they don’t deserve it, I do that all the time! And it does help my oldest son to feel sorrow or shame in how he behaved toward me right before.

    I’ve actually never heard of emotionalism, but it makes sense. And I definitely agree just going with one’s emotions is dangerous and irresponsible. Thanks for the insights BGR.

  3. It’s so interesting that you’re writing about this because I was just thinking about this book last night! I love Dan Allender — he has a way of thinking about Scripture that no one else does, and a way of thinking about psychology that is really unique and helps me understand myself and those around me so much more.

    Have you read this book all the way through? I haven’t, because I skimmed it and saw some things that disturbed me, like an example of a wife calling out her husband on making crude, misogynistic jokes at a party in front of a group of people, knowing that it was likely the first step to him divorcing her and being okay with that. It made me a little concerned because I felt like it was promoting disrespect which would go against the Bible’s advice for wives.

    I was just a little alarmed because I felt like a lot of it was very strong and controversial. However I absolutely love Dan Allender and think he’s a very wise man and would be willing to revisit it if I heard a different perspective.

  4. Yes, I have read it all the way through, and I remember that part. It is really difficult to decide if or when a person should confront a fool – it can only be done with prayer and careful planning, and the sad thing is that it often has to be in public because that is the only way they would actually feel shame. The wife in that situation confronted him because he was making very degrading comments about women in front of a small group of men who didn’t have the courage to call him out. She didn’t seem to be cruel in her speaking up, but yes, she spoke truth in love, she knew it would do no good to confront him privately, fools don’t respond to rebuke in any case privately or public, it’s part of the sorrow of seeing the demise of a fool. Who knows if one those men held the key to his career advancement or future success or failure. Who knows if he may have had offended someone who would be instrumental in his future. I know powerful men who purposely look at a man’s wife to see if they should hire him. Her wisdom and prudence is of value to a wise employer, because he knows he’s not just getting the husband on his team, but a wife who will work to help the husband also. A wise employer knows he’s getting two instead of one when he hires a man with a good wife. I’ve actually heard a powerful man admit this strategy. So while it seems that a fool that is so foolish to gamble at offending random people would automatically have job troubles and be in constant danger of losing his job, it’s interesting that a wise and kind wife can help him remember to have social grace even bring levity to a situation like that. It’s looking out for his well-being and a blessing to have a wife who is concerned with her husband’s words, reputation, and the way he presents himself. I don’t know if I agree with how she did it publicly, but I completely understand the temptation she probably had to use that opportunity to expose him for his well-being. It would be like exposing someone online who talks to others abusively or sexually under an anonymous identity. They would never feel the shame or accountability they have or realizing that they are sinning against God until their wife, daughter, mother, father, even church pastor or family knows how they secretly conduct themselves when no one’s looking. The fool gets away for awhile, even years or decades unless they are given the blessing of exposure and shame.

    I’m not sure if that wife was truly Right to confront him the way she did, but there is another example in the book of a husband humiliating his wife for her breasts being small, ridiculing her and constantly making her feel ashamed, and while her private rebuke was maybe harsh,it successfully helpedhim see how meant-spirited he was being toward her. These things don’t seem to happen that often, but in dealing with a true Proverbial fool, the consequences and loving actions look very harsh or even possibly disrespectful. It’s sad that the fool is so stubborn and hard headed that they need such painful consequences.

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