In this post, I will be presenting an example of a husband confronting his wife on her behavior in their marriage. In this example, the wife is not just a “normal sinner,” but actually follows a very biblically detailed pattern of the Proverbial fool. In order to understand the depths of depravity human character is capable of when engaging in folly, first we must look at what the Proverbial fool truly is like – how they relate, how they treat other people, and why they are sometimes more difficult to deal with than even a truly evil person.
We all are capable of acting in foolish ways, being people who are susceptible to our inherent sin nature, however the “fool” described in Proverbs is different from the normal sinner, and using Dan Allender and Tremper Longman’s book, Bold Love, I will try to illustrate the difference. And give an example of when and how a husband calling out the of his wife was good and beneficial to him, their family, and definitely the wife herself.
First, the Proverbial fool is fairly easy to spot, they are often the loudest, most combative voices in a family or community. They react in second nature to almost anyone with anger and insults. If a fool is called out, they often refuse to admit or accept their wrongdoing – and double up for retaliation using mocking, shaming language, even anger and rage.
The Proverbial fool calls attention to themselves because they have to win an argument, no matter how low they stoop in engaging in sinful behavior, or the degree of damage they carelessly do to a relationship, their goal is only to win, and nothing will stand in their path. They have patterns of anger outbursts or jumping headfirst into arguments they enjoy getting into, and this pattern can be daily, or even multiple times a day, or even as infrequent as a weekly occurrence.
A normal sinner, according to Allender and Longman’s viewpoint, is usually convicted deeply enough to not allow themselves to continue in an obvious pattern of sin. But the fool gives themselves permission to act as if they have no self-control, and constantly give in to their emotions – usually being the obvious emotions of anger and bitterness, but can also be a general contentious or mean-spirit. Their willing lack of self control is actually justified to the fool, their situation is always an exception and calls for whatever behavior they decide is right in the moment! Although their sinful behavior or lack of self-control are obvious in their attempts at dialogue or relating to other people, especially when they are conversing about a person they dislike or disagree with.
The Proverbial fool gives themselves permission to not have to abide by godly standards. In the fool’s mind, their obvious lack of wisdom, prudence, or self-control is justified and excusable, however, because they don’t feel deep conviction or remorse for their wrongdoings to other people, they are constantly behaving in this pattern of returning to their own vomit.
As a dog returns to it’s own vomit, so a fool returns to their folly.
And now for the example, a husband boldly loving his wife by confronting her on her sin, and disallowing her to remain in her depravity that is destroying their family:
“The power of words is immense. A word can soothe the soul or cut it to ribbons, and discussion with the fool ought to do both. When a fool acknowledges any level of responsibility or sorrow, it must not be merely accepted or quickly dismissed, but captured and underscored. Let me construct a possible dialogue that addresses both the dignity and the depravity in a fool’s heart.
“Assume that Kathy fits the description of a fool, and Ralph, her husband, has been the kind of man who has ignored her cruelty and given his energy to his work and children.
KATHY: Honey, I am sorry for how mean I’ve been to you while I’ve been working on this project. I hope you’re not too upset.
RALPH: Kathy, I am quite upset. Frankly, as much with me as with you. This has gone on for years, and I’ve failed you by ignoring it in the past. That is wrong. But I am encouraged, at least a little, by your willingness to admit that you have been mean. My question is, do you want to deal with this or are you looking for a quick absolution? If it is the latter, then I am far more upset than you can imagine.
KATHY (with slight disdain): Ralph! Do we have to get into one of these psychological discussions again?
RALPH (with quiet strength and twinkle of a smile in spite of a sharp bolt of anguish): No, sweetheart, we don’t. You are mean. In fact, you can be cruel and contemptuous. But I feel no compulsion to deal with your heart if it is that hard and cold. I trust and pray that the woman who asked me to forgive her will one day come to the surface far more. What would you like for dinner? I know you’ll be buys with that project, but can I make you anything in particular?”
The authors’ frequently point out that in dealing with a fool, they have strongholds of arrogance that can only be truly broken by their own admittance of their depravity. Like Kathy, they will sometimes concede that they’ve “been mean” or “I’ve acted rudely,” however, behind those shallow words, there is no real depth of meaning, no true understanding the degree of their heart’s sin – and therefore, no real chance for experiencing godly change.
Paul talks about believers experiencing godly shame and sadness that is crucial to the believer understanding their need for change, however, the fool, even with their shallow acknowledgments of their missing the mark, avoids this reality.
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
It often can take years or decades of a fool pressing on in their life and relationships, causing pain and heartache in their family or children’s lives, before they even slightly begin to see themselves as they truly are.
A clear biblical example not covered in Bold Love, but great to cover now is of a married couple, where one partner was a classic example of the Proverbial fool, they are Abigail and Nabal. Abigail was a beautiful woman – beautiful inside and out – she was strong, cunning, fearless, and bold in the way she lived her life, and even in the way she submitted to, but also reacted to her husband, Nabal, who’s name literally translated to “fool.”
The next post will be on taking apart Abigail’s story in the Bible, and of course, her husband, the fool.