How Do You Deal with Fools? (Proverbs 1:7 and Psalm 39:8-9)

How Do You Deal with Fools? (Proverbs 1:7 and Psalm 39:8-9)

How do you deal with fools who slander you and “despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7)? David sets a great example. When Shimei cursed him, he said, “Leave him alone, and let him curse.” Read on to learn why silence is the best response to proverbs fools.

David was experiencing one of the lowest points in his life. He lost the throne. His wicked son, Absalom, is the one who stole it from him. Much of the nation joined Absalom. David was fleeing Jerusalem, and when you think things couldn’t get any worse, Shimei finds him:

2 Samuel 16:8 The Lord has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” 9 Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” 11 And David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my own son seeks my life; how much more now may this Benjaminite! Leave him alone, and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to.

Shimei is related to Saul. Even though Saul lost the throne and died decades earlier, he still blames David for all of Saul’s misfortune. We tend to think that with time people move on. Sometimes they do, but other times the roots of bitterness continue to go grow and become even deeper as each year passes. That was the case with Shimei. He probably despised David more now than he did when Saul died.

Leave Fools Alone and Let Them Curse

David said, “Leave him alone, and let him curse.” The longer I’m a pastor, the greater wisdom I see in these words. Circle them, underline them, highlight them, or do whatever you need to do to remember them so you can come back to them when people slander you.

Gossip is spreading negative information about people to others who have no business knowing that information. But at least the information is true. Slander is spreading lies about people.

Let a Clear Conscience Keep You Silent

Shimei is slandering David. He falsely accused him of violently overthrowing the house of Saul. But it was just the opposite: David played music to alleviate Saul of his torment, repeatedly spared his life, was friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan, and was gracious to Saul’s grandson, Mephibosheth. David knew what Shimei was saying was untrue and this allowed him to remain silent.

When David became king again Shimei did a 180, came back to David, and apologized. He said, “Do not let the king take it to heart” (2 Samuel 19:19). David didn’t have to take it to heart because he knew it wasn’t true. When people fools slander us, we don’t have to take it to heart, because it isn’t true.

1 Peter 3:16 Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Having a good conscience allows us to remain silent when slandered: If you know the slander against you is untrue then you can disregard it. You don’t have to give it a second thought, let it ruin your day, or let it weigh on you or keep you up at night. Instead, we should respond with, “good behavior.”

Respond to Fools with Godly Behavior

1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the gentiles honorable, so that when they slander you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation…15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

All three verses emphasize responding to slander with godly behavior: “your good behavior…your conduct…your good deeds…by doing good” (1 Peter 2:12, 2:15, 3:16). This is how “to silence the ignorance of foolish people,” or fools. This means keep serving the Lord, remaining faithful, having joy, and investing your time and energy with brothers and sisters in Christ.

The pastors I have developed close friendships with have told me about times that they had to put up with their own Shimeis. One of those friends is Cary Green. We became friends when he was going through something difficult in his church and he reached out to me. When we visited them, Katie was talking to Cary’s wife, Lois (a woman Katie looks up to), about it because she seemed to handle it so effortlessly.

Lois told Katie, which Katie and I have repeated to each other over the years: “There’s too much work to do for the Lord, and there are too many people to love and serve.” Lois recognized fools could be huge distractions and the best they could do was respond with godly behavior. Lois didn’t want to waste valuable time and energy. She knew there was too much important work to do.

One of the other wonderful things about responding with godly behavior is it maintains a good witness to the unbelieving world. As 1 Peter 2:12 says, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they [slander NASB and AMP] you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” Do good so the unbelieving world looks on and doesn’t believe the slander.

This response will also upset fools who don’t want you to be godly, because then their slander is shown to be untrue. They want you to be ungodly and live down to what they are saying. David sets a great example. He took the high road and maintained his composure.

Three Ways David Resembles Jesus in His Response to a Fool

First, Peter took out his sword to attack those coming after Jesus (John 18:10). Abishai was David’s Peter. He wanted to take out his sword and kill Shimei. David rebuked Abishai like Jesus rebuked Peter.

If you’re being slandered you’re probably going to have Peters and Abishais in your life who want to take out swords and start chopping off ears and heads. You might also have to tell them not to retaliate.

Second, Jesus “[entrusted] himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). David entrusted Himself to the Lord too. When Shimei slandered him, he said, “It may be that the Lord will look on the wrong done to me” (2 Samuel 16:12). This is exactly what we need to do. We should take it to the Lord and trust Him to deal with it.

Third, David looks like Jesus regarding their silence. Nobody has ever been slandered as much as Christ. And the worst Christ was ever slandered was at the trials leading up to His crucifixion. If there has ever been a time when it must have been difficult to remain silent, it was then. Yet that is exactly what Christ did. When he was reviled – which is synonymous with slandered – He did not revile – or slander – in return…He did not threaten.

Jesus was silent to those slandering Him, David was silent to Shimei slandering him, and we should be silent to fools slandering us.

Don’t Respond to Fools with Words

Peter tells us how to respond – with godly behavior – and how not to respond: with words. David demonstrated this with Shimei. David talk in the account, and he even rebuked, but not to Shimei. He rebuked his men and told them to leave Shimei alone. That’s how committed David was to ignoring Shimei: he wouldn’t even let his men address him.

David describes his approach in the psalms:

Psalm 38:13 I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth.

He acts like someone who can’t even hear what’s being said about him.

Psalm 39:2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, (now listen to this…) and my distress grew worse.

It wasn’t easy for him to remain silent. It got harder and harder.

Psalm 39:8 Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! 9a I am mute; I do not open my mouth.

David was committed to remaining silent when scorned by fools. And there are good examples in Scripture of other people remaining silent.

Hezekiah’s Silence to a Fool

When Hezekiah was king of Judah, he was attacked by the Assyrians. Sennacherib was the king of Assyria, and he was antagonizing the Jews:

2 Kings 18:15 Do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’” 16 And his servants said still more against the Lord God and against his servant Hezekiah. 17 And he wrote letters to cast contempt on the Lord, the God of Israel. 18 [the Assyrians] shouted…with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city.

Sennacherib did everything he could to get the Jews to respond. When speaking didn’t work, he stepped up his game and wrote letters. Sennacherib’s behavior is common with foolish people. If they don’t get a response, they get angrier and angrier.

There was no response from the Jews, because “The people were silent and answered him not a word, for [Hezekiah’s] command was, ‘Do not answer him’” (2 Kings 18:36). Hezekiah didn’t just discourage the Jews from responding. He commanded them not to respond!

Jeremiah’s Silence to a Fool

Jeremiah was the prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. He told the Jews to submit to Babylon, because that meant submitting to the Lord. Rebelling against Babylon meant rebelling against the Lord.

The false prophets had a field day with this. They contradicted everything Jeremiah said, prophesied falsely to the people, and spreading lies about Jeremiah. They said he was trying to destroy Jerusalem when he was actually trying to save it. Their false prophecies were going to destroy it. It must have been incredibly difficult for Jeremiah to remain silent, but he managed to do so.

The prophets often used object lessons. Jeremiah was told to make a yoke and put it on his shoulders to show that the Jews were supposed to submit to Babylon. A false prophet named Hananiah knew how good it sounded to tell the people that God would defeat Babylon, but it was a lie:

Jeremiah 28:10 The prophet Hananiah took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke them. 11 And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” But Jeremiah the prophet went his way.

Picture what this looked like. Hananiah walked up to Jeremiah, took the yoke off his shoulders, and broke it in front of the people. Then he turned and said, “This is exactly what God said He is going to do to Babylon.” Hananiah made Jeremiah look bad and declared that Jeremiah’s prophecies were false. Jeremiah responded by simply “[going] his way.” That’s it! He just walked away. He didn’t say anything.

This quote should encourage us to respond similarly to fools: “When you roll around in the mud with a pig, you both get muddy, but the pig likes it.” Fools are in the mud, and they want you to get in the mud with them. They want you to respond. They want to know they’ve upset you and gotten under your skin. Few things are more upsetting to fools than silence. When you don’t respond, they feel ignored and you’re depriving them of the joy they would have if you argued with them.

Fools Fish for Responses

The longer I’m in ministry the more convinced I become of three things:

  1. Fools want you to respond.
  2. The best thing you can do is ignore them.
  3. The worst thing you can do is respond.

Responding is simply pouring fuel on the fire. If you don’t respond I’m not guaranteeing the fire will go out. But if you do respond I can almost guarantee the fire will get even worse. We should learn from David’s example and say, “Leave them alone. Let them curse.”

When I taught elementary school one of my student had trouble remaining calm and not responding to people antagonizing him. Because students can be like sharks in the water smelling blood, they knew they could get a rise out of him and that encouraged them to harass him even more. I sat down with him on more than one occasion and explained that every time he got upset, he was doing what they wanted.

I shared a fishing analogy with him, “They cast in the hook, they want you to bite, you do, and then they start reeling you in…making you madder and madder and madder…which they want. You’re responding because you’re angry. But if you really want to upset them you need to ignore them. That is the best thing you can do.”

Understanding Proverbs Fools

There are two reasons to understand fools as they are described in Proverbs. First, so we know how to deal with fools. Second, so we can avoid being foolish ourselves. Even though certain people are identified as fools, there’s some foolishness in all of us. Learning about fools can convict us of our own foolishness. I know I have been foolish in my life and few things convict me more than reading about fools.

Whenever we read Proverbs, we need to remember it is wisdom literature versus law literature, and they shouldn’t be read the same. Leviticus is an example of law literature, and it provides black and white commands. We are told what we can and can’t do. It requires self-control, but it doesn’t require wisdom. Wisdom literature, on the other hand, gives us principles and generalities that allow us to navigate situations well.

The fool is one of the most common topics in Proverbs mentioned seventy-eight times. We don’t have the time to look at all the verses, but I have chosen some that help us understand how to deal with fools.

This is how miserable it is dealing with fools:

Proverbs 17:12 Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs, than a fool in his folly.

Identifying Proverbs Fools

Proverbs fools are described as unteachable:

Proverbs 1:7b Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:22c Fools hate knowledge.

It’s not that they literally hate wisdom, instruction, and knowledge. They hate it in the sense that they won’t gain any because they think they know everything:

Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.

Because fools refuse to learn, they  make the same mistakes:

Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

Instead of learning:

Proverbs 18:2 A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.

This is to say they don’t want to understand. They just want to listen to themselves talk. This leaves them very puffed up:

Proverbs 14:3a In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride.

This pride leaves them blind to their own foolishness. They’re deceived:

Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.

Wise people know the truth about themselves. They see themselves accurately. Fools on the other hand have deceived themselves into thinking they’re wise. As a result they think they’re speaking wisdom, when in fact:

Proverbs 15:2b The mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
Proverbs 15:14b The mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.

This is why their mouths and ignorance get them in trouble:

Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
Proverbs 10:21 Fools die for lack of wisdom.

What’s the solution for them? How can they avoid the destruction their foolishness brings? The solution is to become teachable:

Proverbs 8:5 O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart.

But the problem is…

Proverbs Fools Hate Correction

Fools respond poorly to correction:

Proverbs 9:8 Do not correct a scoffer or he will hate you.

This leads to terrible consequences…

Proverbs 13:18a Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction.
Proverbs 15:10b He who hates correction will die.
Proverbs 15:32 He who disdains instruction despises his own soul. 

The consequences of getting angry when corrected are so severe it’s almost like punishing yourself.

Proverbs 29:1 He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

A fool will hate what you have to say:

Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.

You’ll be scorned if you try to correct a fool:

Proverbs 14:9a Fools mock at sin.

Fools can experience severe discipline, but they won’t change:

Proverbs 27:22 Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

So, How Do You Deal with Fools?

Proverbs 12:16 The vexation (or anger or wrath) of a fool is known at once (this is Shimei, Sennacherib, and Hananiah), but the prudent ignores an insult (this is David, Hezekiah, and Jeremiah).

Fools get angry quickly, but the prudent – or wise – ignore an insult or remain silent.

Proverbs 14:7 Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.

This goes beyond just remaining silent. Now we’re told to get away from fools altogether. If you choose to hang around fools though, the Bible lets you know what to expect:

Proverbs 13:20b The companion of fools will be destroyed.

What if you don’t want to be the companion of fools, but you want to try to reason with a fool? You can’t because they will get angry with you:

Proverbs 23:9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.

Now we’re told why we shouldn’t speak to fools: they will hate your words. It will just make them madder. It is pouring fuel on the fire.

Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit (again, this is Shimei, Sennacherib, and Hananiah), but a wise man quietly holds it back (again, this is David, Hezekiah, and Jeremiah).

Again, fools can’t control themselves. They lose their temper. But wise, or mature people, exhibit self-control and that self-control looks like quietly holding back from saying anything.

Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.

It is so foolish to answer a fool you must be a fool to do so. Answering a fool makes you like the fool, hence the quote, “Don’t argue with a fool because people listening won’t be able to tell the difference.”

Proverbs 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

This looks like a contradiction in Scripture: do not answer a fool and then answer a fool. There is no contradiction. These verses capture the dilemma with fools:

  • You shouldn’t answer a fool for the reasons we’ve discussed.
  • You should answer a fool or else they will be wise in [their] own eyes, which means they’ll continue to think they know everything.

The verse is not defending responding to fools. Instead, it is discouraging responding to fools while pointing out how hard it is not to respond. The clear instruction from Scripture is not to waste your time dealing with fools. It is a futile, frustrating endeavor. You can’t talk any sense into fools, and this is what makes them fools. If fools would listen, they would cease being foolish, but because they won’t it’s best to let them continue in their foolishness.

Three Encouragements When Dealing with Proverbs Fools

First, God Knows It’s Hard NOT to Respond to Proverbs Fools

It is hard not to respond to fools when they provoke us. We want to argue and get the last word. When people slander us, we want to defend ourselves, explain what really happened, and say, “This isn’t right. This is a lie. How could you say this?”

Proverbs 27:3 A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.

You read this and want to exclaim, “Amen!” I appreciate that when God speaks to us through His word, He reveals that He understands what we are going through and that is the point of this verse. He says, “It is easier to lift a heavy rock or lots of sand than it is to remain silent to a fool but be wise and remain silent.”

Second, Remaining Silent Is a Sign of Maturity

Because it is hard not to respond to fools, it says something about people when they can remain silent: they’re self-controlled. Keep in mind that when you remain silent, it is a reflection of your spiritual maturity and obedience to Scripture.

Third, Remaining Silent Looks Like Christ

In our loud, obnoxious world, it is harder to look like Christ in this way, because our world celebrates antagonistic proud people. Social media has made this incredibly worse. People are given platforms where they can gossip and slander, and other bitter people can encourage them by liking, commenting, and sharing.

But one of the wonderful ways to look like Christ, is to remain silent…

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

The focus is on Jesus’s silence in the face of opposition that pales in comparison to anything we experience.

We see the fulfillment in the Gospels…

Luke 23:8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him.

Herod heard about Jesus’s miracles, so he wanted to see Him perform some.

Luke 23:9 [Herod] questioned [Jesus] at some length, but He made no answer.

Jesus knew Herod was a foolish man who wasn’t interested in learning, so He didn’t respond.

Matthew 26:62 The high priest said [to Jesus], “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 63a But Jesus remained silent.
Matthew 27:12 When [Jesus] was accused by the chief priests and elders, He gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But He gave Him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Christ didn’t argue or stoop to the level of His accusers, and His silence even amazed Pilate. Your silence can similarly amaze unbelievers who have to admire your maturity and self-control.

And we are to follow Christ’s example…

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

We’re told to follow Christ’s example, and Peter describes that example for us…

1 Peter 2:23 When [Jesus] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

And this is my encouragement. When proverbs fools revile or threaten you, don’t revile or threaten in return. Instead, trust yourself to God who judges justly. Let Christ’s example be the encouragement you need when dealing with fools.

55 Responses

  1. Hello Scott,
    I recognize I have been foolish, and I have read a few scriptures and most of your take and I am afraid because I’ve not seen any resolve so far. So, please can there be remedy for me? I’m truly afraid of the consequences to things I have said without understanding the extent of issues. Also, I have experienced similar to what the comments from DL (Jan. 2021) mentioned, although, I didn’t read it all due to sadness of descriptions of foolishness. I don’t want to curse myself and call myself a fool, but I recognize my actions/thinking have been as such. Please can you help me? I have conducted myself utterly foolish honestly and mostly not on purpose. I’m so scared and need help.

    1. Hello AB,
      I’m sorry, but it is hard for me to respond without knowing more details, such as what you have done or have not stopped doing. But I’m not sure I’m the best resource for you anyway. I would encourage you to reach out to one of the elders in your church for counsel. Share the situation with him and ask for his thoughts.

  2. Although I agree with a lot of what you said, it comes across somewhat like false pride to me. I heard an associate pastor once preach a similar sermon but he even said we should just admit that criticisms (from which I inferred false statements about us) are probably true and that by admitting that the statements are true we show humility. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Also, we can’t just cherry-pick scriptures to prove a point. What about all those times that Christ spoke the truth to the Pharisees and rebuked their criticisms of Him? For instance, when Jesus was maligned by the Pharisees, He told them point blank that they dishonored Him. Even if they didn’t listen or respond to the truth, He was still willing to speak it to them, even though He suffered tremendously for it. He was only silent when He knew it was God’s will for Him to be unjustly killed, the innocent dying for the guilty.

    In your reference to Jeremiah, don’t forget the rest of the passage after Jeremiah’s response: “. . . At this, Jeremiah the prophet went on his way. But shortly after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke off his neck, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘Go and tell Hananiah that this is what the LORD says: “You have broken a yoke of wood, but in its place you have fashioned a yoke of iron.”
    For this is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him. I have even given him control of the beasts of the field.” ‘
    Then the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, ‘Listen, Hananiah! The LORD did not send you, but you have persuaded this people to trust in a lie. Therefore this is what the LORD says: “I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. You will die this year because you have preached rebellion against the LORD.”
    And in the seventh month of that very year, the prophet Hananiah died.” from Jeremiah 28:11-17 (BSB)

    As far as the Proverbs verses that seem contradictory, I understand the writer to be saying it is okay to confront someone in their folly, but only in a manner that is dignified and becoming of a Christian, not with tit-for-tat name calling, false accusations, etc. or in an angry manner or you will be just as foolish as the fool.
    There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. May we have the discretion and wisdom to know how to respond in every situation. And while we do not have all the answers or know everything about every situation, God does.

    I appreciate that you seem willing to point people to the scriptures for help with their problems.

    1. While I find merit in your perspective, it appears to me as a form of false pride. I recall an associate pastor who once delivered a sermon on a similar topic, advocating for the admission of criticisms, even if they were perceived as false, as a display of humility. This, in my view, is a more accurate reflection of the truth.
      Furthermore, we must not selectively interpret scriptures to support our arguments. Consider the numerous instances where Christ fearlessly confronted the Pharisees, rebuking their criticisms. When Jesus was slandered by the Pharisees, He boldly declared that they dishonored Him. Despite their refusal to acknowledge or respond to the truth, He remained steadfast in His commitment to speak it, even at great personal cost. His silence was only in obedience to God’s will, accepting unjust death for the guilty.
      In your reference to Jeremiah, don’t forget the rest of the passage after Jeremiah’s response: “. . . At this, Jeremiah the prophet went on his way. But shortly after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke off his neck, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘Go and tell Hananiah that this is what the LORD says: “You have broken a yoke of wood, but in its place, you have fashioned a yoke of iron.”
      For this is what the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him. I have even given him control of the beasts of the field.” Then the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, ‘Listen, Hananiah! The LORD did not send you, but you have persuaded this people to trust in a lie. Therefore, this is what the LORD says: “I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. You will die this year because you have preached rebellion against the LORD.”
      And in the seventh month of that very year, the prophet Hananiah died.” From Jeremiah 28:11-17 (BSB)
      Regarding the seemingly contradictory Proverbs verses, I interpret the writer’s message as an endorsement of confronting someone in their folly. However, this confrontation should always be conducted in a manner that befits a Christian, devoid of name-calling, false accusations, or anger. Otherwise, we risk descending to the level of the fool we seek to correct.
      There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. May we have the discretion and wisdom to know how to respond in every situation. And while we do not have all the answers or know everything about every situation, God does.

      I appreciate that you seem willing to point people to the scriptures for help with their problems.

  3. I just found your site tonight. This is the most insightful thing I’ve ever read on dealing with fools. Thank you for your insight and your commitment to the Scriptures.

  4. Wow, I am always amazed at how the Lord delivers something like this to my wife and me exactly when we need it. You posted this just a month ago yesterday, and yesterday we hit a wall in our missionary work at a small Christian college in West Africa. This message helped me pick myself up, dust myself off, and start anew this morning.

  5. Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater–had a fool for a wife. Study Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism Spectrum for help and understanding. Please Seek Professional Help, seek out Psychological, and Autism Spectrum Specialists, and a professionally educated Spiritual Advisor, etc.

    After reading many of the comments regarding fools and having 40+ years of experience living with a fool; I can tell that Scott LaPierre doesn’t know what a real fool is. Most of his excellent advice is based on dealing with people with normal intelligence and normally functioning brains. It is not necessarily good advice for the reality at hand. How do I know?
    I’ve come to understand by many years experience and the hard knocks that go with it, that the word “fool” while a pejorative term when used otherwise defines a true abnormality or defect in a person. One who suffers this condition is commonly referred to as a fool (although this isn’t considered proper these days, I’m using it here for simplicity sake.) I mean no harm by referring to the mental condition or any person suffering same. A fool has something wrong with their mind; hence their ability to be tricked repetitively by the same or slightly different variants of the same actions. They suffer from a type of mind blindness whereby they cannot distinguish if a person is tricking, conning or trying to get over on them. They cannot easily tell the intentions of other people. They do not know if the requested actions of others is in their best interest. They may do incredibly stupid things and suffer little if no remorse. They do not have true consideration for others. They don’t consider the future consequences of their actions. They choose immediate actions based on perceived immediate gratification, elimination of mental pressure or discomfort, fear, intimidation, or pleasure without regard to their partner, family or their own future (something we all might do but as we mature hopefully we apply more discernment, prudent judgement, and our collective experiences to our decisions, and all with due considerations for others and our own lives–all of these go into the decision equation of a confident mature adult, something a fool cannot do.) They are often unconcerned about their reputations and are seemingly shameless and uninhibited in their actions. They may even go along with an imprudent or promiscuous request/decision even when they have some awareness that the other person is trying to trick them or “get over” on them or abuse them; they do so out of a desire to be accepted and liked and/or out of desperation to fit in or lonilessness or heighten sexual desire or a combination of these; moreover, their handicap removes the filters that would otherwise inhibit or stop most normal people from the inconsiderate or poor behavior; this is analogous to how alcohol effects most people; of course a fool on alcohol or other mind altering substances is a disaster, as they have poor judgement to begin with, alcohol or other mid-altering substances reduces significantly what little judgement there is, mindless behavior and an easily manipulated condition is the result. When it comes to their ability to learn about people or develop and understand people skills — they learn very slowly, if ever. They tend to be immature and childlike in their decision making; they do not learn quickly if ever from their experiences–hence they lack wisdom and combined with below average intelligence in specific parts of their cognitive abilities–they repetitively make poor decisions–even those that ultimately harm them or their partners or family. They cannot be trusted, not because they are bad or evil but because they are deceptively handicapped. Yet handicapped they are and this condition will cause their partners to suffer frequent random or ongoing emotional pain. You never know what they’ll say or do. They are essentially unknowable–except that they will be unreliable in many ways, make inappropriate remarks at ill timed moments, unexpectedly do something embarrassing and that overall they will make a lot of bad choices. Often they are truly incapable of true amorous romance and love–they have a stunted emotional growth and low emotional intelligence. However, they can often have great intelligence in specific intellectual areas and they usually have above average sexual desires; unfortunately, this combined with their poor judgement and mind blindness, (and loneliness due to normies often rejecting them) makes them ripe for abuse; their defective minds also causes them to suffer low self-esteem and this adds to the problem magnifying the worst of it; all combined this causes them to accept and engage in what most people would consider shameful or undesirable situations, relationships and/or partners and acts; often they are abused by those willing to take advantage of them. They are easily talked into doing things. In short, they lack judgment and have below average emotional intelligence. For this reason they are weak minded and easily led by those with selfish intentions.
    The fool’s handicap does not change. They will remain a fool all of their life. They will learn to change some behaviors if guided to do so repetitiously over a long time by someone who cares about them or by multiple instances of a reoccurring extreme negative personal result, but this is a very slow process as the handicap does not change(egg on the face is for most people a one time to learn experience, for a fool it could take a half dozen or more lousy results before they get it.).
    Fools are in many ways like Peter Pan–they remain childlike all of their life. This can be seen in that they are more at home talking, kidding around and socializing with children or teenagers (with whom they share thought processes and maturity) then they are with mature adults,
    At first the fool will fool you as you cannot see their handicap; they usually look normal and when on their best behavior they will seemingly act normal. They can have a vast array of knowledge, facts and skill sets and be incredibly good at some things that don’t require judgement
    or social skills. They may be goofy, silly or foolishly entertaining in a social setting but usually at their own expense.
    Being in a relationship with a fool is extremely difficult. Fools regularly hurt their partner, but it is unintentional and caused by their handicap. They are mentally handicapped and they suffer in silence because they lack self-awareness. Of course all people are different and there will be a wide variety of differences in all these things I’ve described herein and degrees of magnitude of the handicap; hence there is no one size fits all when it comes to defining a fool.
    If one is young and if physically attracted to and enjoys the company of a person who suffers this handicap, they likely will not see it and will dismiss their aberrant behavior as entertaining and “funny”. If one enters into a passionate relationship with a fool the normal person may not understand the handicap of their new partner because their judgement is blinded by their naivety/youth and their passion. And the more one is smitten the more they will be blind to the reality. In this new relationship, a young inexperience person will often see the fools slights or erroneous behaviors as forgivable mistakes or funny, harmlessly humorous experiences. It is often only after years of these things that it becomes apparent that something is terribly wrong with the partner(again evidence or appearance would be more or less obvious depending on how bad the handicap is.) Older mature people can easily spot a fool but it is not so obvious to a younger person with no experience with fools. Young people will forgive the fools behavior and chalk it up to something else. Many older males will take advantage of a young female fool for sexual reasons and abuse them as long as the fool tolerates it–often for years. As lovers, like most people, the normie will enter into a marriage with a fool without truly knowing their partner but unlike two normal people who both work together to grow and mature together as well as handle the family load, the responsibilities, duties and chores and work together to solve problems and who are both capable of personal growth; the fool can do none of these things and so saddles all of this, albeit unintentionally, on the normal partner; in addition, the fool’s handicap causes a lot of friction, and leaves one partner to solve the issues; the normie will often feel overloaded, lonely and like they are raising an uncaring perennial child (in addition to all else that must be done to successfully run a family.) The fool also lacks adequate self direction and they do not hold themselves accountable for results. They are not self-reliant enough to be successful at complex things such as a healthy adult relationship or raising a family successfully. To get by in a healthy successful way they need almost continuous supervision. This adds a ton of stress to the normal partner.
    When the relationship begins, to the normal partner, it may seem like the fools behavior is normal but due to the reoccurring bad decisions, and on and on for months or years down the road, it eventually brings them to the realization that they are in a hopeless situation; at this point, they must decide whether to suffer a lifetime of sacrifice, loneliness and suffering to care for a fool.
    Please do more research on Autism Spectrum, Asperger’s and the Mental Deficiency (Mind Blindness) that lies behind a fool’s behavior before judging their normie partner as being selfish and then giving terrible advice to people who may be locked into a partner and into an insufferable situation.
    People have to make their own choice and solve their own problem. But, the sooner you leave a fool the faster you can have a normal life; and should you choose to stay, for whatever reasons, know that you will continue to suffer, lifelong; they are incapable of changing; you will never live a normal life (whatever that is for you) or have a normal love relationship or marriage (whatever that means to you) with a fool for a partner. Your fool will often catch you off guard and this is extremely difficult to deal with–you never get used to it. It’s like you get continuously suckered into their normal behavior only to be smacked down by some bizarre stuff when you least expect it (who’s the fool?).
    Living and being in a relationship/marriage with a fool is like a roller coaster ride in hell. But maybe there are some good highs and very valid reasons for maintaining it.
    Hope: you can design a life with a fool and should you choose this path, you will have to figure out how to cope with their unending nonsense, bad decisions, poor communications and reasoning skills, the lack of help, and all the sundry daily frustrations that go along with it. Know that you will have to shoulder the majority of the load in your family and marriage and you will have to parent them somewhat. You will have to provide leadership, guidance and gently hold them accountable; in addition, you will face a lifetime of feeling frustrated, alienated and lonely. But if you love them, there are rewards if nothing more then that you enjoy their presence. These are for you to figure out.
    So ask yourself a bunch of questions like: Do I love them? What do I like about them? What about our relationship do I enjoy? Can I find a success path and happy and content existence with them as my partner? Do I need to stand by my vowels? Can I live joyfully and free of guilt without them. Can they survive without me? If I leave them, is there a way that I can insure they are adequately cared for and remain safe? If I choose to stay, do the pros outweigh the cons? Or, is this the best choice for all involved? Should I be altruistic and sacrifice my comfort for their well being? Am I more concerned about my pleasure in this life or the well being of another soul who needs me? Do they like me and want me in their life? What do they want? Can I live with my choice (whatever it is)? Can I cope with it(either way)? I know I am not close to perfect but does that mean I don’t deserve happiness? What is happiness for me? What do I want for my life? What do I want to represent? What do I want for my legacy? What do I want for my family? (Note: if you figure out you are in a relationship with a fool then decide whether you can tolerate them over your lifetime and think through the risks of creating a family and having offspring with them. Having children with a fool can result in the child inheriting the fool handicap; you could have many children together and they could all end up normal or all fools or any combination thereof–one or more could suffer from it–it’s not knowable. Foolish children like a foolish spouse will bring you much sorrow. Every man and woman must answer these and many other questions for themselves; moreover, you can seek professional confidential counseling and ask the wisest people you can trust–like your parents or grandparents; and, you can study God’s word; when you do, be sure to study the Proverbs book and write out all the points regarding a fool. In the end, only you can decide what’s best for you. Only you know what believe and what you want.
    Finally, before you decide, know that a fool will break your heart a thousand times over and in a million ways; you better be truly in love with them and have a deep desire to keep them in your life and care for them–you must have their best interests in mind as well yours and your kids, if any, and you better be a strong-willed person and be willing to lovingly and kindly care for your partner.
    If you choose to stay in this relationship for life, develop a family plan of sorts and renew your commitment to your partner and marriage frequently. Life is short. After this life is forever. Choose life!

    1. This is the most informative description of my life as it is Right Now…It’s like your speaking from my own experience as if you’re watching my life and revealing the truth and facts right down to the very finite details and it helps because I’ve experienced Everything you spoke of here in this paragraph it’s almost we’ve lived the same life experience with the same person. I could go on with the parallels but all I can say is I Thankyou for this because I know I’m not alone in this area of understanding and the very universe itself sent me to this article to read and open my eyes and mind to the fact of the matter and I’m grateful that you wrote this and I will keep this article as a guide forever as a point of reference

  6. My question has been the same as the above ladies — when you live with a repeat offender, always divisive, critical, negative — it is very difficult to walk in Love, and constantly forgive. How do you do that…? I have even found because of the verbal, emotional abuse, withholding of any affection, etc. — Hope leaves, as you know if you look forward to an event, outing, etc., that the divisive husband will sabotage it…Narcissistic men have no empathy, and everything is about them. No one can possibly understand it unless they daily live in the situation, and endure the emotional pain, isolation, and loss of hope that it causes. You realize he will never go to counseling as he has “no issues”, everyone pushes his buttons, etc. etc. The name calling, narcissistic yelling rages are all his attempt to intimidate and control… The positive is that we have Heaven to look forward to where there will be “no marriages in Heaven”.

    1. Hi Lana,
      I’m sure that’s very hard, and I’m very sorry. You asked what to do, and I would give you ? encouragements.
      First, remember you too are a sinner, and there are difficult things about being married to you. You want your husband to be gracious to you regarding your weaknesses, so hopefully this encourages you to be gracious toward your husband regarding his weaknesses.
      Second, it’s easier to forgive people when we think of all God has forgiven us for. Read The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18. It reminds us that the sins of others against us pale in comparison to our sins against God. Since He was willing to forgive us for so much, we should be willing to forgive others for what, in comparison, is so little.
      Third, remember the covenant you entered into on your wedding day, not just with your husband, but with God. You vowed to love your husband remain with him “through good or bad.” Sounds like this is the bad part, but it is what you signed up for. I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but I do want to be honest with you.
      Fourth, people often pray for someone else to change, and that’s important, but I would also encourage you to pray that God gives you the grace you need to endure the trials with your husband.
      Fifth, you sort of alluded to this in your final sentence, that this is not our home. The reality that this life will come to an end causes us to live for the next and makes enduring difficult trials more manageable.

    2. Jesus, forgives those who want forgiveness and repentance. Those who continue as fools will not change and destroy all those around them. With no mercy. I understand exactly how you feel. Forgiveness means no bad feeling towards that person. But if they change not walk away. Have no fear God will be your provider and give you strength.

      1. Hello Noemii,
        I think I understand what you’re saying. I agree with most of it. The only issue is it sounds like you are saying we don’t have to forgive people if they don’t change? God commands us to forgive people whether they’re sorry, repentant, or changing. Do you agree?

    3. In reply to Lana, I lived in the marriage you described for 12 years. From age 18 to 30 to an older man who was in the position of Deacon at our church. Let me tell you the answer to your question….You have to be convinced that you are in a safe place, without fear, where you have the freedom to live life in your own home free of a condemning spirit. I lived my life in a constant mental state of asking myself, “should I stay or should I go?” I stayed as long as I could bare it. It was a constant heavy burden. I got myself into this marriage, and I had to get myself out of the marriage. I realized, God is not going to give me vengence, and strike him down for me to get out of the marriage… I had to grow up in the area of my own relationship with God. I had to understand boundaries. I figured out that it’s ok to be a Christian and have boundaries. To have the capacity to say “NO”, “STOP”, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”, and then follow through with removing myself from the situation. I had a young son with this so called Christian man. ( He was a very foolish one if he indeed was a Christian at all. ) And did I want my son to learn that it’s ok to mistreat someone because they will stick by you no matter the abuse and the abuser will always be rewarded by getting what they want, because bullies always win, and women are weaklings that are a carpet to be walked on, especially in the Church because women are to keep silent, obey their husbands and call him Lord like Sarah. They are to submit. Period.? No, I couldn’t bare the thought of my son continuing to grow up in a home where Dad calls Mom whatever vulgar word he chooses and frightens her and anyone else that witnesses it. I wanted my son to learn, that when you treat people like dirt, they will leave you, so don’t mistreat people. Period. I wanted to be a strong woman of faith who could rely on her Heavenly Father to take care of her and deliver her from a life of oppression. And bring her through it and land safely on the other side. God did bring me through this! He gave me what I asked him for…Courage, Confidence, and Comfort. He calmed my fears of the unknown, when I stepped out on faith! I had no degree, no outside the home job. All I had was faith in my Jesus that he was holding my hand and leading me out of bondage to a place he was preparing for me. I went to school, found a job, lived with my Mother who helped me out financially and lived by faith that God can help me be capable of becoming an independent adult woman. I focused on music ministry at my church and low and behold, God prepared my future husband and brought him to my church, to the music ministry and now we have our own church. He is the pastor and we both minister in music and I mentor young women. I hope that I can bring hope to women who feel less than, to assure them with Gods Word that he wants to give them a hope and a future! I always wanted to have a marriage that glorified God, and now I do. We’ve been married 9 years now and have ministered together, in a healthy, loving relationship where Christ truly is the center! Amen!

      1. Susan,
        I’m sorry to hear that you got a divorce. There are two sides to every story, and we are told not to believe one side until we hear the other, but even if everything you’re saying is completely true, then your situation could warrant separation, but not divorce. First Corinthians 11 says to separate and then reconcile, but not remarried. First Corinthians 7 describes the benefit of an unbeliever being with a believer. If your husband is as bad as your describing he could have benefited from being with you.
        I would say if you separated from your husband, but didn’t divorce him, and continued to pray for him and share the gospel with them, your son also would have seen that example. It would have spoken to him about faithfulness and perseverance.

    1. Hello Aabideen,
      Here are two suggestions:

      First, husbands typically get the wives they prepare for themselves. How have you prepared your wife? Have you read the Word with her? Taken her to church? Led her well spiritually? If so, I find it hard to believe that she would be “100% fool;” therefore, I might invite you to consider the ways you’ve failed her as a husband. This will help you be humble, and that will help you be gracious toward her regarding her foolishness. As some of your failures come to mind, you might also consider going to her and asking for forgiveness.

      Second, set a good example for her that allows her to see Christ through you. Does she see you in the Word and in prayer? Does she hear wisdom from you when you speak?

  7. I rent space for my business with 2 other people. One of my colleagues (fellow tenant) is a real-life fool. When I get customers, he makes a nuisance of himself by talking loudly, making bawdy jokes and if he knows the customer, talks familiarly to them. This shows my business in a bad light. Most customers ignore him and so do I, but it leaves me really irritated.
    There is nothing I can do about it but pray for strength and even more wisdom. Oh dear, real tough undertaking. He is not a Christian.

    Still Pr. LaPierre, thanks for the Bible verses. At least my bad temper lifted and I could chuckle over them. Fools! they can wear you down, if you are not careful.

    1. Hello Michelle,
      Your post reminds me of 2 Corinthians 6:14 and the dangers of being unequally yoked. This isn’t a criticism of you as I have no familiar with how the relationship between you and this colleague developed, but that’s the verse that came to mind upon first reading.

      Yes, I can see how his behavior makes the business and – by extension – you look bad, as well as provide considerable irritation. You said you can pray for strength and wisdom. That’s true, but you can also pray for his salvation! Then you won’t be working with “a fool.” Instead you’ll be working with a brother in Christ who – hopefully – repented of those behaviors. I will pray for that end too. Feel free to keep me updated.

  8. I’m in a really tough predicament. I married someone who I didn’t realize was a true fool until it was too late, and I had a kid with her. Even though we are separated and getting divorced soon, I still have to be around her and deal with her all of the time because of my son. And I have to help her with stuff that no one else in her family or outside of her family would help her with, because if I didn’t, she’d never be able to finish college and get a full time job paying a wage adequate for her to support herself and take care of my son properly when he’s living with her half of the time. She was raised and taught by a family where almost everyone was a fool, some even to a greater degree than her. But because her parents and some peers told her she was wrong, stupid, etc. so many times growing up, she can’t and won’t admit when she IS wrong and almost never takes proper correction when it’s necessary, no matter who is trying to correct her, even if it was Einstein or the world’s top educated medical scientist. She accuses me of being un-Christlike (and yes I’ve lost my temper and tongue control over some of the things she’s done) towards her if I just tell her she’s wrong about something that everyone else also agrees with me on… and I mean COMMON wisdom and knowledge. I don’t have the option to just avoid her or leave her presence because she has my son and I’m unable to take care of him all by myself for long periods of time. Any outside help for me is extremely limited and not always dependable. I really don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi Josh,
      I’m sorry about the situation you’re in. It sounds difficult.

      You have two things binding you to your wife. First, your child. Second, and more importantly, the covenant you entered into on your wedding day. You took vows and said, “For better or worse, till death do we part.” God expects you to keep your vow. You don’t get to divorce your wife, just because you decided you don’t want to be married to her anymore. You’re describing your wife pretty terribly, but you’re the one who married her! I don’t know her, so I can’t comment on what she’s like, but she’s still your wife.

      You need to pray for two things:
      1. That God gives you the grace and endurance you need, not just to remain married to your wife, but to love her as Christ loves the church.
      2. Pray God helps your wife to grow in her weak areas, including the ones you described.

      Also, I would make two other recommendations:
      1. Think about your own weaknesses and failures. You did mention losing your temper, which is humble, but I’m sure you have other struggles too. This will help you be more gracious toward your wife.
      2. Read the Word with your wife. What sort of spiritual leader have you been to her? Let the Word of God change her. As the spiritual leader of your relationship, how have you helped her grow in these areas? Have you been a Christ-like example to her that she can learn from? Have you washed her in the Word as God commands husbands to do in Ephesians 5:25-27?

  9. Another term for fool is imprudent, not caring for the consequence of actions. Feelings appear to dominate my wife. She controls the money, yet we are now in our fifth bankruptcy. This year, she engaged with another man, yet wants me to forgive and forget. Our home is that of a hoarder, she collects everything (buying, garage sales, etc.) to the extent that our garage is wall to wall with things, plus paying for storage. Payday to payday, we have no savings. Our clothes and nutrition are inadequate. Don’t want to leave her (Catholic doctrine), but what Scripture verses can I use to manage the behavior and restore health between us and with our two young children? Bible has every answer to our questions and problems. Please help with those verses. Insuring family safety and health is a priority. Trust, I do not deal with a fool, only respond with placated answers that prevent arguments.

    1. Hi Joe,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Women are generally more emotionally driven than men. You’re making your wife sound pretty bad, and while I’m not denying what you’re saying, the Bible forbids accepting one person’s story until the other side is heard. As a result, it’s hard for me to respond. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

      With that said, if your wife struggles overseeing the finances, then why don’t you oversee them, or at least have some involvement in them? If you’re on fifth bankruptcy, it’s clear she shouldn’t handle the finances. Why have you let her up to this point?

      I am very sorry to hear about her adultery. That must be terrible. She wants you to forgive her, but the real issue is God wants you to forgive her. I’m sure that will be difficult, but that’s what Scripture commands. Read about The Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18.

      Scripture commands husbands to lead – or be the head – of the marriage and family. You need to take some leadership over these areas. Tell your wife she can no longer bring stuff into your home, until the garage and storage areas are cleaned out. If you attend a church, there should be some religious leaders you can seek out for counseling. It sounds like what you’re describing with your wife is more of an addiction than a habit.

  10. I realize this post was years ago, but I just read the post about how to deal with fools. I’m curious – as you pointed out, the Bible clearly tells us go not engage fools, in fact, to stay clear of them. Scripture also tells us that when a brother sins against us, we are to go to him and try to work out the issue, and if that doesn’t work, we get the church involved. But, when we’re married to the fool who keeps sinning against us, we’re told we simply have to submit and love him even more, examining ourselves to see what sin WE’VE committed. Why does the act of marriage take away our right to not remain in an abusive situation because the belief that God hates marriage also seems to make the church believe we shouldn’t separate either? My understanding of the decree of divorce was to protect wives from uncaring husbands – they could “put them out of the tent” if they were merely unhappy with them – THAT was the kind of divorce God hates. I would think, based on the rest of Scripture, that God hates it even more when a person (wives included) are being regularly victimized by those who are called upon to love and protect them.

    1. Hi Jan,
      I responded below your comments…

      I realize this post was years ago, but I just read the post about how to deal with fools.

      That’s okay. I still try to respond to all the comments on my blog.

      I’m curious – as you pointed out, the Bible clearly tells us go not engage fools, in fact, to stay clear of them. Scripture also tells us that when a brother sins against us, we are to go to him and try to work out the issue, and if that doesn’t work, we get the church involved.

      I’ll hold off for a moment before discussing marriage, and first say there’s a difference between dealing with fools and rebuking sin. Dealing with fools is an issue of instruction; you’re trying to provide them with knowledge and wisdom, but they won’t receive it. That’s different than rebuking sin. Rebuking sin means you’re aware of unrepentant sin in a person’s life, and you confront the person hoping to bring about repentance.

      But, when we’re married to the fool who keeps sinning against us, we’re told we simply have to submit and love him even more, examining ourselves to see what sin WE’VE committed. Why does the act of marriage take away our right to not remain in an abusive situation because the belief that God hates marriage also seems to make the church believe we shouldn’t separate either? My understanding of the decree of divorce was to protect wives from uncaring husbands – they could “put them out of the tent” if they were merely unhappy with them – THAT was the kind of divorce God hates. I would think, based on the rest of Scripture, that God hates it even more when a person (wives included) are being regularly victimized by those who are called upon to love and protect them.

      The Bible forbids divorce, but it does not forbid separation. There are situations when, for the health of wives or children, couples should separate. Separation allows time for sin to be rebuked, the Gospel to work, and for repentance to (hopefully) be produced. I copied two passages from my book, Marriage God’s Way, that I believe address your situation, and I hope provide you with some encouragement…

      Submission Does Not Mean That Wives Submit to Abuse

      What women long for is spiritual and moral leadership from their husbands—not spiritual or moral domination. While this is fairly straightforward, it is still worth making some clarifications. When we hear the word “abuse,” the next word that most likely comes to mind is “physical.” Abuse, however, can be emotional, mental, or even spiritual as well. There are wives whose husbands never lay a hand on them but mistreat them so badly they are in worse condition than even physically abused women.

      What should a woman in an abusive relationship do? She cannot divorce her husband, but she can separate from him. The apostle Paul writes: “If [a wife] does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives” (1 Corinthians 7:11, 39; Romans 7:2). If the abused woman is part of a church, elders or others should be willing to receive her (and possibly her children) while counseling is performed, repentance is sought, and the gospel is given time to work in the husband’s heart. An abused wife may also need to seek social or legal services, a battered woman’s shelter, and even the police, if the abuse warrants such.

      That said, the abuse card can be used carelessly I have heard women throw out the word “abuse” simply because their husbands do not treat them with sufficient adoration or give them everything they want. When a wife does not get to do all the things she wants to do, go all the places she wants to go, buy all the things she wants to buy, or spend all her time the way she wants to, that is not abuse.

      Additionally, having a husband who is less than perfect does not constitute abuse. God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. No husband does this perfectly. Husbands regularly sin against their wives, but this does not mean a husband is being abusive. If failing to love one’s wife perfectly constituted abuse, then every wife on earth would be in an abusive relationship.

      Submission Does Not Mean That Wives Submit to Sin

      The account in Acts 5:1–11 of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, is instructive. The background of this story is that early church members sold their possessions to share with the apostles and other needy believers. Ananias sold a possession, kept part of the money when he brought his offering to the apostles, but acted as though all of the proceeds were being given to the church. As the apostle Peter reminded him, Ananias had every right to keep part of his profits. It was Ananias’s claim, however, to have turned over all the funds that resulted in his dropping dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit.

      The correlation is that Ananias “kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it” (Acts 5:2). When Sapphira showed up, not realizing her husband had died, she had the opportunity to tell the truth. Instead, she reiterated her husband’s lie, and Peter said, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out” (Acts 5:9).

      God’s judgment on Sapphira for supporting her husband’s sin shows she was as accountable as he was. If she had refused to participate in the deception, Peter’s response indicates her life would have been spared. This event is a perfect example of a time when a wife should not have submitted to her husband.

      Let me add a caveat that the principle in question applies to being asked to engage in blatant sin. A wife should say no to a husband who demands that she participate in drug dealing, theft, adultery, or even lesser offenses, such as cheating on income tax or lying to an employer. This is quite different from a husband opposing his wife’s involvement in positive spiritual activities. A husband may resist his wife’s taking time from home and family to join a Bible study fellowship, attend church several times a week, volunteer for a Christian outreach, or participate in a church sports league. He is not asking her to commit a sin but simply to respect his priorities. What is a wife supposed to do, especially when the activities can contribute to her spiritual growth?

      A wife can respectfully let her husband know her desires and ask if he would allow this for the benefit of their marriage, children, or family. If he is still resistant, then she should submit and pray that God will change his heart. Assuming God wants the family involved in the particular activity, that is something He can easily do. Even if she does not like her husband’s decision, she should be encouraged that God will reward her submission and—assuming the husband is disobeying God by declining—hold the husband responsible for his poor spiritual leadership.

    2. I myself am a fool. I can hardly read proverbs with any joy because almost every verse about the fool (excepting the fool saith in his heart there is no God) describes me. I see all these accurate descriptions of a fool, but scarcely any verses about how one who finds after 39 years that he is in fact a fool, can become wise. Is there hope for a fool?

      1. Hello DW,
        Since Scripture acknowledges some as fools, we must acknowledge that there are fools; however, all of us are fools to some extent. Foals are those who don’t apply the wisdom God has given them, and who can say they do everything they know they should do?

        In at least two places that I could find it says that there is hope for a fool:

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

        Proverbs 29:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

        Fools can become wise by applying the knowledge they have received.

  11. Thank you so much as I am married to a”fool” who left me after about 45 days to go back to her church in another town and former life,when she realized that a fundamental Christian believes the Bible to be literally true as Dr. Stanley preaches!She is Pentecostal and Father God has his reason for blinding our eyes and bringing us together! She is a wonderful Christian woman and your post gives me insight into how to use your advice from Scripture and The guidance from The Holy Spirit! Thank you so much after 6 months of frustration you have given me insight on how to handle this situation and may Father God bless you and your team!!! Hallelujah

    1. Hi David,
      I’m glad the post encouraged you, but I am sorry to hear about your wife.

      I will pray for your restored relationship and that you can be equally yoked regarding the church you attend.



  13. Thank you. I needed this. I work in an office of devout liberals that are anti-christian, pro-evolution, pro-global warming, rabid vegetarians, relentlessly pro-gay and pro abortion the whole nine. All they do is babble endlessly about how much they know and how stupid people like myself are.

    1. Hello Charlie,
      I’m glad the post encouraged you. That does sound very, very difficult.

      Do you have even one Christian – or conservative – friend there if you don’t mind me asking? I’ve found in situations like that if people can find even one like-minded person it can be a tremendous help.

      I’ll pray for your encouragement!

  14. Hello, thank you for this post. I really need help. I’m not being ugly, I am simply seeking true advice so that I may continue my walk with God. To come straight to the point, my husband fits every description of a …….uh,…..fool. Now don’t come at me…..this man has utterly destroyed me and everything about me. I have sought counsel, followed Gods Word to the letter, sacrificed everything…..and nothing works. He values only himself, he does not listen to wise counsel nor accepts advice. He has jeopardized our whole life for his selfish pursuits. He has a very charming personality so it’s very difficult for anyone to hold him accountable for his actions…..people want to rescue him…..listen, I just want to know how to go forward. I have seven kids, five are now grown. , I have two left at home. My dad helped me financially with the older kids, now he is gone. I have two left. I’m no longer at a stage in life where I can work and even if I could my husband would simply take advantage of it and destroy what I managed to salvage from the destruction he caused earlier plus he would dump all financial responsibility on me which I could in no way manage. He owns his own business, he’s a hard worker but he works for his own pursuits and brags about his abilities. He lives for praise and yes I have praised him, encouraged him, kept a quiet spirit. But he doesn’t value that….he expects it and takes advantage of it. This man tore down anything I ever built for him and our family. Listen, I could go on and on….the point is, how do I get through each day. It’s scarey, it’s lonely, it’s humiliating and it’s frustrating. I constantly go before God asking Him to reveal any unconfessed sin as I NEED God to help me….but God is quiet and my heart isn’t convicting me. How do I get this mans attention? He says he’s a Christian, he goes to church, he reads his bible but his actions are not Christian, he has no fruit, he is not a team player. He lives for himself, but he wants his family around him…..without the responsibility. God told me when I first met this man that he was my husband. God tells me now to love him. How do you love someone who destroys you…who persecuted you, who shattered your heart a broke every dream? How do you love someone like that? And how do you not worry and become anxious? How do you trust God in a situation like this? How do you let go and stand on Gods Word? How do you do that? How do I keep from being bitter? How do I let go of the pain when it faces me every day? Don’t tell me to leave….for out of exhaustive measures that’s what Godly counsel advised me to do….and I’m the one that lost EVERYTHING! I mean every single thing….even my relationship with God which I valued highly….so much so that I named my kids after biblical characters and stenciled scripture on my walls…..tastefully…..and I lost the trust and relationship with my children which I adored, fought for, sacrificed for….I lost EVERYTHING. So where do I go from here? How does God want me to respond to this guy….this guy that God loves and understands…..what do I do? Thanx….blessings!

    1. By the way, I should mention to you that not long after we were married, it was God that told my husband that He would take his heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh…..that was 30 years ago.

    2. Hello Tina,
      First, I think I’d encourage you to recognize that you probably haven’t done exactly what you’ve said: “followed God’s Word to the letter and sacrificed everything.” So far, there’s only been one Person in history who’s done that. We generally have higher esteems of ourselves than we should. So while I don’t doubt that your husband is a difficult man, hopefully thinking of your own weaknesses will give you more grace for him.

      Also, you said he “has utterly destroyed me.” While I believe he’s hurt you and you’ve experienced loss, I’m sure there are still many things in your life to be thankful for, and I’d encourage you to think on those things.

      I think it’s great you’re continually going to God in prayer, not just for strength, but also to be shown your sins and areas requiring your repentance. I’m sure you’re also praying for the grace to endure what God allows in your life.

      There are a number of variables I’m unfamiliar with. You said he’s a Christian and he goes to church. What’s your relationship like with your pastor? Does your husband have any godly men in his life? While I can attempt to respond to your post here, your situation clearly requires more counseling. Have you been to one of the elders in your church?

      When you say, “God tells me to love him” what do you mean exactly? Do you mean you hear a voice or you believe that’s what God says to you through His Word? Although husbands are commanded to love their wives, the command given repeatedly in Scripture to wives is to respect their husbands and submit to them. While I’m sure it’s difficult, do you feel like you’re attempting to obey God in that area?

      How do you not worry and become anxious? While I’m sure it’s tough, that has to come – not from your husband – but your relationship with the Lord, trusting He is sovereign and He will protect you like He protected Sarah when Abraham made foolish decisions.

      You said, “How do you trust God in a situation like this?” I’d say you have even more reason TO trust God. Who else can you trust?

      No, I wouldn’t tell you to leave, and you shouldn’t. You committed to this man for life.

      Again, I would say I believe what you need goes beyond the communication here. Please reach out to an elder in your church. I will pray for your and your husband!

      1. Thank you so much! Yes, I have been to church elders, his friends, people who have international
        ministries….and know us….they have done all they can….or feel they can. My husband will hear them but will not put into action what he is advised. One thing my husband tells everyone is that I taught all our children to respect him. Yes, I give him respect which is difficult when he is so changeable, not solid, difficult to follow. Here’s an example, when we went for counseling, the counselor gave him $20. to take me out. He refused until 9:00 p.m. the night before we were to meet with them. I couldn’t go due to lack of babysitter and pure exhaustion. He told me literally 10 minutes before he wanted to take me. One minute he’s this way, the next that…..fruit? There are none. And I’m not kidding. One counselor told me people would know us by our fruit….what I have done, what he has done….I cannot see any…and I do so much want to …I do not want to see him suffer a horrible eternity. He owns his own business, to which he owes tremendous taxes…debts….I begged our church to not encourage him to have his own business….but he’s a man…they did….and we suffered greatly. I’m wanting to be a help mate….but I just don’t know how….sir, I have gone to the church as well as his friends for help and advice…..when the kids were young and needed some type of care…..he would at that time see to his own needs….and I would be reprimanded by dentists and doctors….his one friend finally convinced him to allow me to take his son to the dentist for a cavity. I’m not on the checking account and all businesses I built he tore down….listen, I’m not making this up…..I finally hit a brick wall from pure exhaustion and my mind broke. I’m now getting back on my feet and my husband has even said he sees the progress I’ve made which is a miracle that he admits it. I’m not here today to belabor this….I want to know how to honor God as well as my husband in this situation. Yes, I’m aware that I’m a sinner and imperfect. I constantly seek God as I want victory in both our lives. I want God to win…not Satan….and not my own comfort. I want both of us to be a testimony to a lost and dying world…..for I’m simply a grain of sand on the beach so to speak but I want to be Gods grain of sand…..Thank you

        1. Well Tina, based on what you said I think what you should probably be praying for is his salvation. Everything you’re saying makes it sound like he’s not saved, and until he’s saved I wouldn’t expect any changes.

          I appreciate your desire to honor God, and it seems like you’re very sincere. Based on all you’re saying, I think you need to pray that God will open your husband’s heart to the Gospel. Until he’s converted, he’ll remain the same, as is the case with all of us when we’re unsaved.

        2. Thank you very much for the prayers Tina, I truly appreciate it!

          I will pray again for his salvation assuming he’s not saved, and if he is saved that there will be repentance and fruit!

        3. I was in a marriage to a a man like this for too long. You need to pray for and gather some inner strength, start working again and develop a plan of action (quietly) to be able to separate from him and stand on your own two feet. Read the book “Foolproofing Your Life.” It is written by a very well respected Christian author. It is excellent and has been so helpful to me. Stop expecting people in the church to understand. Unless they’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship they have no clue. And fools can be convincingly charming (when you don’t live with them, of course.) Get strong and get out! God hates divorce…and the man who covers his garment in wrong…which is the other half of Malachi 2:16. Get free and get some well needed peace. Best decision I ever made!

        4. Hi Debbie,
          If I’m understanding your message, you divorced your husband? If that’s the case, I’m very sorry to hear that. When we get married, we’re making a commitment not just to our spouse, but also to God. We’re entering a covenant with another human being, but more importantly we’re entering a covenant with the Lord Himself. While I can understand circumstances that warrant separation, it’s never God’s will for people to divorce.

          I have not heard of that book or author, but after doing a little research, here’s part of what I read:

          Gain the tools you need to get along with others and conduct your relationships in a manner that honors God–and preserves your sanity!–in Foolproofing Your Life: Wisdom for Untangling Your Most Difficult Relationships.

          I’m glad the book was helpful, but are you saying it encouraged you to divorce your husband?

    3. For anyone to comment about staying in a marriage because it is a sin to leave, is cruel for the injured spouse. I’ve lived 25+ years in emotional abuse. The push-pull, stonewalling, half truths etc. eventually erode your personality, causing depression, anxiety and ptsd. This is the definition of living in ABUSE!! I don’t even know who I am anymore. I don’t even know how to make decisions. I don’t even know what I like or dislike. It is an evil form of brainwashing!! The abuser is what is considered a fool in Proverbs.

      1. Hi Rhonda,
        I think it depends what you mean by, “staying in a marriage.” People can “stay in the marriage” without divorcing and without enduring abuse, by separating. Churches should have elders that can provide a safe place for an abused women (and any children involved). This is a far better solution than divorce, and it allows the elders to become involved, provide counsel, threaten church discipline, etc.

        I am very sorry about the situation you’re in. Are you part of a church that teaches and follows the Bible?

    4. Sounds like your husband is a narcissist. My husband was also, but he was not a Christian. He was a Catholic and unsaved. I am a believer…saved. I belong to the Lord! We separated when our youngest child was 2 years old. My ex-husband remarried a Catholic woman. I never remarried. I see now how our eldest child, only son, is a lot like his father. Very abusive, mean, selfish and a narcissist, like his father. Sad, but true.

      As for you, go find the self-help psychology program by a Christian psychologist named Dr. Larry Nims. It is called Be Set Free Fast. It helped me a lot. I have used it for years. It helps you neutralize your angry feelings and move on in life. BSFF go look for it. You can learn it and do the healing sessions on yourself or others. BSFF has changed my life! The Lord led me to it.

      1. Hello Arla,
        I’m sorry to hear that you and your husband divorced. I’m not familiar with Dr. Larry Nims or his program. Can you tell me if he encourages people to divorce under certain circumstances? To be clear, the Bible supports separation in certain situations, but not divorce. That’s why I’m asking. Also, much self-help material and psychology contradicts the Bible, which is another question I would have about him and his program.

  15. Scott you have a very entertaining way of having approached the subject of dealing with a fool. My husband and I got quite a kick out of, “Despite the strong urge, DON’T!!” Hahaha…. Thank you for your insight in such a humorous way!

  16. I love the clarity of this series! Would you then advise that a way to pray for a loved one demonstrating foolish behavior would be that they become teachable? Any other advice?

    1. Hi Dawn,
      Yes, it would seem Scripturally that since you shouldn’t talk to the person you’re really relegated to only praying. If the Lord opens the door for the person so approach you, ask you questions, then it would be good to engage.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please let me know. I do my best to respond to each comment.

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