Taunting your Abuser?

Is it ever right to taunt your abuser? Is it Godly?

[WARNING: This is a thought experiment…not a recommendation!]

My wife is working on some presentations she’ll be making on the book of Habakkuk and so we have been looking at the book and talking about some of the difficulties in the text (She’s far more insightful on these things than I am!). The 2nd chapter contains a taunt against the oppressor/abuser Babylon. God is having a conversation with Habakkuk and the short version goes like this:

Habakkuk: Why are you allowing all this sin among your people? Do something!

God: I will. I’m sending Babylon and they will carry Judah off.

Habakkuk: Um…God…Babylon? Really? You do know they are like the most heathen people? You’re going to use the worst group of people in the world to judge us? You know we’re not THAT bad?

God: Yup. I’m going to do something that blows you away. I’m up to something you can’t even imagine. I know that Babylon is proud. And here are the taunts you and everyone else is going to throw at them when I judge them.

At this point God appears to give them words to use when the time comes. Consider 2:15-16

Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed. The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.

It would appear that God has no problem taunting humans in their rebellion and depravity. When God taunts, he is speaking truth. When we speak truth, along with God, about unrighteousness then maybe such a taunt is a possibility:

You’ve abused me but just you wait. God is in heaven above. He sees and he will judge. You will face the consequences of what you have done, either in this life or at the last day. There will be justice!

Just an Old Testament thing?

Are taunts only in the OT? Does Jesus do away with them when he tells us to love our enemies? Apparently loving one’s enemies does not mean not speaking a taunt. Notice that Luke records Jesus making ten different “woe to you” taunts against religious leaders and other unbelieving/arrogant people. Can Jesus be failing the second greatest commandment?

Clearly the taunts in the OT or Jesus’ curses of unbelieving religious leaders are not normative. We are not called to do this. But…maybe their existence does a couple of things for us.

  • Give Godly words for the private and possibly public comments made by victims of abuse (note: these words do not approve of revenge, bitterness, or other ungodly motivations. But desire for justice is a good and Godly desire and should be expressed!)
  • Allow others to validate victims’ experience of injustice without pressing for a quick Romans 8:28 response

A word of caution

Habakkuk 2 ends with a postscript to the 5 taunt songs against Babylon.

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him

Judah was guilty of injustice (1:3). They did not have clean hands. They were not innocent. God did give them words of taunt to use against Babylon. Yet, before God they needed to be silent and humble. The cup of wrath that Babylon would drink is passed over God’s people–not because of their innocence but because of God’s providential love. Christ drinks to the dregs that cup of wrath in our stead. He gives us a better cup to drink.  It is far too easy to consider ourselves innocent and our enemies guilty. We ought to stand in silence and awe because we have not been treated as we rightly deserve.


Filed under Abuse, biblical counseling, Biblical Reflection, christian counseling, Christianity, trauma, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Taunting your Abuser?

  1. I had the same thoughts when I read in Malachi (SP?) that God would put dung on the faces of the preists for not doing what they were suppose to do. I kind of sort of laughed when I read that. I think it was chapter 2.

  2. You have Is. 25-26, and Revelation 19 that could be taken that way.

    But (and this is a big but) this is at the end, when all is said and done, and judgment is happening. To do so now would not to do so in light of the judgment (since they may repent), so the end of Romans 12 would be more appropriate.

    Just quick thoughts.

    • Good point. Habakkuk can taunt because God has given him the end. I think I would want to alter the image of taunt to mean taunting evil done and what will be done to evil and those who participate in it without repenting.

  3. Scott Knapp

    I will occasionally use sarcasm or a “taunt” in the process of group therapy, but never lightly, and only when I’ve developed a safe and secure enough rapport with the targeted individual that I’m sufficiently confident that the comment will be taken in the right spirit. God used sarcasm (always wisely) to illustrate irrational and sinful thinking/behavior, and sometimes it’s an effective illustrator within the safe confines of a developed group of people, and it works marvelously (which is not to say that I’ve never miscalculated and owed an apology a time or two).

  4. TMMK

    How interesting. This very day I spoke with someone whose daughter has treated him and his wife very disrespectfully. The daughter actually demanded that they submit to her authority as a physician. There is no doubt in my mind that they have been treated unfairly by this young woman. The man was very angry and ready to “let her have it” with his indignation. My question was “Is this righteous indignation that the Lord is leading you to speak back to her accusations, or is your flesh trying to take control?” Funny thing, only this gentleman can really answer this question. Remember Jesus cleansing the temple, and now remember this passage from Habakkuk.

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