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Go, and Sneer No More

October 11, 2012

Over the last 40-plus years, we have watched couples fall in—and out—of love. In many cases, the ones we were certain would make it did not, and those we thought would surely end in divorce thrived in love. So what’s the secret? There are many dynamics in marriage that make it fail or flourish, but over the years there is one underlying element that has proven to be the deal maker or breaker. I don’t know if it is the cause or the symptom, but it is a certain marker…sitting in the seat of the scornful.

A family full of scorn is a family headed for ruin, for scorn is the soul in decay. It is finding fault and deriding the failures of others while believing oneself to be somewhat better.

The family piles into the family van to head home from church, and within seconds Mom speaks. “God help us, Mrs. Don’s makeup is so brazen it’s embarrassing.” The children register their mom’s remark while their minds take them back two minutes to when Mom stood by the van laughing and talking with Mrs. Don as if they were best friends. Mrs. Don has often entertained the children and done other nice things for their family, but…

Dad interrupts, “That d@# preacher needs to learn to tell time. The deacons have warned him several times, but he doesn’t know when to shut up.” The kids see their mother’s instant disapproval for Daddy using the “d” word. They know that Mama reeeeally likes the preacher because she calls him every time Daddy does something bad. Something uglier than damn has taken hold of the children—it is called disrespect. And the disrespect in the children’s souls is not confined to the preacher or Mrs. Don; it is becoming a part of their worldview, and it will be directed toward the parents soon enough. Mom thinks her glance of condemnation will clear the air, but instead it further tears down the family. The next time she seeks the preacher’s advice, the children will sneer.

Teenage sister is giggling with brother, “Did you see those geeky shoes Sara had on? Man, I would die before I would walk around looking like that. She is such a dork.” Sara is sister’s best friend, or at least she used to be.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1). Note the digression from walking to standing to sitting. The practice of scorning quickly becomes a permanent post.

As a general rule, the disease of scorning is most prominent in Christians who deem themselves most separate in doctrine and righteousness. Just as none are so obnoxious about diet as the health-food nuts, none are so obnoxious about lifestyle as fundamentalist Bible-believers and elitist homeschoolers who deem themselves above common practitioners. This is bad because being scornful has a huge negative impact throughout life. All that church-going homeschooling parents try to pour into their children will be cancelled out with this one bad habit of scorning.

Children who grow up in a family where scorning is common will be molded into a worldview that will shape their choice of spouse, the way they relate in marriage, and the way they raise their children. A young girl who grows up hearing scorning will become a scorning wife. The first time her husband is a jerk—and he will be—she will resort to the lower instincts she has learned and scorn instead of pray and forgive. Her new husband will experience scorn instead of biblically mandated reverence. The equation reads like this: Her scorn = his lack of love. When they come for counsel, she will demand that he love her as Christ loved the church, and he will sheepishly tell us it is hard to love her, and we will know why. How can a man truly love a woman who treats him with disdain and disapproval? The recipe for a good marriage doesn’t include a pinch of scorn.

But the husband may have come from a scorning family, so he will have scorned her family before they were married, which makes her feel justified in her contempt toward her husband. This equation reads like this: disrespect breeds disrespect, or scorn brings on deeper scorn. And like Thanksgiving turkey, it becomes a family tradition.

One reason scorn, and thus divorce, has skyrocketed is the diminishing of community. People once lived and died around the same group of friends and family. People had to learn to treat their lifetime neighbors with some degree of respect. When you knew a girl might grow up and bear your grandkids, you learned to hold your ridicule if she appeared to be a little dumb. If you thought a boy could grow up and marry your daughter, you didn’t want him labeled too poorly. In that era, self-preservation depended upon the advancement of everyone within the circle. Everybody in the community was important to the community as a whole, and faults were better tolerated for the well-being of all.

As a child, I knew of a family that had six daughters. The only thing I can remember about this highly intelligent, correctly religious, successful pastor’s family was the constant run of ridicule that prevailed in his household, usually directed toward a church member for being stupid, ugly, or messy. The pretty girls all married, divorced, remarried, and divorced again. Pastor Dad finally got involved in an affair, bringing his marriage to an end as well. Blessed is the family…that sitteth not in the seat of the scornful.

Many of you reading this were raised around a table of scorn. You will most likely marry spouses from families that nit-picked their church members as they drove away from church each week. Or perhaps it was the previous church that they carefully dismembered. The infectious disease of mockery takes its toll. Usually the ridicule will not be harsh and is not meant to be cruel; it takes the form of offhanded remarks said in order to disparage the other. Perhaps the most damaging type of denigration for a child is when he thinks that his parents truly like and respect someone, and then as soon as they get in the car he hears the parents’ disdain for that person.

Raining down dishonor on the teacher or preacher who is teaching the child the Bible will cause the child to lose his reverence for God and will surely lead to the child’s rejection of God. It doesn’t matter if the preacher deserves the reviling; is the venting worth the damage done in the heart of your child who heard you give your “spiritual” opinion? This two-faced diet breeds more of the same. Critical spirits don’t have just one home; they migrate and multiply like seed ticks. Wife against husband, husband against wife, and then children against parents; and when sin is conceived, it will keep your teenager from ever developing a healthy fear of God. Without fear of God there will be no wisdom. Fools—that’s what you will be raising. “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:22). So in the end, you might save your marriage if you happen to have married someone who doesn’t equal you in sneering, but unless someone else intervenes, your children will bear your sin and pass it on to your grandchildren.

The moral of the story: Go, and sneer no more. ~ Debi


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25 comments on “Go, and Sneer No More”

  1. Wow. This has really cut me to the heart. I am a relatively new believer (7 years) and God is slowly and gently revealing to me my character flaws. Without a doubt, my mother is a scorner. My parents divorced 3 mo. before their 30 year anniversary. My Dad said he couldn't stand her negative, poor me attitude. His nickname for her was 'neggie' short for negative. I honestly thought that everyone talks about friends, family members in a negative way behind their back.
    Well, I am glad I read this article and with God's help (and my husbands!) we will be able to stop yet another generational sin in it's tracks.
    I shudder to think of all of the times my little ones have heard me talk about people they love in the church.
    Thank you for this article.

  2. Loved it. I grew up in one of these families. Yes, my husband and I both struggled with scorn a lot in our early days of marriage. We have since repented and have learned to tackle other issues of our behaviour. "Blessed are those who do not sit in the seat of the scornfull" (Psalms 1 I believe)?. I was reflecting on Mathew 7 this week and also enjoying what Gods word says on this subject. Both chapters shed some interesting light on the matter in addition to your article. OUR FAMILY LOVES YOUR MAGAZINE! Keep the good word flowing. Blessins to you all involved in its publications.

  3. I'm not sure how this artical is at all helpful towards scorners and or scorning. I refer to the following paragraph, "As a child, I knew of a family that had six daughters. The only thing I can remember about this highly intelligent, correctly religious, successful pastor’s family was the constant run of ridicule that prevailed in his household, usually directed toward a church member for being stupid, ugly, or messy. The pretty girls all married, divorced, remarried, and divorced again. Pastor Dad finally got involved in an affair, bringing his marriage to an end as well. Blessed is the family…that sitteth not in the seat of the scornful." The entire paragraph is full of judgement and scorn. I encourage everyone to really read these words. I'm curious, did the less attractive children in the family and less intelligent live happier lives and Pastor Dad FINALLY got involved in an affair. What - could you see it coming? Are you kidding me?

    Also - My children will not bear my sin. Can they be impacted from it? ABSOLUTELY! Read Ezekial 18, the entire chapter. Vs. 20 sums it up, "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

    None of us should be scorners, but it almost sounds like you (Mrs. Pearl) were sitting and waiting for all these bad things to happend to the successful pastor's family. Poor illustration.

    People - don't follow the teachings of this couple. Take a moment and do some research before you listen to what they say. These people take the scripture to an entirely new level and use very little of it in their teachings. They take one piece of scripture and take it out of context. Be smarter than this. Follow the bible. Read the scripture and when you have questions about God's word, go to a responsible member in your church community and start a discussion. I was led to this artical from a post on facebook...i guess there is my first problem. I was reluctant to read, but happy I did so. It once again confirms so many things.

  4. I have been deeply convicted by reading this article. I know I have long had a critical spirit and this fact contributed to my husband leaving me with four kids after 14 years of marriage. This is definitely something I am working on now because I don't want my children to inherit this trait from their mother. We can build up our families, communities, churches and marriages with encouraging words, or we can tear them down. If you were doing this unknowingly, consider this message as God's grace & His mercies are new every morning! There is no condemnation in Christ and there is always a choice to do the right thing.

  5. I have always considered myself a positive person, however I am finding myself to be more negative, critical, and scornful lately. I confess it stems from fear. I'm afraid my children aren't learning all they should, I'm afraid to trust God to provide as my husband takes a leap of faith to follow his Passion for work, and I am afraid our children will rebel and be lost to the world. I know I shouldn't fear, but when I analyze my behavior, I know where it is coming from. The yoke isn't feeling so easy or light these days.

    I receive your publication with joy and thank you for boldly sharing the truth. I am always challenged and encouraged. I am praying for God's mercy. I want to grow in love and grace.

  6. This is great! I really enjoyed reading this article. I felt incredibly convicted and it has truly been resounding in my head throughout the day. Thank you for taking the time to pen such a great challenge, and for articulating it so beautifully! May I truly SNEER no more!

  7. Thank you so much... well done. Using it for our newly wed couples small group tonight. Thank you for your magazine... it's a blessing for my husband and I to read as well as our children. May the Lord continue to be glorified in the families you help.

  8. This is one of the best pieces of advice/admonition I have heard (seen) in a long time. Oh, how I regret each cutting remark I have made to or about those in my circle of family, friends, acquaintances, and in the political realm. I go to repent, and thank the Lord for the truth that has shone on me today. May I be able to undo some of the damage I have already done to my unsuspecting children.

  9. Above - Sue comments, "None of us should be scorners, but it almost sounds like you (Mrs. Pearl) were sitting and waiting for all these bad things to happened to the successful pastor’s family. Poor illustration."

    Perhaps Sue missed the beginning of the paragraph she quoted, "“AS A CHILD (caps mine), I knew of a family... . It seems a bit odd that Sue is holding Mrs. Pearl (the adult) accountable for thinks she saw as a child. Sue later goes on to comment that Mrs. Pearl's childhood recount of scornful people was a "poor illustration" of scorn. How else would one give an example of scorn without actually doing so?

    The Pearl's are human and not infallible. But in this case the criticism misses the intent of the article. Sadly, for me to even comment on my observation leaves me to potentially be viewed as scornful. I'll take that chance for the articles intent.

  10. Wow, this is so convicting! What a wonderful, gentle reminder for me as a soon-to-be-bride! Yes, I said gentle...God is gracious to use the pearls to teach me now instead of allowing me to learn the hard way in the future!!

    Praise God for His servants the Pearls 🙂

  11. My sister and brother-in-law (my children's aunt and uncle) are unbelievably petty, spiteful, critical and immature towards my children. The only way my children can be around their grandparents is to, also, be around this aunt and uncle. I am having the hardest time explaining my sister and brother-in-laws actions, to my children, without being critical of my sister and brother-in-law. I know they love my children, and try to emphasize this to my children, but this situation is my biggest challenge (HUGE) when it comes to controlling criticism.

  12. Very good wisdom Deb as always and a solemn warning from Gods word. I'm still breathing so God will be honored in this matter as in all others. God is good and he is for our good.

  13. I'm sorry, but the sins of the parents are not passed on to their children. This is an unbiblical teaching that I have seen often in the articles on this site. Each individual has a choice. A child can choose to commit the same sin as their parent or grandparent, but he is not doomed to commit that sin. Specific sins are not passed down to children and grandchildren like eye or hair color. Everyone has a sin nature, but as Christians, we have a way of escape through Christ. I am not doomed to be a scorner just because my mother or father was one. If I choose to act a certain way, it was my choice, not the result of an action by one of my parents. I do not "bear" their sins. I have a free will given to me by God, and God in no way hold me accountable for my parent's sins, nor does He hold my children accountable for mine. In the Old Testament, Cora led a rebellion against God, and the earth opened up and swallowed him and his followers. However, a study of Psalms and Hebrew history will tell you that his sons were later worship leaders in the temple. Apparently Cora's sons weren't "bearing" his sins. This is a picture of God's grace and how that he does not judge children for the sins of their parents. I know this is an old feed, but I hope someone will read this and understand that this is false teaching. Read the Bible, it was written by God just for you, and it will get better results than these people's teaching any day of the week.

    1. Your heretical belief in a "sin nature" is confusing your understanding of both the Bible and this article. The article never states that children are "doomed" to commit the same sins as the parents. It is however presenting the principle that more is caught than taught and that the training of youth can be very difficult to overcome. Every person is responsible for their own actions, but early training can make it more difficult to make the right decisions. Also, there is no mention of children being judged or accountable for or bearing the sins of the parents (you are bearing false witness).

  14. One of the responses to the article on " Go and Sneer No More" was informative and chock full of truth. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. We know this scripture quite well. But if a parent or grandparent continues in their sin ( gluttony, pride, scorn, criticism) their sinful patterns are passed down. At times this is behavioral. In Exodus 20 as we read through the ten commandments; You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jeoulus God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation. Does this not hold true to this day?
    My brothers and sisters were not in the Masons or Eastern Star, but we were affected by the sin of our forefathers who were following the practices of Baal and Asthoreth and syncretistic beliefs; for the sin of idolatry applies here. The adult children identified the source of much anger and hatred, malice, discontent, scorn and criticism, and sexual idolatry connected to this syncretistic belief.
    I disagree with " amanda's" comments. Our sins are forgiven and grace is applied, we need not look any further than the cross; " if we confess our sins ( generational idolatry or sinful patterns) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness
    ( I John 1:9)

  15. This article hit my heart. I've been learning more about my character and the Godly character the Lord is producing in me. Sanctification, growing in the Lord, becoming more like Him. Sometimes (most of the time) it seems that I take 3 steps forward only to find out (darn it, I did it again) I've taken 2 steps back. While I don't believe Sin is inherited by the reference of one on this comment feed. I do see the sin behavior of my Grandparents, mother and father which have taught to me with their critical, slanderous actions and behavior(s) toward others and the bitterness that ensues and tears apart relationships. I see how this is repeated generationally through the rearing of children and how children soak up what they see and hear as examples in the home, daily, those ears are always listening, their eyes are always observing...the bondage that I do bc I was raised and stepped in it and I blindly react. God is showing me this bondage. For months I've seen patterns of sin. Call it slander, hypocrisy, sarcasm, gossip, bitterness...etc. and respond with a repentant heart. He is faithful and just to forgive me AND cleanse me! His promises are true and I hold fast to them. Thank you for this article. God bless!

  16. I would love to share this article on Facebook, as I have seen the same thing happen in several marriages around me! People I thought were too godly to succumb to divorce. Is there a way to share it?

  17. Good article, very convicting. I do hate scorning but I know that I do it as well. I don't want to pass this on to my children. I want to "speak the truth in love" for those things that need to be said and just don't say what doesn't need to be said. Easier said then done!