Solutions to Foolishness in Marriage, Pt. 1 – Selected Proverbs

Download MP3

(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)

(If you would like to download the PowerPoint presentation for this sermon, Click here)

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

May 20, 2012

Solutions to Foolishness in Marriage, Pt. 1

Selected Proverbs


Proverbs 24:3-4 states, “By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; 4 And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.” This Proverb can be taken in two ways. First, there is the obvious house as a physical structure. Those of you who have built anything know it takes wisdom and understanding to construct a strong building. It also takes knowledge to be able to gain enough increase to fill it with nice things. Second, there is the metaphorical idea of this being a home in the sense of the family that would live in the physical house. The immediate context of the passage suggests this is the meaning of the Proverb. The precious and pleasant riches would then be the love, joy and peace that fill the home rather than the material things within the house. It takes wisdom to build such a home and knowledge to develop such precious and pleasant character traits within it.

I believe that all of us here desire to be among those who are the wise that will build and establish strong homes in which our families will flourish. That is the purpose of this sermon series. The tragedy is that so many give into foolishness and their homes are instead filled with contention and strife or even destroyed. The issue is not a matter of intelligence. People with very low mental abilities can have and develop wonderful families so that it is a joy to be in their homes though the physical structure and surroundings are simple. On the other end of the scale are those who are extremely intelligent and have gained in the things of this world, but their beautiful house with all its expensive furnishings is filled selfish people that constantly bicker with one another. It is a home you avoid. The issue is godliness, not intelligence. Proverbs 12:7 states, “The wicked are overthrown and are no more, But the house of the righteous will stand.” Proverb 14:11 adds, “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, But the tent of the upright will flourish.” The homes of the godly flourish while those of the unrighteous are destroyed.

We have already seen in our study of the book of Proverbs that wisdom and righteousness generally go together in the same way as do foolishness and wickedness. There are moral components to the ability to perceive and make beneficial decisions. However, we have also seen that even the righteous can act foolish at times, so they must also be humble and willing to learn if they will continue to walk the path of wisdom. The greater tragedy when it comes to our homes is the destruction caused by those who think of themselves as righteous and wise, but their pride blocks their ability to see their foolishness and the destruction it is causing. As Proverbs 30:12 warns about the more extreme case, “There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness.” More dangerous to a Christian is becoming proud and wise in your own eyes so that you do not listen to counsel (Proverbs 12:15). We need to be those who fear the Lord and turn away from evil lest we act like fools (Proverbs 3:7).

If you are to establish a strong home, you need to listen to wisdom’s call, walk in the way of righteousness and heed the warnings about folly. Wisdom shouts to scoffers, calls to fools and invites the naive to turn to her and find hope for the present and eternity(See: Wisdom’s Call). The way of righteousness is to be blameless and innocent by doing what is right before God. It is being fair, lawful and just. Proverbs is filled with practical descriptions of righteousness and explanations about how to walk in it(See: The Way of Righteousness). You must also heed Proverbs warnings about all aspects of folly or you can descend from being just naive and dull into being foolish and then with increasing obstinacy, into being a morally decadent scoffer. Living in folly will destroy you and your home. (See: Warnings on Foolishness & Folly)

In order to have a strong home, you must also pay attention to what Proverbs says about friendship. We spent several weeks on that subject. The principles that apply in friendship also apply in the home. A husband and wife should be true best friends. And while you also want to be a true friend that is a godly influence on others outside the home, you must also be very careful about whom you allow to be a friend that will influence you. If they are characterized by any of the traits of the ungodly such as being sinful, wicked, evil, immoral, hot tempered or gossips, you want to avoid considering them to be to you at any level above a casual friend lest they influence you (See: Proverbs on Friendship, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3 Part 4).

The foundation of the home is the marriage. When a man and woman are married, they form a family. Let me emphasize that, when a man and a woman marry, they form a family. That is God’s definition of marriage regardless of what laws the immoral people in the government of New York State enact or the utterly foolish statements of President Obama. Most of you are aware that on May 9th he stated, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.” That is bad enough, but it was only in keeping with his actual policies and practice since being in office. What you may not be aware of is that he went on to say of himself and his wife, “we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.”

He is correct. His position does put them at odds with Christians, but more importantly, it puts them in direct conflict with what God has clearly stated in the holy Scriptures. The man claims to be a Christian, but he refuses to follow the teachings of Christ. In Matthew 19, Jesus quotes from Genesis 2:24 to teach that God established marriage as a man leaving his mother and father, cleaving to his wife and the two becoming one flesh. There is no room there for a marriage between anything other than a man and a woman. Mr Obama’s invoking the “Golden Rule” is horrendous. Does he really think Jesus wants us to approve what God says is an abomination before Him and give it government sanction? Jesus was compassionate and forgiving and so we should be too. However, Jesus did not give approval to people’s sins and neither can we. Jes
us’ message was to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more,” not, “I affirm you fulfilling your desires as you wish, and I stand with those who want to change the law to give you government sanction to proudly practice adultery.”

This is not about politics, but basic morality and heresy. Mitt Romney may still support traditional marriage, but he is little better since he does support sodomite and lesbian couples adopting children. May the Lord God have mercy on this nation for the sake of the righteous remnant, for we certainly cannot ask Him to bless it when our elected leaders call what is evil, good, and also stand against what is good as if it was evil.

Again, the foundation of the home is the marriage, and God defines both marriage and its purpose. God gave to Adam the responsibility to have dominion over the earth and its creatures, and God then made Eve to be a helper suitable for him. The wife corresponds to and complements the husband by assisting him to carry out God’s commands. That is the foundation of the family and why Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord. When a husband and wife are functioning according to their God given roles in fulfilling His commands, it is good and they receive His blessing. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 1 – The Foundation). Children just increase the size of the family and enable it to carry out God’s commands over a greater area of the Earth. This morning we are going to continue to examine the topic of marriage for Proverbs has a lot of practical advice about it.

To Build or Destroy

Proverbs 14:1 states, “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Last week I concentrated on the wise woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31 who did build her house. These characteristics make this woman the epitome of a lady fulfilling her God given role. She is the excellent wife, the model of feminine virtue that every woman should desire to follow. Her value was so high because she was godly as seen in her being trustworthy, good, industrious, prudent, diligent, entrepreneurial, strong, attentive, a hard worker, compassionate, confident, elegant, admirable, dignified, wise and watchful which is why she was honored by her children, respected by her husband and acclaimed by the community. (See: Proverbs on the Family, Part 2 – The Excellent Wife).

This morning we are going to take a hard look at the other side of the contrast in Proverbs 14:1. There are foolish women that tear down their own homes. There are also foolish men that do the same thing. They trouble their house and inherit the wind (Proverbs 11:29). Again, the greater tragedy is that Christians can fall into such foolishness. There is no question that we now live in a foolish and ungodly society, and if you follow its customs you will be following the path of destroying your own home.

Romans 12:2 is direct in commanding you as a Christian – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” That is not a passive activity. It will take much work to learn to discern between not only what is good and evil but also between what is beneficial and what is detrimental. That cannot happen if your mind is not trained to think Biblically. You need to view the world and consider everything from God’s perspective. It will also take hard work to resist the pressures the world places upon you to behave and look like everyone else. Proverbs gives many practical illustrations of what it takes to do this and the consequences if you do not.

I am going to begin with general characteristics of foolishness on the part of both men and women that will result in them tearing down their own homes instead of building them up. As we examine this subject, I will be pointing out characteristics that fit either more the man or more the woman and illustrating them. I will also be giving Biblical solutions to overcoming each of these areas of danger.

Let me caution you against looking at these points to identify the faults of your spouse. You will gain little by criticizing their flaws and berating them. While you may need to point out an area where they are failing, you are to do so with humility and speaking the truth in love. You are to be one who walks with your spouse through the difficult lessons of life and lifts him or her up to be able to do what may seem impossible to them. Fulfill 1 Thessalonians 5:14 with them and “admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.” You will have plenty of your own failings, and will need the same done with you.

If you are single, consider these characteristics as things about which to be cautious both in yourself and in any potential mate. You do not want to marry someone who is not actively working now to change in the pursuit of godliness. And no one should consider marrying you if you are not doing the same. Do not think it can wait until after you are married to be working on these things, for then it will be too late if they will not pursue godliness. This is not to say they must have already achieved all the characteristics of Christian maturity, but it is to say they must definitely demonstrate that is the direction they are heading.

In examining the Proverbs 31 woman last week, you ladies probably saw areas in which you need to improve. The encouragement there is that the Lord will help you develop those virtues as you walk with Him. Today, as we look at foolishness in marriage, both you women and men may see areas in which you have been or are being foolish. If so, then repent of them. Ask God’s forgiveness and anyone else you have offended by your foolishness. Then step in the direction of change. The encouragement here is both that God will forgive you and He will help you change as you walk with Him. You do not have to remain like the world. Ladies, you can become a virtuous woman. Men, you can become a godly man.


Not all foolishness is due to active sin and rebellion. It also occurs from ignorance. It is my strong suspicion that some of the things I will mention this series are simply things you never thought much about before. That is the way you grew up. It is what you have been taught so that you think it is normal. And perhaps it is normal in the sense that the majority of the population does the same thing. However, you are naive, for it is not the way God wants you to live. The idea of being naive includes the concepts of being simple or ignorant, but also open minded in the sense of lacking discernment which allows nearly anything to come in. Proverbs 14:15 explains, “The naive believes everything, But the prudent man considers his steps.”

Gullibility makes you susceptible to worldly influences and exploitation by the wicked. Proverbs 22:3 warns, “The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.” This is generally a greater danger for women because they tend to be more gullible, or to state it another way, to be more trusting of others when they should be more cautious. Part of the reason for this is that emotions tend to clog the mind and blind you to what should be fairly obvious when words and actions do not match. Let me give you an example that is especially relevant to you single women.

A lady meets a man and starts seeing him on a regular basis. He seems nice because he is courteous, pays attention to her and is generous. He calls her on a regular basis, remembers things important to her and even sends her flowers. Finally, he says he loves her. She becomes emotionally attached. Then one fateful day sh
e finds out from a friend, facebook or seeing something she was not meant to see, that he is also doing the same thing with another girl. He has been two timing her. She gathers her sister, her mother and her girl friends and she pours out her grief stricken heart. Sorrow and confusion now reign, for in the midst of tears the phrase is repeated by all, “but he said he loved you.” In walks the brother or the dad and he is told the sad story. His response is, “the man is a is a liar,” usually followed by anger and vows to do something unpleasant to him.

The solution is to being naive is to listen to and heed wisdom which cries out to you to keep away from what is contrary to godliness. Wisdom’s primary voice is the Scriptures themselves, so you need to become a student of the Bible who can handle accurately the word of truth. Wisdom’s voice also comes from godly counsel that can both point you to God’s word and help you understand and apply it in your life and the situations you face. A godly friend can help keep you from falling into the traps set by the wicked for the gullible.

This is even more necessary for you men since you have the responsibility to lead your wife into godliness and you cannot do so if you do not know where or how to lead her. God has specifically given you the headship of the home (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23) with Ephesians 5:23-27 pointing out you are to love your wife as Christ loved the church. This includes not only sacrificially giving of yourself for her benefit, but also cleansing her by the washing of water with the word that she should be holy and blameless.1Timothy 2:13 points out that this headship is based on the order of creation. Remember from our study in Genesis 1 & 2 that the dominion mandate was given to Adam, and Eve was created to assist him in carrying out God’s commands.

Men, you must learn God’s word so that you can lead your wife. Surround yourself with godly friends who can give you wise counsel and protect you from your own weakness. Women, you must also learn God’s word so you can assist your husband. There will be times he will be ignorant of what God has said, and you need to be able to help him. You will also need godly friends who can give you wise counsel in how to live your life. The importance of this is clearly seen in Titus 2:3-5 in which older women are commanded to encourage the younger women in how to love their husbands and children and fulfill their role in the family.

Poor Counsel

Related to being naive are those who receive poor counsel. This is why all the warnings about friends a few weeks ago. Be very careful about those who influence you. Do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly for the “counsels of the wicked are deceitful” (Proverbs 12:5). Psalm 1 traces the progression of those who do walk in the counsel of the ungodly to standing in the way of sinners and then sitting in the seat of the scoffers. As Proverbs 13:20 explains, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Will you be wise or a fool? Who you spend your time with and take counsel from will play a large part in determining the answer to that question.

How does this relate to the home? Consider the sources that influence your ideas of what home life should be like. It begins with those who raised you. Did that home give you a model that was beneficial or detrimental to what God would like your home life to be like? Can you discern the difference? The truth is that every home will be a mixture to one degree or another. What do you want to make sure you repeat in your home? What do want to make sure that you do not repeat? How much do your peers and social relationships influence you and is that influence positive or negative? Can you discern the difference? Do you really want your home life to be like theirs?

There are also many other influences on you that are not so personal. What about the writers and commentators on family life you read or listen to? What books, magazines, articles and advice columns do you read? What about radio and television programs you listen too? The secular world offers lots of advice from people who are supposed to be experts because they have some advanced academic degree or have become popular. Yet their own home is in turmoil and their children are a mess. God calls them fools.

What about your entertainment choices? What do they present as a model for your home? Do you really think Hollywood has a clue about what God wants for your home life? Do you really want to be like the men and women they present? Do you want a husband or wife like those on television or in the movies? Most of these characters fit well within the list of foolish characteristics that destroy homes. The actual lives of the actors and actresses are usually even worse.

Do not be deceived into thinking that your entertainment choices do not influence you, for they do much more than you realize. I am amazed how often it comes up in counseling that people have done things that turned out to be really stupid in the real world because they saw it done that way in something they watched for entertainment and it worked out in the story. Even worse is to feed on the foolish advice of the ungodly whether it comes to you personally or through some mass communication medium – in some written form, audio presentation or multimedia program.

The solution is to develop close and intimate friendships with godly people so that you become like them while letting your friendships with ungodly people move to lower levels. While you want to still be able to influence them, you must prevent them from being an influence on you any longer. As you learn God’s word you become more discerning about whom you should have as friends. If both husband and wife understand the Bible well, they will be the first source for wise counsel, though there will always be a need for the counsel of other godly people too. Plans succeed and victory is won through the counsel of many (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22).


The proud are resistant to learn discernment from the counsel of others or even by the word of God. Pride is at the heart of all foolishness because the proud think they know enough already. Proverbs 12:15 admonishes, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” The proud do not recognize their sinfulness as Proverbs 30:12 explains, “There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, Yet is not washed from his filthiness.” Because of that they will reject the counsel of wisdom (Proverbs 1:25, 30). It is not that they hate all knowledge, just that which is against what they want to do. They become foolish and their delight becomes revealing their own mind instead of desiring true understanding (Proverbs 18:2). As pride increases, they become arrogant and proceed carelessly doing what seems best to them though its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:16; 16:25). They may think their ways are clean, but the Lord weighs the motives as well as the actions (Proverbs 16:2). They mock at sin and doing wickedness becomes like a sport to them (Proverbs 10:23 & 14:9). Proverbs 15:25 warns, “The Lord will tear down the house of the proud . . .”

I don’t think it is hard to see how pride damages relationships and tears down the home. All of us can probably easily recall some incident when either our pride or the pride of the other person resulted in great turmoil or even destroyed a relationship. I know that men are usually targeted as having this problem more than women, but that is actually because they are just more obvious about it. Men tend to be outspoken and defiant in their pride. They tend to get angry, make demands, won’t listen or will even walk away. Women tend to be more subtle. They tend to remain a little more calm, want to talk about it, and will yield more easily because they usually place a higher value on the relationship. However, the pride level can be just as high. Remaining calm
is a better platform for planning strategy to win. Talking and hearing is not the same as listening and understanding. Yielding in one area can also be the set up to manipulate to get what is more important in another. We will see more on this as we progress on this topic of foolishness in marriage.

The solution is found in Proverbs 3:7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.” Humility is crucial to walking with God and building a strong home. Humility is born out of having a correct assessment of one’s own ability and importance, and since that assessment is contrasted with God and his commands, it will always come out low. The humble can recognize that they have superior abilities and wisdom than other people, but because they also acknowledge such ability and wisdom are the gracious gifts of God working through them, they are never arrogant about it. They regard others as more important than themselves and look out for their interests and not just their own concerns just as Philippians 2:3-4 commands.

The humble properly fear the Lord and so they turn away from evil to search for His will so that they keep their way pure. This makes them more diligent in Bible study and faster to seek godly counsel so that they can have a better walk with God. Proud or not, humble yourself before God because the Lord opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6), and each of us need His grace.


As a person increases in their folly, they descend downward from being naive all the way to nabal – insensible to God & closed minded. Foolishness increasingly characterizes their life. I have already given a sermon on warnings about foolishness, so I will not elaborate on it again here (See: Warnings on Foolishness & Folly) though most of the rest of what I will be saying in the continuation of this sermon next week is related to such foolishness. Additional characteristics that are brought up in Proverbs that are detrimental to the home and their solutions that we will be looking in the future include being stubborn, manipulative, nagging, critical, contentious, wicked, temperamental, harsh, hateful, indiscrete, shameful, unfaithful, insincere, disloyal and also failure to discipline children.

The solution for foolishness is to learn the fear of the Lord for is it the beginning of knowledge, understanding and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). The fear of the Lord is also to hate evil and it will keep you away from wickedness. Those are the things that will remove foolishness and put you on the path to life. If you have been naive, listening to poor counsel, proud or foolish, then it is time to forsake the folly and heed wisdom’s call and turn into her banquet hall. Only there will you find life and peace for only there will you find salvation for your soul and a purpose in life in Christ. Only with wisdom will you be able to build your home instead of tearing it down with your own hands.


Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “foolish” or “foolishness” is mentioned 2) Talk with your parents about how to avoid foolishness in your life


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the meaning of Proverbs 24:3-4? Which is more important in having wisdom – godliness or intelligence? Explain. Why do normally wise people still do foolish things? Why is care in choosing your friends so important in living wisely? What did Jesus teach about marriage? What does God say about homosexuality? What is Jesus’ command to sinners? Has Jesus ever given His approval to sin? What must be concluded about those who approve of homosexual marriage? How does a wise woman build up her home? Why is Romans 12:2 so important to your home life? How should you respond when you recognize a failure in your spouse? How do you want them to respond to you? What does it mean to be naive and why is it dangerous? Give an illustration? What is the solution to being naive? Why is knowing the Bible so important for men? For women? What are the dangers of receiving poor counsel? What are the sources of influence to your home life? Can you discern which influences are good and which are bad? How do you determine who is worthy to give you advice on your home life? How are your entertainment choices affecting your home life? What is the solution to poor counsel? What is the relationship between pride and foolishness? Why is the Lord opposed to the proud? How does pride damage home life? How do men typically display their pride at home? How does pride usually manifest itself in women in their home life? What is the solution to pride? What is the relationship between the fear of the Lord and humility? What are the various levels of foolishness? What is the solution to foolishness? How well are you doing at pursuing that solution? How well are you pursuing wisdom?


Sermon Notes – 5/20/2012

Proverbs on Family, Part 3: Solutions to Foolishness in Marriage, Pt. 1- Selected Proverbs


Proverbs 24:3-4

The wise desire to build and establish strong _____________ in which their families will flourish

It is an issue of ______________, not intelligence (Proverbs 12:7; 14:11)

There are _____________components to the ability to perceive and make beneficial decisions

To have a strong family, pay attention to _____________: Wisdom’s call, Warnings on folly, Friendship

The foundation of the home is the _______________

Matthew 19 – Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24: Marriage is ____________ between a man and a woman

The “Golden Rule” (Matthew 7:12) cannot justify giving ______________ to sin

Jesus called people to ____________and “go and sin no more”

Adam was given the “dominion mandate” and Eve was made to correspond to and _________ him

To Build or Destroy – Proverbs 14:1

Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the ______________ woman that built up her home

There are many foolish women (and men) that ___________________ their homes with their own hands

Romans 12:2 is a command and it takes thoughtful _______________ to obey it

Listen carefully to consider where __________must change, not find the points of failure of your spouse

Single people: Consider these things as ___________for yourself and in considering a potential spouse

The Lord will help you develop ____________as you walk with Him – and He forgives sin as you repent


Simple / _____________ – but also open minded without discernment – Proverbs 14:15

_____________makes you susceptible to worldly influences and exploitation by the wicked – Prov. 22:3

The Solution: Heed the call of _______________- become a student of the Bible & seek godly counsel

Men must kno
w the __________in order to know where or how to lead a wife in holiness (Eph. 5:23-27)

Women must know the Scriptures in order to fulfill their role in _______________ their husbands

Poor Counsel

Do not walk in the counsel of the _____________ – Proverbs 12:5; Psalm 1

You will become like your _______________ – Proverbs 13:20

What are the sources of _________on your home life? Parents, Peers, Writers, “Experts,” Entertainment

Do not feed on the __________________ advice of the ungodly – actively or passively

The Solution: Develop close and intimate friendships with _____people who will give you wise counsel


Pride is at the heart of all _________________- Proverbs 12:15; 30:12

The proud ______the counsel of the wise to their own destruction – Proverbs 1:25,30;18:2; 14:16; 16:25

They _____themselves to their own sin resulting in their destruction – Proverbs 16:2; 10:23; 14:9; 15:25

The pride of men is usually displayed ___________ and is obvious

The pride of women is usually revealed more _____________

The Solution: Proverbs 3:7, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; ____the Lord and turn away from evil.”

Humility is born out of a correct assessment of one’s ability and importance – which all come from ____

The humble properly fear the ______and so turn away from evil and search for God’s ways and His will


Foolishness ranges from being naive to ______________- insensible to God & closed minded

The Solution: Learn the __________ of the Lord – Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 9:10

Forsake folly and heed wisdom’s call for only with wisdom will you be able to ____________your home

(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click Here)

Grace Bible Church Home Page || Sermon Archives

For comments, please e-mail  Church office