A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Snakes and Wisdom (a reblog from My Only Comfort by Ps Sam Powell)

I [Pastor Sam Powell] read an anecdote some years back. You can find it here [Internet Archive link]

Anyway, it goes something like this.

A man was drinking with his buddies at a local pub. On his way home, he and his buddies decided that they needed to find a snake to put in the aquarium at their pub. So they found one by the side of the road.

The snake that they found was one of the most deadly poisonous serpents in the world. The man picked it up with his left hand because he “was holding his beer with the other hand.” The snake bit him.

He put the snake into a bag and his buddies started to drive away. For reasons which are unclear, the man continued to put his hand into the bag. The snake bit him over and over – a total of nine times.

He ended up in the hospital; and according to all accounts, he is lucky to still be alive.

Moral of the story: Some people are like snakes. They only want you close so they can continue to hurt you. Wisdom would dictate that at a certain point, perhaps you should quit putting your hand in the bag.

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease. (Pro 22:10 KJV)

Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. (Tit 3:10-11 NKJ)

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. (Psa 1:1 KJV)


This post was recently published at Ps Powell’s blog, My Only Comfort [Internet Archive link of his post here. Editors.], and it’s so good we wanted to reblog it here. Thank you, Ps Powell!   Sam is the pastor of First Reformed Church, Yuba City, California.



  1. Moving Forward

    My snake loves to whine how that he begged me to come back (he’s the one that left) a certain number of times, and I wouldn’t. He had threatened to leave for years, so why would I want to go back and get bit and repeat the cycle over and over? I am so thankful for this blog, which I found before he left, to help me not make that mistake. His fangs are still out, and can make me jump sometimes, but I am out of reach. Now to get the children out of his reach. The venom is having its effect on them, unfortunately, but by God’s grace they can be healed, and they are starting to see those fangs and be wary of them. Great post.

  2. debby

    Oh, my. “Stop putting your hand in the bag.” And yet, in the church, they say, “If you would just put your hand in the bag a different way, more loving, more patient, more kind, the snake will stop biting you. You made a vow to stay with the snake and God hates divorce, so you must stay, pray, and let God be God.” And God is saying, “Stop putting your hand in the bag.” I was listening to the wrong advice for 3 decades. Now it seems so obvious, but it didn’t seem obvious at the time. Too much opposition. Thank you for ACFJ and speaking truth so that we can have the fog lifted!

  3. Daffodil

    Boy is that the truth. My repeated kindness reaped repeated condemnation and derision. I won’t repay evil with evil, but I’m steering clear of the snake, too.

    [Eds: Screen name changed for safety reasons]

    • Welcome to the blog. 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I changed your screen name to Daffodil as a precaution. If you want us to change it to something else, just email The woman behind the curtain: twbtc.acfj@gmail.com — she will be more than happy to assist. 🙂

      • Daffodil

        Thanks Barbara. I used to get called “Petunia” in grade school, but I like Daffodil better – no “Porky Pig” connections!

  4. marriedwithouthusband

    I generally agree. But sometimes it’s impossible to remove one’s hand or what is outside the bag is worse than what is inside. Please don’t blame the victim.

    • debby

      I understand what you are saying. I would never judge someone who “keeps putting their hand into the bag.” However, for me and many others’ stories I’ve read, we had been duped into thinking that “taking our hand out” would bring worse. If a woman is making a conscious decision to continue staying with an abusive person, until such time that she can put together a safety plan, it is important to respect that. But many, if not most, are making that decision out of ignorance and fear, that somehow she has no RIGHT to remove her hand.

    • Dear marriedwithouthusband, it was certainly FAR from my thought to blame the victim! On the contrary. I understand that there are many who have circumstances that they cannot control for many different reasons. The authors of this blog as well as I have dealt with those specific situations. This blog was meant to address a different situation.

      I originally published it to encourage and give hope to all of those who continue to hear from churches, family members and acquaintances that if they just did one more thing, reached in one more time, they could change a snake to a lamb. They know that the snake is still a snake, but they are under pressure to try just one more time and then they get bit again.

      I wrote this blog to encourage them. To tell them that their refusal to continue to engage with the snake is not “unforgiving” or “harsh” or any other accusation. The refusal to play the snakes game is simply wisdom.

      The snake really wants those who finally escape from him to give just one more shot. Just – talk. Just a cup of coffee. I just want to talk one more time. Just one more time…….

      So many times, the victims come to me with “he just wants to have thanksgiving with us for old times’ sake.” “The kids really want me to just try one more time” And they ask, “What do I do? I finally got away. What do I do now?”

      I’ve told this account so many times that I decided to write it down. But it is intended for those who continue to be told to engage just one more time.

      A snake is still a snake. For those being pressured to engage, there is nothing biblical or safe or wise in that counsel. You don’t have to stick your hand in that bag.

      For those who have no choice, I would have other counsel, and do what I could to help.

      But it is never the victims’ fault. The snake is the snake, and snakes do what they do.

      Hope this helps.

  5. StandsWithAFist

    This reminds me of the fable about a scorpion & the turtle:
    “A scorpion asks a turtle for a ride across a river, but the turtle thinks it a bad idea, fearing the scorpion will sting her.

    Cleverly, the scorpion replies that if he stung the turtle, then they would both drown, so surely there is nothing to fear. The scorpion promises he will not sting, he just needs a ride.

    So, the turtle agrees to swim across the river and just as they reach the other side, the scorpion forcefully stings the turtle.

    As the turtle crawls onto the muddy riverbank & collapses, she cries out while dying, “Why did you do that? You promised you wouldn’t!!”

    And the scorpion replies, “Because I am a scorpion”

  6. Finding Answers

    Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease. (Pro 22:10 KJV)

    Something is shifting…..

    …..the “not me” voices are getting quieter.

    The snake is losing the power to bite.

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