“A foolish son is destruction to his father, and the contentions of a wife are a constant dripping.” Proverbs 19:13 (NASU)
First, consider the obvious meaning. Do not let your children grow up foolish as far as it is in your power. Do not marry someone who is always spoiling for a good bicker. Take this as a two-way street on gender, folks, because I think this is a spot where Solomon is addressing his sons about their wives and future sons (grandsons of Solomon) who will rise to power. That is the cultural context, but the principle extends broadly.
Second, though, we are going to stretch this. Sons and fathers are a picture here of descendants and precedents. Consider the governance of America or many other nations in history: previous generations secured a liberty and prosperity that allowed luxury for many current citizens. The generations that followed embraced softened versions of the same threats our forefathers fought—and now, we see destruction. Because we have taken our fathers and mothers, what they have taught, and been foolish with it.
This applies not only in governance and national issues, but within our churches. Too many of us know nothing of the history of the church. Too many do not know what true “freedom of religion” is about, nor what it is to be a “priesthood of all believers” in Baptist life. So, we foolishly connive to our own destruction by embracing the folly our forefathers fought.
That turns to our final thought: the New Testament speaks of the Church of the Living God as the Bride of Christ. Yet we are often a contentious wife, are we not? We are a constant dripping of complaining and arguing. Have you ever seen a stone that has been constantly dripped on? Over the years, it wears away. We wear away at the patience of God through our contentions. Fortunately, His grace knows no limits, but that is no excuse for us.
Note, though, that not all fighting is contentions. Solomon speaks not of a wife who takes up and repels an intruder or marauder. He speaks not of one who defends her children from a threat or provides clarity for the household and their behavior. There is a difference in defense and contentiousness. Carpet colors? Contentiousness. False teachers, abusers, and power-hungry religious leaders? Defense. Learn the difference—and praise the defender.
Just do not add to the contention when you think a pale red carpet would be better.