Who can be the object of railing?

Who can be the object of railing?

Railing is derisive speech intended to destroy an individual’s reputation or undermine his will. Therefore, railing may be directed to the individual (1 Pet. 2:23) or spoken to another person regarding that individual (1 Tim. 5:14). Railing against divinely appointed authority has a special seriousness (Acts 23:4; Psa. 105:15; 1 Chron. 16:22). God has protected assembly elders against gratuitous accusations (1 Tim. 5:19). However, it is sadly true that a believer can rail against any believer (illustrated in the OT passages above). Railing could be directed toward unbelievers (1 Pet. 3:9).

The question of whether a spouse or child could be the object of a believer’s railing is more difficult. In many ways, abusive language destroys the will of a child and belittles him. The environment is contentious, but is the intent to vilify the child to others? Is it really "character assassination"? It is almost unbelievable that a parent would do this consciously and intentionally. As to a spouse, all abusive language is sinful, but not all is railing. Where the persistent intent is to "break" the marriage partner, and that is very difficult to judge, it could be railing. Where one spouse establishes a trend of defaming or vilifying his spouse to others, this also may be railing.

D. Oliver