This morning I read a parent’s rebuttal to “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” The mom’s daughter committed suicide over relentless verbal bullying at school and via internet. Words hurt.
Words have power. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV) If that is possible, then so is the opposite. We can discourage and tear one another down.
The “sticks and stones” thing is one of those sayings that has wide acceptance while actually contradicting God’s Word: And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:6 ESV)
A counselor friend told me that in her work with women who’ve been abused, she hears things like, My physical injuries healed. But the stuff he said still cripples me.
I think the sticks and stones saying must have been invented by someone who verbally beat on people and wanted to minimize responsibility for the damage done.