Do You Have Teeth?

There is a generation whose teeth are like swords and whose molars are like knives to devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among the human race.

—Proverbs 30:14

This evening, my one-year-old son, Jules, and I took a walk around the neighborhood. While Jules was cruising around picking up sticks, he spotted a woman walking her dog in the distance.

“A bah!” he exclaimed.

“That’s right, a dog,” I said.

After we had meandered a little further down the road, the lady said, “Can we come say hello?”

I said sure.

Her dog was certainly happy to see us and Jules was happy to see it too. At one point, he quickly reached—whether to pinch or to pet I do not know—towards the dog’s snout. I speedily pushed his hand away and said, “Don’t pinch.”

“She’d never bite.” said the owner.

I’ve heard this sentiment a few times, and I’ve never trusted it. “She won’t bite.” gives me no consolation. Why? Because she has teeth. Things with teeth are designed to rip and to tear and to bite. It’s not a good idea to antagonize a thing with teeth, no matter how good-natured. So I distrust people when they take their dog’s teeth lightly—when they act like their canine is all gums.

This brings me to question myself: do I have teeth? Would I bite? Yes, I have bitten for good and often for ill. I have torn at my friend’s souls, and I have ripped my brother’s sin. I have scratched my wife’s heart and I have shredded her enemies. I have teeth.

You should have known that I have teeth.

Do you have teeth?

If you say “No, my heart is as pure as the fresh-fallen snow.” then you’re more dangerous than a rabid canine.

Do you have teeth?

You should know that you have teeth.

Do you have teeth?