Every day, the headlines are filled with stories of powerful men sexually exploiting women and girls. I’m disgusted by these men abusing their power and devaluing the women in their lives. I’m heartbroken for the women who suffer from their cruelty.
Sin has distorted relationships between men and women. Too often men use women for their own gratification. We need to see men who are different, men that don’t just abstain from sexual sin, but men who value women. When men value women, they testify to the value of the imago Dei (Genesis 1:27) in every woman. We are created in the image of God. This is the heartbeat of the pro-life ethic.
Christian men, be different by valuing the women in your life and helping them thrive.
Help women thrive by showing them honor. God intends for his people to do this enthusiastically as he commands in Romans 12:10, “Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Men can look to Christ’s example in this. During his life on earth, his interactions with women were gracious and respectful. As he hung on the cross in unimaginable pain, he put his mother’s needs above his own. He honored his mother by making sure she was taken care of by one of his disciples (John 19:26).
In Luke 8:43-48, Christ encountered a woman who suffered from an illness which made her an outcast. Embarrassed, yet hopeful, she desperately touched his robe believing she would be healed. He demanded to know who had received his power.
And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’ (Luke 8:47-48)
This woman had obviously identified Jesus as a powerful man. Was she afraid of him? She was healed by merely touching his robe, and she had approached him trembling. Perhaps she, too, witnessed powerful men treating women poorly. But Jesus was different. He called her “daughter.” He praised her faith and he sent her off with a blessing of peace.
Not only did Jesus help this woman by healing her, he showed her honor and tenderly claimed her as family in front of the very people who disrespected her daily because of her illness.
Men, do the women in your life feel you honoring them in your interactions with them? Do you help them thrive?
Create a culture where women feel safe.
An article on the United Nations website states,
Many women face additional barriers to the enjoyment of their human rights because of such factors as their race, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, disability or socioeconomic class or because they are indigenous people, migrants, including women migrant workers, displaced women or refugees.
For a variety of reasons, women are vulnerable. Men of God, value women and help them thrive by creating a culture where women feel safe.
The Bible tells us about a powerful man, Boaz, who owned fields where migrant workers gleaned wheat. A young widow named Ruth came to work in his field. Boaz went out of his way to offer his protection and provision to this vulnerable young woman. “Have I not charged the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink what the young men have drawn” (Ruth 2:9).
Ruth was a poor woman living in a foreign country. She worked hard to support her mother-in-law. She could easily have been seen as prey because of her vulnerable position. But Boaz, a different kind of man, did not exploit her vulnerability. Boaz cared for her. He kept her safe. He made her work environment a safe one.
Do you, like Boaz, go out of your way to protect and provide for vulnerable women? What kind of culture are you creating for the women in your life? Simply abstaining from activities that perpetuate the devaluing of women is not sufficient. Men, are you actively seeking ways to defend and protect the women in your sphere of influence?
Boldly confront predatory men.
Every day a new story emerges of women and girls being sexually exploited by a powerful man in their life. These predatory men believe their power makes them invincible and that they can take advantage of women without consequence. But a different kind of man will seek justice for the vulnerable and confront predatory men (Isaiah 1:17).
2 Samuel 11-12 tells the story of David, the rich and powerful king of Israel. He saw Bathsheba, wife to one of his soldiers, and had her brought to him because he wanted her sexually. David’s sin displeased the Lord and he sent Nathan to confront him.
Nathan confronted David and by God’s grace, David repented of his sin. Nathan didn’t know what David’s reaction would be, but he also didn’t let fear stop him from obediently confronting his friend.
In a similar way, John the Baptist confronted King Herod because he married a woman who was unavailable for marriage. She was his brother’s wife (Mark 6:14-29). This powerful man, like many in our day, believed he could have whatever woman he wanted, married or not. Unlike Nathan, when John the Baptist confronted the king of his sexual sin, he was killed for it.
In an earlier Intersect Project article, John the Baptist Died Believing Character Matters, Nathaniel Williams writes,
The fact that John criticized a leader’s sexual misconduct was unusual. John wasn’t a politician; he was an evangelist. He spent most of his time in the wilderness, urging people to repent and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. But though he primarily dedicated his life to saving people’s souls, he lost his life for calling out a public sin. John defended the sanctity of marriage in the face of one of the world’s most powerful men, and he lost his life for it.
Are you the kind of man who confronts predatory men, regardless of the cost? Once again, the gospel demands more from men than just sexual integrity. The gospel compels men to value women by seeking justice for them, and that involves boldly confronting their oppressors.
Be more for women.
Christian men, be different by being more. Be more than the man who is faithful to his wife; be the man who values the lives of women and helps them thrive.
Be more than the man who talks about the deplorable behavior of sexual predators; be the man who confronts them.
Be more than the man who teaches your son to respect his mother; be the man who honors his wife.
Be more than the man who doesn’t sexually harass women at work; be the man who creates a culture at his workplace for women to thrive because they are safe.
It’s not enough for men to merely behave morally appropriate towards women. Christian men should be more. They should reflect the heart of God and God values women. When men value women, they don’t see them as a means to an end, they see them as co-laborers in the gospel and created for the glory of God.
Christian men, be different. Be more for women.