The tension and war between men and women rages on. It’s real–sometimes a little too real and little too close to home. But this is an old story told new. The creation narrative in the book of Genesis clearly outlines the result of the fall of Adam and Eve when sin entered the world.
“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
The Hebrew phrase does not include a verb but is understood in the Holy Language and is literally translated “toward your husband your desire.” The future tense verb “will be” is is included in English for better understanding: “Your desire will be for your husband.” The meaning of this verse is that woman and man will be in a constant battle against one another. I like the New Living Translation because it is so plain and a picture of our post-modern, post-God world today: “You will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” God intended a partnership, but sin brought a sword between men and women. The infamous battle of the sexes had begun. Now both genders seek to rule, but the Bible does not mean for men to dominate women or vice versa.
In the New Covenant, the Lord outlines the ideal marriage, where Christ-like qualities are underscored. What the curse of sin created, the blood of Jesus covers and corrects by redemption, His living Word, and the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:22-24 says that the wife should willingly submit to her husband’s authority at home. Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, just as Christ loves the Church (vs 25-30). This is a picture of servanthood and humility, not domination and strife. The whole passage points to mutual submission to one another: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (verse 21).
God’s plan from the beginning has been love and respect between husband and wife. Though sin has corrupted the genuine beauty of this relationship, God commands believers in Christ to pursue this kind of partnership between husband and wife, a reflections of Christ’s relationship with the Church.
In my blog, “She Hoped He Would Remember,” I discussed the Hebraic irrevocable roles and callings of men and women. They are intricately and beautifully different, and not to be compared much less in competition. The reason that feminism arose in our post-modern world is that both men and women have resisted these roles. I believe women have taken the brunt of this misalignment. But they began speaking out publicly, organizing, and demanding changes. That was in the 1970s; but years and years before that women around the world fought for equal rights like voting, recognition, and pay. Many paid a great price to bring women small measures of freedoms. But this war is fought in layers and now a new layer is coming off.
Today more than ever women are speaking up! They should have equal pay and opportunity in the workplace and everywhere. And now they are uncovering the long-hidden scandals of sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace. The #metoo movement and the #neveragain movement are giving women the freedom to talk and demand change. But these movements are sadly becoming attached to feminism–with an overt emphasis on degrading and trashing males and eventual dominating them. We see the strife in Genesis 3:16 coming to pass again.
Believers have a unique opportunity to join. Many have been abused as women but Christ has brought us to a place of forgiveness. The answer is not to bring men down and rule but to let them take their place in God’s design, along with women. I would love to see believers start a #metoobutchrist movement, where we have the freedom to say we have been abused or harassed too but Christ brought forgiveness and proper order in the relationship between men and women.
Here is a personal life story to illustrate how we can overcome sexual harassment or abuse without male degradation and domination.
A few years ago, I was trying to lose a few pounds by running. I mapped out and followed a trail that sent me by a construction working crew. I chose that path because it was flat and smooth, and I could run along unimpeded and build up some steam. I did, in fact, lose some pounds and cleared the cobwebs from my brain as well.
Everyday I passed the large construction site, a myriad of workers whistled, cat called, and hollered at me. Believe me those men howled like wolves at anything remotely female… and I am almost certain most of them needed glasses! Soon I dreaded passing them, so I decided to change the atmosphere.
The next day when the guys started howling, I came to a screeching halt right in front of them, raised my hands to heaven, and I yelled out, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!” You could have heard a pin drop on that construction site; the workers stopped their labor, fell silent, and then started clapping and cheering me. I was shocked but so happy!
Everyday after that instead of waiting for them to start whistling, I yelled first, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!” One man echoed the verse back to me, word-for-word with strength and conviction! I kept yelling that Scripture to the men as I passed, and someone always yelled it back. And the men always clapped.
It totally changed the atmosphere! I grew to love running by the site. Now in full disclosure, some of the men were workers from Mexico and may not have fully understood English. Which makes my point stronger! Even in not understanding, they responded to the lovely, beautiful, and strong name of Jesus when it was spoken and honored. Maybe they didn’t know why, but something different happened when that name was introduced into the situation.
I did the same thing a number of years ago whenever I would get a prank call. in those days, obscene calls were somewhat common–no caller Ids or dial-back numbers were available. I would say to every obscene caller, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior,” what about you?
I engaged several of them in conversation about the pain of their lives; others slammed the phone down angrily, and one or two became even more vile. This confession of my faith changed the atmosphere of the dark defilement of a filthy call and shone light for a minute into the heart of the hurting caller. It gave me the opportunity to turn something ugly into something sweet. I will never forget the desperation of a couple of those men I spoke to. They candidly confessed their problems and asked for prayer.
For the past few days, someone I don’t know has been texting me about a gay-pride march in Ft. Worth and Halloween… I think they chose my number at random or misdialed, but then were trying to pull me into conversing. When I confessed that Jesus was my Lord and Savior, the texting stopped.
I believe with great conviction that speaking the name of Jesus into the atmosphere changes things; and most importantly, it changes people. Sexual harassment and abuse are rampant in our culture. Now is a unique time in society across the country because victims are speaking out and perpetrators are being discovered. I fear that there is more that will come to light since predators like the Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein have met the public’s eye.
I encourage any believer who finds herself in a situation like this to speak the name of Jesus in some way. God will give you the right words for the moment. Something will come to mind that will break the devil’s back and weaken the grip of the intentions of the evildoer. Calling on His name for help is not a charm that magically works, it is real help with heavenly power that rescues. Psalm 46:1 says that “God is a very present help in the time of trouble,” and Psalm 50:15 says, “Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” These promises are useful tools in any circumstance.
Because we live in a fallen world, and Satan roams about seeking to devour us, sometimes evil things happen to very good and righteous people. One of my heroines Helen Roseveare, medical missionary and doctor in the Congo in the 1950-60s, lived in a leprosy camp for a time and subsequently built several hospitals, always sharing the Gospel as she worked. In 1966, she was captured and held prisoner by rebel forces for five months. Repeatedly beaten and raped, she called out to Jesus, “Why?” “Haven’t I served you faithfully?” At that moment, God was silent. She was later released and helped by locals — the very people in the Congo whom she had loved and helped. After returning to Ireland, she wrote books and traveled the world speaking of God’s faithfulness in darkness. She never had an answer for why. She did have a strong testimony of how she received grace to endure, to forgive her perpetrators, and to press on in hope.
L like Helen Roseveare, can’t offer a simple answer to why things like this happen. I only know God’s grace saw her through, and offered real hope the rest of her life in her message that God’s love never fails. She chose to take this evil circumstance and turn it for good.
Currently I am amazed at the #metoo social media movement. It seems that some believers are distancing themselves from this occurrence, and I don’t understand why. This is a prime opportunity to hear and encourage people’s stories, weep with them, and point them to the strong and healing name of Jesus.
There are lessons for women to learn in this narrative between the war of the sexes to take responsibility for inappropriate and immodest dress. With that said men must own their behavior toward women (no matter how she is dressed) and can’t say, “She made me do it because of the way she dressed.” That’s no excuse. But… Women should have the deep self-respect to treasure their bodies for that one special man. Also women must ask themselves, “What is the motive to dress scantily–to lure men, to have power over them, to gain favor, to flaunt beauty to control? There is no good reason to dress immodestly. Women must be responsible too.
There is help if you have experienced sexual harassment or abuse — male or female. Call on the name of Jesus to change the atmosphere and keep calling. If you are trapped in a situation, keep saying that name in faith and hope and ask for a way of escape. It will come. Tell someone your story. That will bring immediate relief to the pressure that has been building. Seek professional help from a counselor and pastor. Some knots in life, you need help untangling.
If you have a #metoobutchrist story you would like to shar here, please do.