We live in a world of extremes. As women have become more aggressive in confronting their sexual abusers, there is collateral damage on all sides. Extremists in the feminism camp are using the sexual abuse issue to attack the male gender as a whole. Extreme male chauvinists view the female gender as generally inferior to themselves and want to maintain their superior position. Those who are insecure about their sexual identity find themselves being pushed by extremists on all sides of this male chauvinism/feminism conflict.
The abuse that is present in the world around us is extreme, and the victims of the abuse are looking for reliable answers. We are constantly getting e-mails and letters from people who have received terrible advice from mental health experts in the secular world. We believe that Christianity has an answer to all of the confusion.
The incidents of abuse are undeniable, and the abuse occurs in every facet of human experience–including religion. In the Old Testament, the problem of abuse was identified with the Hebrew word “alal” meaning to roll oneself on or upon. It is used in some horrible stories of rape such as Judges 19:25 and in battle scenes such as 1 Samuel 31:4. In the New Testament, the Greek word for abuse is “arsenokoited,” and the use is totally sexual. Abuse is always wrong, and it is strongly condemned by the Bible however and wherever it occurs.
So how does Christianity offer any help on this issue? The answer is in the identification of roles. One of the victims of the collateral damage produced by the conflict between extremists on opposite sides of the male chauvinism/feminism conflict is young men who haven’t learned their life role. Women have a specific, unthreatened role given to them–that of being a mother. They can choose whether to accept that role, but their gender has a built-in guarantee that no male can threaten. A woman can be artificially inseminated and give birth to a child. A man has no such option.
As women have gained their rightful role in the business world, males have found more and more problems with their self-image. They realize that there are always women out there who can do the job as well or maybe better than their male counterparts. The question is whether some of the physical abuse on women has come from males who have no role that they can claim as theirs, but they do have enough physical strength to subjugate a woman.
From the very beginning, God instituted a system that would work well for both genders. Genesis 2:24 tells us that male and female were joined together as one giving them independence from their parents. That is not just a sexual reference, but rather it presents the family as the basis of stability for both sexes. The entire biblical account shows man not using what God gave him correctly, but allowing sin to tear at the fabric of the one thing that would give men stability and purpose. In the New Testament, the roles of men and women were refocused. Polygamy would no longer be tolerated. Loving and submitting to one another was the guide (See Ephesians 5:21-33). The value of all humans is the same (See Galatians 3:27-29). Women could be involved in the business world as was Lydia and the “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 31:10-31.
The one role given to men that would be unthreatened by women was providing loving leadership to the family and the church. In 1 Timothy 2:8-15 the male leadership is identified as giving males a unique role. That passage ends by reminding the reader that women also have a role guaranteed in childbirth. The next chapter shows who the ideal leader of the church and the home should be. In chapter 5 Paul approaches the failures of humans to keep God’s plan in operation no matter what the circumstances.
There should be no male chauvinism/feminism conflict if people follow God’s plan and respect the needs of others. Selfishness in church and home leadership is a cause of male insecurity and tends to produce more abuse. The June, 2018, issue of Christianity Today carried an article titled Mending Men’s Ministry which addresses these issues in the denominational world. In the biblical world, the healing of men will come when we simply love God and others enough to do what God says and the male chauvinism/feminism conflict will end.
–John N. Clayton © 2018