If you aren’t familiar with the #MeToo hashtag, head over to twitter and read some of the tweets posted by famous women, known women, and women no one really knows. Their stories are gut-wrenching. I read through a few feeds of evangelical women I deeply respect and tears came to my eyes because of the pervasiveness of abuse and the destructive power of sin in our world. As a father of two beautiful girls, I don’t want this for them. As a father, it is my responsibility to protect them, love them, and model to them how men should treat them. As repulsive as the whole Wienstine thing is, I pray that good will come from it, that women will speak up, and the culture of abuse will be dealt a severe blow.
Our country has spent the last 60 years preaching and worshiping the god of sexual fulfillment at all costs and we are starting to see the devastating legacy of our unrestrained sexual ethic. We see it in the dissolution of the family, in the celebration of every kind of personal pleasure without a thought as to the effect our actions will have on the people we love most and even broader society. This is not a new problem but is rather an indication as to how far our country has slipped from the Christian values that used to guide and define us.
In Roman times when Christianity was in its infancy, one of the unique things about Christians was their sexual ethics and their high view of women and children. Tim Challies describes Roman culture in such a way that it sounds like the picture that is being painted of the celebrity Hollywood subculture specifically and of American culture increasing.
Rome was a culture of extreme promiscuity and inequality. Those who had power—male citizens—were able to express their sexuality by taking who and what they wanted. Their culture’s brand of sexual morality was exemplified in the Caesars who, one after the other, “were living icons of immorality and cruelty,” using sex as a means of domination and self-gratification.
Yet this system, evil as it looks to our eyes, was accepted and even celebrated by Rome. It was foundational to Roman culture. To be a good Roman citizen a man needed to participate in it, or at least not protest against it. To be loyal to Rome, one had to be loyal to the morality of Rome. To the Romans, the biblical view “would have been seen as disruptive to the social fabric and demeaning of the Roman ideal of masculinity.” What we consider odious and exploitive, they considered necessary and good.
So seeing that our culture is slipping further and further into the sex-crazed pagan practices Christianity opposed, how do we raise our kids and protect our daughters from a sick culture that objectifies women?
- Fathers, model to your girls how a man should act by how you treat them, their mom, and other women you encounter.
- Teach them respect is given but trust is earned – I believe personally that women are created by God and deserve respect because they are image bearers. I also believe scripture is clear women respond to men (Eph. 5) but I believe scripture is also clear that respect is not deserved nor should be demanded by men. A women’s respect for a man should be earned by his sacrificial love for her. (Eph 5)
- Teach them to speak up and speak out – The intimidation of women in any place - home, work or church - should not be tolerated. It must be called out every time we see it.
- Teach them their worth is tied to their identity in Christ, not their worth to others. I am not a social anthropologist, but broadly speaking, women seem to derive their worth more often from what people think about them, men from what they create or do. Women are continually told through media their worth is primarily in their looks. Teach your girls over and over again that their comfort in life and death is that they belong to God. They are his. Teach them being pretty is not as important as being loved. When they realize that they have been loved by God, when that moves to the core of who they are, they will cease to look to others to affirm them. Our girls need to know that they are beautiful because they are loved, not that they are loved when they are beautiful.
Helping your kids find their identity primarily in Christ doesn’t protect them from abuse physically, but it does protect them from abuse psychologically and it does prepare them if or when it does happen. The apostle Paul’s view of suffering was comprehensive - it was tied to the past work of Christ understanding that he came to redeem what we know through our experience to be a broken world. It also looks forward to the hope that we have in heaven. That one day Christ will come back and make all the sad things in this world untrue. It recognizes injustice and points to our ultimate Judge Christ. It recognizes our need and points to Christ who justifies the ungodly.
We have to help our kids
1. love others as they have been loved in Christ.
2. see themselves as sinners in need of a savior.
3. understand they are loved by a pure and holy God in such a way that the things in this life don’t break them because Jesus is their goal, their prize, and their joy.
I have counseled many victims of abuse in 20 years of pastoral ministry and it breaks my heart to hear their stories. My job is to listen, lament, and point them to Jesus. What every kid, every human, needs most is to be known by God. I love how Tim Keller puts it: “The great and central basis of Christian assurance is not how much our hearts are set on God, but how unshakably His heart is set on us. And if we begin to grasp that we are “known by God”, we won’t seek to bolster our self-image or standing before Him through our works. We won’t worship any idol—we will love Him, the One who knows us and loves us still.”
- Teach your sons that women are 4 dimensional not 1 dimensional – Parents teach your boys that pornography destroys. It takes a woman made in the image and likeness of God and reduces her to a one-dimensional object. The rise of sex robots is a byproduct of men who see women as a one-dimensional tool that was created for their own pleasure. Every woman filmed naked is some man’s daughter and is precious. Teach your sons that pornography degrades women and devalues God’s creation.
We can’t prevent sinful things from taking place in a sin-soaked world but we must speak out and do all we can to prevent the coarsening of society and the denigration of women. The early church was known for their radical sexual ethic; this hasn’t been the case in the American church but must be for us to be the salt and light we claim to be. For all the women who #MeToo is a present reality: we weep with you. May the coming generations know nothing of the pain so many women have unjustly experienced.
Also read "Raising Boys in a #MeToo World"