A woman only has worth if she’s young and beautiful.
Does anyone reading this believe that statement?
Tuesday night, my wife and I were driving home from a surprise birthday party for a long-time friend, when I made the mistake of turning on a Christian radio station. Yes, I said mistake.
Now most of you readers know that I don’t like to name names when it comes to Christian nuttiness. I tend to avoid pointing fingers at individuals or ministries, preferring to go with the understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
I’m not going to let this one slide though.
The Family Life program was on, featuring a speaker who preached on real manhood, claiming that clueless men are proliferating at an exponential rate. In trying (pathetically and eisegetically, if you ask me) to preach on the husband and wife section of Ephesians 5, he noted that “to nourish and cherish a wife means…money.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t see money mentioned at all in Ephesians 5. I do see a man called to love his wife unconditionally just as Christ loved the Church. The astute will notice that this call to unconditional love of one’s wife flies in the very face of the worldly statement that opened this post. Christians men are to love their wives, even when that fleeting beauty fades and age envelops like a wrinkled cloak.
Can we all agree on that?
As if the ridiculously eisegeted comment about money wasn’t enough, the same preacher (a noted “expert” on biblically-based sex roles) dropped this bomb:
If a man wants his wife to respect him more, he should make more money.
Can I tell you what the world says about the worth of a man? It’s this:
A man only has worth if he is powerful and wealthy.
Does anyone besides me see that this preacher is just mimicking what the world says? We don’t accept that opening statement about a woman’s worth, yet we’re preaching that the respect due a man is directly tied to how much moolah he brings home? So a Christian man should love his wife unconditionally, but a Christian woman should only respect her husband if he’s bringing home more and more cash?
By this standard, the apostles—at least the married ones—were damnable failures who deserved being nitpicked to death because their wives didn’t have a revolving account at Saks. And let’s not get into that poor carpenter, Joseph, and the miserable father he was for not ensuring Mary and Jesus a gilded, palatial estate overlooking the Jordan.
So much for seeking first the Kingdom! Better seek that fat pay raise or work two jobs, even if your kids never see you.
Who gave this “preacher” a microphone? Shame on Family Life!
Do I believe a man should provide for his family? Yes, I absolutely do. But what message are we sending when we Christians simply roll over and ape the world’s hellish message about a man’s worth?
For all our talk of conforming to biblical standards, we don’t. The Bible tells us that most people worked a farm. In fact, the entire household worked the farm. Distinctions between what men and women did for work didn’t really exist on a macro level. Yes, men did most of the brute strength farm work, while women did things like threshing (still a tough job), but they co-labored.
If we take a look at early America, often held up as Camelot by some Evangelicals, again, you see the same picture of farming and co-laboring, especially in the middle classes on the edge of the frontier. It was only after industrialization hit this country (and that only after a hundred years of factories and reforms) that we started seeing this sort of naïve ideal that a man can’t simply do a man’s work, he’s got to do his wife’s work, too. He better darned well do his work better than the guy next door, as well, because not everyone can have the good jobs. (Some guy’s gotta draw the short employment straw. Guess short straw’s wife won’t have much reason to respect him, now will she? I bet that’s a chilly bed!)
I’ve got to also wonder about a preacher who’s giving a message that the way to a wife’s respect is by making more money. A preacher. Think about that. Think about all the guys out there in the ministry who are making a pittance. I guess the only way those poor ministers are going to keep bringing home more bacon is if they start drinking the Church Growth Movement kool-aid! Butts in seats! Butts in seats! (And a mixed metaphor, too!)
Anyone out there besides me feel like crying?
Oops, can’t do that. Not manly enough.