Thursday, June 23, 2011

Honor to Whom Honor is Due

Over the years I've heard complaints from several men that they are not honored on Fathers Day like women are honored on Mother's Day. A secular man complained that stores don't print fliers that are 100% intended as gifts or discounted items for fathers, that they always include several pages of women's and children's items. But they print 100% female-interest ads for Mother's Day, with not a single item that a man would want to buy for himself. The man also complained that his son never honored him on Fathers day like he honored his mother on Mother's Day. A church-going man complained that the sermons on Fathers Day never praise dads and say how wonderful they are, but instead they are sermons telling dads how to be better dads and husbands. Yet, just a few weeks earlier the same preachers, praised mothers without a hint of suggestion on what mothers could do better. Instead, the Mother's Day sermon also included exhortations to husbands to be more loving and honoring.

The men are right: stores do include female-interest items in their sales fliers for Fathers Day, and omit male-interest items for their Mother's Day sales fliers. And preachers do brag up moms and exhort dads. Children do tend to be closer to their moms than they are to their dads, and honor moms more than dads.

This isn't always the case, though. When dads/husbands give selflessly of themselves, when they don't brag themselves up, they tend to be honored by their wives and children. Households where there is reason to quote the proverb “Man works from sun to sun, but woman's work is never done,” are households where the husband/father is less likely to be honored on Fathers Day. And households where husband/father takes authority over his wife, makes decisions for her rather than with her, are households where the man is less likely to be honored.

Perhaps surprisingly, this reaction of mothers and children is biblical. Jesus, himself, said it in Matthew 23:12
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
Dads/husbands who declare their word is law, are exalting themselves. When they come home from work and expect to be served, they are exalting themselves. When they declare their authority is a God-given role, they are exalting themselves, making themselves superior and their wives inferior.

Jesus said, “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” On Mother's Day, children, pastors, and businesses are proclaiming that it is their mother who served them. It is their mother who connected with them and established a closer relationship. It is usually their mother who cared for them when they were sick and listened when they needed someone to care, who kept working after Dad sat down to watch TV, read the newspaper, or went to bed. No amount of “Me Tarzan” posturing makes anyone great. Instead, it is genuine caring and selfless serving that makes a person the greatest among us.

If men want to be honored, they need to stop thumping their own chests, and start genuinely caring about their wives and children. And after they've started caring, they need to keep on caring and cherishing and serving, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And if they are angry because they haven't been honored after 2 days or a month of serving, they need to admit their motivation was not based on love, but was based on self-gratification and self-adulation, which is hard for others to miss because the stench is so strong. Instead of focusing on the error of those who aren't honoring them enough, they need to refocus on getting their hearts right, to genuinely loving their wives and children, to serve and benefit their wives and children instead of themselves.

After they have genuinely humbled themselves without tooting their horn, and served because of having the best interests of others in mind, then they will be exalted. Jesus said so. But by that time it won't matter, because they aren't doing it for praise; they are doing it because of God-like love.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Respect of Persons

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” James 2:1-4

In spite of the principle clearly laid out in James 2:1-4, complementarians teach respect of persons based on sex. All we need to do is change a few words in James, and it is easy to see that the principle fits for gender, too.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with strong muscles and male equipment, and there come in also a dainty woman with female equipment; and ye have respect to him that hath the male genitals, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the dainty woman, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” James 2:1-4

By putting women in a secondary place, they, too have become judges with evil thoughts. Only, they excuse it by calling it roles; rightful, God-decreed roles. I suppose the wealthy could say that, too. Because they are wealthy, they deserve greater respect, and they have a different role than the poor or the middle class. The wealthy should make the rules, after all, they are smarter than all the poorer folk, how else could they have amassed so much money? After all, doesn't Proverbs 22:7 say “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”? Aren't those God-decreed words, too? Why haven't churches made a doctrine out of them, and decreed that the wealthy are to rule the poor?

Yet, that is exactly what they have done to women. Just as is prophesied to Eve in Genesis 3:16 “thy desire to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” is what pastors and husbands are doing to wives, and decreeing that it is to be so by the command of God. And they add to it by twisting the scripture and claiming that a passage that indicates that Eve would crave the cherishing she at one time got from Adam, actually means she wants to rule over him, and therefore all husbands should take control over their wives. They sound quite Ahasuerus-esque.

Yet, they do not make absolute rules and insist that the rich shall rule the poor, even though that pronouncement is in the Bible, too. In fact, they could bolster their teaching with Proverbs 18:11a “A rich man's wealth is his strong city” and Proverbs 18:23b “but the rich answereth roughly” and Proverbs 14:20b “the rich hath many friends,” just as they bolster “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” with “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” and by head they mean authority, in spite of the fact that the context of the passage does not convey that meaning, and instead conveys the meaning of sacrificial servant or source who pours himself out for his wife's benefit, which is spelled out to husbands just a few verses later. And the verse that introduces the passage tells all Christians to submit to one another. Just like the verses I quoted from Proverbs, they ignore the phrase directly before or after the one they choose to emphasize, as well as other verses in the same passage.

And they definitely ignore the many verses that are commands from God, even those spoken by Jesus, that we are NOT to take authority over others like the Gentile sinners do.
“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them, But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Since they insist on exercising dominion and authority over their wives, according to Jesus, they are like the “princes of the Gentiles” and not disciples of Jesus. I realize that sounds harsh, but Jesus said it, not I.

Jesus also said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words...He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” John 14:23-24. Are men who claim to follow Jesus actually going to follow a twisted interpretation of Paul's words, instead of following the straightforward words of Jesus?

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Scratched Record

Remember when we had those large disk records? When one got a scratch, you'd hear the same words over and over again. Until you moved the needle beyond the scratch, those words would repeat over and over, wearying you, annoying you, until you finally got up to do something about it. But if you had a seriously scratched record, you'd soon end up with words repeated over and over again, and you'd have to stop what you are doing and address the problem again—and again.

We have another type of record that is repeating over and over again. We've been addressing the “scratch” one episode at a time, and now the “record” is doing those repeat episodes with increasing frequency. Unfortunately, society loves the record and doesn't want to get rid of it. Even though it is beyond flawed, beyond damaged, and is damaging more and more “listeners,” society insists on keeping and playing the record daily, 24/7. And some folks deny that the record is damaged and causes major damage. They insist that every married couple must own a record and play it all the time. They claim that the flaws in the record are actually problems with the player, not with the record, and therefore the record must not be destroyed.

So what is the “scratch” in the record? A big one that we keep hearing in the news is unfaithful politicians. These politicians are a small group who are elected to office, because voters think they are of high character, high integrity and also will promote the voters' values. Yet over and over again, politician after politician is discovered to be having an “affair” or doing sexual misconduct. What is causing these poor choices that betray their family and constituents? According to John Edwards, a recent politician in the news, the fame and power went to his head. He became accustomed to having anything he wanted. And apparently women are included as things in the “anything.”

But notice that John Edwards is not the only man who thinks he has the right to have anything he wants. The people he claims gave him money to hide his extramarital affair apparently encouraged that mindset. The other politicians who choose to satisfy their urges have the same belief system. So also do the many men—including complementarian Christian men—who make use of pornography and/or prostitutes. Note the common denominator: men misusing women as a commodity to satisfy their selfish urges.

But adultery is not the only “scratch” on the record. Domestic abuse and domestic violence are another scratch where men are also misusing women. This is a "scratch" that our society didn't even start to deal with until about 35 years ago, and that large portions of churches still do not deal with today--except to blame the misused women. Men who chose to control or abuse their wives and children also believe that as “the man,” they are entitled to have whatever they want, including the right to control their wives, even if their demands make no sense or they just ordered the opposite a minute ago. For many of these men, the belief in their right is so strong, they believe they can do anything necessary to enforce their “right,” including beating their wives, and some even go as far as murder.

Both of these types of “scratches” have the same source, which is the grooves in the record that result in the same accompanying and overpowering drumbeat for every song that plays. What is the accompaniment? (Hear the drum beat):
...Husband authority, male authority, absolute husband authority, husband is final decision-maker, the man is to be in charge, the family must do what the man says, the man is not to be questioned, husband is in charge, if the man wants sex the woman or child must deliver, if the husband hurts the wife it must be her own fault, if the man sexually abuses his child the wife must be at fault, absolute husband authority, male authority, husband final decision-maker, wife must give husband what he wants, husband is smarter & wiser than wife, if husband plays with another woman it must be his wife's fault, husband can do no wrong, husband is the authority, if husband is not happy it is wife's fault, if husband is not happy wife is not submitting, husband must have what he wants, husband is in charge, husband authority, husband authority, THE MAN is in charge, the MAN is not to be held accountable, the man is the authority...

With these the-man-is-in-charge grooves being the ruling theme in the entire “record,” and with a lack of consequences for their behavior, men easily believe they have the right to whatever they want. Until the ruling theme of the societal “record” is corrected in both society, in church and in the Christian community, we will continue to endure repeated and frequent scratches in the record. And those scratches, even the invisible scratches, will continue to cause damage to whomever the scratches touch—often lifelong damage that repeats in generation after generation.

It is high time the church repents of its bias against women, its favoritism toward men, aligns itself with authentic bible doctrine, and becomes the leader in ridding our society of the scratch-prone grooves that are directing males toward sin.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Remembering Danni Moss

Nearly a year ago, Danni Moss passed from this life to the next. Born April 27, 1964, she lived 46 years and 1.5 months before she died on June 13, 2010. I believe it was the abuse she suffered at her husband's hand that took her life. When she was still with her husband, the Lord impressed upon her heart Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” From that verse and a vision, she knew if she did not free herself from the destruction of her husband's words, she would die. Although Danni did leave her husband, she did not get away from him soon enough; she did develop cancer, and cancer killed her. The medical profession has known for years that chronic stress greatly increases the likelihood that a person will get cancer, that chronic stress hinders the immune system from fighting off illness and disease, and a recent study has shown that women who have been abused within the past year have much higher rates of illness, and those who were abused up to 5 years ago still have higher rates of illness and disease than women who were never abused. So medical research has shown that the verse God impressed upon Danni's heart is true. Her husband's tongue spewed out death and killed her.

I miss Danni. Her strength, her faith and connection with God and the truth of His Word were (and are) such an encouragement to me. Please join me in praying for Danni's daughter, who I believe is 8 now, and last I heard was sent to live with her dad, the same man whose tongue spewed out death to Danni. Danni's adult sons, her siblings, and her parents also need our prayers. People who have lost loved ones tell me the sense of grief and loss hits them harder in the days approaching the anniversary of the loved one's death. And remember to pray for man who was Danni's good friend, and for Danni's ex-husband, too. I won't tell you what to pray, except to request that you ask God to show you how to pray for Danni's family and loved ones.

Danni's blog, Because it Matters, is still up, thanks to her family and to Wordpress, and I encourage everyone to reread what Danni has written. Perhaps you want to start with her 3-part series, “Sticks and Stones: Why Verbal Abuse Kills” The following link provides links to all three parts:

I invite anyone who cares to do so, to share how Danni has made a difference in your life.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.