This summer, I went on a missions cruise to the Bahamas with The Great News Network and I had the privilege of having dinner one evening with author and speaker Josh McDowell. Josh challenged us by asking, “What is the definition of love?” A few of us tried to give a good definition, but could not adequately define it. Finally, Josh told us this: “Love involves two things: protection and provision.”
Think about it. We are loving others whenever we seek to protect them or to provide for them. Try to think of one loving gesture that does not fall into one or both of these categories. You just can’t do it, can you?
For men, it is easy to see where their role comes into play here. There are countless obvious examples of how men protect and provide for the ones they love. But what about women? Are we not called to protect and provide also, or is this solely the job of the men?
Remember, as Christians, we are all commanded to love one another. If the definition of love is to protect and provide, surely women must have a responsibility in this as well. The gender roles God has assigned for us are not necessarily different in purpose, but rather, different in application. The bible commands men to love their wives, but it commands women to respect their husbands. The application here is different, but the goal for both men and women is the same: self sacrifice, and esteeming others as being more important than oneself. According to Feldhahn (2004), men see respect as being synonymous with love. Therefore, we are to protect and provide for men by showing them respect. Here are the two primary ways I believe women are called to protect and provide for the men in their lives that will leave a man feeling honored and respected:
1. We are to PROTECT their reputation and sense of self as capable, trustworthy, honorable men.
2. We are to PROVIDE them with opportunities to take on the masculine leadership role.
When we are constantly seeking to protect and provide for men in this manner, we are setting aside our own needs and desires and putting others first. Consider these examples:
- Allowing a young boy to choose where the family will have lunch after church.
- Encouraging your brother by saying, "You can do it!" instead of telling him, "Oh here, this is how it's done."
- Trusting your pastor(s) with decisions that affect the entire church.
- Sharing a story about something wonderful your husband did, instead of telling everyone about the time he was a bungling idiot.
- Letting your father try to fix the sink himself before calling a plumber.
- Resisting the urge to volunteer for a leadership role at church and waiting to see if a man would like to volunteer instead.
- Waiting until you are in private to disagree with something your husband has said in public.
The Bible gives women very clear instructions on how to protect and provide for men. Specifically, we do this through two vehicles: submission and silence. Personally, I think when we read the Bible with a self-focused lens, we see those two commands as being oppressive, but when we read these commands with an others-focused lens, we see that these two directives are not oppressive at all. Rather, they begin to read more like a how-to manual.
Submission and silence, when properly applied, are a woman's ticket to harmonious relationships with the men in her life, not some horribly cruel and unfair burden designed to keep her down. In my next few blog entries, I intend to look at both of these "weapons" of influence in greater detail, and to consider just how powerful they can be, contrary to popular (feminist) opinion.
Feldhahn, S. (2004). For women only: What you need to know about the inner lives of men. Atlanta, GA: Multnomah.