Men are violent beasts. Since Cain did his brother Abel in, men have been bashing, cutting, stabbing, punching, detonating, shooting, destroying people and things ever since.
Women, of course, are not immune to this propensity to kill, maim and destroy but by and large if something violent is happening somewhere in the world it’s a fairly safe bet a man is involved.
Violence against women is a particularly insidious and disturbingly common form of violence. In the fifteen years or so that I have been in church leadership I have had the sad misfortune to hear stories of women being raped, sexually abused as children, beaten physically and psychologically damaged as a result of the actions of men. The statistics are horrible and the stories are horrifying.
In conversation a couple of years ago on this blog with Hannah Mudge I said this:
There are a vast number of issues on which it surely is possible to agree but let me give just one as an example: Violence against women. Churches that believe in a leadership role for men in the church and husbands in the home SHOULD be, even MUST be the first to stand up and say the persistent violence of men toward women around the world is wrong, is evil and must be fought tooth and nail. No equivocations, no qualifications, no ifs and buts, not as a token gesture but as a committed, heart-felt response. There are so many causes and issues in a society that a church could take up and support and it’s impossible to do justice to all of them, but I think this issue really should go WAY higher up the list.
I simply don’t agree with the notion that a leadership (headship) of a husband in the home gives any kind of permission or slippery slope to domestic abuse – it’s like suggesting all feminists hate men or are secretly lesbians. It’s simply not true. Sin can twist everything and anything. So a stand on this issue would go a long way to putting our money where our mouth is on this.
Sadly, pastors and church leaders (often male) don’t give women who have been on the wrong end of a man’s aggression the support and help they need. This article by Justin Holcomb is a helpful starting point on how to help.
Malestrom violence is often directed toward other men. They are humiliated and stripped of dignity as human beings and demeaned as men by the downward currents of injustice, systemic poverty, racism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, bullying, and a plethora of other abuses inflicted largely by other men. A staggering 30 percent of those who are trafficked globally for forced labor or sex are men and boys—a number that roughly approximates the entire population of New York City proper. In wars, countless men are slaughtered, permanently disabled, or left suffering with post-traumatic stress dis- order (PTSD)—scarred by what they’ve witnessed, suffered, or inflicted on others. PTSD is not just a military issue; it plagues young men living in our inner cities. At the Center for Disease Control, it was noted “that children who live in inner cities experience higher rates of PTSD than do combat veterans, due in large part to the fact that the majority of kids living in inner city neighborhoods are routinely exposed to violence.”
So why the focus or attention on violence against women. Why should violence against women be considered worse? The reason is simple: Men are stronger. The fact that most men are substantially bigger, stronger and more physically powerful than the women in their lives makes their violence even more unacceptable. It is the world of the bully, the imbalance of power offends all notions of justice. Go start a fight with someone your own size.
It is why it is unfair if a woman who was a man beats up on a woman who is well just a woman in sport and just plain wrong in every other arena of life.
Let’s be clear, violence against women is a blight in every society and one churches must not be complicit in. It must be made abundantly clear to the men in the care of our churches that violence against women will not be tolerated.
I don’t believe men and women are the same for all sorts of reasons but fundamentally I don’t think our bodies allow us to do that. We need men not to disavow their strength but their violence and especially their violence towards those who are weaker.
If you’re in the UK you may want to consider Restored’s First Man Standing campaign or do something similar in your own country.