Predators or Protectors? (By Jim Anderson)
Predators or Protectors?
By Jim Anderson
God designed men to take risks—to be watchmen, guardians, and defenders who are willing to fight for and protect those they care for. They are designed to do what is right instead of what is easy. In doing so they will receive honor. They are also meant to uphold righteousness, fight evil, and maintain what is good. That explains their willingness to go to war and lay down their lives in the defense of their families and the service of their country.
We receive instruction regarding a man’s relationship with his wife in the book of Ephesians: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). How are men supposed to love their wives? As Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He laid down His life for her. He suffered for her. He served, guarded, protected, honored, communicated with, defended, and died for her. A husband’s mandate is to serve his wife and sacrifice himself for her. God wants to take the strength of the male qualities, which are currently under attack in our feminized culture, and employ them in the defense and protection of the women in their lives. On the other hand, the enemy wants to pervert the male qualities and loose them in the culture in such a way that men become predators of women instead of protectors.
The Old Testament contains some interesting sexual assault laws that shed light on the calling of men. Let’s take a closer look at one of these laws: If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife…But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. You shall do nothing to the girl...When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her (Deuteronomy 22:23-27). If a rape occurred in the city, both the man and woman were guilty, but if a rape occurred in the country, only the man was held guilty. What was the reason for this delineation? In the case of the rape in the country, there were no men to hear a daughter’s cries and rescue her. So the woman was innocent, and only the man was punished. However, a victim’s cries in the city would have been heeded by the men of that city, and she would have been rescued. If a sexual assault was carried through to completion in the city, it was assumed the woman had not cried out for help. In that case, both the woman and the man were considered guilty.
What can we learn from this story about the role of men? In the face of injustice, a man’s responsibility is to rescue those in danger; a man’s responsibility is to hear the cry and respond. To apply this story to the current assault being perpetrated against daughters in society, I believe it is the responsibility of fathers to rescue their daughters from the effects of the prevalent cultural sexual assault. Note that Deuteronomy talks about an assault in the country, an uninhabited place. No one was available to rescue a daughter under attack. Unfortunately, today, even our cities have become places where our daughters can regularly be assaulted, and yet no one rescues them. When the lies of the enemy assault her, beguiling her to change her nature and identity, God’s design is that fathers or pure-hearted sons see what is happening and respond immediately with a sense of personal responsibility that says, “I will put a stop to this!”
Tragically, the enemy has worked hard to change the man’s role from protector to predator. Instead of functioning as protectors of the women in the culture, men have given in to their lower nature and function as predators of the very women they are called to protect. Instead of walking in self-control and purity, they seek easy, uncommitted sexual encounters. In our “hook-up” culture, young men do not even pretend to offer commitment and permanence. They expect and readily receive sexual gratification with absolutely no responsibility attached to it.
In Hosea, God reprimanded the men of the culture for what was happening with their daughters. I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot or your brides when they commit adultery, for the men themselves go apart with harlots and offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes; so the people without understanding are ruined (Hosea 4:14). God is very clear that the responsibility for the behavior of the women in the culture is being laid at the feet of the men. The men of the culture were answerable to God. While it is true that their daughters were involved in sexual sin, God did not hold them responsible for their actions because the men—the fathers and sons—were the ones who allowed, cultivated, and perpetrated this evil. It is obvious that God expects the men to be the “culture creators” and “atmosphere maintainers.”
There is a sense that women take their cues from the values that are allowed to become dominant in the culture through the men. I am not saying women are not accountable for their sins. However, in examining Jesus’ dealings with women, His accountability was accompanied with much tenderness and mercy. More than once Jesus sided with a prostitute in the face of the powerful religious people of His time. I think it was because He knew the men of that community had long ago failed in their responsibility to be protectors. In fact, some of those men had probably sought that prostitute’s favors and had, themselves, functioned as predators. If we look at any culture, we will see that women are the reflection of what the men have cultivated and allowed. If the men want sexuality and seduction, the women become sensual and seductive. If the men walk in purity, the women will be chaste and pure. The oppression we have allowed our daughters to experience in our societies is an indictment against us men.
In Her Hand in Marriage, Doug Wilson gives us insight into another telling, Old Testament sexual-assault law that instructs us about fathers. If a young woman was found not to be a virgin after she had been given in marriage to a man, the law stated that…they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death (Deuteronomy 22:21). Since, in most other cases, people were stoned at the city gates, this command indicates moral responsibility on the part of the father for failure to keep his daughter a virgin. It was his job to watch and care for her, to insure her virginity. She was put to death for her sin, but shame and responsibility were attached to her father. The symbolism in the location of the woman’s execution—in front of her father’s home—should not be missed. The responsibility for the moral state of a culture is laid at the doorstep of the men of that culture. Women can only be victimized and taken advantage of if the men allow it to happen.
The story of Lot in Genesis 19 tells us a tragic story about father-failure. One day, Lot met some visitors to his city who were planning to sleep in the town square for the night. Knowing the depravity of the citizens, Lot insisted the men stay in the safety of his home. When the neighbors and townspeople heard about the visitors, the men of the city went to Lot’s home, threatened him, and demanded that he release the visitors so they could violate them sexually. Lot tried to placate the men with an offer. “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof” (Genesis 19 7-8). Thankfully, the visitors, two angels, struck the crowd with blindness so they couldn’t find the door and they eventually left Lot and his household alone.
Elements of this story remind me of our generation. The culture is pounding on the doors of our homes. In the place of a sodomite, rapist crowd is a value system that guarantees unhappiness, diseased bodies, destroyed dreams, and broken hearts through the current dating system. Despite that, we insist the dating system is not broken. In our case, we are the ones who are blindly and willingly giving our daughters to the world’s system of relationships that will destroy and take advantage of them. We naively allow our daughters to spend time with young men we (and/or they) barely know. If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit we have entrusted our daughters into the hands of young men we wouldn’t even trust with the keys to our car! We give our daughters to this system, unprotected and totally vulnerable. We are no different than Lot. It horrifies us to think Lot would sacrifice his daughters’ purity and safety. It is no less horrifying to risk our own daughters’ purity and safety by blindly giving them to the world’s system of relationships.
This is not a message of condemnation! It is meant to awaken us to our true design and calling. It is crucial that we, as men, discover our original God-given design and rise up as protectors and defenders of the women in our lives—our wives, daughters, and mothers. In doing so, we reclaim the essence of authentic manhood.