A Call to Men

by Jonathan Brink
re-posted from Missio Dei


I am making a call to men to step up to a level of fierce, sacrificial love for women.

Recently I’ve been listening to the great chasm between men and women that exists in culture. It’s not new but I have been exploring this divide in a deeper way in my own heart. And I now believe it is time to respond in a tangible way. In some ways, I fell like this is one of the most important posts I have or will write because it’s a call out of oppression.

My exploration essentially began in response to Julie Clawson’s article regarding women in leadership in Christianity Today’s blog. Julies voice eloquently expressed the tension and divide that exists in both women and men. It was both her courage and honesty that caught my attention.

And then my journey took me to New Mexico for the Emerging Church conference. It was at this conference that I got to experience over and over the amazing voices that are women, and the profound balance they provide to the conversation. It was in no way new, but it was fresh. I would offer that the best voices at the conference were women. But is was on woman in particular who sat next to me that I must mention. During the after conference she chose to reveal to the room what reconciliation not only sounded like but looked like. I wrote about that experience here, but I think Jeromy capture it much better in his post, “wounded image of God.”

And then Jeff McQuilkin stepped up and owned it too. He followed in Jeromy’s footsteps and sought out the forgiveness of the lost and broken female voice that we men have oppressed. It was both insightful, profound, and needed, especially because Jeff serves as a pastor. And unfortunately the church leads the way in oppressing women.

And then a friend of mine hit me with A Question of Fidelity. It was an exploration into the tension that is marriage. But it was the comment of a female friend that literally stopped me dead in my tracks. Peggy said,

I flinched a bit when you said: “The role of mother is virtually untouchable in our society, especially in a Christian context.” For so many Christian women, being a mother is the only thing that they are really empowered — overtly and covertly — to do. While that may not be the whole (actually, I’m confident it is not!) issue here, it is a part of it. If it is untouchable, the brother have to bear some of the responsibility for that, IMO.

Peggy had in no uncertain terms nailed it on the head. In subjugating and oppressing women, in limiting them to certain exclusive roles, MEN have in essence driven women to a place of defending these territories, at the expense of relationship. We are in essence creating a culture that deeply effects our own marriages, families, and social structures.

And the final straw came in Scripture. I was updated the workbooks for Thrive and was working through Genesis again. The creation account is interesting in that there is a moment when God allows Adam to first see life without the presence of Eve. And the point is to call out what was MISSING. “It is not good for man to be alone.” And then God reveals that Eve is within Adam. The whole of humanity is found in the both/and. And it hit me in a very deep way. The whole of humanity is only found in both expressions of God’s image, in the male and the female.

And when we oppress women by cutting out their voices, their participation, and their calling to leadership we have in essence cut ourselves off from the whole picture of our own humanity. We have oppressed ourselves. We are missing the half that is part of us. And again, none of this is new, but what these events did was unveil my eyes to the path to restoration and wholeness.

So today I want to call men out of their own oppression by refusing to oppress the other half of themselves: women. And I’m talking flat out refuse. This is not a call to think about it. This is a call to step up and own it as a completely different way of living, one defined by grace, invitation, and permission, not shame, rejection, and fear. The truth is we’re not even giving women permission. We’re validating the permission that God has already given to them. And this will mean owning our own history as the male half, even if we didn’t participate. It will mean seeking forgiveness with the women around us, reminding them that it is our part to redeem the oppression we have created. And in some cases, it will also mean taking on the responsibility for our neighbor, who has not yet discovered his own courage.

For those in leadership of businesses, families and churches, and especially pastors, it means taking the risk and elevating women to leadership. It means restoring the other half of not only our own image but God’s voice in our midst. And for some this is going to be a sacrificial move. You might be putting your job at risk. But I would offer you if you do it will become one of the most defining acts of your life. It will be, as a friend says, “Your William Wallace moment.” It will be the moment you stood up against oppression and said, “No more to oppression or tyranny.” I love Wallace’s own words from the movie Braveheart:

“Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!”

Our freedom only comes when we first stop participating in the oppression of women. It is time to remove our shame. It is time to step into our own calling as men and be love in the fiercest way possible, and against the most oppressive of enemies. And our enemy is not our neighbor standing near or afar, but the lie that lures us to oppress each other. For all of us, it is time to end this oppression against women so restore not for their sake but for ours as well. And when we do we can rediscover the whole image of humanity and of God in our midst.

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