I used to be naive. I thought most people were mostly good. When I heard of scandal or impropriety, I was literally shocked. Then again, I was a child then. Before long, I saw my own darkness and surprised myself at how far I’d fallen from the ideals I’d set for myself. Now, over two decades later, everywhere I look I see total depravity rearing its grotesque head. If I could go back and choose, I’d surely take naivety over reality. But I can’t. Instead, today, I beg for the ear of my Christian brothers. Please hear me.
Yesterday I heard a radio broadcast interviewing a woman involved in rescuing victims of sex-trafficking in India. She talked about how difficult it was for her team when their male counterpart had to take a leave. An all-female team in a place where women are thought of very poorly made everything they did all the harder.
When asked what her greatest hope was for her mission – what the one thing she would wish for was if she had a magic wand – she said, “For men’s hearts to change.”
Oh. Is that all?
She went on to talk about how little it mattered even if they were to save and keep every woman from buying into the lies of the industry. Forced, manipulated, bought, or bribed, women will ever oblige these appetites. “When there is a demand, there will always be a supply” she said.
I sit and consider how very true that statement is. I recall the scandalous full page portrait which violated me as I opened a national newspaper the other day. I remember half a dozen more I saw on billboards and commercials just yesterday. I grieve when I find myself having to explain to my young daughters why there are half naked women on the covers of every other magazine in the grocery store. I remember a time when I was gladly the girl standing next to the car in the magazine and proudly the first place bikini contestant. To that end, I have to wonder why so many Christian men (and women) accept, approve of, and participate in entertainment that clearly degrades, denigrates, and disrespects women. Show me a man who stands up against this ubiquitous sickness in our culture and I will show a man who loves, honors, protects, and respects women as he claims to.
Change men’s hearts. That’s where the buck stops. Not change women’s hearts. Not change children’s hearts. Change men’s hearts. Only One can do that.
Acts 13 has been laying on my heart for the past several weeks. After studying it more in depth this morning, I now realize why the Lord has troubled me so with it.
Paul, a former Christian-hating murderer, meets his match. Bar-Jesus, meaning “son of pride” or filius infaltionis “son of inflation” in the ancient Aramaic, was a magician. He began to harass the apostles who were preaching the gospel to the influential leader whom he sought to own. This was a man who was bold, loud, and overly interested in gaining power. He was a man most interested in selfish gain and stopping at nothing to silence anyone in his way. A man, that is, who was just like Paul before his conversion to Christ.
Little wonder why he was so opposed to the coming of the Christians. They were on his turf – Paphos. Paphos – the supposed birthplace of the false goddess, Aphrodite, also known as the Paphian Venus. Aphrodite – ever known for driving illicit sexuality and practices. Pride, selfishness, power, and lustful sex. Doubtless, this guy liked his leader blind and his city the way it was.
Paul was not amused. If anyone understood this guy’s state, it was surely Paul. He knew exactly what this enemy of the cross was doing – for he had done it, too. Surprising to me, Paul was extremely harsh with this fella. He looked him right in the eye, and with a holy boldness and strong opposition, rebukes him, calls him a “son of the devil” and sends him off blinded by the power of God.
Um. Dude was just like you, man. Couldn’t you have identified with him? Took him under your wing? Loved him into the kingdom? Didn’t someone do that for you when you were blind? How is this guy different and why no mercy here, preacher?
I’ve thought. I’ve thought and thought and thought about this. Aside from the sheer grace of God, the only difference I find between this magician and Paul is that Paul heard the Lord’s voice and he…repented. He heard and he repented. We are not told that the Son of Pride ever did that.
So, the very same thing the Lord did to Paul, he did to Bar-Jesus through Paul. The difference was that Paul was God’s voice and the man did not repent. Nevertheless, where God used Paul’s repentance to bring many to faith, he used the Son of Pride’s unrepentance. The even more influential man, the proconsul, believed by Paul’s boldness and the Lord’s clear wrath upon the unrepentant.
When I look around, as much as I long for purity and decency, I cannot be naive. Our world is neither pure nor decent. Repentance is our only hope in this culture of blindness. Repentance is our only hope in this culture of illicit sexual perversion, sex-trafficking, and women-degrading entertainment. Where are the men who are willing to stand up and fight valiantly for the honor and respect of women? When they show up, bank on it, women will follow. Where are those who are willing to sacrifice for us? Where are they who will look their counterparts in the eye and rebuke them openly for their wickedness? Regardless of what Hollywood is propagating with it’s feminist, emasculating agenda, we need you. We need men who are willing to repent. We need men who are willing to sacrifice. We need men who are willing to protect. We need men who are not afraid to be authentically counter-cultural. We need men to stop flippantly approving of that which degrades and dishonors us for the sake of a two-hour macho-movie trip. We need men who are not able to be content standing by in silence as their peers are putting down, perverting, and robbing us of our very personhood. We need men who are interested in loving us truly when we are not wearing what’s most appealing. We need men fathering the fatherless, discipling the unchurched, and caring for the weak and oppressed when they could be sitting on the couch watching football. The question is not will we follow you, it is where are you leading us?
So where are you? I follow your Lord and he expects me to follow you. I just want to know where we’re going.
Give me one man who practices what he says he believes about honoring women and you can keep the 10,000 who profess it. We do not need any more sons of pride. We need sons of God. As your sister, I beg you. Stop fighting the villains in call of duty and spend your time learning how to fight the good fight.