Teaching Men to Respect Women #3
This is the third and last in a series about teaching men to respect women. The first part dealt with women. It makes it easier for men to respect women when the women give them something to respect. A woman’s attitude, speech and behavior either attract, or repel, a respectful attitude from men.
On the other hand, men can be respectful, and should, even if a woman’s attitude, speech and behavior don’t attract respect. By respect, I mean more than just being polite, although that is included. I’m thinking also of not using someone for selfish ends, such as pleasure or gratification. Our perfect model, Jesus, never used anyone in a demeaning or hurtful way.
In part 2 I gave the first of three points on preparing sons. They were one, we as the husbands and fathers must respect our own wives. Two, young boys should be corrected, even punished for improper treatment of girls. Three, dads should never speak of women as objects or as conquests to their sons.
Four, we should help our sons see every woman as someone’s wife, mother or daughter. This will help us resist reducing her to an object for our gratification. One man was able to break his addiction to pornography in part by realizing that every woman he was looking at was some father’s precious daughter, and his heart was breaking at how she was treating herself. He raised her for better. Can’t you imagine such a father praying for a young man to value his daughter and rescue her from that lifestyle, rather than affirming her in it?
Finally, fathers need to be very familiar with the scriptures that speak of respect and honor in general and toward women in particular. “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust ...” (1 Thessalonians 4:4-5a). Controlling his own body and mind is what enabled Jesus to treat all women honorably, no matter what their circumstance. It is also what will help a young man resist the aggressive attention of the Proverbs 7 woman. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her ...” (Ephesians 5:25-26a). The ultimate goal of a godly man is prepare a woman, particularly his wife, for Jesus. That calls for an immense measure of love and respect. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1Peter 3:7). How can a man be degrading, abusive or sexually improper toward any woman when he is meditating on verses like these? Finally, consider 1 Peter 1:16: “Be holy, because I am holy.” God in his holiness is seeking to redeem all mankind, men and women, to himself, and he invites us to join him in his project. So, we live like him, holy.
To encourage respectful treatment, it is good for a woman to act in a way that is respectful. Her language, relationships, dress, and behavior project an image that encourage a man’s honorable or denigrating treatment of her.
But, our choice on how to treat a woman is not solely determined by her behavior. It is far more determined by the character that has been produced within us. We can choose to treat everyone respectfully, and God will give us the strength to do it.
There is a selfish motivation for men to treat women respectfully, and for dads to teach their sons to do so: the boomerang effect. The positive influence we send out may protect our own daughters with the expectation for respect we place within them, and with the young men who come calling to our homes.