“Let the women and children go first”.
“That’s not how you treat a woman”.
“That’s not how you speak to a woman”.
These phrases have been used by scores of people over the years, in fact, you’ve probably used these phrases yourself or you heard them being said by someone somewhere.
If you stop and ponder upon these phrases, you get a sense that women are supposed to be treated in a particular way. You get a sense that women are to be given a special care, that they’re supposed to be given the priority in various situations. In spite of the increased calls for “gender equality”, there is the unspoken expectation that men ought to be tender with women.
This is no coincidence. This is how God intended it to be. Within God’s design, he meant for men to show a caring protection and strong tenderness towards women. Furthermore, when God designed man, he endued their souls with a caring disposition towards women. As John Piper states in one of his sermons, these are “deep dispositions or inclinations, written on the heart of men”.
Let’s take a look at a few verses from the Bible that shed some light on what we’re trying to get at:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
(1 Peter 3:19)
A simple reading of these verses shows us that husbands should not be harsh with their wives, should be understanding, should show honor; moreover, husbands should be like Christ who gave up his life to save and sanctify his bride, that is, the church. The care Christ shows for his bride goes to the point where he doesn’t want any “spot or wrinkle or any such thing” on her (Eph 5:27).
One gets an overwhelming sense that Christ deeply cares for his bride; and husbands taking their cue from Christ, are called to follow the same pattern modeled by Christ and care for their wives.
The Bible makes it very clear that husbands should show a special care to their wives.
Now, do men start showing this kind of care only after they’re married? Or do they start when they’re engaged or when they’re dating?
If indeed God designed men in such a way, when do men start behaving in accordance with their design?
To answer these questions in the words of John Piper “Men, as men, everywhere, all the time, bear a burden, under God, to care for the well-being of women”. That’s right, the answer is always. Whether you’re single, engaged, or married, you still have a burden to give this special care to women according to the differing relationships you have, meaning the care an unmarried man shows to an unmarried or married woman would not be as deep and personal as the care shown between a husband and wife.
How does this special care play out practically in our lives? We could probably start by following the phrases that were mentioned in the beginning of this article. In other words, we look for opportunities where we can put the woman first, ready to serve at all times. It could mean offering to lift the heavy bags of whatever she’s carrying, or catching a rickshaw for her before you get yours, or seeing that she finds a place to sit before you find yours.
I personally believe, however, that the care we men can show can go beyond just the physical. I believe we can look to protect women emotionally too. To put it simply, protecting women emotionally would mean safeguarding their hearts and minds, which mostly entails how you speak to them and your behavior towards them.
It could mean using a gentler tone while speaking to them and being polite at all times. Or minimizing the banter with them and holding back those sarcastic comments. It could mean monitoring your online behavior which could result in stopping the unnecessary texting or the excessive interaction on social media. I would go as far to say that you don’t hug them, in greeting or when saying goodbye, unless they hug you first, out of respect.
All this is done to communicate to the women that we esteem them in the highest regard and that we don’t want to use our words to make them doubt their value in Christ, nor do we want to mess with their feelings.
Let me conclude by expressing a hope: I hope we men would see living out God’s design as a divine mandate. I hope we would see the importance of protecting and caring for our women in ways that reflect God’s design. To Him belong dominion and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Author’s Note: This article first appeared on The Gathering Community Church website.
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