The Dignity of Men—You or the Other Guy
There exists a general coarsening of our culture, a prevailing vulgarity, a distinct lack of civility.
This is symptomatic of a widespread denigration, a denial of the universal dignity of all men. Degradation eases the burden of my declaration of superiority, gives weight to the rightness of my position, and renders my efforts at subjugation for personal gain more palatable.
God sees things a bit differently.
In the Eyes of God
David reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” that God, “formed my inward parts,” that He, “knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13-14) God knows me, everything about me. He knows my very words before they are on my lips. He knows all of my ways.
He ordained my days before they were written.
I cannot run from God, I cannot hide from Him. Even in the dark, in the depths of my despair, God is with me, guiding me, leading me. (Psalm 139:11-12)
When we consider the value of men, that the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God of the Universe put His very fingerprints upon my soul as He knit me together, we must respond. David responds with joy, with wonder, with amazement.
How unsearchable are the ways of God! (Romans 11:33)
The pages of Scripture affirm my dignity, my worth, my value at the same time that they produce a deep repentance and broken spirit over my sin. As I am the handiwork of God, the corruption wrought by my sin is that much more grievous. The affirmation of our value, our worth, our dignity begs a more pointed question.
Can we acknowledge the same for other men?
What about those you hate?
What about those who hate you?
Women in the Eyes of God
Can we affirm the dignity of women?
The #metoo movement, though born of a righteous cause, has deteriorated into an amorphous jumble of confusing and competing messages as it’s been subsequently hijacked by those with a clear agenda.
And everyone must get on board or risk the ire of public shaming. Thus a Beth Moore rebukes a generation of Baptist men for the specific sins of a handful and the prevailing attitude, prompting an Al Mohler to declare that the judgment of God has come against the Southern Baptist Convention. Intrigued, I consulted a spiritual mentor of mine who informed me of the sexual sin of a few other Baptist leaders.
So let me get this straight…a group of prominent men step out of line sexually and we speak judgement against an entire denomination.
Okay, the necessary caveat. Sexual assault of any kind is horrific and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
But it seems a bit like pandering to me.
And it detracts from the much more insidious and systematic denigration of women.
The first step. We (men) convinced women that their worth is in their sexuality, how they look, and what they will do for us. Thus, high school girls are forced to display their worth by giving oral sex in the high school bathroom in the hopes that the boy will continue to talk to them. They must take seductive selfies or dress in an (in)appropriate manner all while risking a social media outing that would shame them for doing the very thing we demand they do to garner our affections.
The second step: We (men) seek sexual fulfillment elsewhere, outside a loving and committed relationship that nourishes the soul of a woman. We forsake them (women) for pornography or drive-by sexual encounters. The culmination of abandonment is men forsaking women entirely and finding gratification in other men.
A third step: We (men) actually render our women obsolete. Was it just me or did the man formerly known as Bruce Jenner receive Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year award. The man Fallon Fox breaks the eye socket of his female MMA opponent. A boy in Connecticut wins the state girls 100m and 200m sprint. Men are just simply better at being girls than girls themselves.
All of these speak to the denigration of women, in exact opposition to Scripture, the call of God.
We ought to vigorously affirm the intrinsic value of women, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. That God knit them together in their mother’s womb. Their value is completely divorced from what they can do for me.
We ought to daily affirm this for our wives.
We ought to instill this in the hearts of our daughters.
We ought to impress this upon the hearts of our sons.
Men in the Eyes of God
Because I do a lot of business over social media, I see perhaps the worst in men.
How easy is it to degrade a fellow man, to deny his humanity, when you don’t even know him? He is a stranger, just a random and faceless name?
Today, the primary sin men commit against men is to disagree with them.
Todd Friel, host of Wretched TV and Radio, does an interesting spot called Encounter on Campus. In a University ‘free speech zone’, whatever that is, he sets up a microphone and proclaims the Gospel to lost college students. It’s interactive. They have a microphone whereby they engage him and challenge his conclusions.
One of his most consistent endeavors, in interacting with the college students, is to convince them that they both cannot be right. Either he is right and they are wrong or they are right and he is wrong or they are both wrong. It has to be one of these options and that’s okay. They can disagree and yet, don’t have to resort to vitriol or name-calling or hatred.
It’s amazing how difficult this is for the students to accept.
They find in his disagreement a personal affront, which shouldn’t surprise I guess, since the Gospel is truly the most offensive thing that has ever been.
Yet, this exhibits a widespread hatred for those on ‘the opposite side of the aisle’. My liberal cousin actually hates Republicans. He doesn’t disagree with them. He doesn’t think they are confused or just wrong. He truly hates them. He sees them as wicked and evil and it reflects in how he communicates with them.
My friends on the right are no different. Liberal snowflakes. Libtards. The hatred permeates across party lines, across racial lines, across cultural lines.
Men simply refuse to see their fellow men with the same dignity with which God sees them.
Can I acknowledge that a man I hate is fearfully and wonderfully made, just as I am?
This drives a deeper revelation. Why must I hate?
The Lost in the Eyes of God
I see, in some of my brothers, a general contempt for the lost.
When confronted with unrighteousness, with those who hate God, we respond like David. Slay the wicked God! Don’t I hate those who you also hate. I loathe them. I hate them with complete hatred. (Psalm 139:19-22)
Is this how we ought to respond?
A few reminders are in order.
But by the grace of God, there go I. It is only the grace of God that pulled me from the mire of my sin, that saved me and were it not for the grace of God, I would still be a hater of God, on the other side of David’s aspersion. As we gaze upon the sin of the world, we must never forget that such were some of you. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
These are brothers, some of them. I’ll never hate a man into the Kingdom of God. As I slander, as I condemn, as I return hate with hate, I may actually be afflicting a future brother, one yet reconciled.
My hatred has no kinship with the heart of Christ.
God, in the complexity of his character never rejoices at the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:23, 33:11)
Can we return the hatred of the world with love? They will hate. They hated Christ, so they will hate His disciples. Can we still affirm the dignity of men in the face of such opposition?
Brothers in the Eyes of God
I moderated a debate recently between Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Theodore Zachariades concerning the continuation of the charismatic spiritual gifts of tongues, healing, and prophecy.
The debate was cordial, academic, and insightful.
The response of my brothers was not always the same.
Those on one side in particular refused to acknowledge the salvation of those on the other, called them wolves, false teachers, apostate. You name it. The hatred shocked my senses, the sheer lack of civility amongst those who profess to worship the same God over a secondary matter, not even a matter of salvation.
Now, we must stand for truth and we must not compromise, but can we affirm the dignity of those with whom we disagree?
Men in the Eyes of God
Lest I be mired in self-contempt, it is a valuable exercise to remind myself of how God feels about me. I find my worth in Christ, and who God has made me to be. I have value, intrinsic worth…I matter.
There’s the rub.
Do I matter?
God responds with a resounding, “Yes!”
Can you affirm the same of your fellow man, of all your fellow man?
Here is the heart of Christ. I pray we’d all repent for falling short in this regard.
Author - Founder
Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).
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