Today is International Women’s Day.
As for me, I’m a “ladies man,” but not in the way you are familiar with the term.
My happiest childhood memories are of one summer with my grandmother, Eleanor, fishing, trapping critters, hiking up the rock piles around Phoenix (called “mountains”), and getting thrown by her into a fenced yard to fight my own personal bully “to the death” as she placed a $5 bet on me as the sure winner, with the bully’s mom, no less.
Stuff like that.
She was wonderful.
Her daughter, Laura Emily, was wonderful too. She raised four kids as a single mom, of which I was the oldest. This woman was a force of beauty and strength to be reckoned with. One time I watched with shock and delight as she jumped with her little body onto the back of a man nearly twice her size—my “new dad”—holding onto his neck with her left arm and punching him in the head with her right fist, screaming, “Don’t you ever lay a hand on one of my children again or I’ll end you.” And he never hit me again.
She was very cool.
My younger sister Kimberly was the very definition of adorableness. What a charming and giggly little girl she was as she grew up dodging flying objects and flying fists with three crazy brothers, all of whom were completely awed by her strange, princess-like distinction from us. She’s all grown up now into a lovely lady in whose company I find only delight.
“Don’t you ever lay a hand on one of my children again or I’ll end you.”
Then came Susan Preston, the most gorgeous creature I’ve ever known, with an IQ to match. I went straight from my mommy to Sue at the tender age of 14, and married her at 18. Conspiring with my mother against me on my behalf, she led me to Jesus. I was saved by God through this girl’s influence upon me, and she has held me, by the sheer strength of her love and integrity, in unwavering devotion to her since the first day we met.
And then there are my daughters. As vivid as if it were yesterday, I can see the doctor placing our first little girl in my arms. I looked down into her beautiful blue eyes and whispered, “Amber Faith. That’s your name, and I love you.” A few years later, little baby Leah came along, and again I felt the wonder and mystery of the father-daughter bond. Raising these girls up into womanhood, and knowing that they smile at the thought of their father because all they have ever known is my love, is an indescribable joy that floods my heart every time I think of it.
All of these women, and many others, have exerted an astounding influence on my life. I haven’t mentioned my aunties, my incredible mother-in-law, and numerous female friends and colleagues in ministry down through the years. Women are, quite literally and without exaggeration, amazing.
And yet, I am faced with the painful reality that nearly all of the women I’ve ever known and loved have suffered exploitation, injustice, or abuse by men. If you live in a little world in which women are not violated by men, then you live in a bubble, and I praise God for your bubble, but please know that it is a bubble, and a small one at that. As a rule on planet Earth, women suffer under the abusive power of men. The greatest travesty of human history is, in fact, the abusive treatment of women and children by men.
More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than there were men killed in all the wars in the 20th century.
Worldwide, women ages 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, and traffic accidents combined.
Three million girls and women are subjected to genital mutilation each year for the purpose of ensuring that they experience no pleasure in the sexual act, lest they imagine they are equal to the men that use them. It is estimated that there are 135 million living women worldwide that have been subjected to genital mutilation.
At the peak of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the 1780s, there were 80,000 slaves transported annually from Africa to the New World. There are now ten times that number of girls and women trafficked across international borders and sold into sex slavery ever year, and this man’s world of ours does very little to stop it.
In advertising nearly all products sold to men define women as mere sexual objects to be used.
In popular music men regularly define women as mere sexual objects to be used—as “bitches” and “hoes” and “sexy things,” and some men even win Grammy Awards for their portrayal of women in this degrading manner.
Is it surprising, then, that in the United States alone one of every four girls is sexually abused by a man before they turn eighteen?
in the United States alone one of every four girls is sexually abused by a man before they turn eighteen.
Oh, the beauty and agony of womankind!
“Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
Here Scripture foretold that women—as a result of the principle of selfishness being introduced into the relational dynamics of human beings—would be dominated by their male counterparts. Eugene Cho accurately observed that “the oldest injustice in human history is the way men treat women.”
When the apostle Peter announced that Jesus came into our world to bring about “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21), he is envisioning a world in which all relationships are brought back to the way they were before the Fall. The plan of salvation is the process by which God intends to restore things to the way they’re supposed to be—to right all the wrongs in the world—in our individual hearts, in our personal relationships, and in our world’s social structures.
And that restoration must involve righting the oldest injustice in human history.
That restoration must involve, at its very foundation, men dignifying women, men relating to women as the equals to themselves that they actually are, men loving and cherishing and elevating and protecting women as daughters of Eve, the original woman, created by God to know only freedom and joy.
May I invite you—even urge you—to listen to Eve and Her Daughters, an audio message in which I explore what it has meant to be female in our world down through history.