When the man in my story longed for companionship, he had legitimate relational needs that were unfulfilled. And those needs went beyond a sex drive. His wife, having divorced him, was married to another man, leaving him to live a lonely life for many years in the Mennonite culture, with no one to understand or support him.
Going to church leadership and vulnerably sharing with them, only to be told that he should ‘become a eunuch’ so that he wouldn’t have to deal with ‘that’ aspect of loss, was a slap in the face of his manhood. It was particularly offensive, from an inconsistency perspective, because the bishop had carefully covered his son’s tracks, when his son was caught sexually violating other children and youth in the church, myself included. And I’m not talking ‘petty abuse’—if there is such a thing—like being a kid and grabbing a girl. It was rape and extreme violations in at least one case, to which there was a child witness, making it two victims in one offence. The bishop, knowing what his son had done, didn’t advise him to have surgery and become a eunuch. He hid the abuse, while exploiting others and giving this messed up advice to sincere seekers.
After creating Adam, God said that man was ‘very good’, that meant everything about him was good, even his sex drive. Everything except the ‘alone’ part. That, God said, is not good. Adam was in perfect relationship with his Creator, living in ideal circumstances, and still God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper who is compatible with him.” (Genesis 2:18)
After Adam named the animals, received instructions on tending the garden, and God had called him into spiritual battle, then, and only then, God set out to correct what was not good. He put Adam down for a nap, excised a rib, and created Eve.
In relationships a man’s natural instinct is to protect and provide physically. Back in the day, men would tenaciously protect their lovers, their children and their belongings. If anyone trespassed on their turf, threatened a man’s wife or daughter, the guns, swords or fists came out. (We even see this in Peter, with Jesus, when Peter cuts the ear off of Malchus, the High Priest’s slave.)
Am I saying it should still be this way? No. Not mostly. But I am saying we have all but taken the man out of men and then asked them to do relationships well, without doing the part they were originally designed to do.
It is not possible for a man to be oppressed, and completely controlled by a religious system (or other system—ie; the government) and expect him to do well in relationships.
To reclaim what was lost, we must first understand what was lost, and then return to God’s original intent.
When the fall took place, and sin entered the world, Satan set out to destroy all that was good. God placed in Adam a warrior heart, to protect from evil. Satan took that and made him a murderer (Cain, for example), teaching man to protect himself, his material things, and his agenda, rather than fighting for his wife and children, spiritually, and protecting them from evil in every way. Satan lied to man, misguiding him and stealing his original authority.
God commanded Adam to tend the Garden and gave him dominion over the earth—in essence God said, ‘Your needs are met, you are rich, let the earth serve you’. But Satan deceived man into believing that if he serves the earth, he will have his needs met, and he will become wealthy. Satan lied to man, causing him to look to himself for provision, rather than to God, leaving no time for relationship.
And then, when Eve came along, the most beautiful creature Adam had ever seen, there was perfect relationship. Adam made Eve personal, naming her, and calling out of her true greatness. ‘This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I will call her ‘woman’, because she was taken out of man.’ Adam embraced Eve at a heart level. “She is part of me, we are equal, we are one,” is what he really said when he named her.
There in the Garden the man and his wife were in a state of complete undress, and not ashamed. Unbroken trust. Unconditional acceptance. A love that knew not competition, no threat of abandonment, no fear of loss or rejection.
But Satan could not leave it at that. By shifting man’s focus from being a spiritual protector, provider and the one who ‘calls forth greatness’ in his world, and causing him to focus on survival, the enemy made man a slave in every area of life. He stripped man of his God-given identity, replacing it with a substitute that would only serve to distract him and make him feel inadequate.
It is not possible to be stripped of identity and walk in confident relationship. When a man discovers who he is in God’s eyes, his identity as a leader and a warrior is restored. He walks in authority, leading others into truth and revealing the heart of God, rather than retreating in apathy, or demanding control. He begins to see the gifts and talents God has given his wife, and he encourages her in her dreams, viewing her as a helper and a partner in a bigger vision. He no longer uses her for his own gratification, whether in bed, at the table or to keep his house and laundry in order, while neglecting her heart. He values her for who she is, rather than taking her for granted for what she does.
Jesus came to earth—God in human form, the Spirit of God dwelling in a body of flesh—to be the perfect example of what manhood is. It is rowing against the tide, swimming upstream, being a revolutionary, a rebel by religion’s standards. Because that’s who Jesus was. He refused to bow to a this-world system. He was a man among men. The kind we, as women, still long to be led by. If you are not already that man, you have the potential to become that man.
Men, God invites you to return to your original calling, as protector, provider, the one who affirms and empowers those he leads; Calling out wholeness where there is shame, calling out confidence where there is fear, and taking authority over the evil that threatens your wife and family. They feel abandoned when you retreat. They feel insecure when you see only their failures. They feel lost when you are not there to lead by example, with love and prayer. They feel unprotected when they are spiritually abused by the church and you don’t stand up to fight for them, for their hearts and souls. God is calling you….
Will you rise up and allow your manhood to be redefined and restored by God, and embrace relationships once again?
© Trudy Metzger 2012
Go to first post in this series: http://trudymetzger.com/2012/05/22/spiritual-abuse-introduction/