HomeOpinionTendai Chitsike -- The Whole ChickenIn the face of rampant abuse and #menaretrash, where shall we turn? — Tendai Chitsike

In the face of rampant abuse and #menaretrash, where shall we turn? — Tendai Chitsike

 

wholechicken

A monthly column that reflects on living in the Kingdom of God.

Since the high-profile reports of the murder and abuse of women and children, hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear about the most shocking acts of violence and abuse.

Recently the Minister of Social Development brought out a startling statistic: that one in three children have suffered domestic abuse.

While I wonder how we can verify the veracity of such a claim, the point is that we have a crisis of colossal proportion.

My firsthand experience of this came in law school. For my research paper, I looked at the difficulty of abused children presenting evidence in a court of law.

What I discovered was heartbreaking and gave extra resonance to the statement of Jesus in Matthew 18:6 — If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

What I discovered was that many cases of abuse come from someone within the family, often the breadwinner. Often, whatever the result in court, the child would either lose a breadwinner or remain with a repeated abuser within their midst.

After hearing from students at a lunchtime group I run, at least a few female students shared how this pattern of abuse within their families was nothing new, and had been the case for some time.

Within this milieu, social media was abuzz with the hashtag #menaretrash, where women and some men vented their anger and revulsion for these and many other cases of abuse, most of which are too numerous to make media headlines.

And in the face of such widespread abuse, and the resultant attitude towards men expressed in #menaretrash, it leads us to ask: where shall we turn? Where should we look to light the way out of our malaise? Are men essentially trash? Where should we look to restore the dignity, worth and value of women and children?

Thankfully, I have come recently come across a most helpful resource. Though I have just started reading Nurturing the Nations by Darrow Miller with Stan Guthrie, I have found it rich in biblical truth and compassion, helpfully unpacking the truth and lies that worldviews bring to this pressing issue.

If I could summarise the book so far in a nutshell, it would be the following: that every worldview outside of Christ brings a fundamental lie about women: either that women are inherently inferior to men, or that men and women are not inherently different.

Miller writes that the first lie, founded on chauvinism, “leads to the crushing of women”, while the second lie, founded on egalitarianism, “leads to the disappearance of women”.

The first lie is predominant in conservative and traditional cultures, while the second lie is predominant in progressive and postmodern cultures.

The early church became a bastion of hope for women and declared the radical truth that they are equal in value even while recognising inherent differences to men.

Nevertheless, as Miller writes, “the church, sadly has not always heeded Christ in its treatment of women”. That being the case, we ought to repent of this while returning to the only source of life-giving truth — Christ and His Word.

Where does that leave us? We are currently caught in the cross-currents of chauvinism and politically-correct egalitarianism, of the dominance over women and the disappearance of women.

We would do well to see, through the biblical lens, that neither of these ideas bring value, dignity and worth to women.

The same applies to men and manhood. As renowned missionary Elisabeth Elliot notes: “Words like manhood and masculinity have been expunged from our vocabulary, and we have been told in no uncertain terms that we ought to forget about such things, which amount to nothing more than biology, and concentrate on what it means to be ‘persons’.”

With all the tenderness I can muster, let me therefore say this: In the midst of the abuse of women and children, we thus not only need a stand against violence; we also need a resurgence of godly, biblical, unashamed manhood and womanhood.

Practically, this translates into men seeing women as Christ’s fellow image-bearers, worthy of respect and no longer dominating women, but also men finding their worth and dignity as men.

Both aspects are consistent with godly masculinity, and as men’s movement leader Ed Cole declared: “Christlikeness and masculinity are synonymous.”

How then should we regard #menaretrash?

Like everything else, the bible is instructive and the only reliable compass for ultimate truth.

Ecclesiastes 7:29 speaks powerfully into men are trash, declaring: See, I have found only this, that God made men right, but they have found many sinful ways.

God made men (and women) right, but men (and women) have found many sinful ways.

To put it differently, the bible declares that men are not trash; they, like women, are made in God’s image. However, men (and women), do trash, and their solution is not in disappearing or rejecting masculinity, but in repentance and returning to the source: God himself.

As we take a stand against violence of women and children, may we look solely to the God who upholds the inherent value and differences of male and female, bringing men and women to His lordship and saving grace as our only hope.

Neither chauvinism nor egalitarian-inspired androgyny will liberate.

As William Law wisely declared: “If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.”

May we strive to see both the end of abuse and the simultaneous flourishing of godly manhood and womanhood.

 
In the face of rampant abuse and #menaretrash, where shall we turn? — Tendai Chitsike  

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About the author

Tendai Chitsike arrived in Grahamstown to study law at Rhodes University. After completing his studies he sensed a call to stay in Grahamstown to reach and disciple students with His People Christian Church. He now serves as lead pastor of the church and is happily married to his wife, Keryn, and they have two young children. The opinions expressed in this column are solely his and he reserves the right to improve them whenever possible.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Barry Strydom says:

    Tendai as always, I appreciate and respect your views. Sorry, I know pastors generally hate being told that their teaching is a view because it sounds less authoritative. Anyway, I agree with all your views here, even though I’m more concerned with why so many men treat women and children like ‘trash’, rather than what a bunch of feminists have to say about men on the hashtag they’ve created on social media.
    However, since this is a Christian news website, stating a view about sin here is like preaching to the choir, although there may be a few believers who read this who are still stuck in “conservative and traditional” or “progressive and postmodern” churches. Hopefully, they will learn something valuable from your views and find a church that is at least attempting to align themselves with the Word of God rather than with the wrongs and evil of their culture.
    On the other hand, unbelievers would care less about what the Bible says, or the views of Darrow Miller, Stan Guthrie, Elisabeth Elliot, Ed Cole, William Law or Tendai Chitsike, let alone the views of Barry Strydom. And now that I’m on the subject of unbelievers, I’d like to ask you a question about repentance that is also very relevant to this discussion.
    A number of weeks ago you wrote an article which included a story about when you were evangelizing and encountered a young man who was living with his girlfriend. You said that when the young man heard he would have to stop sleeping with his girlfriend he declined the invitation to give his life to Christ. Keep this in mind.
    I’m sure you are aware that the church is somewhat divided about repentance, and particularly when repentance of sin like lust, stealing and abusing others etc. actually really takes place in a person’s life. I don’t need to remind you that Godly repentance is very different to how our courts of law define repentance, which is more about showing remorse and sorrow rather than changing. Here’s a reminder that Godly repentance means to change one’s mind completely and start living exactly the opposite of what we once did. There are many scriptures that talk about repenting of sin and turning to God and that is not what’s in dispute here, nor is the fact that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts people of sin.
    One school of thought says that we must repent of our sin (like lust, stealing and abusing others etc) before we receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, which is what John the Baptist meant when he said “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). They say that John the Baptist was in the New Testament because what he taught was and still is an absolute necessity to make way for and receive the Lord in one’s life. Also, they remind us that “grace is free but it is not cheap”, and that it is not scriptural to preach the gospel of salvation without stating the cost as well, giving the rich young ruler as an example (Matt 19:16-22).
    Another school of thought says that John the Baptist represented the Old Covenant style of repentance, and that any repentance of sin (like lust, stealing and abusing others etc) as a condition for receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour is a form of works rather than grace. They claim that true repentance of sin (like lust, stealing and abusing others etc) can only really happen when we are born again, receive the Lord into our lives, and be changed by Him. Otherwise, if we could do it ourselves why would we need Him in our lives?
    They also say that Jesus waited until John the Baptist was imprisoned before He began teaching “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” himself (Matt 4:12-17), because His repentance was somewhat different to John’s in that Jesus was first calling sinners to change the way they think about God and about themselves first, before they would eventually receive salvation and their ‘new man’ through Jesus‘ death, which they say is still true for us today. They don’t dispute that wrong judgements about God, oneself and others is not sin, but they do clarify a difference to other sin like lust, stealing and abusing others etc. They list many examples in the Gospels where Jesus met people exactly where they were at, like Zacchaeus the tax-collector, who repented from his cheating and stealing after Jesus called him down from the tree and went to his house, which in a way was a type of salvation.
    And lastly, regarding the rich young ruler, they say that this was not about repentance at all because there is absolutely no evidence that the rich young ruler committed any sin in becoming rich. Instead they say, this was a lesson about grace, and that nothing the rich young ruler possessed or had done (good or bad) could qualify or disqualify him for the kingdom of heaven. This, according to those with this school of thought, is the good news gospel.
    Finally, we have another school of thought that embraces both of the above, siting Mathew 11:17-19 where Jesus said, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.”
    Tendai, this is not one of those Pharisee trick questions, but I’d love to know your views about this. Maybe in a future ‘The Whole Chicken’?

  2. Teboho Tsietsi says:

    Thank you Tends for this well-articulated piece. I agree with your Miller and Guthrie inspired view that neither of the views the world has adopted towards women bring glory and value to them. I think though that at the heart of it, the movement was about calling for men to take responsibility for wrong doing, by men, against women. Do you, at least, think it’s fair to say that, by not taking a stand, by remaining silent in the face of gender-based violence, to a point where this battle has been predominantly faught by women, because men have, collectively, not taken a stand against it, men are thus collectively responsible for gender-based violence, including those who may have not personally committed those crimes? Hence the general view that men are trash (and instead of saying men ARE NOT trash, I would say that men SHOULD NOT BE trash, because they are created in the image of God). When you say men are not trash but they do trash I think, but we are products of a sum of our actions. God is love because He does love, love is a verb.
    One person made an example that, although not all snakes are dangerous, wherever we see or think of a snake we think of something that is dangerous because there are some which can be deadly. So we say snakes are dangerous.
    My point is that, it all begins with men taking responsibility – in action – for what men are doing to women and children. By taking it upon themselves to transform the views on masculinity; educating other men, challenging these problematic views about manhood and womanhood, and most importantly, by standing up against such acts whenever they witness them. I acknowledge that you did say “as we stand against violence of women and children…” I understand that to mean “we” men?