We need to quit buying into the lie that men are victims of their bodies and just can't help themselves. We need to teach our sons that they don't prove their manhood by undressing women with their eyes and catcalling at them as they walk down the street. We need to raise our sons to understand they don't prove their manhood by asking women for what is not appropriate outside the marriage covenant. We need to raise sons who understand it is manlier to date and court a young woman with integrity that it is to get her drunk, so he can add another notch to his belt. We need to raise our sons to understand that real men do not wound women through sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. For a while, I thought maybe I was just being unreasonable to expect men to be different; then I read the story of Ruth and came across a man named Boaz.
Ruth was a widow from Moab living in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi, who was bitter over the loss of her husband and both of her sons. As was customary, Ruth went to a barley field hoping to glean what the reapers left. She ended up gleaning in Boaz's fields. When he approached the fields, he saw her, and he asked about her. Upon hearing that she was the daughter-in-law of Naomi, he approached her. He was kind as he instructed her to not leave his field for other fields and to stay with the women that were working for him. He provided her with water and with food and even instructed his workers to pull some grain from their bundles and leave it so that she would have ample grain for her and Naomi's needs. He treated the young foreign woman with upmost respect and provided food and drink for her and Naomi. He protected her as she was vulnerable to mistreatment and assault.
I think every woman, at some level, desires to be treated like this. When I was in college, I had to walk by the cafeteria late at night to get back to my dorm after my class. I had been victimized as a child and I was nervous because several women had reported that they had been assaulted by athletes on our campus. As I came around the corner of the building, there was a group of athletes standing there. They started catcalling and I panicked and started walking even faster. When I started walking faster, they took it up a notch calling me all sorts of vulgar names. That night I longed for a Boaz, to step out of the crowd of guys who had enough integrity to speak kindly to me and to offer to walk me through the crowd so that I knew I could safely get home.
When Ruth told Naomi about Boaz's kindness, protection, and provision, Naomi explained Israel's provision for widows through a kinsman redeemer. At Naomi's instruction, Ruth bathed and anointed herself with perfume and went to the threshing floor and uncovered the feet of Boaz and laid there at his feet. He awakened and she asked him to be her redeemer. Even in the darkness of the night with a woman lying at his feet, Boaz integrity shined bright. He could have taken advantage of Ruth, but he listened to her and treated her with respect. He knew there was a closer relative who had the right of redemption, and he wanted to legally take Ruth as a wife without disrespecting the relative who was entitled to do so. As soon as it was light enough for her to go home safely he sent her on her way, protecting both her reputation and her purity. He asked for the right to marry her and it was granted.
So, where did Boaz learn to treat women so well? Why was his heart so open and protective of the foreigner living in his community? I think maybe he learned it from his dad and his mom. His mom was none other than "Rahab the harlot" who was saved when she hung the scarlet chord from her window when the walls of Jericho tumbled down. Some people think that it was one of the spies that she hid that took her as his wife. Maybe Boaz learned from watching his dad demonstrate love and grace to his mom through kind words and protective actions. Or, maybe Boaz learned to be kind and full of integrity in his relationships with women from watching his mom suffer through the leers from men and the gossip of women who knew of her questionable past. Maybe it came from watching his mom be snubbed for being a foreigner living in Bethlehem and from the cruelty he endured as a product of a mixed marriage. We don't know for sure, but we do know that Boaz grew to be man of impeccable integrity and maybe, just maybe, our culture would begin to change if we began to raise each of our sons to become a man like Boaz.
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