Monday, January 03, 2011

Follow The Leader Attitude

Posted by Hannah at 7:00 AM

Follow the Leader
The other day I was speaking to the well known author, Jocelyn Andersen.  I remember I was telling her that I was a bit disturbed about the fact when I read articles on major Christian websites about domestic violence - they are genetic.  They generally say the same thing over, and over again.  To me there is no meat and potatoes there at all.

WELL someone upstairs must have been listening to me, because an article was placed in my email box today.  Christian Today had an article called, Towards an effective church response to domestic abuse.

“Restored is driven forward by two questions,” says Peter. “Where is the church and where are the men?”

The resource, Ending Domestic Abuse, is an attempt to answer the first question. It’s still being drafted and the final version is expected to come out sometime in 2011.

The answer to the second question is a new campaign to be launched in the next few months, First Man Standing. As the name suggests, the campaign is challenging men to be the first man to stand up in their church, in their sports clubs, in their workplace, or whatever group setting they may be in, and speak out about domestic violence.
I will be the first one to admit that woman that are outside domestic violence relationships are just plain awful in the viewpoints as well.  All you have to do is go to a forum online, and its clear as day.  It certainly doesn't matter what the gender is either.

The First Man Standing to me means stop 'following the leader'.  Its the group think and banter that is encouraged to be repeated, and the peer pressure to keep it there.

I have noticed if you are talking about a member of the family OUTSIDE of what they consider your 'immediate' family their approach is a bit different.  The article doesn't go into that viewpoint as much, but that isn't the purpose of their introduction so it makes sense why they don't.

For me personally I'm looking forward to hearing more about their program 'First Man Standing'.  Its not because the statistics state that more often women are the victims.  I don't personally look at this issue as gender based one.  It effects everyone and anyone.  The abusive individual - gender aside - effects men and women alike (this includes children).  I was more looking at it, because of the way the church views 'men's roles' within family, society and church.

If we look at how church approaches life for minute?  They concentrate a great deal on the man as the leader, the head, the authority of the family.  Yes, I'm speaking about what some view as the 'biblical roles'.  In a way his attitudes towards things should reflect what his family believes.  The man 'represents' the family type of thinking.  There is alot of peer pressure around this, and you see it in the attitude of men and women alike.

If you look at 'human nature' and not just concentrate on gender / roles for a moment?  Attitudes towards gender wouldn't be acceptable for his family, but would be more palatable towards others.   I'm talking in a general sense here, because we all know there are exceptions.  You read type of principal in loads of articles, books, and commentaries about the family all the time.  I'm talking the 'us against the world' with the examples they present.

I think it would indeed help everyone if we could place those stereotypes to the side, and recognize that we all at times use them.  If there was a way of changing that?  It would indeed help everyone in society overall.
First Man Standing is about challenging the behaviour of peers, modelling good behaviour and speaking up for positive relationships.

Peter continues: “There is a lot of peer group pressure to behave in a certain way. If you look at stag nights, the behaviour on these nights is all about what’s acceptable in a group and you need to be a courageous man to stand up in that group. There are other issues like language and jokes demeaning women. It’s about changing culture and challenging what is acceptable.”
I'm sure some of us can admit there are indeed 'peer pressure attitudes' towards issues within the church.  If you again just look at some discussions online you will see people attacked for coloring outside the lines.  It would be rather naive of others to claim such attitudes are not present within the church, but just online with 'those' people.

Its hard to admit I guess for some that there is a spirit of right and wrong approaches to what they seem to say is clearly written in scripture.  Pointing out such examples seems to be a source of defensiveness instead human nature and reality for some.

Since we hear about the women point of view in that realm a lot I wanted to point out something I saw recently that happened to a man.

I was reading a thread about man speaking of the 'entitled' attitude his wife (whom I believe is deceased at this point).  He believed in supporting his family, but he also spoke about how she should have support role as well.

I'm not talking about the spouse working outside the home, but basically a person that is a sloth.  I guess today we would call a sloth a lazy bum.  The wife in question expected to be served, and the man in question either had to do things within the home or pay someone to do them.  SHE was entitled to be taken care of.  In other words, there was no mutuality within this relationship.

He brought up this example of his wife up in another discussion of a family with two children.  The children were older, and due to the economy they had fallen on very serious hard times.  The husband in question requested that she help for a while, until things changed with their financial circumstance.

She dug in her heels and refused to get a job, because that would be outside her role.  HIS role was to 'provide'.  This the basic idea of the circumstance that I read, but I didn't see the whole discussion.  The second thread was started by the man, because of the 'entitled' attitudes of women charging to her defense of NOT working.

This man got dumped on.  The spirit of what was in scripture was ignored, and defensive responses followed.
  • He didn't believe in providing for his family.
  • He believed that she needs to provide her own income, and he will provide his - and the two will never meet.
  • He doesn't value the job of the Stay at Home mother
  • He concentrates to much on his wife that has passed, and not the value of the wife he is married to now.
  • He spends to much time feeling sorry for himself.
You notice that none of their points have ANYTHING to do with the principal he was attempting to point out?

The couple he was speaking about wasn't going 'send their children to daycare to raise' since they were old enough to stay home by themselves.  The wife wasn't asked to work a full time career, but due to the scarey times was asked to give some much needed relief to their financial circumstance presently. 

If read between the lines with the responses this man got?  The women would have been more than happy to help if they also were in serious financial hardship (if their husband asked this of them), but due to this 'peer' attitude that women should be at home always?  They followed the banter and group think they are taught to follow.

The people that pointed out they missed the point completely?  They were told 'their points' made sense, but that wasn't what he was saying.  Sigh!

If you look again at what they were saying about the stag party?
Peter continues: “There is a lot of peer group pressure to behave in a certain way. If you look at stag nights, the behaviour on these nights is all about what’s acceptable in a group and you need to be a courageous man to stand up in that group. There are other issues like language and jokes demeaning women. It’s about changing culture and challenging what is acceptable.”
The principal of what the author is stating above is what happened to the man I was writing about.  The language and the jokes in the thread I read were demeaning to this man, and others like him.

He wasn't speaking about a family with a stay at home mom, and a man that was providing financially for the family in the traditional sense.  He was speaking about a woman that was taking advantage of this accepted viewpoint, and using it to her advantage.  She was basically selfish and cruel.

He was attempting to continue to make his point in regards to how his present wife approaches their marriage.  At this point in their lifes both of them decided they wanted to work part time instead of just 'retiring'.  He did mention he wouldn't have an issue with her just being a 'stay at home wife', but she made it very clear she wanted to work part time.

I think like alot of people that have worked all their lifes she felt uncomfortable just staying home, and being 'retired' in the traditional sense.  The man mentioned he had to respect that point of view, because he pretty much felt the same way.  He didn't want to 'retire' in the traditional sense either.

You could tell by how he said this the mutual respect and love they had for each other.  His point was his current wife wouldn't question if they were in a financial crisis about stepping up, and helping to support their family.  It was the attitude - the spirit of his wife and how to biblical handle the circumstance.

I was amazed at how these women were getting defensive, and felt like their 'role' within the family was being attacked.  The shear number of them, and how much they ignored the man's point of view?  It showed you what is seen as 'acceptable' to speak about, and what clearly isn't.  The discussion had nothing to do with their personal family life, but more about the attitude of his deceased wife's attitude towards - well - HERSELF!

It seemed so strange to me how these ladies admitted that they would go back to work, and some of them even had done this under similar circumstances - YET couldn't admit this man had a point.

The church can say what they want, but their 'follow the leader' attitude is clear as day.  It sets up this 'us against them' gender war, and also the treasured 'us against them' world versus church folks as well.

Myself and many others have followed the 'First Man Standing' principal.  I have been tossed aside, accused of things like the man above was, belittled and the rest.  I have noticed though that once those brave few do stand up?  You had additional 'few' that tend to stand along with you.  I have had men and woman come along side of me, and repeat how I had good points.  They would continue to validate that with their additional personal ones.

Its hard not to follow the leader due to the peer pressure you find within the church.  Its not easy to be the First Man Standing either.  The small pockets of brave people will continue to grow when more are brave enough to follow.  Its not about gender and its not about 'world versus the church'.  Its about the poisoning the principals and true spirit of how God would wish to treat others.

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Terry on 6:58 PM said...

Reading the link, “Towards an effective church response to domestic abuse” brought tears to my eyes. My feelings weren’t, “Yeaaaa, someone is doing something about domestic abuse.”

I was saddened by the fact that non-Christian organizations are trying to stir up the people of God to action against this atrocity. This should not be, as the church should be at the forefront of combating domestic violence and abuse. What a shame before Almighty God!

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” The Bible is all that the church leaders need to “teach” about injustice, and “correct” the wrong-doing.

It is OK to for preachers to educate themselves concerning the dynamics of domestic violence and abuse. However, the Bible should be the ultimate guide, and direction for the abused and abusers alike.

The body of Christ should not be taking direction for the world. I am grateful for the efforts of anyone that speaks out about domestic violence. Christians are silent concerning injustice, so someone has to stand up.

It is going to be a sad day when we have to give an account for being passive, and not the spiritual soldiers that we should be.
Stay strong, and keep speaking out.

God bless you, and your efforts to build up the abused.


shadowspring on 3:45 PM said...

I don't think more shame directed toward abusers is going to help. Period.

I know abusers who limit their abuse to verbal, emotional, economic, social and psychological abuse, who will loudly and self-righteously stand up in church and denounce the lout who crossed the line into physical violence.

Shaming abusers won't help. The church, ironically those commanded by God to love, do not love. They will define abuse in ways that lets most men off the hook and ostracize the one who gets caught. Conversely, if the abuser is sufficiently humble upon getting outed, they will minimize the abuse, accept the abuser, and start in on a round of helpful suggestions as to how the abused can better keep from provoking abuse.

No, don't look to the church for help, my friends. You'll just get more abuse.

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