Over the past few years, the mistreatment of women has been brought to the forefront of media attention through things like the #MeToo movement. It is as if a spotlight has been shone upon the terrible ways women have been objectified by men. In recent weeks in Australia, there has been accusation of sexual misconduct against women in our highest government buildings. There have been a range of responses in these very public discussions—from the vilification of all men to blaming women (as absurd as this may be) for this sort of mistreatment. Today on the podcast, together with Akos Balogh, CEO of The Gospel Coalition Australia, we aren’t weighing in on the political discussion as much as we are recognising the responsibility that men have to women. How can Christian men treat women better—as they should, as Jesus did? And how in a society such as this can we raise the next generation of men to not continue this sort of mistreatment of women?
Links referred to:
- The Gospel Coalition Australia
- Akos’s blog
- “A letter to my sons about becoming good men (in a culture that degrades females)” by Akos Balogh
- Podcast episode 040: Religious freedom and the government with Akos Balogh
- Books by Patricia Weerakoon
- The Centre for Christian Living Annual 2020: A selection of the year’s best essays, articles and podcast transcripts
- Our next event: “Dealing with sin” with Chris Conyers (Wednesday 19 May)
Runtime: 34:09 min.
Chase Kuhn: Over the past few years, the mistreatment of women has been brought to the forefront of media attention through things like the #MeToo movement. It’s as if a spotlight has been shone upon the terrible ways women have been objectified by men.
In recent weeks in Australia, there has been accusation of sexual misconduct against women in our highest government buildings. And there have been a range of responses to these very public discussions—from the vilification of all men to blaming women, even as absurd as that may be, for this sort of mistreatment.
Today on the podcast, we aren’t weighing in on the political discussion as much as we are recognising the responsibility that men have to women. How can Christian men treat women better—as they should, as Jesus did? And how in a society such a this can we raise the next generation of men to not continue this sort of mistreatment of women?
CK: Hello and welcome to the Centre for Christian Living podcast. My name is Chase Kuhn. I’m coming to you from Sydney, Australia, at Moore Theological College. And today on the podcast, my guest is Akos Balogh, who is the CEO of The Gospel Coalition Australia. Akos has been on the podcast before, and I’m very glad to have him back. Welcome, brother!
Akos Balogh: Oh, thanks for having me, Chase! It’s a pleasure to be here.
CK: I’m very glad to have you back. I’m grateful to you for the ministry you’re doing in Sydney and a ministry that’s reaching all around Australia and really going to the world, which I’m so thankful for—faithful, reliable Christian resources. And I’m glad that we get to keep partnering in ministry this way.
Today we’re going to be talking about the subject of how men can be treating women as they rightly should. And this conversation in particular’s been spawned by a letter that you wrote to your sons for The Gospel Coalition Australia recently about recent cultural events. Can you give a window into what’s been happening here in Australia, how that came into then you thinking about writing the letter to your boys?
AB: Yeah, thanks so much, Chase. Look, for those that aren’t aware of the Australian situation, a few weeks ago—I forget exactly—probably would it be six weeks ago or so? There was a march down in front of Parliament House—a number of women got together. It was called “The March for Justice”. And, look, it was really precipitated by some rape allegations that took place in Parliament House. So Parliament House, which is obviously the federal place of government. And there were some very disturbing allegations made by a young staffer—a young female staffer—named Brittany Higgins, about her being raped by a colleague. And, look, I think there was a great deal of anger that those allegations weren’t handled well by the government—the people that she was a part of at the time. She was a Liberal staffer. And so, that kicked off—precipitated—a great deal of discussion and conversation and, indeed, anger across Australian society, which, in many ways, culminated in this march—the March of Justice in front of Parliament House, where a lot of women were saying, “It’s not good enough—not good enough to have these rape allegations unaddressed”.
And on the back of that, there were other allegations made against a senior federal cabinet member called Christian Porter. So there’s been a lot of anger and a lot of difficulty and a lot of hurt that has been on display by women across our culture.
CK: Yeah, and, I mean, we read about these highlights in the news—of these episodes that are happening. But they’re not in isolation. I mean, we know enough women in our lives that have faced mistreatment of all sorts of kinds, and I think you allude to this a lot in your letter—that women will be mistreated in ways that we won’t be as men. I live on King St in Newtown, and there’s seldom a time that I’ll walk down the street at night and not have cars go by and hear guys whistling or hollering at women walking past. I think they think that somehow that’s going to be effective in some way. I don’t know what they’re thinking, actually. But it’s that kind of objectification of women that are walking by them. I mean, what other ways do you see this commonly, Akos?
AB: Yes, certainly. Look, I don’t see it as commonly now, but certainly when I was younger, I used to be in the army—when I turned 18. And talk about objectification: certainly the proliferation of pornography in the military, at least, at the time, was immense. You know, you’re there with a bunch of other blokes, and the way they’d talk about women and their sexual conquests was just beyond belief.
So certainly I think back in the day, it was bad. As you say, it’s still bad now. But I guess what really concerns me, Chase, is that I’m seeing this—hearing some of this from my kids. So I’ve got a teenager and my teenager tells me some of the things that go on in the playground, and some of the things that are said, and I think to myself, “Look, I can’t remember having those sorts of conversations”. I was not a Christian—I was at a public school—I can’t remember having those sorts of conversations as a young teenager in a public school setting. What teenagers have to cope with today is, in many ways, so much worse than—certainly what I had to cope with. Indeed, those conversations, I wouldn’t have heard until I was 18 and in the army, and that sort of very highly sexualised environment. So, yeah, I guess that’s my biggest concern, certainly as a parent, is seeing what our kids have to cope with.
CK: Yeah, yeah. And so, what is your gut reaction? I mean, tell me about your journey and just thinking about a public response in the way that you’ve given: what was the journey like for you as you’re reading the news about Brittany Higgins or about—
CK: —Christian Porter?
AB: Yeah, absolutely. Look, I thought there’s so much going on in terms of worldviews and beliefs. So as like I blogged for The Gospel Coalition Australia and my own blog, I thought to myself, this would be an opportunity just to think through what is actually happening here? Obviously there’s a lot of righteous anger that’s going on. So I certainly wanted to affirm that and tap into that. But what else is driving this? And so, I thought, “Is there a place to think about that from a Christian perspective—a uniquely Christian perspective?” But I shared the article—a draft article—with a friend of mine who’s on the editorial committee—a very wise lady who’s very up with, I guess, the latest feminist thinking and the history of feminism. And her response was, “Maybe this is not the article for now, in terms of our cultural moment. Maybe this is not the time—especially for a bloke—a Christian bloke—to put out his views about, you know, dare I say it—I was critiquing some of the underlying worldviews that was pushing this, as much as I was affirming the righteous anger that was there as well.
So we decided maybe a better angle—especially for a bloke—especially for a dad—would be to write a letter to my sons—an open letter—and say, you know, what does it look like to become a good man in a culture that objectifies women? And so, that was sort of the genesis of the article that I put up there on The Gospel Coalition Australia. And, look, I think it’s had a positive response from many people—many women as well. So I’m very encouraged by that.
CK: That’s really great. I mean, just going back, I think your initial gut reaction is one that many want to say, “Oh, let’s take things on balance. Let’s look at what are the root causes of these things.” You know, “How has a feminist worldview pushed for a particular kind of sexual liberation?” Or “How has a feminist worldview now pushed for a particular kind of platforming of other issues?” And you can see different waves of feminism, maybe, even in competition in this space.
CK: But I appreciate the wisdom of your friend, who I believe is a friend of mine as well, if I’m right, and to say, “What’s happened to this woman is wrong, and any time something like this happens, we need to make sure that women are heard”. And that’s absolutely right. And so, you’ve given some sage advice, I think, to your boys. But what I love is that you’ve thought about the future, not just about repentance in the moment, which is necessary—certainly necessary—but about actually helping our boys to be equipped to be better men in the future, so that women are rightly treated. So tell me about how you thought about the kind of wisdom to give your boys.
AB: Oh, look, I think, unsurprisingly, the Bible has a great deal of wisdom and authority in terms of what it means to be a man. So one of the things I think that drives—certainly my experience—what drives a lot of objectification of women is that men don’t have, if I can put it as simply as this—men don’t have a biblical understanding of who women are, nor do they have a biblical understanding of sex. So I think God’s design for humanity and God’s design for sex is so good, that if it adhered to, it really prevents this sort of behaviour from happening. And so, I thought to myself, “I want to impart this wisdom—I want this impart to my boys and explain it to them in a way that they can understand”—that actually, God’s design for women is that they’re image bearers just like us, they’re co-heirs in eternal life, and to look at Jesus: look at Jesus as the exemplar of what it means to be a man who relates so well to women. Unsurprisingly: he created women, so he knows exactly how to relate to them. But the way Jesus related was just so gentle and respectful—especially in a culture that demeaned women, that saw them as second-class citizens. You know, he radicalised, I guess, the way that the sexes should relate to each other. And I just wanted to get that across to my boys.
But also in particular, the view of sex: so as I mentioned before, very sexualised culture that we live in. I wanted my boys to understand God’s good design for sex. So the world says that sex is a recreation sport, as it were: you can do it with whomever you want, as long as it’s consensual. That’s about the only thing that they want to say in terms of morality. But I want to say, “No, no: the Bible says that sex is really good when used according to God’s design”. And I really wanted my boys to understand that and to rejoice in that.
CK: That’s really helpful. Going back just for a moment about the way that Jesus treated women, I was struck by this when I was at seminary quite a while ago now, there was this lecturer of mine that talked about the way that Jesus related to women in the most beautiful way. And he was talking about the ways that—I’ll get the wording wrong, but basically that there was a sensual or a sensuous—whatever one wasn’t the wrong one—Jesus related in way that was quite tender, even physically appropriate, with just that kind of right relationship with women that respected them for being women, without moving towards a sexualisation of them and crossing that line. And so, there’s this lovely depiction of how to treat these women beautifully that Jesus displays for us, and I thought that was one of the lovely insights about these interactions, which the Gospels—we don’t get quite how countercultural that is today, I don’t think, about what Jesus was doing in his ministry.
Now—and how do you help your boys, then, say—be like Jesus? I mean, that’s a tough thing to do. That’s a big, tall order, if you will.
CK: What kinds of ways do you help them to get there?
AB: Yeah, look, I think as dads, we have an amazing opportunity, but again, a very big responsibility, to model that for our boys—particularly in the way that we treat our wives and if we have them, our daughters. And really being very conscious that that is something that they look to as “This is how you treat women”.
Certainly, I think there’s a lot of right concern by our secular friends—a lot of secular women—feminists, and so forth—is to say that a lot of how men have treated women in the past and even today—lot of what goes on—is as a result of poor modelling by men in certain positions, but certainly in the family as well. So—look, I think the biggest thing is just to model that to our kids. I think that’s the most powerful—yeah.
CK: So helpful. I mean, do you have any practical ways that you could share about little things around the house, maybe, that you think could be evidences to your boys?
AB: Look, certainly in terms of always being conscious to speak respectfully to my wife. And when we have disagreements—not that I ever disagree with my wife, let me say; you know, we never have conflict [Laughter]. I’m one of those few—you know [Inaudible]—we all have conflicts, of course! But to handle the conflict well—to do it well—and to do it in a way that maintains the respect and love of my wife. I think that’s the biggest thing.
And also in the way I engage with my daughter: she’s getting into her teenage years and obviously that brings—
AB: —a lot of changes for her. And so, being mindful that, you know, I might have, when she was two, I could pick her up and cuddle her, but maybe that sort of thing isn’t quite as easy and appropriate now that she’s a teenager.
So modelling that sort of respectful—can I use the word “respectful relationship”? I know that’s been co-opted by others, but—
CK: No, I think that’s right, yeah.
AB: —modelling that sort of loving, respectful relationships.
AB: Yeah. Particularly in speech, but also in terms of touch, I think. They’re two big things that I’m mindful of.
CK: That’s so helpful. I mean, in our home, I’m thinking about our kitchen—I have three daughters and one son, and I’m wanting to always try my best. Obviously I fail in this. But try to affirm my wife; to make sure that I’m listening to her, not speaking over her; making sure that the kids see how much I appreciate her; that the kids appreciate the role that we share in parenting them; and not allowing division to come between us and the ways that we’re parenting our ch—you know what I mean. Those kinds of things. And I think a lot of what you’ve already affirmed as well about how we disagree or otherwise.
And my daughter as well is a bit younger than your daughter, but I think the touch thing is so important. So appropriately affectionate. Loving, but as she’s getting older, I have to respect space for her. I often allow her to initiate a bit more of the kind of affection interactions and hugs and things, or just appreciating that she is changing and allowing her to have privacy and letting her have space. And I think that’s a very important way of modelling that.
And telling my boy, too, “Look, it’s not appropriate for you to be doing this now” or “Let’s make sure that we respect the ladies and give them this space” or, you know. These kinds of issues, I think—
CK: —are so important.
AB: Yeah, space is such a big issue—especially as they grow older. And I think it’s right that we affirm that they have space. Men don’t have a right to just barge in and touch them—
AB: —inappropriately or anything like that, and I think as fathers, we can model that really nicely as well. Yeah.
CK: I agree. That’s very helpful.
CK: While we take a brief break in our program, I want to tell you about a few resources. First, this year, we’re hosting four events under the broad theme of “community”. I’d like to encourage you to join us for our next live event in the series on “Dealing with sin”. The Apostle Paul warns us that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor 5:6), and Jesus told his disciples that it would be better to lose your eye or cut off a hand that causes you to sin than to go to hell (Mark 9:42-48). So it’s unmistakable that sin is a real threat and a problem to our lives and our communities.
But how are we supposed to deal with sin? We hide it in our lives and we’re quick to judge it in the lives of others. But this only makes things worse. I’m delighted that my colleague Dr Chris Conyers will be helping us to think about how the gospel enables us to deal with sin together. We’ll spend the evening exploring how we can practically continue to grow in our Christian lives, putting sin to death.
The event will be held on May 19 and we’re planning to have an in-person audience once again. But for those of you who have enjoyed tuning in from afar or joining with your church or Bible Study group, we’ll also be livestreaming the event. All the details and registration information can be found on our website at ccl.moore.edu.au.
I’d also like to recommend that you check out our 2020 CCL Annual. This is a collection of highlights from last year’s essays, podcasts and events, edited together into an ebook format. I encourage you to download the annual and read these short and edifying articles. The 2020 CCL Annual is now available through our website and ebook distributors.
Now let’s get back to our program.
CK: So tell me about the second bit, then—about the ways that we help our children, then, think about sex differently. There’s some pretty fundamental kind of one-on-one things we want to talk to our kids about. But how do we actually give a better vision of sex and keep—
AB: Yeah, yeah.
CK: —our kids from being just sexualised by the world?
AB: It’s funny, ’cause it’s one of those conversations with your kids. Like, I think it’s so important that parents have quote/unquote the “chat” about sex with their kids. And, look, dare I say it, it has to be a younger and younger age these days, sadly.
AB: And can I just put a side plug in: Patricia Weerakoon—many of you would know she’s written a number of awesome books that you can sit down and read with your kids, and I think, Chase, you’ve used them as well. They’re really great—
AB: —safe—raise the issues. You read through them. And anyway—so I had the chat with—funny story: I had the chat with one of my boys and he was in the foetal position for most of the time, with his hands over his ears, thinking, “Ewww! This is so disgusting!” [Laughter] So to be honest, my struggle with my kids isn’t so much to—I think my struggle is to say to them, “Look, sex is actually a good gift of God”. For them it’s just gross and disgusting. But anyway.
So the idea is we want to give them a vision of sex which is very good and beautiful in its right place—in its right context. And so, certainly, I think, saying to them that sex has a place—a God-given place—between a husband and a wife, and that’s the only place for it—I think is so important. But in so doing, we don’t want to give them the impression that sex is somehow dirty or bad—I guess, the stereotype that a lot of people have about Christians. We want to actually say that sex is so good, that it’s not something you just give to anyone or use it a recreational way like you would a computer game—with playing with anyone at all. It’s rather like—John Dickson talks about this in his book, A Sneaking Suspicion: it’s like a sportscar—very expensive sportscar. And so I was able to use those analogies to say to my boys that sex is actually so good, that you wouldn’t want to use it with anyone else. That’s why God only provides it between a husband and a wife.
CK: That’s helpful. I think about in our home, as well—I mean, I try to model this to my kids: when we talk to them about sex, they obviously ask, then, “Is this something that you and mom do, then?” And I say—
AB: Oh, there you go!
CK: —“Yeah, of course”.
CK: Yeah, there you go, right? And I say, “Yeah, of course. We love each other and we’re married, and this is a part of us loving one another.” But I think that sexual expression and affection—obviously within limits, but I’m saying, like, me kissing my wife in front of my children is a way of me showing them how much I love her amongst other ways that I’m showing how much I love her. And, I guess, normalising it in that context as something beautiful, but also something different than I relate to anybody else.
AB: Yeah, yeah.
CK: There’s a real demarcation—that this is my wife and I am her husband, and there’s something beautiful.
I can’t help but give this anecdote. Akos, I think you know this, but I mean when I read Patricia Weerakoon’s [Laughter] book with my boy—
CK: —when we got talking about the sexual acts that a husband and wife share, my boy interrupted me and said, “Dad, can I ask a question?” And I said, “Yes?” And I thought, “This is what I’ve been preparing for as a father. I have to be ready for this.” “Yes, Son?”
AB: What a moment!
CK: “What can I help you with?” [Laughter] And at the moment we’re talking about, really, conception—the moment of conception, my boy says, “Dad, can sharks live in space?” [Laughter] I kid you not!
AB: That’s beautiful!
CK: And I said, “Excuse me?” And he said, “Can sharks live in outer space, Dad?” And I said, “We’re reading this book here about sex. Do you want to talk about that?” “No, I just want to know, Dad: can sharks breathe in outer space?” And then I said, “No, they can’t”. And he goes, “Oh”. And I said, “Let’s get back to the book”. He goes, “Okay”. And he goes, “Wait, Dad, one more question”. I said, “Sure, yeah”. And he says, “How about for like one minute? Could they live for one minute?” [Laughter] I said, “Just cut out the sharks. We got to get back to reading this book.” It’s a tricky thing. It’s a tricky business. So.
CK: It’s important that we start educating them early. I mean, even if it feels like they’re not listening, at least we’re creating a space where they can feel they can talk to us about some of these things. And we’re normalising it: we’re saying, “Look, this is part of life. This is a good part of life.”
AB: That’s right.
CK: “It’s a great gift from God for us, right? And you can talk to us about it. We’ll talk to you about it. And we can talk about it and we can answer any question, even if you want to ask about sharks in the middle of it. That’s okay. But—” [Laughter]
AB: If we don’t talk about it, the world certainly is and they’re going to get a very different message. Yeah.
CK: That’s right. And unfortunately, it’s got to be earlier and earlier these days. So, yeah.
I mean, what about us in society? I mean, you and me: it’s easy to think that we rise above it or there are others that are responsible in society, but we’re not as men. How do we disciple Christian men that are fathers or not in our churches? What are we telling them about how we relate to women?
AB: Yeah, certainly. I think the first thing is, again, in the way we relate to women. So modelling it in church. So being very respectful to the women in our churches. Obviously no inappropriate touch or anything like that, but modelling what it looks like to care for the women in our [lives].
I think being conscious that, as men, we do have a certain—just by virtue of being men, we do have a certain, I don’t know if “power” is the right word, but some women can be intimidated, talking to a man. Not all women, of course; some women are completely fine. But just being conscious that for some women, talking to a man—you know, we just got to be careful and cautious, making sure we’re godly and above board whenever we talk to women. And if we do have leadership positions in a church—in a Bible Study and so forth, making sure that we, as much as we can, empower the women in our churches to use their gifts to serve one another and to encourage them in their walk with Jesus, making sure that church is never ever just a blokes’ club, if I can put it as bluntly as that—
CK: That’s very helpful.
AB: —but one where both sexes are equal and are welcome, and modelling that is a Galatians 5 expression of the unity that we have in Christ Jesus.
CK: That’s lovely. That’s lovely. I think as well, with men, as you know—I mean, it’s so easy for us to go for low-hanging fruit, and so we often, when we’re just amongst each other, we often [resort] to cheap jokes. Now they’re not always off-colour or something, but we go to just being ridiculous.
I also think that it’s easy for us in our relationship to women to go to this kind of sarcastic or even almost flirtatious way of relating—that, I think, is entirely inappropriate. Just like our joking gets so inappropriate at times—
CK: So there’s a call for us as Christian men to somehow rise above that kind of immaturity that would otherwise be present, and just say, “Look, we can actually treat women with dignity in a way that isn’t normal. It isn’t kind of the cultural norm, if you will.” But we’re actually showing a greater respect to them, as you said, as equal human beings—that we want to—
CK: —keep showing love and care for.
AB: Yeah. It’s interesting, Chase, I mean, I mean one thing that—you know, I’m sure she’s okay for me sharing this, but one thing that my wife has noticed is that on occasion, and I dare say it’s out of a very—if I can put this—a godly intent, on occasion, she has noticed that some men are too stand-offish from her, as if “I don’t want to talk to you at church ’cause I’m a man and, you know, it would look bad if I was talking to you as one married man to a different married woman”. And so, my wife has occasionally felt that—that men sort of err a little bit stand-offish. Not all men—like, I think most—her experience of Christian men in terms of other Christian men has been very positive. But, yeah, I think it’s one thing for us blokes to realise as well that we don’t want to put rules or boundaries there that necessarily go beyond what the Bible says. Yeah, we need to think very carefully about that in the way that we relate to women. We don’t want them to—
AB: —feel that they’re such a temptation, if I can put it that way, that we don’t even want to get anywhere near talking to them. You know, if I can be as blunt as that, we need to be very careful that we treat them in a very godly way, but in a way that affirms their worth as fellow image-bearers. Yeah.
CK: That’s helpful. And I think women have expressed much the same to me before. So it’s easy for women to then feel as though they’re being treated as the temptress—
CK: —when actually, the problem in many ways lies within the man who feels so tempted.
AB: Yes, yes.
CK: Maybe because of the kinds of things that he’s cultivated in his heart and mind. And so, it’s a really interesting point that you’ve raised about how we keep distance and boundaries. And I grew up in a context where we were told we must have firm boundaries about certain that we relate—especially in ministry. I think there’s a lot of wisdom to that. So don’t meet privately in a room with no windows or anything else, and after hours—whatever—I mean, there’s a lot of things that can leave room for the appearance of impropriety, or even impropriety itself. But that doesn’t, then, preclude the kind of loving interaction that should happen in the body of Christ between men and women in the fellowship. And so, while there might be wisdom about when and where and how we have certain conversations, it’s in order for us to be holy as God’s people. But we shouldn’t, then, not have those conversations at all, is the point, right? So—
AB: Absolutely. Absolutely. Like, a lot of people listening will be in ministry roles of some sort—and particularly if you’re a pastor, I think it’s important to remember if you’re a male pastor of a church, that half your congregation is women.
AB: So it’s important that you minister to them as well in a obviously a very godly and appropriate way, but to keep them very much in mind—
AB: —particularly [Inaudible], but also in your relating to them. Yeah.
CK: Yeah. And I think what you just said about preaching’s so important, right? I mean, get some feedback before you preach from a woman. If it’s your wife, great. If it’s another sister or two in the congregation, great. So that you find out, you know, where does this application need to be pressed for you?
CK: Or what kinds of illustrations would help you grab hold of this truth in the way that you’re thinking about the world differently, maybe, from me as a man? And the times that I’ve tried to do that in my own preaching have benefitted so much. Once my wife gave me this great illustration from Downton Abbey. I’d love to say I came up with it by myself. But after I finished preaching, some girls came to me and said, “When you talked about Downton Abbey on that point, it just got us. Like, we really were with you!” [Laughter] And I thought, “Thank the Lord for my wife and her wisdom!” [Laughter] ’Cause she really helped me! [Laughter]
AB: Thank the Lord for Downton Abbey! There you go!
CK: That’s right! That’s right! [Laughter] It’s not that all women just want Downton Abbey, but I’m just saying, at that moment, there was an illustration that was given to me by a woman and other women really appreciated it, and I thought, “I wouldn’t have done this on my own. I needed help!” So—
AB: Yeah, that’s right.
CK: —half the congregation—yeah, is women. So.
AB: That’s right!
CK: That’s right!
AB: Let’s face it: as blokes, we often look at the world differently in many ways than women do. So, yeah, it’s important to keep that in mind.
CK: That’s right! What about just in our personal, private lives? What do we need to be doing?
AB: Oh, look, so much, Chase! I mean, obviously, what goes on privately is as much a measure of our godliness as what we do publicly. And I think, to name the elephant in the room, the biggest temptation—or one of the biggest temptations men face, especially in our digital age—is pornography. And obviously that raises so many issues. And I’m sure there’s, no doubt, a lot of men that are struggling with this. You know, by God’s grace, it’s not something that I’ve been tempted with. However, I think it is one of those things that, whether you’re tempted by it now or not, you just need to be very much aware that it’s only a click away. So we need to be extremely careful when it comes to that and to very much guard our hearts, guard our eyes, guard our clicks, guard what we look at on the internet.
AB: So that’s one of the most obvious ones. Yeah.
CK: Yeah, and if that’s a part of our lives, we will not be looking at women in our lives the way that we should.
CK: That will only feed into the objectification of women.
AB: Oh, absolutely! I mean, it’s so sad to talk about it, Chase, but you look at someone like Ravi Zacharias, who publicly had this amazing profile—very godly man, from all—you know, looking outward, as someone who’s not within the organisation—doesn’t know him personally—he just looked like the epitome of a godly, humble man—a great man of God. But then, obviously, his private life was completely different. So I think one of the things is just to be so aware that we are not above sin—that, Galatians 5, we still have this battle within us, you know—the Spirit versus the flesh—that won’t end until Jesus returns. So being very mindful of that and not—not holding ourselves above the possibility of sinning in that way.
CK: Yeah, that’s very very helpful. None of us are ever above this. We have to keep on working hard at our thoughts and our minds and our conduct and everything else, yeah.
Another thing here: I would love to hear about how do we listen to women better? So we don’t ever want to be dismissive of women that have said that they’ve had this kind of an experience or whatever. So how do we begin to listen better to women about their treatment and things?
AB: It’s funny, ’cause I think you might have mentioned it—and I mentioned this in the article that I wrote for my boys as well is that most women listening to this could probably list off at least one or more experiences that they’ve had of some sort of sexual harassment—from anything to, as you say, some bloke on Newtown driving past and yelling obscenities, to things that are much more serious than that. And I think as blokes, we just need to realise that—I think it’s safe to assume that most women will have had an experience like that. And so, not to write it off as “This is just feminist propaganda” or whatever it might be. But come at it knowing that—and as Christian men, we should be able to, ’cause we know that we’re fallen: we live in a fallen world—just to it—I think, assume that most women will have had some sort of experience like this, and therefore, to be prepared to listen to that, not to dismiss it or think that “Oh, you know, that couldn’t have happened”, but to realise, “Okay. It probably did happen” and just to be really open with women as they share those experience in appropriate settings.
CK: Yeah, yeah. It’s so hard, because you automatically want to politicise something like the #MeToo movement. But I remember when girls in my church started posting things about #MeToo. You know—“This episode of my life”, “This episode of my life”. And some of them quite dramatic episodes, some of them quite just seemingly normal everyday things, you know? “I’m at this bar and some guy just comes up and starts saying things to me.” And you think, “You know, this is really horrible, what women go through”, and I think most men don’t really understand what women face.
AB: That’s right. It’s funny ’cause as I’ve reflected on this, as a bloke, if I can share this—I’ve shared this publicly before—but I had an experience in Year 11 of high school where I was walking along and there were some other teenage girls, and, to put it bluntly, they started wolf whistling at me. Now, as a bloke, when you experience something like that, a part of you—you know—it’s, oh, the male ego! “Oh, isn’t this great!” But, you know, they sort of followed me for a little bit, just wolf whistling, and it’s funny, ’cause at the same time as the male ego kicked in, thinking, “Oh, you know, wow, aren’t I great?” sort of thing, I did start to feel uncomfortable, thinking, “This is not quite right”. If I’m a bloke feeling that way about some younger teenage girls, I can only imagine what women feel when they’re on the street and there are blokes that are doing the same sort of thing to them. For some women, it would be literally terrifying—
AB: —depending on context. And I think we men need to realise that—that women have a vulnerability that we blokes really find it hard to experience. I mean, we’re vulnerable in many ways as well, you know: we can get beat up. But I think to add that sexual violence element just takes it to a whole new level, which, I think, we men do well to meditate on and to realise—that this is how many of our sisters, our wives, our mothers experience or have experienced life at some stage.
CK: I agree. I mean, I think the presence of us on a street next to a woman is one that’s very different. I’m a very tall man, and when I walk past a woman, I’m quite conscious of how they might feel. And I don’t avoid them, but I try to make sure that they feel safe, even as I’m walking up the road, and I try to give them clearance, I’m not looking at them—like, looking them up and down or anything. If I do, I look them in the eyes and I just kind of turn away and walk on. But I want to make sure that they don’t feel threatened by me as a man—again, not that I’m avoiding them, but I want to make sure that they feel safe in that space as best as they can, because I know how otherwise they would be feeling.
CK: Yeah. Well, may the Lord help us in our churches to just begin to be better at relating as men and women. We have such a long way to go, don’t we. And I think for us as men, thinking better about the women in our lives—women as co-heirs with Christ—women as our fellow image-bearers—is such an important thing for us to be doing. And again, what we’re doing in private will definitely impact what we’re doing in public. And so, it starts with us being prayerfully repentant about how we think about women so that we can honour them in the way that they deserve. And how we model this in our home will have a long-term impact on the next generation or generations after us of how we see men and women interacting in our churches.
So I really thank you for sharing with me today, Akos—really appreciate you, bro, and I’m hoping we’ll get back again soon perhaps to talk about how we can be caring for the women in our lives and raising the women up as well as we think about the culture that we live in.
AB: Thanks so much, Chase! Yes, I look forward to it.
CK: Thanks, brother! Talk to you soon.
CK: To benefit from more resources from the Centre for Christian Living, please subscribe to our podcast and also be sure to visit ccl.moore.edu.au, where you can discover many articles, past podcasts and video materials.
You might also like to stay current with what’s happening through the Centre by signing up for our monthly enewsletter. We always benefit from receiving questions and feedback from our listeners, and if you’d like to get in touch, you can email us at email@example.com.
As always, I’d like to thank Moore College for making the ministry of the Centre for Christian Living possible, and to extend thanks to my assistant, Karen Beilharz, for audio editing and transcribing. Music provided by James West.