Last week, I blogged about what God may be doing through the sexual scandals in the news, every day. We can complain about the Hollywood and Washington sex scandals at the coffee shop and on the job, but how can Christian men or women actually begin making a difference right in our own families? It begins with courtesy and respect.
Paul reminds us of God’s standard. “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1, 2
Environmentalists have a slogan. “Think globally. Act locally.” How does that apply to respect? Susan and I have 13 grandsons ages 6-19. Here are a few simple ideas we’ve used to help these young men respect women more.
Hold open doors for all women, even their girl cousins. I still open our car door and almost all doors for my wife. It’s simply a sign of respect. Actually, I open doors for all women, or let them enter a room first and ask our grandsons to do the same – even for their girl cousins. It’s no big deal really. It’s a simple gesture that isn’t so much aimed at women, as it is at men. Respect starts with simple gestures. I want our grandsons to conscientiously think about treating women with respect in public, in the hope that it will spill over in their private life.
Speak respectfully to their mothers. I’ve seen our grandsons speak disrespectfully to their mothers, or our daughters have told me about times when they did. On at least three occasions, I’ve looked for or made opportunities to speak one-on-one with them about disrespecting their mothers and my daughters. It helps that I have a great relationship with our grandchildren already, so each of them made no excuses. They understood what they did and what they need to do – apologize to their mother, and guard both their attitude and their tongue better in the future.
Be courteous to everyone, especially older women. This can begin with something so simple as insisting your grandchildren say “please” and “thank you” to all waitresses, store clerks, their mothers, their grandmothers. If we’re with a group, I try to never embarrass our grandsons with a reprimand in front of others. But I do look for opportunities when alone, to speak to them about what I observed them doing (or not doing).
Talk respectfully about women. Let’s face it, young men are under a lot of pressure today to “act like men.” Unfortunately, that includes trash talk, bragging what they’d like to do with girls and what they have done. Sexist and wrong! I’ve never observed our grandsons doing any of that, but I’m not naïve. They may be. The only two things we can do as parents and grandparents, is make sure we never talk that way, or if we see others doing it, use that as a teachable moment to talk to our kids about respecting women.
Guard your eyes. When I first came to faith, my spiritual mentor taught me to guard my eyes. “Never look twice – or longer – at a beautiful woman.” Arabs have another saying “the eyes are the window of the soul.” Teach your children and grandchildren both those proverbs. Also, watch your own eyes. I’m truly embarrassed when Christian men, in front of their wives and children, will make a comment about a beautiful woman. If your children observe you giving a second look to some woman, keep your mouth shut until you’re able to practice what you preach.
I have no idea what our grandsons think about me talking to them about these common courtesies. Maybe their eyes roll when I’m not looking. But, it doesn’t really matter. As the patriarch of my family, that’s my job. But I have learned this much, just from living 69 years – you have to give people many more compliments than complaints if you hope to have an impact. So, Susan and I work like mad praising our grandchildren every way we can and showing them how much we enjoy, just being with them. I think we’ve earned the right to speak into their lives, so they take it graciously (at least to our face) when we have to correct them.
In today’s culture, some of these ideas will feel old fashioned and the sad fact is – they are! But they shouldn’t be.
I believe when we teach our sons and grandsons to respect women more, it sows seeds that make them better citizens of the kingdom and hopefully will make it less likely they’ll ever abuse anyone – especially women.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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