The big talking point this week (both sides of the Atlantic) has been some recorded comments made by Donald Trump in 2005 about women and sex.
The full recording and transcript is here, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/us/donald-trump-tape-transcript.html?_r=0
It makes deeply unpleasant listening/reading. Women are objects to be pursued. If you are rich enough, powerful enough, famous enough you can do anything you want to them – and if they let you it’s okay. Pursuing married women for sex is a game, a hunt.
Men, we need to talk about women and sex. You see the problem is that for all the fuss about The Donald, an underlying current has been that this “locker room chat” is all too normal. That being so, the issue is far bigger and far more important than who we endorse, vote for, will to win in one country’s presidential election.
Jesus offers a completely different vision of how to treat others. Women found in him someone who they could trust, someone who genuinely loved and cared for them. Jesus is the one who meets a woman at the well who has sought and failed to find satisfaction in men (she had five husbands) and offers her life giving water. Jesus is the one who stops a braying crowd from stoning a woman accused of adultery to death (no sign of the man). Jesus is the one who when a woman has been the victim of quack doctors who have taken all her money, heals and restores her. Jesus is the one who as risen Lord and Saviour first appears to women like Mary.
The Apostle Paul, often maligned as anti-women, values women like Priscilla, Phoebe and Junia in his apostolic ministry team and tells husbands and wives to submit to one another, wives submitting to their husbands as head and husbands sacrificially loving their wives as Christ loved the Church.
Peter says that we should be looking at inner beauty -not the ability to use fashion and make up and jewellery to meet the body image standards of their day. Although women may be generally considered physically weaker, he says that this is not something that gives permission to control and take advantage of, instead he says:
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)
Let’s be clear, these men would have no time for the sort of coarse, lewd talk and joking that is too often seen as acceptable.
Nor should we. Churches should be places where women feel safe, valued, respected. They should be appreciated for who they are not for what they look like. Christian men should not participate in conversations where women are objectified and their bodies commented on. Churches should not be places where physical, sexual or emotional abuse is justified, excused or ignored.
Christian men should honour their wives. That includes speaking highly of them. The sort of joking and belittling of wives that is too often accepted, should stop.