Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thoughts on the John Next Door and Am I Sleeping With the Enemy

I have had people ask me if I have read the Newsweek article The John Next Door. I have the article at home and really enjoyed what it had to say. I thought about my book Am I Sleeping With the Enemy and some of the thoughts both writings had for me as a Christian man, father, husband, and Christian leader.

First, the article sadly suggests that the researchers had a difficult time finding men who have not solicited prostitutes, viewed pornography, and/or been violent toward women. From my experience as a Christian leader--this would be true and it would be true in the faith community. Men have statistically been a problem when it comes to violence against women. This is especially true in churches. The research on pornography, abuse, clergy/leadership misconduct, and sexual abuse in the church is staggaring. Of course, most of us are told it doesn't exist.

Second, the article worked with two groups. One group had solicited prostitutes. The other group had not done any of the issues mentioned in the previous paragraph. The group of men who were "nonusers" seemed to feel concerned about how the women were treated. They had more empathy and compassion toward women, as well as those in prostution and pornography. The "users" group did not respect women. In my last book I suggest that misogyny (disrespect for females) is a driving force behind pornography, prostitution, abuse, and other forms of female oppression. What impressed me about the Newsweek article was that it gave clear evidence that men who respect women tend to avoid the crimes/sins listed above.

Third, the fact that one John is arrested for every 50 women in prostitution suggests that we still blame the women rather than the men (Johns and Pimps). I continue to hear this in our language by using "Pimp" as a positive term and "ho" as a term for a female person without morals who engages in sex. The prostitute is a victim and needs love and respect. I am thankful that God has led Lori and I to start a church where we now have males and females who admit to being expolited for sex and are changing their lives. Jesus has answered our prayers and show us in the Gospels (Luke 7) that these women need compassion and empathy.

Fourth, over the years I have been amazed at the number of men who claim we are bashing males by what we do. I have never understood how admitting we are at fault and rising up to call men to change is "male bashing." Daniel took responsibility for his nation (Daniel 9) and publically confessed the sin of his nation. Because of this he was called "highly favored" by God he ascended to the ranks of one of the greatest leaders among the Jews. Real men accept responsibility and rise up to lead their people to change--whether we are guilty or not. Real men choose to act. Boys play the role of bystanders. Boys whine and complain that their feelings are hurt because others present compelling research that males are responsible for the majority of violence in our world. If boys will be boys then we will continue as we have for thousands of years. I have three sons and Lori and I both expect them to rise up and be the ones who make a difference, not the ones who hang their heads and make excuses.

Finally, the article has encouraged me to continue the work we are doing. Women have done this work for so many years and have fought bravely to call men to accountability. I am thankful for their courage and have been blessed by them, as well as Lori who has done this for years. We have been supported by so many Portland based agencies (as well as agencies throughout the country) and given opportunities to talk about what God is doing at Agape. 95% of those who ask us to talk are not faith based and have confessed that they are disappointed at the lack of response of the Christian faith to the violence against women movement. Too many male ministers preach week after week on financial peace, avoiding our world, not engaging our communities, how to feel better about ourselves, or doctrinal errors of other churches. Yet the Bible is full of stories that call men to respect women, challenge men to be compassionate and loving, and push us to be friends of sinners and tax collectors like Jesus. We even have a story where Jesus allowed a prostitute to kiss and cry on his feet--and wasn't sexually aroused. Instead he gave her grace.

I would say Jesus was a real man. I would say that when he presented compelling evidence that people needed to change those who were mature did not whine and complain or say he was "people bashing." They repented and preached the Good News. Can we do the same today? Are we doing the same today?

Dr. Ron Clark
Agape Church of Christ

1 comment:

ozob said...

Thanks much for these thoughts on the article, Ron! Wonderfully stated.