It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you all can link up your own marriage posts below.
Today I want to start a short series on the lies we often believe about men, starting with this one: all men are perverts. Have you ever felt that way?
When I was nineteen years old I took a missions trip to Tunisia. There were 6 of us, from 4 different countries, and we visited several missionaries there and learned the culture and talked to lots of people. The problem was that everywhere I went in public, men touched me. Everywhere.
I’d be sitting on a crowded bus, and some guy behind me would reach his hands around and feel my chest. Or we’d be standing in a crowded bus and a whole bunch of guys would feel me up, and I couldn’t tell who they were. I tried to tell the people I was traveling about this, and the leaders of the team, but they didn’t do much about it. I think it was because the other women traveling with me weren’t getting the same attention. I was blonde and young and cute, and they, quite simply, weren’t. To talk about protecting me would be to make a statement on their desirability, so they did nothing.
I asked one of the guys to act like we were married or something, but he wouldn’t. And so I felt very alone. I’d wear a scarf over my head to try to hide my hair. I stopped making eye contact. Eventually I just didn’t want to go out to the cafes and talk to people like they were, and then the team would get mad at me for not wanting to minister. But I couldn’t take it anymore.
When I returned to Canada I had a difficult reintegration. I still couldn’t look at men in the eye. If I was walking on a sidewalk and a guy was walking towards me I’d have to cross the road. I stopped saying “hi” to strangers (and we’re Canadian. That’s normal). It took me a few months to relax and be myself again.
Fast forward twenty odd years and I started writing this blog–and with it I started to get emails from women in some serious pain. I’d get a dozen a day. And I’d read them and they’d be heartbreaking and often gross. Husbands who were into porn. Husbands who had done something to her niece. Husbands who had been caught photographing her best friend’s underwear. Husbands who wanted things that were gross.
When you read those emails day in and day out you start to feel like all men are pigs. And then my husband would come home from work, all happy to see me, and I’d bark at him. It got so that I had to stop reading the emails. My assistant reads them now and passes on the ones that she thinks I can use on Facebook or for Reader Questions. And she prays over them. (So pray for her! That’s a lot to have to read through). But it was tough.
I think we all go through times when we feel that way. Julie Gorman has written a book called What I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Men: 12 Secrets toward Greater Intimacy, and one of those secrets is that all men are NOT perverts. Julie weaves her own story about why she believed that–abuse, promiscuity, and more, that scar the heart and leave you knowing you want to get close to men, but hating them in the process. How do you stop that feeling?
Julie writes like a novelist, weaving vivid stories into her chapters on the lies that we believe about men. And the book isn’t a self-help book as much as it is a Bible study, pointing us to passages to study, verses to consider, and prayers to pray to help us defeat these lies with the tools that God’s given us.
She knows what it is to feel like all men are perverts–just like you probably have at times, or do right know.
If you’re walking with a husband who is using porn, it’s easy to get sucked in. If you’re married to someone who has had an affair, it’s easy to start believing that lie. Or maybe you’re married to a wonderful man, but all the things that other guys did to you has just distorted your image of men so much that you can’t relax around him. You can’t let him be him.
And it hurts. It hurts because you don’t want to live like this, and you don’t want to feel this way about your husband, but what hope is there? You feel like you know the truth about men, and the truth is that they ARE gross. Men are perverts. Men do only want one thing. And somehow we’re supposed to give it to them? Makes sex seem awful, doesn’t it? I understand.
After years of blaming her husband and looking down on her husband, Julie realized that she couldn’t keep living like this anymore. She had an epiphany, and it went like this:
I could bash man’s design, or I could seek to educate myself about how God wired his body and desires differently than my own.
I could openly see all men as perverts, or I could view the men who sexually sinned against me as fallen beings in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
I could run away from the painful memories and build more walls of isolation and pain, or I could invite God to heal and restore His original intentions for my life.
I could masterfully concoct and strategize plans to protect my heart, or I could allow my heavenly Father to expose the wounds that ravaged my innocence since I was four and heal the fallout of men’s actions.
You face that choice today, too.
If you’re walking through life thinking all men are perverts, you are at a crossroads.
If you keep going down that path, telling yourself that lie (and it is a lie), then you will find yourself increasingly isolated, alone, and bitter. And that is not God’s design for you.
The truth is that SOME men are perverts.
Some men will use little girls. Some men will travel to Asian countries to rent out an 8-year-old virgin for the night. Some men will kidnap Nigerian teenagers to pass them around their camp.
Some men will stare at pictures of naked women being used. Some men will throw away a great family and a great marriage for a little roll in the hay with some woman at work.
And some–not all, but some–of these men are upstanding men. Some of these men are normally good guys, but they occasionally fall. They are tempted, and they don’t make it through.
Yes, some of them are evil all the time. But most are not.
And so we have a choice: will we define all men in terms of their temptations (and some of their failures), or will we see them as creatures like us, who sometimes fail, but who are, at heart, good?
For there is a problem with defining all men as perverts. When we do that, we define ourselves, too. We say, “I am going to be the strong one and put a wall around myself so that a man can’t touch me. I am going to keep myself from being hurt.” But when you keep yourself from being hurt, you keep yourself from being vulnerable–and vulnerability is a part of love.
I know many of you have seen so much evil in your life it’s hard to let go of it. But I think, like Julie, you have a choice. Will you let your past experiences impact your life now, or will you let yourself be free? Will you let yourself truly experience love with a good man who sometimes falls, or will you condemn yourself to a life locked up in a box of your own making?
God doesn’t want you in a box.
God wants to start healing you. You are precious, and if things were done to you, He is angry about that and He will avenge and there will be justice. But He wants you to know love, too.
If you’re struggling, why don’t you pray this prayer today:
God, I know that you created us, male and female. I know that your design is perfect. But I feel like you messed it up–like you made men to be disgusting pigs sometimes. I’ve seen it. And I don’t want to live with that constant suspicion and that constant fear anymore. Please, God, help me to see men through your eyes. Take my bad memories and show me that they don’t define me–and they don’t define men. Let me experience your love. Lead me through a journey of forgiveness and letting go of bitterness. And in your mercy, surround me with good men. Let me notice when a stranger opens the door, or smiles politely, or lends a hand. Keep my eyes open for the good. And keep my eyes open for the good in the man I married, too. Teach me to trust, and forgive me where I have let anger seep in. I don’t want it anymore, and I give it to you. Most of all, let me see the perfect man, Jesus. Let me see how He loved women and sacrificed for women. And let me experience His love today. Amen.
Now it’s your turn. What advice do you have for us? Link up the URL of your own post in the linky below!