A group of young women meet at church/DepositPhoto

#MeToo and Jesus

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By Mark Azzara

Dear Friend,

The #MeToo movement has been reduced to a slogan for men behaving coarsely in the presence of women. But less blatant bias is equally at the heart of #MeToo.

For instance, men have consistently mistreated women in the way we value the work they do. A recent op-ed piece in The New York Times discussed the degree to which anti-woman bias remains prevalent in the news media.

As recent history makes clear, in some ways we don’t even value women as highly as we once did. Women once were stereotyped as mothers, teachers and nurses. Objectionable though such stereotypes are because of the limitations they impose on women, those stereotypes at least conveyed a more noble view of women than the one that’s poisoning society today via websites and social media – a view in which women increasingly are portrayed as toys for male sexual gratification, as demonstrated by the exponential growth of online pornography.

Women in my congregation already run most of the programs, including all forms of religious education. But we recently began accepting women as ushers. That may sound like a small gesture but it shows that there still are areas where men and women aren’t regarded fully as equals.

Studies have shown that significantly more women than men attend church. I suspect – although I admit I have no hard evidence to back this up – that one reason why men leave the church is because they think it has become too woman-y.

To the extent that my suspicion is true I’d like to remind guys that just because Jesus is a man that doesn’t mean he loves, values or elevates men and their contributions above those of women.

Men and women have different worldviews, different skill sets, different sensibilities. But Jesus teaches that we are all equal and demands that His followers live by that rule. What else could he mean when he calls us to love one another as he loves us?

Jesus didn’t play favorites so how can we? He didn’t take advantage of anyone so how can we? He would rather have died first. And, in fact, that’s just what he did. He also calls us to the same kind of dying.

Jesus demands that we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. The Rev. Paige Patterson was sacked recently as head of the Southern Baptist Convention because he didn’t get this, much less do it. His experience serves as a warning that we guys in general had better “get” it or we will risk being sacked, too – at the pearly gates.

All God’s blessings – Mark

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Mark Azzara

About Mark Azzara

Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.

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