Men, pay close attention to this command from God: “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child” (Exodus 22:22).
This is the inexorable law of the Ruler of the universe. And He is serious about it. “If thou afflict them in any [way], and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless” (verses 23-24).
You do not want to mess with this God.
God is a Protector. He helps the helpless and defends the defenseless. He hears the cries of the oppressed. He avenges injustice. This is a truly awesome aspect of His nature and character.
Elsewhere in the Bible, the great Protector commands us to look after the blind, the deaf, the poor, the stranger. But of all those commands, Exodus 22 is God’s strongest, sternest and toughest. Elsewhere God prescribes the death penalty for certain sins—but nowhere else does He vow to personally administer it.
Realize: God’s extraordinary concern for widows and fatherless shows how important He considers it that women and children have a man protecting them. There is an unstated truth here: If you afflict a woman who has a husband or a child who has a father, that man himself will deal with you.
But for those who lack that man in their lives, God Himself fulfills the role of Protector—and with extraordinary zeal. He solemnly warns any who would hurt them: If you afflict them and they cry to me, I’m going to kill you.
Men—do you think like God?
Are you zealous like God about the duty He gave you to protect women and children? Are you vigilant against any threat to them? Do you shield them from harm and injustice, even at risk to yourself? Does finding them in affliction arouse your white-hot wrath?
Recapturing True Values
To our great shame, our modern society sorely lacks this elementary mind-set of manhood. Men are confused about sex roles. Teaching men to protect women is not only lacking, it is condemned. The modern feminist attitude teaches that it is more “enlightened” to let women fend for themselves.
In prior generations, however, the stronger were obligated to serve the weaker in this way. And by that I mean nearly all generations, in almost all societies, in almost all of human history! So it is amazing that modern feminism has been able to confuse us about this.
For some of us, the false thinking of Satan’s world has rubbed off on us more than we probably realize. I believe that just a few generations ago, even carnal-minded people in the world had a better understanding of this subject than many in God’s Church today!
This is a critical and corrective subject, but it is also inspiring and beautiful—and more far-reaching than you realize!
In 1992, a presidential commission in the United States issued a report, “On the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces,” which found, “The average female Army recruit is 4.8 inches shorter, 31.7 pounds lighter, has 37.4 fewer pounds of muscle, and 5.7 more pounds of fat than the average male recruit. She has only 55 percent of the upper-body strength and 72 percent of the lower-body strength. … [W]omen are more than twice as likely to suffer leg injuries and nearly five times as likely to suffer [stress] fractures as men. … Women’s aerobic capacity is significantly lower, meaning they cannot carry as much as far as fast as men, and they are more susceptible to fatigue. In terms of physical capability, the upper 5 percent of women are at the level of the male median. The average 20-to-30-year-old woman has the same aerobic capacity as a 50-year-old man.”
These are measurable facts. This isn’t a put-down of women; it’s a factual assessment of biological reality. Yet many people pretend these facts don’t exist.
Let’s look to the Designer of women and children and ask why this would be the case.
When God made humankind male and female, He made one stronger than the other. God gave the man more native physical strength and a greater capacity for physical strength.
“The glory of young men,” He says, “is their strength” (Proverbs 20:29). God gave them that glorious gift of greater strength. We don’t have to apologize for that, and we certainly shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist. We should develop it and become stronger so we can use it for the purposes for which God gave it to us!
There are a lot of young men who do not have much of this kind of glory—because they haven’t developed their strength. That is a shame.
God also gave the man a tougher mental and emotional temperament than the woman, whom He calls “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).
That is not to say that the woman is or should be weak. God exalts strength in women (e.g. Proverbs 31:17). However, God designed her capacity for physical strength to be less. And a godly woman expresses her strength differently than a man.
This is God’s design, and it wasn’t an accident. God created very different roles for men and women to grow in godly character. In the case of the man, much of the role revolves around strength.
God created half of the human population to be physically, mentally and emotionally stronger and tougher, and He implanted within them a sense of unselfish responsibility to protect, provide for and defend the other half.
Have you ever thought about that beautiful truth, plainly evident within nature itself as God designed it?
God wants men to use that strength to benefit others. He gave it to us to build a godly mindset: Care for those who are weaker; protect women, the weaker vessel.
Do you develop and use your strength to serve others—and to conquer your own selfishness?
A Father’s Role
Consider further: God designed human development so a little child is utterly helpless. He then created within fathers (and mothers) a strong protective inclination. This teaches us about His own nature and reinforces the lesson: A father protects his children.
Fatherless children—those who lack that protection—are two to three times more likely to become victims of child abuse. Imagine how God feels about that!
One single woman told me that she feels men treat her differently because she has no father. “If a guy knows that a man is looking out for a girl,” she said, “he seems to be very aware of how well he takes care of that girl, knowing she has a male in her life that he would have to deal with.” Sadly, she is talking about her experiences with men in the Church—particularly single men!
Men: Are you more careless in how you treat a woman if she has no father? If so, read Exodus 22:22 again—and realize that she absolutely does have a Father! And if you take advantage of that woman in any way, that Father is going to come after you!
Do you think like God toward widows and fatherless? Or do you think like the evil people God protects the widows and fatherless from?
A man who thinks like God is a protector.
Men, this is the way God designed us physically, mentally, emotionally. This is how God commands us to think. This is a duty He has given to every man, barring legitimate incapacity—and He expects us to fulfill: Protect the women and children.
Break the Roles—Break Society
Our upside-down world, however, views this God-designed order as barbaric and backward! Satan has convinced people that a man who wants to look after a woman—provide for her, take care of her, even open the door for her—is a sexist and a chauvinist!
Unsurprisingly, men have gotten that message. And they have stopped thinking the godly way! In today’s society, most men no longer view themselves as protectors, providers and defenders of women. They have retreated to simply thinking about themselves.
Society no longer teaches us to see our responsibilities as men toward women, children, family and society. At the same time, society tells women, You don’t need a man to protect you, provide for you, take care of you! Look out for yourself! It’s a shame to be a helper for a man! You have your own talents, goals and dreams to pursue! Society even tells children to stand up for themselves because father is a selfish buffoon and mother is never home anyway.
These are satanic messages—straight from Satan’s mind! And he has been broadcasting them incessantly for decades.
In Satan’s society, men and women no longer work together, harmoniously, in complementary roles. They do not serve and help each other and provide stability for their children. Everyone competes, even the children. Selfishness has taken over, and families are falling apart.Society is falling apart.
In order for all of that to hold together, you must have strong men who accept their God-given responsibility to women, to children, to family and to society.
We have broken this basic, foundational element of godly structure within family and society, and so it has all broken down!
Break the masculine role—and you break society!
This scourge on the modern nations descended from ancient Israel was prophesied. Read Isaiah 3:1-3, where God foretells the disappearance of strong, capable, masculine leaders—the pillars of a strong society. The mighty man, the man of war, the captain of 50, those who will charge out and deal with the threats against the nation—when those men are taken away, a nation is cursed and vulnerable!
In America, we haven’t just integrated women into our military; we are purposefully sending them into combat! Because of our modern world’s ridiculous sex confusion, a man’s reluctance to pitch a woman into a zone filled with flying bullets, grenades and suicide bombers is considered barbaric!
Given God’s passion about the relationship between men and women, this satanic thinking must arouse His wrath!
Keeping the World Out
“And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them,” God warns in Isaiah 3:4. This is exactly what has happened in the nations of Israel. Men have abdicated their role, and women and children have filled the void. This is a terrible curse.
But this should not be the case within spiritual Israel! God’s Church should be a stronghold of manliness!
The late Herbert W. Armstrong said one of the big jobs of a minister is to keep worldliness out of God’s Church. Pastor General Gerald Flurry took this a step further in Daniel Unsealed at Last! “The great responsibility that each of God’s members has is to keep the world and sin out of God’s Church,” he wrote. “It is a continual battle when you have God’s truth. Satan is totally committed to destroying that truth” (emphasis added).
Do you recognize your responsibility to keep the world and sin out of God’s Church? Society’s twisted message about sex roles is a huge problem that, sadly, does creep into God’s Church.
Husbands and Fathers
A man must be committed to defending his family, defending women and children, and defending his community—even when it hurts. “The real man gains renown by standing between his family and destruction, absorbing the blows of fate with equanimity” (David Gilmore, Manhood in the Making). This is what distinguishes a man from a boy.
Do you look after the women in your life? Are you the first to step up to a difficulty, a challenge, a threat? If you’re married, when you hear a bump in the night, surely you are the one who investigates, rather than hiding under the covers and sending your wife. But are there other ways in which you are failing to defend your family?
If someone insults your wife, do you step up and defend her? Do you safeguard her honor and respect her in the way you talk with her? Does she feel safe and looked after in your presence? Can she call on you for help, even in little things, and know you will intervene on her behalf?
Defend the Widow and Fatherless
God condemns our selfish society and men who don’t care for the needs of widows and the fatherless (Isaiah 1:23). He says providing a masculine presence and relieving their affliction is pure religion (verse 17; James 1:27).
In principle, even single women who live on their own should be treated with special care. One single woman said, “We women with no men get hard because we aren’t being protected by anyone.” That is usually what happens when a woman has no protector: She starts to protect herself—and she becomes hard. Then some single men respond by saying, I’m not interested in her because she’s too hard! They simply write her off, without feeling any sense of obligation or responsibility toward her. Yet they may well be part of the reason she has had to harden and protect herself!
These women occasionally need a man’s help. This woman said she really appreciates one married man’s effort to look after single women as sisters and doing maintenance or yard work for them.
Single women: Work and fight not to become hard! Look to God as your Protector—and even to the men in the Church where possible. Be close to your minister. As God’s representative he fights to protect the flock. Don’t harden yourself! Exercise faith and patience.
Single men: Be a protector toward the single women in God’s Family! This isn’t something you can wait to do until after you marry. Do this in your dating. Care for and look after the single women.
And realize this: When the women get no dates from the men in the Church, Satan notices—and often begins to come after them with men from the world. Those women become lonely and more vulnerable to that kind of temptation. You can protect your sisters from that by helping them to know that they are very cherished members of God’s Family!
Dating and Courtship
Also realize: A godly man who is a protector will never push the boundary on a date. The woman should feel comfortable and protected, physically, mentally and emotionally. God commands that a man restrain and protect women from his own lust! He must be a trustworthy man of character in order to defend others from his own baser nature.
When dating starts moving toward marriage, the natural tendency is to loosen
the standards. But at that point, it is even more important to uphold the woman’s dignity. You need to restrain yourself—in order to protect her! Many relationships start with the man taking advantage of the woman—even many relationships that lead to marriage. These are not built on a foundation of the man being a protector—but a kind of predator! That is a terrible foundation for a marriage.
“Fornication before marriage … puts a scar on the future marriage that can never be erased or healed,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex. “Many today commit fornication, and then marry the partner in fornication. I do not say such a marriage cannot be happy—it may, and ought to be. But I do say that scar will always remain! It has taken something away from the marriage. Even though happy, it might have been happier!” If you have committed this sin, is it possible you’re still suffering the scars of that mistake because you never repented of it? Acknowledge your sin and repent.
Courtship is a crucial phase in a relationship. It is critical that the man be the protector of his bride-to-be. Never put her in a situation where she has to defend herself from you! If you are not serving as her protector, then she has to protect herself! If, during your courtship, you teach her that she has to protect herself from you, that will carry over into the marriage.
“‘We’re going to be married, anyway,’ argue many engaged people. ‘So what’s the difference?’ What’s the difference? It’s the difference between SIN and righteousness—between ruining the marriage, and saving it for a true God-plane relationship—between corroding and seriously detracting from this lifelong companionship, and keeping it clean, pure and full of joy” (ibid).
What a difference timing makes! Demonstrate character in courtship. Doing so is the difference between sin and righteousness, corrosion and purity. Men: Courtship is your opportunity to prove your trustworthiness, to show her that she can trust you and feel safe with you—that she can look to you as her protector.
Protection Within the Family
Every man must protect women and children from his own worse nature. This includes curbing his anger, impatience, cruelty and mean-spiritedness.
Simply treating women with dignity and honor is a form of protecting them. A man who demeans his wife causes her to feel defensive around him, when she should feel protected!
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). That is profound. What is the appropriate response to the relative weakness God created in women? Honor. When we fail to give women that honor, we are pushing them to put up barriers—to be their own protectors and defenders!
God says that a godly woman possesses a meek and quiet spirit, and wears it like a precious ornament. Such a spirit is precious in God’s sight (verses 3-4).
You know what can really help a woman take on that precious meekness? Having a man protect her, provide for her and guide her.
Life requires hardness—hardness to go out and succeed in a job in the world, to deal with carnal people, to earn money and provide for a family. It takes hardness to establish order and discipline in the home. It demands hardness to ward off negative, worldly influences and protect the family from predators. God wants men to develop the greatest share of that hardness so women don’t have to! He wants men to use the strength He gave them in order to fulfill those functions.
God gives the man the role of provider and leader of his family—and even in those roles, a man is serving as a kind of protector. When he provides, he frees his wife from having to work outside the home and face the hardness of the world each day. He frees her to focus on her role within the home. When he truly leads his family, he shields his wife from having to step into that role and becoming manlier and harder as a result.
Hardness of this type is for men. When a man has that manly kind of hardness, he enables a woman to be soft. If a woman is too hard, that could indicate that the man is too soft.
Defending Against Dangers
Fathers should protect their families not only from physical dangers, but also mental and spiritual dangers. We should keep wrong influences from entering our homes and into their lives.
For example, we must protect our young people from harmful Internet use. Every smartphone is a gateway to unimaginably destructive filth. Our pastor general has repeatedly warned parents about defending our children from those influences. Are we fathers protecting them?
Being a protector sometimes requires confrontation—confronting a threat from outside, or even, at times, a problem within the person you’re protecting—like confiscating a smartphone no matter how much he or she protests!
In Genesis 3, when Satan came after Eve, where was Adam? Why wasn’t he protecting her? If he had fulfilled his duty as protector, surely she wouldn’t have eaten that forbidden fruit!
It is important to realize, too, that being a successful protector means you must protect your own mind first! Don’t get into material influences that you shouldn’t. A man who is satisfying his own lusts, failing to safeguard his own mind from the evils of this world, is seriously compromising his ability to protect others.
Men, defend the helpless!
Pray that God will help you think as He does. Pray He will sensitize your vigilance. Pray He will give you the right emotions. Pray He will steel you to your duty, wherever it surfaces. Pray He will prod you to right action. And pray for opportunities to step up and be a man.
Above all, being a protector is not a list of rules to follow—it is a godly mind-set. Consider the example of Jesus Christ. He definitely protects His Bride in many ways—but not from everything. He allows us to experience character-building hardship, even extremely trying circumstances at times. There would be some situations where it would be wise for a man not to intervene. But realize: Christ is completely unselfish. Much of the time, we men don’t step up simply because we don’t feel like it. We are being selfish.
Even with something as harmless as a spider or mouse, if a woman screams for help, you have a choice. You can ridicule her for that and tell her to take care of it herself—or you can skip the sarcasm, step in and eliminate the problem—and be thankful for the opportunity to be her white knight against this “threat” rather than against a barbarian or a fire-breathing dragon.
Look for opportunities to step up and take care of things so that she doesn’t have to. Deal with those nagging home maintenance issues. Be the one to make that difficult phone call. Quickly intervene when you see her struggling with something heavy. Establish the habit of being the one to secure the house before everyone goes to sleep at night.
Every time you step up, you make her feel more secure and more loved. And you strike a blow at your selfish nature.
We must cultivate the protector mind-set. And we must develop it in our sons. Where else will they learn it? Teach them to respect and honor girls and women. Teach them to lift the burden from Mom and their sisters where they can. Teach them to recognize needs and simply do them.
A man’s role is fundamentally about putting the needs of those he leads above his own desires. Every opportunity to do that builds the manly mind-set God wants him to have.
The mind-set of a protector isn’t natural. It’s an element of godly character. It must be built—decision by decision.
Every woman longs to have a man of character in the house. Every child needs a man of character in charge.
Within a family, how toxic is it if we need to defend ourselves from each other? A man needs to step up and be the protector so everyone in that family can be safe, work as a team, and face the challenges of life together.
A man who becomes a protector initiates a beautiful virtuous cycle. As he fulfills his role, he actually grows in the respect, honor and love he holds for those he protects. And when they feel protected and loved, they grow in admiration and respect for him! When a woman feels safe with a man, she becomes more womanly and lovely. When children feel cared for, they tend to grow more humble and teachable.
When a man protects women and children from predators and evils of the world, he gives them a model of godliness. He shows them what goodness looks like. He teaches them how to trust. He lays a foundation for them to have stronger faith in God!
When a man is a hero to his family and to others, he helps to preserve their innocence, their belief in goodness, their faith. An unprotected woman or child is susceptible to having her faith shattered.
Recapture this true value of masculinity. Purge your mind of worldly thinking, and replace it with God’s thinking.
God’s Church needs more-feminine women—women who look to God as their Protector, and even to the men in God’s Church, encouraging them in their roles. We need manlier men—stronger men, who use their strength to serve and to defend the weaker.
Men, have faith that this is God’s desire, and follow it. Steel yourself to your duty, and you will become more like God—our Father—and Jesus Christ—our Husband, our Protector.