I am going to say some controversial things today by making some general observations about Messianics and Evangelicals, and about wives and husbands. And I do want to say right off that I am speaking very generally. So here goes.
Have you ever noticed how in most Messianic groups all your hear is theology and in most Evangelical groups all you hear is about relationships? The Messianic groups tend to be dominated by the men and Evangelical groups by the women. I know there are exceptions, that there are some women very gifted in theology and some men very talented in discussing and dealing with relationships. But in general I believe this division exists.
The Gospel of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is both about relationship and theology, and both aspects are for both genders! Women need to know their doctrine as much as men need to be in relationship. Here, at Messianic Evangelicals, I hope we can strike the right balance though I am forced to admit that of late the men seem to 'have it' as far a giving the most voice...and so accordingly in our groups we hear mostly about theology and politics. One sister decided to leave because she wanted to actually talk and interact with people instead of playing theological ping-pong. I fully understand and sympathise with her decision.
For some years we have been bridge-building between Messianics and Evangelicals. I think now it's time to do the same thing only in building bridges between estranged brethren and sisters, and between estranged husbands and wives.
"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of Elohim (doctrine and practice) and the faith of Yah'shua (Jesus) (relationship)" (Rev.14:12, NKJV).
One good thing about the Messianic movement is that it has restored patriarchy and enabled men to find their true rôle as leaders in the congregation. Many men feel emascualted in Evangelical Christianity because of the inroads that feminism has made there. Unfortunately this has tended to swing too far in the opposite direction and has led to not a little male chauvanism in the Messianic movement, making the women feel very uncomfortable. It is time for the sisters to 'evangelise' there!
A major part of the problem resides in our national cultures. The liberalism of the West favours a kind of gender unisexuality which has spilled over into both church and messianic assembly. The Messianic Movement therefore, in many respects, respresents a counter-culture more in line with biblical ways. This I have to applaud absolutely - men need to be allowed to be men. However, women must also be allowed to be women. The Messianic Community is, after all, dominated by them in both Messianic assemblies and Evangelical churches, since more women tend to convert than men. Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, there is a surplass of men amongst Messianics (because the women don't like the counter-culture, so steeped have they been in feminism for so long) and there is a surplass of women amongst Evangelicals. Something has to be done to bring them together again, and that is where we come in, I believe.
This morning my wife asked me: "What do men want?" It was a sincere question. And I am sure not a few men have asked: "What do women want?" The failure to answer these questions has in part, I believe, led to the rise of feminism amongst women and the rise of infidelity (adultery and fornication) amongst men, the two feeding off each other. I also believe this is one of the negative and less desirable causes of the modern Christian/Messianic polygamy movement that has caused even more dissent and fracturing in both marriages and in Christian/Messianic communities at large. Marriage - whether monogamy or polygamy - is not the solution to spiritual issues. Marriage is not a sanitorium for the spiritually ill and expanding it polygamously can make things worse. Spiritual illness needs, in most cases, to be resolved before marriage.
Marriage has become a battleground for the wider problems in our culture. As believers we are in a constant war between secular cultural values and biblical truths. The surrounding culture doesn't want to know the truth making the need for even stronger marriages than before paramount. It's therefore essential to get marriages started on the right footing and to get mutual commitment to pursue biblical patterns irrespective of what the dominant culture may be demanding of its citizens.
Insecure women feel a great desire to be in control of their lives. Most women who fall into this category are probably fairly 'ordinary' run-of-the-mill females, with one or two idiosyncrasies (don't we all have these!). As insecure women battle for control, so things tend to get worse for them. Control - and the belief of being in control of ones life - is deceptive as a psychiatric experiment with a computer game has so well illustrated. Groups of people were given computer games to play with. One game allowed the participant to win but the other one did not. Those who played the first felt in control, but those who played the second felt 'out of control'.
The point of this illustration is to show that no-one was, in fact, in control. The experiment showed that when people feel things are going well, they feel in control of their own lives. When things are going badly, they feel there is no direction. Feeling in control is an illusion.
In most women who feel insecure, feminism and control are viewed as synonymous but the irony and tragedy is that feminism never achieves that control. When women attempt to do this in a marriage, and usurp the divinely-appointed husband's headship rôle, husbands often deseret such wives and seek out for a woman who will respect that rôle. The insecurity of such women often makes them turn to something they believe they can trust. And then feminism bears its own disasterous fruits. If the husband then deserts the wife, it will then compound the insecurity and lead to deep feelings of rejection and worthlessness on her part.
A man dealing with an insecure woman who turns to feminism for support finds himself feeling lonier and lonelier and can't understand why. It makes him feel unneeded. His opinions are not sought after and he feels progressively undermined.
"What do men want?" Speaking for myself, I want respect first of all. And I want that before I want 'love'. For me, respect is the first principle of love. You will find that most men want this too, much to the shock of women. Why? Because he is built that way by Yahweh.
Shaunti Feldhahn relates this story:
Feminism emasculates a man. But what men must also realise is that one of the reasons women turn to it is because they often feel it is the only solution to their sense of insecurity. It's a lie but it's still the reality of what they do. The root issue then turns out not to be feminism but insecurity, so attacking feminism is not going to yield results. At the same time, women must understand that sex or love or affection can never compensate for any disrespect she may show him.
"I was on a retreat with a bunch of singles, and the theme of the retreat was relationships, which as you can imagine was of great interest to a bunch of singles. The retreat speaker looked at this group of seventy people in this room, and he divided us in half.
"He put the men on one side and the women on the other side of the room. He said, "I'm going to ask you a question. I'm going to ask you to choose between these two bad feelings. If you had to choose, would you rather feel alone and unloved in the world or would you rather feel inadequate and disrespected?"
"He turned to the men and he said, "Okay men, who here would rather feel alone and unloved?" And every man raised his hand. You heard a giant gasp from the women's side of the room. The men would rather feel alone and unloved than . . . than to feel inadequate or disrespected.
"For women we most want to feel loved and cherished. This was like foreign land to us. We had no idea how they could choose this. He turned to the women's side of the room and he said, "Okay women, who here would rather feel alone and unloved?" I think only three or four women raised their hand, and you heard the giant gasp from the men's side of the room. He said, "Okay women, who here would rather feel inadequate and disrespected?" Almost every woman raised her hand.
"The highest need for men is to feel his wife's respect and trust and admiration and honour. So we can go, as women, overboard trying to show we love them, but if we don't also show that we respect them and maybe we criticize them in public or question their decisions all the time, they're going to feel disrespected and won't feel loved".
A disrespected man feels lonely and it appears to him that his wife does not need or care for him. She in her turn listens to more and more secular philosophy, concludes that one man cannot fulfil all her needs, and so seeks for other company, usually girl-friends but sometimes male friends too that can lead her into adultery. The husband too seeks companionship elsewhere in the form of a woman who will respect him and supply him with the emotional support, warmth and security that he needs to cope with the stress and anxiety as the family's cut-and-thrust bread-winner as he fulfils his Adamic rôle. He'll even choose a plain-looking woman who is respectful over a beautiful woman who is not. The result of this infidelity is that he is condemned as a hated old-fashioned infidel and she is left bitter. The man may be disillusioned but he is no longer lonely. Women conclude that men cannot be trusted, that they cannot be fully committed to them because they are almost certainly going to be unfaithful. And so an amplification spiral starts in which male infidelity and female feminism play 'cause' and 'effect'.
The bottom line in all of this is that control in our lives is a myth - we can only find peace and fulfilment if we commit ourselves to Yahweh first, and through Him lead the Torah-obedient lifestyle that He demands. The 'steering-wheel' of the marriage must be given to the husband who in his turn must give the 'steering-wheel' of his own life to Yah'shua (Jesus). Yahweh says in the Bible that it is not good for a man to be alone and so He made a helper for Adam (Gen.2:18) and occasionally several helpers (as for Abraham and Jacob). Through Yahweh's grace or undeserved loving-kindness with Yahweh at the helm of the man, and man at the helm of the woman, order, ahavah (love) and shalom (peace) will prevail.
Similarly, if we are to avoid the spiritual dysfunctionality of the Messianic and Evangelical movements, the two need to be married together again as they were in the New Teestament Church/Community, like man and wife, respectively, and like the Bridegroom Messiah Yah'shua and the Messianic Bride. I firmly believe this to be a part of the "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21, NKJV) and that this is one of this ministry's main callings. If you agree, do get in contact and join us in some real Messianic-Evangelical dialogue!