One of the aha! moments in my life came when I heard Arthur Burk teach on the subject of honor. Only then did I begin to realize the damage in my life, and in all the Body of Christ, created by our agreeing, actively or passively, with dishonor. Now, if I had to describe in one word the sin of the conservative US church culture with regard to women, I’d say, dishonor.
In some eras and places, women have been treated with open disdain by church leaders. What About Women? includes examples – stunning statements by respected leaders throughout the centuries, declaring women shameful and inferior strictly because of their gender. In the last 150 years, the denigration of women by leaders in the church has taken a more duplicitous turn. Often, putdowns have been cloaked as compliments; dishonor, disguised as praise.
In our day, dishonor has become even more discreet. It may hide inside humor. It may masquerade as a genuine concern for someone’s good. Certainly, it may be directed toward men, as well as women. Recently, my son-in-law Logan and I both experienced something that jarred our spirits, but we didn’t know why. The words spoken to us didn’t seem out of line, yet, independently, each of us sensed that we’d been talked down to. When I asked God, “What was that?” he said, “A patronizing spirit.”
To patronize is to “treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority.” That’s it. That’s what we had felt. Now, I’m learning by the Spirit to recognize a patronizing or condescending attitude. Always, that spirit conveys dishonor.
Why didn’t I see it sooner? Like many women in the church, I had been taught to smile and accept statements that ostensibly compliment, while firmly putting me in my place. I had believed that doing so is part of godly submission.
To accept dishonor – and especially to agree to live in an atmosphere of dishonor – is unhealthy, unwise and opposite to what God intends. To allow constant putdowns – whether said jokingly or “innocently,” or inferred without words – is to invite abuse. Regardless your gender, treat other people with honor, and firmly refuse dishonor, by the Spirit of the living God.
Adapted from chapter 14, What About Women? A Spirit-to-spirit Exposé. © 2013 by Deborah P. Brunt. All rights reserved.
“Patronize”: Oxford Dictionaries, http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/patronize, Copyright © 2013 Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.