Copyright © 2017, 2021 Philadelphia Church of God
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 wise [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 just how much He wants women and children protected. 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 a 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.
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?
To our great shame, modern society sorely lacks this elementary mindset 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 “prior generations” means almost all generations in almost all societies in almost all of human history! Upstanding men have defended women and children from threats for millenniums. This is what society has expected. This godly quality has been a cornerstone of civilization.
This is the basis of simple rules of etiquette like a man opening doors for a woman or walking traffic-side next to his date. These small gestures reinforce this greater principle. This is why men have traditionally braved the rigors of hardest work in fields like farming, building, mining and manufacturing. This is why men have always been the soldiers. This is why the men on the Titanic put the women and children on the lifeboats while they went down with the ship. All but the lowest of them were imprinted with this code: Protect the women and children.
It is amazing and unprecedented that modern feminism has confused our society about this. For some of us, the world’s erroneous thinking has rubbed off on us more than we realize.
God gave the man a greater capacity for physical strength than He did the woman. He also gave him 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, He designed her capacity for physical strength to be less, and for her to express her strength differently than a man.
In giving half the population greater physical, mental and emotional toughness, God intends us to build a sense of unselfish responsibility to protect, provide for and defend the other half. This law is plainly evident within nature itself.
“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). God wants us to use that strength to benefit others. He gave it to us to build a godly mindset: Support, care for and protect those who are weaker—including women, the “weaker vessel.”
“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1). Every man ought to develop and use his strength to serve others—and at the same time to conquer his own selfishness.
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 likelier to become victims of child abuse! Yes, there are men who treat a girl or woman differently if she is fatherless, taking advantage of her in ways they would not if she had a father who would stop them! That is unconscionable.
Modern society has more and more husbandless women and fatherless children. If you treat a fatherless woman more carelessly than you treat women with fathers, then read Exodus 22:22-24 again and see what God thinks of your actions! Realize that she absolutely does have a Father! And if you take advantage of her in any way, her Father is going to come at you!
Do you think like God toward widows and fatherless? Or do you unwittingly think like the evil people whom 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 and emotionally. This is how God commands us to think. This is a duty He has given to every man who is not seriously incapacitated. He expects you to protect women and children.
Our upside-down world, however, views this God-designed order as barbaric and backward. Satan has convinced people that a man who wants to provide for, take care of, or even open the door for a woman 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 our responsibilities 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! Pursue your talents, goals and dreams without him! 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! The devil 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. For that reason, society is falling apart.
For families and society 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!
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 threats against the nation—when those men are taken away, a nation is cursed and vulnerable!
In many Western nations, 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 war 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 arouses His wrath!
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, challenge or threat? If you are married, when you hear a bump in the night, surely you are the one who investigates rather than hiding under the covers as your wife gets up. But are there other ways 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?
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. When a woman has no protector, she starts to protect herself, and she becomes harder and more masculine. Some single men notice that and 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. Look after single women as you would your own sisters, with all purity. Help with maintenance or yard work. Make yourself available for jobs that require a man’s strength.
Single men: Work to build the mindset of a protector toward single women! This isn’t something you can wait to do until after you marry. Do this in your dating. Care for and look after single women.
And realize this: When women get no dates from godly men of character, Satan notices. And he often goes after them with men of lesser character. These women become lonely and more vulnerable to that kind of temptation. You can protect your sisters from this by helping them to know that they are cherished members of God’s Family!
Also realize: A godly man who is a protector will never push the bounds of decency on a date. His honorable conduct will make the woman feel comfortable and protected, physically, mentally and emotionally. God commands that a man restrain and protect women from his own neglect, selfishness and lust! He must be a trustworthy man of character to defend women from his own baser nature.
When dating starts progressing 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 to protect her! Many relationships— even many that lead to marriage—start with the man taking advantage of the woman. Thus the man is not 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,” Herbert W. 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 are 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.
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 push them to put up barriers and 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). 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 a home. It demands hardness to ward off negative, worldly influences and protect a 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 jobs.
God gives the man the role of provider and leader of his family—and even in these 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.
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. We fathers must defend our children from those influences.
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 the 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 indulging his own lusts, failing to safeguard his own mind from the evils of this world, seriously compromises 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 mindset. 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 are 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 neglect to step up not because we are carefully allowing a woman to experience a character-building challenge, but 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 scale of “threat” rather than against a violent barbarian.
Look for opportunities to step up and take care of things so 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 mindset. 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 time you take the opportunity to do that, you build the manly mindset God wants you to have.
The mindset of a protector is a vital element of godly character. It should 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.
Without this, a family can actually become so toxic that its members need to defend themselves from each other. A man needs to step up and be the protector so everyone in the 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 himself 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. Use your strength to support and to defend the weaker. 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.Continue Reading: The Protector: Moses—and Other Protectors