Monday, August 1, 2016

Showing Respect to Muslim Men

“Show respect for everyone….” I Peter 2:17a

“I would like to take a baseball bat and hit those men,” a lady emailed me. I met her a few days later and she repeated her tirade about Muslim men. I tried to help her see that not all Muslim women are abused or oppressed by Muslim men but in her mind they all were mean. In reality it could be the mother-in-law who is behind some abuse. Thankfully not all Christian women view Muslim men as abusers and oppressors. Hopefully you, like me, have met many Muslim men who are decent, thoughtful, and loving husbands and fathers.

Yes, there are Muslim women who are abused, oppressed, suppressed, controlled and restricted. Unfortunately, there are Christian women of whom the same could be said. We need to reach out to battered women with compassion and help. One of my Muslim lady friends eventually went to a women’s shelter. She did that mainly to shame her husband before the community. They rallied behind her. The shaming was effective momentarily. She returned to him but after a few years they divorced. In contrast, another lady actually abuses her husband. Her mouth spews out terrible words. One day she called me and explained the harm she wanted to inflict. I talked with her husband later to see if he was concerned about his safety and whether he should call the police. It was clear that she was abusing him but in his culture a man doesn’t call for help because of shame/honor reasons.There can be power plays between men and women. Usually when the Muslim woman is highly educated and has a good job the respect in the home towards each other is more evident. The same could be said if husband and wife are closely related.

It is important how we view Muslim men and respond to them. If we enter their homes to visit their wives with the preconceived stereotyped idea the men are all bad and abusive they will surely pick up our attitudes and could well not welcome us back. But if we show respect to them as human beings whom God has created and loves, the Holy Spirit will give us wonderful opportunities to exemplify Christ-like love and dignity. After I have shown respect there are fruitful times when I speak about unkind behavior. I deeply desire to see marriages thrive and be healed rather than separate and destroy them. I want to show them the Jesus way but I can’t do that if I don’t show respect. Sometimes if we have experienced negative feelings towards men unhealed memories can surface and we can project them on to Muslim men in general. We come face to face with our own issues. Ministry among Muslims can bring out the worst in us but also the best opportunities for healing and understanding grace. A Christian woman who shows respect to Muslim men could, over time, discover she is being viewed and even welcomed as a spiritual mother figure and will have a powerful influence.  It’s an inexplicable mystery.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me to respect Muslim men the way You want me to. I need wisdom, courage, and grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.