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Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein & the abuse of women

I used to love Bill Cosby, but I can hardly listen to him anymore. I memorized so many of his hilarious stories when I was in junior high, I could recite them word for word. But with all of the accusations lined up against him by women he most likely used his star status to take advantage of, I just feel sick when I hear his name.

And now we’ve got Harvey Weinstein, one of the most influential men in the movie business, being called on the carpet for his many, many alleged misdeeds toward women over the past few decades.

And then, of course, there are the almost weekly reports of how poorly athletes treat women. NFL players beating their girlfriends. College basketball programs paying for prostitutes to lure high school students to their programs. Other players date-raping women who were drawn to their celebrity status but who had no intention to be used by them.

Even though I and my peers grew up in the ERA era thick with feminist sympathies, women are still poorly treated and abused as if the feminist movement never happened. And no amount of education or marketing campaigns or laws or penalizing abusers seems to be doing all that much to change things.

We’ve got a woman problem. We just don’t treat women well, especially the elite among us.

One of the most confusing stories in the Scriptures is of the Nephilim. Bizarre theories about them have been told as truth for years, obscuring a truly important tale. The story of the Nephilim has bearing on our current crisis. Here’s Gen. 6:1-7 —

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them,the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

First off, let’s clear some ground.

The term “sons of god” doesn’t refer to angels. Only in the book of Job does bene ha-‘elohim refer to angels, and that’s the exception, not the rule. Every other place, including when Son of God refers to Jesus, the term means princely one. It can refer to the one who is anointed to be king (as in the case of Jesus, since Messiah means “one anointed to be king” and Messiah is the term generally paired with Son of God in the Gospels) or it can simply mean one of the great people of the day. While the Hebrew word elohim does mean “god” or “gods” (it’s a plural noun that is also used in the singular and is determined by context), the word is also used as an adjective, meaning “mighty” or “great.”

We use the term “star” in a similar way today. A star is literally a shiny point of light in the dark sky, a massive flaming ball of plasma light years distant. But the term comes to us referring to those who are above us, to those who are so high above us we can never reach them, to those who bring light to our dark night lives, shining their brilliance upon those of us living in shadows. They are heaven-soaring stars whose light last forever and we are earth-bound mortals who die and are remembered no more.

In other words, I’d prefer that term “sons of god” or “sons of gods” be translated as “stars” or “celebrities” of the day.

These aren’t angels, they’re sports stars and movie stars and powerful politicians and mega-rich business mogels. They are Mike Tyson and Bill Cosby and Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein. They speak and we listen. We have no choice but to listen, for every media outlet blasts their words at us and fills our screens with their images.

Now, there’s a reason why that list of names just above only includes men. It’s because the “sons of gods” are always men. Yes, there are the occasional women who ascend to their heights. But these, too, are the exceptions, not the rule. The glass ceiling is real.

And what do we see these stars and celebrities – these sons of the gods – doing in Genesis 6? They take any woman they want. The daughters of men are goods to be bought and sold and traded. They are taken. They aren’t known, as Adam knew his wife Eve (Gen. 4:1). They are grabbed, taken.

I find it interesting that the only set up for the Flood story is this brief story about the abuse of women by powerful men (Gen. 6:1-4). It’s that description which leads to the most chilling verses in the Bible:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (Gen. 6:5-6)

The mistreatment of women causes God to regret making humanity in the first place. It disgusts him so much, he wants to take a shower. In a real way, he gives the planet a soaking to scrub them from it.

If God was horrified back then, I’m pretty sure he is today.

I love and support my friends and family members who have shared their stories of suffering sexual aggression from men as part of the #MeToo response. Thank you for being vulnerable and speaking up. I grieve your pain.

We need women to keep speaking up. But we need more than that.

We need accountability at the highest level, including our President. We need to stop letting high powered abusers off the hook!

We need dads to stay around and raise their sons to be respectful to their mothers (Prov. 31:28) and all women. I love that my daughter’s boyfriend respected her enough to ask me first before dating her.

We need men to stop consuming porn, with its objectification of and violence toward women. The increased availability and acceptance of porn is not freedom, it’s a disaster for women.

We need Hollywood to stop selling movies with posters of female body parts and men with guns. Seriously, what do they think that combination leads to?

And we need God to give us new hearts, for we are a lustful, violence species.

We don’t need more Nephilim giants to impress us. We need men who find their masculinity in loving, respecting, protecting, and honoring all women.

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