From Wikipedia: "Respect" is a song written and originally released by Stax recording artist Otis Redding in 1965. "Respect" became a 1967 hit and signature song for R&B singer Aretha Franklin. While Redding wrote the song as a man's plea for respect and recognition from a woman,
. . . the roles were reversed for Franklin's version. Franklin's cover was a landmark for the feminist movement. (Listen for the difference in the message of Aretha's version.)
I was a young girl at the time of Franklin's recording and from then until now I did not appreciate the "feminist movement'. I felt that I was being robbed of my privileges as a female by the loud, overbearing and angry women holding public demonstrations. They filled the airwaves, TV shows and public places in their efforts to indoctrinate impressionable girls like me.
But I was not convinced. I liked being a girl and for heaven's sake, I had not even worn my first bra when "they" started asking me to burn it!
Seriously, my parents made sure that I learned to be capable of great things. I was taught to dream big and was encouraged to acquire a higher eduction, to pursue lofty dreams and to grab the brass ring of financial success. I was not blind to the options and opportunities around me. But, even without a Christian focus in my home and without anything more than a rudimentary understanding of the scriptures, I knew that God had designed men and women to be different from one another.
From where I entered the scene, on the cusp between the 1950's and the 1960's, I could see that men handled the chores and assignments that I was more than grateful to forfeit to them. I had no interest in being the bread-winner, trash-hauler, flat-tire-changer, lawn-mower, house-painter, or pooper-scooper.
In my childhood these chores (and many others more gross and disgusting) were handled by men or boys. I thought that, considering the feminine talents given to us, women could avoid the really disgusting work for as long as they chose. I had no desire to take that "opportunity" away from the boys.
I could also see that men would do most anything - dangerous, gross, dirty, filthy things - simply for the respect of a woman. Most especially impressive was to what lengths a man would go to receive the admiration, appreciation and respect of a woman.
I watched, on the other hand, the demoralizing, degrading and male bashing depths to which some women would sink in making their demand for equal or greater respect and for the sake of women's "liberation".
When the women's liberation movement took hold, men began to be robbed of the respect that preceding generations had received. Suddenly, to respect a man was seen as a sign of feminine submission, surrender and subjugation. Society perverted the scriptural injunctions resulting in women believing that to give a man respect demeans her in some way. The capstone of the feminist teaching was to further indoctrinate girls to believe that respect must be earned or that it is only required in reciprocity.
However, when God requires respect or honor of Himself or others, the scriptures teach the opposite. No matter how thoroughly I have searched the scriptures, I can find no qualifiers to the commandment to honor my parents or to the instruction to respect my husband.
With regard to styles and fads, I do not suggest that we return to the ways of the world before the women's liberation movement. But we must admit that the ways of the world are not God's ways. Respect does not go out of style and honor is not a fad.
While historically women may not have been held in the high regard that God (according to the scriptures) requires of men, we must not engage in a game of tit-for-tat by denying men the respect that God requires of women. Let us ever remember that as women of God we are capable of far greater grace than that.
I do not expect that a few respectful women will transform the world. However, for the sake of their marriages, I will challenge other women of God to return to the teachings in Ephesians 5:33b. After all, all He's asking for is just a little respect.
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