Steubenville, Ohio. Madhya Pradesh, India.
Two towns worlds apart in geography, culture, religion, and customs.
Two towns united by a sickening heritage of abuse that extends beyond attacker and victim. Two towns united by a culture that (at least in part) enables the attacker instead of protecting the victim.
A group of boys in Steubenville attacked a girl, and afterwards felt safe enough to brag and post pictures on social media. A group of men raped a woman and beat her husband in Madhay Pradesh, and afterwards a police spokesperson accused the victims of negligence saying, “They were in the wrong place at the wrong time…They should have stopped and asked about places to sleep.”
In so many words, “Boys will be boys.” The tragedy here is that (as Ann Voskamp said), “When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be garbage.”
Ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly, ugly.
Ann responded to the ugliness that unfolded in Steubenville with one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read in a long time, listing 25 things all our sons need to know. Chief on her list was this clarion call: “Unless a man looks to Jesus, a man doesn’t know how to treat a woman.” She went on to list how Jesus “enfolded himself inside a woman,” “stood between a hurting woman and her attackers,” “made women heroes in his stories,” and “entrusted the veracity of his resurrection testimony to women.”
What the boys of Steubenville and Madhya Pradesh need more than anything else is to be real men like Jesus.
Unfortunately, at times our pursuit of manhood tends more towards testosterone than the Incarnation. Saying that boys need to be men like Jesus begs the question:
What is a true man?
As for me, I begin and end my conception of manhood with the ancient words spoken from atop a mount (even as I understand that masculinity is too narrow a frame to contain them):
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
May the boys of Steubenville and Madhya Pradesh be men.