Are they just all women haters?” This was asked by my old uncle, directed at a friend’s comments about his recent church attendance.
Seems this friend’s parson had somehow integrated a comment about his wife into the sermon. After first setting the foundation that mistakes we make in our youth often affect us far into adulthood; and he — the preacher — had made mistakes that haunt him to this day.
It was then he made the remark that disturbed my friend and that my friend had commented on before both my uncle and myself.
“I know what most of you are thinking” he had then said. “I married my wife.”
I was surprised. My uncle remembered that an elder at this same church had mocked his own marriage of several decades from the same pulpit only a couple of years back. It was then that my uncle had asked the above question.
Now, I’m pretty sure my friend’s church is NOT comprised of women haters. No, he is simply attending a place of worship that occasionally falls prey to the same level of course conversation that has been around lumber camps, pool rooms and bars for perhaps centuries. Men that entertain themselves and their peers by denigrating the women in their lives.
My uncle has his shortcomings; as do we all. He is judgmental and has spent much of his life far too angry. Behaviors he has worked to correct. One strength has always been his fidelity. To country. To God. To his wife; to women in general.
He has never abided such conduct. Not in his home; not in his deer camp nor at a fire where he is gigging.
If someone — anyone — made such a remark; he let them know it was NOT welcome. Similar transgressions; persons making such a remark were no longer welcome themselves.
By the time I was old enough to join him at various adventures in the outdoors, he had ferreted such behaviors and people from his life. This uncle had always been adamant about focusing on the quality of one’s acquaintances; not the quantity.
Long before I was introduced to the teachings of our Savior, I was reading the works of Louis L’Amour, Jim Kjelgarrd, and Edmund Rostand. These authors presented gentlemen as the height of what one could aspire to become; and gentleman placed honor above all. And honor meant protecting a lady. Physically and emotionally.
Even without these readings; I never understood someone making light of the very person they had chosen to walk through life with. With them — such behavior was obviously wrong. Later, the teachings I found in the scripture would reinforce such beliefs.
I find myself now in a world where the lowest of base remarks and even pornographic symbolism is accepted if directed at our president. Anything is okay if it elicits a laugh. A world where the sanctity of marriage as defined by our Lord is questioned; where the heads of households are content to rely on the government to care for their families.
My uncle taught me early to read sign. To track a rabbit through melting snows; to trail a deer by simply overturned leaves. I feel sorry for those that cannot see the relationship of what our nation has become and what we have chosen to allow in our homes. In our lives.
A remark from the pulpit is no more offensive to our Lord than one on a riverbank; no more detrimental than one made in a home.
It just seems worse.
(Rick Mansfield is a seasoned storyteller and writer, and is always looking for new audiences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)