Recently I had an eye exam, and as a result, I got a new pair of glasses. For the third time in my lifetime I agree to a progressive lens that should assist me in reading, computer work, and driving. Let me be clear. IT IS NOT WORKING! I’ll be returning to the optician to see if they can broaden my field of vision.
Speaking of sight, for my weekly message I thought I would share remarks given by retired Judge Carla Moore at our Annual Awards Breakfast back at the beginning of October. “I Can See Clearly Now” was the title of her powerful message.
“You have probably noticed that the invitation to today’s breakfast carries the hashtag: ‘AkronThanksHer’. This is not just a clever saying. Love Akron has made a thoughtful and deliberate choice to honor women of the greater Akron area. My assignment this morning is to set the stage or to frame the conversation on how and why we honor women.
Unless we’ve spent the past couple of years in a coma, we’re all aware of the news stories that have flooded the print and television media. There has been one scandal after another involving men in positions of power accused of using their positions to assault or otherwise take advantage of women in the workplace. As a result of the outcry of women across the country who had been on the receiving end of these assaults and refused to be silent, a movement was born that has been called: MeToo. The result has been the almost weekly fall of iconic male figures in just about every aspect of corporate America. Now, ‘lest you think my time at the podium will be utilized for a feminist rallying cry, let me assure you that my message transcends gender, or any other type of politics. My goal is to help us, through deep and dynamic introspection, to focus on the intrinsic value of women so that we see women as God does, and so that our speech and our actions line up with that view.
Matthew 6:22 declares: ‘The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!’
Our daughter Michelle is an ophthalmologist, so indulge me for just a moment as I place this discussion in the context of the biological function of the eye. We know that the lens of the eye is a structure behind the iris, and that its function is to bend light rays so that they form a clear image at the back of the eye – on the retina. We are so fearfully and wonderfully made that the lens is elastic; it can change shape, getting fatter to focus close objects; and thinner to focus distant objects.
What’s the point, you ask? Our culture has provided a lens through which women are viewed – As sexual objects, as second class citizens, as inferior to men, as undeserving of respect. The view through that lens has been pervasive, and has ushered in and made space for behavior that includes, but is not limited to, physical abuse or domestic violence, objectification of women, inappropriate or unwanted touching, use of language describing women in vile and vulgar terms, marginalizing women in the workplace, paying women less than their male counterparts for the same credentials and the same work. But thank God, there is another lens! – a way to bend the light rays so that they form a clear image of women, an image that is held by the Creator of the Universe! So, I will make three points, and bring my argument to a close.
Let’s start at the beginning. In Genesis 1:27, after God had spoken the world into existence and separated heaven from earth, night from day, dry land from sea, created animals to live on both land and in the sea, the text says: ‘God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.’ It doesn’t require a deep theological dive to arrive at the conclusion that women, just as men, are made in the image and after the likeness of God. We could really end the discussion here. Like any good lawyer, I could rest my case and take my seat. Because the fact that women are made in the image of God, standing alone, absolutely annihilates any conceivable justification for the toxic behavior referred to above. And even if one subscribed to some errant theory of male superiority, Jesus said, what you do to the least of these, you do to me. Selah. Think about it.
Second, God is omnipotent, meaning His power has neither limitation nor boundary. When He chose to bring His son into the world in order to redeem mankind and reconcile us to Himself, He could have done so by spontaneous combustion. But He chose a woman to provide the sacred space for the immaculate conception, the blessed birth and nurturing of the Savior of all mankind. Let that fact settle in and marinate for a moment.
Third, Proverbs 31 raises the provocative question about the value of a virtuous woman, and in the same sentence, it answers that her value is far above precious stones. It then goes on to recount the great asset she is to her husband and to her children; the passage praises her business acumen, her physical fitness, her remarkable work ethic, her philanthropy in the community, her discernment, honor and strength of character, her wisdom and her kindness. It ends with this imperative: ‘Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.’ (This is not a suggestion, but a command.)
And so for anyone who might be inclined to ask why Love Akron honors women today, it’s in the book! For those who have looked through the lens that paints women as objects to be dismissed, this morning presents an opportunity for corrective vision. And even though the culture of the day has offered a view that is skewed and has distorted the true value of women, rest assured that your lens is elastic. It can change shapes to accommodate the view of our creator! So you can say like the song from the past: ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. I see my wife, my daughters, my sisters and my colleagues as God sees them: Made in His image, called out for His purpose, and vessels of virtue to be celebrated and given respect and honor. Never again will I entertain conversation that demeans women. Never again will I stand by idly while unfair decisions are made regarding the status of women in the workplace while it is in my power to speak up. I will be diligent in my thought life and in my actions to guard against objectifying women, or treating them as second class citizens. I will be the one person in the room to challenge the distorted view and place the conversation on the proper course. I wonder if there is anyone in the room who can make that promise?
I will leave you with this thought: when we take on the lens of our Father and Creator, the light rays are bent toward the truth. They allow us to focus on a clear and distinct image, one made in the likeness of God Himself. By changing the lens through which we process what we see, we change our thoughts, our speech and our actions so that they line up with truth. Then we can say: I can see clearly now! These women are my sisters, my daughters, my mothers. Most importantly, they are created in the image and likeness of God my father. How can I not honor them?”
Wow! Judge Moore, gave us corrective lenses out of which to view women as God does, and her message was CLEAR. Speaking of eyes, my son Greg is doing an amazing series of messages about spiritual sight, seeing life more clearly from God’s perspective. The series is titled Open Your Eyes, and you can view it here.
So, my takeaway this week is we all need to have clearer eyesight, both spiritually and physically. May God open our eyes to truly see ourselves and others the way He sees us.