Rights vs. Responsibilities

June 23, 2014

in Uncategorized

Watching the Love and Respect DVDs has given me words to voice things I knew but could not explain.

The “women’s liberation movement” (as it was called when I was young) was all about “equal rights for women.” Emerson suggested men did not relate to this well because they see responsibilities, not rights.

  • I have the responsibility to die for women and children. Most men feel this, but none sees it as a right.
  • I have a responsibility to protect my family, and those who cannot protect themselves. Not a right, a responsibility.
  • I have the responsibility to earn a living for my family. Again, it is not a right.

Man protecting his wife © Pzaxe | Dreamstime.com

I have never heard a man talk about his right to die defending his country. Nor do men talk about the right to cut wood for winter heating, shovel snow, or change the oil in the car. We enjoy some of these, but they are still not rights, they are our responsibility. This is how men think. This is how God made us to think and act.

Of course, we do now see a “men’s rights movement”, and many in the manosphere yell about their “rights”. I think this is a reaction to the fact responsibility, honour, and respect a no longer valued as they once were. Our cultural values have been trashed, and attempts to deal with that can get ugly.

Your husband sees much of what he does as his responsibility. If you understand that and treat him accordingly, he will feel respected and honoured. He will respond by being loving and giving.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and the time I pushed my wife out of the way of a car meant more to me than it did to her. 

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny June 23, 2014 at 5:18 am

Well said. I always have trouble defining the difference between those two things also. I came to the idea that as a Christian, we are servants to all, therefore; we don’t have rights. And God takes of us when others forget, He provides for our needs, it’s better that way because He can never fail.
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GC June 23, 2014 at 11:08 am

I agree that many men (but not all) are focused primarily on their responsibilities. But, I think it’s easier to maintain that focus when your basic rights are already ensured. It may be that men didn’t relate to the “women’s rights movement” because they were not and never had been concerned about securing basic rights – the ability to vote for their government representatives, to own property, to inherit, to pursue a wide range of jobs/careers, to live without fear in their own homes, etc. I think that when basic rights are threatened, men are as likely as women to devote time and energy to obtaining them. For example, in the early 20th century, when wealthy industrialists deprived men of their right to work in safe conditions and earn a decent wage, they fought for those rights and created the organized labor movement. In more recent years, as men have found some of their parental rights stripped away by laws and courts, they have started fighting back to retain those rights.

I agree that, as Christians, our focus should be on our serving others, not on our rights. But it seems a bit disingenuous for Emerson to suggest that men are somehow “above” focusing on their rights, when their rights (especially for white men) have always been “built into” the system of governance and culture.

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Paul Byerly June 24, 2014 at 10:09 am

You make a valid and important point about the rights of men. Most modern men, especially white men, have no experienced a lack of such rights.

I don’t think Emerson was saying men are above focusing on rights. Rather he was saying some of what women are calling rights men see as responsibilities, or as necessary to carry out their responsibilities. No doubt we have skewed that in places, but I think it is a valid observation.
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Lady Anne June 26, 2014 at 3:52 am

When it came to voting, the original dividing line was property ownership, something denied to a majority of women. English common law had many good points, but reading the Jane Austen novels reveals some of the pitfalls for women at the time. It took time for American law to be reformed and improved.

I just got done reading Dr. Helen Smith’s book Men On Strike, and now I’m reading the older book The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell. I’m not very far yet, and I suspect some of his sociological analysis is oversimplified, but I also think he makes some interesting and valid points about relations between the sexes over the centuries. I’m still not convinced male dominance is entirely a myth, though, especially in light of what the Bible teaches about human history. Mr. Farrell is also coming at this from a worldview that seems to be agnostic at best.

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Lady Anne June 26, 2014 at 3:57 am

I forgot to add, that when real injustices occur in our legal system that Christians in a position to do something about it ought to work for better changes. That’s not the same thing as a selfish focus on “rights” while ignoring our responsibilities. Equal treatment before the law is a good thing to aspire to while not ignoring the real differences between the sexes.

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