Man Up

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Monday, October 06, 2014

Man Up

*The following is an excerpt from the first installment of Dr. White’s latest series at Mecklenburg Community Church, “Man Up.” It will “read” like the oral event it was, but we felt it deserved to be lifted out and sent out as today’s blog.  – The Church & Culture Team

It’s only week five of the NFL, but the season is already filled with headlines. And as you know, the biggest ones haven’t been about the games.

They’ve been about the players.

And not about what they’ve done on the field, but off.

From Ray Rice beating his wife in an elevator – one of the sickest videos I’ve ever seen – to Adrian Peterson reportedly beating his son with a stick so long and hard that he damaged his scrotum, it’s been violence off the field – not on it – that has dominated the news. 

Closer to home we’ve seen even more domestic violence stories, from Greg Hardy of the Panthers to Jeff Taylor of the Hornets.

The latest stats are just stunning.

Around the world, 30% of all women age 15 and older have suffered intimate partner violence.

That’s almost one out of every three.

You’re probably thinking, “But yeah, there’s some pretty primitive, backward parts of the world out there.”

Here in the United States, it’s slightly more than one out of every five.

And get this: Nearly 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States alone.

That is not protecting. 

And the Bible would condemn it in every possible way.

In Colossians 3:19, it says:

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19, NIV)

And in I Peter 3:7, it says,

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner. (I Peter 3:7, NIV)

That’s how power and strength are to be used.

To protect, not to prey.

A husband may take a blow for his wife, but never, ever, is he to give a blow to his wife.

And just to be fair, women should not be violent toward their husbands.  Forty percent of all spouse abuse is female on male! And we turn a blind eye to it.

To prove the point, an undercover team went on to the streets of London to see how people reacted to the two kinds of domestic violence. Men on women, and then women on men.

The difference was stark.

Take a look. (*Warning: clip contains explicit language that was censored when shown during the service)

The point is that violence is violence, and it has no place in a marriage.

And the same is true for children.

Every year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States, involving more than 6 million children. On average, more than 4 children die every day to child abuse and neglect.

70% of those who die are under the age of 4.


And sexual assault of children?

More than 90% know their offender. In fact, according to the 2012 Child Maltreat Report from the Department of Health and Human Services, four-fifths – 80% - of all types of abuse on children was done by a parent. 

And usually, the father.

No man – no real man – does this.

No man – no real man – hurts his wife.

No man – no real man – hurts his child.


We are called to love as Christ loved the church, and how did Christ love the church?

He died for her. He died protecting her, rescuing her, saving her.

Now, before we go any further, let me say a word to you who are victims of this. I can’t leave this without talking to you about it as your pastor. Which means a word to you women.

You are not to submit in any way, you are not to tolerate in any way, physical abuse.

If you feel that you somehow deserved it, or provoked it, no. There is nothing you could ever do that would justify being physically abused.

If you are being abused, flee.


Get out of that home.

We’ll go to work on that marriage, and go to work on your husband, but you are not to submit to it.

And if he won’t change, you have complete biblical grounds for divorce.

I’m not rooting for that, I’m not hoping for that, but I need to tell you that you are not called to a marriage where that is happening.

That isn’t marriage.

The Bible says that one of the grounds for divorce is physical abandonment. Which means your spouse leaves you, or acts in a way that you are forced to leave. 

Physical abuse is forcing you to separate.

And if you’re dating someone who hits you, or is violent in any way, you end that relationship. I can tell you right now that he is not God’s man for you. 

The same goes for the abuse of your child. You take that child and flee.

And let me say this to everyone here.

If you know of any child being abused, physically, sexually, you are to report it immediately. This is unconscionable behavior, and criminal. 

And there should be zero tolerance.

And if you don’t feel you can leave because it’s not safe – that he’ll try and physically stop you, or hurt you, I will personally see that you are escorted out.

And men, if it has a place in your life, I have one word for you.


Man up and repent.

Please, don’t you see that you’re better than this? That it’s not what it means to be a man?

It has no place in God’s world.

No place in God’s family.

No place in God’s marriage.

No place in God’s man.

Which means no place in you.

James Emery White


James Emery White, “Man Up, Part One: A Man and His Wife,” message delivered at Mecklenburg Community Church, Charlotte, NC, the weekend of October 4/5, 2014.  Full message available at

“A third of women worldwide abused by partners, study finds,” Bill Briggs, NBC News, June 20, 2013, read online.  

National Child Abuse Statistics from Child Help.

Child Maltreat Report (2012), Dept. of Health and Human Services, read online.

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon.  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.