Chatter around the world, not just in Hollywood, seems to have people fixated on the recent debacle at this year’s 94th Academy Awards Ceremony, the physical altercation between award-winning actor Will Smith and popular comedian Chris Rock.
Rock made a hurtful joke on stage about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett, and her lack of hair, seemingly unaware she suffers from a hair loss condition. As a result, Smith came out of his seat to walk on stage and slap Rock.
Some, however, are debating if his actions were justified and if his immediate response and reaction to the hurtful comment about his wife was a noble, chivalrous response to his wife being disrespected.
Others accuse Smith of making the joke more about himself and becoming the center of attention out of his own pride, rather than it truly concerning his wife. But is this true?
Mark 10:7-9 explains how Rock disrespecting Jada was being disrespectful to Smith as her husband. Although Smith doesn’t claim to be a believer, in Christian circles, God designed it that making a joke about someone’s wife is making a joke about her husband, too. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are not longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Set-up for a No-Win Situation
Many husbands may relate to the intense position Rock’s joke put Smith in at the time, realizing a husband may not know at the moment how his wife wants him to respond to her public shame.
So, either way, whether he makes a public stand or stays composed, how he chooses to respond to the circumstances could cause him to be in trouble with his wife.
On one hand, if her husband doesn’t stand up for her, she could be deeply hurt, feeling as if he sat by and let her be publicly humiliated, saying or doing nothing to defend her. On the other hand, if he does stand up for her, she could be livid because he didn’t stay controlled and embarrassed her.
Likewise, more and more women want to handle things on their own, not wanting their husbands to interfere. A culture telling women they don’t need a man to stand up for them makes it even more difficult for a husband to know what to do.
In addition, past history with one’s wife may play into how a husband believes he needs to respond in certain situations. If there are past hurts, slights, or misunderstandings in their relationship, which many couples experience in marriage, it may lead him to feel compelled to do something.
During this debate, many husbands may be empathizing with Smith, having an understanding of how difficult it might have been for him to know what response would please his wife; plenty of men are sympathetic to him as a husband for trying to be a man and stand up for his wife in such a heated situation.
Is It More Biblical to Stand up for Your Wife?
Scripture seems pretty clear that it is a husband’s responsibility to stand up for his wife. As 1 Peter 3:7 explains, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
As well, God calls, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
So the answer is, yes, it is biblical for a husband to stand up for his wife, with the question remaining as to how he is called to accomplish this noble pursuit.
In today’s culture, responding with a slap, especially in Hollywood circles, is unacceptable, even though it’s an industry heavily portraying violence on-screen. Off-screen, they tell a different story, and it doesn’t matter if Smith is an action movie hero because as far as they are concerned, his portrayal ends off-camera.
Also, in the world we live in, Smith’s actions have consequences such as legalities, losing his awards, being passed over for future film roles, and more.
Is It More Biblical to Practice Self-control?
Again, Scripture is clear on whether or not self-control is biblical in how we live our lives, including husbands. Like Galatians 5:22,23 explains, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
So there really is no question to whether or not practicing self-control is a biblical calling for men because the standard is set. Believers included.
However, in days past, slapping someone publicly who was being disrespectful to a man’s wife may have been seen as chivalry and as practicing self-control. Possibly for Smith in this situation, with his life experiences, he thought he was practicing self-control to the best of his ability? Maybe he wanted to punch Rock and throw him off the stage?
Looking at Jesus who, unlike us, was perfect and didn’t ever sin or lose self-control, He may have been seen by some as losing control and acting violently in the temple when standing up for God’s holiness and righteousness. “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,” He said to them, ’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:12-13).
Is It Possible to Do Both?
Maybe the real question is: does being a more biblical man require both self-control and the heated energy of standing up for your wife?
In looking at Scripture, there’s no denying that men are called to do both. How they accomplish this is the quandary many men find themselves caught in, especially in unexpected situations where they may be triggered by another’s words or actions.
However, in the past, certain actions seen as acceptable in this type of situation are no longer culturally acceptable.
Christian men have a high calling when it comes to their behavior and responses. The Measure of A Man author and Bible teacher, Gene Getz, wrote in his book how a biblical man is one whose true identity is in Jesus Christ, and how this enables him to control his mind and emotions.
So, is there a way Smith could have done both, using self-control while standing up for her, without resorting to slapping Rock? Perhaps he could have approached the microphone and publicly stood up for his wife by correcting Rock’s statement about her and expressing his love and support for her.
By publicly correcting what was said about his wife, Smith is doing what Proverbs 31:28 encourages husbands to do: “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:”
How Does a Husband Become More Biblical?
So how does a husband become a more biblical man? What does it involve and how is it possible to achieve?
2 Timothy 2:15 describes how to begin. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
As well, Getz writes, “We are all on a spiritual journey. It’s encouraging to know that the men Jesus chose to change the world had human weaknesses. All of them had serious character flaws, including the Apostle Paul. But God changed all that—not overnight, but over a process of time. They learned to love one another as Christ had loved them (John 13:34-35).”
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Handout/Getty Images/Jason Merritt/TERM/Staff
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.