Strong Fences

Father behind fence protecting son from bull

This was shared as part of a longer post on my other site but it seems fitting to share here as well.

A few weeks ago, there was a bull riding event at the Evers Arena here in El Dorado, Arkansas.  There were some great bulls and great riders.  The whole thing was an event put on to help Colt Cates, brother of PBR bull rider Reese Cates, raise money to help offset some medical expenses from a recent car accident. 

Well, the photo below is another one of those photos that tells a story but this one is not planned in any way. The photo is more of a documentary image captured from live unscripted events as they unfolded. There were lots of great action photos from the event, but this one photo speaks volumes to me and is unlike any of the other photos from the event. Partly because of the firm beliefs and values that I hold that give me and many like me a unique perspective on what’s happening. I won’t go into any technical details of how the image was shot here because this all happens so fast that there is no time for that. I shoot what I see unfolding in this type of situation. In this photo, I turned and snapped. 

So whats the story

I’ll try to condense this down a little bit to just the story it tells me, but there is a lot there.

This bull had just been ridden and bucked off its rider. I forget now whether the rider covered him for the full 8 seconds or not, but I don’t think so. This was a pretty mean, rank, snorting bull who wanted some more action. He was not ready to leave the arena. You can see by the ropes on him that the cowboys had tried but not yet convinced him that his show was over and it was time to leave the arena.  He hit the fence pretty hard just seconds before I shot this photo. The little boy running off had been standing at the fence when the bull hit it hard enough to bow the fence out and the boy took off running back to his mother a little startled but no worse for the wear. 

I think he was mostly oblivious to any real sense of danger.  Part of that is because of the strength of the fence but also because you can see his father standing firm and confident staring the bull down as he stretches his arm out to usher the little boy behind him.  Nothing comforts a child more than the presence of their father. The father in this picture is protected himself by the fence also but should the bull come through or over, he stands watch, ready to protect those he loves.  

It’s a powerful image because the world we live in is full of rank bulls and evils intent on destroying everything in their path.  Some are as equally ugly as this bull, But unfortunately, some aren’t so obvious as a snorting bull.  In this one image, you can see the purpose for which God intended husbands to fill in their roles as fathers.   To take on the world and subdue it is what God commanded Adam to do when God created the family (Gen 1:27-28) and he blessed them in that context.  It is the duty of husbands and fathers to provide for, and possibly more importantly to protect their families from the evils of the world.  But it is the sanctity and safety God ordained in the marriage covenant which is the image of the love that Christ has for his church that does that. God never intended for fathers or mothers to go it alone, but instead, to be united in the covenant of marriage he blessed them in that context. 

He created men to be strong and women to be tender so that men might stare down evil with the strength and faith he has given us and women to be equally faithful, nurturing, and caring for children to run to when evil shows its face. The two became one for this purpose in order to create a cohesive and complimentary family relationship. Gender roles and male headship are important biblical concepts under attack by the world for a reason. But when strong fences like marriage vows before God don’t exist, chaos ensues. Even then, when sin creeps under the fences it wreaks havoc on marriages. It requires men to be obedient guard dogs, discerning and ever watchful. 

God, the ultimate good shepherd, built good fences.   He formed the sanctity of marriage to surround this union as an image reflecting of his love for us, his children.  Its purpose is never to subject women or for men to be used as purely providers, but to protect and provide for women and children and for husbands to be honored and respected. Men step up to the fence at the altar before God and man in a promise to love and to hold, to cherish and protect their families until death do us part.  It is husbands and fathers who stand at the fence to guard their loved ones as a sacrificial last line of defense.  But it’s those fences that are the boundaries for healthy families to exist in.  They are only as good as the steel, the welds, and the concrete, they are made of.  God gave us his word in truth as a firm foundation that can not be broken as long as we cling to it and build strong biblical marriages within to keep the world out.  

The world doesn’t like that.  The world wants to tear down fences, with open borders like our southern border with Mexico, and along with it, the family structure God intended.   This is a major piece of Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter talking points.  Our culture says “Men can be Women.” “Strong women don’t need men”. “Just live together.” “Traditional marriage is outdated”. “Masculinity is toxic”. “end the patriarchy” But it is the strong biblical foundation of the covenant of marriage that is under attack because when it fails, society falls with it.

The world does not want strong men to be the spiritual leaders of their families in the context of Biblical marriage.  The world attacks those who do. Our society paints the father in almost every TV show as the village idiot. But without men standing at the fence in the covenant of biblical marriage always and forever, women are at risk.  The world needs more Godly women (and men) striving to be more like the bride of Christ (the church) and less like the world, and whose husbands are respected at the city gate. (Proverbs 31:23) A healthy family cannot be built if either partner has one foot out the door. Marriage is the promised covenant that protects the intimacy building trust between husband and wife. Men have to boldly step up to the proverbial fence at the altar accepting responsibility to love their families regardless of what society says. And women are not subjects they are equal in submission to their husbands when their husbands are living in submission to Christ. It is therefore men who must kneel before Christ to stand against the world. 

The world needs more than just cowboys.  The world needs Godly Men, Husbands, and Fathers who will stand firm on God’s word without flinching at the angry bulls roaming through the world and without apologizing for what His word says on every front.  Who will stare down evil as the last line of defense to protect their families? The world doesn’t need more manipulative, greedy, Beth Duttons. It needs more Godly wives and mothers, for children to run to and learn from. Those who will stand on God’s word with their husbands as one.

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