Protect and Serve: Loving as Christ Loves the Church

Protect & ServeIt’s the middle of the night… I’m suddenly woken to the sound of glass shattering and wood splintering. My heart begins to race as I grab my sidearm from the nightstand. My eyes quickly begin to adjust due to the shot of adrenaline.

I console my panicked wife that everything will be ok as I rush out of our bedroom door and scan left down the hall. I notice immediately that the doors to our kids’ rooms are still shut.

I begin to scan right and break the corner leading into the living room. There stands a masked man holding his weapon. With swift and precise force, I dispatch the assailant in order to protect my family from someone who had come to do them harm and take what was not his.

For the past ten years this drama and various other versions have played through my head. This had become my expectation of what it meant to live out the masculine attribute of being a protector. I felt somehow that in order to fulfill this longing to protect, I would have to battle an aggressor, someone willing to harm my family.

As a police officer, I’ve responded to incidents which upon arrival to a disturbance call I was greeted by the shrieking screams of a female calling for help and the booming sound of a man unleashing his wrath on her.

I immediately responded by breaching the door in order to protect the weak and bring justice to the aggressor. You would think with my idea of what a protector was, these incidents would have been the pinnacle of my masculinity. Finally, the ability to fulfill my role as protector. But this was not the feeling I had at all… I only responded to a need, dutifully.

The reality is that most of us will never be faced with such Hollywood type scenarios. So is this role of protector a fleeting myth? How are we called to protect our wives and our families? It’s become apparent to me that we are indeed made to protect our bride, but it must start by protecting her from ourselves.

We’re called to protect her from the guy with disordered passions who can’t say no to the next beer, or the game, or the click of the mouse. Until we men do battle with our passions that have run amuck, we can never truly protect our wives or children because they’ll feel that their safety is at risk with the man whose desires dominate his decisions.

By becoming intentional about breaking the habits that pester us and surrendering to the divine help of Christ, we can gradually become the protectors that we’re all called to be. Just as self-discipline is critical for the soldier or police officer to perform their duties, it’s just as critical for every man to have an interior life that’s steeped in self-mastery.

We must reflect on our habits and honestly assess where we’re too lax or too rigid in our lives. Are we disposed to laziness? Or on the other side of the coin, are we too rigid? Do we tend towards workaholism? Other times we can tend towards laxity and fall to lust or lean towards puritanism and maintain a distorted view of the body which can lead to a resentment of women.

To all of these interior battles, Christ provides the tactics that ensure success. We are to take on His dispositions and see the world as He sees it; these views are called the virtues.

So rather than laziness or workaholism, Christ shows us that we’re called to be diligent. Instead of being chained to lust or prudishness, Christ demonstrates our call to a life of chastity.

Protector; we know that this attribute of masculinity is stamped right into our bodies, we’re all called to lay our lives down for the other. Through the continual training and ordering of our passions, we can begin to taste true freedom which allows us to provide protection for our brides.  And as she senses you growing in freedom to love her the way Christ loves the Church: totally, freely, faithfully and fruitfully she’ll open up and allow herself to be loved by her true man, her protector.