I’ve written this article many different ways in my head over the years, but I could never bring myself to publish it. On the one hand, I’m raising a sensitive subject – our girls and how we raise them – and I want to treat it with all the sensitivity it deserves. On the other, I feel that someone needs to speak truth for the sake of our girls to protect them from the lies many in our culture are feeding them, even if the truth teller pays a price because of it.
I think I can say without much controversy that our girls have been and are being sexualized. That is, they are being framed as sexual objects, as individuals whose value is attached to their sexual appeal. The effort it took to find an appropriate image for this article is enough to prove my point. A simple search for “girl silhouette” yielded many highly suggestive and sexualized images. And I’ve said nothing about magazine covers, movies, and music (and even less about the subtle ways cartoon female heroines are cast in unrealistic and suggestive proportions)!
And while I think we can all agree that our girls are being sexualized, we continue to remain blind to the fact that our girls are being sexualized. I suspect it’s something like the frog in the pot problem. If the frog had been dropped straight into the boiling water, he would have hopped out. But he was dropped into warm water and slowly boiled to death as the water was gradually heated.
Perhaps we’ve slowly lost our sense. When did uncovered leggings qualify as pants? When did skirts that scarcely skirt the posterior qualify as clothing? When did water-resistant underwear qualify as swimwear? When did skin-tight clothing pass for anything more than cotton spray-paint?
I have no answer for these questions. And I know that simply asking them may cause many to brand me as legalistic. How dare I suggest that you or your daughter dress differently! Some will dismiss me for being male and thereby knowing nothing of the complexities of the female wardrobe. Some will question me for even noticing, despite the fact that everyone with eyes notices, even when we try not to. If someone has to pay the price for speaking truth, it looks like that person is me.
But when you come down to it, if you want to get to the truth, I raise these questions because I care for our girls. They’ve been lied to. They are not objects to dress up to impress other females or to lure males. They are not “sexual beings.” That was a lie pawned off on our culture by discredited and deviant sex researched Alfred Kinsey.
And it was his institute that, with the help of Mary Calderon (the first director of Planned Parenthood) and Hugh Hefner (the founder of Playboy magazine), founded SIECUS. SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States) is the most significant driving force behind sex education in America (and even partners with the United Nations, setting global sex education standards). Its website endorses abortion as health care, homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality as healthy sexual lifestyles, and “sexually explicit” materials (i.e. pornography) as “valuable educational or personal aids.”
And many schools in our nation use curriculum developed by SIECUS.
Our girls need better than this. Our girls are not “sexual beings.” They are created, redeemed, and sanctified beings. They bear the image of God. They have been washed by the blood of Christ. And they have been made holy through the Spirit’s working in Baptism. This is their identity. And this makes our girls beautiful. Consider the words God uses to describe the Church, which He calls His bride:
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Our girls need to hear this over and over and over again because the truth is that our girls’ beauty is bigger than their body. Our girls’ worth is bigger than their “sexiness.” And teaching our girls to dress modestly helps reinforce this. Yes, modesty can be taught legalistically. But we’re not aiming at legalism; we’re aiming at our girls’ Gospel identity in Christ. Dressing modestly doesn’t rob our girls of their worth or lessen their “sexiness;” it acknowledges their profound worth and saves their sexual expression for marriage.
I’m reminded of what the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:8-10,
I desire… that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self- control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
And in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Paul wasn’t driven by legalism. His mind was filled with the glories of our redemption in Christ. This reality defined Him and it defines us and directs every aspect of our lives.
Yes, our girls need to be taught about sex (so do our boys, lest they grow up thinking women are objects that exist for their pleasure!), but it doesn’t begin with the lie that we are sexual beings. We don’t begin with the desires of the flesh. We begin with the Word and work of the Creator. We consider that relationship primary. We find our worth and beauty there. Our goal isn’t sexiness; our goal is holiness.
I know this is a sensitive subject. Maybe it touched your nerve. Maybe it opened your eyes. Maybe it raised more questions. Let’s talk. This is a conversation we need to have – for the sake of our girls. – Pastor Conner