Have We Stopped Protecting Our Girls?
- Friday, August 03, 2012
A few months ago I heard an eye-opening presentation by Dr. Joe McIlhaney, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, who came to speak to our college students at Southwestern about what he has observed over his lengthy career caring for girls and women. His conclusion?
Western culture has stopped protecting its girls.
He argues that we have abandoned our protective role for young women, especially in regards to guiding them in male-female relations, romance, love, sex, marriage, etc. Young women are made to grow up much too quickly --clothing stores are advertising push-up bra bathing suits to seven- to nine-year-olds, 12-year-olds can buy shorts with "sexy" written across the back of them and Hollywood programs geared to teens and young adults often glamorize the idea of young women who are sexually aggressive and loose. Have we lost our minds?
It was heartbreaking to hear from Dr. McIlhaney about the impact, both physically and emotionally, that America's sexual culture is having on young women. The back cover of Dr. McIhaney's book Girls Uncovered states, "Our daughters live in a culture that sees sex as both a sacred right to be exercised with anyone, at any time, and also as 'no big deal.' This culture of 'hooking up' among teens and young adults is no longer a secret." And, it is having disastrous and long-term effects on our young women.
So the question for those of us involved in ministry to young women and parents of girls and young women: How can we help our young women live holy lives in a "hook-up" culture?
The end of James 1:27 exhorts us to keep ourselves "unstained by the world" and 1 Peter 1:16 says we should "be holy" as God is holy. How can we encourage this in our young women, knowing full well that they are bombarded daily with messages that do anything but encourage holiness?
Parents: Talk to Your Students
Studies show that parents still have the number one influence over their children's thoughts about sexual activity. One young women quoted in McIlhaney's book said that her ideas come "probably mostly from my parents and seeing the way my dad treats my mom." This may come as a shock to you parents who get eye-rolls and long sighs when you try to offer instruction, but your children and teens are listening to you. They are watching what you do.
Sex and relationships are uncomfortable and difficult topics, but parents, you cannot relegate your role as your children's primary teacher to culture. I remember being on a trip with more than 300 students several years ago, and we had one beautiful young woman who struggled to dress according to the dress code for the trip. Her mom was also on the trip and also dressed inappropriately, and the mom actually argued with the staff about the guidelines we had set. We weren't trying to be legalistic by setting a dress code -- we were just trying to help encourage modesty. The mom was modeling immodesty before her daughter instead of encouraging modesty that is appropriate for those who profess God (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
Be Careful Little Eyes What You See
I was in the airport in early July waiting to catch a flight, and I was scrolling through the newsfeed on my Facebook page. The movie "Magic Mike" must have been coming out that day because several girls were posting about how excited they were to see the movie. It made me really sad because the movie is about male strippers, and I can't image that it will encourage pure thoughts. The psalmist said "I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless" (Psalm 101:3), and Job said "I have made a covenant with my eyes" that he would not look upon a girl with lust (Job 31:1).
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