As our culture grows increasingly immodest, women–and girls–are going to increasingly be the victims of sexual vandalism and exploitation. We need to remember that it was the gospel of Jesus Christ that transformed the treatment of women in the time of Roman empire, and it will be the gospel that does it again. When the four gospels were written, women were not even considered credible as witnesses in a court of law. And yet women are the first witnesses in Scripture to see Jesus alive after his resurrection–an event that no one fabricating the story would include. This would only be one more element of foolishness for Christians explaining what actually happened at the resurection. “So who first saw this Jesus come back from the dead?” “Well, Mary Magdalene, a friend of Jesus.” “That woman? The one who was easy with her body and out of her mind?” “She used to be like that until she met Jesus–before his resurrection.” “Yeah, right.”
Easter is a poignant time to remember the influence of the church honoring the image of God resident in all women, and the true feminine mystique of those following the footsteps of wisdom personified as a woman in Proverbs, blessed-among-women Mary the mother of Jesus, the various women who believed on and supported Jesus during his ministry, the women first to the tomb, and the women prominent in the life of the early church. All these are types of the Church, our mother (Gal. 4:26).
Various cultural commentators are noticing the sexualization of younger and younger girls. LZ Granderson just ran a story about an 8-year-old he saw in the airport–tanned, mid-riffed, and tagged “juicy” on her pre-pubescent backside. Abercrombie & Fitch isn’t the only one pushing push-up bras and thong underwear for pre-teens. The City of Philadelphia is mailing condoms to 11-year-olds. LZ’s says some good things in his article, but his approach, taken by so many Christian parents, reveals he has already capitulated to the trend. The punch-line conclusion is that parents should be parents, and not BFFs to their children. As far as this means parents have authority, and should exercise it, that friends do not, this is good. But what kind of a BFF lets a friend dress up like a piece of sexual meat? What kind of a parent is content with their kid having this sort of friend? And the worst assumption, why aren’t parents interested in being the best of friends with their kids? “Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6).
Parental authority is real, and that authority can and should be exercised by rules and commands. But at a child grows older, that authority is mainly exercised through influence. Rules and commands should only be given out of love for the person who is expected to obey them, and not for the sake of the convenience of the rule-giver. And this must be made plain, demonstrated over and over, to the child who is receiving the discipline. And it should be remembered that those who give rules and instruction this way–seemingly over and over without progress–will find a delightful course for themselves. This is the sort of sowing that does reap, and does so a hundred-fold. Parent who give rules, commands, and directions like “take that skanky top off” must remember they are always aiming at the internalization of the standard, and not simple outward conformity to the standard. Children are friends from the beginning. That’s part of what a child is: the closest friend you sacrifice everything and anything for. As they grow up, the relationship changes from one of authority to one of influence. Why does a dad want his daughter to change her clothes? Because he has her best interest in mind, and she knows this from years of experience. Because of this she will listen to him even though she might disagree with a particular judgment call. Close friends have enormous influence on one another because of their history of love and sacrifice for one another.