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Encouragement for Young Ladies

December 30, 2012

Young ladies, I have some encouragement for you. Although you are growing up in a world whose spiritual and moral health are declining, in a society full of dangers for which you must watch, I can “encourage” you that there is a path through these adolescent and young adult years which can lead to a truly fulfilling life – not one full of disappointment with the emptiness of the world’s promises. It is also a path which honors and obeys God.

Of course, your mother has a huge amount of wisdom for you as well, having gone through the same transition. As a father though I have a different perspective and a familiarity with the rationales and general consensus which drive so much of the “worldly” advice you will be receiving over the coming years.

Worldview matters: the manner in which you make decisions is just as important as the specific decisions you make.

If you can learn to be skeptical of the world’s general consensus, and to look to God’s Word as the foundation of your life, you will find true wisdom – yes, even for life in the 21st century. It was inspired by the Creator of the Universe!

The world has been saying to you in myriad direct and indirect/subtle ways, that being pretty is the most important thing in the world. It is the focus of advertisements and Hollywood image production – so much more pointedly than for young men; it is the first (and often only) compliment you receive from well-meaning friends and family – “you’re such a pretty girl!”. Many women live their whole lives with this self-identity, aging (dis)gracefully in a miserable cycle of dieting and plastic surgery. The truth: although it is good to look your best and take care of your health, what really matters is your heart. Is Christ the savior of your life, helping you to leave behind temptations to vanity and pride but instead to be caring and sensitive to others? Are you graceful and well-mannered to keep others always at ease? Are you humble, quick to laugh at yourself and eager to serve others? This is true beauty, and is much more important (and appealing) than outer beauty. You do not need to be physically beautiful to have a full life, and if you are good-looking, consider it a minor blessing you did nothing to earn, and which may in fact create more stumbling blocks for you to pride and other sin.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” — Proverbs 31:30

Many around you ask whether you have a “boyfriend” (this often starts in Kindergarten!), and you may often wonder if they are gauging your worth based on your answer. The truth: The only thing to be gained by rushing into a physically intimate relationship prior to marriage is heartache or worse. Hold tight to your purity and give it to your husband on your wedding day, long after you and your family know he is worthy of it. Not only is it a blessing to him not to be competing with memories of your ex-boyfriends for your affections, but it will help you avoid some of the worst sin and entanglements of the teenage years.

“Young women of Jerusalem, I charge you: do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.” — Songs 8:4

Have you felt society pushing you to dress in the most revealing ways possible? Have you wondered why it is so difficult to find long skirts in department stores, but mini-skirts and spaghetti straps are everywhere? When summer approaches how many bikini options will you find vs. modest swimwear? Some of these trends are driven by buying habits of young ladies, but underneath that is a darker truth: Clothing designers create more revealing clothes because their purpose for clothing is to entice young mens’ eyes to your body – and what better way than to show as much as possible? It is tragic to me how many young women (even young girls) get dressed in the morning with the overpowering thought that they must draw in boys’ lust. Some try to convince themselves that this attention is a kind of “empowerment” or “freedom”. Stop and realize: just as you do not need a “boyfriend”, what benefit is it to entice boys’ interest in this way (ever, not only at this point in your life)? Is the kind of man you one day want to marry the kind who would judge based on how you look in a bikini or mini-skirt? And until you and your family know a young man well enough to consider marriage a future possibility, what real value is there in making any boy(s) “drool”? It is a vain, insecure goal aimed only at a fleeting moment of pride; young women of character can leave this alone and feel sorry for those caught in its trap.

“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control..” — 1 Timothy 2:9

Society’s concept of friendship for young ladies is a strange thing: movies and TV shows seem to combine the concept of a carnivorous group of teenage girls on the prowl for boy toys with the gossiping back-stabbing of pecking-order intrigue. The truth: real friendship is a relationship of encouragement, support and fun which brings out your best attributes and strengthens your weakest ones; this is why this kind of friendship is only possible between believers, because only Christ can take away the selfishness from our hearts. Real friends give each others’ priorities equal importance to their own, and are willing to sacrifice when a friend is in need. The “in group” popularity pecking-order is yet another tragic artifact of the insecurity our society creates in teenagers; a knowledge that one is higher in social “rank” than someone else gives them a fleeting boost of validation (and all too often the motivation to act cruelly to prove their position). All the while this encourages no one, enables little true healthy fun, and creates depression and blackness in the hearts of young people. Young ladies of character can lead their circle of friends in avoiding this kind of behavior, and instead to enjoy the fruits of great Christian friendships.

“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” — 1 John 3:16

The world is trying to pull you from your parents; have you noticed this? Teachers, coaches, even youth or Sunday School leaders at church – make comments like “your parents may not understand but I do” or “what they don’t know won’t hurt them”. Instinctively, these adults know that not only do they need a close relationship with you in order to “mentor” or influence you, but they also must get you to doubt your parents’ mentoring and influence. Sadly, some institutions seem to setup programs aimed at doing exactly this on purpose! The truth: while any adult in a position of leadership over young people should strive to be a positive role model, those that truly care about you should desire nothing for you as much as a close relationship with loving parents!

“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you..” — Deuteronomy 5:16

Consider some of the best-selling young adult books from recent years (e.g. Twilight and the Hunger Games) which are escapism of one kind or another, fantasy with morality either twisted or completely absent. Or consider the lyrics of popular rock and country songs – overwhelmingly focused on depressing themes of cheating on boy/girlfriends and hooking up. Or consider the best-selling young ladies’ magazines: Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Teen Vogue – all trash printed weekly about hairstyles or fashion trends or the train-wreck personal lives of movie, tv and music stars – or even X-rated topics which would make married couples blush. Even mainstream news sources are trending in this direction of “sensationalism”. For some reason the world has been pushing young people toward imagining fantasy realms, following the lives of distant “stars”, and focusing on physical pleasure and X-rated topics. How does any of this help or uplift anyone? The truth: of course, it only helps the publishers. This is what our media companies put out for young women because it plays directly to their sinful natures and creates a consumer cycle of addiction to read, hear, and see similar material in the future. Young ladies of character can see this cycle for what it is and avoid it altogether. Read the Bible and educational histories or non-fiction, inspirational biographies or fiction chosen with discernment; listen to uplifting positive Christian music which encourages praising God rather than empathetic depression. Fill your mind not with trash, but with the best stuff you can get your hands on!

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” — Philippians 4:8

Social media offers consumption alternatives for your free time as well. The posting and reading of infinite trivial granuals on Facebook has become an addiction for millions of young people; some admit to spending 6 or more hours on Facebook every day! The truth: our time is our life! Wasting time, especially in the precious years before the time commitments of adult life invade, is a tragic use of the precious gift God has given us. Instead of tracking every movement of every one of your friends, choose instead to invest in yourself. Learn a new skill, learn to play a musical instrument, or find other ways to improve yourself!

“Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” — Ephesians 5:16-17

We cannot consider society’s misleading advice and norms without also including education. Philosophical policy statements about education are usually very admirable: that young ladies and young men should take the best approach to learning skills and information to prepare them to best succeed in their adult life ahead. …But our society’s solutions fail in the specifics – what is “the best approach”? Homeschooling has been proven far superior academically and spiritually to schools of all kinds for those who pursue it earnestly, and yet homeschoolers are still often ridiculed and criticized for making that choice. Likewise society often gives wrong answers to which “skills and information” are appropriate for training; and in recent years social convention has moved toward eliminating the notion that this preparation should look any different for boys and girls. I believe it is wrong to cut short a young lady’s education on the claim that she will not need advanced or college training to be a housewife – this misses an opportunity to further prepare to be a homeschooling mother! Also consider: in the future it is possible that states may require certification and/or college degrees for homeschooling parents.

On the other hand I believe it is also wrong to motivate girls in their education with dreams of worldly success or fulfilling false imagined responsibilities to provide for their families financially. If their college degree gives them a safety net in case their husband is killed or cannot provide as planned, fine and all the better; this is not their primary reason for getting educated though, and that safety net would be better provided by a strong church community. Properly educating young ladies includes discipling them spiritually, teaching them academically, and showing them the beauty of God’s roles for husbands and wives, and their parallel symbolism to the relationship of Christ and His church. This is the biggest encouragement I can offer to young ladies:

Nothing is so beautiful and nothing more important than your future role as wife and mother!

The family is the core of our lives and God’s plan for our world as whole; what higher purpose can there be for a young woman’s dreams and preparation than to succeed one day in making a Godly home, raising and educating children for His glory?

“And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” — Titus 2:4-5

The pattern is pretty consistent: for nearly all of life’s major decisions, society is pushing young ladies in completely the wrong direction. This is not surprising given the dominance of sin and our economy’s desperate need to drive consumerism. The results of this push are clear to see: the moral decay of our society, a decrease in marriage rates and an extension of the damaging adolescent “hook-up” culture well into the late 20s. On a personal level the world’s prescribed lifestyle leads often to depression, rejection, and an unprecedented wasting of time in the young adult years which could be so much better spent. Young ladies, there is encouragement and wisdom in following God’s plan for your life – not the world’s!

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.” — 1 John 2:15

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” — Romans 12:2

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