Growing up, I attended a Protestant church most Sundays and youth group Wednesdays. The children’s pastors at all the churches I attended were women, but women were never youth pastors or lead pastors. I never thought anything of this until this year. I’m a freshman in college currently taking a Gender Studies class, which is opening my eyes to see the ways men and women are not treated equally, especially in church settings.
When my youth pastors would preach on sex, they would often split the boys and girls. The youth pastor would talk to the boys while his wife would talk to the girls. The girls were always talked to about modesty. “Modest is hottest” and “Don’t cause your brothers to stumble” were popular phrases. We were talked to about saving ourselves for marriage.
While a girl’s value is reduced to inches (i.e. the inches of skin shown below the collarbone and above the knee) the boys in the youth group are learning they are to judge a woman by what she is wearing.
I once had a boy from youth group come up and tell me my shorts were too short and I was tempting him.
Why is his lack of self-control my fault? Why am I blamed for having an attractive body? Does the fact that I just said my body was attractive make you feel uncomfortable, because women are supposed to criticize themselves and deny compliments? I am not a temptress.
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth…How precious also are Your Thoughts to me, O God!” -Psalm 139:14-17
Now, I know we all interpret the Bible differently, but to me, these verses prove to me we are not viewing women as God does. “My frame was not hidden from You” – women are not supposed to be hidden. We are not to hide our beauty and the light God so fearfully and wonderfully created us to be. We should be empowering young women with these verses.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction in on her tongue…Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:25-30
Fearing the Lord does not mean being afraid to speak your mind. Fearing the Lord does not mean fearing men, fearing power, fearing what people will think if you wear that dress.
“To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power.” -Proverbs 8:13-14
“In the fear of the Lord there (is) strong confidence” -Proverbs 14:26
Let these words empower you.