Purity & Love

This was reposted to my Facebook feed by a fellow homeschooling parent, with the comment that, “our girls are going to hear this every day from their father. I pray this helps them too!!”

I’m not so sure about that:

“If only you saw what I can see, you’d understand why I need your modesty.”

So… virtue = being careful to stay out of the way of the sinfulness of young men. “That’s what makes you beautiful.” Got it.

I know that’s not the only message here;1 but it is here, and there’s not much else here (for instance, praising the beauty of feminine courage, endurance, practical intelligence, etc. — all Biblical virtues) to re-focus the discussion away from the degrading stereotypes of young men as helpless lust machines & women as potential sex bombs. It’s still a lust-centered world view (MUCH more so than the original song!), with a narrow, distorted picture of virtue. Because of this, it fails to be an adequate Christian witness against the sexual brokenness of our society.

Instead, this video just plays along with sexual brokenness, hoping to stay on the good side of the devil’s rules. There’s a name for this particular set of devil’s rules: rape culture. (You can read about it here: this post by Diana Anderson, part of a larger series on sexual abuse in the church.) It’s the idea that rape or abuse is inevitable, acceptable, tolerable, or somehow excusable, and not primarily a sin on the part of the attacker. When the rapist or abuser we trusted from our own community, says that my daughter or your daughter dressed immodestly, in his opinion, so it must be her fault — and when he really believes it himself — this kind of teaching is not what we want ringing in her ears.

As a husband, as a son, and as a father of two girls, here’s what I want to teach: I want my sons to know that they don’t need HER to have integrity, but that they are responsible for their own integrity, and for seeking out the dignity in others. I want my daughters (and my sons) to know that their inherent, God-given, grace-affirmed worth & beauty is expressed in MANY virtues, both physical & spiritual, developed in the practices of everyday life. I want them to understand how being both attractive & praiseworthy can make married love live long, and how contempt can kill it quick. I want them to ask, as Alma Cook asks, “What’s your why when it comes to getting dressed?” and I want them to know that in getting dressed or undressed, their first responsibility is toward their own hearts before the LORD.

  1. More of the cutural context for the video, which comes out of the Mormon Church, can be found at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865566595/Young-men-in-Mesa-Ariz-tell-girls-theyre-beautiful-through-music-video.html?pg=all)
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