So last week a blogger posted a letter to her son’s female friends about the sexy selfies they were posting on social media. Some people shared it. Lots of people liked it. Lots of people hated it. And the internet basically exploded.
The whole episode got me thinking about what I wanted to say to my children. So here’s my take in a letter to my daughters. (The letter to my son is coming tomorrow).
To my precious daughters:
Girls, the world we live in is a confusing and scary place. You’re young for these conversations. Right now I’m still trying to get you to comb your hair in the morning, but I know in a few short years that’s gong to be a much different story.
There is so much I want for you. I want you to be physically and emotionally healthy, not scarred from rushing into sexual activity before it’s time. I want to you be confident in your bodies, the kind of woman who can wear either blue jeans or a ballgown and be perfectly at ease in both. I want you to find your vocation and your calling. I want you to be surrounded by friends and family who love you and who you love with open arms. I want you to be a woman who knows both the power of yielding and who is willing to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
I want you to glorify God with your body. I want you to raise your hands and dance in worship. I want you to embrace your sexuality within the God-given boundaries of marriage. I want you to eat and exercise and steward your body so that you are healthy and strong enough for any calling God lays before you. And yes, I want you to dress modestly.
It’s not because you are to blame for men’s lust. Women are not to blame for men’s sin. I want you to dress modestly because you are a child of God. It’s true that the rules are different for different cultures. Women in the Middle East wear burkas. Women in Africa bare their breasts. But we don’t live in those cultures. We live in ours. We have to figure out how to honor God in this culture.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that striving for holiness ought to impact the way we dress. The way you dress ought to help the world see the beauty of the Lord shining through you. I’m not going to be buying you any shirts that say “boys are better than books” or underwear that asks “who needs a credit card when you have this?” Our homeschool still has a dress code, and as we navigate the teenage years together we’re going to be talking about whether those shorts are too short or the skirt is too tight or the top is too low. I’m your mother, and I love you too much to do anything else. What I want you to learn is this: you don’t dress for anyone’s approval. You dress for God. Somewhere between the burka and the flesh-toned bikini is a place of honor and holiness. That’s the sweet spot I want you to shoot for.
And precious girl, the internet is forever. So we’re going to have some training wheels on social media. Posting sexy self portraits is going to get your privileges revoked for a while. So is sexting, cyberbullying, friending people you don’t know, and generally being a brat online. Why? Because it’s not smart, and it’s not safe. You’re going to make some mistakes. So will I. We’ll fall on God’s grace together.
Darling, I know it’s not always going to be easy. You’re going to tell me you hate me and that everyone else is doing it. You’re going to think some of our rules are unfair. You’re going to slam your door. I’m going to open it, yell at you for slamming it, and wind up slamming it myself. We’re going to walk through hormones and crying jags and broken hearts. But I’m believing for a day when we make it to the other side. One day I’m going to see you standing strong with the blazing beauty of a warrior heart. You’re going to clothe yourself in strength and dignity. You’re going to extend your hands to the poor. You’re going to look at the future and laugh. You’re going to walk in the joy and strength of the Lord. My daughter: a woman of valor.
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