Made in God’s Image?

Even without overt sexual abuse, all young women are known to experience a descent into low self-esteem at puberty, probably as they realize their role as sexual objects.

Aron, Elaine N.. The Highly Sensitive Person (Kindle Locations 1732-1733). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Are you the parent of an adolescent – past, present or future? If not, I imagine you were one yourself, once! Do Dr. Aron’s words shock you? I hope so. I hope that they shake the core of any decent human being. If you are a mother or a father, how can we best instil into our adolescent sons the non-objectification of women and girls, given that it is e.v.e.r.y.where? Do you recognise where you yourself have objectified women, however unintentionally? This is just as much a question to women – women’s magazines, etc., attest to the fact that women buy into this objectification of one another. How can we best teach our daughters that they are worth so much more than just their physicality?

If you are a follower of Christ: Jesus is recorded on many, many occasions taking care to give particular respect and esteem to the women that He encountered, who were at the time generally treated as ‘less-than’ the men. It is clear from the New Testament that the early Christian church – the living expression of the New Covenant – was a place where women were included and valued. Jesus in fact told men, in no uncertain terms, not to objectify women. So why is this rarely addressed in churches? Why is a structure in which men’s voices are always the loudest (reflecting the world – not Christ) still the status quo? I ask this of Christian men and women, not just men. Men have to recognise their privilege and women have to recognise where they are reinforcing stereotypes against one another (which is also a reflection of the world, not Christ). We need to stop these generational inflictions on our young people. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – and all, by grace, are lifted up and made beautiful. A healthy self-esteem is a recognition that we are bound, in this earthly body, to fall and to fail, but that we have a dignity bestowed by a loving Creator, who made us in His image.

There are words of hope for those for whom this is a daily struggle, for whatever reason, and they come from the same chapter; Jesus was on a roll that day 😉 Can you imagine what it would have been like to actually hear Him speak, to be there in His presence? Amazing!

Jesus said:

Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].

Matthew 5:3, Amplified

Sometimes blessings come from the places we least expect, eh?

What are your thoughts on the prevalence of the objectification of women in Western culture and on the subsequent effects on young people? Is it something you have given any thought to? How do you think men and women within the church can respond?

 

Growing Pains

No one can become a truly biblical adult without setting some limits… Otherwise, we never know if we have forged our own values, beliefs, and convictions – our very identity – or if we are mimicking the ideas of our family… if you have never questioned, set boundaries, or experienced conflict with your family members, you may not have an adult-to-adult connection with your family… You may be afraid of separating, individuating and becoming an autonomous adult.

From Boundaries in Marriage by John Townsend and Henry Cloud

(as quoted in the ‘Boundaries’ email devotional from biblegateway.com)

Well that seems very pertinent to me, both from the perspective of a woman who never had the opportunity to ‘grow up’ properly – a combination of illness, abuse from brother and (first) spouse, and a highly passive aggressive mother – and from the perspective of the same woman with two teenage children who are testing the boundaries and trying to establish their own sense of autonomy, one of whom has autism and learning disabilities so may well have limited autonomy. They never actually say these words, but the majority of what they do seems to be saying ‘who am I?’ I pray Prince and Fluff find their answers framed by Christ, but they have to be given the freedom and respect to discover Him for themselves. I can’t worry and fret over them or I’ll smother them, despite wanting so desperately to protect them and to share with them this gift of grace.

Plus, I have two teenage children. That makes me so old. Of course, when you’re a teenager anyone over 30 seems positively ancient, but I have to remind myself that I’m not yet 40. I have plenty of life left, God-willing. The bizarre thing is that, because of everything I’ve been through, I’m still figuring out who I am, so it’s doubly difficult to be able to parent someone else through it (the only conclusion, so far, is that I am somewhat eccentric). But we muddle through, by grace. Always by grace, thank God.