Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
The way we (Christians in particular) talk about relationships with our young people may be sending them mixed messages with unintended consequences. It isn’t wrong to encourage morality and purity in our relationships. On the contrary, that’s desirable. I don’t doubt that this is the goal. But it may be getting lost in translation.
Sadly, though it may be phrased more politely than the title of this article, far too many women echo the sentiment about our own gender. We are prepared to blame ourselves for our men folk’s lack of sexual self-control. One young man recently told me, “What girls don’t get is that if they dress a certain way, guys are going to treat them a certain way.” This was something he had heard not from his father or a male leader at church, but from a woman.
What boys and girls are hearing is vastly different from what we think we’re saying. They’re hearing that for girls, their purity is the most precious and important thing about themselves. They’re hearing that they are responsible for male behavior. They are also learning that boys are jerks and not to be trusted. At the same time, boys are hearing that they should keep their hands to themselves, but that we understand if they are tempted because girls are secretly kind of trashy.
Is this really the message we want to send? A friend posted this picture on his Facebook page:
I loved it. I loved the way it made it clear that men and boys are responsible for their own behavior. It made me wonder what a Christian equivalent might look like.
Would it be teaching our children to own their actions? Would it be teaching both boys and girls that modesty is more about how they treat others than what they wear? Would it be about helping them to understand that their actions should honor God and their fellow humans?
For the sake of our young people, we need a better campaign to teach modesty, purity, love, and respect. I believe we can do this.*Note: The title of this article is a quote from the film I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, a crude movie about the escapades of Tucker Max. I should note here that I haven’t seen the film; I found the quote on a blog about rape culture (which, in case there was any question, is not dead—even this many years later). I stumbled upon this in my search to understand why some conservative churches continue to push the message that women are responsible for the sexual harassment and violence committed against them.