October 4, 2013
When faced with the question, ‘Who are our daughters?’ we immediately think of the girls we have given birth to, our own flesh and blood, our physical daughters that we have raised. But I want to challenge you to think far wider than that – beyond our own family – beyond our own church!
Our daughters are the girls in our streets who attend school in our city, who share the same postcode. Maybe we are not responsible for their actual physical wellbeing. Many of them will have parents who provide for them adequately. However, we also have a God-given responsibility to these girls. We, as Christians, are also responsible for their spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
There will be some times and situations when we do have to provide for the girls’ physical needs. The girls of our city belong to God and, as He created them, He longs to have relationship with them, to heal them and protect them. We are God’s ambassadors in our cities; we are ones through whom God can work to reach these girls. We don’t change what we don’t take responsibility for. That’s why it’s vital that there be a change in our thinking and in the way we see the girls in our city. They are our responsibility!
It’s a sobering thought that the ones assuming a greater responsibility than the Christians for the girls in our city are the media and marketers. They are intentional and relentless; they have a strategy and they are very successful. Retailers know that the sooner little girls can become addicted to shopping, the more money can be generated from them.1 Advertisers target babies because they know that this will translate into sales from the age of two. 2
Kids spend less time with their parents than with advertising and brands, so ads have a major influence on the kids’ vocabulary and use of brand names.3
Marketers have invented the ‘tween’, ages 8 to 12, and they are now worth billions. For a tween, peer acceptance is vital, so a tween girl will study magazines to know what to wear and how to act. She will worship celebrities in earnest, women like Kate and Ashley Olsen, Christina Aguilera, Paris Hilton and Beyonce (hardly the role models our young girls need).4 A tween will choose a friend based on what she wears and what music she listens to. When girls get everything they want, they grow up to assume life is about instant gratification, instant purchase, instant relationships, instant fun, instant sex… until nothing delights them any more.5
Most girls love to dance! But when I see how they dance, it’s clear that they mimic TV. Their moves are sexualized and erotic, another indication of who is influencing our girls.
Many parents have abdicated from their role, the church has been absent and now we have a generation being raised by the media, by retailers and by anyone else who can grab their attention. Little wonder we have problems with our young people.
It’s so easy to look down on young people and shake our heads with dismay. I ask that you don’t do this, but rather bow your head and ask God to change your heart towards them. Ask Him to help you to see them as your own. I have seen the lengths parents in my own church have gone to, in commitment to their own children when they have gone astray. I have heard the way they have prayed and pursued their children with love. Allow God to do this in our hearts for the girls in our cities.
I recently heard the story of a mother who, after reading a book that was clearly not suitable for young guys to be reading, but which was prescribed for her teenage son by his school, called the school and asked that her son be exempt from reading it. The school had no problem with that. But the next day the mother felt very challenged about all the other boys in the class. She did want any of them reading it either. She had only spoken on behalf of her son, but God was wanting her to speak on behalf of all the boys. This was a little harder as the school was not as understanding. However, she continued in the battle and eventually won.
When we begin to see that our responsibility is not just to our natural children, but to the children of our city, it changes the way we live.
This excerpt is taken from Letitia Shelton’s book Fighting for Our Daughters : The story of City Women – unity and mission in Toowoomba.
To purchase the book visit http://citywomen.myshopify.com/collections/fundraising/products/book-fighting-for-our-daughters-second-edition – learn more about what has happened in Toowoomba and see what is possible in our city when churches work together.
1. Maggie Hamilton, What’s Happening to Our Girls? p.2
2. ibid, p.1
3. Martin Lindstrom, BRAND Child quoted in ibid, p.12
4. ipid, p.31-2
5. ibid, p.43