Raising Girls in a Modern Society
by Suzy Weibel
I’ve not been a mom for very long. My husband and I adopted our two girls when they were (as we like to say) “already cooked.” Our girls, now 22 and 23, were 13 and 14 when they came to live with us. Both had habits, friendships, and verbal expressions already well formed before they came to us. For us it wasn’t a matter of “raising” our daughters, though we still felt that mama and papa bear instinct to protect them for the remainder of their days.
Our first challenge was to figure out how to lay down “rules for right living” with two teenagers we barely knew and who weren’t going to be ready to call us “Mom and Dad” for a couple of years yet. Let me tell you, rules and relationship go hand in hand. Our task was a daunting one.
We wanted to staunchly avoid legalism. At the same time, we don’t tend to assume that “Be holy as I am Holy” is metaphorical, and it was a tough balance to find. But it’s one we think is imperative in making disciples (our kids) who are going to go out and make other disciples.
Here’s how we explain this concept of legalism and balance to kids in our new book, It’s Great to be a Girl.
Do you know what legalism is? It’s having an overly strict response to laws or rules you live by without good reasons. For example, when our church built a new building the laws for the city said you had to plant a row of trees to divide a property like ours from any nearby farms. The only thing is, the farm had already planted a row of big tall evergreen trees. So we asked for permission not to plant new ones as they could actually harm the growth of the ones already there. The city said, “No. It’s a rule. You have to plant the trees.” Fast forward to today where the trees are actually harming each other because they are too close to each other. That’s legalism.
God does have rules for us. Don’t get us wrong, but most of them have little to do with how we look, and much more to do with how we treat others and what’s going on INSIDE of us. (Sadly, a lot of Christians try to make rules about how we should look. While these are sometimes well-intended, they often take the focus off what matters to God the most. Our hearts.)
There are three ways to approach things when making decisions about how we present our bodies—hair, nails, fashion, and more. They are:
Legalism—Making rules and saying they are God’s but they really are not written rules from the Bible.
Judgment—Making personal or family rules that seem best for us based on what we know about what is written in the Bible, but never forcing others to live by our family or church preferences.
God’s Real Rules—Some things God tells us in the Bible are rules we should live by. In this case, it is always written clearly in the Bible and a specific Bible verse can be found.
Hopefully, these three litmus tests are helpful for you, not only for matters of modesty but in all matters related to raising Godly kids. Toss out the legalism, confidently embrace your grown up judgment, and lay all things down in submission to God’s Word.
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