History has been unkind to girls, and I’m not thinking about sleazy Hollywood producers trying to seduce budding actresses. For most of the history of the world, girls were not given an education; women were not permitted to inherit; and only men were allowed to have careers. Even today in vast regions of the world like China and India, the preference for sons is so great that pregnant women abort unborn girls far more often than unborn boys. In China, for example, sex-selection abortion means that 120 boys are born for every 100 girls. Young men are denied their chance to marry, but little girls have been robbed of their lives!
I’m not smart enough to explain all the reasons for this disparity, but some are apparent. Before modern contraception and medical care, adult women were likely to be sidelined by pregnancy and unable to work. Our term matrimony literally means “the support of women,” specifically child-bearing women. And in the ancient world, a bride was more likely to relocate to her new husband’s home and village, but a son who married would continue to be a resource for his own parents and clan. So boys were a sort of retirement plan.
Of course, none of that’s true in Hollywood or NYC today, but the supposedly enlightened people in those cities still disrespect women. Many CEO’s and fat-cat producers still see female employees as their personal playmates. And it was recently disclosed that the gifted actress playing Queen Elizabeth in the hit TV show The Crown was being paid much less than the actor in the lesser role of Prince Philip! In the entertainment industry, that’s still the rule, not the exception.
Paul accelerated the sexual revolution started by Jesus when he wrote to the church in Galatia, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It’s no wonder that the lion’s share of early converts to Christ were slaves and women. In a world that told many people they had no hope and no meaningful path to the future, the Gospel offered a new destiny. Paul went on to promise, “You are heirs according to the promise.” (1)
Notice, the New Testament does not say those traditional categories have been abandoned. There were still women and slaves and Greeks in a world dominated by men, landowners, and Romans. But in Christ, even the formerly excluded little people had standing and significance and a future! Their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ gave them a confidence and a boldness that made them better at everything else they did in a painfully segregated world.
Our nation still needs that message. And women still need that confidence- not to try and behave more like men, but to be comfortable in their own skin. They don’t need to become Boy Scouts. Ironically enough, the Girl Scouts still insist they will always remain an organization for females-only because they believe girls learn better in a single-sex environment. Girls don’t have to prove their value by mastering everything boys can do; there are lots of awesome female feats guys cannot even begin.
The voices of our pop culture talk constantly about gender equality, but they still treat women like they are ordinary and unimportant, especially if they don’t compare well to the models in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. In the church of Jesus Christ, we’ve known for a long, long time that daughters of God are powerful, and capable, and beautiful. They’re not interchangeable with men and they’re not typically as strong as guys. But anyone has ever seen the birth of a child knows that feminine is not a synonym for fragile.
Lift up the Cross!