Recently, I went to a movie at the dollar theater with a couple of friends. Several people had told us it would be a good and entertaining two hours.
It was fun, entertaining, filled with innocent laughs and punch lines. Good, though? Not so much. We were taken by surprise by an unnecessarily sexual scene involving two girls.
As I walked out of the theater later that evening, my heart started to break. It was not just because I had been surprised by a raunchy scene (note to self: spend more time reading PluggedIn before the next movie). I was heartbroken because of the two young actresses who had given part of themselves away for a few seconds of attention.
I wondered how those two actresses–those two girls–had reached a point in their young lives where they would allow themselves to be so demeaned for a few measly minutes of screen time.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising, though. Turn on the TV and you will be bombarded by sexual overtones and undertones filling your screen and speakers. Check out at the supermarket and highly sexualized magzaine covers placed at eye level will compete for your eyes. Drive down a billboard-infested strip of highway but keep your eyes on the road!
I’m not even talking about pornography, but just all the subtle messages in the broader, “civilized” culture where we live, work, and play every day. How can we counteract the strong, demeaning, and damaging messages that saturate our culture and affect how young girls think about themselves and their place in the world.
The answer I think is–we get our young men involved.
“Nathan,” you may be thinking, “I am a Mother Of Boys. I’m not here to read about girls. I’m trying to protect my boys from the perverted view of girls and sex out there! What does this have to do with me and my boys?”
It is perfectly understandable that your first concern is to protect your boys from the sexualized influences of our culture. A good defense must be your first line of action. Controlling TV and computer, and avoiding other exposure is wise. However, you can’t just medicate a symptom and avoid the underlying illness.
When I was about five years old, my mom was driving me home from an afternoon activity. We passed a billboard emblazoned with a women wearing clothing that left very little to the imagination. In my little heart I knew something was wrong, so I asked my mom why I felt this way, why was I sad.
My mom did not react and make me feel bad because I had seen a lewd picture. She gently explained that the model on that billboard just had not had someone in her life to teach her how beautiful she was to God. She dressed that way because she had listened to the perverted message of culture, but not to the pure message of someone who loved her just as she was, and because of who she was. She felt sorry for the girl, just as I felt sorry for the girls in the film. Even at a young age, my mom’s words made sense to me.
The problem wasn’t just that the billboard was there. No mother will be able to hide every billboard, magazine cover, or commercial. The problem was also the message behind it that needed to be explained. Rather than making me feel guilty for seeing it, my mother talked to me about the truth behind the billboard.
And that’s where you, Mothers of Boys, come in. Of course you want to protect your boys from being exposed to sexualized images that pervert the real value and divine dignity of a woman. That’s important. But what is the best way to do that?
Here’s what I think. Even at a young age, boys can learn to value and appreciate women as special creations of God. Boys are capable of understanding that they should love, serve, and protect girls in their lives. It is easy, as a parent, to react against culture’s billboards about women and inadvertently create fear in your boy’s heart and mind about women. Instead, they need to hear the positive message that God has given them, even as young boys, the noble responsibility to guard and protect girls.
I think the biggest impact we can make on the world’s distorted and dangerous views of sexuality will come from training our young men to love women with true authentic love.
If you do that, perhaps the girl that your boy loves, honors, and protects will be able to reject the perverted view that culture promotes simply because she will have someone telling her that she is loved just as she is, and that she is special because God made her. Because of your boys’ respect, perhaps she will feel secure, with a sense of self worth and a confidence to reject the temptation to seek attention in inappropriate ways. Maybe your boy’s properly trained attitude and words will save a girl from the destructive path of culture. You can make a difference in a girl’s life by training your boy.
When you teach your boy to respect girls, you are showing them how to love them in the same way that God loves them. And that’s what makes it worth getting involved.