Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Building Boys and Growing Girls pt2

If you have not read pt1 of this series, please read it first.


: God created girls to grow into women
Girls are talkative and friendly. They love to spend time with people; they love to play with toys that are based on relationships - doll babies, tea sets, doll houses with little families to inhabit them, farm houses with a farmer to feed and care for the animals; they appreciate stories with interaction rather than action; they enjoy cuddles and kisses more (more of them, to a greater age) than their male siblings; they are cautious and like stability and security; they are good at communicating and being understood as well as just heard; they are caring, compassionate and cautious. Girls want to be considered beautiful, listened to, involved in good relationships and loved by their family and friends.

As with boys, the girly nature is influenced by God-designed chemistry and biology. Girls have higher levels of the hormone serotonin flowing in their brains, pacifying and soothing their emotions and facilitating good judgement, decreasing aggressiveness and temper, equipping them to be submissive, to be good, thoughtful students and to make less mistakes. The amygdala, a region of the brain which precipitates the release of adrenaline, is smaller in girls, making them less responsive to danger and aggressive moods.

These characteristics will help to grow them into women who will love their family by (as a wife) submitting to their husband and by being caring, compassionate and diligent in managing their homes. They may serve the greater body of Christ in some of these ways also, perhaps through a job or volunteer work, or in a vocation.

: God's (broad) purposes for women
Girls need to be grown into women who will be a wife who willingly and respectfully submits to her own husband.
This is the specific expression of generalised submission to each other within the greater body of Christ which is required of wives to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22&24 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. ... Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." 1 Peter 3:1a&5 says, "Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands... For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands." (Read the whole passage for a more detailed discussion - Sarah, who is specifically mentioned as our example, didn't exactly have an easy task in the situations in which she freely chose to submit to Abraham's will.) It is not a very 'politically correct' purpose for women to submit, but given that both Peter and Paul, the pillars of the early church, agreed on this point and taught it directly, as mothers we must be willing to help our daughters grow in this direction.

(1 Timothy 5:9 also notes that a widow is only to be considered worthy for help from the church if, as the first listed consideration, she has been "faithful to her husband". 1 Timothy 3:11 speaks of the wives of those considered forservice to the church: they "are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.")

Girls need to be grown into women who will care for their families.
Titus 2:3-5 speaks of the qualities of an older woman who can teach younger women, and what should be her godly 'curriculum': the first two items are "to love their husbands and children". 1 Timothy 5:16 says, "If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened..." (cf also 1Tim5:4).

Girls need to be grown into women who will act with compassion to others.
1 Timothy 5:10 lists the qualities of a worthy widow that she "is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hopsitality, washing the feet of the saints [ie meek and humble service], helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds." Galatians 6:2 (written to all Christians, not solely women) instructs, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." That is, "Love thy neighbour"! Check out the letter of 1 John, especially 3:11-24. Thus we can see that the compassionate action of women extends from their immediate nuclear family, to the extended family, and out to the entire family of God.

Girls need to be grown into women who will be diligent managers of their homes.
Titus 2:3-5 (previously mentioned) says young women are to be trained to be "busy at home". Contrast this with 1 Timothy 5:13, which considers the bad habits of some women: "not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." Paul's solution is explained in the following verse: "So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no oppportynity for slander." For the OT ideal of wifely diligence, check out Proverbs 31:10-31.


Coming up next:
God builds boys and grows girls through the circumstances of their lives and Mothering to build boys and grow girls.

And lastly:
What every child needs, regardless of their gender - a relationship with God!

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