Biblical Principles for Girls in Difficult Situations
When we were in our mid teens, we befriended several high school and college girls of diverse backgrounds – some from Christian families, most not. As we got to know them better, it became more than just our friendship they sought: they couldn’t stay away from our home.
At our home, they were able to be part of something they did not have. Some of them had never even seen it before. We had an intact, happy family. We had an involved, loving father who protected and provided for us. We had a mother who was an example of godliness and femininity. We had a family that worked together toward an important goal that involved us. While our friends struggled to know where they were going, who they were supposed to be, and where they fit into an egalitarian, dog-eat-dog society, we were discovering a world of stimulation, fruitfulness and purpose within God’s family economy. These girls felt the difference.
One of them, a previous valedictorian, U.N. honors student, and R.A., told us after one of her meals at our family farm, “I would learn more if I lived with your family and dug holes in the ground all day than I learn at university.”
We realized God had given us something most girls did not have – something we did nothing to deserve.
We also realized that happy families don’t happen by accident, and that ours was built from scratch by two people who started out like these college kids, but were willing to pick up the pieces of a broken model and build a different kind of family on biblical principles. We knew that it was possible to build God’s order out of today’s disorder because we had seen it done – through faith that His ways are perfect. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” (Deut. 32:4)
It was girls like these whom we wanted to help when we started writing our book, by showing them there was hope – even in tough situations, even in dysfunctional families, even in a broken society. There are answers. There is a better way. There is so much more.
We knew our message wouldn’t be an easy fix for their problems, however. When a girl embraces biblical principles, her problems don’t automatically disappear. In fact, when biblical principles come head to head with the ugly reality of a society ravaged by feminism and socialism, it can mean war. It can bring, not peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:34).
Many girls are left with nothing to do but try to hold their families together, and are confused about how the “visionary daughters” vision applies to them. We often get emails from girls with abusive fathers, girls with fathers who leave, girls with hateful mothers, girls who have been orphaned, and almost every other painful situation, asking, “What about me? How do you practice biblical principles in a compromised world? In compromised situations?”
Making the Most of 2010
What we would like to do in this post is offer hope and encouragement to girls in difficult situations. As much as we would like to be able to offer specific suggestions, we recognize that every situation is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all girls. This is why in the past we have mainly focused on casting a vision for the ideal, recognizing that every girl’s journey to the ideal will look different. Whether the ideal is attainable soon or only years into the future, it is a goal we all should have always before us. As we stated in our book, girls should have hope for something better than mere survival.
Scripture, wisdom, resourcefulness, wise counsel, motivation, and faith are not out of any girl’s reach, and they are the key to bringing the best out of our circumstances. The truth is that no girls start out with perfect situations. Even the ones who seem to have “ideal” circumstances have had to work for them. In our experience, these girls are the ones who:
- Stop focusing on themselves
- Look to the big picture
- Stay focused on the goal
- View their situation as an opportunity, not an excuse
- Are grateful for what the Lord has given them
- Embrace hardship, trials and hard work
But there is more than that. To make the most of a challenging situation, you must master the three big temptations crouching at your door.
1. Don’t Become Bitter and Compromise
The temptation is to believe “God has failed me, so I guess that clears me of any obligation to Him.” Sometimes it manifests itself as “I did everything right and God didn’t come through so obviously it doesn’t work”; sometimes as “God clearly hasn’t given me what I need to be able to do everything right.” But God is not an equal with Whom we can make deals and haggle over moral standards.
There is also the false presupposition that circumstances have anything to do with personal righteousness (or that circumstances themselves impute righteousness). Because God is the One who gives circumstances, there is no “more holy” circumstance (e.g. having an intact family, though a blessing, does not make you a better person than the girl whose parents are divorced.) We may not be responsible for our circumstances, but we are responsible for how we use them, and we are responsible for our attitudes. We all have to do right with what God has given us.
But we may need to reevaluate our idea of “doing what’s right,” when it comes to moral dilemmas and quandaries, remembering that our standard is Sola Scriptura – not what popular speakers teach, not what our friends are doing ,and not what makes us “feel feminine.” Girls can make things frustrating for themselves when they set up a bunch of external measurements of “rightness” that have nothing to do with biblical principles.
There are principles in Scripture that suggest that we should be distinctively feminine, honoring parents and authorities, trying to serve God within a home-and-family context, preparing for wifehood and motherhood, praying for a God-honoring marriage and a godly husband with whom to build a better future for your daughters, building up men, and seeking after a useful education. Simply living with your biological parents or doing homemakey things, however, doth not a biblical daughter make. You can discourage your family, dishonor your parents, serve no one but yourself, run men down, waste time, neglect the needy, cultivate personal uselessness, and prepare yourself for a wretched marriage, while living self-righteously at home baking muffins in a feminine apron you made all by yourself.
People compromise when they decide that being principled is not going to work; they will have to “be practical.” In other words, when they lose faith. We need to stay strong in the faith that His precepts/instructions/directions are right, and that He “preserveth the faithful.” (Psalm 31:23)
“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them. (Psalm 103:17,18)
2. Don’t Judge Others and Assume that They are Judging You
Girls have a tendency to size one another up. When confronted with a girl who makes us feel our own inadequacies, either by her own merits or by her perceived advantages, the temptation is to seethe with resentment, and to cultivate scorn by filling our minds with imagined deficiencies. It’s an easy way to justify our shortcomings, nurse our egos, and absolve ourselves of any need to try harder.
Worse, girls can tend to size up one another’s parents, siblings, homes, bank accounts, opportunities and lifestyles. This is good fuel for discontentment and excuse-making. When we measure, say, our fathers, against what we imagine other girls have, they’re always going to come up short. Comparisons are often based on presumptions, which are usually wrong. Girls in what may look like the “ideal” situation still deal with the effects of the fall and a broken society in a big way – we may just not know what those ways are because they don’t complain about it. Nobody actually has the ideal situation, but it’s easy to assume things when you don’t know the details, and that makes it easier to dismiss an example that would have been good to follow.
The biggest fault we often want to level at those “privileged” girls is that they’re hoity-toity snoots looking down on us for not being them – for (gasp) JUDGING US.
There may truly be girls who lack understanding and compassion towards girls in situations they don’t understand, but they’re not the ones whose opinion you should care about. Ultimately, God is the only One we should be trying to please, and whose displeasure we should fear. He will not judge us for the situations He gave us (though He well may be angry with the way some of us are responding). If you have been given a challenging situation, and are using it in faith, perseverance and integrity, you will be pleasing to God, and have the respect of His saints.
3. Don’t Break the 10th Commandment
The 10th commandment is one of the most interesting – and under-rated – of the commandments.
“Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)
We may fail to take it seriously because it doesn’t seem that bad, next to murdering or stealing, or it may be because we think we’re doing fine on this one (we’ve never really wanted our neighbors’ livestock.) But try replacing “your neighbor’s ox” with “your neighbor’s perfect hair,” “your neighbor’s designer clothes,” “your neighbor’s visionary father,” “your neighbor’s like-minded friends,” “your neighbor’s perfect, non-aggravating family,” “your neighbor’s engagement ring,” or anything else you resented another girl’s having that you didn’t.
Coveting is, in fact, a sin which God often lists alongside murder, adultery, blasphemy, sodomy, idolatry and more (Mark 7:22, Rom. 1:29, 1 Cor. 5:10,11, 1 Cor. 6:10, Eph. 5:3,5, Col. 3:5, 2 Tim. 3:2, 2 Pet. 2:14). The Bible even mentions entire nations being judged for covetousness (Jer. 6:13, Jer. 8:10, Jer. 51:13) – presumably because it’s one of those sins that can become part of the national consciousness.
In our nation today, it’s PC to covet. Our society encourages us to venerate fairness, to want to see everything leveled so that nobody has what other people don’t have. This may be why we don’t take it very seriously as a sin. However, in his economic treatise Eat the Rich, P.J. O’Rourke writes, “A liking for fairness is not that noble a sentiment. Fairness doesn’t rank with charity, love, duty, or self-sacrifice. And there’s always a tinge of self-seeking in making sure that things are fair.” (Further, he tells his daughter, “You had better pray to God that things don’t start getting fair for you.”) A fixation with making sure everything is fair is not just petty – it can be deadly. It was the chief idolatry that created the bloodiest century in history.
Here’s the other lesson the 10th commandment teaches. The tenth commandment is not about squelching desires and aspirations for a better life. It’s not telling us that it’s wrong to desire houses, livestock, wives, husbands, beauty, success, skills, gifts, or any of the other things that the Bible tells us are good things. It’s not advocating Gnostic or self-righteous pietism (“I’m too spiritual to desire such paltry things”). The message of the 10th commandment is this: Don’t begrudge others the fruits of God’s blessing and their hard work – get out there and work towards those for yourself.
Coveting can consume our thoughts and eventually our life. If we give in to it, it will:
- Kill our gratitude
- Kill our incentive to work for what we desire
- Kill our ability to rejoice in other people’s good
- Kill our love for God, who clearly is ‘not fair’
“Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:2,3)
In the same way that God designed all of creation in its undeniable perfection and beauty, He handcrafted each girl’s situation with exquisite precision. He chose the exact parents, position, and opportunities that would best fulfill His purposes for her life and bring Him glory.
This does not mean that there won’t be trials and tests, not even for the seemingly “more fortunate.” We are all tested. “The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous…” (Psalm 11:4,5) The very trials He gives us are signs of His love for us in the advantages they ultimately produce.
After all, we’re not the only girls struggling. All over the world girls are being thrown out (and worse), wives are being abandoned, widows are being neglected, and another generation of daughters is being raised by women who married in desperation to escape an unhappy situation – perpetuating the cycle. Those who have had more personal experience with these kinds of problems will know better how to help. They will know better how to raise their sons to be responsible leaders and protectors. They will know better how to raise their daughters to be strong and full of faith. As girls face their situations by re-hauling their attitudes and actions, in faith, they prepare themselves to be warriors in the work of re-hauling a broken nation.
It’s because it’s so hard to live out biblical principles in a crooked and perverse generation that we have to persevere and “make it work.” The future of our children and other young women to come may depend on it.
We can’t promise anything – but God does promise some things to girls in difficult situations. In His loving mercy, He promises that He will be “a Father to the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows” (Psalm 68:5). He promises that He makes “all things work together for good to them that love God, and to them who are the are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). He promises that if we “seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness… all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33). And He promises that if we “do not be weary in well doing,” “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:9)