FYI (if you’re the Hall boys’ mom)

Dear Kim,

I have some information that might interest you.  Your post (FYI: If You’re a Teenage Girl) broke my heart. Because I can’t help but imagine the way that the shaming words you wrote pierced the hearts of the girls you wrote them to.  And I know how they felt because I felt that, too. I grew up in a church that used shame to get girls to dress, act, and think the way that girls are supposed to. And so, I feel like I have to tell you something that I wish as a woman you already knew: Shame doesn’t make women whole.

I also feel like I have to let you know that I think I agree with you on a lot of things: I don’t want my daughter posting pictures like that of herself on social media one day.  I think it’s wonderful that you encourage an open dialogue with your sons about their use of social media and that you encourage them to be wise.

I just think your post could have been so much better.  I think that instead of shaming these women (because if you’re going to call your boys men, let’s call these girls women) in hopes of changing their behavior, you could have talked to them about their value.  Instead of warning them that they won’t be “good enough” for your sons,  you could have helped them think about the kind of women they want to be.  Instead of threatening to block them from being your son’s friends, you could ask them to coffee.  And instead of writing your post with an air of condescension, you could have been careful to ensure that you communicated love and concern.

I love that you asked questions, but your post doesn’t offer these women a safe place to answer them, all it offers is shame. Shame that they posted the pictures, shame that your whole family saw them, shame that you have decided they are no longer worthy to be your children’s friends. If you want to block them from your sons’ social media, that’s definitely your prerogative as a parent (and possibly wisdom), but it’s not the reason that what they’re doing is not what’s best for them.

And I guess that’s what I wanted to say to you the most.  The primary offense here is not against you. Or your sons. Or your family social media surfing time. It’s against God and against his image in another person.  Your words are so clouded by your offense that they don’t offer much healing, even though it seems like you honestly meant them to at the end of your post.

Kim, I don’t mean to attack you– I just see this as evidence of a bigger problem in the Church. We want immediate results and we want good behavior, so we do whatever we can to get those things as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, we all suffer because we are more concerned with good behavior than what a person believes.  Let’s be mothers that raise children who think carefully, honestly, and biblically about what they do and say and who see and value the image of God in themselves and other people.

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7 thoughts on “FYI (if you’re the Hall boys’ mom)

  1. There are already thousands of articles about how women should see themselves. The Hall boys’ mom puts things in a different perspective while staying positive, encouraging, and explaining what men want. I think this rebuttal heavily misunderstands what the Hall boys’ mom was trying to say. Also, what teenage girl wants to go sit down to coffee with their friend’s mom to talk about what she’s posted on the Internet? That’s a great way to isolate girls and further create a distance because they will think your intentions are to give a lecture or express disapproval.

  2. Also the purpose of Mrs. Hall’s article was not to tell women their value. While that is a good thing to do, her point is about being a vessel to help create Godly men, and then explaining how that cannot coincide with those pictures of girls. And, if girls want a man of integrity, they need to hear it straight. Trashy pictures lead to trashy men. A life of integrity for a woman will lead you to a man of integrity.

    • Grace,
      Thank you for taking time to be here. I don’t know who you are, and as a momma whose little blog is often only read by my friends and family, I’m humbled that you took the time to read something written by someone you don’t know. Thank you. I’m a little troubled by the tone of your comments. It seems like you might be angry, and that hurts my heart. I did my best to be charitable to Mrs. Hall’s blog post (I wouldn’t call it an article) while respectfully suggesting that she (and Christians in general) spend a little more time thinking about the language that we use to talk about modesty. We obviously disagree about the tone of her piece, but at it’s core, the issue that Mrs. Hall is talking about IS the image of God–she doesn’t like to see those girls disrespecting it, and she is faithfully trying to teach her sons to respect it in everyone. I just think the way she’s going about sharing her struggle just isn’t loving or helpful. Shaming people into good behaviors is not godly. I don’t think my post suggests at all that girls should be “let off the hook.” I just think that there are lots of ways that girls can “hear it straight,” as you put it, that don’t involve shame.
      Lindsey
      P.S. You said: “A life of integrity for a woman will lead you to a man of integrity.” Since this is my blog, and I know my readers, I need to point out that I know many godly women for whom this is not the case. A life of integrity (in some cases a very long life of integrity) has led them to no man at all.

  3. I’m not sure that it’s TOTALLY bad for people to feel a bit of shame when they do something inappropriate. That’s how we learn. To be clear, I’m not supporting the practice of shamING, I’m only supporting the idea of letting teenage girls know that what they’re doing (i.e. oversexualizing themselves on the Internet) is not okay, and letting the girls feel the appropriate emotion of regret that often follows hearing that others don’t like what you’ve done.

    That being said, I agree that Rev. Hall is awfully self-righteous in her post. Who ever said that her sons were so great, anyway? Stuff like her blog post is why so many people think of Christians as prudish, judgmental, jerks.

    • Shelley, thanks for making that distinction. It’s one my husband and I have talked about a lot as I wrote the post. And I agree. 2 Corinthians 7 talks about how godly sorrow leads to repentance and salvation, but that the sorrow of the world produces death. So, there’s definitely a difference between shaming and people feeling godly shame or sorrow as a result of godly confrontation or the Holy Spirit’s work. Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. Hi Lindsey,
    I commented on an earlier post, your labor story. I am a friend of David’s from camp. I appreciated your article so much that I posted it from my facebook and twitter accounts. I have some comments on my facebook page, I thought you might be interested in reading them.
    I am happy to see you so clearly state something that has been frustrating me for years in the Christian community. I have seen these shame tactics take place at a christian camp I was on staff at, youth retreats I attended in high school, a conference I attended in high school, and also at the Christian college I graduated from. Thank you for being brave (well, brave for conservative circles 🙂 to confront this damaging and incomplete way of trying to make women more “godly.”

    • Maggie,
      Thank you for your encouraging words! It sounds like we have had some pretty similar experiences. I would love to read the comments, if you want to share. I’m so blessed to know that these words encouraged you. You can add me on Facebook or email me…sadly, I am one of 2 people in the world who still doesn’t have twitter. 😉

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