In our times, these biblical distinctives will cause our girls to stand out against the culture and frankly, that’s hard for our girls, who just want to fit in. What is the church to do? Be the adults and refuse to let this culture steal away our girls. Our girls need to be celebrated, valued, and protected by these Biblical truths. Set before them the truth of a forgiving, gracious God who knows everything about them, loves them, and desires for them to know Him.
Recently, the United States’ Center for Disease Control published the results of a survey entitled, “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” which surveyed high school students over a 10-year period (2011-2021). This report summarized trends on “youth health behaviors and experiences among high school students in the United States (U.S.) related to adolescent health and well-being.” It illustrated some alarming statistics about our nation’s girls:
- Almost three in five U.S. teen girls reported feeling sad or hopeless in 2021, the highest level seen in a decade and nearly twice the rate among teenage boys.
- Nearly a third of girls said they seriously considered attempting suicide, up 60% since 2011.
- Eighteen percent of high school girls experienced sexual violence; 14% reported being forced to have sex.
- Nearly one in five high school students do not identify as heterosexual.
A report published by the National Institutes of Health and other non-profits see the same kind of trend. What is happening to our girls?
These reports, assessed as a whole, paint a dim profile of our nation’s girls. Psychologists give numerous reasons for these statistics but the primary culprit they point to is no surprise: smart phones and social media use has exacerbated the insecurities of girls as they come of age. To counter these trends, cultural wisdom seeks to limit and monitor phone use, create more “inclusive communities” and provide more access to mental health services for our teen girls. These interventions can be helpful and worthwhile to tamp down these trends. But the world’s diagnoses and solutions are not a complete picture of the reality our girls face. To their credit, our culture sees the hurt in our girls, but they are unable to see it clearly, because they refuse to base their diagnoses upon the objective truths that have defined humanity for millennia. Their solutions do not address root causes.
As Christians, we know that true help comes not from changing external behaviors but letting the gospel of Jesus Christ change the heart. The church needs to speak loudly and clearly that there is a beautiful purpose for our girls and offer a better vision for them based on truth. How can the church give hope to our girls?
Looking across our nation’s cultural landscape, our girls are taking the brunt of changes we are experiencing. Our girls are coming of age in a time of fierce battle over their design and purpose. The message in our culture’s undercurrent is that girls don’t matter.
- As their bodies are changing into women, they are confronted with a culture that scorns the uniqueness of what their bodies are developing to do: Bring life into the world. Instead of celebrating motherhood as a vocation, they see it as something to achieve after they are “fulfilled” by some other path.
- Instead of hearing positive messages of what their bodies can do, they hear cultural shouts decrying the “injustice” of having a womb and need to protect the “right” to kill the babies inside the very bodies that are made to incubate life.
- With the rise of surrogacy, women’s bodies are used only as commercial incubators for “custom made” children, disrespecting the sacred bond between a woman and child.
- They are told that the fruit of their bodies is causing our earth’s overpopulation and responsible for the man-made “climate crisis” due to a high carbon footprint.
- With the unleashed contagion of transgenderism, our girls are told that being a woman isn’t related at all to the body they are seeing mature in the mirror. Anyone can be a woman.
- They internalize images of the female body cut and sculpted into unnatural, unrealistic shapes and sizes that undercut their confidence in their own healthy, growing bodies.
- The rampant availability of pornography seers a message into their consciences that their bodies are to be used up for pleasure and in many cases, just used.
As growing girls endure the awkward changes of budding breasts, monthly menstrual cycles and unregulated hormones, if these messages are the loudest and most viral, is it any wonder why our girls don’t see value in being a woman? Why are we letting the culture set a standard for our girls?
The Bible tells a different message for our girls. It teaches that they do matter, a whole lot. Here is a sample of a woman’s worth:
- She is made in the image of God – Imago Dei – and has intrinsic dignity as a human being (Genesis 1:26-27).
- She is different than the rest of creation. Different from man, yet equal in worth (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:18-23).
- She is the crowning completion of creation. At her creation, all things became “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
- She is a life giver; to bear children, yes, but also to infuse her world with life-giving nourishment in all areas of our culture so that our world flourishes (Genesis 3:20, Proverbs 31).
- She is a helper who is to use her power, strength and influence not to enrich herself, but others, and in so doing, enriching her own life (Genesis 2:18).
- She is fearfully and wonderfully made. Her body was formed with a purpose, inch by inch, as a unique individual, to glorify God, to fulfill His purposes for His glory and her good (Psalm 139:13-16).
- She is to teach others how to love, to be self-controlled, fruitful, kind, to respect authority, to be ambitious for her loved ones and those within her care, to work hard, to care for the weak, and to walk with respect, dignity and strength (Titus 2:3-5; Proverbs 31).
- She is so precious and loved that the God who made her gave up His own life so that she could know Him and enjoy Him forever; and He teaches men to treat women likewise (Ephesians 5:23-33).
This is Bible’s message for our girls. Do they hear it? Unfortunately, it is drowned out by loud opposition that puts every description on the above list in the cultural crosshairs. The opposition to biblical womanhood began as early as her creation when God promised that Eve’s offspring would crush the evil one in the end (Genesis 3:15). Christians should not be surprised by this. Neither should we squirm because of it. God’s plan for our girls is to grow into strong, virtuous daughters who are as “corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace” (Psalm 144:12).
In our times, these biblical distinctives will cause our girls to stand out against the culture and frankly, that’s hard for our girls, who just want to fit in. What is the church to do? Be the adults and refuse to let this culture steal away our girls. Our girls need to be celebrated, valued, and protected by these Biblical truths. Set before them the truth of a forgiving, gracious God who knows everything about them, loves them, and desires for them to know Him. This is first and foremost. So, we must pray because we know that wholeness and a desire to become women after God’s heart starts with an internal transformation. Unless this, everything else is moralism which will not be strong enough to stand against this wave of hostility towards biblical womanhood.
Pray for their hearts. Teach them that they are precious in His sight. Teach biblical womanhood. Model it. Defend it. Be authentic. Share your stories. Be open and less critical. Speak to them as you pass them in the church hallways. Smile at them. Have girls-only discipleship groups. Facilitate Titus 2 mentoring among the generations of women. Provide biblical counseling to the hurting. Acknowledge them. Love on them. Value them. Show them the better way than the world’s way. Show them they matter.
Sharon Smith Leaman is a member of New Life in Christ Church (PCA) in Fredericksburg, Va.
 Teen Girls Report Highest Levels of Sadness and Sexual Violence in a Decade, CDC Says. (2023, February 13). Time. https://time.com/6255143/teen-girls-sadness-sexual-violence-cdc/
 Anderson, L. (n.d.). Youth Pastors Turn to Counseling to Help Gen Z Cope. ChristianityToday.com. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/october/mental-health-youth-group-gen-z-resources.html
 Center for Disease Control. (2021). Youth risk behavior survey. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/YRBS_Data-Summary-Trends_Report2023_508.pdf