Teaching our girls to say, “No” | WORLD
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Teaching our girls to say, “No”

Parents need to instruct their daughters on how to refuse unholy submission to trans ideology

Lia Thomas, holding the trophy for winning the NCAA women’s 500-yard freestyle championship, walks with University of Pennsylvania swimming and diving coach Mike Schnur after the event in Atlanta last month. Getty Images/Photo by Mike Comer/NCAA Photos

Teaching our girls to say, “No”
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The unbelieving world often considers female submission to males backward or an outdated religious practice among conservative Christians. Yet, as highlighted by the presence of Lia Thomas, a male swimmer who identifies as a woman on the University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team, the non-Christian world requires the wrong kind of female submission—a form that is as perverse as it is pervasive. From Target to the public schools, girls and women are expected to obey the rules of politically radical men, especially if those men claim to be women.

The Scriptures affirm a fitting pattern and design with clear limits and boundaries when it comes to the Christian idea of submission. Wives submit to their husbands, which means a wife necessarily will not submit to all the other men around her. Church members submit to their pastors and elders, which means they necessarily will not be submitting to pastors and elders of other churches. In every case, Christians must obey God rather than their fellow man when there is a contradiction between the two.

Yet, American society is demanding that its young women become doormats when faced with the unwanted, lewd exposure of a man’s genitals in spaces that used to be reserved for women. For example, when young women on Penn’s swim team repeatedly asked their coaches if Thomas could change clothes away from the rest of the team, the coaches refused. “We were basically told that we could not ostracize Lia,” one swimmer reported, “and that there’s nothing we can do about it, that we basically have to roll over and accept it, or we cannot use our own locker room.”

Every state in the union has a law against indecent exposure, commonly defined as “Revealing one’s genitals under circumstances likely to offend others.” Pennsylvania law states, “It is illegal to expose one’s genitals in a public place or any place where other people are present under circumstances in which the offender knows or should know the conduct is likely to offend, affront, or alarm.” It seems obvious that Thomas’ self-exposure has met that criteria, yet rather than hold him accountable, Sports Illustrated calls reporting on his locker room habits “cruel,” turning the man who indecently exposes himself to a room full of young women into a victim and the women who ask if they can avoid it into perpetrators.

Christian parents have failed them if our daughters are 18 or 20 years old and aren’t sure what to do when faced with a man in their locker room.

From a Christian perspective, it’s incumbent on fathers and mothers to do more (but not less) than send letters or petitions to the universities and institutions whose policies, if submitted to, would harm their daughters (and their sons). It’s incumbent upon Christian parents to do more than take to Twitter or Facebook to express their views or outrage. Christian fathers and mothers must train their daughters when and how to say, “No,” and to resist the unholy submission demanded by the world.

Christian parents have failed them if our daughters are 18 or 20 years old and aren’t sure what to do when faced with a man in their locker room. Like the Hebrew midwives who disobeyed Pharoah’s demand that they kill the Hebrew boys, our daughters must know when to disobey. Like Ruth, who refused to return to Moab and Moab’s gods, insisting she stay with Naomi and the one true God, our daughters must know where their loyalties lie. Like Sarah, who didn’t fear anything frightening, we must teach our daughters to be courageous in times of trial.

The simple truth is that no one is physically forcing the female swimmers at Penn to undress in front of Thomas. No one is forcing them to stay in that locker room with a naked man. They are not being forced to submit to Thomas’ presence and indecent exposure; they’re being pressured to submit to him and trans ideology—which means they still have a choice. May our Christian daughters not waver for a moment on that choice. They need the courage and fortitude to do what’s right, even at the cost of their athletic goals or academic achievements or job opportunities. But they won’t know how to do that if Christian dads and moms haven’t taught and modeled it in their own lives—whether in the HR meeting or the playdate discussion. Our immovable convictions lived out before our children for their good will strengthen them when facing their own battles.

Abigail Dodds

Abigail Dodds, a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary, is a wife, mother of five children, and member at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota. She is the author of (A)Typical Woman and Bread of Life: Savoring the All-Satisfying Goodness of Jesus through the Art of Bread Making. She regularly contributes at desiringGod.org.


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