Saturday, April 5, 2014

Girls Shouldn't Associate With Men

I hope that (rather bland) title caught your attention. I should probably make it clear right here and now that this is not a blog article about that statement; it is about the falseness of that statement.

The fact is, girls cannot do without a godly, older male influence in their lives, any more than a boy can do without a godly, older female influence in their life. I'm sure that most people, at least in the circle of people I know, would be quick to say that boys need to have a mother figure in their lives, as well as a father figure. A 'functional' family typically has two devoted parents - a mother and father - involved in the raising of the children.

So why do so many people I meet think that if a girl finds a father figure in an older man, then some sort of crime is being committed? Girls desperately need an older male to look up to and learn from in their lives (they also need mothers or older females to learn from, don't get me wrong; but I'm focusing on girls and older males in this article). Trust me on this one.

I know firsthand exactly how detrimental it can be to a girl not to have an older Christian male in her life. I'm proof of the trouble it can cause. This is why.

I've been fortunate enough to grow up in a family with a mom, a dad, and a brother (younger by one year), and to have biological family members as well (I'm adopted) that I keep in touch with.

The problem? My dad is a Christian, but can best be described as a 'lukewarm' Christian. Nor does he take much time to spend with me or the rest of the family; he rarely talks or asks to know about how I'm feeling or what I've been doing. It's been like this for as long as I can remember.

If you asked my mom, she would confirm that 95% of my friends (when I was old enough to make friends) were male, and quite a few of them were older than me. I had two reasons for this. When I was younger-ish, I was constantly searching for an older guy to look up to as a father or an older brother. I longed for that older male influence in my life; a godly brother or father figure who would teach me things, spend time with me, protect me.

Well, as I got a little older (around ten years old), I became an avid tomboy. I had a husky voice and a boyish-looking face, so I spent my time dressed in leather, denim, and camouflage, pretending I was a guy.

Why? I'd learned that that was the only way guys would respect and accept me. None of the guys I met had a good attitude towards girls. So I decided to pretend I was a guy so that I'd stop being looked down on. I still longed deep down for an older guy; a big brother or a father figure. But since I kept being looked down and treated as inferior, I developed the only defense mechanism I could think of, and continued my roughhousing and playfighting with a new group of male friends who thought I was a boy.

After I turned fourteen, I was betrayed by one of my closest friends (a guy), and manipulated/betrayed by one of my other friends (a girl). My trust shattered - but I continued and still do continue to gravitate towards guys as friends.

The reason for that is, one - I was betrayed by both a boy and a girl, so I have an equal amount of distrust for both genders. So it was either stop looking for and making friends altogether, or get over the distrust and keep on trying. Two - I continued to long for that older male influence. I spent the larger portion of my life (nine years or so, give or take a few) constantly pining away for an older brother or a father who actually wanted to invest time in me.

There was a point to that entire monologue - I'm trying to make a point.

Do you see how messed-up I was? And I don't just mean the fact I followed most guys I met around, hoping that I'd finally gain someone to look up to. I had other problems as well - I've read in many places and had it said to me before that a girl needs her father to give her talks on things such as modesty, and how to act around other guys, and other such subjects. I didn't have an older guy reassure me everything was going to be okay; I didn't have a father who spent time with me.

My dad never did any of that, and I didn't have an older guy to turn to for advice on subjects like that - just another female (my mom, and even she didn't give me those talks in extent; just passing comments here and there ["Don't wear that" or "You shouldn't do/say that around guys"]), and that's only one side of the discussion. As a result, I was severely lacking in the knowledge of... basic etiquette, I suppose.

(I did, however, finally end up finding an older male [several, now, actually] that I could look up to. And if you ask any of my friends, they will tell you I've changed immensely for the better in the last year or so, which is how long I've had godly men to look up to and learn from. I'm proof that a girl needs an older male to teach her in order to grow to her full potential.)

So, back to the main topic of this post - the myth 'girls shouldn't associate/be friends with men'.

I disagree with that, about as much as anyone can disagree with anything. Why? Because I never had an older man to look up to, and I know exactly how it affected me.

If a girl is isolated from close relationships with older guys, especially if her own father isn't actively involved in her life (or if she's unfortunate enough to not even have a father), she will have problems, just the same as if she was missing a loving mother in her life. She will constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to be friends with guys - often to her own danger later on, if she has no one to protect and look after her in the first place. Younger girls will be confused, wondering various things - "Why does my daddy not spend much time with me?" "Where is my daddy? All the other kids have a daddy."

Yet, people still continue to insist that a girl cannot have any other male to look up to other than older brothers, her father, and her pastor. Even if that girl (like me) has no older brothers, a father who doesn't invest time in her, and/or doesn't go to church too often.

Yes, the world is corrupted. Yes, many men cannot be trusted (if you come to me and tell me men cannot be trusted, don't bother; you're preaching to the choir there). But here's a news flash - many women cannot be trusted either, perhaps for subtler reasons, but they cannot be nonetheless. It's not like men have the monopoly on being untrustworthy. And another news flash - there's nothing we can do about the corruption of the world.

So why not take a leap of faith and let girls who don't have those male influences in their life try to find one who can help her grow in her faith? I'm not saying to just abandon her to her own devices; not at all. Keep an eye on her and supervise; because yes, the world is corrupted, and you can't be too careful. But don't isolate her completely!

Here, take a look at this Bible verse:

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 
- 1 Timothy 5:1-2

I know, it doesn't state explicitly that young women who are much younger than a man should be treated as daughters. But for one, it does say that you should exhort an older man as though he is your father. 

My reason for sharing that verse is this - it doesn't say anywhere in the Bible, and certainly not here, that it is a sin for a girl to treat an older man like a father, and for that man to treat her as a daughter and teach her things that her own biological father is unwilling or unable to teach her. 

And sometimes, a girl doesn't have a biological father willing to do that. So who
can she turn to, if not another father figure?

See, imagine if you lived in a dysfunctional family, with abusive/apathetic parents; or imagine that you live in a family without a father or a mother. Think about how messed-up your life might be. A child needs both their mother and their father - there is no exceptions. (That is also a point for why I'm against gay marriage, but that's a much more controversial topic for a day much further into the future.) A son cannot learn to be the godliest gentleman he can be without a mother or an older female who can treat him like a son and teach him. 

And a daughter cannot learn to be the godliest young lady she can be without a father or father figure to treat her like a daughter and teach her; protect her; comfort her. 

It's hard to grow up without a father to rush to your aid when the nightmares strike, or to investigate the frightening noise in the closet. It's hard to grow up without a father to discipline you, and then remind you afterwards that he still loves you and wants the best for you. It's hard to grow up having to protect yourself - to be forced to learn to fight and look tough - with any means possible (staff, rocks, fists, words, or otherwise) because there is no father or older brother around to protect you. It's hard to grow up without the strong arms of a father to hold you when you cry; to grow up without a warm, deep voice promising to always be there for you and to never let a boy break your heart without severe consequences.

The bottom line is - and take it from someone who has some experience, no matter how meagre - it's hard and oftentimes painful to grow up without a loving father figure to take care of you.

Don't let the corruptness of the world or your own preconceived or biased beliefs keep a girl from finding someone who will treat her like a father. Please, don't. It will cause more harm than good.

Girls shouldn't associate with men? Even if they have broken relationships with their own fathers, or have no father at all?

Wrong. So long as the men are good and seek to emulate Christ in all that they do... girls should most certainly forge friendships (with appropriate supervision, of course) with older men, just as boys should forge friendships with older ladies.

Because there's no getting around the fact - girls of all ages need their daddies. And it's not fair to force them to go through life without that strong, comforting presence. It's just not - trust me on this.

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