I recall last Christmas visiting a certain clothing store for teenagers. I was trying to finish some last-minute shopping, and was down to a final few items. In true mum fashion, I round out my children’s Christmas gifts each year with new underwear and socks. Having shopped at this particular store before, I knew that I could get a good deal.
However, when I got to the bins at the back where parents can sift through the sizes to get a good deal for their teenagers, I discovered bin after bin of underwear that was plastered with banknotes, currency symbols, labels like ‘wild’, ‘bite me’, ‘cash money’, and ‘parental warning advisory’. Everything about these examples of teenage underwear screamed ‘I am for sale’ or ‘I am a product to be consumed’.
I returned home and found an online warning from a local police officer who had found that girls younger than my own daughter (who was 13 at the time) were being solicited and paid online for pictures of themselves. First it was just their feet. Then, when the girls realise they really do get paid for the photos, they send more, this time just wearing underwear (for a higher price), then nudes, then sex videos.
These young girls are paid hundreds for pictures and videos of themselves, and because of a culture continually reinforcing the idea that their bodies are just products to sell, they are falling for these evil schemes that scar them in mind, body, and soul.
What are young girls supposed to think when local clothing stores sell underwear with banknotes printed across them? How should Christian parents combat this pornified culture where girls are constantly sent the message that all that matters is who wants their bodies? How do we teach men to fight for their own purity and for the purity of their sisters in Christ?
As I raise my own three children in this world, I am learning that there are no simple answers. The temptation to consume and be consumed is all around. It’s enough to make Christian parents despair.
But at such times when I do feel a little panicked about the state of this world and wonder how much worse things can get – when I worry that my children will fall for every lie that this culture has to offer them, I (eventually) stop. I turn to that squirmy feeling in the pit of my stomach and I remind it that the Holy Spirit of God is still enough.
We can become so overwhelmed by all the shocking and horrific news that highlights all that’s wrong with this world that we forget that God is just as fully in control as he ever was.
We may think we need to scheme and plan and isolate our children, shielding them from society and secular culture like little hermits. Or we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend that our children are immune to sin – telling ourselves that the world isn’t as troubling as it actually is. Or we simply wonder if moving to some kind of compound, hiding our loved ones from the evils of this world, is the only resort left.
At such times we need to let the Holy Spirit minister to us, reminding us that we cannot simply escape from evil because it resides in all of us. We are all fallen sinners who are capable of all kinds of wickedness. Even my precious children have hearts bent toward sin.
Yet there is comfort in the Bible for such people. We are taught that when we come to know Christ, sin no longer has dominion over us. There is no sin that the Holy Spirit can’t handle and give us the strength to resist. There is no devastation or spiritual destruction or emotional pain that is too big for the power of God. This world is no match for the King of kings.
As I reflected on the prevalence of sin in our day and how sexualised our society has become, I found myself in a familiar spot: remembering that I can’t fix everything. In fact, I can’t fix most things. And it’s in this place that I learn a little bit more about relying on God.
Trusting him with my children can be surprisingly difficult, because sometimes I want to act and do and work and strive and take over. But then I get completely overwhelmed with the demanding responsibilities of motherhood, which are entirely too big for me to take on single-handed. And in that golden moment I remember that all I really have to do is sit back and rest in the arms of my good, good God. He is trustworthy when this world is not. He is powerful, and I am oh-so weak. He is big enough to rescue my children, and I am not.
All of these truths the Holy Spirit whispered to a tired mum on an ordinary day after a Christmas shopping trip. I recall seeing the glow of our Christmas tree and thinking how the Prince of Peace was more real and more precious than ever. I rejoiced that God is sufficient, that he always has been, and always will be.
Melissa Edgington is a Texan, a pastor’s wife, mother of three and blogs at yourmomhasablog.com.