Women undoubtedly face very different struggles than men. They have pressures related to body image, beauty and sex that men are often unaware of and certainly don’t understand first-hand. While there are many times women talk about facing up to these challenges, one question we don’t often ask is how men can help. Today on the podcast, Chase talks with Akos—another man—in full recognition that these issues are not their own as men, to consider what responsibility men have in helping women in the things they struggle with on a daily basis. Certainly men are complicit in creating and driving many of the problems. So, how in the home and in the church can Christian men better care for their daughters, wives and other sisters?
Links referred to:
- The Gospel Coalition Australia
- Akos’s blog
- “A father’s letter to his daughter (about living in a world that degrades women)” by Akos Balogh
- Podcast episode 058: Treating women better with Akos Balogh
- The Centre for Christian Living Annual 2020: A selection of the year’s best essays, articles and podcast transcripts
- Our next event: “Learning to forgive” with Philip Kern and Kanishka Raffel (Wednesday 25 August)
- Our October event: “Raising the next generation” with Paul Dudley and Mark Earngey
Runtime: 30:16 min.
Chase Kuhn: Women undoubtedly face very different struggles than men. They have pressures related to body image, beauty and sex that men are often unaware of and certainly don’t understand first-hand. While there are many times that women talk about facing up to these challenges, whether it be on social media or in other areas of their life, one question we don’t often ask is how men can help.
Today on the podcast, I’m joined by another male friend, in full recognition that these issues are not our own as men, to consider what responsibility we have in helping women in the things that they struggle with on a daily basis. Certainly men are complicit in creating and driving many of these problems in our culture. So how can we in the home and in the church better care for our daughters, wives and other sisters?
CK: Hello and welcome to the Centre for Christian Living podcast. My name is Chase Kuhn. I’m coming to you from Moore College in Sydney, Australia. Once again, my guest is Akos Balogh, who is the CEO of The Gospel Coalition in Australia. Welcome back, sir!
Akos Balogh: Thank you so much, Chase! Great to be back.
CK: Great to have you back, my friend. We’ve had a great discussion recently about how we can treat women better and, in particular, how we can be raising our boys to be thinking differently about the girls in their lives, about the ways that they can interact differently with women, how we can model that in our home, and today we’re turning our attention in a little bit of a different direction, but on a similar theme based on another article that you’ve written—another letter that you’ve written—to, this time, your daughter. I almost said her name and I’m glad I didn’t, ’cause we want to keep this anonymous! [Laughter] That’s great.
AB: Ava. Ava was her name in the letter.
CK: That’s right! Ava was her name in the letter! [Laughter] That’s right! Well, I really respected a father’s care for a girl growing up in a society like ours and the kinds of pressures that she will be facing. And so, today I thought we could maybe unpack a bit of that and talk about how to prepare the girls in our lives—I have three daughters, you have a daughter, and not just caring for daughters, but how do we actually care for the girls and the women in our church in a society like ours? So tell me, as a father, what is it that spawned this letter this time for you as you wrote this letter to your daughter?
AB: Yeah, certainly. Look, I think like many teenage girls today, my daughter feels a lot of pressure—particularly in her circumstance: she’s younger high school, but still she’s feeling a lot of pressure around the sexualisation issue. A lot of her friends have smartphones, and topics of sex come up quite regularly in the playground and after school and so forth. And I think my daughter’s really struggled with that.
Thanks be to God, she identifies as a Christian, she has a strong faith—a strong genuine personal faith—but over time, we’ve just noticed that it’s really worn her down in many ways. She just feels up against it in terms of having to deal with that on a regular basis. And so, I thought, “Okay, let me think through some of the challenges that my daughter faces and how might I be able to address that as a father”, and look, there was a conversation that we had with a mutual friend of ours and we thought, “Yes, writing a letter for my blog and Gospel Coalition Australia might be a helpful way just to unpack a few of these issues. That might also edify and encourage other fathers as well, and other daughters.”
CK: Yeah, great. So let’s talk about the sexualisation just for a moment. I mean, one of the things you’re seeing as a father—I mean, I see certain things as a father; my eldest daughter’s a bit younger than your daughter—what are the kinds of things that your daughter’s up against, or that our daughters collectively are up against right now in culture and that they’re facing that is actually sexualising them?
AB: Yeah, sure. Look, I think the conversation is particularly something that she feels very strongly up against. So the conversation, without wanting to get explicit, but it goes beyond standard teenage banter. So as teenagers, you’d expect to be talking about the sex issue, but this goes much beyond that in terms of body part sizes and just laughing at sexualising everything. So in every conversation, you say something innocent, but then it’s sexualised, and you can’t get away from it. I think that’s why she feels [it’s] difficult.
CK: There’s always some kind of innuendo.
AB: Oh, the innuendo is there all the time—to the point where she just feels like sometimes she has to physically remove herself—
AB: —from her peers as a result. Yeah.
CK: And it’s difficult, because some of the teenagers that she’s around will have been sexualised by their own exposure to pornography and things, and therefore, the innuendo is flowing out of that kind of awareness that they have, because of what they’ve seen or participated in already. Which then automatically pushes others that aren’t participating in those kinds of activities to a different level of maturity, whether they’re ready for it or not. I mean, that’s it.
AB: That’s right. It’s amazing: in terms of her peer group, I think, as I’ve said, junior high school, but she’s one of two girls in her year that don’t have a smartphone. So junior high schoolers with smartphones. I got to say, my wife and I have talked about this. It’s kind of like, “What do parents expect when you’re giving your kid unrestricted access to the internet in their own private time?” And I think the research would also show that we’re seeing the fruit of this. So what our daughter’s going through is not an isolated incident. But we can relate to it very personally, ’cause we’re seeing it every day in her.
CK: Yeah, it’s terrible and it’s a real concern. I mean, one thing that, I guess, it’s good for us to be clear about is whether or not this is new. Is this a new problem, do you think—that sex is on the radar? Do you think this is something that is unique to our time, or is it just presenting itself in new ways?
AB: Yeah, it’s interesting. I think it’s presenting itself in new ways, but in much more pervasive ways, just ’cause of the instant access via the internet to pornography. So we were talking before, Chase, about, as a non-Christian, I accessed pornography as a teenager, but it was either going to a mate’s place, where they put on a video, or trying to sneak into a newsagent and hope that I looked old enough to be able to—you know, with my mates—to be able to buy a porn magazine. But it was very difficult to access. But today, it’s there at a click of a button.
AB: I believe the research does say—so, talking to someone—I think it was Marshall Ballantine-Jones—that says the average age of exposure to pornography, for boys, is 11—first-time exposure. So, yeah, that’s primary school. So I think it’s there in a way that it wasn’t when we were both at that age.
CK: Yeah, it’s terrifying. As you said, I mean, when I was a boy, I can remember one guy in my year when I was about Year 6 getting his hands on a Playboy magazine or something that he had got from another guy who had got from his uncle—
CK: —or something. And that was the kind of layers of access you had to get—you know—
CK: —you had to kind of smuggle something through the black market on the playground. [Laughter]
CK: Whereas now, somebody just gets 30 seconds alone—
CK: —with a device, and they can find anything, and much more explicit than something like Playboy, as terrible as that was then.
AB: That’s right.
CK: So, yeah, it’s a very different age of access. And, as you said already, I mean, previously, you used to have to go and find it, and—
CK: —kind of go out of your way to get it.
CK: You had to make a special order—a special trip. Now, you don’t have to go anywhere. You don’t have to do anything particularly special. You’re already on your phone. As soon as you feel an urge or whatever it is—
AB: It’s there—
CK: It’s there.
AB: —for the taking. Yeah.
CK: It’s there.
CK: Yeah, it’s different times. How else do you find these pressures coming upon her—not just about sexually explicit language or even behaviours or things like that on the playground, but what other ways do you think this is being cultured, particularly in the kinds of pressures she may feel for dress or something like that?
AB: Yeah. It’s interesting. I mean, look, I think as parents, my wife is the one who goes with my daughter to buy clothes. My daughter doesn’t trust me to go with her to buy clothes. My fashion sense is just not there! [Laughter] But it’s very interesting: finding un-sexualised clothing for anyone above, dare I say it, 10 or 12, in terms of girls, is difficult. So I think it’s—
AB: Yeah, it’s something that if you want to dress modestly, it’s harder and harder to dress fashionably, if I can put it that way. Yeah.
CK: Yeah. And there’s an expectation as well. I mean, I can remember being at a shop in the UK just a couple of years ago, and I remember we were shopping for kids clothes, there was another mom in there with her daughters, and one of the girls came out, and her shorts were down about mid-thigh, and I remember the mom saying, “Oh no, those are much too long. They look like boys’ shorts!” And then she came back out again in another pair of shorts. I thought, “Oh my! Those are hardly shorts!” [Laughter]
CK: And she thought that’s better—that’s what the mom said: “That’s better. Now they look like girls’ shorts.”
CK: So we begin to say that this kind of expression of what it means to be feminine is somehow normally quite revealing.
AB: That’s right. That’s right. So, as many have pointed out, it’s the pornification of culture. So those sorts of immodest dress or, I guess, pornographic ideals of trying to show as much skin as possible, it’s becoming more and more mainstream—
AB: —and has been for a while.
CK: Yeah. And what kinds of insecurities do you think drive this and also flow out of this, would you say?
AB: Yeah. Look, I think teenagers in particular, and we can all remember back to when we were teenagers, feel enormous pressure to fit in. And so, it’s difficult to try and stand out from the crowd. It’s one thing to do that for a while, but when you’re up against it day by day by day, it’s much harder. So I think the peer pressure—even sometimes it’s overt, but even subtle peer pressure can make it hard to stand up—stand up for your values, stand up as a disciple of Jesus in the playground.
CK: Yeah, certainly. And with that, I mean, I remember in your article, and I’ve heard, I think, your wife wrote an article about this at one point, but you get popular songs as well: so somebody like Cardi B—
AB: Cardi B. Yep.
CK: —who’s at the top of the charts—
CK: —has some outrageously disgusting songs.
CK: And do yourself a favour if you’re listening: don’t listen to the song—
AB: Don’t listen to the song.
CK: —don’t watch the video for the song; I couldn’t make it through 30 seconds of it. But the kinds of language that’s being used and the overt sexually explicit—
CK: —kinds of talk as almost of a means of power—
CK: —is really interesting. And so, an empowered woman, in certain cultures, then, is the highly sexualised woman that can use that.
AB: Yeah. It was very interesting at the recent Grammy awards—
AB: —so not the Oscars; the Grammys. So a few weeks ago, they had Cardi B and I forget who the other performer was—some “Stallion”—
CK: Megan Thee Stallion.
AB: Megan Thee Stallion. Thank you. They did a dance on stage, which was, let me just say, didn’t leave anything to the imagination as far as sexualised behaviour goes. And that was at the Grammys. And so a mainstream—a lot of teenagers would have been up watching it—
AB: —and this was celebrated. It was interesting to see the social media—there were some people that it was saying—some parents were saying, “Look, we didn’t think this was appropriate. Why was it in the Grammys?” and people were—others, like, I think, Cardi B came back and said, “Just get over yourself. This is what an empowered [woman] does—”
AB: So very much this is the culture they’re immersed in.
CK: Yeah. I’m not embarrassed to say this: I was at a Beyoncé concert a few years ago—
AB: Oh, there you go! [Laughter]
CK: I gave it 10 out of 10, actually. I think, at the end of it, it was a phenomenal performance.
CK: But during the show, the whole narrative was about empowering women.
CK: And they said to the women, “Look: you’ve got a body. Your body is your power.”
CK: “You have power over men—”
CK: —“through the way that you, basically, are sexy and use that to coerce or manipulate men!”
CK: That was it! That was the narrative.
CK: And so now, if I want to get something in life, I need to show some skin, apparently—
CK: —not me, obviously, but my daughter needs to show some skin.
CK: She needs to lure the boys.
CK: And then she needs to play with them.
CK: And it’s horrifying.
CK: Yeah! And I think you and I are both for our girls feeling appropriately able in life and, you know—
AB: Confident. Yeah.
CK: —confident. That’s right. But not in that way. I don’t want that kind of game playing of a real dangerous kind.
AB: Oh, absolutely. And in terms of what that does to a person’s perception of their identity, so another thing I raised in my letter was the danger of placing your identity into your appearance—particularly a sexualised appearance.
AB: I mentioned to you a moment ago before we got on air, the non-Christian American author David Foster Wallace gave a talk at a university where he was quite open and, I think, very onto it where he said that we’re all worshipping beings, and what you worship will end up controlling you. And if you worship beauty, you’ll end up dying a thousand deaths as you grow older—as your beauty fades.
AB: So there’s the danger there of worshipping beauty. Which is what we’re encouraged to do, both as men and women, but certainly women, in terms of their bodies: they’re meant to have that as key to their identity. And it’s interesting how the Bible gives us a very different story—a much better story. But that’s—the identity issue is something is something that’s very front and centre.
CK: Yeah, and we’ll move onto the—what the Bible says about this in just a moment. But I guess one of the things I was going to ask about is the insecurities that flow out of this culture. So—
CK: So you’re encouraged to dress—
CK: —in a very revealing way—
CK: —but each time the girl reveals more, I’ve found, at least with many of the women in my life, whether they be friends or family, there’s a deep insecurity about body image and body type. And this is no secret. I mean—
CK: —this is a huge conversation around social media and the ways that we present certain bits of ourself or certain un-bits of ourself—I think one of the Kardashians recently had a photo posted where she wasn’t airbrushed and was horrified, or—then posted another one where she was not airbrushed and was proud, and everybody at home is watching and saying, “Oh, I don’t know how to feel”. Well, all they do feel is insecure.
CK: So how is it that we help our girls as their body image is the thing that’s driving so many decisions in their life?
AB: Yeah, absolutely. I think the ultimate answer is they need to tie their identity not to their body image—to their body—but to something and someone that is secure—and namely to the Lord Jesus Christ and the way he views them. So it’s interesting that with body image, it’s not enough just to flaunt your body, so to speak; it’s also your expecting other people to affirm that and to like it on social media and the shock horror when a girl posts something on social media or somebody posts something on social media, and they don’t get the affirmation. That’s a real—yeah. We live in a very psychologised age, where our identity is very fragile in a way, because we’re requiring other people’s affirmation. And we see this explicitly when it comes to body image: we want other people—particularly girls—want other people to affirm it. And so, I guess, what we need to do as—particularly we have a very important role as fathers—is to point our daughters to a much better, much more secure source of identity in the Lord Jesus Christ, and understand that the worth that they have as a result of being in Christ—as a result of being a follower of Jesus—is secure.
AB: Nothing will change it. They don’t need the world’s affirmation. Now, of course, that goes for us as well, but, yeah: that’s where we want to point our daughters towards—to a secure and not fragile identity.
CK: Yeah, and I’m glad you’re bringing this home now—both to the Bible, but also to why you and I are talking about it. I can imagine some listeners saying, “Why are two guys getting together, talking about girls’ body image and the struggles that women have?” In one sense, they may say, “You don’t know what we struggle with”. But we try to listen—you and I try to listen to the women in our lives—that’s one thing. But we also feel a certain responsibility to the women in our lives. That’s part of the reason why you and I are talking now. We have a responsibility to our daughters, who feel the struggle. We have a responsibility to our wives or our sisters or our friends about the kinds of things that we communicate that we value. And that helps, hopefully, shape the ways that they feel valued as well.
So let’s talk about what the Bible says, as you’ve already talked about. Where do you turn if you’re going to take your daughter into the Bible and try to help her recognise things of utmost importance in the way that she views herself?
AB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s lots of passages in the Bible, not surprisingly, that talk about identity. So, I mean, identity, if we stick with that, one of my go-to passages is a passage like Colossians 3, the first four verses—you know, beautifully, Paul talks about us having been raised with Christ—talking about that spiritually: “Set your minds on things above”. Verse 3 talks about us having died and our life is hidden with Christ in God, so that beautiful spiritual union we have—
AB: —that has been won for us that’s secure. Our life is hidden with Christ in God. So there’s a security there that we have by virtue of our union with Christ—us being so united with Jesus in his death and resurrection that we too are now raised. So we have a new identity that’s been given to us—
AB: —not an identity that we need to earn, not an identity that needs to be affirmed by the world, because it’s already secure: it’s with Christ. He’s already affirming us, so to speak, because he’s already given us that new identity.
CK: As we take a brief break from our program, I’d like to ask you to make a plan to join us for the rest of our live events in 2021. Each of our events is focussed on a facet of community, and at our next event in August, we’ll address the precarious issue of forgiveness. So often in churches, we’re told that we must forgive people. But we seldom hear what that means for us in practice. Must we suddenly act as though no offence ever happened? And is forgiveness conditional, only being given once there is repentance?
Please make a plan to join us on August 25th as Phillip Kern, the Head of the New Testament department at Moore College, and Kanishka Raffel, the newly elected Archbishop of Sydney, lead us through what the Bible teaches about forgiveness and how this shapes our community life together.
Now let’s get back to our program.
CK: And what do you say to your daughter when she says, “That’s nice, because it’s all spiritual, but you’re not talking about my actual physical body that I live in right now—”
CK: “—and how do I then identify with that spiritual truth—”
CK: “—that I’m in Christ—”
CK: “—as I live in a body now and feel particular pressures?”
AB: Yes. Yes. I think—look, not having had that particular conversation with my daughter—
AB: —but if she was to ask me about it, I would say to her that “So much of body image is around our worth—our self-worth”. We want to have a particular image of our body. We want to feel a certain way about our body, because that’s what drives our worth—
AB: —in terms of as a person. And so what I would say is that our worth doesn’t come from our experience on earth or our body image, but from what God says about us. And so, really, it’s a case of orienting our lives—orienting our attention—orienting—and listening very carefully to what God says about us in Christ. And if we can listen to that voice—God’s voice—through Scripture, then that is security, that is a liberation that means that, “Okay. No matter what happens, I have that security now”. But also, no matter what my body looks like or how I feel about my body, I have that hope that I will have a resurrected body at the end of time. And it’s secure, because I’ve already been raised to life, spiritually; I’m just waiting now for the physical resurrection that will come when Jesus returns.
CK: That’s lovely. And this is one of the things in all of our discipleship—men or women—as we listen to God’s voice, as you’ve said, and the words of Scripture, it is a matter of us receiving those things by faith. So every day you look in a mirror and it tells you something about you—
CK: —and you choose to believe what is most valuable—
CK: —and so you either are going to be conditioned by worldly pressures as you look in that mirror—
CK: —or you could get up and look in the mirror and say, “Everything I need—all of my worth—is in Christ. And I am completely secure, completely of the best position possible, because of who I am in Jesus.” And that is a position of faith, not by sight.
AB: That’s right.
CK: It’s not what you’re seeing.
CK: It’s what you’re believing.
CK: It’s what you’re actually believing about what’s true for you in Jesus. And that’s one of the many battles that we will faith in our discipleship of living by faith.
CK: But in particular, maybe a very unique—not necessarily just unique to women, but often prevalent amongst women, needing to really believe that about their bodies.
AB: That’s right. I think they have an intensity of struggle, perhaps, that us blokes find it difficult to relate to. Heck, I’m 44. I still feel wonderfully alive and beautiful, and everything—not, you know, half-jokingly saying that, but I don’t have that same struggle, perhaps, that a lot of our female listeners would have. Yeah.
AB: As—just by virtue of being a bloke.
CK: Yeah. And just on that for a moment, I mean, I said before, it maybe strange that we’re talking about this. But how do we become more aware of the struggle that they might face uniquely, and how do we love and care for them in that struggle?
CK: In other words, what ways do we listen to them?
AB: Yeah. Certainly, I think it’s safe to assume that, to some degree, all females will have this struggle. So I guess going into conversations with that assumption and not being surprised or shocked that this is a struggle that they have. But also, as we, perhaps, ask them about it, and again, depending on how open your daughter is—our daughter’s fairly open with us, but I realise that many people will be listening and thinking, “My teenage daughter doesn’t give me anything!” And I realise that. But as fathers, I think, in particular, we’re the first male—or the prime male in their early life that they are looking to to see what we think of them. And so, if we as male fathers are able to affirm them in their worth—particularly in their worth [in] Jesus—they’ll be less likely to look for that affirmation from other males in their life—perhaps, boys in their year or whatever it might be.
AB: So I think there’s a real onus on us fathers, and again, this is why we’re talking about it, because we have a responsibility: we’re not just bystanders here; we’re in the thick of it when it comes to our daughter and her formation—her spiritual and moral formation. If she sees that we value her as a person, then—as fathers—then she’ll be much less likely to seek for that sort of affirmation outside.
CK: That’s a great responsibility. So what ways do we do that practically? I mean, do we tell our daughters that they’re physically beautiful? Is that okay?
AB: Yeah, look, I remember Ray Galea saying that one of the best things we can do as fathers is talk about their character and the actions that they do as beautiful. So to put the onus of beauty not so much on their physical appearance—I mean, we still might say that, but not make that the big be all and end all, but rather point them towards the beautiful things that they do in terms of, you know, “Oh, your brother just said something nasty to you and you were very gracious. What a beautiful thing to do!”
AB: Those sorts of things—whatever it might be. But certainly put the onus on their actions more than their external appearance.
CK: Yeah, that’s great. I mean, I try to do this, I think, in different ways with each of my kids, and different with the boys and the girls. I mean, I can see the way, say, for example, my boy works for approval from me—
CK: —or achievement, and how perfection can easily creep in—
CK: —and I’ll tell them at points, “I don’t care how you did on this.”
CK: “What I love is the character you showed.”
CK: “Man, you were humble, or you listened or you learned or”, you know, whatever it may be. I’m affirming different kinds of things than maybe what he’s expecting me to affirm and what he’s striving for.
CK: And likewise, we’re telling a different story to our girls when we say to them, “Wow, this is so beautiful and you—”
CK: “—when you said these kinds words.”
CK: “Oh! Wait, what?” That is gorgeous. You know, that’s lovely.
AB: That’s right. And particularly hearing it from a male—I think that has more power, so I’m told, than if it was just their mother that was saying that. So I think as fathers, we have a very important responsibility there.
CK: Yeah, and one of the ways, I mean, you were mentioning to me before we got on here that somewhere like 1 Peter 3 also helps us frame up a different vision of what is beautiful.
AB: Yes. Yes.
CK: I have the hardest time persuading, say, my wife or other women in my life that men don’t always see beauty the same way that women do. So women feel a pressure towards a certain kind of beauty—
CK: —and men obviously have, you know, certain sexual drives and things like that that are attracted to certain things physically—undoubtedly. But I find it really gorgeous when I see certain kinds of character in someone. How do we help them see that from God’s word in somewhere like 1 Peter 3? What does it say?
AB: Yeah, certainly. So 1 Peter 3, talking specifically here to wives, but say, verse 3, for example, says, “Do not let your adorning be external, the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery or the clothing your wear, but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight, is very precious”. So certainly just realising that the real beauty isn’t inner beauty—that, as it says there, in God’s sight, it’s very precious. And, again, tying that back to the identity we have by virtue of what God thinks of us—then that provides another layer of security so that we’re not seeking to make our beauty outwards, we’re not seeking to get the affirmation of the world in terms of external beauty.
CK: Yeah, and how do we help our women—I can see some women balking at this—
CK: —and saying, “Does this mean I shouldn’t wear jewellery ever?” [Laughter] Or, do you know what I mean? “Should I not brush my hair?” “Or are you telling me, ‘Don’t care at all about how I look’” or, you know? “This seems like another way of trying to”—in some people’s minds, for us to restrict women’s freedoms, if you will, about expression and everything else”. So how do we help them in a culture that will tell them, “No, you do what you want with your body”?
AB: Yeah, look, I think, certainly, as blokes, again, with our daughter in particular, but also in wider society, I think we as men have a great deal of impact into what we see as beautiful. That’s often what many women will also see as beautiful as well, by virtue of [if] the blokes think it’s beautiful, then, you know, it must be beautiful. And so, I wonder if there’s a real responsibility here as blokes—particularly Christian blokes—to take the front foot and reframe beauty in a more biblical way. So, for example, just to—in conversation with women, perhaps, or in conversation amongst ourselves as blokes, making sure that we highlight, as you say, the inner beauty that people have, looking at things that they do and really praising that as beautiful and not so much—yeah, I’ve got to be careful with my words, but not so much putting the emphasis on external appearance. Nothing wrong with external appearance and making yourself look good. I mean, Chase, you’re always 10 out of 10, mate: if the listener doesn’t know, Chase is just one of the most fashionable people my wife and I know.
CK: That’s not true! [Laughter] Not true. Surely not true!
AB: So, look, there’s nothing wrong, and I don’t think the Bible would discourage people, from dressing and looking appropriate and so forth. But it’s where you place your emphasis—where you place your heart—what you worship, in the words of David Foster Wallace—whether you’re placing the emphasis on external beauty or internal beauty.
CK: Yeah, that’s very helpful. Now, I mean, we’ll wrap our conversation up here, Akos, but in terms of just maybe a more corporate picture, how do we demonstrate these things in church as well? Is there anything that we can be doing to care for a different kind of culture in our church? I mean, we often put the burden on the women of—historically, I should say.
CK: You know, “Don’t be the seductress with the way you dress”—
CK: —that’s the way that these passages—
AB: Yes, yes.
CK: —get the—spun out. How do we affirm some of these things more publicly or widely in our church culture amongst men and women together, perhaps?
AB: Yeah, it’s interesting, I think, look, we’re certainly talking about what the Bible affirms and what the ideal is. But I think we all struggle, don’t we. We’re all still sinful. And I wonder if, in churches, there’s still a struggle in terms of, well, we still will—whether we want to or not, there’s a still part of us that will judge people by their appearances. So it’s the good-looking sort of person that, perhaps, gets more attention, than someone, perhaps, who has special needs or whatever it might be. And I think as followers of Jesus, we need to be very careful that we treat people the way Jesus treated them. So we look at how Jesus treated women, for starters: he treated them with great dignity in a culture that didn’t treat women with dignity at all, and so, regardless of external appearances, which what our world judges women by, we need to be people that affirm and love and care for the women in our churches, regardless of external appearances. I think that’s a very important first step that we need to make.
CK: That’s excellent. I mean, you watch the movies of the 90s and you see the way that these social cliques grow up—
CK: —based on who’s popular—
CK: —and who’s cool, or the way they dress. And far be it from us that that’s what our churches are like.
CK: I mean James is very clear about this, right.
CK: You know, you don’t just give special seat to the rich or—
CK: —or we could put in there “popular” or “famous” or—
CK: “Beautiful” or—
CK: —whatever it may be.
CK: Actually, we want to see that we love one another because we’re in Christ—
CK: —whether they’re incredibly physically striking—
CK: —whether they’re not—whether they have special needs or whether they are functioning normally without any special needs. I mean, whatever it may be, we have a love for one another, because it’s not based on appearance or anything else. We—
CK: —value each other because we’re in Christ together.
CK: Yeah. Well, brother, I thank you so much for coming back on.
AB: My pleasure!
CK: I look forward to having you back again sometime soon, I hope.
AB: Oh, that’d be great! Thanks so much, Chase!
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As always, I’d like to thank Moore College for making the ministry of the Centre for Christian Living possible, and to extend thanks to my assistant, Karen Beilharz, for audio editing and transcribing. Music provided by James West.