Young Women, Idolatry & the Powerful Gospel
We are all inveterate worshipers — it’s just something we do without thinking about it. Worshiping is part of our nature because God created us to worship Him, and, by doing so, we bring both Him and ourselves deep pleasure (Pss. 16:11; 149:4). The world is full of worshipers, and some of them actually worship God. But the truth is that most of us worship idols.
It’s easy to identify idols that exist outside of us — like statues of Buddha, fast cars, or beautiful houses. Pinpointing the idols that reside within is a little trickier, however. These idols of our hearts are the desires, ideals, or expectations that we worship, serve, and long for. James 1 tells us that these desires motivate us to sin. In James 4, we learn that our desires are the cause of the conflicts in our lives. Our idolatrous desires entice us to sin in order to obtain what we think we must have in order to be happy. Young and old, male and female alike, we’re all driven by our deep desires, our idols.
Because women have been created with a specific call to relationship — to be their husbands’ helpers (Gen. 2:18) — it is very easy for them to idolize and live for relationships with men, to look to men as the source of their identity and purpose. Many young women, in particular, are tempted to see themselves as having worth only if they are in a relationship with a man. This propensity toward idolizing men is easily seen in family life. How many conflicts have been occasioned by parents’ restricting of contact between their daughter and a guy she thinks she just can’t live without? Frequently, what girls wear, who they hang around with, and what forms of media they embrace are intrinsically tied to getting or keeping the attention and approval of boys. Protestations of Christian allegiance aside, popularity with certain guys is often our daughters’ functional god.
Of course, the gospel provides a young woman with the ultimate antidote to the worship of any human’s acceptance and approval. The antidote is the worship of the One she was created to worship, Jesus Christ. He, the God-man, can become her identity as she hears Him call her to come and worship Him and find her life in Him rather than in any other man (Col. 3:4). He welcomes and assures her that, although she is an idolater, she is also loved and welcomed by the only Man whose opinion really matters. She doesn’t need to attach herself to anyone other than Him, for in Him she has everything she needs (Phil. 4:19). He is her Bridegroom. She is clothed in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). She is complete in Him (Col. 2:10).
Young women, like the rest of us, were created to worship. The sirensong of the world entices them to believe that outward beauty, popularity, and the right boy will satisfy, but it never does — no matter how she pursues these gods, not even if she marries Mr. Right. Like us, she will never be satisfied with worshiping and serving the creation because there is a Creator who has already claimed His place as Husband. He not only deserves our worship, He’s the only One grand enough to captivate our hearts and turn our futile idolatry, our chasing after the wind, into joyful worship. Our young women need to be dazzled by the beauty of their Redeemer King. They need to hear His story, His beauty, His love, His excellencies over and over again so that the images they are tempted to worship will pale in comparison.
Daughters may begin to learn how to identify idols in their own lives as parents and leaders transparently admit and confess their own struggle with idolatry. When a dad confesses that he longs for a promotion at work more than he should (and is angry when he gets passed over again) or when mom admits that she’s addicted to over-exercise so that she can approve of her appearance, a daughter will feel at liberty to admit her slavery to the boys’ opinions. A young woman who knows that she’s not alone in this struggle for singlehearted devotion will more freely admit her own idolatry and will listen more closely when her parents speak out of hearts drenched in humility. And, of course, parents can also help their daughters by praying that the Holy Spirit would make Jesus more beautiful than anyone else.
How long has it been since your daughter’s heart was soaked in the gospel truth of this great One who gave His life for her that she might be free to worship Him and rest in His welcoming love? The antidote to idolatrous worship isn’t found in rules prohibiting idolatry. Rules don’t dazzle and captivate. They can’t generate worship. They’re not powerful enough to transform. What is? The glory of the Lord as seen in the face of Jesus Christ. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18; see also 4:6).