I've been questioning recently the purity of what I've been allowing into the minds of my daughters. There are so many things that affect this area of their lives that it is difficult to keep up with it all.
First of all, is what they are seeing on TV pure? Am I allowing them to watch things that put an emphasis on the male body? People who know me very well at all would probably laugh at that question. It is a known fact that we don't watch anything over PG and that our TV standards are just as strict as our movie standards. That said, I was watching a movie recently where the main character had his shirt off for a good portion of the movie. He was just a kid (teenager actually) so it didn't affect me in any way, but as I sat watching this movie, I realized that had my girls been awake and watching, I would have turned it off. (Which also leads to "if it's not okay for them, it's not okay for me and I should have turned it off", but that's another topic entirely!)
Why would I have turned it off? Well, the guys on TV are chosen not only because of their acting ability, but also because of their physical appearance. Most men do NOT look like the men on TV. Chances are, their husbands will not look like that either. Not only does that create opportunity for lustful thoughts and desires in their hearts, but it also plants the seed for discontentment with the men God has created specifically for them. Even if their husbands do look like those men, 1.) they should only be looking at their husbands' body and 2.) their husbands most likely won't continue to look that way! He is going to age! Life is going to happen. Changes outside of their control will take place. God showed me that my daughters need to be taught that there is so much more to look for in a man than his appearance. If I don't teach them that, not only am I causing her to bring harm and not good to her husband, whoever he may be, but I am bringing harm to my sons-in-law as well. How? I am putting into her mind - unconsciously though it may be - that the man on the screen is the ideal, the standard on which to base all men - even the future Mr. Right.
Secondly, God showed me that I also need to be careful about what I allow into their minds regarding women on the screen and in magazines. We've all seen these ideal women and most of us have longed to look like them - their hair, their clothes, their accessories, their bodies, etc. When we do this, we lower our confidence about ourselves. Then we begin comparing ourselves to the people around us. As a result, we become proud because we DON'T look like her or - more often - we become depressed because there is always someone who looks better or who has better things. It is my responsibility to teach my daughters that this is not the ideal and to guard her from believing it is at ALL COSTS - even if it means we never watch TV!!! I've got to teach them to look to the Bible for the ideal and to see themselves as beautiful just the way they are because they are created the way God intended (Psalm 139). I've got to teach them that true beauty is on the inside and that it'll reflect on the outside.
But how does this affect their future husbands? This part is kind of awkward since I'm talking about my little girls, but it's the truth and it needs to be said. A husband wants his wife to be confident. He wants her to be proud of her body. The Bible tells husbands and wives, in 1 Corinthians 7:5, not to "deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time . . .". It is her Biblical responsibility to use her body to bring pleasure to her husband. Now, if she has all these mental images of how she should look, she isn't going to be confident about how she does look and it'll affect this area of her marriage and bring him GREAT harm.
It'll affect it in this way, but it could also affect many other aspects of their marriage as well. She may spend money they don't have to change her appearance and as a result put them into debt, she may do drastic things that affect her health, etc. It may seem far-fetched but the people who do these things are real life people who have been given bad mental images.
As I've been writing this, I've realized that it goes beyond what they see on TV. I started thinking about the books I read. I only read Christian fiction, but even those have the "ideal man". I have found myself getting mad at my husband because he doesn't do or say things like that "ideal man". The thing is, that "ideal man" isn't real! I'm simply comparing my husband to another person's idea of what he should be, to another person's desire for man to be. And even if that man was real, I shouldn't be comparing my husband to ANY man. This is all very dangerous because is breeds discontentment in my marriage and will cause much harm if not dealt with properly. God takes what is meant for evil and uses it for good. However, Satan prefers to take what is meant for good - something as innocent as a Christian novel - and tries to use it for evil.
The point? I have to be extremely cautious and on guard CONSTANTLY about what I am putting into my mind and into the minds of my daughters. I have to be very purposeful in what I allow them to watch, to read, to listen to, and to where I allow them to go, and even who I allow them to hang out with. God entrusted them to me and I MUST make sure I am guarding their minds - not just for their sake but for the sake of their future husbands - that I will bring them good and not harm and that they in turn will bring good and not harm to their husbands "all the days of their lives".
Parenting is a hard job, but the Bible says, in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." That is a promise from God Himself. That reward makes the journey so much easier!