The Lie of the “Good Girl”
“She’s too innocent . . . she doesn’t do that. I don’t think she even knows what that is.”
“She’s a good girl and that’s not like her to do that.”
I believe these can be some of the most harmful words overheard by young girls. I was that oh-so-put-together, organized, on every academic team in school, over achiever, got good grades girl. I overheard as others labeled me by saying things like, “She’s so mature.” “She knows that’s wrong, so she won’t do that.” “Look at that godly girl and everything she’s balancing in her life.” “She doesn’t struggle with that.”
Again, these were some of the worst things for me to have heard growing up and in high school. Since I knew others didn’t recognize me as the struggling sinner that I was, trying to figure out this life and what it means to be sanctified and justified by Christ’s blood, I was not able to be open and honest with my struggles, and seek the help I needed. I was overburdened with my sin: sexual temptation and lust of the mind. I was everything but mature in my walk with Christ, put together, being sanctified, and seeking after God, and hearing that people thought highly of me only added to the façade I had to keep up, and the guilt and shame I was carrying. I was identifying myself more with the list of those who won’t inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) than I was with Jesus and my new life in Him.
God designed a girl’s heart, mind, and body to be protected and pure. When she hears others talking about how well she’s doing at that, even though they are really only referring to the outside, then her only fleshly worry is keeping up with appearances, despite addictions hiding in the closet, in old relationships, on her computer, on her bookshelf, or in any other area of life where idolatry is an issue. It doesn’t matter how filthy her eyes are from the porn she’s watching but can’t tell anyone about, or how disgusting she feels from the boys she’s blamed herself for sleeping with, or how unclean her mind and thoughts are from the unstoppable, lustful thoughts she has, or how broken hearted she is from male after male that can’t fulfill her in her life. Her flesh craves to maintain the perfect image that has been being portrayed to others, despite the common knowledge provided from the Bible that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s level of perfection (Romans 3:23).
I feel like sexual sin is also harder for girls to admit to because of this idea of them always being pristine and holy. In an article on helping women with addictions, author Rob Jackson put is very well when he said, “Female addicts often suffer a greater social stigma and inner shame than do male addicts. Society promotes the stereotypes of ‘boys will be boys’ and “’good girls don’t,’”. The Bible tells us that there is neither male nor female before the Lord (Galatians 3:28), so there is no sin common to just man, or just women (1 Corinthians 10:13). Sin is a human struggle, and a girl is going to feel even guiltier when she’s struggling with something that no other girl seems to admit to struggling with. I saw this in my experience, but I also see it the more and more I talk with girls who are willing to be open about their struggles, and the more I see this as being a barrier to their honesty about their struggles, and their willingness to seek help.
So, how do we fix this problem? Parents, I think it starts with you and your most powerful tool: the gospel. The parents in the church youth group where I serve are no longer surprised to hear me tell them, “Don’t be surprised that your children are sinners.” The shock parents sometimes exert to their children for not upholding Jesus’ level of perfection only breeds more hypocrites into the church. Let your kids be real with you and don’t shame them for their struggles with sin. When your children are sharing their sins and struggles with you, you should view that as a God ordained opportunity for you to actively share the gospel with them, through your words and actions. Shame is not the gospel. There is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1), so don’t be a tool in the enemy’s hand to burden your kids with more guilt. Share with them the freedom found in Christ’s love displayed for us on the cross. Their sin is horrific, bad, ugly, and it’s why Jesus had to die, but He also rose again to defeat sin, so that your children can be sanctified in Christ, having access to God’s power living in them, to help them have victory over their sins.
We also need to be warned and aware that girls do actually struggle with porn. It may start in a more subtle way with women. Virtually every young adult novel these days includes very explicit sex scenes, which is nothing but straight up porn, or erotic literature. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal which shares about the rise in women reading erotica on EReaders due to its easy access, one reader admitted that, “. . . the digital format helped her get over the embarrassment.” The Bible says to think on things that are pure and lovely (Philippians 4:8), and I know from experience that reading those things only add to the embarrassment and weight of sin, and the lustful, evil thoughts. It is not lovely and pure to gaze into a fictional vampire’s love life, I don’t care if they waited until they were married. It’s not lovely and pure to worship and idolize the marriage relationship between two characters in your book, even if it has the genre title “Christian fiction” on the side of it. It is not lovely and pure to read pornographic literature, even if nobody else knows that’s what you’re doing because they can’t see the book cover on your new EReader. It’s only lovely to worship the one true God.
The more I talk to girls about the dangers of reading literature that is not only too mature for their age, but also downright pornographic and sinful, the more girls I am finding who admit to struggling with this. For some reason this form of pornography is more tolerated than visual pornography, which girls struggle with as well. Parents need to be aware of this and closely monitor what their young girls are reading. And older girls and women, you need to take it upon yourself to decide if what you’re reading leads to pure and lovely thoughts, or if it feeds your flesh with lustful, adulterous, disgusting thoughts. You need to be able to recognize your responsibility to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1), in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Lexy Sauvé grew up on C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, and Hans Christian Anderson, pursuing her love of literature and writing since kindergarten. Her love of poetry grew through middle school and is still her genre of choice. Lexy rededicated her life to Christ at the age of 13, and has since been growing to understand and walk in the ministry of reconciliation that she has been entrusted with. In the summer of 2011 she married her high school lovebird, whom she occasionally collaborates with artistically. They enjoy reading, espresso, and old book shops together. In 2012 she graduated from Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah, with a degree in Creative Writing.
Lexy also has some background in journalism. She wrote for Weber State’s newspaper, The Signpost, in the area of Arts and Entertainment, as well as serving as a student editor of poetry for their literary magazine, The Metaphor. She is currently working with Calvary Chapel Magazine, as well as pursuing side projects in editing, publishing, and teaching workshops.
amen and amen and AMEN!!!! On the verge of tears as I know that horrible dark feeling inside while outside everyone thinks you’re so sweet and innocent. So you keep on hiding that dark. Love you Lexy, and thank you for putting words to this tragedy. And thank you for encouraging me in being a Mom to a precious daughter who I so fiercely want to protect from this snare!
Loved this Lexy. I can absolutely relate to what you were saying.
“These were some of the worst things for me to have heard growing up and in high school. Since I knew others didn’t recognize me as the struggling sinner that I was, trying to figure out this life and what it means to be sanctified and justified by Christ’s blood, I was not able to be open and honest with my struggles, and seek the help I needed.”
This is exactly what I grew up feeling. It’s the struggle of the “older brother” and only aided by family/friends that are trying to pay a complement, but don’t understand that they’re only feeding the beast of self-righteousness.
Great job, honey (this is her husband speaking)! I pray that this article hits home with many parents, pastors, and (not-so) good girls who need Jesus. This line is incredible:
“It is not lovely and pure to gaze into a fictional vampire’s love life, I don’t care if they waited until they were married.”
Thank you for speaking so honestly and for encouraging everyone to turn to the gospel for healing. I loved the entire article and am bookmarking it now for future reference.
Great article Lexy. I can totally relate as I struggled with addiction to porn throughout my teenage years but was the good guy who never sinned and knew the Bible back to front at my church. Praise God for his infinite grace toward sinners like me. I hope this helps parents and many young women see their own sin and the great love of Christ, which far surpasses what we call “love” in our entertainment today.
Great article! I can totally identify. Not only did I not have people to talk to about my struggles growing up but I also did not have a good understanding of sin and God’s love because I was constantly told how good I was. This is a message that is much-needed in the church today!
Great article, Lexy! Thank you for pulling back that veil. I think that written pornography has a large pull on women. It leads to the same thing – unhealthy fantasies. It yields nothing lovely or pure. I wish I could have read this article when I was in college…
Thank you, Lexy – how would you advise that this subject be addressed to girls in the high school youth group? What are some guiding principles that would keep a discussion like this from going over a cliff?
Thanks for the encouraging words guys. All I can say is God is being so, so faithful in using my weakness through this article.
Tim, I originally started brainstorming ideas for an article like this when I was thinking about how to talk to the girls I mentor about it. I do talk with them about it and feel it NEEDS to be talked to. The biggest thing I struggled with was decided how MUCH to disclose with them about my past. I think the only “how to” in that area is asking God for wisdom (James 1:5). I think sometimes, and I know it was this case for me, I heard my youth leaders talk about stuff they struggled with, so I felt like it was license for me to as well. I was very fearful of this happening with my girls, but I also felt called to be very honest for my personal walk with God and stepping into the light with my old self. Again, God has been so faithful to my obedience of being honest with people, and I’ve seen it most recently in the response to this article.
As far as not letting conversations go overboard, I’ve kind of created a built in accountability with the parents of my girls. Before we meet as just a girls group (which I lead for our youth), I always send them a full outline of everything we will be talking about. This allows them to decide if they are comfortable with their daughter hearing the content, make sure they agree with what we’re teaching, and I always like to do this to encourage them that they are the pastors of their home, and with the hopes that they will be able to talk about this with their girls afterwards. If I parent is ever uncomfortable with that I’m talking about I will evaluate if its really where the conversation should be going. So far I’ve seen nothing but fruit come from this communication with the parents. I also like having another female leader with me just to keep me accountable to what I’m saying, or I can also make sure I’m not going too far in our conversation with them.
Again, the most important thing is asking God for wisdom in directing teaching and conversations in this area. I don’t think there is any one way this can work in a youth group, but I do see this working well with us.
Thanks – just what I was looking for.
Parenting that centres on the gospel is so critical. I appreciate you’re pointing out the dangers of external praise. Sin grows and festers in the darkest recesses of the heart. A culture of honest confession in the home and pointing to Jesus as the one who breaks heart idols ought to be the goal of every parent.
There really is no sin specific to men or women. I had a really hard time growing up because I was always the outwardly mature one. And the one who had to keep his image up. So when I was suicidal from being so depressed, I wasn’t willing to open up to anyone. I absolutely agree when you say there are no more dangerous words for someone to overhear than “he/she’s such a good kid, he/she doesn’t struggle with that.” It adds such a pharisaical weight to people that Jesus becomes a religion.
Are you sure there are females that struggle with porn and sexual sin? Every person I know and met who either watched or struggled with those things are males. I’ve never met a female with those struggles before.