Teaching Girls to be Intolerant


By Kathy Jackson

The end of 2017 and the beginning of the new year of 2018 has been pretty interesting so far with the #metoo movement.  How do you address this in your youth ministry?  Do we just go on about our business and ignore this movement or do we talk about it head on?  How many girls, soon to be women, do you have?  What do you want to give to them to be able to deal with what they may confront when they move into their “real” world experience?

At the first meeting this past fall of our young teen Girl’s Bible Study, I passed around paper and asked them to choose one word per girl to describe themselves and the others sitting around the table.  Much to my chagrin the most common word was “pretty”.  Really?  “Pretty”?  That is what was tops in their mind…how they looked.  After we thought about it, my co-leader and I couldn’t blame them.  These same girls (5th, 6th. and 7th graders) were just coming to us from wearing bows in their hair, Mary Janes, and bobby socks.  Everyone at church would say “Don’t you look pretty?” “How cute,” and other remarks about their clothes, hair, and shoes.  These are the only compliments they ever hear from our church goers. No one has taken the time to stop, talk to them about anything personal….only how they looked.

What role do we as youth leaders have in changing this conversation and thought process in our churches?  How do we get our leaders and congregants to describe our girls as “resilient,” “brave,” “strong,” “courageous,” “self-assured,” and “intelligent?”  Or do we have a role at all?  If we, as leaders, can’t change the way we describe them, how does this conversation ever change?

If we remove the politics from #metoo and get to the heart of the message, we will discover that it IS up to all of us as to how the next generation views the world.  What if we taught our girls to be “intolerant?”  That might surprise you! But what if we taught them to be Intolerant to everything Jesus wants us to be intolerant towards: poverty, sexism, racism, ageism, homelessness, food endangerment, and hypocrisy, just to name a few. Jesus wants us to be intolerant towards sin.

As we teach our girls to be “intolerant” we must also teach them to be loving in that intolerance. Micah 6:8 says “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  So we should teach our girls to be intolerant toward injustices. Injustices such as poverty, homelessness, food endangerment, racism and sexism plus the other things in our society today that Jesus would not tolerate.  We need to teach them to speak up and not be afraid as long as they are grounded in their faith. They need to be assured that Jesus wants them to speak up about injustice.

These days call for special teachings, teachings of Jesus’s intolerance against injustice and his wish for us to be intolerant but to also show mercy and kindness.