In a discussion based on her book Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, Mary Kassian explains how parents can help their young daughters resist the pressure to conform to the wild tendencies of the popular culture, and to become biblically savvy in the ways they think and relate to the opposite sex. (Part 1 of 2)
Drop-In: Christian Genocide
Jim Daly: Hello, everyone. This is Jim Daly with Focus on the Family and I'm speaking to you today from Washington, D.C. And there's an important and time-sensitive issue I wanted to bring to your attention. As Americans, we're all too familiar with the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS. We see it in the news almost every night. This jihadist militant group based in the Middle East has made clear its intentions to terrorize, kill and destroy anyone who doesn't adhere to the tenets of Islamic fundamentalism.
Christians remain a key target of this group ISIS. The widespread and vicious persecution of believers in Iraq and Syria, is a tragedy of staggering proportions. And we have even reported to you before our work in the Middle East through our office in Cairo and what's being done there. Many people and leaders around the world—Christians and non-Christians, liberals and conservatives alike—are urging the U.S. State Department to classify ISIS's efforts to exterminate Christians in this part of the Middle East as genocide, which I know we would all agree with.
The genocide declaration would help persecuted Christians in a host of ways, from increasing humanitarian aid, to enhancing their ability to receive asylum, to encouraging greater United Nations intervention. Congress has imposed a deadline of this coming Thursday for the State Department to decide. And I would ask you to please join me in praying first and foremost for our courageous brothers and sisters who are facing this kind of life-and-death persecution in Iraq and Syria.
But I also want to ask you to let your voice heard on their behalf. You can start by visiting www.focusonthefamily.com/radio, where you'll find a link to my blog to give you ideas on what you can do. And I hope you will contact the State Department on behalf of our brothers and sisters. This is not something we can be silent about. Won't you do that? I pray so.
End of Drop-In
John Fuller: Today on "Focus on the Family," hosted by Focus president and author, Jim Daly, we're going to examine two very different views of sexuality. I'm John Fuller and thanks for joining us for, Jim, what should be a very candid and I think, biblical perspective.
Jim: John, we have a crucial message today for women, to talk about a very tender area of sexuality. I know that folks sometimes get uneasy with that, but it's at the core of the culture in so many ways.
Jim: Hollywood doesn't shrink back from talkin' about it. They feed it to us each and every day and I think we, in the Christian community, need to understand that and need to communicate to our girls, our young ladies, what's really happening here. It concerns me when I see toddlers shaking their hips at beauty pageants or something like that. You see that on YouTube or you know, thongs being sold to 7-, 8-year-olds. The way that we have in my mind, victimized young girls today--
Jim: --in that area of sexuality is a tragedy and we're paying the price for it. Our culture has confused femininity and beauty with an aggressive form of sexuality and really, independence from God. That's what it comes down to. And women are paying the price. It will not do them any good to exploit their own bodies. And today we want to talk about that, that wildness that seems to be in the heart of men obviously, but now more and more, women and young girls, too.
John: Well, and as you know, Jim, I have three girls and we try so much in our home to set a high standard, but there's so much around them, both in the media and also in their community of friends that says, no, no, come this way.
Jim: I think, John, the Lord knew I would not be able to handle being the father of a daughter (Laughter) in this generation. That's why He gave me all boys.
Jim: So, God bless you. I'll pray for you.
John: Well, thank you; I appreciate that. I often say, I have three girls; pray for me please. They're a delight to my heart and I really do love 'em and I'm gonna have 'em listen to this program. Our guest is Mary Kassian. She's the author of a book called Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild and Mary is a very popular conference speaker, a blogger. She's also a distinguished professor of women's studies at Southern Baptist Seminary. And she and her husband, Brent, live in Edmonton, Canada and have three grown boys.
Jim: Mary, it is so good to have you here at Focus on the Family.
Mary Kassian: Thanks so much. Good to be here.
Jim: You carry this burden and we spent a little time together and I've gotten to know you. I can sense it. Your heart is heavy in this area. Tell me why.
Mary: Well, there's so much in our culture that is working against girls and young women. And women are getting messages at younger and younger ages about who they are as women and how they ought to behave as women. And a lot of the messages are very destructive and very counterproductive to growing into a godly woman and to growing into a woman who is going to be able to sustain a long-term relationship and have a healthy marriage.
Jim: You know, in this culture, there are so many expectations, both for men and women. It seems rather fluid. I mean, guys are feeling like they don't know their role given the gender blurring and am I a provider? What am I? Just a videogame player? I mean (Chuckling), I say that tongue in cheek, but what do I do as a guy?
For women, that same kind of confusion is occurring in so many ways. In the Christian community, we look at Proverbs 31 and we say, "Wow! What a lady." I mean, she was entrepreneurial; she did everything that a husband would be proud of. You've come at it from a little different direction. Tell us what.
Mary: I've done a study on Proverbs, chapter 7 and Proverbs chapter 7 is about the wild thing. It's kind of the counterpart of Proverbs chapter 31. So, in Proverbs 31, you see a wise woman and portrait of a wise woman, what she looks like. Proverbs, chapter 7 talks about a wild woman and the characteristics that you see in a wild woman's life. And it's actually the story that is written by a father for his son, kind of telling his son, you know, this is the kind of girl that you need to look out for.
Jim: That descriptor, I mean, in the culture today there's a well-known phrase, "girls gone wild." Obviously your book and your materials play off of that. Give us a little description of what's happening in that young lady's heart and mind.
Mary: Proverbs chapter 7 talks about the prototypical wild thing. And in her life, she has lost her moorings. She has decided that she's going to make her own decisions about how to live her life, about her sexuality, about how to interact with men. She's taken her cues from culture instead of the Word. What's really interesting about this Proverbs 7 woman is that she is a religious woman. Not only is she a religious woman, she is a young married religious woman.
Jim: Tell us, where do you find that? I mean, I've read that and I haven't gone slowly enough to really understand that.
Mary: The text talks about her going to church, talks about her going and making sacrifices. In fact, on the day that this seduction takes place, she's spending the morning in church, offering sacrifices and offering her vows to the Lord.
And then that very evening she's planning to have a fling. She is seducing the young man and she embarks on an affair. And this is a married woman, because it talks about, when she does seduce the young man, she says, "You can come over tonight. My husband isn't at home. He's gone on a long journey." And so, there are a lot of cues in that story about what wildness entails and how wildness affects this woman. And it's way more than the big story of the affair or the seduction.
Mary: It shows a lot of characteristics in her life, characteristics of wildness that I think if you study the passage and when I studied the passage, I went through it and went, you know what? There are characteristics of wildness in my life. There are areas in my life where I am not thinking correctly. I haven't submitted my life to the Lord as much as I need to.
And we live in this culture where we have the same sort of temptation that faced Eve in the Garden, that, "Hey, this forbidden fruit is to good; it's so tasty and it's gonna, you know, be good for you and you're gonna enjoy yourself and there's nothing wrong with it."
Jim: Well, and that's part of the intrigue of this, because technology changes.
Jim: I mean, we can go to the moon, the old trite saying. But the human heart and the way we as human beings interact in this world between good and evil in our own hearts, has not changed. It's what the Scripture talks about; there's nothing new under the sun. So, take that Proverbs 7 wild woman, the one who's going to church, maybe providing those vows to her Lord, yet she's got this sin in her heart. Modernize that. Let's create that story, what you see in your ministry; what's that letter from that woman like today? It's not much different, is it?
Mary: It's not different at all. It is virtually identical to the story you see in Proverbs chapter 7. This woman in Proverbs chapter 7, we don't know her entire situation, but perhaps she was in a loveless marriage or perhaps she was having conflict with her husband. Actually the whole book of Proverbs kinda paints this contrast between [a] wild and wise woman.
And earlier in Proverbs it talks about this woman forsaking the companion of her youth and it's the same thing now. You know, women they have stars in their eyes when they get married and then they hit marriage and it's not as easy as they thought it might be. And perhaps a coworker at the office starts paying attention to them in a way that's very affirming, in a way that is very, you know, meets some of those deep needs of her heart.
And she maybe crosses some boundaries, has lunch with him. And before she knows it, she's emotionally attached, emotionally involved with him. And I have so many women coming to my conferences who come and speak to me afterwards and go, "You know, I never planned on this and I don't know how it happened, but here I am and I am in a situation involved with a man who is not my husband and I don't know how I got here."
Jim: Hm. And that's tragic. We get those letters here at Focus on the Family, as well. It seems to be so unintentional. I think the man in that scenario that you're painting, he knows pretty much what he's doin'. Men are pretty straightforward in that regard. They're not gonna bridle their appetite. They['ve] one thing on their mind, the goal. And women yet, are so much more complicated. So often, they don't even see that coming. There may be a trickle of understanding that, but no, no, no; it couldn't be that and they open the door.
It's almost like a rose that blossoms, isn't it? In a dying marriage, it's where that woman has not been fed by her husband, those deep needs that you talk about that are not physical. They're emotional. They're a connection point that she needs in order to feel close to her husband. And that rose in her heart withers and withers. And then a man comes along and puts a drop of water on it and it begins to spring back. And that's what you're describing, isn't it?
Mary: Uh-hm, it certainly is. However, we're also seeing the opposite situation now, in that it's often the women who are initiating and being aggressors in pursuing relationships and that it is the women who are leaving their husbands and the women who are pursuing unfaithfulness. And what's interesting about this Proverbs chapter 7 passage is, that it kind of paints both pictures, because it paints the woman as the aggressor.
Mary: So, this is the young man. He's naive and she says, "Well, hey, just come over to my place and then she's the one that grabs him. She's the one that kisses him. She's the one that initiates, you know, the flirtatious contact. So, I think that it's the emotional needs that are driving her, but in this particular scenario, it's the woman who really takes the initiative--
Mary: --to try and fulfill those needs in an illegitimate way.
Jim: Again, nothing new under the sun.
Mary: Nothing new under the sun.
Jim: You talk about and I think it's interesting the way that you can fly through Scripture and you're reading it and if it doesn't make sense, you just keep movin' until you pick the pieces out that really do make sense. But in that Proverb, it talks about her feet going down into hell.
Jim: Describe that. You pull something out of that, that I want everyone to hear, the feet and the heart of this woman in Proverbs 7.
Mary: Uh-hm, Proverbs 7 talks about, "Her feet go down to death." And it talks also, Proverbs talks about her ways wander and she does not know it. And the reason that her ways wander is because she does not ponder the path of life. So, she is taking in all the counsel, all of the way of the world, all of the messages of the world. It's the only thing that she's takin' in. She's reading the women's magazines. She's reading the latest romance novel, you know, the hot seller that's on the book shelf there when she walks into the bookstore. You know, her curiosity is piqued. She picks that up. She reads it.
And she's taking in all this ungodly advice, all this ungodly counsel. She's watching programs on TV that glorify sex outside of marriage. And so, her interest is piqued. And she begins to take steps that take her down the wrong path towards an end that is far different than what she had in mind or what the Lord has in mind for her.
John: This is "Focus on the Family." Our guest is Mary Kassian. We're talking about her book, Girls Gone Wise. And I so appreciate what you're saying here. Mary, let me bounce off of something you just said. So, this is a married woman. Where's her husband in all this? I mean, there's no mention of him except he's gone. You have to speculate, but if you were to read into the text, what would you take away from what the husband's role is here?
Mary: The husband isn't pictured in the picture here. In the story, he is gone. And I would imagine that if this woman is like the multitudes of women that I talk to all the time, it's that he's gone emotionally, as well as physically, that he hadn't been giving her the type of attention that she desired. They had been companions at one point in time. They had been in love at one point in time.
But somehow through the pressures of life, he's a businessman, he's on the road, he's traveling, you know, he's working to provide for the family. And obviously he does a good job of that, because her surroundings are quite opulent. She is able to afford Egyptian linen and she's able to afford all of these luxuries. However, there doesn't seem to be an emotional connection.
Mary: And that's why I so appreciate what you're doing here at Focus on the Family to build up marriages and to encourage men to love their wives and to foster that relationship. Because I don't think that this woman or any woman for that matter wants to see her marriage dissolve or disintegrate. She wants to make it work. She doesn't like getting to the point of frustration and feeling unloved and feeling that she isn't valued or isn't listened to or isn't esteemed in her marriage. She wants that connection with her husband. So, it's a real tragedy. We're talking about a tragedy here.
Jim: Mary, it does raise a question though when you're looking at that pathway. I mean, this is so old it's written down in the Bible, to which some of my friends'll say, "You know, it's such an ancient Book. Does it really have any relevance to me?" Boy, I hope one thing you're hearin' today is the relevance it has.
Jim: And what you're portraying is something that is taking place in the lives of many, many women right now. And it is relevant. But why with a woman knowing what she knows, particularly a Christian woman, why would they allow themselves to go down this journey? It's as if the Lord's given us the warnings in the New Testament. He's told us what to be aware of, our Pharisaical tendencies, our legalism. We know that, the need to live righteously in front of the Lord, because we love Him, not because it's a bunch of rules, but because of our love for Him. So, we have that all written down. Why do we still fail?
Mary: We fail because we're weak, because we don't rely on the Lord enough, because we're enticed by that forbidden fruit that looks so good and so attractive, because we buy into the lie of culture that says, you know best, you know. You have the right to pursue your happiness and to do it your own way. And I would say that most women that I talk to, it happens slowly. It happens through erosion. It happens by little things. It's not the big thing.
This didn't happen all of a sudden. This woman didn't all of a sudden go from being a good God-fearing woman who goes to church, to having an affair. It happened slowly. She's broken through boundaries. You know, she crashed through things that she should've been abiding by some boundaries to protect her marriage and that wasn't happening.
She was listening to counsel. She was reading those magazines she shouldn't been reading. She was talking to girlfriends about things that she shouldn't have been talking to them about. She was being enticed by this message. And she was believing the message that she heard, rather than being intentional about following in the ways of the Lord.
And I think it comes down to intentionality. I think it takes a lot of intentionality these days to be very, very intentional and not to take it for granted that we know the ways of the Lord, but to spend time in the Word and to actually immerse ourselves and to continually be asking ourselves those questions: "Am I being faithful in the little things?"
Jim: And building those hedges. We've talked about hedges in the past.
Jim: Mary, let me ask you this question. When you look at pornography that traditionally has been associated with men and it can start at a young age. You know, 8, 9, 10, 11 I think is now kinda the average age that a young boy may be exposed to something. The rise in popularity for these novels that appeal to a woman's heart in that way, it may be, you know, a sexualized version of a romance story. For example, Fifty Shades of Grey, which I think it's selling millions a romance novel, but with a real pornographic edge to it. I think U.S. Today, it was No. 1, 2 and 3, different books in that series. What is happening in the culture? And is that a fair analogy? Pornography is to men what these kind of novels are to women.
Mary: I think it's a very fair analogy. I think that in fact, that particular series has been called "Mommy Porn"--
Mary: --in terms of, you know, the moms are picking it up and enjoying it. And I actually heard recently that in one particular hotel, the Bible has been removed out of the night stands and they've put the book, Fifty Shades of Grey--
John: Oh, my goodness.
Mary: --in the drawer--
Mary: --because their rationale was, that's what women want to read themselves to sleep on, not the Bible. And it's a dangerous trend. And it's a trend that is so damaging to women, because women now are getting caught up in not only the emotional desire for romance, but this sexual perversion of these ideas about sex that are very unhealthy, these ideas about their own body that are very unhealthy. The picture that is painted of women in pornography, women just cannot live up to that.
Mary: And it makes it impossible for women to enjoy sexuality in a healthy, normal relationship.
Mary: It's incredibly damaging and so very sad.
Jim: Mary, you've talked to many women through your ministry and [in] your speaking engagements that find a way to justify this. What do you hear from them?
Mary: I've heard them say that, this helps my marriage. It helps me feel sexier in my marriage and therefore, it helps my sex life. But this particular book, Fifty Shades of Grey, it pictures sex in a way that's very damaging and unhealthy towards women. It pictures sex in a perverted bondage, so for women to justify this as, "Oh, well, that helps my marriage," it tells me that they do not have a good healthy view of the Bible's view of sex--
Mary: --or of the holiness of sex or that our sexual union as a couple is to reflect truths about the nature of the love relationship between Christ and the church. So, they justify it. And it's so sad to me that they're missing the point.
Mary: They're missing the point of why we were created male and female. They're missing the point of sexuality. And they're putting things in the wrong order and getting messed up really as a result.
Jim: Mary, again that fruit of enticement and as we've talked for this program, you've mentioned it a couple of times that it's an enticement that is hard to say no to. But talk to that woman right now who's maybe at the brink of that. Maybe her marriage isn't goin' that well and she feels a great distance emotionally from her husband. Maybe she's been out with her girlfriends for lunch and s couple of them said, "Hey, I've been readin' this series. It's really good for your heart, because it'll allow you an expression in that direction and you can read yourself to sleep this way."
Jim: Where are the pitfalls? Convince me that I shouldn't go home and read that book today.
Mary: I would tell a woman like that, that you need to have a vision for the beauty and the glory of who God created you to be, who together as a complimentary expression of the image of God, with your husband, you were created to tell this cosmic love story. And your love story might not be going so well. Your love story, your earthly love story may not look at all like the relationship between Christ and the church. You may be having fights. You may be having conflicts. It may be that your husband is out of town and gone or just missing in action and just not showing up. Or when he does show up, there's just sparks, not good sparks of love, but sparks of conflict flying between the two of you. It may be that, that's your story.
But the Bible holds out hope to you, that even if that is your story, that there is redemption available at the foot of the cross, and that even if you have these holes in your spirit and these needs in your spirit, this vacuum that you can't seem to fill, I would encourage you, don't try to stuff worldly stuff into that vacuum to fill it. It won't work.
Mary: It will just make that hole bigger. What you need to be doing is, you need to be going to the Word of God and to be filling yourself at His fountain of life, at that well where we drink deeply from the truth of God, where He speaks to that inner part of our being, to our deepest identities, that's the only way that women will find healing and fulfillment.
Jim: Mary, you're describing something that is epidemic in the heart of humanity and that is, pride and selfishness. I mean, that's really at the core, isn't it? Because I can hear a woman saying, "Yeah, but you don't know my husband."
Jim: There's no redemption available here. It's either this or I have to live in that drudgery with him. You hear that when you're speaking to women at conferences. What can you say to that person that may be, if they will open their heart just a little bit, to say, "Am I being selfish?" What would you say to her?
Mary: I would say, get your eyes on the bigger happiness and the bigger joy, because you're settling for something less. And we have such a culture of entitlement, where we feel entitled. Well, I feel entitled to be happy and I'm gonna go out and get the happiness that I deserve right now.
Whereas, the Word of God says, if you hold out and if you self-sacrifice, it's a paradox. You give up your life, you gain it. If you put that temporary happiness aside for that eternal happiness and that bigger happiness of holding out for God's best and for God's ideal, you will be rewarded and it is worth it.
Mary: It is worth the cost. It is worth the wait.
Jim: Mary, I know some people are uncomfortable even with this discussion. And I would only say, folks, the difficulty is, this is a central part to marriage. I think it's one of the reasons that marriage, Christian marriages are failing the way they're failing right now, is we lose that emotional intimacy. We lose that connection to God. And we turn to other things and unfortunately, that typically is sin. And we'll just call it like it is.
For a couple or for a woman to hear this today, it will touch their lives. And I hope that we have the patience in the church and for those that are doing this well, to understand that. Not everybody is walking a healthy road here and we want to address it head on for that reason.
So, Mary, I so appreciate your transparency. It is a difficult topic. Thank you for being with us today to talk about it and your book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. There is some more to talk about though. So, let's come back next time and touch on some other biblical aspects of this very important topic. Can you do that?
Mary: I'd be happy to.
Jim: Let's do it.
John: As I said earlier, Mary, I'm gonna share this conversation with my girls and get a copy of your book, as well, because I think that what you have to say is spot on for a young lady of pretty much any age from the teens on up.
Now the book, as Jim mentioned, is Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild and there's so much more content in there that we just couldn't cover today with Mary. It'll be great for a mom and daughter to go through or perhaps, an excellent study for a small group of teens. And Mary has certainly woven God's Word into the content, so look for that resource at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call us and we can tell you more. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459.
And when you make a gift of any amount today to support the work of Focus on the Family, it'd be our pleasure to send Mary's book to you as a thank-you gift.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us. Do plan to be here next time, as we continue the conversation with Mary Kassian.
Mary: I have so many women coming to my conferences who come and speak to me afterwards and go, "You know, I never planned on this and I don't know how it happened, but here I am and I am in a situation, involved with a man who is not my husband and I don't know how I got here."
End of Excerpt
John: That's next time, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
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Mary KassianView Bio
Mary Kassian is an award-winning author, a popular public speaker and a distinguished professor of women's studies at Southern Baptist Seminary. Her books include Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, Knowing God by Name and In My Father's House. Mary was born and raised in Edmonton, Canada. She and her husband, Brent, have three grown sons. Learn more about Mary by visiting her website, www.girlsgonewise.com.