Dear Mrs. Hall,
Yesterday, you wrote a blog post that I found appalling on all kinds of levels. I’m sure people can find it if they search hard enough. And despite the fact that I found your blog post insulting to teenage boys, teenage girls, parents in general and Christian parents in particular, I did want to say thank you, because your post led to an amazing half-hour long discussion with my own children.
And I also want to thank you for posting another copy of your post “where everyone is covered up.” You don’t seem to recognize the hypocrisy of the double standard, seeming to claim that posting half-naked pictures of your children in poses that are clearly intended to draw attention to their bodies is OK if you have a “small audience,” despite the fact that your blog is public for everyone to see. But it helped me point out to my kids that you never know who is reading your stuff on the internet, so you should always be careful about what you share. Don’t post anything you are unwilling for a few thousand people to read and pick apart. I am sure you are finding this to be true as well, as people are combing through your blog and seeing that you have quite a habit of posting photos of your children and husband half-dressed. When one posts publicly, one opens oneself up to public scrutiny.
Unfortunately, this lesson was also put forth by the words in both your posts. I’m glad you check your kids’ social media interactions. I really am. I do the same. I know my kids’ passwords and they aren’t allowed to change them. They aren’t allowed to block me and I go onto their pages, signed in as them, regularly to make sure they aren’t. They know I check their history regularly as well. That was one of the conditions of them being online in the first place. And as I said, they know that once something is out there, it’s out there forever. They can’t pull it back in from the wild frontier of the internet. I know this too. Even so, the idea that some well-meaning mother and father of one of my children’s friends might be sitting around the dinner table, eating pie and wondering what, if any, undergarments my child is wearing is way creepy to me.
We talked a lot about grace, both the grace God extends to us and the grace He expects us to extend to others. We talked about how when Jesus was called to stone the woman caught in adultery, He first dealt with the people so intent on publicly shaming her and dealt with her sins in private. We had a great conversation about how if a friend posted something that made them uncomfortable online, the first thing we should do would be to speak with them privately and, if for some reason they felt they couldn’t, they could come to their dad or me and we could help them or speak to the friend’s parents. If I had an email, I actually would send this to you privately. Well, maybe. At this point I feel like you’ve given Christian mothers some rather bad press and so I feel like I should also present a counterpoint. And for heaven’s sake, if my daughter (or son) ever posts a picture wearing nothing but a towel, I am begging my friends to please get in touch with right away rather than writing an internet post about it!
We talked about how easy it is to judge someone by their looks, but how every person– girl or boy– is so much more than what they chose to wear (or even not wear) that day. We talked about modesty, not just the modesty that means your hemline is a certain length or that people can tell you are wearing the appropriate foundational garments while at the same time not being able to actually see those foundational garments, but true modesty, including a gentle, meek, and modest heart that treats everyone– regardless of what kind of pictures they post– with love and respect.
We talked about how very thankful we are that God does not deal in one-time chances and boot us off the island when we fall short. That God loves us so so very much that He is infinitely patient with us and with our mistakes. That He sees beyond the surface. We talked about how He expects us to do the same.
And we talked about how true men and women of integrity know that it is not their job to condemn the world, just as Christ did not come into the world to condemn but to save. That we are not alone in this task, but given the fruits of the spirit, “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” SELF control. Boys are not beasts, Mrs. Hall, who are condemned to a lifetime of lustful thoughts simply because they saw this picture once on the internet. Rather, boys are made in the image of God and grow up to be men who respect women and do not objectify them, regardless of what they wear. We talked about this A LOT.
Mrs. Hall, it’s not too late. You can listen to the words of those whom you have offended and try to understand why your post was insulting to boys, girls (especially any girls who are friends with your sons who are surely now less concerned with passing God’s standards and more concerned with passing yours), and other parents whom you have bypassed by instead taking your condemnation to the court of public opinion. You could think hard and long about this, speak with your children about how on judgment day it will be their own actions and not others’ for which they will be called to account. It’s too late to delete your words, but I pray you will not simply dismiss those who tell you how very hurtful and harmful they were. Because you know, Mrs. Hall, I think that deep down we’re a lot alike. We love our families and we would die to protect them. We enjoy blogging and the chance to have our voices heard. We love Jesus and rejoice that He is still perfecting us. And we both make mistakes.
Like all of us, Mrs. Hall, you are still growing too.