Three Ways Christian Fathers Can Empower Their Daughters

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“Why do you hate men?”

This is a question that I have been asked over and over since I started blogging about Christian feminism. As a woman, who has a wonderful father and husband, I am always taken off guard by this question.

I have also heard those in favor of male-authority-hierarchy, say that “most egalitarian or Christian feminists have been abused by men, which is why they subscribe to such beliefs.” This, in my opinion, could not be further from the truth.

Of course, there are some Christian feminist women who have been abused by men, but many have actually been empowered by their most intimate male relationships. I am a Christian feminist today, because of my father and husband. I believe that I am equal to men in all ways, due to being loved and empowered by the men in my life.

I believe that gender equality starts in the home, and how a father interacts with his daughter, matters greatly. In general, girls and women find great security in the protection of good men. No doubt, this has to do with the fact that men are typically bigger, physically stronger, and have deeper voices than women.

These attributes (or maybe gifts from God), come with great responsibility. Not only are men big and physically strong, but they are favored in this world. Boy babies are wanted more than girl babies. All over the world, female infanticide and sex-selection abortions are common (particularly in China and India).

Many fathers and mothers want sons, and they are willing to discard daughters to have them. This is not a new phenomenon; people were “getting rid” of female babies during Bible times. Christianity gained popularity among women in the first & second centuries of the early church, and these women refused to abort or throw away baby girls.

Christ gave value to girls and women in a way that no other religion has ever done. Christ died on the Cross, sent His Holy Spirit to fill all who follow Him, and equalized the genders in both worth and spiritual authority at Pentecost (Acts 2:17). The Apostle Paul is crystal clear about his thoughts on gender equality in Galatians 3:28. The Bible is in full support of gender equality, as men and women are both made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). 

There is no doubt that many people “straighten up” when a man walks into the room and that a man’s authority can carry great weight, but Scripture makes it plain that Christians are called to empower those who have less power privileges.

Fathers have a choice. They can use their power to lift their daughters up and out of cycles of gender inequality, or they can systemically train their daughters to limiting “roles” and culturally oppressive “molds.” A father can bend down and let his daughter climb up and eventually stand on his shoulders, or he can keep her safe on his lap.

Here are three ways fathers can empower their daughters:

1. Disrupt cultural gender constructs that keep women in “their place:”

Cook dinner or do dishes. Better yet, do these things with your daughter. Teach your daughter to take out the trash and mow the lawn. Nurture your daughters and sons. Treat your daughters and sons the same way. Don’t spoil your daughter because she is so sweet and cute.

Teach your daughter how to function as an adult and take care of herself and her future home, without a man. Train her to be a survivor. Teach her everything you know. Let her fall down. Protect her as a child, but teach her how to protect herself as an adult.

Provide for your daughter as a child, but teach her how to provide for herself as an adult. Invest in her education and help her figure out her life-calling. Raise her to be independent, so that she will someday choose a man that she “wants;” not one that she “needs.”

2. Interpret the Bible through the context of Christ:

When Jesus arrived on the scene, everything changed. Jesus not only “allowed” women to get out of “their place;” He also praised it as good. Read the story of Mary & Martha (Luke 10:38-42) to your daughter and assure her that you and Jesus approve of her breaking gender stereotypes, if that’s what she needs to do to follow Jesus and her calling.

Christian girls & women often wait for permission, because they have been systemically trained to do so; but what if fathers gave their daughters permission to stop asking for permission to follow their dreams? Father’s empower their daughters by giving them all the choices they can. Fathers empower their daughters by teaching them that Jesus is the leader of their homes and hearts, not male authority.

3. Let her go:

It is not biblical, nor is it functional, for fathers to offer some sort of “spiritual covering” or any sort of covering to their grown up daughters. Once a daughter hits 18 years old, a father should start pushing her out of his protective, cushy nest. But, if a father did his job and empowered his daughter since she was a baby, he can trust that she will be just fine out in the real world.

Often, Christian fathers are overly protective of their daughters. This is normal and healthy to some degree, but a young woman needs to find herself without the constant protection, provision, and supervision of her father. A father should be the first to say, “Go chase your dreams. You know where to find me if you need me.” I know this can break a father’s heart, and it can be very hard and scary, but it is what’s best for all grown women.

I believe that “the father” of the home matters. Men are crucial. We need men. I don’t like when feminism acts as if we don’t need men. I believe that a father’s love offers a daughter great security; a sense of security that will make her entire life more functional. Christian fathers have a job to do, and when it comes to daughters, that job is to empower them to fly. 

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10 Comments

  • Sadly, a friend used the fact that I had an absent father to argue that my perspective on male-female relationships and women’s leadership in the church was formed by that experience, rather than submitting to God’s Word. While, yes, my experience certainly has shaped my response – I also have the ability to reason and defend my position. It’s unfortunate that that “card” is used against egalitarians.

    • Submitting to God’s word is often used as a sword to destroy the image of God in the Bible…the God of Complementarianism is an inaccurate word picture of God and does damage to His image. One needs more than 5 verses of scripture to understand God, and my suggestion to those who insist that Egalitarians do not submit to God’s word is to ask the person to describe God’s relationship with women in detail…ask them to explain how God relates to women from the full-orbed teaching of the Old and New Testaments…and ask why it is that God never related to women in scripture THROUGH their male relatives and friends but directly to the women…a notable case is God’s attentiveness to Samson’s mother and almost refusal to discuss the matter with Samson’s father. Note also how God and Hannah arranged Samuel’s future without the father…and Mary’s relationship with the angel Gabriel without her father, future spouse, etc.

    • That’s so very sad. I had a guy do a similar thing in a dating relationship years ago. My mother was opinionated and verbal (to an extreme degree) while my dad was easy going. The guy I was dating stated that my parents’ roles were backward. Although she went way past boundaries, I never thought of it in terms of not being feminine. Once I became a Christian, the wretched preoccupation of many believers with “Godly” feminine and masculine expressions stymied me, and sometimes I could have (and did) find myself lol’ing hysterically. I used to wonder, ‘How do I keep finding these people?” I wasn’t laughing to be snotty, either. It’s just ridiculous how far some take it. On the flip side, since I tend to be reserved and not especially demonstrative by nature, I’ve had people assume that I’m trying to fit some traditional female image.

      It’s sad that we just can’t get to view each other as individuals.

  • Women who want equality are that way because they recognize the nature of God who says “as for Me, is not My way equal is not your way unequal”. When Paul called for the wealthier churches to give to the poor ones ‘that there might be equality’, again it was because Paul recognized that this is God’s way. Another thing I can’t understand is the statues outside the court houses with justice holding a level balance? Isn’t the level balance an illustration of justice BEING the essence of equality? Isn’t equality another word for righteousness? Why then is it required in the minds of some that people must hate in order to want God’s way? There is no logic to this reasoning.

    The fact is that inequality IS abuse because inequality requires that there be ‘respect of persons’ or favouritism…another quality that is opposite of the character of God who is ‘NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS’…and therefore by this declaration God declares Himself to have no favourites and to be on the side of equality….so when there is inequality, there is, by definition, abuse of God’s way…for His way is equal. Inequality is a form of oppression and bondage…And the Exodus rescue of the Israelites from Egypt is just a case in point, that God desired His people to be free from inequality. Women who are Christian, who either have or have not been abused can all attest to a recognition that God is a God of Justice…a God of level balance…we just need to interpret the Bible in accord with God’s way rather than through our diseased and destructive culture.

  • Thanks for this article. It contains a lot of truth. As the 68 year old Christian father of four daughters I am very aware of the need for fathers of daughters to live and act in a manner that empowers daughters and all women. One way to do that is to try to eliminate practices within Christianity that degrade women and treat them as inferior. This, of course, includes those churches who keep women out of leadership roles. The wedding ceremony is another problem. From early on I always told my daughters that I would not give them away in their marriage ceremony. There is no more degrading practice than the act of a father giving his daughter away to be married. It implies that the bride is the property of her father until she becomes the property of her husband. Women and girls are not property like cattle and the heathen practice of a father giving away his daughter to be married has no place in Christianity. There are ways to change and eventually eliminate this practice. If the bride’s father insists on giving her away then perhaps the groom’s mother could also give him away. Better yet just eliminate that practice all together. Or replace with some practice that does not treat the bride as property. Have the bride’s entire family enter with her and join the groom and his family at the front of the audience. I think changing this one practice would be a big step toward giving women more power in the home and the church, which would result in more safety for them also. Thanks again.

    • That’s a really interesting bit of information, Leonard. I hadn’t considered that “giving the bride away” was a remnant of pagan customs. I’ve never married, but I’ve seen this in weddings. Good to know.

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