I stumbled upon an article recently, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I’m not sure what led me there, but for better or worse, its a part of me now.
The article is entitled “The Man Who will Marry my Daughter” and is written by an author named Tony Miano. I don’t know anything about Tony, nor am I familiar with his ministry. I believe that he loves his daughters, but the last line of the letter made my skin crawl.
“The man who will marry my daughter will receive my consent to marry my daughter. Otherwise, he is nothing more than a thief.”
I read the whole article. I read it again. I looked at it backwards and forwards, and I can come to no other conclusion but this:
His daughters are his property. He owns them. Like a piece of jewelry or a car or a stereo system.
Nowhere in the letter does he begin to express any desire to consider what his daughters may want. Nowhere does he acknowledge that his daughters are their own women. They are college graduates (by his own admission) but are unable to make their own decisions, and even if they do, their decisions still hinge on daddy’s approval. He will decide for them. Because again, he owns them.
As if that weren’t enough to send a dad over the edge, I then read the following article, which apparently was from a Nightline piece that aired recently:
I’ll take a minute and let you clean whatever you were drinking off of your computer screen.
These are 12-year-old girls, wearing white gowns, pledging their virginity to their fathers. I had trouble even writing that sentence. I’ll say it again. 12-year-old girls, pledging their virginity to their FATHERS.
Now, as a dad of 2 little girls (ages 4 and 2) I can sympathize with wanting your daughters to be protected, treated well, be taken care of, and not taken advantage of. I really can. I’m protective of my daughters, and probably always will be.
But where I draw the line, and where every dad needs to draw the line, is treating your daughters like your property. Nobody is “stealing” your daughter from you, because she’s not a piece of meat, or a Honda Civic, or an iPhone. She’s not a commodity. Shame on these dads for taking one of the most romantically charged events in a woman’s life (her wedding day) and kidnapping it to ensure that their “little girl” isn’t “taken from them.”
How did we get here? When did we get to the point where this is not only socially acceptable, but something that is encouraged? Maybe I’m being horribly naive, but I simply can’t wrap my head around this.
This is 2014.
As Americans, we see news from all over the world. Every so often we hear stories of girls in other countries, and the awful things that are done to them. Girls being sold, traded, kidnapped, and used as currency. We sit back and say, “How could anybody be so uncivilized? How has someone not stepped in and done something?” This is different, but is it really?
At the very least, it is damaging. We have to stop encouraging these types of things. Dads, we have to do better than this. We have to stop it, and we have to stop it now. Kids are going to grow up to be who you tell them they are. If that is the case, then God help these girls once they reach adulthood. They’ll find their worth in men, need men to complete them, and continue to live their lives believing that they’re property to be traded, and exchanged from the possession of one man to another. Worse yet, they’ll raise their own daughters this way, and the cycle will never end.
Consider this a call to action. Maybe you’re not a father yet. What better time to commit to yourself, to God, and to your daughters (should you have them) that they don’t “belong to you.” You don’t own them. Have this discussion with your wife. Have it with anybody who will listen. The only way change happens is through action.
But maybe you’re a dad who has been harboring these tendencies, treating your girls like you own them. It’s not too late for you. Stop what you’re doing and go apologize to your daughters. Apologize for treating them like currency. For viewing them through the lens of ownership. Let them know that they are their own women. Teach them the radical idea that they’re people. That they are capable, strong, and smart enough to decide things for themselves. They don’t need a man to save them, and you won’t stand for a culture that teaches them otherwise.
Let’s wake up. Let’s shed the patriarchy and misogyny that has laid hold of the evangelical church. Let’s teach our girls that their place is not in a kitchen, but standing next to Jesus. Their duty is not to please their husbands, but to reflect the Divine. Their worth is not found in a home, or the ability (or inability) to have children, but in the furious, unyielding love of God.
This change has to happen now.