One of the deepest wells of delight in my life at the moment is located in the fact that I am the father of a daughter. Lexy and I have been enjoying the ruckus of parenting boys since 2013—and man, is it a ride! We've found that boys are like the wilderness: Often loud, never safe, and mostly comprised of dirt.
But being the daddy of a daughter? So good. I can't wrestle the English language into an adequate shape to tell you how much joy little Daphne brings me. That crooked-toothed smile, those wispy pony tails, the tiny dresses? (heart explodes). Seriously, just look at this picture:
That bow?! On a scale of 1 to 10, I can't even, people.
I love my three kiddos like I couldn't tell you, and I know already that they are gloriously different. My boys—even at 2 and 4 years old—yearn for my respect. They want their strength to be seen and enjoyed and their prowess to be a thing of awe. Usually this means they say, "DADDY, WATCH!" before demonstrating an impressive (4-inch) vertical jump, falling to the ground, and laughing maniacally.
But already, Daphne is different. My little girl longs to be longed for. She longs to be smiled on by Daddy, delighted in—to be the cause of enraptured delight. And I know that this acorn of longing will only grow as she does.
Made to be Delighted In
Daughters of Mother Eve were made for desire. Don't hear me reducing femininity to physical beauty or sexuality; that would be a woeful homogenization of the splendor of embodied femininity. But women were undeniably created with the desire to be desired. Look at our first mother: God drew her from the side of man—for what? To be united to, delighted in, gloried in, enjoyed by, longed for by the worthy Adam.
This is a deeply good thing (see Genesis 1:31). Maleness and femaleness exist to show us something of God; they are to be co-resplendant, neither enfleshing the glory of God's image in full color without the other. Maleness and femaleness, human sexuality, exists to show us something of God, to put a thousand different divine realities into flesh—the pinnacle reality being the Gospel.
When a worthy man desires and delights in his resplendent bride, he parades the Gospel around his house. When a worthy man lays his life down to win her, it heralds the cross of Christ. When a lovely woman delights in the desire of her husband, it sings of Christ's worthiness. Daughters of Eve were designed to delight in the desire of a worthy man, because that is a story with the compelling shape of the Gospel.
Sin & The Weaponizing of Desire
But sin is a parasite; it is not just a privation of the good, but a perversion of the good. Sin doesn't just dull the glory of this feminine longing to be longed for, it mangles it into a sinister thing. Sin makes daughters of Eve who weaponize desire, who turn desire into a currency to invest in vainglory rather than a glorious Gospel-reverberation. Sin makes daughters of Eve use their bodies as bait, luring men like deer to the flying arrow. And in our pride, we call this "empowerment" rather than ruin. We call it life rather than death.
We tell our daughters on magazine covers that the power of desire is a thing to be leveraged. We strip our Olympic athletes to the skin and publish their pictures to news blurbs and call it progress. Sin promises to make our sisters more free as it shackles them to a ten-ton-lie and throws them into the ocean. Sin is a parasite, infecting the glory of embodied femininity and weaponizing it.
Sisters, Fathers, Husbands
This has enormous implication for us, brothers and sisters. Wisdom cries in the streets to you sisters, you fathers, and you husbands in the shadow of these things:
Sisters: Don't weaponize your glory.
Daughters of Eve: Don't weaponize your glory. Don't reduce yourself to the a thing to be one-dimensionally-wanted. Delight in the desire of your husband. Single sisters, delight in the desire of the most worthy, of Christ. Don't believe the pernicious lie that you are only as powerful as you are alluring, that you are more free the more of you is beheld by craving eyes.
Fathers: Be a worthy schoolteacher.
Fathers: Your daughters are built for this, and you are their most powerful schoolteacher. The world is teaching them to delight in the power of their bodies or despair in its lack. It is training them to revel in that gravitational pull they have on the budding men around them. Fill them up with father-love. Show them what a worthy man looks like as you love their mom and cherish their full humanity.
Repent publicly and often of your failures. Show them that worthy men are repenting men. Show them that masculinity is responsibility-taking. Show them that worthy men protect their sisters rather than abuse them. Build towers and walls against fools who would use them. Defend those walls with vigilance.
Husbands: Don't fail to delight.
Husbands: Your wife is built for this, so do not fail to delight. Do not fail to touch and enjoy and pursue. Do not fail to use your words and your arms to defend and delight. Do not fail to provide. Build high walls around your eyes and your heart and don't fall into the snare of those women who would seek to use you for their own parasitic power, who would seek to rob you of the delight that belongs to your bride and to no other. Don't cast your coins into the public fountain, Solomon would say, but only into your private well.
And note that when the Apostle instructs husbands to be like Jesus, one of the things he points to that Jesus did was to wash his bride in the pure water of the Word. Now, when the average husband reads that verse, his mind often jumps to images of himself standing before a blackboard, wife in front of him in a student's desk, declaiming on the finer points of Pauline soteriology.
Ok, fine. Maybe your lady likes that sort of thing. But may I remind you of something, brothers? One of the books in the Bible we are to pour over our wives is Solomon's great song. What would it look like for you to wash your wife in that word? Maybe...
Song of Solomon 4:9–16
(to the husband, with verve)
"You have captivated my heart,
my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with
one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
How beautiful is your love,
my sister, my bride!
How much better is
your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your
oils than any spice!
Your lips drip nectar, my bride;
honey and milk are under your tongue;
the fragrance of your garments
is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
A garden locked is
my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed.
Your shoots are an
orchard of pomegranates
with all choicest fruits, henna with nard,
nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes, with all choice spices—
a garden fountain, a well of living water,
and flowing streams from Lebanon.
Awake, O north wind,
and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden,
let its spices flow."
Brothers, let us not fail to delight!