I was a senior in high school, a 4.0 student and in a leadership role in a Christian drama group for girls. I served in the church; didn’t party, drink or swear; had a full-time job and was headed to college. I had committed to save myself for marriage from age 13—not just physically, but emotionally, too. I tried to dress modestly and professionally.
I was a “good girl.”
Then one day I realized being the “good girl” wasn’t enough.
Young women live in a world torn in two—one side saying we should be “free” to do as we please if it makes us feel good, the other telling us to do what is “right.” What is “right” is usually defined with the typical Christian list: dress modestly, save sex for marriage, do well in school, and don’t drink or swear.
In my senior year, I watched some other “good girls” abandon what we’d learned. I watched them walk another path and listen to the side of the world that told them to be “free.” And I began to wonder: “Are my modesty, virginity and goodness really worth it? Is it really worth it to be ‘good’?”
There are two ways to be good: The first is to be forced into goodness; the second is to choose to do what’s right. Christian girls often grow up in the church, where they learn the gospel, accept Christ and start on their journey of faith. It is here that they learn right from wrong—what God expects of those who follow Him: “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior; for it is written, be holy as I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
This holy behavior is meant to come from a heart that loves God. We change our behavior because Christ loved us enough to die. But as we become accustomed to the church and to the lifestyle of Christianity, we can forget the grace of God. We begin to play the part of the “good girl”—forgetting why we chose to be good in the first place. We begin to feel forced into goodness rather than choosing God’s holiness of our own accord.
When we forget how much God loved us, we forget why we obey God’s holy laws. God’s standards of holiness are not designed to limit us. They are designed to free us from the pain and consequences of a sinful lifestyle. It is God’s grace that motivates us to obey Him. When we forget God’s grace, God’s standards become burdensome and the world’s standards look much more appealing. This is why girls who once lived the “good girl” life abandon it to follow after the world.
Being a virgin, dressing modestly and being good aren’t enough to fulfill us and keep us on the right track. These choices should always come from our hearts: hearts that love God and recognize that He values us. God places an enormous value on women. In fact, when God made woman at the beginning of time, she was the very last thing He created and the only creation after which He said, “It is very good.” Purity, modesty and good works should be our way of thanking God for His love—not something we do out of duty or because we feel forced to do so by our churches, families and friends.
There is a saying: “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” When we follow rules instead of following Jesus, the motive of love is lost. The girls who forget their “first love” of God (Rev. 2:4) are much more easily tempted to rebel against God’s standards. If we are doing good deeds for the applause of people, the approval of parents or the attention we receive, our good behavior is based on selfish motives. When the applause fades, we have to remember why we choose to live righteous lives: because our loving God has called us to do so.
This doesn’t mean we give up being “good girls.” It means we willingly choose to live godly lives out of gratitude for grace. It means we use our voices, minds and bodies to glorify the God who saved us. Modesty, virginity and every other choice for holiness should always come from a heart committed to value God in the same way He values us.