Caryatides and Their Glory

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The process of bringing up daughters should be understood as a process of glorification. Just as manhood is where boyhood should be aimed, so also womanhood is where girlhood should be aimed. Before undertaking any task, it unreasonable to begin without knowledge of what the completion of the task ought to look like. Human life is teleological, which means that it is going somewhere. We go there family by family, and generation by generation, which means that because the journey is bigger than all of us, we really need a map. We are on a road trip, and not out for an aimless Sunday drive.

To the extent that we understand the map, we can replicate the larger journey in our own experience. Just as every marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, so also every family with daughters should be a picture of church history, from Pentecost to the Second Coming. When Jesus comes again, He will come in glory. Our wedding ceremonies are therefore eschatological parables.

The Scriptures teach that men have a point, which is to find out what St. George would have done in this situation, and then do it. The theme of Scripture, as a friend mentioned to me recently, is “kill the dragon, get the girl.” But when he gets the girl, he is not getting a little china doll for the mantelpiece. He is receiving substantial glory; he is being glorified with the weight of glory. When a man gets the girl, it is his coronation day.

“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones” (Prov. 12:4).

But of course this is a fallen world, and if a man marries a foolish woman, if he marries a ditz, it is his consternation day. It makes a difference whether she was brought up to be a golden crown or a plastic tiara.

Man is “the image and glory of God,” but “the woman is the glory of the man” (1 Cor. 11:7). It should be a glory comensurate with his strength.

Now if women are the glory of the man, then girls need to be equipped for this. Common sense tells us that anyone who is going somewhere should make preparations to go there. If we are taking young daughters there, and they have joined us on that journey before they are even aware of it, then we should undertake to make preparations on their behalf.

Scripture gives us another image of this kind of feminine glory, describing daughters as caryatides, columns of the feminine shape and form, supporting the weight of the palace while adorning it at the same time.

“May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace” (Ps. 144:12, ESV).

We see more than just glory here; we also see the peculiar nature of feminine strength. Women don’t have the kind of strength that goes out and conquers the world, as men do. But this is not said by way of disparagement — because after the world is won, it is the women who hold the whole thing up. It is woman who hold the whole thing together, at which task men are helpless and hopeless.

This is the high calling of womanhood. A girl with the option of becoming a first-rate woman will not be enticed by the prospect of becoming a third-rate man. We have sought out many devices, and now have the technologies available that can make women as barren as any man in the realm. But what kind of sense does that make?

Daughters who are brought up properly, in a scriptural way, will have an instinctive knowledge of the kind of authority they have, an authority which they would not trade for the world.

“Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” (Song 6:10).



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