[Steve] You could say, it happened in my own backyard. An Ohio truck driver noticed something wasn't quite right with two young girls at a truck stop. He saw them going in and out of trucks. They appeared to be distraught and, at times, afraid and they looked "pretty young."
He made a call to 911 and police soon were on the scene. The two girls were minors, but they also turned out to be kidnap victims of human trafficking. The girls were saved and returned to their families - but the story didn't end there. Because of this one phone call from this one truck driver, seven other children were rescued and it led to the conviction of 31 human trafficking offenders and to the shutdown of a 13-state prostitution ring.
Fortunately, that trucker valued the lives of those little girls. But this incident is a reminder that so often, it's not that way. It's been said - the hardest type of human being to be on the face of this earth, is a woman. Where can women find their identity and value? On this edition of Beyond Today we'll examine an important issue that God wants you to understand: "The Value of Women."
[Announcer] Join our host, Steve Myers and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Steve] The most valuable resource of our world, all too often goes unappreciated. That resource is people. We use and abuse and throw them away. Discrimination and inequality surround us.
We tend to place a value on one another and even ourselves because of our race, religion, economic status, and of course sex. It's not just somebody else's problem. I hope you won't overlook it because there is a very real danger when you encourage this perspective or even if you ignore it.
Do you always appreciate something's value? Are you sure?
We live in a world that hates females. Too harsh a judgment? I don't think so. The United Nations says that more than 200 million girls in our world are missing because of "gendercide" - victims of a systematic, methodical extermination of females. They've been aborted, abandoned, killed and neglected to death. Many girls who survive face negligence, violence and most likely sex trafficking.
You might feel detached from this epidemic. It's easy to think, "that's happening a long way from here - or all the way on the other side of the world." Or, "that's only a Third World problem." But it's not.
The scale of the problem is huge. Recently, law enforcement authorities rescued over 100 teens in the largest child sex-trafficking crackdown in U.S. history. The operation covered 76 cities. So it's become clear - it's not just a big-city problem. Not just a New York, Sydney or Toronto-problem - but your neighborhood. Places like Toledo, Ohio - the fourth largest in the U.S. for sex trafficking, or micro-brothels in Manitoba or even the small town of Weipa in far north Queensland. Human slavery and the sex trade is a little-village, big-city, all-world problem.
Because we don't value things, we don't take care of them. So this is a story about the devaluing of women. Many think a woman's value only comes from being an object to use.
That's not God's perspective. He's very concerned about it and tells us to: "Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute. Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people" (Psalm:82:3-4, NLT).
This should be our perspective too. You probably agree thinking, "of course I hate sex trafficking and the devaluation of women." But consider this: it isn't just about the fringes of society. The issue of finding value is far more reaching, more extensive, more encompassing than just the extremes.
Women are degraded and dishonored in more subtle ways - ways that might not be as obvious. Even in our modern Western world and more equal society, women are devalued - many don't even realize it.
Here's the heart of the issue: Where is a women's identity and value to be found?
I talked with some folks on the street about another way society undermines a woman's value:
> Well, society often is looking for more the exterior, the looks and that type of thing - maybe not as much as what's inside of them.
>> This sexuality thing that is selling beer, and cars, and clothes, and bras, and food - I mean, you know, it's kind of ubiquitous - is a very difficult thing I think for girls to figure out.
> Which - man, that's a deep question. Honestly, for real, my opinion is 75 percent portray her as a piece of meat because they can glorify the woman just from the physical aspect, and not the mental aspect.
>> Boy, I think - I have a daughter and I think some of the things that they hear is that, you know, that they're more of a sex object than they are as a person. And I think that's totally wrong.
[Steve] All too often women try to find their value in how they look, how sexy they are. Even our children learn at a very early age that sex sells. This is not how God designed it.
This is a twist of values from Satan who prided himself on appearance. The Bible tells us "for all these worldly things, these evil desires - the craze for sex, the ambition to buy everything that appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance - these are not from God. They are from this evil world itself" (1 John:2:16, TLB).
Even though we know this to be true, we still are fooled by it. The Bible gives us this example: The angel Lucifer was a magnificent beautiful being, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (Ezekiel:28:12). But where did he find his worth? Unfortunately, he saw his value in beauty. Then pride overtook him, and sin cost Lucifer - who became Satan - everything.
Like that example, women and men too, have a difficult time turning away from false ideals and wrong values. Media, advertising, entertainment have distorted our perception of true beauty and where our value originates.
I asked those on the street about the impact of media and the perception of where women find their worth:
> The commercials, and … yes. I think that's kind of scary because it would be nice if they got that from great role models. But instead, I think a lot of it is coming from an unwholesome place, and I think that's really hard.
>> Yes, actually I used to be an elementary school teacher and I've seen a lot of girls feel like they need to be what they see in the media and dress a certain way…
> Sure, like that supermodel that's airbrushed, that's like you know, was born probably with a great body and had some great genes. But then has all kinds of enhancements that are surgical, and then is airbrushed, and then girls think they can get there. I mean, wow, yeah, and that's not the only loveable kind of woman.
>> What they see - commercialism. You know what they see on TV, even Disney and like that. They just market to very young girls that they should look older and act this way. So I think commercials and what they see on TV and music that they play on the radio...
[Steve] Ads and entertainment teach girls they need wrinkles erased, smooth skin, smaller waists, cosmetic surgery. But we know these images don't reflect reality. Promoters airbrush and Photoshop to advertising perfection.
We're not blind to the issue. But even though the vast majority know that advertising images are enhanced and beyond reach, somehow we can't help but want to be that way. It's an impossible dream.
The pressure to conform to these unattainable images is overwhelming. So from a younger and younger age, we aspire, we idolize these impossible standards.
It can be confusing for everyone. Have you ever wondered: What is life about if it is not what we see in popular culture? Is there a point or purpose? How do I find and focus on what's most important?
To help you with these questions, I'd like to offer you this free study aid: What is Your Destiny? It's an easy-to-read guide that tackles the big questions: Does all human life have value? What destiny does God have in mind for you and me?
Never underestimate the value of your life. You were born to become one of God's divine children . He wants you to receive His very nature and character and, eventually, eternal life with Him.
You can receive a free copy of What Is Your Destiny? by calling us toll free: 1-888-886-8632 or visit us on the Web at BeyondToday.tv .
Whether you're a man or a woman, you do have value beyond the expectations of society. Find out what God has in mind for you. 1-888-886-8632 or on the Web at BeyondToday.tv . Read it online now or order a hard copy. You can also request What Is Your Destiny? by writing to us at the address on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254]
Is there any doubt that our world tries to find value in so many wrong places? You've probably noticed it and perhaps experienced it.
> If you're not thin - and I'm going to be honest - blonde, blue eyes, and beautiful that you're just, you're not valued.
[Steve] How sad. With that kind of pressure, with that kind of expectation, it's no wonder you can be confused about your identity. A British member of parliament, Jo Swinson, said: "From children's toys to TV programs, images of the idealized body have permeated every level of our visual culture... a priority is the move away from our appearance-obsessed culture toward giving children positive examples."
The key is realizing that your self-image and value cannot come from pop culture. The Bible says, "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel:16:7).
Hollywood, TV, the Web - they all focus on what people look like on the outside. God focuses on what people look like on the inside. So ask yourself, do I put more time into being beautiful on the inside or out? Do I spend more time trying to have the perfect body, find the perfect outfit, get the perfect tan, find the perfect eye shadow?
Now there's nothing wrong with wanting to look nice. But God would rather see us living a godly life, becoming attractive on the inside, being a person of character, becoming like Christ. As a pastor, I've had ladies ask me, "Why did God make me a woman?" Perhaps you've thought, "Who am I? Am I some sort of second-class citizen - an after thought?"
God says no - don't be confused about where to get your identity from and your value. Your value is not as a mere object.
Some women realize that their value doesn't come from outward appearance. So, instead they fall into another trap of finding self-worth from others through their actions. After all, aren't you supposed to be a super mom, super employee, a super friend; and all that without even breaking a sweat?
At first, perfect beauty and perfection, they might seem like different problems. But they're not. It's the same misunderstanding that underlies both issues. The same error drives them both. It comes down to what is your value and where you find it.
Have you felt pressured to have the ideal home, be the flawless mom, or the perfect business woman?
> Definitely, definitely. Especially mom, women, and working women that they have to do it all, and be perfect at everything.
>> I think that we have very mixed views. I think women get a very scary and sad mixed message because they're expected then to be that like pure, wonderful, sweet, you know All-American girl next door. And I'm using that in a global way. I certainly don't think there's a certain look, but you know, a wholesome girl that you take home to your mom and you'd show off to your grandma. And then I also think there's this great pressure then to be very sexy. You know, a lot of commercials are selling sex and sexuality, and things that are too risqué.
> Women definitely have to work harder. Women have to prove themselves more.
>> Perfect. To be perfect. Flawless, you know, I mean, don't make any mistakes.
[Steve] Do you know any women that meet those expectations?
>>No, I would like to say, but no.
[Steve] Do you know what brings worth? Does striving for perfection produce value? More than 100 years ago, playwright Oscar Wilde recognized we try to find value from the wrong place. He said, "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
From where should women get their identity and value? Doesn't Jesus Christ in His Word, the Bible, value women?
>I think it should value women, but I seem to have - my wife goes to church more than I do and I sometimes hear some things that make me wonder if it does the opposite a little bit.
[Steve] What were you taught about women growing up?
>> That's interesting you ask that. Basically kind of the caveman theory of taking care of the house and stuff of that nature. Holding down the family, the fort, you know.
[Steve] What do you think God thinks of women?
>>Now, that's a real sketchy question. From reading the Bible, you know, based on that - how can I say this? - basically the same thing with the caveman thing.
[Steve] Unfortunately, many seem to believe that the Bible teaches women are somehow second-class citizens. Far from it! Don't forget, the culture at the time of Jesus was twisted like today's world. But Jesus' attitude toward women is remarkable.
When you check out the Bible, you'll find He broke through cultural limitations of the day.
He associates with women, unlike the men of the day.
He was looked after, He was supported by women.
He's merciful and compassionate towards them.
He is a great advocate and protector of womanhood.
So Jesus had a totally different attitude toward women.
Here's an example:
Luke chapter 20 tells the story of religious leaders of the day coming to Jesus. They try to make a fool out of Him by posing a hypothetical question. They ask about a woman who had been married to seven brothers. Inquiring in verse 33 they ask, "Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife does she become? For all seven had her as wife" (Luke:20:33).
Now did you notice from where they thought the woman's value came? The religious establishment of the day thought a woman belonged to a man, not only in this life but even in the Kingdom of God!
Were they right? Jesus' answer is of vital importance. He said that women in the Kingdom of God "...can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection" (Luke:20:36, NIV).
Jesus totally rejected the idea that the woman belonged to any person. He preached the gospel - the good news of God's plan of salvation - and that it's extended to women.
According to Jesus, men and women are equally the children of God in the resurrection. Jesus didn't see woman's existence as totally defined by her relationship to a man. Said a little differently: As a woman, Jesus didn't see your value based on being someone's wife, or someone's mother, or daughter, widow, sex object, or employee.
Your worth doesn't come from your mother, your father, your friends, your bank account, your children, or even your Facebook friends.
Jesus saw women as individuals with personal access to God and His Kingdom. From the very first chapter, the Bible teaches that women, like men, they bear the stamp of God's own image. Genesis:1:27 says, "So God created man" - or mankind - "in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them."
God says that as a woman, you are already valuable and precious to Him. Your value comes from God. You do not need a man, or a job, or to be perfect to be valuable and loved. You don't have to get caught up in the culture or tradition of this world that doesn't value you.
God says your value comes from Him. The New Testament confirms this: "…there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus… and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians:3:28-29).
You matter to Jesus Christ. Not just your physical well-being, but your mental, emotional, and most importantly - your spiritual well-being matters. You're created in God's image. Never forget: Your worth comes from God.
Discovering the purpose and value of your life, why you matter, it can be challenging. You may wonder, "Why was I born?" To help you answer that most important question in your life, get your free study aid: What is Your Destiny? It will help you understand how important you are to God and His love for you. He has a plan for you in the Kingdom of God, in His family for eternity.
You can read What is Your Destiny? online at BeyondToday.tv . Or have your free copy of What is Your Destiny? sent to your home by calling us, free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
Let me also tell you about our free magazine, The Good News . If you are not already a subscriber, then it's time you order it and begin using it as a guide to prepare for your destiny.
This magazine is an invaluable aid to use to gain insight into the Bible. And you can get your free subscription.
I'm joined now by fellow host of the program, Darris McNeely, to discuss more in-depth this issue of the value of women.
Now Darris, you have been a pastor for a long time and counseled many people.
[Steve] Have you seen a common thread in speaking with women?
[Darris] I think so, Steve. I think with a number of women over the 38 years that I have dealt with in pastoral ministry, that there were a couple of matters that I saw as a common issue that women had.
One was insecurity. Insecure in their role and their position at times within the family; sometimes that created by the husband. Insecurity with their role perhaps just as a human being, and perhaps even as a mother with children.
Expectations are quite high as you pointed out in your program from our society. And those expectations can create uncertainties and instability at times in a women if she is not really grounded in herself.
There is another issue that very often came up with, and it was some type of abuse in their past. A woman who has been abused emotionally, mentally, even sexually by some figure in their past life - very hard to deal with, very hard to overcome. This would impact even their relationship with God, their feeling about God as a Father. They couldn't get beyond what had been put upon them by an abusive past. And, also sometimes just an inability to forgive themselves. And this contributed to a lack of place and a sense of value and worth in their lives.
Those things you have to work through. They can be worked through. They can be dealt with, especially as one comes to understand their value, but also in developing a relationship with God and understanding how God looks upon women in His Word is a central feature.
[Steve] Maybe that's the challenge as you compare what happens in society, what happens in people's marriages and the discouragement and disillusionment that come from when we try to get value from those types of places rather than from God Himself.
[Steve] And yet the Bible, which is, I think it is condemned fairly often as saying…
[Darris] All too often…
[Steve] It's antiquated. It puts down women. But in fact, there are many stories in the Bible that show how wonderful God sees women.
[Darris] It's a complete mistake to look at the Bible as being down on women. From the very point of creation, Eve is created as an essential role of the human family. So often throughout Scripture, the woman is looked upon as an invaluable part of God's purpose and plan.
At the end of the Scriptures you see that Christ is going to marry the Bride. There symbolizing the Church who has made herself ready.
So, the ultimate epitome of His creation symbolized and brought into fruition through this spiritual body called the Church, is portrayed as a woman. To look at the Bible as miscasting, putting down women, is totally to misunderstand the Bible.
[Steve] And it's one of those things I think that can bring value as we see whatever has happened in our circumstances in life, God still holds us valuable. He sees us as that. He wants to marry us in that regard. And that, there is something we can do about it, even right now!
[Darris] Absolutely, because take in an unbiased look at what the Scripture says. Take a step back from the unrealistic expectations that this world puts upon women; the modern idolatry and the forms of idolatry that have been created by status, celebrity and self; that have abused, put down and betrayed the goal that God has for a woman. Step back from that.
Take a fresh look at what the Bible says and teaches in regard to the value of a woman and there you have the beginning to understand as you have put forth so eloquently in today's program, the value, the worth, the dignity of a woman - not only in the eyes of God - but certainly in the eyes of all mankind.
[Steve] There is no doubt that God values women, and that's where your value comes from. So I hope you will remember our free offers today, What is Your Destiny? will help you sort out your purpose and your value; and of course our magazine, The Good News magazine. We all could use a little good news, so call us at: 1-888-886-8632. Or, go online - BeyondToday.tv to read them online or order your free personal copy.
Now what you've heard today, it's not just a nice theory or some made-up story. Your worth is found in God and He doesn't want you to take that for granted. He has got a plan for you, for your life - a real future. Now that's not just wishful thinking and it's not just a game. It's the reality of the gospel of the Kingdom of God . That's what Jesus taught!
Now many of you, who are our regular viewers, you are realizing that God has a plan for you. You've taken that step and requested the free literature we offer. We're committed to providing all our materials free of charge, thanks to the generous support of members of the United Church of God and from viewers like you.
What do you do now? How are you using the biblical understanding you've received? Are you challenging your beliefs to line up with the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible? Because your value is found in God, now's the time to honor and value His way. Take that step to get rid of the value system of this society. God will give you the courage to say, "I'm going to follow God, no matter what." "I'm going to worship God with a church that keeps His Sabbath day holy ."
Don't wait! Don't put it off any longer. You can eliminate non-Christian, non-biblical holidays and those wrong traditions from your life. I hope you'll make that commitment to God to change now.
I'd like to offer our support. At BeyondToday.tv , you'll find a list of hundreds of United Church of God congregations in cities around the world . We welcome you to visit with us. We have got pastors and counselors to assist you in any way that we can. Contact us and let us know how we can help .
It may seem to be hard to be a woman in this world. But take heart: Women are made in the image of God. It's not time to be intimidated or discouraged. God has given everyone value - men and women.
Embrace His point of view. Discover that wonderful destiny He has in mind for you.
Thanks for joining us and tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today . And join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !