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Are Women Men’s Transferrable Property? Tradition Says Yes.

Do you yearn for a return to “traditional values”? Consider this essay from the Chalcedon Foundation:

I’ve been Daddy’s girl from Day One. My first word was “Dada.” I’ve always wanted to do what Daddy was doing, go where Daddy was going, read what Daddy was reading, say what Daddy was saying…. Little wonder people call me “Daddy’s Little Clone.” I mean, take a look at the picture heading this column! No wonder that, for fairness’ sake, in family votes, our two are counted as one.

But does this exhaust the ways in which I might be reckoned “Daddy’s girl”? Beyond being an X-chromosome donor, may we think of the “-‘s” in “Daddy’s” in the possessive sense, and affirm with legitimacy that Daddy is my owner? That “my heart belongs to Daddy” is certainly true. But do daughters, per se, belong to their Daddies?

…I define courtship as the discovery of a life-partner for a daughter under the direct oversight of the father. Any man seeking to beg, borrow or steal a daughter’s hand without her father’s endorsement is seeking to gain, in unlawful ways, “property” not his own. Daughters are Daddy’s girls in the objective sense, and this particular daughter rejoices in that truth. I am owned by my father. If someone is interested in me, he should see him.

I don’t feel qualified to discuss the role of sons, but it seems clear that there is a peculiar relationship between the father and the daughter. Since a daughter is, by the grace of God, always under authority–there being a transfer at marriage from a father’s to a husband’s–daughters are “Daddy’s” uniquely. While he must raise his sons to be loving husbands and fathers who make houses possible, he raises his daughters to be submissive, godly wives and wise mothers, to make houses homes. He raises a son to be a provider; he raises a daughter to be provided for.

Proud independence is no noble goal for a woman, and the spirit which pursues it is no part of a godly girl’s trousseau. Of course, those who exalt independence, denying headship to a husband, will certainly deny it to a father. Thus, they find the idea of courtship offensive. But those who acknowledge that God’s way is right (Luke 7:29, 35) find the idea of “authoritative stewardship” quite pleasant!

…As strange as it may sound, in the peculiar relationship of the father and daughter, God, as it were, takes a back seat. God has created a hierarchy such that the daughter is directly answerable to her father, and her father then answers to God. This doubles the father’s responsibilities, because he must account to God for the way he raises his daughter.

The father’s ownership, of course, is an in order to thing. God has given the daughter to the father so he can raise her in the fear and admonition of the Lord, protect her from harm and want, protect her from other men, and sometimes, protect her from herself, even from foolish decisions she might make on her own.

If we’re understanding this properly, just think of the impact it has on courtship. In modern “dating,” the girl is seen as belonging to herself. Therefore, it’s a logical conclusion that any man who wants to be romantically involved with her has only to ask her permission. But if it’s true that the father owns (has lawful authoritative stewardship rights over) his daughter, then the young man must seek the father’s approval. It’s not simply up to the girl. This changes the tone of any relationship there might be. If it’s the father who must give his approval, the young man knows that he is being watched, and he has to prove himself worthy. God has given fathers a lot of insight into the character, impulses and designs of young men. Flowers and sweet words might win the daughter; but Daddy’s a man, and it’s a lot harder to pass Daddy’s tests. Further, a godly father is aware of his daughter’s capabilities and needs, and can often see more clearly than she whether a young man is a complement to her and whether she can aid him in his calling. The order of God, as indicated in his word, is that God himself defers to the will of the father when it comes to his daughter. God says, “You heard your father. The answer is no.” Thus, the will of the father regarding his daughter IS the will of God.

So I really am “Daddy’s girl.” And no man can approach me as an independent agent because I am not my own, but belong, until my marriage, to my father. At the time of my marriage, my father gives me away to my husband and there is a lawful change of ownership.

We can still see traces of this thinking in conventional wedding practice: the father walking the bride down the aisle and handing her to her new husband, a man asking a woman’s father for “her hand.” It wasn’t too many generations ago that a father could refuse to transfer ownership, regardless of what his daughter thought. The fundamentalist Touchstone magazine considers this a boon:

There is not androgyny; rather, the sexes are distinct; and there is order. “Men are created and called to initiate, and women are created and called to respond.” In marriage, the husband is the head of his wife, and the wife is to submit to her husband. God has placed parents in authority over their children, and children are to obey their parents.

In the Old Testament, a female, under normal circumstances, was always under protective male authority, either the authority of her father or the authority of her husband—there was no in-between time when she was independent and autonomous. Furthermore, a father was responsible for his daughter’s sexual purity: if she was found not to be a virgin on her wedding night, her father would be publicly shamed.

In preparing for marriage, sons and daughters should be trained differently by their parents. “A son is reared up for independence. He is trained to leave, while still respecting his parents’ godly counsel. A daughter is brought up to be transferred from one state of dependence to another. Sons leave; daughters are given.”

The next time you hear someone say they want to see a return of “traditional family values,” think of what that tradition implies: half of you out there are owners, and the other half of you are property. This is not a hidden agenda. The question is, are you willing to go along with it?

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