Girl Scouts USA has been dominating conservative media lately. An Arizona high school girl won the organization’s highest award from her local troop for a project to help “end reproductive inequality” that focused on promoting abortion rights.  

While some call for a boycott of the Girl Scouts because of their unrestricted funding of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS), others argue that cookie money stays in communities and local  Girl Scout troops are free to espouse whatever values the participating families choose. 

Candidly, I don’t have enough first hand experience with or exposure to the facts that would lead me to a position like the one taken by the Missouri Right to Life Council or by prominent Catholic Archbishops. Though I love Thin Mints (and may have just purchased a box from a little girl at church), I’ve not done enough research to know whether or not I should stop buying cookies because pro-choice organizations may benefit from the sales. 

But, what I do know is that raising a little girl to be a pro abundant life woman these days is more difficult than ever. And, as more once-innocent groups promote a subtle feminist agenda, our girls will be caught in the cross hairs. 

The Self-Esteem Farce

Many organizations targeting young girls seem to espouse a healthy goal: Improve a girl’s self-esteem. 

Sounds okay on the surface, right? Who wouldn’t want that? Girls struggle at greater levels than ever before with body image issues, eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. If we could just teach them to love themselves, perhaps they could exempt them from these struggles. 

The only challenge is, it doesn’t work. 

The lie that self-esteem cures all has become so pervasive that it’s counter-cultural to challenge it. Yet, more and more mainstream psychologists dare to point out that we’ve never had a generation with more self-importance, and yet, we’ve never had a generation so miserable. 

In the 1980s the state of California incorporated self-esteem training into the school systems believing it would cure a number of social challenges ranging from teen pregnancy to drug abuse to crime. But, across several measures, increasing self-esteem led to just the opposite. Teens with high self-esteem were found to be more likely to engage in risky behaviors like early sexual activity. 

Does Self-Esteem Contradict the Gospel? 

As pro-abundant life advocates, the mantras of self-esteem should bring us pause.

“Do what makes you happy! Follow your heart.” 

“I am confident in my decisions, regardless of what others think.” 

“I deserve whatever I desire.” 

One can’t help but wonder if girls who are fed a steady diet of these pithy phrases would be more prone to viewing the issue of abortion as one of “reproductive rights.” 

When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, what does the mantra, “Do what makes you happy!” teach? Could it lead a young woman to end the life of a precious baby? If we only “follow our hearts,” are we less likely to endure the struggle and self-sacrifice that bringing new life into this world requires? 

As Christians, we know the purpose of our lives is far greater than the pursuit of happiness. And we know that in God’s upside-down economy, surrendering our desires to God’s will leads to a joy that surpasses fleeting happiness. Our hearts, as Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, are deceitful, above all else. Following our hearts can be a pathway to destruction. 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:24 that we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him. Other verses throughout the Bible remind us to be humble. Philippians 2:3 makes it abundantly clear that we’re to, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.” 

It’s denial of self and love of Jesus and others that leads to a true, unshakable confidence. 

So how do we raise girls who beam with Christ-esteem instead of self-esteem? Check out part two on the blog!