Girls and Sports… A Biblical Design?


One of the questions I consistently receive as a parent is what sports do your kids participate in?  That is an interesting question to me.  I’m not against sports and in fact I was a kid that was carted all across the state of Iowa when I was in school.  My parents sat countless  hours in school gymnasiums waiting for me to spend 4 or 5 minutes every hour or so to battle for position on a wrestling mat.  I wasn’t a half bad wrestler through high school but as I think back on it now I consider the tremendous amount of effort I put toward this pursuit.  I don’t know if it was wasted effort because it shaped me in some ways that I wouldn’t be the man I am now and God had His Sovereign Hand over the whole thing, but I consider the things I could have worked for that would be far more beneficial to me now.

I don’t write to offend anyone so please consider what I say before you come to a conclusion.  I also write as the father of  four daughters.  For me that is a different conversation than if I had four sons.  I would want to raise sons to be men.  Not juveniles, not adolescents, but men.  God fearing men.  Men that will stand in the gap and fight for the gospel.  Lord willing.  But I write as a father of girls.  So I need to insist on a different standard.

I’m not raising girls to act like boys.  I’m raising girls to become women.  God fearing women.  Not adolescent and or juvenile girls, but godly women that strive to serve the Lord and only One True King.  That is not an easy task because they are sinners.  And because they are sinners something needs to break the hard and stony hearts that control them.  Three of the four are unbelievers and I’m thankful we can trust God to do rightly, but as for me, I must strive to teach them the principles of the Scriptures and the truth of God’s word.

“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.  Salvation belongs to the LORD!” – Jonah 2:9

I suppose in most cases when asked the question in a drive-by fashion I respond, no they don’t do sports, their activities are music, art, and dance…  I’m not afraid to confront the topic, but I need to have some time to develop the conversation.  I want to develop the conversation so I’m not shooting from the hip and unnecessarily offending someone.  If they be offended by the gospel, that is another topic, but I strive to give good answers.  Solid and biblical answers.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at  home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  – Titus 2:3-5

The goal for a Christian man raising daughters should be this Scripture.  I can be certain this will offend far more than a Christian man keeping his daughter out of sports and I think it’s important to see how the relationship between organized sports, especially as they achieve higher levels of success, and this Scripture mix like oil and vinegar.

In sports the goal is to win.  Yeah, I realize some will protest and say it’s about things like “developing character”.  I don’t buy it.  I don’t believe sports develop character.  Teaching the Scriptures develops character.  Character that God desires.  It won’t teach my daughters how to “win” but it will teach them how to love their husbands.  It will teach them how to love their children.  It will teach them how to be made wise for salvation.  And at the end of the day does anything else matter?

But why?

“That the word of God may not be reviled.”

A Christian that is intent on God’s glory will seek the highest good for his family.  He will seek God’s goals for his family and not his own.  He will lay down his life for his family and that usually, and almost exclusively, means different priorities from the world.

I won’t develop the idea of what happens in young women that pursue sports to very high levels.  I think we can look around and see the development of the competitive spirit among women is not what God would seek.  Women were created different than men.  Yes, that is still true.  This is not a newsflash.

But Satan is always twisting things around.  Many of today’s movies are going to highlight women as the hero.  I’m not saying women are weak.  I’m not saying women are not valuable.  In fact I value the counsel of my wife above almost anyone else.  She has a brilliant mind and can actually think circles around me in most cases.  But she is not to be competing with me.  She is to be complementing me.  Completing me.  Helping me.  This is a big difference.

Sports do not help this.  They teach independence and self sufficiency.  They teach competitiveness and aggressiveness.  At least if you want to be “competitive”.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7

I’m to treat my wife different than a friend or a man.  She’s not weak, but she’s weaker in many ways than I am.  And I will confess she is much stronger than I am in many ways.  But she is unique.  She was made woman and that is an amazing thing and I desire my daughter’s to be as God intended them to be.  Not to be trained up like men.

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ – Mark 10:6

Don’t miss this distinction and also don’t miss that the world is corrupted by sin and by the evil one and he desire to destroy whatever he can.  included the God given roles.  He does it through deceit and misdirection.  He is clever.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’?” – Genesis 3:1

Satan twisted what God said.  He distorted the truth and it plunged mankind into sin.  If our greatest desire is to honor God in all things then we need to consider that His plan is better than ours.  His ways are higher and we need to conform to the mind of God as revealed to us through Scripture.  If your daughter plays soccer does this destroy any hope?  Of course not, but consider the goal…  I believe God has clearly given us examples to follow and I don’t find any real value in sports for my daughters.

And that is my reasoning.  I hope you’ll think about yours.



4 thoughts on “Girls and Sports… A Biblical Design?

    1. Hello brother, it’s great to hear from you. I hope all is well in Dubai (assuming you are still there). No problem, of course if you disagree. As I stated at the close of the article, I’ve come to my decision based on what Scripture leads me to.

      If someone has a different thought and desires to lead their family in another way that is between them and the Lord.

      I don’t believe the Scripture leads us to sports for girls and I think primarily we look at this as a more modern invention of this day and age. And I’m not upset or do I even necessarily think someone is in sin if they allow their daughters to be involved. This is just my personal conviction.

      God bless you brother, I trust the Lord is keeping and blessing you.

  1. I don’t agree with your post. One doesn’t need to be involved in organized sports to be competitive. I have a daughter in college and a son in high school. Competition can begin with a game of Connect Four or a game of Horse at the basketball court at the park.
    My daughter briefly dabbled in organized sports and they weren’t her thing. She also was later involved with dance, but then ultimately settled with music. Depending on how your girls participate in music and dance there are certainly elements of competitiveness there, whether formal or informal. And depending on what sort of dance they do, spending hours dancing with either no footwear, or footwear that offers no support….that isn’t for the delicate or the weak.

    I was a competitive swimmer in high school. I had mixed feelings about it. But the years of swimming left me as someone who was for many years better than the average person at the sport. I’m still a better swimmer than anyone in my family, even my teenage son who spends many hours a week being being physically active. Now that my kids are older though the times we would all be in the pool together are fairly infrequent. It would almost seem that the message would be for me to just sit at the edge of the pool and just dangle my feet, rather than get in the pool and show off my skill. Regardless though I don’t think having once competed in sports has any effect on my marriage. And unlike wrestling where you are directly fighting someone, swimming is very much a competition against yourself.

    My son has played team sports for several years. Certainly when you are all together on the field, you can’t function in an independent way to win the game. He has really enjoyed the camaraderie of team sports.

    In some ways I don’t see my children’s experiences in sports and music as that different. If you want to be good at something, you have to put in lots of practice. If you want to be first chair in band, and thus compete against your fellow band members, chances are you will have to put in a lot of practice. Not really different for sports, or even if you want to be the woman who bakes the best pies in the family.

    1. Kate,

      Thank you for reading the post and especially for taking the time to comment. I’m grateful that you would do so.

      I don’t believe I disagree with anything you’ve said here and I’m wondering exactly where we disagree on the subject of the post?

      I’m not sure if you are a Christian or describe yourself as a Christian but my worldview is shaped by the Bible and if it is my greatest desire to lead my family from this perspective I need to conform my mind to the mind of God.

      That is the basis of my article. So, please let me know if there is something specifically we disagree on and then I’d love to figure out how and why if we are looking at this from a biblical worldview.

      And as I stated at the conclusion of the article, the Scripture I quoted in the article leads me to the decision to try and raise my daughters to be non-competitive. A competitive spirit comes naturally and I’d say it is, in part, a piece of our sin nature. I must train that out of them if they are to meet the standard of biblical conformity.

      And it doesn’t mean they are to be doormats, but they are to operate in a different way from men. I hope that is helpful. God bless you.

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