He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:11-13
Recently, I heard a rendition of an old song that touched me greatly. “You Don’t Own Me” was written by Philadelphia songwriters John Madara and David White, and recorded by Leslie Gore in 1963, when Gore was 17 years old. The new edgy, haunting version is a remake by Australian born Grace Sewell, who was exactly Gore’s age when she recorded it last year. Both women wanted their listeners, male and female, to get the message that girls and women are not chattel to be used and abused by others. Gore said, “My take on the song was: I’m 17, what a wonderful thing, to stand up on a stage and shake your finger at people and sing you don’t own me.” Times have changed drastically in many ways since 1963, but unfortunately, domestic violence, sex trafficking, hate crimes and other offenses against persons have only gotten worse. Women—especially young ones—need to know that being respected by others is not optional. It’s essential.
Jesus knew and spoke this truth: all women and men are equal in the eyes of God. Some people get hung up with the idea that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). It sounds like bad news to have to admit to being sinful in order to then be saved by the grace of forgiveness. The message of “universal sin” seems contradictory to the song’s message that no one “owns” us. But the good news is that God cares for each of us—good, bad, or in between—as if we are perfect. It is in realizing that God is God and we are not that we are set free. When we “belong” to God—when we admit that we have no real power to change ourselves without God’s help—we inherit all of God’s goodness and strength and love and grace. Then and only then do we find “the peace that passes all (human) understanding” (italics mine; Philippians 4:7).
Compassionate God, strengthen us to combat human oppression of all kinds. Amen