The word “princess” seems to be taking over Christian pop culture and women’s ministry in the days since the Captivatingcraze. Every fall when I go to women’s retreats, I usually have to set aside a junk drawer just for the storage of plastic crowns that I receive, until I can donate them to a daycare. They’re usually a prop adding to a self-esteem related talk—an assurance that all women are beautiful. The plastic prop (or Burger King cardboard cut-out) accompanies the oft-heard, conviction-free reminder: you are a princess because your Father is the king of kings.
Semantically speaking, I suppose there’s some logic to that. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1, TNIV). By all means we are children of a king, and given an unbelievable gift of grace and adoption through him. And likewise I fully support women abandoning the pursuit of theCosmopolitan perception of beauty and pursuing their worth in higher callings. But what are we to do with that funny pop-culture word “princess,” and all the princess paraphernalia for sale in Christian bookstores? Does God ever call his female servants that?
The word “princess” fundamentally encourages a fascination with ourselves—namely, a confidence in our own talent, beauty, and importance. The problem with this is that the thrust of the New Testament, while celebrating the fact that God loves and accepts us, calls us to look outside ourselves. The Law and the Prophets hang on the commandment to love God and our neighbors. Loving ourselves, Scripture suggests, is something we already do well on our own (Matt. 22:37-40).
Furthermore, our extraordinary relationship with God makes us royal, but not in a way that makes marketable t-shirts. Women are not princesses but “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Being a priest is a hard, high-responsibility calling that has been extended to every member of the church regardless of his or her gender. God has given us a new identity, and the hard work that comes with it is incompatible with the self-absorbed gospel of self-esteem that comes in the fairy tale packaging of a crown and the promise of princesshood.
When Paul speaks of love, he reminds us that when he grew up, he put childish ways behind him (1 Cor. 13:11). And when the elders worship at the throne of God, they take off their crowns and lay them before him (Rev. 4:10). Playing pretend is all right for little girls, but when we get to the throne of God, it’s time to set aside our playthings and be prepared to worship. It’s time for women to be priests.