The Prodigal Daughter
“And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”—Luke 8:50
There are as many types of prodigal women as of prodigal men. The worldly, godless woman is a prodigal. She dresses well, gives parties with cards and wine, frequents the theater during the week and goes to church on Sunday morning. She is no sinner in the sense that she violates the proprieties of society. She keeps the Ten Commandments. But in her life of elegant dissipation she wastes her substance in riotous living.
The pleasure-seeking woman is a prodigal. Her picture is given us in 1 Timothy 5:6, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” She is dead to duty, dead to love of God or her fellows, dead to noble aspirations. Her one purpose is to have a good time. Like a butterfly, she flits from one flower of indulgence to another, careless of the future. Her person, so beautifully dressed, is merely a decorated sepulcher in which abides a soul dead to all high ideals.
Though the godless woman and the pleasure-seeking woman are prodigals, the prodigal most to be pitied is the unchaste woman. She is fallen in her own consciousness. When her sin becomes public she is an outcast from society. She realizes that she is shunned as leprous.
False teaching makes prodigals. Let a girl be taught that the moral law is not binding because it has been abrogated by grace and she becomes an easy prey to temptation. Teach her that any one of the Ten Commandments is effete and it is easy for her to infer that all are effete.
Bad influence or no influence at home makes many a prodigal. The daughter is apt to look to father and mother as ideals, and what they are she is apt to become. The wreck of many a girl’s life can be traced to the condition in the home which resulted in divorce proceedings. Pure homes will make pure children and impure homes will make impure children.
Bad literature does its pernicious work. In some popular periodicals of today are stories which seem to have been written for the purpose of polluting the imagination and corrupting the morals. Realistic, sensational novels cannot fail to defile the mind and prepare the way for the life of shame. Drink and drugs weaken moral stamina and produce many a fall. The theater with its fetid moral atmosphere, its vocal and spectacular obscenity, makes it easy for men and women to be bad.
The associations behind the footlights are so corrupting that, according to the testimony of theater people themselves, it is difficult for the actress to remain pure. The dance destroys the virtue of more women than anything else. The dance-house with its adjacent saloon is the gate of hell through which thousands of once innocent girls go to the bottomless pit. It is the testimony of all managers of homes of refuge for fallen women that more than 75 per cent go there through the dance. Misplaced confidence in a fallen man has been the ruin of many a good woman. There are some friends in human shape who are proud of their arts as seducers, and of late it has been discovered that there is a systematic traffic in the virtue of women as well organized as any other commercial enterprise, and it covers the world in its extent.
Phariseeism stands first. Men and women who are guilty of other sins as black in God’s sight as unchastity discourage all efforts to save the prodigal daughter, while they place her in the pillory of public contempt. The men who brought that poor sinful woman to Christ were doubtless chaste in their lives. For her terrible sin stoning to death was the penalty imposed by the law of Moses, but for their sins of covetousness, lying, pride and dishonesty the judgment of God was postponed.
Jesus said, Let him that is without sin (of any kind) execute this woman. And they slunk out, beginning with the oldest ones, who became suddenly conscious that they had many sins to condemn them. Jesus asked, “Has no man executed thee?” She said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I execute thee; go and sin no more.” In men this spirit of phariseeism is bad, but in good women it is often worse and keeps them from extending to the prodigal daughter the hand of help she often needs. Oh, for the pity and compassion of Jesus in the hearts of all Christian people!
Another hindrance is hopelessness in the heart of the prodigal daughter. She thinks that she is too bad to be saved; and though she is often disgusted with her life and longs for salvation from it, she feels that God is against her. Her greatest temptation is to suicide, only restrained from it by the instinct of immortality and the dread of the future.
This brings me to the encouragements I would give to every prodigal daughter, and the first is that God loves you. He loves you well enough to give His only begotten Son to die for you and His great heart yearns for your faith and love. To Him your soul is as valuable as the soul of any queen on Earth.
But what must the prodigal daughter do to be saved? Come straight to Jesus just as you are. He may be in the house of Pharisees, surrounded by Pharisees who will be more embarrassed by your presence than you are by theirs. But come to Jesus in spite of the protest of every Pharisee in the world. Jesus will receive you and rebuke the Pharisees who would hinder your coming.
Come with genuine confession of sin. The tears of this woman were the credentials of true repentance. The tear of penitence in the eyes of any sinner is prized by Jesus above the pearls and rubies of Earth. If you cannot shed tears, though you feel deep sorrow in your heart, come to Jesus and tell Him frankly. He will accept you just as you are and make you what you ought to be. He delights to blot out the past and fill the future with joy. Come with your alabaster box of loving confidence. Make a public confession of Christ as your Savior and friend. Be faithful to Him and He will enable you to live the victorious life.