Headline: More Mothers Less Murderers

Posted on: 2014-07-17

Women in the image of God

It is impossible, to jettison the role of mothers in the rehabilitation of any society for they are the very first to mould every life. It is for this reason that a regular reappraisal of the challenges facing womanhood must be part of every sane society. The sad metaphor of the 250 or so Chibok girls, by whose kidnapping Nigeria has been held to ransom stands as an indicator of the multilevel victimization of womanhood in many societies for past years. Why for example did Boko Haram attack a girls’ school rather than a boys’ institution? Among the analyses made so far is that by abducting girls, Boko Haram wants to leave Nigerians in no doubt about its desire to usurp the country’s very identity and future which the feminine gender somehow represents. We could accept or reject this reasoning but the fact is that every one of the girls now in captivity is a potential mother of a family, community or nation. That is why the details of Pope John Paul II’s treatise on the challenges facing womanhood in our times ought to be proposed as motivation to prevent further damage to the dignity and destiny of womanhood in the best interest of everyone. The pope’s Apostolic Letter “Mulieris Dignitatem” of 1988 on the dignity and the vocation of women reiterated that the woman, just like the man, is created in the image and likeness of God, the Pope emphasized the unity of the two in the same, common humanity.


Women in the mind of Jesus

The account of original sin in the book of Genesis clearly indicates the separate roles played by man and woman in the episode of the fall of the first man and woman and thus seems to show the woman as the aggressor, the one who was first affected by sin. However, the entire attitude of Jesus Christ to women showed him as a promoter of the true dignity of women and of the vocation corresponding to that unity. (Jn. 8:8ff). His attitude differed from that of his contemporaries and made even his disciples to wonder (Jn. 4:27). The Pharisee in whose house the sinful woman anointed Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil even said to himself “If this man were a prophet he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him for she is a sinner” (Lk. 7:39). Put these and similar episodes together with the emphatic choice of a virgin of Nazareth to be the mother of Jesus and all insinuation of lesser dignity of women in Christianity should evaporate. In brief, Jesus’ words and action always expressed the honour and respect due to women. Ultimately, he even made them guardians of the Gospel message and first witnesses of his resurrection (Mt. 28:1-10, Lk. 24: 8-11, Jn. 20:16-18).


Women in the travails of time

It is in this regard that Christians today must act to eliminate all obstacles to the appreciation of the dignity and honor due to women and so to enable them to play that quintessential role of witnessing to the gospel of Christ in the world. In contrast to these aspirations the same pope however lamented in a letter he addressed to women in 1995 that: “Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. The truth is that the hedonistic and commercial orientation of our society has made almost every sin committed against women a legitimate adventure. Women trafficking, inducement to prostitution and intimidation at work often flourish unabated in many parts of our world. Even in conditions where women should enjoy abundant compassion and sympathy such is not forthcoming”.  For example, one would expect that a widow, having lost the closest person to her would receive compassion and sympathy from any community. Widows, instead, often have to go through inhuman mourning rites, disinheritance, forced marriages, impoverishments, discrimination, stress-related health problems and the like.


The powers of womanhood

It is important to do everything possible to recover the huge potential of womanhood to restore human sanity. Many developmental organizations have proved that innovations, conflict resolution and peace building efforts often succeed more when driven by women groups. This is also true in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition, disease and so on. Women are also better disposed to respond to life-sustaining activities and pro-life programmes. Just as well! Did the Creator himself not entrust every human life to women in a special way? “A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that ‘God entrusts the human being to her’ always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them ‘strong’ and ‘strengthens’ their vocation (MD, no 30). Thus our society needs the “perfect woman, and the perfect mother” who can turn our current woes to gold and our tribulation to jubilation. “If you knew the gift of God” (Jn. 4:10), Jesus said to the Samaritan woman. If only women too knew the gift, the strength and the grace which God, the creator has given exclusively to them to “redeem” the world perhaps they would make more commitment and sacrifice in our day to be more mothers than murderers wherever they are found. We save our own lives by helping them do just that.