Christmas and Freedom from Oppression
There is so much to love about the story of a medical team who separated conjoined baby boys from Yemen. Now they have a chance of experiencing life as separate individuals.
But one cannot help but notice that in contrast to the father, who is dressed in conventional Western-style attire allowing him freedom of movement and a face completely open to public view, while the infants’ mother is completely veiled. She is almost invisible, except for her eyes. Even so, she does not even dare look directly into the camera.
She also is silent. She is not recorded as saying even one word. Only the father speaks of his joy about his sons’ release from their fleshly bonds, expressing hope for their education and careers.
Would the boys’ father have spoken so proudly if the twins had been girls? Would conjoined girls even have been separated at all? Would they even have been allowed to live? After all, millions of unborn infant girls are eradicated by abortion because boys are the preferred sex; and untold numbers are the victims of infanticide. In fact, as the Institute for Family Studies concludes, “Our figures suggest all but incontrovertibly that the “global war against baby girls” has opened a front in the United States of America.”
In Yemen and other parts of the world, including abandoned Afghanistan, Islamist fundamentalists are oppressing women in the name of Allah. But here in the United States, oppression is happening in the name of a specious “equality” promoted by radicals leading the trans movement. The equality supposedly achieved means in reality that women must “veil;” that is, they must deny or submerge their unique, God-given identities as women, allowing men to invade their spaces and opportunities.
Therefore, it is no good for Americans to rant and rave about Islamism’s ideological excesses when sex select abortions and increasing deprivation of women’s rights and opportunities are happening right here in America.
However, while secularists may not be inclined to admit it, the truth is that wherever Christianity has been a strong influence in any given culture, the value and status given to women and children of both sexes has risen, though at times unevenly and against much resistance.
The standard of monogamy is but one Christian ideal that has elevated women. The end of polygamy, which always reduces the status of women and encourages the oppression of unfavored wives and their children, has been a blessing; even though monogamous marriages are often marred by the sins and frailties inherent to both sexes.
Another indicator of the increasing freedom of women is the fact that veiling women to the point of making them invisible is diminished or eliminated. Conversely, when liberating influence is diminished, women are once again veiled, literally and socially.
A chief reason for the elevation of women in broadly Christianized cultures is the honor paid to Mary by the Church. Mary’s elevation to the status of Theotokos, the mother of God, offers hope to all the invisible men and women of the world.
She also was veiled; almost invisible within the world order of her times. She was a humble Jewish girl who lived in a despised and remote province governed by the mighty Roman empire. She was not a member of the upper classes. She was almost repudiated by her husband-to-be because of her supposedly illegitimate pregnancy. She and her unborn child surely were targets of vicious gossip and condemnation. The gospel accounts hint the religious leaders of the day regarded Christ as a bastard and his mother as a fornicator. Bethlehem and Nazareth, the towns in which Mary gave birth to and raised her Son, were considered of no account even by Nathaniel, one of Christ’s disciples.
But the young Mary, in whose womb lay Salvatore Mundi, sang in what has become known as The Magnificat, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.” (Luke 1: 46-48a) God saw and knew Mary when scarcely anyone else did.
Martin Luther, in his advent sermon about Mary and the Magnificat, wrote:
“God allows the godly to be powerless and oppressed so that everyone who thinks they are done for, yet even in that very moment God is most powerfully present, though hidden and concealed. When the power of humanity fails, the power of God begins, provided faith is present and expectant. When the oppression is ended, then one sees what strength lies beneath the weakness. Even so was Christ powerless on the cross, and yet he was most mighty there and overcame sin, death, world, hell, devil, and all ill.”
As Christians around the world celebrate the birth of the Son of God and the humility of his mother Mary, they also may be led to think about the irreducible value of every man and woman, visible and invisible. They can pray for and help those who are invisible, despised, oppressed, and even killed; be they born or unborn, boys or girls, men or women. They may petition God on behalf of the silent and nearly invisible peoples of the world. Among such is the veiled, silent Yemeni woman who is the mother of rescued twin boys; Akanksha, a newborn girl found abandoned and cuddled by dogs; and unnamed “baby boy,” found abandoned on a sidewalk in Memphis, Tennessee.
At the same time, Christians around the globe may think of their hope for the time in which at last, none who seek, love, and worship God are invisible. None are veiled. None are diminished and oppressed.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” II Corinthians 3:18
Unveiled faces who see God. Completed, perfect, and visible identities. That is a description of Heaven for unnoticed men and women alike.
Photo credit: Faud Moohialdin UNICEF
Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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