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Women, equality and their standing in society

A lot of debates are taking place as regards the status and role of women in society. Equality is a dominant topic of all the issues at stake. The definition of equality is to give a state of uniformity, sameness, evenness, parity, equal opportunity etc. Are men and women equal in every sense of the word? Doesn’t this need selective application instead of a blanket approach? Is it possible to achieve total equality between men and women?

Sunday word BY PROSPER TINGINI

Let us begin by looking at the way the Creator of mankind created the two variant models of a man and a woman (Adam and Eve) plus any roles or directives He pronounced. The Bible tells us that God first created a man (male). Then the Lord saw that the man needed a helper. Genesis 2:18 reads: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”. Herein lies the problem and the answer to it. I would personally want to believe that women are equal to men. Is a helper just an assistant to someone, more or an equal? If this issue were to be debated in a court of law, then the judges’ decision would prevail. I would rule in favour of equality or more.

It is unfortunate that sometimes the rights of women have been violated to protect the dominance of men. A woman was not created to serve a man, but to work together as a team, as one unit, as one flesh. Genesis 2:24 goes on to say, “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh”. A master does not leave his place of residence to go and live with a servant but it’s the other way round. So by ordering the man to leave his parental household to join with his woman, and vice-versa the Lord our God is in effect raising the status of the woman to the same level of that of a master. It is the man who also first approaches the woman’s parents to seek their blessings and her hand in marriage, thus also raising the woman’s status to that of a master.

Therefore, a man and a woman are both masters in their own rights. They work together, as equal partners to help each other to overcome all the challenges of human living. Two people are better than one. It was with this in mind that God created man and woman to work as a united single, a unit joined together for a common purpose. Each part is equally as important to the other within that amalgamation. God saw that a man alone, without the woman, was incomplete. A man and a woman are thus equal before God, and equally important.

While God created a man and a woman as equal teammates, each is supposed to contribute a distinct role to the team or within the union, to bring effectiveness. A football or netball team has attackers (strikers), midfielders (playmakers) and defenders (to hold fort) all working together in different roles but as a single team. Different qualities brought together from different people produce strength and good results. The male and female team is crucial, with each bringing in equally important contributions into the equation, on an even platform. It is only the roles that differ. Both women and men should respect their assigned roles to bring harmony in the family structures, or other social spheres that require separation of roles.
While there is equality in status, there is no uniformity in the roles since they may differ. Any collision of roles may bring conflict and confusion.
However, there are some areas that do not always need the application of roles. In such cases, anyone whether male or female can perform the required task equally well, especially the manual roles that do not necessarily require division of labour based on gender, whether at home or at work.

When the Lord our God created all the living species of animals, birds, fish, plants and humans, He wanted to ensure the preservation of all the living things through a reproductive process. Across most living species He created a male and female element to fuse together to reproduce. In Genesis 1:28 God ordered: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it”. In males He put the male seed, the sperm. In females he put the egg, the ovum. It is the ovum that carries the life when the two are fused together. Life and blood is found in the ovum since it is the blood that carries the life (oxygen, food and water). Our God is the creator of life and owns all living things. He is a God of the living and He disowns anything which loses its life.

Life begins with the fusion of the ovum and the male seed to form an embryo which gradually develops into a foetus and matures into a fully grown being. Should the ovum fail to get fertilised within its time/period, it loses its life and dies and is then ejected out of the body through a process called menstruation. To the Lord our God, anything that loses its life becomes unholy or unclean. In Leviticus 15:19-24, the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and proclaimed, “When a woman has a discharge of blood which is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity (unclean) for seven days”. To the men, He also warned, “You shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual uncleanness” (Leviticus 18:19).

There is another debate doing the rounds on whether women should be anointed as priests or not. While there should be nothing wrong with appointing women as priests, God forbids women at menstruation to serve at His holy religious altars due to the uncleanness attached to it. Women at menstruation and appointed to priestly roles should excuse themselves during this period. The same applies for women who have given birth to a child, within a specified period. Leviticus 12: 4-6 instructs (in short), “She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, while the days of her purifying are not completed”.

It is not then surprising that sometimes women are discriminated upon on certain discriminating religious grounds. Some of the divine instructions we find in the scriptures are not meant to demean or degrade woman but are only there to serve specific purposes. The Lord our God blessed and anointed various women to be torch-bearers and even into leadership positions. He showed that women are as good as men. He even exalted certain women like Deborah to lead as prophets.We have other women the likes of Esther, Miriam and many more whom God made to perform tasks equal to those of men. He did not discriminate on the grounds of gender. Men have pounced mainly on issues related to menstruation and childbirth from the scriptures in order to sometimes deny women their rightful equal status in society.

Men and women were created equal, are born equal, have equal opportunities, have equal intelligence and should be treated equally. It is only the roles in society that can differ here and there, for particular reasons.

Prosper Tingini is the President of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: ptingini@gmail.com

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