The Western World has lost its memory. It is like an Alzheimer's patient, bodily functioning but forgetful of where it came from and lost in a maze of confusion. Here's another story that shows the depth of the problem.
ata Difference Christianity Makes
Women and Honor Killings
June 3, 2010
A recent issue of Time magazine tells the story of Nirupama P
athak, an Indian journalist murdered by her own mother. Being charged with killing your own daughter by itself is enough to make the news. But wh atmakes this story especially compelling for the Indian media is th atP athak's mother is alleged to have killed her to avenge her family's honor.
By some estim
ates, dozens of such "honor killings" occur in each year. It's a crime th India atrightly shocks the Western conscience. It's also a reminder of the way Christianity transformed the Western world.
According to prosecutors, P
athak was murdered because she wanted to marry a man who belonged to a lower caste. She then compounded her offense by becoming pregnant with his child.
The transgressing of caste boundaries lies behind the large majority of these killings in
. Despite the country's rapid moderniz India ation, rel ations between upper-caste women like P athak and lower-caste men are violently opposed, especially in rural areas.
It shouldn't surprise us th
atthe area where most of the "honor killings" take place is also where sex-selection abortion has cre ated the worst gender imbalance in . There are only 861 women for every 1000 men. It's a place where "groups called khaps run kangaroo courts," enforcing the "vice-like grip" they have over women and the demands of the caste system, and they do it through intimid India ation and murder.
In other words, it's a world much like the classical one th
atChristianity turned upside-down.
In her new book, Paul Among the People, classics scholar Sarah Ruden writes the common view of the Apostle Paul as an "oppressor of women" could "hardly be more wrong." With the exception of a handful of high-born m
atrons, the Roman world often tre ated women worse than it did c attle.©©
This was especially true of slaves, who comprised one-third of
's popul Rome ation. They could expect be atings, rape, and, if they were "fortun ate," being forced into prostitution. It was a world where unwanted children were left to die of exposure—infanticide.
atus women ranked, atbest, third in her husband's hierarchy of concerns, behind his parents and her children. Sexually, she was expected to be ather husband's beck and call. Wives could be disposed of when their husbands no longer desired them.
Thus, when Paul wrote th
atthe "husband should tre atthe wife's body as his own," he inverted the way marriage was seen in the classical world. As Ruden put it, the ridiculous idea th atsome promote th atPaul saw women as "sexual and domestic servants" could only be the result of a "brain fever."
Paul's' teaching about equality in the Church was, if anything, even more revolutionary. The distinctions between slave and free, high-born and plebian were so much a part of the classical world th
atPaul's teaching was scandalous. It was so scandalous th atthe pagan critic Celsus called Christianity a "religion of women, children and slaves."
atCelsus thought as a criticism transformed the West and continues to transform communities today around the world.
The outrages in
and elsewhere are a reminder of the difference th India atChristianity has made, whether its contemporary critics are willing to admit it or not.
© 2010 Prison Fellowship