Day of the girl
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29.11
It was news to me but today has been designated 'International Day of the Girl'. As father of two girls and brother to two sisters, with a wife and mother and numerous nieces and god-daughters, it is nevertheless of interest. But that comes with a tinge of alarm; the very fact that such days are designated at all indicates that here is an issue requiring our attention. According to one of my prayer diaries, 15 million girls will never receive an education and so are condemned to a life of servitude, while 12 million girls will be married off before they are 18, which offers a similar prospect.
Even in a nation like Scotland, where we pride ourselves on having been civilised out of misogyny, inequalities persist. Some are inevitable. For example women are more vulnerable to physical assault than men. Yet that in some sectors women are still paid less than their male counterparts is surely inexcusable? While we are quick to judge other countries in which women occupy a lower status than men and therefore enjoy fewer opportunities, it is also true that in such places they may walk the streets in greater safety on account of behavioural habits, which grant women the freedom to roam without interference.
So nowhere can afford to be complacent or judgmental on this issue. And Christians, especially, have every reason to act upon it. The Good News of Jesus proclaims freedom from all forms of captivity for everyone, with total healing and fulness of life, regardless of colour or status or sex. For that to ring true, we need to be living it out. Churches are good places to start. Do the girls in our Sunday Schools and Youth Fellowships enjoy the same opportunities for service and leadership as the boys?
Let's be honest, the Bible is not exactly a manifesto for women's rights. But, right from the beginning it lays the necessary foundation. And throughout its long trajectory it tells the, often painful, story of how we are getting there. Paul and the disciples have often been misinterpreted and even Jesus gets a hard time for having appointed only male disciples. But, when you read between the lines and assess the situation according to the standards of the day, it soon becomes apparent that they are blazing a trail which is transforming the status of women and girls, so that God's promise through Jeremiah may be as applicable to them as to the men and boys.
(Note: I shall be returning to sloth and idleness over the October Break, so please enjoy the respite. There are many alternative sources of inspiration, some of which are featured in the church notices. Alternatively, why not use the time to write your own blog, keep a journal, or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your responses to any of my posts, thoughts about issues you care about, or topics you would like me to address in the future. Be blessed!)