genderjustice-interfaith sacred text 1

 

Sacred texts - in Christianity

Tanakh, Bible, Qur’an, the words of Buddha or Hindu Sruti or Vedas – religions refer to sacred texts as normative basis for their life. Interpretation of the sacred scriptures that gives orientation to the daily life of the believers is a key concern of many religions.

This Sunday we are concentrating on the Bible. Toromare Manamaro from Madagascar is sharing her experience in a video. WCC programme executive for women in church and society, Dr Fulata Mbano Moyo, offers a Bible study.

 

Sacred narratives affirming girls‘ dignity

Talitha Cum: Little Sophia, Arise!

“He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means “Little girl, get up!”(V41)
She was her father’s and mother’s daughter. She was only 12 and she died. All her dreams and aspirations were frozen with the freezing of her body. We don’t know if her father explained to Jesus what she was suffering from. Was it related to her being a girl? Perhaps like my young niece who loses so much blood during her intensely painful menstruation contractions, she had lost too much blood in painful irregular periods to live? No one tells us how she died. Her death was the death of the family as well as community’s dreams. The whole community was there shocked and grieved. “Do not fear, only believe” Jesus encouraged. Transgressing the purity laws, he touched the frozen hand and declared: “Little girl, get up!” Defrosted and alive, back to dreaming the future, this 12 year old rose up, ate and re-joined her community!

  • What are some causes of early death for girls in your community?
  • What are some of the experiences that cause the freezing of girls’ dreams and hopes for the future?
  • What are some of the dreams that girls in your community have?
  • What religious resources do you have that help address threats to such dreams and to life?
  • What barriers do you need to transcend so as to encouragingly hold the girls’ hands so as to actualise their dreams for education and better future life?


Mary taught by her Mother, Anna

In Mary of Nazareth by Jean Vaughn, Anna as Mary’s mother is presented as a caring and available mother who raised Mary in ways of being a good responsible Jewish girl. According to a beautiful marble statue still standing in the church of St Anna at the sight of Bethsaida in Jerusalem, Anna holds Mary on her laps and teaches her the Torah. Of course every Jewish child was taught the Torah so it is natural to assume that both Anna and Mary were taught by the Rabbi when they were growing up. For Anna to be able to teach her own girl, Mary, would it be outrageous to conclude that Anna must have had more knowledge about the Torah than a normal Jewish mother? She must have more knowledge, training and understanding than an ordinary house wife and mother. She was like a Rabbi to her own daughter.

  • Imagine Anna raising up her daughter in the then patriarchal Jewish context. What would be the stereotypical motherhood roles played by Anna on a daily basis?
  • How would carrying out such roles influence the shaping of Mary as a girl?
  • How are girls in your community socialised into gender roles?
  • What are the stereotypical gender roles that girls in your community get socialised into?
  • What stereotypical community responsibilities do such roles seem to confine the girls to as compared to boys in your community?
  • According to Sustainable Development Goal 5, there should be gender equality and empowerment of all girls and women. If both girls and boys should be prepared to take up any community responsibility without privileging one gender over and above the other, how would the drive to fulfil SDG5 challenge the socialisation process into stereotypical gender roles?
  • How can the socialisation into redemptive/transformative masculinities and femininities be incorporated into your socialisation processes in your community?

Dr. Fulata Mbano Moyo

 

Action

Gather a group of girls and women and read together Mark 5: 22 ff. Remember also texts like Galatians 3:28.

Invite women of other Christian traditions and faith communities and discuss the role of sacred texts for both the oppression of women and their equal rights.