Celebration of Life; Celebration of Woman
By the time you read this, the 1997 celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ will be passed. It is a great time of year for me, and I love every part of it. I rejoice in the birth of Christ and celebrate it with all the gusto I can manage. A wonderful, blessed change came to the world with the Advent of Jesus Christ, and blessed changes continue to be made in lives where He is received and loved.
Jesus Christ is the theme of Scripture. The Bible is a celebration of life and joy because of Jesus Christ. Man's condition without Christ is miserable and sinful and subject to death, but the Apostle John put it succinctly: "He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I John 5:12).
There is a much-maligned precept in the law of Moses which speaks volumes to the modern world, if we had ears to hear.
"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (Exodus 21:22-25)
The modern man scoffs at the law of God, and no part is more maligned than this principle: an eye for an eye. It is first mentioned in the passage quoted.
Something that modern man often overlooks in his pride as an incessant tinkerer with laws and precepts is the unintended consequences of laws. Very often these unintended consequences are worse than the evil we thought to correct.
With God the opposite is true. His wise and divine laws very often had intended consequences that have immense benefits for His people. So it is in the precept of Exodus 21 quoted above.
The law was a simple one. If there was a quarrel between men, and violence occurred, and a woman with child was hurt in the fracas, the penalties were severe. A fine had to be paid for involuntary childbirth, even if the child is born healthy and there was no harm to mother or child. If there was harm, then the punishment had to fit the damage. If either mother or child died, the crime was capital and the offender(s) paid with their lives.
It seems harsh, and punishment under the law of Moses was harsh. But before we join the modern chorus of condemnation, we ought to look at the consequences of the law.
There is no doubt that the general precept of "eye for an eye," was one of the most civilizing principles of law ever laid down on this earth. Put another way, the fundamental principle of law is expressed: the punishment should fit the crime. But that is not the point of this article.
The Highest Regard for Womanhood
The most far-reaching consequence of the law of Exodus 21:22-25 would be its effect upon womanhood and civilization. It is not a stretch to say that the specific law concerning a woman with child resulted in the highest station accorded woman in all the world.
What was the effect of the law? It would mean immense care and regard for womanhood. If a fight was taking place between men, and a woman came into their presence, they would stop fighting at once. Why? Because there would be no way of knowing whether or not the woman was pregnant, and why take a chance with your life? The unexpressed benefit of this law would be felt by all womanhood everywhere. Her very presence would help to end strife and violence.
What Has Happened to Civility?
This author remembers the day when such regard was given womanhood. Men would stand if a woman entered a room. If a woman was with child, great regard and respect was given her. You never spoke rudely to a girl, and you never used bad language around her. You never, never, never struck a girl or a woman. The women I knew were ladies. They did not engage in violence, and I still cringe today when I hear a woman use profanity or vulgarities. I am very sorry that day has passed, but I will continue to try to give such respect, even if I am insulted for doing so. I can try to be civilized if the whole world sinks into barbarism.
The Promise of the Savior
Of course the law was related to the Promise of the coming of Christ. It was the hope of every godly Jewish woman that she might be the mother of Messiah, the Seed of the Woman who would bruise the head of the Serpent (Gen. 3:15). Every godly woman would thus nurture and guard her seed, and every godly man would protect and honor her.
Now that the promise has been fulfilled, and Christ has come, and hope and life has come, woman reaps the benefit of her labor. Just as sin and death entered the world through the temptation of Eve, so righteousness and life entered the world through the humility and obedience of the Virgin Mary. She is thus "Blessed among women."
Humbling of Man's Pride
When the Savior came into the world, God humbled the pride of man by completely bypassing him in the process. The male had nothing to do with the conception of Jesus Christ, for He was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin.
How much better the world would be if womankind followed the obedience of Mary rather than the sin and temptation of Eve. Peace does not come because woman learns to cuss and spit and fight and cheat like a man. This is not equality, but debasement--just the opposite of civility. Strife was abated because of her precious seed.
Debasing of Life
When woman is debased, life is debased. Is it any wonder that abortion and euthanasia follow hard upon the "emancipation" of womankind. Why do we wonder that men abuse their wives and daughters? What will be the result when the last vestige of respect for life is violated with women in combat, in law-enforcement, and other life-threatening occupations? Some outlandish women have even proposed finding a way for women to take their babies with them into combat! Are we so ready to war upon our own nature and civility as to destroy the very fountain of life itself? Will this be the epitaph on the bleaching bones of our civilization: "They sent their women to war?" If we do not respect the origin of life, how shall we nurture its development?
The law of Exodus 21:22-25 did not come because of a plebiscite of the women of Israel. God does not need such a plebiscite, for He knows what is in man and what is best for both men and women. Sinful and cynical men and women very often do not know what is in their best interests, and barriers must be erected against their folly. This law was to the immense benefit of both the men and the women of Israel. The mothers of Israel were the bulwark and joy of Israel.
How precious was the gift that the Virgin gave the world! The ancient church called her the "Mother of God," not because God has a mother, but because that which was born of her was the Son of God. No other woman can ever have such a hope, for Christ has come and will never be born into the world again, for He comes the next time in power and glory. But the coming of Christ has brought hope to those who believe, and sealed the honor and dignity of womankind.
To honor life is to honor womankind. Let us honor; let us protect; let us dignify womanhood. Not to do so is just not civilized.