We just finished the Samuels (1st & 2nd) in our family devotions and reading through those books, one thing that struck me is the freedom Jesus Christ has given me, especially as a young Nigerian Woman. Before Jesus came and declared to the world in Galatians 3:28 that “…there is neither male nor female…” women had no more value than chattel; a man’s possession to dispose of as he would. The story of Micah, King Saul’s daughter really got to me. Here was this young girl, trying to live here life when out of the blues she was promised as a reward by her father to any brave warrior who met the prescribed conditions. Most probably, without her consent and with no consideration for her feelings, she is given to a brave soldier as his wife. Then said soldier one day runs out of town and she is subsequently ‘given’ to husband number two as wife. Then ex husband becomes King and wants her back, she is unceremoniously yanked from the arms of the second husband that she has come to love and handed back to ex husband by her father’s right hand man. I felt really bad for this young woman, especially as it was recorded that the new husband trailed behind her in tears. I do not think she was treated very fairly at all.
Then there is the case of Tamar who was raped and badly abused by her brother and in a society where the value of a girl was determined by how much of a virgin she was too! It made me mad to see that the King, her father did nothing about it; it was left to her brother to avenge her honour (The Story can be found in 2 Samuel 13).
Anyway, it goes without saying that this was not peculiar to Israel. It was a practice of universal application. It is sad but decades after Jesus walked on earth women were still treated as sub human. Just see how long it took to get the right to vote. Even in the Church, we are still struggling be heard and to be relevant despite the fact that it is widely accepted that the Holy Spirit does not discriminate in the distribution of his gifts. However, I cannot deny that things are much better than they used to be.
I live in Nigeria and being the young twenty-something woman that I am, it is wonderful to know that I am free to make decisions for myself; I have CHOICES! No one, but no one picks my husband for me. I have worked in a couple of law firms and experienced no discrimination or at least, nothing substantial. I believe that has a lot to do with the almost universal acceptance of the basic principles of Christianity centuries ago.
However, in many parts of the world today, especially in some parts of Africa and Asia the girl child is still little more than a highly valuable possession to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Numerous girls are kept in ignorance and without the benefit of an education. A woman has little or no recourse against an abusive father or husband or even against any injustice done to her. In Nigeria, we practice most of the common law handed over to us by the British Empire and under the common law, a wife cannot be raped by her husband even when he repeatedly uses force and leaves indisputable injuries all over her; there is just no provision for that in law. And several other blatantly discriminatory laws exist and worse, are applied.
We still have a long way to go towards gaining total freedom and equal treatment, particularly here in Nigeria but oh, we have come such a long way!