Saturday, February 9, 2013
Does God Value Boys More than Girls?
Lev. 12:1 ¶ The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
Lev. 12:2 Speak to the people of Israel, saying: ¶ If a woman conceives and bears a male child, she shall be ceremonially unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean.
Lev. 12:3 On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
Lev. 12:4 Her time of blood purification shall be thirty-three days; she shall not touch any holy thing, or come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are completed.
Lev. 12:5 If she bears a female child, she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; her time of blood purification shall be sixty-six days.
Lev. 12:6 ¶ When the days of her purification are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.
Lev. 12:7 He shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement on her behalf; then she shall be clean from her flow of blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, male or female.
Lev. 12:8 If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf, and she shall be clean.
Oddly enough it was this scripture that caught my attention in today's readings. Here we find a very short chapter outlining the regulations on impurity of a woman following childbirth. If she has a son she is considered unclean for seven days until the child's circumcision and then an additional thirty-three days. If she has a daughter she is unclean for two weeks, and then an additional sixty-six days. At first glance it appears that giving birth to a daughter makes the mother more unclean than giving birth to the son, and from that one might want to conclude that the daughter is of less worth than the son. However, notice that the offering for both son and daughter is the same, therefore that argument can't really stand and maybe there is another reason.
We have discovered that God's rules and laws make sense! What could make sense in this type of a situation? A couple of things come to my mind. In the first year of life more male children will die than female. This was something that I had learned in nursing school. Here's a link to a study in 2008 that said the same thing:
Could it be that God knew that if a woman had a male child the odds were much higher that this baby would die, and therefore he allowed her period of cleansing to be shorter so that she could soon resume intimate relations with her husband? This is a God of compassion who knew the statistics and knew how a mother's heart would break. Therefore, if she had a baby boy and he just might not make it, he would allow her the hope of having another child.
So, while the boys might not make it, it meant that the population of females had the potential of being higher than the population of males. Today a healthy gender ratio balance in a country is about 102 females to 98 males. This is because girls tend to be healthier and live longer in societies where both are well cared for. So, what does this tell us about the people of God? It means that the boys and the girls were both loved equally and survived at healthy rates. It also meant that a loving God allowed a mother more time to rest after having given birth to a daughter because more than likely the girl would survive, and she didn't need to have another child quickly because statistically there would be more girls than boys. Therefore none of this had anything to do with God valuing a boy over a girl, but it had everything to do with God caring for his people in a wholistic manner and wanting them to be healthy.
Sadly, it seems that we have often wanted to jump to conclusions regarding God's view of one gender over another. Somehow we have wanted to defend the fact that God views the male gender of more value than the female. However, if we search the scriptures and take the time to discover what they are really saying, we will discover just the opposite. God loves all of his children, male or female, slave or free, Jew or Greek…black or white, Anglo or Hispanic …. and the list goes on. The message of the Bible is one in which we discover the gentle and loving care of a Father for ALL of his children. He doesn't want any of his children to miss out on what he has prepared for them.
Now, as a Christian who understands what God's plan is in caring for all of humanity what are to do when we discover imbalances in God's plan? While reading and researching for this post today I came across some interesting facts. We have to ask what it means when the gender ratio in Afghanistan is 107 men to 93 women. Or, Bahrain has 135 men to 65 women. China has 108 men for 92 women. Germany has 96 men to 104 women. Russia has 86 men to 114 women. (Russia has a male alcoholism problem!) The United States has 97 men to 103 women. Whenever the numbers become out of balance -- whenever there are more men than women, we have to ask why. The normal ratio is somewhere around the 96-98 men to 102-104 women rate. Imbalances in either direction have to make us ask questions.
God was concerned about these things from the very beginning days of the Israelite nation. He cared about his people being loved and nourished and brought up in healthy ways. What does this mean for me as a follower of Jesus Christ? I think it means that there are times when God's people must speak up and become involved as a voice in issues that may be detrimental to society. Within our own communities of faith we must be willing to speak up and understand why there are some healthy rules and guidelines for living. God wanted his people to be a healthy people.
This is one of those days in which I am left thinking. Not quite sure what to do with this information -- but I am willing to listen to what God has to say and follow him in obedience.
Lord, I'm listening. Amen.