Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Whipping of a 15 Year Old Girl and Christmas

AP CAIRO — a 16-year-old Christian girl from southern Sudan said Friday she was lashed 50 times for wearing a skirt deemed indecent by authorities in the north who enforce a strict version of Islamic law.

Silva Kashif said a policeman in a Khartoum market arrested her last week for wearing a skirt beneath the knee.

She was convicted of offending public morality and received 50 lashes in the courtroom.

"I was treated like a criminal," Kashif said in a telephone interview. "I am confused what to wear. The trousers were an issue. My skirt was beneath the knee. What more can I do? I am Christian. My tribe and my customs permit me to dress like this."

This troubles me greatly. We just had Thanksgiving, which is the least offensive of the Christian celebrations, since everyone or every faith or lack of can be thankful for something. We are fast approaching Christmas. In everyday conversations we can call it such. However in the business and scholastic world it has been reduced to a Holiday so we don't offend those who are not Christians.

When I was a little guy there were two sisters in my fifth grade class that were Jehovah Witnesses. Back in the 1960's our teacher could read a Bible verse, we could say The Lord's Prayer and we could have Thanksgiving and Christmas parties in which we could sing hymns and carols of the season.

I can still see the faces of Esther and Martha with their noses pressed on the glass of the window of the closed door that blocked them out of the Christmas party. This was at their parents request since Jehovah witnesses didn't believe in Christmas celebrations. Both of the girls were sobbing.

Last week I asked my older grand kids if they sang any Thanksgiving songs at their school. They both said no, they weren't aware of Thanksgiving songs.

The above AP story regarding the poor 15 year old Christian girl appeared around the 24Th or 25Th of November of this year in many newspapers.

Modern society demands that we conform and not express our faith and beliefs lest we offend. We are not permitted to have prayer in school or demonstrate ones faith.

And yet I have known of folks who have traveled to predominantly Muslim countries. Those countries don't seem too wishie-washy in punishing those who don't conform to their ways through strong arm tactics and force as it witnessed in the above story.

Both of these thoughts, the forbidding of Christian Holidays and the brutal whipping of a young girl, bring to mind the words of our Lord that are found in Matthew 18:6.

I will go over the words in different Biblical translations to provide the underlying meaning of His Words.

Within the New International Version;

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

The passage from the King James Version;

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Young’s Literal Translation states;

…and whoever may cause to stumble one of those little ones who are believing in me, it is better for him that a weighty millstone may be hanged upon his neck, and he may be sunk in the depth of the sea.

In a wonderful online site the author Lee Smith has put together an excellent study of Matthew. Here I have consolidated some of his remarks concerning Matthew 18:6;

In the New Testament the word Sin was also used of a stumbling block or something which trips someone up from walking the correct way and the meaning of stumbling block is probably the best in the context here.

The Revised Standard Version's rendering of the word implies that there’s a certain force in the stumbler’s life which makes the childlike believer sin regardless of their own freewill. Their translation which, in Matthew 18:6 for instance, speaks of "...whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin...".

This should be better rendered "...whoever is the cause of stumbling to one of these little ones who believe in Me..." so that the person is not seen to be the force that makes the sin but the lead that encourages it.

Bible teacher Leon Morris therefore interprets the verb used as giving the reader "...its idea of entrapment which indicates that the person in question is leading the little one into something that that little one does not properly understand. The little one is deceived into committing sin..".

Punishing a Christian for being a Christian or causing a child to not have the freedom to believe God's Word is no different from placing a stumbling block before them. This holds true for those that abuse children by beating and whipping them as well for those not acknowledging the Christian historical aspects of Christmas.

Let us celebrate our faith and belief.

No comments: