Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Remember When . . . Children Were Expendable?
As a promised, a bit more about Giver of Wonders today. ;-)
At the start of the story, my heroine Cyprus is twelve years old. In the very first scene, she experiences an accident that leaves her paralyzed--and the thoughts and fears are quick to bombard her. Her father--Roman by heritage but Greek by upbringing--will have no patience for her in such a condition, she knows.
She knows he loves her. But she's just a child--and a girl, at that. In that society at that point in history, female children weren't viewed as precious--not when they had a disability, certainly. They were possessions of the father, and their purpose was to bring him honor through their marriages. According to Roman law, a father can kill his daughter at any point in her life without consequence. It's his right.
So Cyprus, suddenly unable to move, sees her life flash before her eyes--but not the life she's lived thus far. The short, brutal life she knows is about to come.
She'll die. Not from the fall that severed her spinal cord (not that I name it as such, LOL), but from what she views as the decision her father will have no choice but to make. It's unthinkable that he'll saddle himself and his wife with such a child for innumerable years. He'll do what his Greek neighbors would expect him to do:
Because he loves her, she doubts he'll be able to do it by his own hand, so he'll do what most parents do in the face of an obviously imperfect child: leave her on a hilltop for the weather and wild animals to snarl over.
To modern, Western philosophy, this mindset is simply unthinkable. Because children are precious. They are a gift from God. We give them, in general, more consideration than adults--but this is a relatively new idea. As recently as a hundred years ago, families with any means still believed children were meant to be tucked away and cared for out of sight--and earshot--by hired help. Christmas celebrations were for the adults, not primarily the children. They would have considered this ancient mindset extreme, but they without the benefit of modern medicine and therapy and equipment probably would have also shrugged and said, "But I understand. What can they do? Wouldn't it have been more merciful to end her suffering?"
Throughout the book, Cyprus's father represents that Greek/Roman way of thinking--first for himself and only after that for his daughters.
So how are daughters to respond, especially in a world that thinks like he does?
How do you honor a parent who is not honoring God?
These are a few questions I dig into--quesitons I had no answer to going in, but which came to light as I wrote. And I do it by remembering something that would have been new and revolutionary at the time:
God values children, even daughters. He pours love and affection out upon them. The early Christian church did something unprecedented in history by taking in orphans and unwanted children and loving them. Teaching them that God loved them. That they were precious.
That mindset we take for granted today? That's all thanks to God and Jesus. Which is why it's pretty funny when the secular feminist today spouts nonsense about the Bible being anti-woman. Because honey, without the Bible and its mores, you wouldn't have any rights to complain at all. ;-)
Of course, the book would be pretty short if Cyprus's father really killed her after chapter one. She ends up miraculously healed . . . but her father won't accept that either. Because why would God waste a miracle on a third daughter? And so, in the years to come, Cyprus asks a new question:
Why did God heal her?
I think this is a question many of us relate to. Why did God move in that way in our lives? What was the plan, the purpose? How are we supposed to remember the feeling of peace and joy when the world around us crumbles?
Good questions. It takes Cyprus many, many pages to arrive at an answer. And it's one I pray will shed some new light on what love--selfless, God-given love--is really all about.