Telling bible stories should incorporate relevant context and language so that we may better reflect on our lives. The places where we might be uncomfortable may have to do with our conditioning. One such scene is when Mary meets Elizabeth. Some people underestimate how symbolic this relationship between Elizabeth and Mary is. Mary was 14 or 15 years old at the time, unwed, pregnant, and espoused to a man several years older. Her life, reputation and respectability were under attack.
Elizabeth (a woman past child-bearing age) questioned her own pregnancy
”Looka how de Lord deal with me these days though, fuh people to put muh name in dem mouth. Cha!”Luke 1:25
She hid her situation for six months before meeting Mary. I find this (and other bible stories) filled of obeah. Sweet!
39 And Mary rise up and hurry cross to a city in Juda;Luke 1:39-45
40 to Zacharia’s house to look for (she cousin) Elizabeth.
41 Well, as soon as Elisabeth hear Mary holla fuh she, the baby leap in she belly; and spirit tek Elisabeth:
42 And she holla out, Well, well, well! Mary! How you so blessed, ma gurl! You and wha you carrying in you belly blessed fuh true, EH!
43 So, wha happen eh, that de mudda of my Lord should come cross here so?
44 (Yes???) Wha looka, as soon as I hear you holla feh me, my l’il man in hey wuk-up like a skeete den, had me going giddy up.
45 And bless you fuh believing in God. Haw haw! Yes, now I could see what de Lord had planned yuh!
Unfortunately, this attitude towards women resonates in present-day society. Family members, friends and society entertain doubt and pass comment rather than express joy.
We should seek forgiveness for all the ways we continue to target teenage women who have become pregnant. In fact, Elizabeth provides the best example of how we should respond as, regardless of circumstance, there is the joy of bringing life into the world. Here, Elizabeth is moved by what she knows and feels than what she has heard. Elizabeth herself, was bearing a miracle-birth. She knew that her child was a gift from God, and her spirit rejoiced. How many times in our lives, despite the banality, the strangeness, the impossibility of the situation, we “know” the truth, but our spirit “that passes all human understanding” reconciles ongoing contradictions.
What would happen if we treated our children as gifts from God and respect our women, regardless of circumstances? There are other contradictions in this story that form the fabric of our lives. Still, what would it take to go beyond westernized notions of morality especially as it pertains to our women? It is important to rise above the confusions and distractions that disconnect us from being our authentic selves. We strive to connect to the things that bring us into communion, into community, that supports us to be ourselves, that makes us fully human, fully spiritual.
Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte. Picture by Adrian Richards.