Monday, September 22, 2014

The Plight of Widows


Good morning Ladies ~ Today we have the first part of a piece written by, our guest speaker last week, Tom Caprio.

Living in this country of ours where we still have freedoms to enjoy, we often do not see or hear about what is going on in other countries.  This piece by Tom is a real eye-opener to the conditions that widows are forced to live in.

Let us remember to pray for these dear widows, living in dire straits.


The Plight of Widows: Cries and Suffering That Often are Ignored

James, the brother of Jesus wrote, "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world". (James 1:27)

Unfortunately today, two thousand years later, widowhood has become a "social death" for women in many developing countries (especially in India and Africa).  In these areas unmarried women are "owned" and controlled by their fathers, married women belong to their husbands, but widows fall into limbo, become outcasts and no longer have any protector.  Widows are shunned from society, not for religious reasons, but because of tradition and the fact that they're seen as a financial drain on their families.   In addition to losing her husband, the primary provider of her household, a woman's social status depends on her husband.  When her husband dies, a woman no longer has a place in society and she is tossed to the very fringe where she will suffer extreme forms of dishonor, abandonment, discrimination, poverty, isolation and hopelessness.


Once widowed, women in many countries often confront a denial of inheritance and land ownership rights under customary and religious law as well as degrading and life-threatening mourning and burial rites and other forms of widow abuse.  Without inheritance rights, including a lack of rights to the property of their birth family, widows find themselves financially insecure and totally dependent on the charity of their husbands' relatives.  Widows are often evicted from their homes and physically abused - some even killed - even by members of their own family.  To regain social status, widows are expected to marry one of their husband's male relatives, sometimes unwillingly.

In Genesis chapter 38 we see how Judah's daughter-in-law Tamar became a childless widow after her husband Er, Judah's oldest son, died. As was the custom of the day, Tamar then married Onan, Judah's second son.  Onan died shortly thereafter and Tamar became a childless widow a second time.  Custom called for Judah to have his third son marry Tamar, but Judah feared he might lose his only remaining son so he had Tamar return to her father's house until his son was older. God had mercy on this abandoned childless widow and through a series of events (which you can find in Genesis 38) she gave birth to twins from Judah himself. Tamar's first born son Perez, fathered a lineage that included King David and even Jesus Himself!

Another example of the ancient custom of redeeming a widowed relative if found in the book of Ruth. Here we see Boaz, a descendant of Judah, Tamar and Perez, redeeming Ruth, a widow who was gathering scraps of grains from his fields, after he found out that she was the wife of a deceased relative.  Together Ruth and Boaz had a child, Obed, who would go on to become the grandfather of King David and it was through the lineage of King David that Jesus was born.

By: Tom Caprio
Master of Divinity Degree
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School


To be continued.

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