As a boy, athletic opportunities abounded for me. I played organized baseball, for instance, from the time I was seven. We had try-outs, uniforms, sponsors, coaches, umpires, well-maintained fields, and all the equipment we could use. I played year after year.
It didn’t seem odd to me that no such opportunities existed at that time for my sister. Organized sports for girls were rare then. But that began to change in 1972, with the passage of Title Nine in the United States, a piece of Federal legislation designed to ensure that girls have equal access to all educational programs, including athletics. And since then a growing tidal wave of girls’ and women’s sports activity has flooded across the landscape, sparking tremendous interest and the highest levels of athletic accomplishment. Today’s playing fields are teeming with both girls and boys—challenging themselves, perfecting their abilities, and developing their talents.
Equal participation of women and men is key, and not just in sports. On August 18, an article in The New York Times titled, “A New Gender Agenda,” reported on an interview with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which she touched on a wide variety of gender-related issues around the world today that need help. They include poor maternal healthcare, lack of education for girls, lack of economic opportunity for women, and a particularly brutal form of oppression, mass rape, occurring in war zones like the Congo. Every step toward resolving these issues is a step toward stability and progress in society. Clinton concluded that “the transformation of women’s roles is the last great impediment to universal progress.”
The world is slowly awakening to the fundamental fact that all the individual talents and abilities of both men and women, freed up and working in harmony, are required to fulfill life most richly. We should do everything we can to speed the dawning of this awareness.
More than 100 years ago the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: “Civil law establishes very unfair differences between the rights of the two sexes. Christian Science furnishes no precedent for such injustice, and civilization mitigates it in some measure. Still, it is a marvel why usage should accord woman less rights than does either Christian Science or civilization” (Science and Health, p. 63).
I’ve always been puzzled about the attempt by societies to silence or marginalize women. To me it’s like going into life with one arm tied behind your back. It can literally mean using only half of humanity’s available intelligence, moral strength, enthusiasm, and talent. Just think how much more creativity and innovation we can all benefit from when the entire spectrum of potential is utilized.
Christian Science is based solidly on the fact that there is only one God and refers to God as Father-Mother. This God is Spirit, the Great “I AM,” including both masculine and feminine qualities. The first chapter of Genesis in the Bible clearly lays the spiritual foundation for equality of the sexes by pronouncing that God created man and woman “in his own image . . . male and female created he them.” Also that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:27, 31).
It is this flawless, spiritual concept—rather than the false picture of mortals competing with each other and dominating one another—that we need to look to for the lasting solution to gender-based discrimination. Each one of us is the reflection of God’s completeness. Both men and women can be seen to represent a union of male and female qualities that have their source in the Father-Mother God of all.
Fear holds people to outmoded, outgrown gender roles—fear of change, fear of upsetting the status quo, fear of sharing credit, fear of losing control. But the Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18). God is perfect, fearless Love. Based on that fact, we have nothing to fear and everything to gain by encouraging, enabling, equipping, and equally valuing the right of each individual to fully express God.
Through a growing understanding of God as both Father and Mother, each man and woman will increasingly be able to express freedom and perfection as God’s very likeness. When we see ourselves and one another in this true light, the universal progress Mrs. Clinton called for will indeed be unstoppable.
Article originally appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel, September 28, 2009.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.