LOOKING at the essentials of marriage which bring about the family, one sees a man and a woman brought together by love, not just ‘adults.’
Adults could mean two men engaging themselves or two women engaging themselves. But marriage is not something defined by man. It has its meaning in the origin which accounts for our existence on earth today. And if there is any hope for the continuity of the human race, then, we must guard and protect the family for all it is worth. It must not be watered down.
In the family, you find the parents (the husband and wife) and the children (boys and girls). This is the nuclear family. In the other categories of the family, you find the grandparents, other relatives and even the domestic help. The family carries with it its own unique warmth. And all these persons should in some way share in the warmth of the home and family. This warmth is not something bestowed only, it has to be acquired as well. It can only be acquired by the various individuals carrying out their duty properly.
The family is like a football team working together to score goals. No one is irrelevant. No one should feel that he or she is irrelevant. No one should treat the other as of he or she is irrelevant. Each has been positioned to do that which he or she can do best. Each one has to be at his or her post. Each must strive to avoid pride. It is the greatest enemy of a team. Each one has equal dignity – the dignity identical to man – and thus must be respected. There is no competition amongst them, rather each one is complementary of the other.
The family in essence, must reflect its true meaning. Let no one shy away from his or her duty, out of fear or thinking one is being marginalised. This topic reminds me of a scene in the Hobbit III. During one of the battles, a man was given a sword. He took the sword fearfully and went into a changing room, flung the sword away, clothed himself in ladies attire, and walked amidst women and their children, who are being taken to a refugee camp.
In the family today, men and women alike sometimes run away from their duties. It is a man’s duty normally to provide for the economic needs of the family. This does not mean that the woman cannot do this. But when the man out of laziness or selfishness (in a case where work is available) does not fulfil his duty, how will the family be happy and cheerful? This is not a justification for the bickering and quarrels that will follow afterwards. The wife should treat the husband with tenderness and love, and make him understand and love his responsibility. Whether she is employed or not, she should make the husband see the joy and fulfilment there is in working, by doing her own work well.
The woman embelished with beauty also has a very large heart to love and to care. As men are after their businesses, women are after their husbands, their children and their homes, seeing to it that everyone is taken care of. This does not mean that the man does not have the duty of taking care of the children. They have to spend some time with their children, knowing their joys and worries, teaching them things about life.
This duty of taking care of the children must not be abandoned by the parents for the nanny, because of work. It is a duty which brings with it joy and happiness. In a family where the woman does not care whether her husband and children have eaten, whether they are well dressed, whether they are in need of anything, whether they are happy, how then will the warmth of the family be radiated? This does not justify the fight and quarrels in the family or the divorce. Husbands should learn to love their wives. Sometimes, there can be quarrels, but not before the children. St Josemaria would say that ‘quarrels, so long as they don’t happen often, are also a proof of love, and they are almost a need.’
The children, on the other hand, have their own duties; the duties of carrying out their house chores, helping parents in their needs, doing their own school works. The daughter, being a girl, has to learn to care. She learns from her mum.
Actually, I have been spurred to write this in response to Jennifer Mbunabo’s article titled: ‘There’s Something like Gender Equality.’ It is a nice write-up. But I think she should reconsider what the clergyman told her, that ‘there was nothing like gender equality and would rather use the word ‘uniqueness’ instead of gender equality and feminism.’ And that ‘if feminism entailed teaching women how to play their role properly as women in the society, then he could embrace that word.’ The role women play in the society is not something that should be undermined by anyone.
Gender equality has brought about many a broken home. The causes of divorce these days are just little skirmishes. A woman becomes proud when she begins to undermine her lovely role, when she begins to expect her husband to cook for her, because she can no longer continue like this. Pride starts from the mind, and then it manifests itself in action. There is no love there. Love is self-giving.
When people talk of love, they talk of pleasure. But it is not so. Love is always a mixture of suffering and joy. She is happy on seeing the husband and the children happy. It is not to say that the husband does not owe her his love. The man owes her everything and must give his whole self to her. This is the consequence of love.
The feminist idea of ‘what a man can do a woman can do so’ has also degenerated into lesbianism. The sexual act, which is something sacred and thus prohibited by taboo is meant to be only between a man and a woman who are married to themselves. It is not between a woman and another or a man and another. It is an act of procreation, and of love. Here, the woman cannot play the role of a man; neither can the man play the role of the woman. Thus, each gender must play its own unique role.
Today, we hear of many cases of abortion. The feminist can see it from this view: ‘Why the woman? Why can’t the man carry this baby?’ Now you see the uniqueness of the two genders. She begins to think of her comfort and how to get rid of any discomfort. Well, my advice to the prospective mother is this: Carry the child because of love. Yes, love – love for the child who is a gift and love for the One who gave the gift. Though you will have to suffer, but do it out of love. This is where self-giving comes to play.
All these are aftermaths of feminism. If feminism is not geared towards helping women to play their role properly as women in the society, then it will result in the above vices.
Another point to stress is that humans have equal dignity whether man or woman. And each one must uphold his or her dignity and respect that of the others. A man who sits by the road side looking out for and calling on ladies has lost his dignity. Infact, he is not a human. You can call him whatever less than a man – an animal. A man who thinks of a woman as an object of pleasure is gone.
On the other hand, the woman on her own part must uphold her dignity. To some extent, women are virtuous in this matter, as they will not go around looking out for men. But on the other hand, they can do a great lot of harm. A woman who is dressed indecently and amorously can draw a lot of attention and by so doing she loses her dignity.
We must not lose our identity and our dignity. And in case our dignity is lost by whatever means, we must restore it. We must not forget our roots in whatever we do.
Chukwuemeka, a prospective Youth Corps member, lives in Lagos (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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