Recently, the print edition of The Times (London) had this moving front-page headline: "Afghan women dare to challenge sex slavery law" (April 16). Underneath was a photograph of women holding banners, written in Farsi: "We want law, but a democratic one."
As a woman raised in Iran now living in Britain, I want to support my sisters in Afghanistan. I'm so grateful that we live in a time of instant communication, able to be aware immediately of what goes on in other parts of the world. We can respond by praying for one another, and in this way reach out to our brothers and sisters everywhere.
These Afghan women have realized that freedom is everyone's God-given right. The Bible's message supports the thought that men and women everywhere are entitled to be governed by just laws that respect this right. Unjust laws that essentially enslave people need to be challenged.
Slavery has a long history in many cultures. The story of Hagar in the Bible is a typical example. She was an Egyptian slave to Abraham and Sarah when they left Egypt. She became Sarah's maidservant – a position that carried some importance in the household.
Since Sarah up to that point hadn't been able to conceive, she offered Hagar to her husband as a wife. When Hagar conceived and gave birth to a son, she was less willing to be subservient. Sarah was jealous, and the relationship between the two women wasn't a happy one. Later, after Sarah had given birth to her own son, she demanded that Abraham send Hagar into the desert with her child.
That might have been the end of the story. But Hagar's case is proof that God does hear cries for help. When their water ran out, she put the boy under a bush and turned away, not wanting to see him die. The Bible's account goes on, "God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is" (Gen. 21:17). Through God's guidance, Hagar saw a well, and was able to get water for them. Her son, Ishmael, survived and had a family of his own.
Even today, many women are in a position similar to Hagar's. They are not slaves as such, but they are in a position of weakness with no one except God to defend them. The same God who heard the cries of Hagar's son in the desert and defended her when they were thrown out by Sarah, also defends and saves all women and their children now. God tells them as He told Hagar: "Do not be afraid. My law of ever-present Love is ever operative, and it includes all My children."
Every woman has her place in God's infinite universe and has a purpose. Nothing can stop this fact. Every child of God is spiritual and equally loved by infinite Love. Each one of us is spiritual, the image of God, of Spirit. Our true identity is not in gender, race, culture, or material means. We have the blessed identity of God's own children, designed to serve God and no one else.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and established the Monitor, wrote: "Truth brings the elements of liberty. On its banner is the Soul-inspired motto, 'Slavery is abolished.' The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 224).
This ever-operative presence of the all-loving Father-Mother God gives each of us the ability to transcend limitations. Your prayer to see evidence of this fact can help the world's women. Freedom is our right as children of the Father-Mother God, who wants only what is good for all.