Thursday, May 19, 2011

When the Priceless become the Priced: The Sad Loss of the Intrinsic Value of Daughters and a Pastoral Letter to my Daughters and Sisters in the Faith

So today I read a sad article by Al Mohler The Scandal of Gendercide--War on Baby Girls in which he discussed how girls are selected for murder/infanticide (in its various forms, including but not limited to abortion, exposure, slaughter, drowning, neglect, etc.) simply because they are girls. This is found significantly in China and India, which is to say the ratios and numbers of murders are large there, topping well over 100 million. Although it's technically not legal in those countries to choose to murder your child based on gender, it is still widely done. However, sex-selected abortions are also legal in Sweden (i.e., you can choose to kill your baby because of his/her gender). This is a heinous atrocity to say the least. Al Mohler's article is actually a commentary on an article in the Economist called Gendercide: The Worldwide War on Baby Girls that notes that this is an even more widespread trend. However, it ends by saying that the massive imbalance of sons to daughters is probably stabilizing and not continuing to skyrocket. This remains to be seen as a consistent trend however. However, even if the rates stay as they are there will be a massive amount of daughters being slaughtered by their parents. The economist of course is looking at this in more economic terms and is very utilitarian about the whole matter. The Economist's article is of wanting to say that people will eventually see that girls are equal in value to boys. However, what is probably missed when you read these kinds of articles is what is really being reflected both by the slaughter of daughters and by the Economist's report of such, namely where the value of daughters comes from. What is probably not clear is that neither those slaughtering their daughters nor those who are reporting it (obviously somewhat aghast) disagree about the value of daughters. You say, "Oh yes they do! The one group is murdering their daughters while the other group is aghast by such heinous crimes." True enough. But the thing is that both, at least on the surface (barring some innate morality code still not silenced by their rebellion against God) actually do agree that the value of a daughter is economic and utilitarian (= regarding usefulness/utility). The difference is simply how other presuppositions are interacting with that presupposition. Those murdering their daughters en masse believe that daughters have a utilitarian value and an economic value, but that that value is less than that of a boy. And to some degree, in their cultures this is true. Those who are opposed to such gendercide also agree that the value of a daughter is in her economic and utilitarian value, as evidenced by the arguments they used to play up the seriousness of the crime--what did they use but the inability for men to marry and be tamed for the sake of societal benefit (a utilitarian value and an economic value [albeit the economic not mentioned because they do not like the thought of putting a pricetag on a daughter, which is what they see the murders doing and despise, but eventually the economic production will be affected by a shortage of daughters]). The problem for those opposed comes from the fact that they also have a presupposition about the utilitarian and economic value of daughters and that is that they are equal to sons. See they want to see daughters as intrinsically equal to son, but they do not really have categories for intrinsic worth outside of economic and utilitarian values. Thus, the discrepancy between the murders and the aghast is not between extrinsic and intrinsic value, but between extrinsic value systems. The one system says that boys are worth more, the other says they are not, but rather the same in worth. However, as the comment towards the end of the Economist's article about the modernization of societies indicates, it is actually the equalization of utilitarian and economic value that makes the difference between the two societal structures. The aghast have embraced a view that daughters are equal to boys in all economic and utilitarian matters, which forbids the kind of bias towards sons that it sees in these other cultures. But ultimately neither of them have an truly absolute intrinsic value for sons or daughters, except the other presuppositions and cultures that are embraced.

All this to say, that both are horribly and heinously wrong. There is in fact intrinsic value for daughters, just as there is for sons. However, this does not come from a cultural more, but rather from ontological status, which is to say that it is actually intrinsic rather than an extrinsic view masquerading as intrinsic. Although to be perfectly honest there is an extrinsic element to the intrinsic value that I am about to mention, namely that it comes from God Himself and the nature that He created in human beings, in daughters. Thus, our intrinsic value does have a referent outside ourselves for value, but we still do have intrinsic value from the Extrinsic Source, Yahweh God. However, the value ascribed by the utilitarian and economic systems is extrinsic and the ascibed intrinsic values are sourced in cultures rather than in actual ontology (= fundamental being). They are disputing based on ontology, but really it is not a dispute about ontology, but about the economic and utilitarian value. The two sides are not completely talking on the same grid, for what the aghast fail to realize is that while the ultimate utilitarian value is the same, in those cultures on a personal level and for the reasons they do it, the economic and utilitarian value is in fact different, when it comes to small scale, the family scale. Now, to the aghast they see the societal problems this cultural difference causes on the large scale, but ignore the small scale, which further belies their utilitarian and economic motivations. Thus, the aghast feel vindicated in being aghast at the practice based on their utilitarian and economic ethics. Yet, while they are right to be aghast, and in fact that ultimate utilitarian value is equal as their cultural mores stipulate, they are not right to base the value of a daughter on her ultimate utilitarian and economic value. The economic and utilitarian value of a person is a subsidiary issue that actually points to a greater issue, namely the intrinsic value of daughters. The reason that daughters have an ultimately equal economic and utilitarian value is because they have an equal intrinsic or ontological value. That value is the Image of God, aka Imago Dei. The value of daughters comes from God, not what bring to society. They are valuable because they are valued by God. They are valuable because they are representatives of God. They are valuable because they are God's creations. They are valuable because God has given them value on an ontological level. It is because of who God has fundamentally made them that they have value. It is God Who gives them value, not their economic or utilitarian offerings. It is because they are made in God's very image and likeness that they have value. They are His vice-royalty on the earth. They are crowned with glory and honor by God. They are made just short of Who God is Himself. They are not God, but they are just like Him. The lie of the devil that we are not like God has been an old, old lie. That serpent used it in the garden on Adam and Eve, when that snake told them,  "You would be like gods." But indeed they were already like YAHWEH GOD! For they had been created and formed in His Very Image! That is what gives daughters value, not society, not friends, not relationships, not boyfriends, or girlfriends, or parents, or siblings, or fame, or acclaim, or grades, or love, or affection, or anything in this world. God alone gives you value, my dear daughters and sisters in the faith! (I cannot help the moment to be a little pastoral.) The value of daughters is that they are God's daughters, that they are created in His Image and Likeness, that they are cherished and loved by Him, that He says they are precious and valuable! THE PRICELESS VALUE OF DAUGHTERS COMES FROM THE PRICELESS GOD WHO CREATED THEM AND CAUSES THEM TO LIVE AND PROVIDES FOR THEM AND WHO LOVES THEM!!!

However, sadly the priceless nature of daughters has been lost. It has been lost by those who murder them and really those who oppose such murders (although obviously the opposed are closer to the truth). To everyone but Christians the Priceless have become the priced! οὐ μὴ γενοῖτο!!! (transl. "May it never ever happen!!!") This is heinous enough. Yet, because the priceless have become the priced, the priceless will now suffer all the more at hands of their pricers. Daughters have now become an commodity, of sorts, to the world! --HOW LONG O YAHWEH OF HOSTS WILL YOU WAIT TO TAKE VENGEANCE FOR THE BLOOD OF THE PRICELESS PRICED? HOW LONG WILL YOU WAIT TO REBUKE THE PRICING OF BOTH THE MURDERERS AND THE OPPOSERS?--Now that the priceless have become the priced, my suspicion is that it will only get worse for them. As they are now in such high demand in some place, prostitution, both forced and volitional, will sore. Governments will likely start at some point to offer some kind of compensation for having daughters. This will result in less murder perhaps, but it will only further the idea that girls are a commodity. Daughters will not be had because of the daughters intrinsic worth, but because of their economic and utilitarian worth--I can hear the angry shouts now, "We only had you because the government paid us!"  οὐ μὴ γενοῖτο!!! Alas, daughters would then only become more relegated to economic and utilitarian value. Who will tell daughters of their intrinsic worth from God? It will not be the world. In the world's hands, daughters will only suffer (unless it changes to a predominately matriarchal society, which is somewhat unlikely, although then sons will suffer, although even in that context they will still suffer). It then falls to us Christians to communicate the God-given intrinsic value of daughters to them.

Therefore, dear daughters and sisters in the Lord, and mothers for that matter (as if I could resist the urge to be pastoral), know that God has given you deep and real value that does not come from anyone or anything else besides Him. Know also that God loves you and as He does so do I. You are priceless, not priced, in God's sight, nor in mine. Let no one lay a price on you, NO ONE, for their is none! You are not worth cash, esteem, affection, love, grades, popularity, fame, looks, status, friends, romantic interests, good jobs, power, prestige, schools, colleges, husbands, or anything else in all creation, both visible and invisible, for all those things are beneath you in value. You get your value straight from God Himself! So do not be deceived by the devil when he attacks you for some failure to God, because God does not value you because you are Godly, but because you are made in His Image, because you are His. Or when that accuser assaults you with slanders about your failure in school or relationships or to parents or any such thing, because those do not give you value, God gives you value and you are priceless despite those things. Also, do not cheapen yourselves by selling yourselves out for emotions, the emotions of feeling loved, or respected by people, the emotions of success or fame in the world. Don't cheapen yourselves by crossing the bounds of purity either. God has given you value. How you feel and the emotions you experience from others is not what gives you value, rather it is who God has made you, that God has made you at all! God is Who gives you value. You get your value from him, not from other people not even your parents, friends, boyfriends, or husbands. You get it straight from God, so do not believe the lie that says you are valuable for what you can do or earn. You are not more valuable if you can make lots of money, help society, please your husband, or raise your kids. You are certainly not more valuable for playing tonsil hockey with your boyfriend. You are priceless because God has set your value as Himself. You were worth His One and Only Son's gruesome death and epic hell-bearing on the the cross. Never forget this dear daughters. Never forget this. Your value comes from God and not men, from God not friends, from God not demand, from God not utility, from God not economy, from God not society. You are truly and lastingly priceless, no matter what you do, no matter what people say, no matter what you achieve, no matter what you fail, no matter who loves you, no matter who hates you, no matter who prices you, no matter what you are priced, because indeed God loves you and has priced you as truly and lastingly PRICELESS. I agree with God, You are deeply and truly and lastingly priceless. You are loved and valued by God and me, because of who you are, not what you do.

Grace and Peace and Hope and Love, Priceless Daughters, from God your Father through Christ Jesus your Savior by the Holy Spirit your Indweller!
Pastor Anthony

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