Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Both Sides of Liberty in Albania

This is something I did not see in Albania when I visited last month. The New York Times reports today (for some reason presenting it as "world news"):
Pashe Keqi recalled the day nearly 60 years ago when she decided to become a man. She chopped off her long black curls, traded in her dress for her father’s baggy trousers, armed herself with a hunting rifle and vowed to forsake marriage, children and sex.

What's the fuss? Women do this all the time in America. Ironically, it's called "feminism." (There! I've said it!) Hold on, There's more.
For centuries, in the closed-off and conservative society of rural northern Albania, swapping genders was considered a practical solution for a family with a shortage of men. Her father was killed in a blood feud, and there was no male heir. By custom, Ms. Keqi, now 78, took a vow of lifetime virginity. She lived as a man, the new patriarch, with all the swagger and trappings of male authority — including the obligation to avenge her father’s death.

So this custom represents not a confusion of the respective roles of men and women in the natural order of things, but a recognition and affirmation of them. Of course, like all things, the particular cultural expression of that natural order is twisted and perverted by sin. “Back then," says Keqi, "it was better to be a man because, before, a woman and an animal were considered the same thing.”

In the Bible itself, we see this twisting of the created order between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3. Eve is given to Adam as his "suitable helper" (Gen. 2:20 NIV) or "help meet" (KJV). Adam was to govern his home with a righteousness that mirrored the character of God himself (Gen. 1:26) in the larger enterprise of governing the creation (Gen. 1:28). Sin changed that beautiful moral economy. When announcing the curses on the serpent, then on Eve, and then on Adam (last, on account of his ultimate responsibility), God said, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." God here announces the effect that sin will have on those previously godly relationships between the sexes.

By "desire," he does not refer to romantic attraction. In the next chapter, God uses the same Hebrew word when he warns Cain against sin that wishes to dominate him: "If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it" (Gen. 4:7). Wives will want to dominate their husbands, and husbands, in their own particular perversity, will want to rule their wives brutally.

Again Miss Keqi: “Now, Albanian women have equal rights with men, and are even more powerful."

It seems that the Albanians, so eager to embrace American liberty, are following us also in exchanging one perversion for another in the relations between the sexes.

(To see the pictures of these female patriarchs, you have to go to the NYT story, "Albanian Custom Fades: Woman as Family Man.")

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