Paul told the people of Galatia, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ.”
That was a revolutionary statement which many back then and many now would not take to be true. Perhaps the most hateful thing about the ISIS movement is its insistence on totally subjecting women. But even America has not always had full regard for its women. They were not admitted to Harvard and Yale until 1890, and the 20th Amendment gave them our vote only in 1920.
Fifty years ago a very uppity Korean lady asked me if she should become Catholic. When I told her that was her decision, she told me off. She said, “Don’t you know that you are a man, and men have to make important decisions for women?
Vatican II made many changes for us Catholics, but I feel its most important innovation came in its consistently showing high regard for the dignity of women: viewing them as persons made in God’s image, with every right: to education, to living wages, and to the choosing their own paths through life.
Twenty years ago I had St. Paul’s Eighth Grade put on a play in which a slave girl from Galatia, with her ability to read and write, rose to be the private secretary to Emperor Trajan. I had her singing these lines:
“Christians in Galatia taught me to write,
But I was made a slave by thugs
Who turned my days to nights.”