Ridding the Family of the Stain
“Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12
Honor is central to every family in the Middle East, whether they be Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. How one is perceived in the community is how one can value one’s life. Perceptions are often based on the efforts that one makes to make one appear wealthy, moral or religious. Whether the perception is accurate or not does not matter as much as how the person is perceived. The women of the family are essential foundations to how a family will be see in the community. If a woman carries herself honorably she will be honored by everyone in the community. However, she is held to a very high standard, as even a simple facial gesture can be ruin her reputation, and soil her chances to have a good marriage and future of honor in the community.
There is a custom in the Middle East, predominately in the Gulf and Holy Land regions that compels families to act in a brutal way to even those nearest and dearest to them. This custom is that of cleansing the honor of the family by killing the person who caused the shame. This dishonor can be caused by a number of “wrongs” such as premarital sex, changing of religion, adultery and even sometimes in the case of rape. The society there is one of a patriarchal tribal background, where ultimately the man of the home is responsible for all behavior that goes on with his family, both close and extended. When an offense has been done by someone of his family, he is compelled by his honor to ‘clean’ the mark from his good name in order to remain in good standing within the community. In order to do so, the only punishment that can cover for such an offense is death. While many of these deaths are brutal and bloody the preferred method is burying alive. Thus symbolizing the burial of the sin and the sinner. Unfortunately, this custom is practiced almost always on the females of the family.
For the most part this practice is generally frowned on within the government agencies all over the Middle East, but sadly the custom remains strong in all Islamic states, even in the more modern Jordan. This custom has made it’s way to the United States thru the multitudes of immigrants who have come to the States seeking a new life, but keeping their old customs. Only because of a recent attention via the media have the police agencies even begun to recognize the severity of this problem.
The need to get rid of the problem, the blemish, the stain on the honor pushes normally loving families to this extreme. This is actually an ancient custom that comes from the need to have a sacrifice to cover for a sin. Isn’t in wonderful to know that all of our sins are covered under the blood of Christ, and we have nothing to be ashamed of?