The Supreme Court of India has ordered that women of all age may enter the Sabarimala temple. Since 1991 women were not legally allowed to enter the temple following an order by the Kerala High Court. After 37 years the apex court has overruled this ban.
Justice Indu Malhotra has observed that the Supreme Court should not rule over matters of faith. I agree with that. The judiciary has to guarantee the constitutional rights of the individuals. Every faith has its own rules that protect the rights of its adherents. The judiciary should not interfere with faith.
However, this case is different. The judiciary had already (in 1991) involved in this matter of faith to deny the rights of female worshippers. So it is binding on the higher court to correct what a lower court had already ruled.
There is also the issue of segregation of worshippers on the basis of gender. Is this justifiable? Though there seems to be a legal issue of human rights, gender equality etc, it is more a matter of faith. It is not much a matter of law. The simple question to be answered is this. Are men and women equal before God? Put it another way, is a God who makes a distinction on the basis of gender is a god at all? We must question not the validity of the law but the validity of our own concept of God.
Even from another point of view, the god-concept related to this issue must be questioned. The religious argument is that the deity can be polluted by the presence of menstruating women. First of all, does menstruation pollute anyone including the women who menstruate? This is wrong scientifically.
Even if we allow against all scientific evidence that menstruation is something that pollutes how can a deity be polluted by human impurity? So, faith has to bring under its scrutiny the validity of our concept of god than the validity of the worshipper.
I like Jesus for many reasons; particularly the way he stood up to wrong traditions. He touched what the traditions forbade a person to touch. The Jews of his day believed that touching a leper would make a person unclean. Touching a dead body was also an act that makes you unclean. Touch by a bleeding woman would make you unclean as well. However, Jesus chose to touch and heal the lepers. He held the hands of the Jairus' daughter who was already dead and raised her. On the way to Jairus' house, a woman who was considered impure because of her bleeding touched him and she was healed. Jesus affirmed her faith.
Jesus was not made impure, nor lose his divine power by the presence or physical contact by those who were unclean. But the reverse is true. His presence and touch made clean those who were unclean. That is the God I want--the one who is immune to my impurity but who has the power to cleanse me. That is the God that I found in Jesus.
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