Friday, October 05, 2007


It's grandparents day at my son's school today. They will be putting on a cute program I am sure. But now, the New York Times Well blog, Tara Parker gives us this, "Are grandmothers an evolutionary necessity?" The blogpost highlights the evolutionary anomaly that human females live well beyond their reproductive years, and contribute significantly to their societies rather than being a burden. Researchers are proposing that work performed by grandmothers while younger women are caring for infants acts as a significant balancing factor for societies and human evolution as a whole.
Contrast this with what the Church has taught the value of older women since the time of St. Paul.
Don't be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters.
Take care of widows who are destitute. If a widow has family members to take care of her, let them learn that religion begins at their own doorstep and that they should pay back with gratitude some of what they have received. This pleases God immensely. You can tell a legitimate widow by the way she has put all her hope in God, praying to him constantly for the needs of others as well as her own. But a widow who exploits people's emotions and pocketbooks—well, there's nothing to her. Tell these things to the people so that they will do the right thing in their extended family. Anyone who neglects to care for family members in need repudiates the faith. That's worse than refusing to believe in the first place.
1 Timothy 5:1-8, the Message
Although the theories are speculative but interesting, we should value our grandmothers for more reasons than their ability to allow the gene pool to advance.
  • Grandmothers have value beyond what they contribute economically, genetically, or socially. They have a long history of spiritual formation of their grandchildren.
  • Grandmothers (persons) have worth just for the simple fact that God chosen to created them and never for what they contribute.
  • While the grandmother in an evolutionary world view may be only of worth in how she contributes to the survival of her offspring, the Bible gives all person an innate value to God, who does not anyone's "line" to die out. This grandmother hypothesis may explain why humans were able to "take over the planet" but it fails to account for the often selfless, sacrificial, overflowing desire for humans and most often grandmothers to give of themselves for the sake of another.

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