Editor’s note: Christian Times, an online Chinese Christian newspaper, recently received writings from two sojourner Christians of Xuzhou origin in which they expressed their thoughts and reflections on the case of the chained mother of eight children. In a video released on January 28, a woman was chained to a hut of Feng County, Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province in the cold weather near zero degrees Celsius, wearing only light clothes and speaking with a lisp, which caused massive outrage on the Internet. The issue also raised hot discussions among the Chinese Christian Community. Below are their articles.
I. My Thoughts on the Case: There Is No Middle Ground Between Good and Evil.
By Yang Shi
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
This is one of the opening sentences of the Gospel of John, which declares a truth that could not be simpler, that is there is no middle ground between good and evil because darkness does not accept light.
Because there is light in people, which is life, people turn into a kind person. This is the basis and essence that defines mankind.
Therefore, you are obliged to be kind, a manifestation of your essence. People can not do evil no matter what the reason was.
Concerning the aforementioned situation, we may stand on the bright side to fight for justice or the dark side to defend the perpetrator. However, there is no middle ground between these two positions because there is no neutrality between good and evil. A person being indifferent to this matter indicates that he or she has actually chosen the dark side. The neighbors of the woman knew she was chained for 25 years and remained silent for that long, thus were they not standing on the dark side? Their silence turned into connivance and became the unscrupulous reason of the wicked.
Reasons for defending the wicked, are confined to the following excuses. Local poverty is one. Poverty makes them uneducated and so they are forced to do certain acts of evil. Obviously, poverty is to be blamed, which is nothing new. However, we can’t help but ask whether poverty leads to evil. Due to poverty and hunger, a child has to steal a loaf of bread and that is not evil because his body needs it. Yet, because of poverty one can enslave and abuse another person, and that is a very different matter from stealing bread - poverty is just an excuse for evil.
Can being uncultured be a valid reason for committing evil? People who have no education have been corrupted by evil. They know the rules of gangsters. If they grow up as cannibals, cannibalism is their culture. However, can cannibalism exist openly and legitimately to be the norm? Can culture be the reason for evil? If this is the case, then it would be excusable for Jews to crucify Jesus. In this world, there is only one kind of culture that is feasible, that is, man will never be a tool, not a means, but an end. Anyone who goes against this goal can be regarded as evil.
Is there a gray area between darkness and light so that those of us who don’t care about this matter can stand on it? Obviously, gray is not light. It is still darkness that does not accept light. Therefore, anyone who is silent in the face of evil is on the side of evil.
This is especially true for Christians. Anyone who defends the perpetrators is standing in the dark and does not accept the light.
Because we Christians regard light, justice, and truth as our crowns, conscience as our highland in society, and we regard ourselves as the salt and light of the society, which shows that we are the light, the guiding light placed on the lighthouse. That’s why we Christians can’t be silent.
Jesus said he who sows the seeds of the gospel in thorns cannot bear fruit. Those scattered on the roadside will be eaten by birds. Only when planted in fertile soil can they grow into towering trees. Then if the conscience of a society has no fertile soil and no height, it can’t grow. If there is no bottom line, the seeds of conscience can’t germinate. A society without conscience, that is, a savage society, is a land of thorns. There are bright people in our lives who want to be fertile ground for social conscience!
A society without conscience is full of thorns, and a building without a foundation is crumbling. Jesus said that our faith can’t be built on the sand because when the water washes the foundation, it will break down and the building will collapse. Jesus told us to build our faith on a rock so that the water can’t wash it away and the wind can’t move it. As long as the foundation is stable, we can do the building.
Obviously, the conscience of society must also be built on a rock. This rock is the conscience of each of us, everyone’s persistence in light and truth and justice. The larger the group that is obsessed with conscience the larger the rock for building social conscience, so as to build a bright society.
Therefore, our attitude and position towards the mother-of-eight not only determines our personal tendency, but also the tendency of our society because this determines the direction of this society’s development.
Therefore, we Christians should not take the pursuit of spirituality as an excuse so that being divorced from society appears to be a kind of justice. In fact, this is not spiritual but worldly. This is not justice but a kind of silence in the face of social injustice. Anyone who thinks that the concern for social justice hinders spiritual life is silent. Because if his gospel belief can’t bring bright influence to society, then his belief doesn’t conform to Jesus’ teaching.
Because Jesus said that God’s judgment in the future will be to see if we love each other. Here, we are not only among Christians but all kinds of people people.
Let’s not be accomplices of darkness because there is light given by God in our lives. In facing the darkness of society, let’s say no, no more silence!
II. My Feelings Towards the Mother-of-Eight: Some Reflections on Justice
By Yu Christine Sun
When I first read about the case, I was in Singapore. I forwarded this news to my classmates and friends in my hometown, but no one knew it at that time. In the Internet Age, people get information in the same way. Being in Singapore, I was physically far way from where it all happened, yet I was probably better informed than the locals who were closer to it than me.
Events are constantly fermenting. There is a great deal of news forwarding. I believe it is for justice and indignation. People want to expose the injustice in society, put pressure on the local area, rescue the oppressed victims, and eliminate the legacy of trafficking, all of which I agree with. However, the complexity of this incident is as follows: if the motivation is right, the behavior is right; if some behaviors are right, the whole thing is right. I also feel the harm caused by people who cry for justice.
First of all, a phenomenon rooted in cultural dross and bad social habits, an act that has not even been reasonably punished by the legal system, and an evil that pervades the society (especially the countryside) should not only be directed at Fengxian and Xuzhou. I admit that I don’t know much about Fengxian, but I know very well about Xuzhou City, which is my hometown. I can testify that it is not necessary to say today in Xuzhou city. Even when I was growing up in the 1980s, this kind of thing rarely happened in my life. I have never seen or heard of such a case. Xuzhou City in the 1980s was basically an ordinary dual-worker family structure, with a high status of women, without the public awareness of “discriminating against women as a tool” as claimed by netizens. Of course, no one can guarantee that there will be no such case in this city, but it must be in the dark like other crimes, and it can never be openly displayed. So this kind of incident, even in Xuzhou in the 1980s, will not be “tacitly understood” or “be used to it” let alone today. Xuzhou covers an area of 11,258 square kilometers and Singapore covers an area of 724.4 square kilometers. One Xuzhou is effectively equal to the size of fifteen Singapores. I have never been to the counties and subordinate towns. The life of people exposed on the Internet seems to be another world. I really don’t know the truth about the countryside, but at least Xuzhou is not as savage, backward, and insensitive to sin as mentioned in various posts. The fact is that most people in Xuzhou don’t know at all.
There is a post saying that brothers and sisters in Xuzhou feel “ashamed”. Their feelings should be the same as mine, ashamed of the scandals in their hometown, but their “shame” should not be more than any Christian in other regions because such incidents cannot be characterized by distance and administrative ownership. People should reflect on the legal system, culture, and social status behind the incident, and condemn the criminal gangs instead of attributing responsibility to a specific group or even convicting a group.
In addition, as one post said, “This is not just a concern for women at the bottom, but also an arrogance or superiority to the bottom or countryside”. I also read some postings of “drawing a line” saying personally, “Our southeast coastal civilization has evolved normally, and there are cases of buying wives in our rural areas, but what they are doing is still “human behavior” - what are the different weights? Some people also say things like: “that village should not exist on earth”; “this city should disappear”; “Xuzhou City is like Sodom, waiting for the fire to burn”. The violent gene of Christians in church history made me see its naked reality. Therefore, when we forward posts and comments righteously, do we think about whether our actions hurt other innocent people? When Xuzhou shares plummeted, many people spontaneously boycotted Xuzhou products, and more local people were scolded for being unable to lift their heads, but they were innocent, and they were tied with a heavy iron chain by the violence of netizens all over the country. When Christians speak for social justice, have they paid attention to whether this joint sin violates God’s justice? Do you have humility when promoting justice, and include yourself in “one of them” to pray for it? Or is the circle city convicted, standing outside the circle, sanctifying and judging separately?
I wonder if the spirit of the “mother-of-eight” will return to normal after medical treatment. If she is a normal woman, can she accept that she has become a household name in the country and even in the world? Does she appreciate that the portrait of herself wrapped in chains has been interpreted in the form of various arts and artistic performances by netizens from all walks of life? Many posts and articles that seem to just call her “dog chained Girl”, “Xuzhou crazy girl” and “crazy county Girl”, show her miserable defeat on the Internet (of course, the public agrees that she needs redemption), but when people speak up for justice, should we pay attention to protecting the privacy of the parties? She is eager to be rescued but not necessarily so famous.
- Translated by Charlie Li