In the 1500's a practice developed in Derbyshire in England. It was a capital crime to marry a woman without the consent of her parents and friends. However, as the Reformation progressed the understanding that the decision to marry was the woman's herself and not her parents also began to dominate. So they developed a new tradition. The woman would run a race against her suitor. If he won, they would marry. If she won, they would not.
There is more to this tradition, however. The woman was always given such a huge lead that there was no chance the suitor could ever catch her. So if they were to marry, the woman would have to lose the race on purpose which would also signify her consent to marry. Lastly, if she won the race, signifying she did not wish to marry the man, it was against the law for the man to ask her again.
One of the reasons this tradition is so interesting is because of the social change that it represents. Before the Reformation women and children were simply the property of the man. He owned them. When the Reformation began something very significant happened. People started reading and studying the Bible. As they did this the practices and beliefs of the past were challenged. The teachings of Scripture on the dignity and worth of women began to be understood and taught. It is one of the fundamental changes that
the Reformation brought to the world.
Man or woman, the dignity and worth of the individual is based upon the image of God which is found in each. If you can read this, then you have worth, dignity, and value simply because God has stamped you with His image. This is the prime reason for the sanctity of life. "Genesis 9:6 tells us,
"Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man." It is God's image that makes life sacred.
Part of regeneration is the restoration of the image of God in us. "...put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him." Colossians 3:10 If you ever struggle with self-worth or the value of who you are this truth can be a great comfort. God has created you in His image. This truth really began to take hold and come to prominence during the Reformation. Male and female, it makes no difference. All God's children are precious to Him.
"But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18
Soli Deo Gloria,