Restoring Respect for Biblical Motherhood
By Andrew Gommesen
“What do you do for a living?” “What are your plans for the future?”
These questions are common enough, but one group in recent years has dreaded these questions, because if they were to answer them honestly, they are afraid of the reaction they will receive. We need to restore respect for biblical motherhood.
There was a time when they were respected. Women were expected to be homemakers, and the abundance of children was considered a blessing on the woman's life. Consider the biblical account of Rachel and Leah.
When Leah conceived the first time, and bear her oldest son Ruben she said
“Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction.”1 She viewed her son as a blessing from God, given to comfort her because Jacob favored Rachel over her.
God gave Leah six children before Rachel (herself or by her maid) because she was hated. Even though she had already had five children previously, she still responded, “Now will I praise the LORD:” It was very humiliating for Rachel to be baron. She reached the point where she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.”2 From there family chaos ensued as the sisters used their maidservants to aid in their childbearing competition.
I am not in any way saying that this was right; I am only trying to point out the importance that was placed on having children at that time. If you backtrack slightly in the story, you will find that Leah believed that if she had children, Jacob would love her. No doubt Rachel felt that having children would increase his attentions to her as well.
So why are motherhood and childbearing, once considered the crown jewels of a woman's achievements, now relegated to the back burner? The reason is summed up well in the following statements found in the statement of purpose of the National Organization for Women.
With a life span lengthened to nearly 75 years it is no longer either necessary or possible for women to devote the greater part of their lives to child- rearing; yet childbearing and rearing which continues to be a most important part of most women's lives -- still is used to justify barring women from equal professional and economic participation and advance.
Today's technology has reduced most of the productive chores which women once performed in the home and in mass-production industries based upon routine unskilled labor.
This same technology has virtually eliminated the quality of muscular strength as a criterion for filling most jobs, while intensifying American industry's need for creative intelligence. In view of this new industrial revolution created by automation in the mid twentieth century, women can and must participate in old and new fields of society in full equality -- or become permanent outsiders.3
Though the statement was published in 1966, it reads like today's headlines. It acknowledges that children are a part of a woman's life, but gives them a very small part and treats them as accomplishments, rather than people who need care.
Those involved with NOW have not backed down in the least from the statement. They continue to state on their web site, "One of NOW's strongest concerns is gaining recognition of the value of women's work, both in the home and the paid labor market.”4
The people of NOW are missing something very important. When
God set up the roles of men and women in the beginning of time, he wasn't just thinking about the physical tasks which each role entailed, he was thinking about the teaching responsibilities that each would assume.
He gave women the privilege of staying at home with their children so that they could invest their time wisely in their lives. The most important thing is not how fast we can accomplish physical tasks like doing the dishes and cooking; it is the ability to be available to be a listening ear and a teaching influence.
NOW's position as stated above that advances in technology have afforded the woman time and opportunity to pursue careers outside the home, is one of the main reasons why people only have one or two children today. They wouldn't have time for more, because as much as they like to deny it, their work is their priority. This philosophy is also one of the reasons we have rebellious, troublemaking kids. They deeply desire the attention of their mothers, and will do anything to get it.
Mothers need to be involved in their children's lives. Contrary to what NOW says, it's about quality / quantity time, not just quality. This is a very important point. If none of my other arguments stick, I hope this one does. Children desperately need acceptance and love from their parents.
Unfortunately, Christian women have adopted views similar to their secular counterparts. They make excuses such as, “With today's financial demands on the family it is extremely hard for two parents to make ends meet.”5 However, if they were to examine the extra costs incurred by a working wife, (i.e. extra car, day care, etc.) and the luxuries that they consider needs, (i.e. a big screen TV, cable, a second or brand-new car, or a new house) they would probably find that they could handle living on one income.
For most people, two incomes are not needed to make ends meet; they are simply a way to keep up with the Jones's. They want to look good to people, so they reject God's blessing of children for the material blessings of this life. Many times a woman will say that after she and her husband have advanced in career or education, they will begin or add to their families.
You may be thinking, Motherhood is respected. What is this guy talking about? But many would look down on a woman who said, "I want to be a mother," or "I am a mother." Such people believe that only a person incapable of succeeding in any other career would choose motherhood as their chief occupation. This must change.
I am not saying that every woman must get married and bear children.
However, I believe the God has made it clear that generally this is his desire.
“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” 6
Mary LaGrand Bouma says that if women leave their jobs as clerks, doctors, salespeople, and other outside jobs, "the world will go on smoothly as before." However, she says that if women give up motherhood for jobs in the outside world, the home will "falter and lose its way." 7
It is also physically healthy to have children. The younger a women is
when she has her first full-term pregnancy; the lower their risk of breast cancer. Each subsequent full-term pregnancy lowers the risk by about 5%. Breast-feeding also lowers the risk.
The question that immediately comes up is “What should the single women do?” Many mothers desperately wish that they had someone to come and help them keep house or care for the children so that they can have a much-needed break. It is very hard for mothers with their own family responsibilities to meet this need for others adequately.
On the other hand, the single woman has a great opportunity to help in such cases, due to the fact that she is not bound by personal responsibility in this area. As one mom put it, she believes in teaching her children that
“The girls will grow up to be keepers of their home, married or not.”8
Married women would be much more prone to fully embrace their God-given roles as wives and mothers if those who were single would take this to heart. As they do, they are fulfilling God's mandate to be keepers at home, even though they are single. Homemaking is not an inferior profession. It is a God-given role.
God says that to be given children is a special gift from Lord. It is a reward. “…The fruit of the womb is his reward.”9 It is not, as some believe, a hindrance to the potential of a woman, but rather a fulfillment of that potential.
The modern-day feminist movement seems bent on the idea that a woman can’t make as big an impact on the world as homemakers as they can in the business world. What many have failed to realize is that there is quite possibly no greater sphere of influence than the one which mothers have.
Many great men attribute successes in their lives to the love of a devoted mother. Consider the words of William McKinley, former president of the United States, who said that in the midst of his rebellious younger years, “…My dear mother would always be there on the sofa, praying to God to save her son. .... And here I stand today, saved by the blood of the crucified one.”10
There is no other role in life to be sought that affords the possibility of literally molding and teaching children from the beginning to impact their world for the Lord. As mothers equip and send their children out into active service for the King, they have the possibility of impacting millions of people, just because they were willing to nurture their children in God’s ways. An entire family tree can be altered by one woman’s humble example.
I myself (at least in part) owe my salvation to the influence of a Godly mother. I also owe a lot of my other wise decisions to the fact that my mother has stayed in the home, and has been available for me to discuss things with. I am not trying to minimize the importance of fathers. I am merely exhorting mothers to realize the extent of influence which the role
God has given them allows them to have.
Because mothers are home with their children, they have more time with them, than fathers who are working to earn a living. This should be viewed as a unique blessing, not a curse.
It is very important that Christian women realize that they are examples to the world. When the world sees a woman compromising on these things, they feel all the more justified in their extreme views. It is time we return to an era where it is not only acceptable, but praised when a woman states her occupation as “a full-time mother of five” rather than an accountant who has two children.
After all, “Motherhood is not a romanticized ideal, but rather a God-given task suited to a woman's nature, and accomplished joyfully by hard work through His grace and provision.” I pray that we all take this to heart, and restore respect for biblical motherhood!11
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