I remember when my husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby. It was exciting and like probably everyone else I stocked up on pregnancy tests. And month after month I would test myself. And month after month it was negative. And months turned into years as we made several trips to the doctors for check-ups and blood tests and ultrasounds. I was poked and prodded at relentlessly and it was one of the darkest time’s of my life. So if this is where you find yourself today either through infertility or singleness feel free to pass on this post. However it may also be healing as you consider the reality of being a spiritual mother and auntie to many. Of course this doesn’t solve the longing in your heart. But maybe you’ll find peace in knowing you are a vital part of the family of Christ.
For us, after years of trying and after a very depressing doctors appointment where my doctor informed me I was becoming more and more barren, the Lord opened my womb and gave me a son. All by His grace and in His timing.
God would go on to give us another baby in quick succession a year later and then proceed to make us wait again. But I’m so grateful that I have my two.
That doesn’t mean it’s been easy though – this motherhood thing. But mostly because in our current culture being a mother means being an expert in everything. Mom wars are big these days and we like to fight with each other on how to do it perfectly. But I’m not going to write about nonsensical things like that. My desire is to dig into what God’s purpose for mothers is.
What does Scripture have to say about this very tall ordered task He has designed within the very biology of a woman? Men can’t do what we do. It is in its very nature a job made for women.
Although Scripture predominantly speaks of God as Father and that is certainly the way we should address Him, Scripture also speaks of God in maternal ways. And this is important to note lest we think He’s only masculine. He is Father – absolutely. And yet because male and female were both created in His image, He is where our femininity comes from.
We see this in Isaiah…
Isaiah 42:14 says… “For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant..”
Isaiah 66:13 says…“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
And Isaiah 49:15 says…“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”
Here we see maternal qualities applied to God the Father. And when we see this, we get a fuller picture of who God is. As well as who we are. This isn’t me trying to impose some radical feminist ideas on Scripture. This is just plainly what it says. And we should take notice.
In these texts we see maternal imagery for God in three ways. We see Him speaking and crying out truths of His Word. We see Him comforting His people. And we see Him promising never to forget His children whom He loves.
And this is what we ought to be as mothers – truth-telling, comfort-giving and promise-keeping women.
Lets look at what Titus says about motherhood. This letter is written by Paul, and Titus was a convert and friend of Paul and this letter like 1 & 2nd Timothy is about church governance. Titus 2:3 says…
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.
There is a trend among young Christian mothers to joke about how much we love and rely on wine to tolerate our children. It’s a thing. A full-blown thing. Now, I’m not saying that enjoying wine is wrong. I enjoy a glass on occasion. This is not sinful. But there is a tendency to joke about how much we neeeeed our wine in order to handle our children. And this verse cuts a bit. We ought to be very careful in what we say and how we say it. And I find it interesting that not slandering is paired up right alongside not being slaves to wine. Because often the two can go together, can’t they?
You go to a friend’s house after a long day of diaper changing and tantrum diffusing, or teenager arguing, or dealing with work-problems. And you sit with your friends, perhaps with a glass of wine and what do you do? Rant. About this person and that person and our kids. But ladies, these verses are saying we ought to be reverent in behavior. So watch what you say and what you’re relying on in terms of “drink” to give you life. If wine or beer or whatever is what you’re constantly turning to when you’re in need, there may be a problem.
Let’s keep reading Titus 2:3-5…
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
As mothers, we are required to do a great deal of teaching. Both our children and in helping young mothers who are coming up behind us. But mostly it is our job to instruct our little ones. Being a mother means being an instructor. In words and in deeds. Because we can’t teach our kids to be kind and then be terribly disrespectful to our husbands. And we can’t tell our kids to “be careful” and then be lacking in self-control ourselves.
For those of us still in the day in and day out of in-house parenting we have a duty to teach and train our children in love for them. We must never just leave it up to the church to disciple our kids.
One of the sobering things I’ve learned over the years is how staggering the stats are for children who grow up in Christian homes leaving the church in the young-adult years. And there has been a lot of discussion suggesting that it happens because kids go to liberal colleges and are led astray. But that is not the number one reason for this happening.
The number one reason children leave the faith after leaving home is because they had parents who said they were Christians but only lived Christianly on Sunday.
They preached to their kid’s one thing and then lived something different, and that is the most effective way to lose our children and revile Gods Word.
As mothers is this how we operate?
Are we sweet and kind and comforting and loving and pure and self-controlled when people are around? And then impatient, haughty and miserable when the doors are closed? I don’t know about you, but that convicts me.
Going back to the text, there’s some controversy in the midst of that last part isn’t there?It’s just tucked in along with everything else as though it’s just easy to stomach. So let’s look at the very counter-cultural statement… “Working at home”.
What does this mean? Is Titus suggesting that the only way to be a good mother is to return to the 1950’s? Is June Cleaver the bibles definition of motherhood? This has definitely been the understanding by a lot of conservative Christians. But when we look at the popular Womanhood passage that is Proverbs 31, we see it says something interesting about this Godly woman in verse 24.
She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
And doesn’t that sounds a lot like work? It indeed was. This would have been part of her role to be out in the market place. Women and mothers would have worked in the farm, sold their materials in the market place and would’ve been a vital part of the family business.
So how do we reconcile these two verses together?
We all know that there is a general biological making up of a women that requires a more hands-on role for women. God created women to be able to feed our own children with our own body. Men can’t do that. Babies grow in a women’s body. Men can’t do that. Women are equipped by God to do certain things that is going to be necessary in the raising of little ones within the home. And so it is simply more natural and practical for a woman to have a more prominent role in the home then it would for men. Old fashioned as it may sound, whether you have a job or not, our homes as mothers should be priority one.
There are no hard and fast rules on how this is supposed to work itself out. Your free to use your judgement.
But we do all this for the reason it says at the end of vs 5…that the Word of God would not be reviled. What is at stake when we don’t take our roles as mothers seriously? Condemnation to the Word of God. His way is best for our flourishing as women.
Going back to the Scripture at hand, you may have noticed how in this text Paul addresses the Older women. This is a generationally important Word from God for us. Because He wants older women to help train younger women. And this means three things.
- Older women need to come along side younger women and actively help them on this very tough journey of motherhood.
- Younger women need to desire and be humble enough to hear from older women as they come along side us on our journey of motherhood.
- And this journey of motherhood was never meant to be done in isolation. This is community work. And we need to do it together.
Mothering is hard work and most of the time I feel like I’m just fumbling around doing nothing but making mistakes. And this is all the more reason why we need each other as women. To encourage one another and help each other in love on this difficult journey. Let’s not forget to do this together and not in isolation.
Ephesians 6:1-4 says,
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
As parents we have a general role of instructing our children on how to grow up. We teach them to honor and obey us, so that they’ll honor and obey their Heavenly Father when their grown. The main purpose of this is so that they will love the Lord and then leave us. But in today’s Christian culture this is becoming the biggest challenge for parents.
I feel it in my own heart because I can’t imagine them ever leaving me. But that is not the point of us bringing them up.
There is a popular true story of a man named Adonarim Judson. He was the first real American missionary back in 1811 and he wrote a letter to the father of the women he wanted to marry. He was asking for the father’s permission to marry his daughter but he was asking a lot more than that and this is what he wrote.
“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”
So moms…how would you respond?
I would be very tempted to write back a very polite…N-O.
But that’s only because I’ve bought the lie that my children are owed to me. And that I have the right to them in all their life choices. Sadly I’ve bought the western thinking that the only thing that matters for our children is their safety. Yet that’s not why we do what we do. It’s not our role to keep our kids safe. Because if we really want them to grow up and love Jesus, then there’s a good chance they may end up across the globe serving Christ in a slum.
We have a responsibility to teach and disciple and raise our children up in the Lord and then send them out into a very scary world.
But when our concern is only to keep them in our safe arms, we rob the world.
It’s our job as Christian mothers to have an eye to heaven as we raise our children. Adoniram Judson was absolutely right when he said, can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory? Is our focus on the promise of heaven and not the western, cozy promises of a good job and nice life here on earth?
We must be more fearless as mothers with our children. Believe me when I say I preach this to myself first.
Let’s be mothers who return to the cross regularly in this journey. We mothers think we’re the ones serving, but really God is serving us as he uses motherhood to make us more like his Son.
Proverbs 22:6 is a popular verse for parenting and it says … Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it, and it’s one we should take seriously. There is training involved in motherhood. However Proverbs are not promises. This verse is not a promise that our children will definitely not go astray if we train them well. Too many parents have grieved endlessly over this one. Because they thought this was some kind of covenant they made with God and it’s not. It’s a principle, not a promise.
So if you have adult children who have strayed from the faith. Or you look back on your time as a mother and you have deep regrets. All is not lost. Your work now is your prayers for them and none of them go unnoticed by Christ. When you pray to the sovereign God of the universe you do a great work on behalf of your children.
So keep your eyes heavenward. Our hope still lies there over and above the success or failure of our children.
We do not do it perfectly, but because God is gracious He uses this task to sanctify us and make us more like Him. And when we keep our eyes on Him and do it for His glory, not our own, then the outcome is placed squarely in His hands, not ours.
Which is very good news for us.