By Elizabeth Prata
This part one will present the problem. Part two discusses the biblical correction/solution.
“She lived and labored for her boys and her husband. At home she was a wife and mother and a model of what each should be. She taught the Bible to her sons and pleaded with them to turn to Christ. Thomas traced his early conversion to her pleading and her example.”
~Thomas Spurgeon’s memory of his mother Susannah, wife to preacher Charles Spurgeon.
Images and PR (public relations) matter. Ask the advertising, marketing, and PR industry why they spend so much money on it every year. The images and concepts they perpetuate onto the consuming public are important because those are the images and concepts they want people to adopt. The constant barrage of them, they hope, will cause a shift in their target audience’s perception of reality.
Even unintentional PR causes a shift in reality. If images and concepts are constant enough, eventually the mind begins to accept them as real.
Second-Wave Feminism emerged in the secular culture from roughly the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Since the Christian world is slower to adopt secular fads, the last twenty years or so in Christian world has followed suit with its own version of feminism. One reason this distortion has occurred is partly because of Christian(ish) female celebrities living and touting a life of motherhood that’s far from the biblical model, all the while claiming it is.
Eventually, the distortion became the reality in Christian circles, at least for many. Others who are more discerning became confused nonetheless.
These women write Bible “lessons” that sell by the millions. They write devotionals that women clamor for. They appear on television and social media, teaching and touting the ‘have it all’ life. They write books. They’re active in churches as speakers.
Here are a few examples of these women who claim to be Christian and to put their motherhood first as the Bible commends, but don’t. They include Beth Moore, Rachel Hollis, Raechel Myers, Diana Stone, and Joanna Gaines. I’d like for you to get a true sense of how repugnant these lives are by carefully reading their words and seeing their deeds. I also offer them as proofs you can use to contrast the lives of these celebrity Christian (ish) mothers and what the Bible calls mothers to be in the eyes of Jesus.
1. Beth Moore
Beth Moore said to Christianity Today in 2010 that her man demanded a regular home life, so she only travels every other Friday and comes right back home the next day.
“We walk the dogs together and eat out together all the time and lie on the floor with pillows and watch TV,” Moore says. “My man demanded attention and he got it, and my man demanded a normal home life and he got it.”
That’s nice. But it’s disingenuous in the extreme. The reality is that when I researched her schedule (in 2012), Mrs Moore was gone from home at least 20 weekends per year on her Living Proof tours- which usually occur on the weekends. On top of that, Mrs Moore taped sessions for her weekly show on the Life Today (these days, she has her own show), she travels for weeks on book tours, travels or tapes sessions for interviews, spends extended private time for weeks in a cabin by herself in Wyoming to write (as stated in the preface to “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”). She is the President of her own company that in 2011 brought in 4.1 million dollars, with an excess after expenses of 1.3M. Her tax forms say that she spends 50 hours per week working for Living Proof.
And she did all this when she was raising younger children. A ‘normal home life’? Hardly.
2. Diana Stone
Diana Stone formerly wrote for the website She Reads Truth, developing female-oriented Bible devotionals for social media, as well as writing for the Huffington Post, New York Times, and other print and social media platforms. We read in Diana Stone’s bio that, “You can find her in the mornings with a cup of coffee and her Bible flung open, preparing for the day ahead.” Awww, admirable! “With a sweet daughter in tow, Diana clings to God’s Word daily.”
Mrs Stone relaxes with the bible “flung open” … after she drops her daughter to daycare.
At the time of the writing, in 2014, for the past two and a half years, the couple had employed a part time nanny care for their daughter in their home so Mrs Stone could work as a freelance writer. After bumping along with several nannies, they eventually decided to put their child in daycare so Mrs Stone could continue to write at home.
“There’s a constant tug on me to be in both worlds 100%. Work should come first. Life should come first. What is a priority? Who gets my time that day – and is choosing one over the other wrong? When I’ve committed to being a mama and being paid to write, both need my top priority.” Source
First of all, there should be no distinction between “life” and “work.” Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,”
Secondly, Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3).
Thirdly, you commit to the children, to being a mother. If committing to work that causes you to wonder “who should get your time that day”, you’re doing biblical mothering wrong.
Mrs Stone’s mothering got in the way of writing about being a mom, so the mothering was outsourced.
3. Raechel Myers
Raechel Myers is founder of She Reads Truth, a Bible devotional social media company. She identifies herself also as a sewist, writer, photographer, designer, author, CEO of a Limited Liability Company, Conference Fundraiser, Conference speaker, and world traveling Justice Activist. Oh, and mom. And wife.
In addition to her work at She Reads Truth, Myers makes trips to Africa to help women develop self-sustaining micro-economies. In an Instagram photo Raechel Myers published, her two young children are perched on a chair and on a table watching a laptop playing a video of their mother being interviewed at If:Gathering, with this caption,
“My husband just texted me this photo of the kids watching our @shereadstruth interview at the @ifgathering. Seeing my baby girl perched on the table watching her mommy talk about her Jesus- so blessed!!!!”
Perching your children on a table while daddy babysits so they can see you talking about Jesus to others through a screen is definitely not biblical motherhood. Another CEO-mother with divided time and loyalties.
4. Rachel Hollis
Rachel Hollis is an author, CEO of her event-planning company, speaker, social media darling, television broadcast guest commentator, podcaster, conference producer, and has been dubbed as a “motivational powerhouse for women.” She has four children. Here is her bio:
I’m Rachel Hollis, a proud working mama with four kids and an ultra hunky husband. I worship coffee like a deity, I read books like my life depends on it and think vodka with La Croix is one of the greatest inventions of the last decade. When it comes to women, there always seems to be a question about how we can balance everything. Girl, I don’t even try!
I’ve got four kids (one of which is the gorgeous queen I’m holding above) and whether I’m at home with them or at Chic HQ with the team, life is never calm and balanced. Instead, I embrace my chaos and seek only to feel centered amongst the flurry. The babies and housework and spreadsheets and meetings and 5th birthday parties to plan, along with a million other things that might overwhelm me? They are just a list of my many, many blessings.
Did you get all that? Read it carefully. Her opening lines referred to worshiping coffee as a deity and drinking Vodka. Her life is so busy she can’t prioritize her children or figure out a way to balance all her work outside the home with her kids, so she doesn’t even try. Her life, according to her, is chaos, a flurry, overwhelming, never calm, and unbalanced. Kids love lives like that. Sadly, this is the norm that’s being presented to Christian women as motherhood: Happy-go-lucky chaos with the kids coming in last.
Joanna Gaines is a television personality and co-star along with her husband of Fixer Upper, which a few months ago just ended a five-year broadcast run. Joanna maintains she is a mom first, stating at every opportunity possible that they remained committed to filming in Waco only because they wanted to be near their young children since the couple is dedicated to parenting first. Family first. etc and ad nauseum.
However, that is patently not so.
What they’ve got going is-
–a television show,
–a realty office with employees,
–4,000-square-foot store with 140 employees,
–two vacation rental properties (not B&B’s),
–speaking engagements at $62,000 per,
–Magnolia Farms and its own apparel line,
–Magnolia Villas, a gated subdivision of 37 garden homes in a pocket neighborhood. Chip’s first house flip earned him $30,000 15 years ago. Today he said he invested seven figures for the gated community,
–a new partnership with case goods manufacturer and importer Standard Furniture to create a comprehensive furniture collection called Magnolia Home. Joanna is designing the pieces,
–Magnolia Market’s online business, ships 700 packages a day, employing 32 people,
–an autobiography due out in Fall 2016,
–a 600 square foot working garden,
–a 40-acre working farm with chickens, goats, cows, turkeys, horses, cats, dogs and bottle calves. Over 60 animals in all,
–craft workshop with tickets costing $100 per,
Chip and Joanna have added more companies, projects, and tasks since 2016 when this list was compiled. This month, the couple announced this month they are expecting a fifth child.
In my 2016 essay about Joanna and her version of motherhood, I called her a hypocrite for saying one thing about motherhood, but doing the opposite. I was slammed for saying so. I can’t relate to you just how slammed I was. I received a torrent of abuse, criticism, and outrage just for pointing out the physical impossibility of actually living according to what they were saying. There are not enough hours in the day for Joanna to do all she needed to do for the companies AND biblically mother her children.
Daryl Austin of USA Today wondered the same thing. In his piece he asked, ‘The Gaines family says they put family first, but do they have time to live it? He listed all Joanna is into work-wise, then said:
That’s all incredible. For anyone else, I would be shouting my admiration from the rooftops. But I see Chip and Joanna differently, because they don’t want to be seen simply as a couple that can do it all. They want to be seen as a couple that can do it all while at the same time making their family their top priority.
This is just not possible, and it does a disservice to the parents who really are putting their children first. No matter how rich and famous, we are all limited by the same 24 hours in a day. You cannot do all they’ve done (or even a fraction of it) and still have any real time left over for family. Frankly, I wonder where they even find the time to brush their teeth, let alone spend quality, one-on-one time with each child daily.
Austin said he had expected an avalanche of haters when his opinion piece was published, and he took his family on a preplanned trip to Mexico immediately afte rpublication. While there, he felt bad because he saw lots of poor children. He wrote an apology letter, saying,
Suddenly the parenting choices of two well-meaning American parents paled in comparison. Especially because as bad as it seemed to be for some of the children I witnessed in Mexico, I knew in that moment that many children all over the world were suffering even more. I smiled as I realized how lucky any of those kids without parents would feel to have a mother and father like Chip and Joanna Gaines.
Having received a proportional amount of hater-pushback for my own essay calling out Joanna Gaines as a hypocrite mother, I understood, I think, some of what Austin was receiving. He likely received strong recommendations to apologize to the powerhouses and networks, is my speculation. His apology was unnecessary in my opinion, but anyway, it was flawed however, on two fronts.
First, poverty has little to do with quality parenting. Many of my older friends lived through the Depression and said that though they were poor their family was strong and they felt loved. Others without parents but who were raised by grandparents or a relative also felt loved and cherished in the home.
Personally, I grew up well-to-do. Without going into details, I know what it is like to have a parent who does not make their children a priority. It hurts worse to have one’s physical needs met, but lack parents who make their kids feel that they are an essential part of the home landscape. Time spent with children IS love.
Secondly, his apology was flawed because we turn to the Bible for truth. What does the Bible have to say about motherhood? Part 2 will examine that.
Daryl Austin again:
Unchecked ambition for any of us is a bottomless pit. We live in a world where every social media user compares his worst to everyone else’s best, and mommy bloggers work tirelessly to portray unattainable perfect homes and families. Instead of correcting distorted realities, Chip and Joanna are adding to the problem. Not just in what they say, but also in what they show.
Many of the women above do display an unchecked ambition, distorting what God said a home should be like and turning it into a temple for self-gratification and career fulfillment. They SAY they love being a mom, but what they DO is show us they worship themselves.
There are thousands and millions of behind-the-scenes Christian moms who are doing exactly what the Bible says to do in their roles. The sad part is that the image of the CEO-busy-divided loyalty-mom is the one that is seen. Their reach and influence has unfortunately normalized the have-it-all working moms’ lifestyle who give lip service to mothering, but in fact are fomenting a distorted reality for real Christian mothers and mothers-to-be.
Today, I wrote of what biblical motherhood isn’t. Tomorrow, the solution: Biblical Motherhood according to Jesus. What it is, why it’s important, and how it’s actually a call to war.
Susannah Spurgeon with her twin boys, Thomas and Charles