By Elizabeth Prata
Yesterday in part 1 I looked at the problem: how the images and life-lessons of many celebrity self-identified Christian women tout a feminist lifestyle, often in the process neglecting their biblical duty as mother. I named names and offered their own words. No, these women don’t say they live like feminists, but their actions show that they have willingly or unwittingly adopted that philosophy of womanhood, including mothering.
The problem with celebrity in Christian circles is the same as celebrity everywhere: that’s the image you’re going to see most often. Christian moms don’t see the real model of biblical motherhood as often because they are at home, working. These celebrity-feminist living women are on television, portrayed in media interviews, talk shows…they write books, they speak at conferences, they publish devotionals and Bible lessons etc, so the images of motherhood we see and we hear from them are ones of distortion. At the least, it’s confusion. Christian women read what their role is in the Bible, then see what seems to be many women identifying as Christian going off on social justice projects in Africa, traveling across the country on media interviews, using day care and nannies so they can write at home… about being a mom, all without note or rebuke from elder men of the faith. By default it seems that that kind of CEO-busy-mom lifestyle is accepted. It’s confusing for women. It’s discouraging, too.
I was raised by a divorced, feminist mother during Second Wave Feminism sweeping the country in the 60s and 70s. I was told that women could and should go into the public spheres of work and career if they wanted to, and to go as high as they desired according to their desires and skills.
My goal prior to my conversion, was to be a teacher and a wife. I wanted to help children, then arrive home before my husband and make a nice homelife for him, and do the same during the summer when school was out of session. I was mocked by feminists for wanting to orient my life at home. For wanting this lifestyle, I was discouraged, bullied, and dismissed as a ninny.
So I have a bit of an idea of what it is like for Christian wives and mothers who declare their intent to stay at home, raise their children, and live a godly life according to the Bible (which includes society’s hated word “submission”.)
So what IS biblical motherhood, not according to the Christian celebrity culture, but according to the Bible?
and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:4-5).
Eve acknowledged that children are from the LORD, He gives that gift to women.
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD.” (Genesis 4:1)
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. (Psalm 127:3-4).
Why do so many women accept gifts from God such as the fruit of the Spirit, or their prosperity, or their physical home, with joy and in gratitude and due obedience to shepherd them well, but fail to do the same with their children? It should not be so. Therefore:
1. A Christian mother acknowledges her children are a gift from God,
not solely a production of biology.
It’s hard to be a mom. It takes skill, wisdom, patience, hard work, mental energy, persistence, and so much more. CEO’s managing several hundred employees multi-task daily chores, balance a complicated schedule, budget the company’s funds, and train the staff. Moms do the same. Motherhood is the most demanding job on the planet. Kings have a slew of counselors, Presidents have their Cabinet, CEO’s have their staff, but a mom mainly works at home alone all day. Her husband helps, but mainly it’s a thankless and lonely job- only noticed if she fails. Therefore:
2. A Christian mom relies on help from Jesus. She acknowledges it is He who is her main support, and praises Him for it.
“My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2, NASB).
A Christian mom knows that what she says is important, but what she does is equally as important. Children watch like hawks and know hypocrisy when they see it. Their minds are patterned after what they absorb, part of which is what they see mom and dad doing. Children watch parents so moms must live what she says. She is a model, from which a child can learn by watching the most important people in the world to them live a life of of Godly living. (Deuteronomy 4:9, Proverbs 11:3; Psalm 37:18, 37; Philippians 4:6-7).
To that end, a Christian mom is submissive to her husband. The numerous verses about this fact gives some idea of the import God lays on this concept of submission. (Ephesians 5:22, 24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5). The husband is the leader of the home. The husband and wife complement each other in their roles. It works because it is designed by God. Therefore:
3. A Christian mom lives and models the complementarian lifestyle the Bible commands, which includes submission to the husband.
By the way, I thought this was funny:
A submissive wife is a call to arms in today’s society. It is an act of war even to say the word. The world hates it. Since the Christian church has been infiltrated by so much of the world, many Christian moms who desire to follow the biblical model for marriage and parenting will receive opposition to both the word and the act of submission. Prepare for it. This is where your warrior princess comes into play. Yes, you are a warrior princess, but not the sword-wielding boisterous woman striding the world, slaying dragons and forming companies. It is an act of courage against satan & his world to withstand his temptations to be assertive/domineering.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18).
A Christian wife/mom loves her husband. You might notice I’ve written a lot so far about how a Christian mom operates according to the Bible but nothing about children yet. This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually the proper order. Number 1 & 2 dealt with the Christian wife/mom’s identity in Christ. She acknowledges him as primary in her life and relies on Him for all. Then we moved to #3, the husband/marriage. A Christian mom is a wife before she is a mom. It is her early days of marriage where she learns submission. Yet in submission, a Christian wife/mom never loses her identity (something the world threatens us with when we use the dreaded s-word). She remains a daughter of the King, a child of God always. Her identity is secure, no matter what.
4. A Christian mom will love her husband, show it, choose it,
and display it through her actions.
So a Christian mom loves her husband. This sometimes is a tough one. The people we are closest to are the ones we tend to be most aggravated by or feel it’s easy to correct. Familiarity breeds contempt is a secular proverb meaning “extensive knowledge of or close association with someone or something leads to a loss of respect for them or it.” Also, “People do not respect someone they know well enough to know his or her faults.” There is no one a wife or mom will be more familiar with than the man with whom she shares a bed.
So often she will begin to lose respect for him, and the familiarity if their intimate relationship will allow her to feel free to criticize or nag. Children easily pick up on atmospheres of tension, resentment, and discord. A Christian mom is responsible for creating an atmosphere of security, love, and harmony.
A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. (Psalm 133:1-2)
Don’t nag. Love is a choice. If loving one’s husband is such a given, why does the Bible have to say it so often? If loving one’s husband is so easy, why are elder women commanded to “train” the younger women to love their husbands? (1 Peter 4:8; Ephesians 4:2-3; Titus 2:4). It’s hard to love him sometimes. Therefore,
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Spending time with your children is so important. Helping them walk, reading to them, playing peek-a-boo, watching their sports games, working on a school project together…these are the things that children long for, need, and remember. It’s basic that spending time with the children plural and one-on-one time with them offers opportunities for teachable moments. It gives them self-esteem, creates family unity, and is a marker of love. You spend time with those you love. Children are a joy.
Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16:21)
He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD! (Psalm 113:9)
I’m not speaking of homeschooling. That’s a choice each parental couple makes. I’m speaking of educating the children in the Lord.
Stay at home mothering is cumulative. You don’t see the effects until the child is grown, and sometimes not even until after then. You build a widget, you see a widget. You raise a child, and it might take 20 years to see what unfolds in his or her character once for all.
It is here, in the spiritual realms,mothers have a tremendous impact, especially on their sons.
In his series Christian Men and their Godly Moms, Tim Challies wrote:
It may surprise us, though, to learn how many of our Christian heroes were shaped by the attentiveness and godliness of their mothers. Even though they may have had fathers who were present, involved, and godly, still they would insist that their primary spiritual influencer had been their mother. One of history’s greatest preachers would say with affection, “I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother,” while one of its most committed evangelists would say, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” An eminent theologian would state, “To our mother, my brother and myself, under God, owe absolutely everything.”
A great defender of the faith would write about an overwhelming moment of doubt, then relate how he found deliverance: “My mother [spoke to me] in those dark hours when the lamp burned dim, when I thought that faith was gone and shipwreck had been made of my soul. ‘Christ,’ she used to say, ‘keeps firmer hold on us than we keep on him’.”
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
It is so counter-cultural today for a mother to orient her life primarily toward her husband and children, that author and podcaster Rachel Jankovic created a webinar titled “Motherhood: A Call to Arms“. The webinar is described thus:
As mothers who seek to honor the Lord in our callings, it is important for us to be thoughtful and clear headed about our ultimate goal: raising men and women who love the Lord.
A good understanding of how God uses mothers who fear Him will help equip us to cheerfully accomplish our daily work, keeping our eyes on the goal. Without a big vision for our work we can become lost in the details, losing perspective and becoming vulnerable to all kinds of discouragement.
In this webinar we are going to look at what Scripture has to say about us, our work, and children, and we will talk about how we can practically apply those things in our everyday dealings with our future men and future women.
She titled her webinar in military language because she believes that motherhood is on the offensive. Normally when we read about motherhood it’s phrased in sentimental language urging peaceful harmony. Jankovic’s language is deliberately military.
Parents, especially mothers, “You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, training them up in God’s fear, minding the house, and making your household a church for God as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the LORD of Hosts!” ~Charles Spurgeon
She said, “Christianity in recent years has been dominated by a sentimental approach to motherhood.” We see constant scriptures with hazy fields of flowers and calling everything precious. “Motherhood is not like that. Motherhood is real.” She believes women need to know both the reality of motherhood and the joy.
From the mouth of infants and nursing babes
You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease
(Psalm 8:2), (commentary here)
Jankovic said, “We have been taught …the culture has worked very hard to make us believe that ’empowered women’ are women who have somehow risen above their own fertility. The world’s women are so desperate to teach us that if you have detached yourself – no matter the means – [abortion] from your own fertility, that you have a better shot at being your own true self, and I would say, your most valuable self.”
Motherhood is important because as Rachel Jankovic’s husband said, ” ‘This is the only work you’re doing that will last forever- is those children.’ It’s true. Nothing else I will ever do is eternal.”
Christian moms, your children are your contribution to God’s Kingdom.
For further reading
Tim Challies: Christian Men and their Godly Moms (entire series)
Answers in Genesis: The Role of a Godly Mom
Compelling Truth: What Should a Christian Mother be like According to the Bible?