Thursday, December 15, 2011

The vocation of motherhood

Doug Wilson has a series of videos on the theology of work that I just stumbled across and they are pretty interesting, coming as they do from a particular worldview and doctrinal position. The most recent one is fascinating, an interview between Doug and his daughter Rachel Jankovic on Motherhood and Work: The Vocation of Motherhood. There is a lot that I disagree with Doug Wilson on, from the role of elders to infant baptism, but I loved this interview...

1--The Vocation of Motherhood from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

I found one line she said to be very interesting. She suggested that the work of staying at home is what drives women to the workplace (at around 1:17). That may not be true in every case but I can't tell you how many times women I work with have made remarks about there being no way they could deal with staying at home and caring for their kids "full-time". When I tell co-workers that my wife stays at home with our eight kids and also homeschools them, they get a look of horror on their face, as if somehow there is something intellectually stimulating and satisfying about working in a cubicle festooned with pictures of your children. 

As a culture we have so stigmatized motherhood as a vocation and calling and created such a horrifying picture of stay at home motherhood of the constantly weary, covered in drool and wearing frumpy clothes mom that we have made mothers afraid of motherhood. Rather than women seeing motherhood and child-rearing as the preferred state to be abandoned only as a last resort, women seem to default to working outside of the home and only reluctantly coming back home when they simply can't afford the child care any longer.

The devaluation of motherhood and marriage is all around us. It was reported yesterday that the percentage of married people in America has hit an all-time low and is heading for minority status. I am hardly surprised that is the case, in fact I am a little surprised that it is not even worse. Why would we expect unregenerate people to embrace an institution created by God for His people and as a picture of His Son and the church indefinitely? What troubles me is that the church, rather than standing in opposition to this trend and seeing family, marriage, motherhood and fatherhood as opportunities to witness to the world instead seems more interested in embracing and outdoing the world at its own game. Some of the most popular women writers in Christian circles seem to take delight in denigrating and mocking the Scriptures because they find that Biblical teaching on motherhood interferes with their own "gifts" and ambitions.

We should recognize and honor motherhood as the high calling that it is, in a realistic fashion recognizing how very difficult it often can be, but supporting and equipping women in this great service to God and the church. We hardly need yet another writer telling women that they need to be more than "just a mother" or "just a wife", as if those are degrading and unimportant things. Of course we should also realize that in this world merely telling young women to stay home and let us know how that works out for them is not proper either. The church exists in large part to equip every member for maturity and ministry and few ministries require more equipping, encouraging and maturity than the raising of children. The church should be pulling out all of the stops to encourage young women to embrace being a wife and mother but also making sure that we are supporting them in that vocation with love and wisdom, especially from older women (Titus 2:3-5). Unfortunately fewer and fewer older women have much experience in this area as more and more of the older generation of women have spent their mothering years working outside of the home.

Being a mother is every bit as important as being a missionary to far away lands even though few churches will put your picture up on their missions board. I wish they would! I would love to see a bulletin board in the foyer of churches with pictures of moms and their kids at home. We should love them and support them. I think it is a far better use of our offerings to financially help out a family in need so mom can stay home than it is to pay for another professional minister or supporting some denominational bureaucracy.

Honor moms. Support them. Love and encourage them. Nothing will have a greater impact on the future witness and mission of the church in America than strong families.


Chad Boss said...

I saw that video as well and really enjoyed it. I'm saddened though when I hear women, not just in my workplace, but most depressingly AT CHURCH, telling my wife they could never bear to be home with their kids all day. These are "good, Christian" people, and their attitude is no different than the culture around them. We feel like complete outsiders at church.

btw, Rachel had a great series of posts over at Desiring God this summer... You may have already seen them, but there you go.

Arthur Sido said...

Chad, I didn't see that series, thanks for the link!

It grieves me as well to hear Christian women who seem afraid of their own children. Like you we feel a little out of place at times in the church.

Bean said...

Perhaps it is more that families put themselves under such pressure to conform. Sometimes I think moms just say that they couldn't stay home all day with their children because it makes it easier to justify working. In all fairness an awful lot of moms would love to be home but out of economic necessity have to work. A whole lot of parents sacrifice their time together working different shifts so that one or the other is always home with the children.
Unfortunately often in the church the families who appear to have money are often very respected and those that don't are of little importance in the social side of church, so you can see why some work, work, work, to give the impression that they are successful/important. And on the flip side you have stay at home moms who have a husband with an excellent income who sometimes come across as very smug. I remember volunteering to help with something for the band, I work outside of the home two days a week, the day the moms were meeting was on a day I worked, and I said I couldn't come and the mom I told said to me in a very sneering tone, "Oh, you work?".
I had a friend with seven children, she worked as a waitress, and during tax season worked many hours as a tax preparer, and during this time earned her associate degree in nursing, otherwise she was home with her kids, she also home schooled the middle school age children, she and her husband didn't sleep much, money was always tight, but they were a great family, the kids were loved and everyone learned how to pitch in and keep the things going and everyone in that house learned if there is a will there is a way.
I guess what I am saying is that we shouldn't make judge each other, we don't know everything about each situation and empathy and compassion goes a lot further than self righteousness.

Arthur Sido said...

Bean, I definitely think that this is a comformation to culture. It is hard to talk about this topic without sounding judgemental but I think it is a crucial conversation to have. My hope is that I can encourage moms, especially newly married women and young mothers, to think outside of the cultural box when it comes to raising kids.

Bethany in mid-MO said...

Amen, brother!