Mother’s Day, Motherhood, and the Gospel

Now that Mother’s Day is past, most people will have moved on to “bigger and better” things. But what on this earth is “bigger and better” and more deserving of our respect than mothers? Sadly, though, in so many cases, mothers get one day out of the year where they are appreciated. One day. And it isn’t, in so many cases, even true appreciation. It is gifts and attention shown out of duty. The attitude being that if you don’t do something for your mother on Mother’s Day then you are a horrible person. Isn’t that what the commercials tell us? “Show your mother you love her this Mother’s Day with a diamond from Kay Jewlers.” The implication there is that if you don’t buy that diamond, you don’t really love your mom.

“Mother’s Day has become a sub-Christian church observance marked by sentimentality and commercialism, devoid of its original purpose and foreign to the biblical witness.” In fact, within many of our churches, it has simply become an opportunity for “misogynistic preachers” to “recognize the most fertile women with carnations in worship services and misuse the Bible to insist that the proper role for women is as homemakers” (EthicsDaily). This is not to say that there isn’t a place for the woman-as-homemaker. In fact, the stay-at-home-mom is, in my opinion, to be given the utmost respect and applause. Sadly, our culture doesn’t think so.

Just recently, I was sitting in the break room at work and one of the girls I work with was watching Desperate Housewives (I think that is the show…in any case, it was one of those kinda things). One of the characters was considering quitting her great-paying job to become a stay-at-home-mom. This was at her husband’s suggestion because he noticed that she was unhappy with her job and where her life seemed to be going and he thought maybe he could work and she stay home instead. She liked the idea and was discussing it with one of her best friends who was a stay-at-home-mom. Other characters were treating her with contempt and trying to make her feel horrible for wanting to do something like that. They even accused her of wasting her life by doing that. And this, strangely enough, is what our culture has come to think about the stay-at-home-mom.

So to all of you stay-at-home-moms out there, I salute you. And I respect you.

But these aren’t the only kinds of moms out there. There are other moms. Moms that we don’t normally acknowledge at this time of year. Mom’s that are marginalized. The very moms that the Gospel calls us to acknowledge.

First, there is the single mom. This occurs for many reasons. A deadbeat father, a dad who died, maybe the woman made some mistakes in her past. Whatever the case may be, these women deserve our respect. They are showing a courage above and beyond just about anything that we who haven’t gone through that can imagine. They are raising children within a system that is really simply out to get them. These women are not able to stay home with their children because they have to put food on the table. They are all too often working multiple minimum-wage jobs and still are unable to make ends meet.

Then, there is the mother who had an abortion. Statistically, the majority of abortions worldwide occur due to financial hardship. So the judgment card won’t stand here. Maybe this woman feels that she has made a huge mistake. Maybe she is just seeking solace. Maybe she just needs someone to listen. Then Mother’s Day comes along. What if, not realizing that it is that particular holiday, she visits one of those churches where they have all the moms stand up and then, systematically, name all the best moms and the moms with the most babies and the mom with the youngest baby, and so on and so on. How has she been ministered to in all of that? All we have done is succeed to make her feel even more condemned. But this woman, this mother, deserves our respect.

Then there is the mother who had a miscarriage or her child died of SIDS or in a tragic accident. I don’t even know where to begin here. This is heart-wrenching. The church as a whole really does absolutely nothing to minister to these women. And Mother’s Day services don’t help matters. Again, as I think I made clear above, mothers deserve our respect and recognition. But, as I also quoted above, our celebration of motherhood is “foreign to the biblical witness.” The mother who is struggling with these issues is completely left out. These mothers deserve our respect.

And there is one more mother that we, as the Church, must acknowledge. Imagine this scenario.

It is Mother’s Day. The pastor is doing the traditional “best moms” routine. He comes to the award for the mother with the youngest baby present. Somewhere in the congregation, a young girl, not much older than 16, stands to her feet. The pastor goes around the room asking for ages, the room is already whispering as successively there comes down to 2 or 3 mothers standing. The teenager quietly states, “I just found out yesterday.” Gasps go up around the room. The whispers get a little louder as the gossip begins to spread. This young girl has chosen to have her child. She has made a mistake but refuses to give up her baby and has just stood before a congregation that she knew full well would deride her. The teen and unwed mothers deserve our respect as well. They are no less a mother than the mom with her 2.5 kids living in the suburbs. In fact, in too many cases, I would say that she is more qualified. But the scandal of this usually scares us away.

There is much more that could be said on the topic, but I will leave you to ponder these examples. Motherhood is a beautiful thing. Mothers deserve our respect and recognition. But don’t lose sight of the mom stuck in the margins of our church culture; the forgotten mom. In my opinion, she deserves this respect and recognition even more.

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