With this Sunday being Mother’s Day, & my younger son’s wife about to become a mommy at any moment, I thought it appropriate to stress the significance of motherhood. The Bible makes clear that mothering matters, so it should be celebrated! Motherhood seems to be undervalued these days, & doesn’t receive the same level of societal support it once did. A tragic shift has occurred in the past few decades resulting in the serious undermining of the role of mothers. So I believe women need to be reminded of the importance of what they’re doing. If a woman aspires to be a mother, it’s a noble aspiration! Regardless of the current cultural values, it’s truly one of the most honorable roles a woman can ever fill.
God has built all of society on the foundation of the family. Children are molded most in their earliest years. Children spend their early formative years close to Mom, so she holds a great deal of influence through nurture, teaching, & inspiration which is critical to developing well-adjusted, competent, & caring adults. Today, as in biblical times, the birth of a child is a momentous occasion. But today’s parents debate questions that folks living in ancient times would have found strange & startling. It would have never crossed their minds to consider: “Should we have children?” If so, “Should we limit the number to one or two?” Or, “If we do have children, when should we begin?”
The ancient Israelites’ attitude was: “We want children now & as many as we can because children are very important to us. In fact, we would rather be ‘wealthy’ with children than with money.” The family of the bride met to pronounce a blessing on the bride, declaring their wish that she might have many children (Gen. 24:60, Ruth 4:11-12, Ps. 128:3). Without modern medicines & painkillers, childbirth was a very painful experience. In fact, many mothers died during childbirth. In spite of these dangers, most women still wanted desperately to bear children. Even if available, there wouldn’t have been a market for birth control. And abortion would have been unthinkable!
The very first command of God was: “Be fruitful & multiply” (Get. 1:28). Women’s desire to fulfill that command was the subject of many stories in the Bible (Sarai, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah). To die without descendants might allow an entire family line to be wiped out & forgotten forever. There would not be anyone to care for you in your old age or to pass the family property on to. Back then, children made you better off financially; today it’s the opposite.
Rachel’s cry was, “Give me children or I die” (Gen. 30)! So a mother greeted the first child with much happiness & relief. It’s hard for us to imagine how devastating it was for a childless Jewish wife who felt socially disgraced, psychologically depressed, & spiritually cursed. But if a woman became pregnant after long years of waiting, then she was likely to be the happiest woman in town. The whole community would rejoice with her (Luke 1:58). Today it can still be devastating, but we live in a different world. For a wife to be unable to conceive can still be devastating, but no longer is any stigma attached. Today many adoption options are available too. However, it can be expensive—which is why our church offers an adoption fund to local Christian couples who attend Bible-believing churches to make it more affordable.
Not all desire motherhood. Some couples choose not to have children at all due to the prevalence of birth control methods (of course, post-conception forms of birth control should be off the table for Christians). A woman’s main responsibility centered around the home, but sometimes it extended to the marketplace & other areas that affected her family’s welfare (Prob. 31:16, 25). There’s no single mold for all women to be squeezed into. There’s not a single pathway that God expects all women to pursue. In Scripture, Deborah was called to be a judge; Esther, an influential queen. Priscilla, an evangelistic partner with her husband; &, Mary, the mother to our Lord.
Thank God for godly women like Eunice (also grandmother Lois – 2 Tim. 1:5) whose faith was passed on to Timothy. They influence their children to honor God, read the Bible, pray, be involved in church, serve, give, & do good. So moms, you deserve more than one day of recognition & honor because what you’re doing is exceedingly important!