This week I have read a couple of articles and had a couple of conversations about the veneration of mothers in our culture, specifically our Christian culture. It ranges from the ridiculous to the well-intended, but disturbingly unbiblical.I saw a church sign that said, “’Blessed is the mother who gave you birth’ Luke 11:27”. This seems like a nice sentiment. Unless you read the surrounding verses.
Because the context of that statement is a woman who shouted it out to Jesus from the crowd. His response was a reprimand of sorts, “blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (vs 28). Some may think I am being nitpicky, but I find it troubling that a church would misuse scripture in this way.
I read an article which stated that there is a special place in heaven for mothers who send their children away to be missionaries. I could be wrong, but I do not believe there is any biblical evidence which supports that.
It sounds nice, and from the comments, made readers tear up. But, mothers, even self-sacrificing mothers, are not singled out as deserving of more praise than anyone else. (And, yes, I know about Proverbs 31!)
My own experience with Mother’s Day is far from a Hallmark card. My mom died almost 20 years ago. My first Mother’s Day after her death, I went to the church I had been attending on and off. As is typical in many churches, the moms in the congregation were invited to stand. Youngest mother, oldest, mother with most children… Many kind and touching words were said.I sat in my pew, by myself, crying. Not a mother, and with no mother of my own, as the women around me stood, I felt isolated and somehow less. Very honestly, it was a long time before I went back.
I have not given birth, and I never will. Sweet people tell me not to say that, assuring me they know of those who have had children in their late 40’s. God can perform miracles. They assign to me a grief I have not expressed. Saying I am okay not being a mother leaves them awkwardly searching for words of comfort I do not need.That is me, but I have friends who desperately do want to be mothers. Who have tried by every means possible to do just that. Their anguish is intense, the questions unanswered. Why not? Why not me?
I have friends who have lost a child, through death, through adoptions that ‘fell through’. I have friends who are struggling as mothers. Children who are not growing up as planned, who raise their voices to curse, not bless. Heartbreak, heartache, the day of celebration is like ashes. Everywhere they look they seem to find reminders of their loss.
There is nothing wrong with being thankful for being a mother, for thanking God for your own mother, for celebrating and acknowledging the important role of mothers. God created that role, and it is, indeed, a blessing. My concern is that we have taken and elevated this, turning Mother’s Day into worship of the created, not the Creator.
What would happen if instead of having all the moms stand up, we would keep Mother’s Day out of the worship service altogether? If instead of singling out a select group, we would encourage each other to “hear the word of God and keep it”?
What if the sanctuary could be just that – a place of refuge and safety from the world’s definitions and values? A place of holiness focused on the one thing that does, in fact, set us apart. Nothing we are or do, but only what we have been given freely, through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
The Bible is filled with examples of ‘good’ mothers and not-so-good ones. It is equally filled with stories of non-mothers – other men, other women, who have good and bad qualities. Each human, born into sin, ends up failing.
Only One stands alone as perfect and worthy of our veneration. In Him we have been given the most amazing role of all. We are called children of God, and that is what we are. And that is worth celebrating today and every day.