The death of motherhood...

This is the pic and headline topping Google's news page just now. But note the pic they chose—a mother home with her baby? Get real.

Take a look at the headline and ask yourself whether anyone anywhere thinks it's sad? Tragic?

Christians do, but why?

Because Christians know from God's Word that our Heavenly Father has ordered His Creation such that woman is made to be the "keeper at home." Start there. While acknowledging the exceptions that prove the rule, primary breadwinners don't outdo their husbands' earnings by being domestic. 

Beyond their rejection of the home, these primary breadwinners have turned their backs on motherhood, too. Working mothers are not mothers. They're chips and capacitors on the motherboard of the American GNP. Motherhood is the glory they have sacrificed for status, power, and money and they're not looking back.

Make no mistake: the cost of woman's repudiation of motherhood is... awful:

Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. - 1Timothy 2:15 (RSV)

Here God is not declaring woman or her newborn will be kept safe as she gives birth, but that for woman childbearing is a means of grace. Calvin comments:

(These words) shew in what way God conducts us to salvation, to which he has appointed us through his grace. Through child-bearing. To censorious men it might appear absurd, for an Apostle of Christ not only to exhort women to give attention to the birth of offspring, but to press this work as religious and holy to such an extent as to represent it in the light of the means of procuring salvation....

First, here the Apostle does not speak merely about having children, but about enduring all the distresses, which are manifold and severe, both in the birth and in the rearing of children. Secondly, whatever hypocrites or wise men of the world may think of it, when a woman, considering to what she has been called, submits to the condition which God has assigned to her, and does not refuse to endure the pains, or rather the fearful anguish, of parturition, or anxiety about her offspring, or anything else that belongs to her duty, God values this obedience more highly than if, in some other manner, she made a great display of heroic virtues, while she refused to obey the calling of God. To this must be added, that no consolation could be more appropriate or more efficacious then to shew that the very means (so to speak) of procuring salvation are found in the punishment itself.

"Bearing children" is used by God to save woman's soul. God has ordered His world in such a way that motherhood is salvific. Find a godly young woman with more than two lifestyle options and ask her. She'll tell you childbearing and motherhood are the most redemptive and sanctifying influences in her life.

Beyond their rejection of the home and motherhood, these primary breadwinners have turned their backs on their calling to submit to their husbands.

"Ah, now you've gone too far," you say? Not a bit.

Have you ever heard the expression, "He who pays the piper calls the tune"? Or how about the first rule of journalism, "Follow the money"? When a man's wife earns more money than he does, that man is emasculated. He is not the head of his home—his wife is. (And again, I know there are exceptions to the rule, but let's not miss the forest for the trees.)

So add it all up and here's what we have: America is self-congratulatory over the great progress we've made with women now coming close to being the principal breadwinner in the majority of our homes. But no one's mourning the loss of beauty and domestic tranquility in homes where woman has abandoned making a home for her own husband for making him money. No one's mourning the murder of her unborn and the abandonment of her children her breadwinning necessitates. No one's mourning the endless adulteries that are breaking up marriages and the homes of these mothers' children—any pastor will have a stream of stories of men and women who have been led into adultery by close working relationships with members of the opposite sex. No one's mourning the spiritual immaturity and death the abandonment of the bearing of childbearing has caused among our churches' weaker sex. No one's mourning the weakness and vulnerability the abandonment of his husbandry and fatherhood has led to among our churches' men.

The other day Mary Lee and I were talking with a couple from Africa who told us of their church's silence in the face of the pursuit of wealth by the women of their congregation who have cast aside their husbands, homes, and children for careers. This is the wicked influence of these United States through so-called Christian missions. We have seduced African Christians to our idols and that seduction has been so successful that conservative Reformed and Evangelical congregations are now filled with working mothers who have housekeepers who provide whatever domesticity the family enjoys and whatever childrearing, whatever instruction, discipline, and maternal tenderness the covenant children need.

And the pastor never preaches a word to the fathers and mothers who have given themselves to this wholesale abandonment of the home and children.

Are Christians today men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers; or are they simply sexless persons saved by grace to the end that they may pursue money without compunction of conscience?

It's time to obey God in the particularity of our callings, starting with sex. This is at the heart of the Gospel for our world today.

After a few hours, Google kept the lead story but changed the pic to one much more honest about the ugliness of working mothers' lives.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Because of something I've been researching online for a class I'm teaching, I have recently been on several "working mommy" blogs. The line I keep reading is, "We understand the guilt you feel as a mother who works outside of the home. You feel guilt for missing your kids' plays; you feel guilt over the frustration when they are too sick to go to school and you have to find another alternative; you feel guilt when you don't join your coworkers to work late so that you can be with your family; etc." Guilt seems to be one of the big things these mothers are feeling. Yet instead of offering a beautiful solution to this guilt, the blogs I've been reading are telling them that it's normal and it's just a part of the wonderful thing they have chosen to do. "In fact," one blog went on to say, "If you stayed home with your children you'd feel guilty that you were ignoring your own chance at a career." Well...that's where they are wrong. The place to be free of all this guilt women are feeling is at home. Where God told them to be busy.

I recently overheard a woman comforting a young mother who was about to leave her tiny newborn in childcare so that she could return to her career after maternity leave was over. Her words of comfort? "It will get better. It will get better." That's sort of like telling a man who keeps putting duct tape on his hairy legs and peeling it off, "It will get better. It will get better." How much more compassionate to inform him that he would feel better if he put the duct tape away and cared for his hairy legs the way he was supposed to.

If motherhood is salvific for women, what is salvific for men?

I almost wonder if the other way in which motherhood is dying, is that you have a lot of single Christian women who are putting education, careers etc ahead of getting married and having children. Part of this may be because they're taking one look at the Christian men on offer and figuring they are better off remaining single, and that is fair enough, but I'm beginning to wonder, after years spent following this blog, if there's more involved.

I'm not old enough to know if the proportion of single women in the church has grown significantly over time, so wd welcome others' views. As usual, comments/criticisms welcome.

@Denver Todd

I imagine that our moderators would argue that fatherhood has a similarly salvific roll for Christian men?

The RSV translation does not follow the original Greek which switches from the single pronoun to the plural:  "But SHE shall be saved through childbearing if THEY continue in love..." And the meaning seems to become clearer. The she refers to Eve of previous verses who was deceived but who from Genesis 3:15 would have a special role in redemption.  I understood this verse with the BUT to contrast what is before, that though Eve sinned, she had a special role in undoing that curse, and that women in general are saved the same way as men.  

It is from Proverbs 31 as well as the practical reality of God's design for child bearing (e.g. being with child and after nursing the baby) that I see a woman's primary calling is to be home based, however-much that involves economic and business decisions as Proverbs 31 describes.

Excellent post.

With regard to the specific point about 'saved through childbearing' are you saying it means:

a) 'She will be saved through childbearing' in the same sense as 'he who endures to the end will be saved'

or

b) She will be sanctified through childbearing, and this sanctification will be impeded if the normal role is rejected.

or

c) something else

Thanks.

Calvin also said:

As amongst the Papists, to have a household seems to be a polluted state of the world . . . And this is a shameful thing that a Pope, that Antichrist, spews out this blasphemy, ‘That those who are in the flesh cannot please God,’ i.e. they that are married . . . If nuns and friars boast of their chastity and lie in idleness and call this a spiritual state, God shows that it is a detestable and cursed kind of life. Let us learn therefore that if a woman be among her household and be busied about her children . . . if she bears it patiently, knowing that it is God’s good appointment, . . . this is a sweet smelling sacrifice to him. Let the nuns therefore tarry still in their convents and cloisters and in their brothel houses of Satan . . .

I read this quote in an article by Andreas Kostenberger on the interpretation of 1Tim2:15:

http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/roles_kostenberger.pdf

And he provides a simplified summary of this argument here:

http://www.biblicalfoundations.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/12-Saved-T...

""Bearing children" is used by God to save woman's soul". What are you saying that giving birth to three children has saved my soul? It has always  been my understanding that this verse means that through the woman (Mary) came the Christ child who came to save us. God used the woman to bring forth Christ who is the Savior.

Actually, this study includes single moms, which is why the number is so high. Single moms are of course the highest breadwinners in their family. 

What do you mean by saying that single moms who work are not mothers? Who are their childrens' mothers, then?  They are caring for their kids, so they are certainly mothers!

"She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard."

I read an article about a military mother who lives away from her husband and infant because of her work. She ships her breast milk overnight to her husband who is a stay at home father. She can feel much less guilty in knowing that breast milk is best for baby. The part of not actually being with her baby...I guess she'll just rationalize that someone has to pay the bills.

I am sure the Bayly's can speak for themselves. But I knew as soon as I saw that phrase "motherhood is salvific" that there would be some who think that the Baylys believe in justification by motherhood.  One problem is the church's truncated view of salvation. We view salvation primarily as justification and forget sanctification. Salvation is of course both. So my take would be that motherhood is salvific in that it is the normal way God shapes a woman into the character of his Son Jesus.  

Henry, what is the difference between your "a" and "b"? Isn't enduring to the end almost synonymous with being sanctified?

One thing that is missing from this discussion is the idea of a father who works outside of his home and provides the kind of stability (financially and otherwise) that is very necessary for a woman to have if she is going to be a stay-at-home mom. This man has to leave quite early to bust it all day at work. Then,  he comes home and interacts with the children and plays with them. He's got to make sure that the wife is doing well and be a listening ear for her because she's been talking to children all day. Then, he's got to fix whatever broke that day and make sure the grass is cut and the bills are paid and the cars are maintained.

We go on and on about how hard it is to be a mother, and that's true, but man. Being a working father is a huge undertaking. I just don't think there are many men who can/will hack it anymore. It's easier to play videogames and hook up with someone in the singles group. Fatherhood/husbandhood is a job for a man with the heart of a warrior. No doubt. 

>>there would be some who think that the Baylys believe in justification by motherhood...

We do, in the same sense Calvin did. Which is not to say that salvation is by works so that man may boast.

Nevertheless, the sex "woman" shall be "saved through childbearing if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."

Concerning Pastor Linton's point about the singular and plural, it's common for us to speak of "women" and "woman" both in such a way as to include all women. Thus a singular is used for a group: "I am woman, hear me roar." One definition of 'woman' is "women collectively; womankind."

And yes, this verse is in continuity with the previous mention of Eve's deception in the Garden, but it adds a wonderful promise that she/they will be saved by God through giving herself/themselves to the very place of her feminine suffering under His curse (childbearing). To abandon that place is to repudiate her sex.

Similarly, we observe that work is salvific for man—again with all the qualifiers concerning what we do and don't mean by "salvific." Man will be saved by God through giving themselves to the very place of their masculine suffering under His curse (work). To abandon that place is to repudiate his sex.

And since we're on the subject, a woman giving birth using an epidural is not repudiating her sex any more than a man using gloves when he pulls weeds. So says my dear brother, Pastor Baker.

Love,

>>Actually, this study includes single moms, which is why the number is so high. Single moms are of course the highest breadwinners in their family.

Yes, of course. Keep in mind, though, that single moms raise fatherless children, and the explosive growth of this group suffering under such a terrible curse is a matter of public policy. Which is to say the growing numbers of single moms and fatherless children are the result of our repudiation of everything God has revealed about motherhood, starting with the civil magistrate refusing to defend women and children through his abdication known as "no-fault divorce."

>>What do you mean by saying that single moms who work are not mothers?

I didn't write "single moms who work are not mothers." I wrote "working mothers are not mothers." Motherhood is not tucking your child into bed at night. It is an all-encompassing work that is jealous for its own dignity and fruit. It is a profession—not a hobby—and those mothers whose life is spent outside the home away from their children do not give their children over to "childcare workers." They give them over to mothers. Which is to say, they give over their motherhood to another woman who becomes jealous for her own dignity and fruit in the children she cares for. Some women must suffer this pain because they have no other options, but it's fully twisted to act as if there is no suffering and no pain.

>>Who are their childrens' mothers, then? They are caring for their kids, so they are certainly mothers!

No, the childcare workers are these children's mothers. The high-school grads who don't have professions because they love children. The grandmothers who pick up where their daughter drops off. The women who mother the children are the children's mothers.

This reminds me of wet-nursing which was so common among Christian homes during Puritan times that Jeremy Taylor wrote a condemnation of the practice, exhorting Christian mothers to breastfeed their own children. (And he wasn't talking about pumping.) I've just posted an excerpt.

>>"She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard."

Well, of course. Domestic mothers do all sorts of helpful things involving great responsibility. For a number of years, my wife worked with another woman to start and run Lighthouse Christian Academy. She was the principal over 150 students and their teachers for several years, yet she was not a "working woman," a "professional woman," let alone a "working mother."

She was a mother working—to care for her home and family. Her home was her first priority and her starting and running the school was one of the works which provided for our children's education. Of course, one of the keys to this is that she wasn't paid for her work (other than the final year when she was given a few thousand by the board). We didn't even get a discount on tuition. So again, keep your eye on the money.

You say a working mother and a mother working is a distinction without a difference?

Not. Watch families and you'll quickly see the difference in a whole rainbow of colors.

Love,

Tim, you wrote:

Similarly, we observe that work is salvific for man—again with all the qualifiers concerning what we do and don't mean by "salvific." Man will be saved by God through giving themselves to the very place of their masculine suffering under His curse (work). To abandon that place is to repudiate his sex.

I can understand your point, but (daft laddie question here), why not be acknowledge fatherhood for men as being salvific, analogous to motherhood? I think this comes out of Susan's point.

>>why not be acknowledge fatherhood for men as being salvific, analogous to motherhood?

Dear brother, I think this whole blog is an acknowledgment that fatherhood is salvific for men. But not in such a way as to render single men hopeless.

Love,

I think that the comment that Pastor Peter Jones said was very significant and I agree that this concept of "salvific motherhood" is something that is not very well talked about.

Yes, sanctification is connected to our salvation. It isnt the basis behind our salvation but it is a very close outworking of justification and should never be separated from justification. Therefore, sanctification is salvific. It is evidence that our justification is valid. 

Another aspect particular to this issue is that of our understanding of biblical understanding of husband and wife, and how this concept is related to our sanctification. While many folks love to bring up the Trinity as an analogous relationship to husband and wife, to highlight the inherent "sameness" that husband and wife have (as housewifetheologian.com likes to emphasize), they seem to forget that the more immediate reflection of Christ and the church needs to be remembered and also the concept of submission, which highlights the ***functional*** differences between husband and wife.

As the Bayly pastors and Pastor Jones wrote, commented and alluded to:

Our sanctification is best accomplished through the particular roles and functional differences that God has called each as man and woman, given our specific spatio-temporal circumstances. 

This aspect of our salvation/sanctification is woefully neglected and has caused ruinous problems for our churches and our families. In fact, sometimes it is actively avoided due to the infection of egalitarianism or simply not wanting to speak in truth and love due to fear.

Thank you for the messages and comments!

"I almost wonder if the other way in which motherhood is dying, is that you have a lot of single Christian women who are putting education, careers etc ahead of getting married and having children. Part of this may be because they're taking one look at the Christian men on offer and figuring they are better off remaining single, and that is fair enough, but I'm beginning to wonder, after years spent following this blog, if there's more involved."

@Ross: I don't know how it is for other Christian women, but for me ... I am single because no suitable man has asked. Of the few men who have taken an interest in me, only one would have made a good husband, and that one decided that I was not suitable for him.

Therefore, I work, to feed myself and take care of my elderly cats, and I am training for a career in a different field, because I may as well work at something I find more interesting.

I would like to have a husband. I dare not pursue one (especially in the manner of today's modern woman) for fear of being forward and immodest, and usurping the position of leadership that he should have.

I would like to have children. I would be a fool to attempt to have children without a husband. I have had quite enough foolishness in relationships, that I don't want any more.

And then, there is of course, divorce. In this case, my parents'. Even amicable divorces damage the hearts and minds of the children involved. My parents' divorce encouraged in me a certain reluctance to be married, and continuing acrimony (yes, even in an amicable divorce) from certain members of the family helped me nurture much bitterness (which contributed to me being judged unsuitable), that I am only now rooting out of myself.

I will admit that my family encouraged me to finish my BA before considering marriage, because marriage makes it less likely that a woman will finish her schooling (or so I've been told), but the rest of what I have listed are, at this point, much more influential factors.

"Of course, one of the keys to this is that she wasn't paid for her work (other than the final year when she was given a few thousand by the board). We didn't even get a discount on tuition. So again, keep your eye on the money."

Out of her earnings the Proverbs 31 woman planted a vineyard.

>>Out of her earnings the Proverbs 31 woman planted a vineyard.

Dear Bob, please listen to what others say. Don't be tone-deaf. I wrote, "the final year (Mary Lee) was given a few thousand by the board." If I was opposed to mothers having earnings, I would have said so. I commended "keeping an eye on the money." I did not write "refuse any money," dear brother.

Love,

Dear Bob,

Are you trying to show that women can earn money as part of being faithful keepers at home? I'll grant that point.

But the point of the post was the abandoning by women of their calling to be keepers at home, through full-time work outside the home. Are you trying to prove that the Proverbs 31 woman worked full-time outside the home? Take another look, all her work centers on the home---it's all either for her household or in her home.

10 An excellent wife, who can find?

For her worth is far above jewels.11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,And he will have no lack of gain.12 She does him good and not evilAll the days of her life.13 She looks for wool and flaxAnd works with her hands in delight.14 She is like merchant ships;She brings her food from afar.15 She rises also while it is still nightAnd gives food to her household And portions to her maidens.16 She considers a field and buys it;From her earnings she plants a vineyard.17 She girds herself with strengthAnd makes her arms strong.18 She senses that her gain is good;Her lamp does not go out at night.19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,And her hands grasp the spindle.20 She extends her hand to the poor,And she stretches out her hands to the needy.21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,For all her household are clothed with scarlet.22 She makes coverings for herself;Her clothing is fine linen and purple.23 Her husband is known in the gates,When he sits among the elders of the land.24 She makes linen garments and sells them,And supplies belts to the tradesmen.25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,And she smiles at the future.26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.27 She looks well to the ways of her household,And does not eat the bread of idleness.28 Her children rise up and bless her;Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:29 “Many daughters have done nobly,But you excel them all.”30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.31 Give her the product of her hands,And let her works praise her in the gates.

Bob, are you arguing that she's planting a vineyard for some other family or employer? Would you argue that in verse 24 where she "makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen" that this is picturing a woman who leaves her children in the care of others all day to do that?

Bob, are you a pastor?

Love,Daniel

Pastor Tim, you wrote "...I think this whole blog is an acknowledgment that fatherhood is salvific for men. But not in such a way as to render single men hopeless." 

Are you rendering that a single (or childless) woman is hopeless? I'm asking this for clarification, not to fight.

>>I'm asking this for clarification, not to fight.

Dear Jessica,

Not to worry. At all.

>>a single (or childless) woman is hopeless?

No, but rather that the grace that is given to married women through childbearing is given to single women in different ways. And keep in mind that single women are often some of the best mothers—think Mother Teresa.

Love,

@Jessica Woods:

We are not hopeless, if only because our marriage and motherhood depend so much on the action of someone else.

Our salvation depends entirely on the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, just as it does with any of the men.

We may not reap or understand whatever spiritual benefits come from marriage and fatherhood or motherhood as deeply or as intimately as those who are married and have children, but it doesn't make us somehow unsaved or hopeless.

Tim,

Gloves for pulling weeds? The image that always comes to my mind is an air conditioned cab on a combine. 

ive been thinking about this post since I saw it. And. I keep going back to the same things in my mind -- the women lauded in the more, ahem, enlightened circles of Evangelicalism. How the now famous Moaism, "Women hold up half the sky" has been re-cast as liberating instead of enslaving. Most who trumpet it probably don't even know the origin, much less that it was part of the "Great Leap Forward" view that forced women out of their homes and into factories. That this same view of Man brought forth China's murderous "One Child" policy.  Never mind that just this week we read of a newborn slipping down the pipe of a squat toilet.  It was an accident.  Sure, it was an accident that happened because the mother couldn't pay for an abortion. We also read about the mother whose baby was ripped from her womb and placed beside her once it was dead.  

And yet Half the Sky is an industry now, and a slogan promoted by some of the more evangelical feminists (and here I use the word, "evangelical" in both its senses). Carolyn Custis James evoked the slogan in the title of her newest book, implying that the Church was failing by not making women into fathers (well, at least, that's how I'd put her argument), but it is not just the women, Bill Hybels interviewed Nicholas Kristof in lieu of sermon for all three services one weekend last year

I don't know if it was Steven Goldberg or another who observed that men always rule.  They rule by their presence, either benevolently or malignantly. When they are absent they still rule.  

If I had the means, I would place three books (besides the Bible) into the hands of every woman out there who thinks feminism is compatible with Christianity:

Stephen Clark, Man and Woman in Christ

Steven Goldberg, Why Men Rule

Alice Von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

I'd add to that that every Protestant pastor who wants to teach his congregation about about women, feminism. childbearing and homemaking needs to understand Humanae Vitae because contraception lies at the root of both feminism and its sacrament, abortion. 

AC on a combine sounds wimpy until you realize how much dust and pollen are thrown about during harvest.  Put gently, 300hp or so can throw it around in a way that the old farm tools can't.

I still can't say that it makes quite the difference for a farmer that the epidural does for a mother, but it's probably a better match than gloves while pulling weeds, unless your garden has a TON of thistles.  :^)

Seriously, I am reminded of an adage of earlier days where a woman who was having trouble relating to her husband was advised to try for a baby.  Now we tend to reject this idea today, but I half wonder if our ancestors had the right idea; when a woman submits herself to her husband and her biology in this way, she finds herself transformed--sanctified--by her obedience.

Never mind the blessing she confers upon her children. 

Would you argue that in verse 24 where she "makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen" that this is picturing a woman who leaves her children in the care of others all day to do that?

Scripture doesn't really say either way, does it? It does mention her "servants", however. Also, there is no mention--none at all-- of the Proverbs 31 woman caring for her children.

Most businesses were home-based back then. There were no office buildings to go to.

Bert, 

I know farming's no doddle. I have two uncles who were in the business -- one a dairy farmer and feed store owner the other a hog farmer. And my father's family were dairy farmers. My brother and I would get sick on the fresh/raw milk every summer. It was just too rich for us. 

Even so, the image of an air conditioned combine just strikes me as symbolic somehow. 

"Most businesses were home-based back then. There were no office buildings to go to."

Goodness, I think Bob's got it!

I know of one family that has multiple children, virtually no employment, and most of their money is coming from the state. On the hand, a common trend in my church is for couples to wed, then aided by birth control she works while he is in school, he gets a job and then they have their first child. I am troubled by both of these pictures.

Arwen B. wrote "I am single because no suitable man has asked."

I know a church in Bloomington, IN, that turns out a steady stream of eligible, godly single men. You'd relocate for a job, right? Why not to snag a man? Even if you don't snag a man, you'll snag an excellent church.

@Pastor Tim, Ok. I'm still not following then how the analogy cannot be made that fatherhood is salvific to men as motherhood is salvific to women. What am I not "getting"?

@Arwen B, in case I wasn't clear, I don't think you or anyone who is single (or childless) is hopeless. I was just trying to get clarification on the analogy. From my own experience, getting married and having babies sure brought a whole lot of garbage out (and the garbage can at our house is NEVER empty!), but I know my salvation is not based on this. Guarding your heart until you find a suitable spouse is also very important. 

>>I'm still not following then how the analogy cannot be made that fatherhood is salvific to men as motherhood is salvific to women.

I'm sorry, let's start again; what is your questions spelled out more? I must not be getting it. 

Love,

>>Also, there is no mention--none at all-- of the Proverbs 31 woman caring for her children.

She gives food to her household And portions to her maidens...She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She looks well to the ways of her household...Her children rise up and bless her;Her husband also, and he praises her...

Dear Bob, I don't know what to do with you.

When people come to our house my wife has had many things said about our kids, but she's never encountered anyone with a complete inability to see them!

Love,Daniel

Pastor Bayly,

You wrote: Similarly, we observe that work is salvific for man—again with all the qualifiers concerning what we do and don't mean by "salvific." Man will be saved by God through giving themselves to the very place of their masculine suffering under His curse (work). To abandon that place is to repudiate his sex.

Ross wrote: “I can understand your point, but (daft laddie question here), why not be acknowledge fatherhood for men as being salvific, analogous to motherhood? I think this comes out of Susan's point.”

Your response to Ross was “Dear brother, I think this whole blog is an acknowledgment that fatherhood is salvific for men. But not in such a way as to render single men hopeless.”

My question was “Are you rendering that a single (or childless) woman is hopeless?”

I interpreted your response to mean that while both fatherhood and motherhood ARE salvific, the DIFFERENCE is that a single MAN is not hopeless – because it is not specifically written that way in scripture, the way it is to a woman. Where does that leave the single woman? It didn't sound right to me so that is why I wanted to clarify what you meant by the response to Ross.

Sorry, is that better?

(p.s. Michael usually clears up any misunderstandings I have on the blog, but this time he wasn't following my brain either.)

I just read through this all again and talked to my husband again. A better way to re-word my question would be: In terms of being specifically "salvific," how is motherhood to mothers and fatherhood to fathers different (i.e. not analagous)? I am not questioning the differences in roles here. Thank you,

Tim, thanks for the response. The view that Paul is referring to women being saved through the birth of Christ is the dominant interpretation today. For example John Stott takes this interpretation in his BST commentary. I know other men do as well. I think this interpretation comes from two lines of thought: first, the general deprecation of motherhood in evangelical circles. Child bearing cannot be salvific because it would offend all those who can't have children or are single or choose not to get  married or sacrifice their children for their jobs, etc. Second, viewing salvation as only a point in time event instead of a whole life lived in obedience and trust in Christ. Child bearing cannot be salvific because our works have no role in our salvation.  It would also be why Titus 1:6 is watered down. 

Good discussion on the post! Thanks.

Dear Jessica,

Let me have a stab at it.

First, it is Scripture that declares woman will be saved through childbearing. How and in what ways is debatable, but the statement is there.

May men be saved?

Of course—the Apostle Paul was a man and he was saved. May single women be saved? Of course. Childless wives? Of course. Those who do not bear children, whether men or women, are not saved through the bearing of children, but this does not mean they aren't saved because they don't bear children. There are many means of grace.

But what about married women who are fertile and wholly or partially repudiate childbearing? Are they saved through childbearing?

It might be better to ask whether their repudiation of childbearing is rebellion against God and places their souls in jeopardy? The answer is yes.

I think this is the point of the post: that women who are married and repudiate motherhood in part or wholly thereby repudiate one of the central means of God's grace to woman. And repudiation matters.

So what about single women or barren wives?

God has other means to accomplish His work with them, but we must get our minds off this modern morbid habit of sacrificing the normal on the altar of the abnormal. The norm for women is marriage and fertility—not singleness and barrenness—and here in 1Timothy 2:15, God has addressed the normal. Not the abnormal.

What place does fatherhood have in God's plan for the salvation of man? I don't mean to be nasty, but can't we listen to 1Timothy 2:15 without having to move off it because postmodern victims whine about how it makes them feel to be excluded? There's a time and place for everyone in God's economy, but the barren, the single and childless, and men are not here addressed. Save them for another text and another discussion so this text may be burned into our minds. Otherwise we never learn the rule because we're always sidelining the rule with demands that the rule take a back seat to the exception to the rule.

You see, whenever we come to a text of Scripture and protest its specificities by asking, "But what about ME" or "What about HIM or HER," our complaint that God has excluded this or that person in the specificity of this text, here, is just the old postmodern ploy of demanding that God repent of all those distinctions He has made and called "good." Man or woman, married or single, fertile or barren, black or white, rich or poor, church member or officer, saved or damned, Heaven or Hell; postmoderns sneer at such "binary" or "dualistic" categories and thinking.

So again, back to the actual words God inspired here: married or single women giving themselves to the bearing and raising of children should take comfort from this Scripture promise rather than feeling guilty that their single and/or childless sister in Christ is excluded.

Let us keep in mind that the essence of God's decrees is that most will be excluded based on His perfect will:

(Jesus said) Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.Do we love the doctrine of election and reprobation? - Matthew 7:13, 14

If we love the God Who decrees all things according to His holy will, we will love His predestination to eternal life and foreordination to damnation and Hell. Everything He does is perfect and we love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

But what about my much-loved yet unbelieving brother or son?

(Jesus said) If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. - Luke 14:26

It is not heartless to answer, "Do you love God and hate your family or do you love your family and hate God?"

You respond, "But why should I hate my brother?"

Because our love for God and His ways is to be all-consuming. We must not think we are nicer than God.

No question prayer is a means of grace. No question a man's work tilling the soil is a means of God's grace. No question single and childless women are saved by other means than the bearing of children. No question a marriage that is childless is still a marriage. No question men are saved, too, although they can't bear children (yet).

But back to 1Timothy 2:15:

Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty. - 1Timothy 2:15 (RSV)

What are we willing to say to our Christian sisters who are living a life of repudiation of this means of grace God lovingly declares in this verse—that is the place for us to focus our attention rather than allowing compassion for those suffering under abnormalities to gag this blessed truth.

Hope this longer response was helpful, dear sister.

Love,

PS: I'm placing this as a main post, so please comment under the post, if you'd like.

Pastor Bayly,

Do you think that 1 Tim 5:8 provides the masculine counterpart to I Tim 2:15 in the negative? It says "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." If the verses correspond, you could say that women live out their faith by nurturing children (motherhood) as men live it out by providing sacrificially for their families (fatherhood). 

If so, is the negative instruction of 1 Tim 5:8 applicable back to I Tim 2:15? I.e. a woman who has repudiated motherhood has denied the faith? I think you would have to make an exception for women who have been forced to repudiate their motherhood and discipline their husbands.

And one more question for good measure. Thought about this in light of the recent blog post on Blog & Mablog about fencing the table. Should a man who has "denied the faith" by a refusal to work (see also 2 Thess 3:10) be banned from the table? Such men could be "disabled" or on other government programs, be stay-at-home dads, etc. What about a woman who has repudiated motherhood?

Matt

Abram Hess  wrote:

"I know a church in Bloomington, IN, that turns out a steady stream of eligible, godly single men. You'd relocate for a job, right? Why not to snag a man? Even if you don't snag a man, you'll snag an excellent church."

Hmm.... interesting question. Finding a job and finding a husband are both analogous and non-analogous.

If I relocated, I would be leaving a good job and an excellent church.

If I relocated, I would find an excellent church, but would not necessarily find a husband. If I did not find a husband I would need a new job, or risk starving on the streets.

Quite frankly I would need a new job in order to not starve ~while~ I found a husband, and there is no guarantee that the eligible young men there would find me any more interesting than the eligible young men here do.

So, I suppose I would relocate for a husband under the exact same circumstances that I would relocate for a job: if there was a firm offer in place before I moved.

Anything else (under current conditions) seems like a foolish thing to do.

If things change, on the other hand (I lose my job and the economy here collapses to the point that there is no employment to be found, for example) then I would give serious consideration to Bloomington. Thank you for the suggestion.

And you could always send your eligible young men out to the Palouse. We also have several strong churches with a good supply of godly eligible women. ^_^

>>you could say that women live out their faith by nurturing children (motherhood) as men live it out by providing sacrificially for their families (fatherhood). 

Yes, but keep in mind that the "man" of 1Timothy 5:8 is the English male inclusive. It's not specific to men, alone, in the way "bearing children" is by the use of the sex-specific "woman."

A better place to go concerning man's duty to work in parallel with woman's duty to bear children is the curses after the Fall which are sex-specific and, in that sex-specificity, declare the central labors of man and woman. The labor of the soil and the labor of childbearing.

>>a woman who has repudiated motherhood has denied the faith

This statement would be boring from the mouths of any father in the faith prior to about 1950. Yes, a woman who, from rebellion against God's Created Order and Word, chooses to repudiate childbearing has denied the Faith. This is what Jeremy Taylor says in the sermon I posted, and he's no little guy in English Protestant church history. But in this he simply speaks for all church fathers before the Pill's devastation.

>>Should a man who has "denied the faith" by a refusal to work (see also 2 Thess 3:10) be banned from the table?

The man who doesn't work shouldn't eat, right?

But of course, temporary, indefinite suspension from the Lord's Table, as well as excommunication, are the jurisdiction of the elders of the church and only the most scandalous public repudiation of work or childbearing should cause members to speak to the elders about who is or isn't communing. Something on the order of heretics like Rachel what's-her-name.

But in our congregation, there is constant teaching and private exhortation towards work and childbearing that would make it difficult for a man or woman to live among us if he or she permanently (let alone publicly) repudiated the labor of providing for his family or bearing her children.

Again, note the emphasis on repudiation and rebellion. We're not talking here about real disabilities, divorced women, the barren marriage, etc. God's mercy to these dear and suffering ones comes in different ways.

Love,

Seeing the reference to the Palouse, I'm guessing that Arwen might be able to find some godly young (or not so young if that's appropriate) single men under th pastorate of men like Doug Wilson. 

That said, being decidedly un-female and decidedly un-single, there are points where I must concede myself to be "lacking a clue"  and simply continue praying for the marital delight of single folk like our sister here.

Peter Jones,

Maybe there is not a huge difference between a) and b). Perhaps just that one is framed more strongly than the other - you *cannot* be saved vs you are not being as diligent in the means of grace as you should be.

@Bert Perry:

Oh, certainly I can find them. That's not the problem.

The problem is thus: How does a woman indicate to an eligible man that she is available and interested, without being immodest, forward, or pagan in her dealings?

My understanding is that it is the man's responsibility to take the initiative in selecting a wife. How does -how should- a woman let him know that she wouldn't mind being selected, without taking the initiative away from him, thereby setting a bad precedent in the relationship?

... I would be interested to hear men's perspective on this, though I suppose it is only tangentially related to the topic...

Hi Arwen, and speaking as a single man: I think an appropriate way for a woman to show interest in an eligible man would be via a go-between; or, in effect, a matchmaker. Eg. I would not have a problem with it if I was told (say, by a friend of the woman concerned) that a certain young lady was interested in me, and would I care to think about it? This is certainly less 'forward' than barging in on your own, anyway. Just a thought.

Tim,

I have enjoyed your comments.

I have a question about the application of I Tim. 2:15. I have three daughters. If one of them expressed interest in becoming a doctor, let's say, would Paul's teaching in I Tim. 2:15 indicate that, because of the time commitment required to become a doctor, and the necessary time commitment out of the home to be a practicing physician, that I should advise them against this idea? 

I myself am a physician. I work with female physicians, some of whom profess Christ. After reading this thread, I wonder if a woman can go through college, medical school, residency training, and possibly fellowship training, and provide the effort and time necessary to these tasks and to the practice of medicine after their training, and still avail themselves of the grace of God provided in child rearing.

Alternatively, it seems that for a woman who has her heart set on availing herself of the grace God has provided through her home duties would be wasting time and money to pursue certain occupations, like medicine, where the time and monetary investment are significant, and not ones well spent if they cannot be undertaken without violating Paul's instructions.

Tim, thanks for the link to Taylor's book. I am placing an order today. My oldest daughter is 10, and she actually wants to make movies. My wife and I have begun thinking about how to counsel her regarding her interests in activities outside the home. This is a subject where it is difficult to receive good advice, since most parents I have met tend to have a sentimental view of their child choosing a career; a kind of follow your heart approach.

- David Stewart

I suspect the direct answer would be, "you can do one or the other, but it will be very difficult to do both". Our moderators once made the same point about Christian women considering the Law as a vocation.

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