My topic, "Mothers in the 21st Century" is an interesting one. Just as our
plea to restore the original church is vital to the preservation of the Lord's
church, so also our need to restore the concept of original motherhood is vital
for the preservation of the home as God designed it. Paul went back to Eden to
emphasize the role of women. He said of the woman: "Notwithstanding she shall be
saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with
sobriety" (I Timothy 2:15). This verse makes devout motherhood a woman's saving
vocation. It not only emphasizes the prime role of the woman, but also the need
for diligence in motherhood. The conditional word 'if' stresses the need for
righteous motherhood to be accompanied by faithfulness to the Lord, a loving
disposition, holy conduct and a sound mind. Marge Green, in her book Martha,
Martha well said:
How true the words of Napoleon are: motherhood, more than any other vocation, sets the cultural, ethical, and spiritual values of society.
Motherhood Cannot Be Performed by Anyone but a Woman.
She has exclusive rights to this vocation. No man can apply for the job or perform the function. This is in no way discriminatory, because it is simply impossible for a man, either biologically, emotionally or practically, to be a mother.
Virtually any woman can become a biological mother, but giving birth alone, does constitute motherhood. There is a type of close affinity which no other person but a mother can share with her children. They have spent the first nine months of their life comfortably nurtured in her womb. Immediately after being ushered into the world, the baby is held and cuddled by the mother. For months, the little child is fed solely from the milk of Mother's breast. She baths baby, changes its clothes, sings it songs, reads it stories. When the child is in need of attention, mother hears its cries and rushes to its aid. As baby grows to adulthood, Mum is still there. She sheds emotional tears as the child gets its first tooth, says its first word, takes its first step, begins kindergarten and then school. She is there to help him lovingly through his difficult teens, his dating, his marriage. Even after marriage she plays a valuable role. The child's progress in life is of intimate concern to her.
In the remainder of this lesson we want to consider primarily the example of two mothers in the Bible and draw some application. These two Mothers have set the destiny of the civilizations, proceeding from them. Every Mum today can assimilate in some way with them, and learn from them.
THE FIRST ONE TO EXAMINE IS EVE.
She was the first of all mothers. In the beginning, everything was 'rosy' for her. She was made by God from Adam's rib and given to him as a wife and companion. Everything went well in the beautiful environment in which God placed her and her husband, until Satan entered the scene. Eve succumbed to his temptation, and ate the forbidden fruit, thus plunging her home, and all those which followed into pain and sorrow. Notice what God said to her because of her sin: "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16). The "sorrow and conception" meant more than simply the physical pain associated with childbirth. It included the heartache and emotional pain involved in raising children in the world which her sin had created. If she had been obedient to God, she could have had a beautiful trouble free existence with her husband and provided a wonderful future for her family.
She endured first of all the sorrow of a broken and divided family. Her first born son lived in rebellion against God and eventually murdered his own brother because of envy (Genesis 4:1-8; I John 3:12). In punishment for this, Cain was cast away from her to live a life cursed by God, as a "fugitive and a vagabond" bearing a mark from God as witness to the world of his sinful deed (Genesis 4:11-15). Her long life made the consequences of her sin become more and more evident. Cain's descendants were extremely corrupt. His grandson Lamech followed in his path, but was even more wicked. He introduced bigamy into society, becoming a tyrannous husband and multiple murderer (Genesis 4:19-24). Gradually, the rest of her progeny began became corrupt also. We don't know how old Eve was when she died, but her husband Adam live till the age of 930 years. If she lived to the same age, she would have lived throughout the generations up to fifty six years into the lifetime of Lamech (Noah's father). It is most probable that by the time of her death, virtually all her family would have been living in moral and spiritual corruption, because by the time that Noah was 500 years old, only eight people were righteous. The rest of humanity had become so corrupt that "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).
The frightening thing about this is that only one sin is recorded in her life, that of eating the forbidden fruit. Satan had said to her concerning the eating of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil "Thou shalt not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). This was in direct contradiction to the command of God who said "Thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17; 3:3). The only difference between the two statements was the little word 'not' which was added to the command of God by Satan. Eve therefore fell because she was deceived by Satan's 'not'. Since she was the first to eat of the fruit, she was held primarily responsible by the Lord. Paul said, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (I Timothy 2:14). No matter how regretful she was of her mistake, there was no reversal of the terrible consequences to herself and humanity. This one error affected the whole of humanity forever: it brought death, pain and suffering into the world. Just as Eve was deceived by Satan's 'not', unfortunately many mothers of today have also yielded to it. Let us examine some of Satan's 'nots' that are causing so much heartache to motherhood today.
Thou Shalt 'Not' Surely Marry
I Timothy 5:14 says: "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully". This sin has brought two kinds of mothers to modern society. Either the mother in a de facto relationship, or a single mother. Neither of these models is according to God's pattern for the home. However, if Godly motherhood is to permeate the homes of the 21st Century these home situations have to be addressed. De facto mothers must either marry their partner (if they can Scripturally do so), or dissolve the relationship and become a single parent. Single mums should be given every assistance possible to help them in the difficulties involved in mothering their children. Here are two suggestions
Never justify your situation to your children
Neither the beauty, nor attraction of the person makes pre-marital sex right. A good single mother therefore will not seek to justify her actions to her child, but rather apologize for not providing a father, and teach them the importance of sexual purity and the value of marriage.
Stress that even though you did wrongly, you love the child dearly and want the best for him or her.
All children (and adults for that matter), want to know they are loved, and they want to see that their parents are doing the best they can. Diligent single mothers can raise faithful children, but their task is vastly more difficult.
God meant that motherhood be tempered and balanced by the assistance of a husband. Just as God made women to be mothers, he made men to be fathers. He ordained marriage as only pure relationship from which children should be born. Every child deserves to be nurtured in such a home environment.
Thou Shalt 'Not' Surely Stay At Home with Your Children
Satan has deceived mothers of the 20th Century into thinking that child minding centuries can perform the function of mother. Satan dangles many enticing incentives to get mum out of the house. Earning extra money is one of these enticements. Important as money is, it is no substitute for motherhood. Actually, there is generally very little money advantage in secular work anyway. By the time one considers, child minding costs, generally an extra car, more expensive clothing, more eating out and expensive food, additional taxation, and so forth, there is very little extra money actually brought home.
We must recognize that Motherhood is a full time job. When we were going to America last, to witness the marriage of our daughter, we had to fill in declaration as to our employment for the Customs Office. My wife Mabel wrote "Wife, Mother and Husband's Assistant". This created a lot of smiles among the customs staff, and they admitted that they had not seen such an occupation listed before. But really this is a description of a job which has very high qualifications. One woman I read of, when she asked her occupation by a public official said she was "a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations". One article I read said:
She is the first to rise each morning, has breakfast for the brood each morning as they get up and gets each kid ready for school. She is both barber and beautician, fashion consultant, chairwoman, budget director, purchasing agent, paramedic, mechanic, veterinarian, interpreter, travel agent, interior decorator, and the last to bed each night. With a tender kiss, she can heal every thing from a cut finger to a broken heart. With her kiss she can convince a balding 57 year old man that he is as handsome as ever.
The working mother, even after the children begin school, is constantly having to make baby sitting provisions for children after they get home from school, in school holidays and when the children are ill. Often, when they get older, there is a temptation is to give the children a key for the house and let them fend for themselves for a couple of hours until mum or dad gets home. Many parents fail to realize that the time children get home from School is a vital part of the children's lives. They come home excited, and want to share the day's activities with mum. They need a welcoming hug and kiss as they enter home. My beloved mother did not have a secular job and was always home for me when I got home from State School. I remember however, when I was older, and we moved to the country, occasionally mum and dad would make a journey to the city together (50 miles away) and they would be late getting home. Although I was with my brothers and sisters, and we were old enough to spend that time alone, these were lonely and disappointing evenings, I could not even begin to imagine what it would be like for this to have happened every day.
I remember when the 'latch key' controversy was being debated in he newspaper a few years ago. One of the frightening things was the problems that children got into in the two hours before mum got home. Children were bringing friends home. Sex and drinking etc. was taking place during that time in their own home. Mums, if you possibly can, leave the breadwinning to your husband. Mothering is far too important and too time consuming to be engaged in as a part time occupation.
Thou Shalt 'Not' Surely Discipline Your Children
The devil is working through modern psychologists who are claiming that corporal punishment is child abuse. It certainly can be, but when it is administered in the right situations, it brings peace to the home, and salvation to the souls of the children. Notice Proverbs 13:24: "He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly" (NKJV). To spare the rod when it is needed is therefore described by the Holy Spirit as hatred, and to administer it is an act of love. Discipline is often left to mothers. It is not right to place all the entire responsibility on dad. Some mothers continually tell the children "daddy will punish you when he gets home". This not only degrades the father's image in the mind of the child, but removes the effectiveness of the punishment. Proverbs 19:18: "Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction". Punishment needs to be administered when the crime takes place. It is not restricted to the father. Godly mothers will administer loving discipline to their children at the time they need it.
The type of woman that God wants is seen in Titus 2:3-4: "The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed". Whatever background mothers in the church today may have, these verses represent a model of behavior for women, and an admonition to daughters. Mothers are 'older women'; daughters are 'younger women'. Whether our daughters marry or not, these verses contain the aims that all mothers should have in raising their daughters. The 21st Century mother must choose between two models. Either the worldly model, of looking primarily for career opportunities, and fighting for women's domination, or the simple feminine model of domesticated godly motherhood. We cannot choose both because they are diametrically opposed to one another.
LET US NOW CONSIDER ANOTHER MOTHER
Through her example, motherhood was exalted to its highest degree. Her influence has yielded the fruit of righteousness throughout the generations. The one of whom I am speaking is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her righteous life not only blessed her, but her son, the second Adam, has blessed the human race beyond all others. Mary was the type of mother God wants women to be. He chose her to be the one who would raise His Son to maturity. Here are some of the godly attributes that she possessed.
Luke 1:26-27: "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary". Virginity before marriage and virtue after marriage are prime areas for us to concentrate on as we rear our children. Unless mothers diligently teach sexual purity and faithfulness, both by word and example, what hope is there for her children today. The worldly model will win hands down, because it practiced and preached so widely.
The 21st Century mother must diligently teach her children the value of being presented to a spouse as a chaste virgin. Her children need to be taught to realise that it is sign of strength to remain a virgin, and that premarital sex is both dangerous and sinful. Don't start teaching them this when they are teenagers. Sex education begins from childhood. It is not given primarily through formal education, but by example of the parents. Mothers! Give your children a secure home environment. Let them observe your own chastity. Let them see that you love their father. Especially teach them from the Bible, the greatest of all manuals. The birth of Jesus to a virgin is perhaps the most well known Bible incident of all. Read the verses relating to Mary's virginity, and explain to them what it means. Encourage them above all to keep themselves pure for their future spouse.
Everything we read about Mary shows that she was faithful to her God. She and Joseph had Jesus circumcised on the eighth day as the Law required (Luke 2:21). When the days of purification according to the Law of Moses were fulfilled, there was Mary with her husband taking Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, and to sacrifice in accordance to the Law (Luke 2:22-24). In this instance his parents "performed all things according to the law" (Luke 22:39). The Scriptures also declare: "Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover" (Luke 2:41). This action showed that Mary was committed to giving her children the best possible example. All males from twelve and upwards were required to attend the feasts. Women however were permitted to, but it was not obligatory (c/f I Samuel 1:7, 22,24). This shows Mary was going the 'extra mile', and demonstrated the type of example we need to show our children in church attendance. It is interesting, that after the Holy Spirit mentions Mary's steadfast attendance, the Record says: "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him" (Luke 2:40). Her spirituality is also evidenced by the way Jesus grew. At age 12 He was able to amaze the doctors of the Law of Moses with his knowledge (Luke 3:36).
Mary not only successfully raised Jesus, the Son of God, but also the rest of her family. After she gave birth to Jesus, she and her husband had many other children. She had four other sons; James, Joses, Simon and Judas and an unknown number of daughters (Matthew 13:55-56). Like most mothers, her life was not without conflict and troubles. For some time, her other children did not fully understand who Jesus was, and they did not believe in him, This led to conflict (John 7:3-5). In the end however her faithful motherhood paid off. Her children did eventually believe, for they are seen with Mary and the other faithful disciples of Jesus gathered in an upper room in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:13-14), waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. By this time her husband Joseph was dead, but she was still, as a widow, giving her family motherly guidance by showing steadfastness in her faith. At least two of her sons became prophets. It is generally accepted that her sons James and Jude were the authors of the two epistles bearing those titles. James became an elder in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:6,13; Acts 21:18; Gal 2:9). He was mentioned by Paul as one who seemed to be one of the 'Pillars' of that church (Gal 2:9). It is possible also the prophet Judas, who was sent along with Silas from Jerusalem to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to help solve the circumcision dispute could have been the Lord's brother. He was described one of the "chief men among the brethren" (Acts 15:22). At any rate we can see that Mary was a successful mother, having raised a faithful family in spite of difficulties.
Mary was a mother who worked on raising her children in a balanced way. Of Jesus it is said: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52). This would indicate that Mary spent much time helping Jesus with social and academic skills as well as spiritual development. The 21st Century mother must do the same. We cannot isolate our children from the world. They are to grow up in the midst of a perverse generation. They have to mix with the world at school and work. The challenge of mothers today is to raise their children so that they can live in the world, but not be of the world. They need to be able to play sport, yet at the same time be Christians in doing so. Never letting it interfere with church attendance or with Christian principles. If they play like football, let them mix with their fellows, but at the same time not participate in the drinking and swearing, and be able to say 'no' if the game is on Sunday.
The same is true of the work force. Our children need to be prepared for the peer pressure associated with adulthood. They must learn to say 'no' to the temptations placed in their way by those of the opposite sex as they work in close association with them in offices and factories. They must be able to resist the peer pressure put upon them to drink at business function, and to be dishonest to advance the cause of the company.
All these things are involved in Motherhood. This is why the Lord wants them to be at home with their children, guiding and directing them in life. Spiritual mothers should pray with their families as Mary did. They should attend church services and other activities faithfully (Hebrews 10:25). They teach them Bible stories and godly principles from childhood (II Timothy 3:15). They exalt God's word in the home, and consider that getting their children and themselves to heaven as the most noble and important of all goals in life (Matthew 6:33).
There are many other mums in the Bible that we could have used to demonstrate good motherhood. We could have examined the attitude of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, who vowed to give her child to the Lord all the days of his life (I Samuel 1:11). Eunice, Timothy's mother, would have been a good mother to examine. She taught Timothy the Bible from childhood, and raised a child with an unfeigned faith, in spite of the fact that her husband was an unbeliever (II Timothy 1:5; 3:15). Not all the great mothers of the Bible are well known. How many know of a mother by the name of Abi? She was the Mother of the great king Hezekiah (II Kings 18:2). She got no help from her wicked husband Ahaz, king of Judah, who walked in the ways of the other idolatrous kings of Israel, even sacrificing his own son, Hezekiah's brother, on the altar to heathen gods (II Kings 16:3). All that it says about her in the Bible is II Kings 18:2: "Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah". So many great mothers are like Abi. They are not well known, nor in the forefront of life. But great mothers are producing spiritual giants, like King Hezekiah, even amidst as terrible home life like she had.
Let me conclude by quoting another paragraph from the article by Rex Turner
in Bulletin Digest.
May God bless the Christian mothers of this decade, who are raising children to be launch out into the 21st century. Your job is hard, the material rewards are few, yet the rewards are unsearchable and boundless. On your shoulders rests the hope of the 21st Century home.
(2) Rex H. Burns, Bulletin Digest May1998. For personal reasons, in the last
sentence I have put the figure 57 instead of 50!