Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day Reflections

With Mother's Day fast approaching I thought I would reflect on some of the issues surrounding the celebration. I had the privilege of being raised in a home with both a Christian father and mother. From as far back as I can remember I was taught the word of God and told about the way of salvation in Jesus Christ. I was also taken to church (both morning and evening services by the way... really radical by today's lackadaisical standards) where I was exposed to faithful biblical preaching which eventually proved to be instrumental in my own conversion and subsequent decision to enter the Christian ministry. The longer I go on the more I realize what a blessing this was and I thank the Lord for his undeserved grace and mercy to me long before I even knew just how much I needed him.

Today Christian mothers face many challenges. There are many voices telling them what to do. However, what is most important is that they listen to the voice of God speaking in the Scriptures. When we turn to the Bible it's really not that surprising to discover that the primary responsibility of a mother is her home and her family. I do not believe that this means that they cannot be involved in various activities outside the home but it does mean that "the home" is their first priority. Sometimes those who teach on the subject seem to forget that what this means for a woman with toddlers, is different from what it means to a mother with teenagers, or married children and grandchildren. As she is able to fulfill her primary responsibilities there are lots of other things she can do in the church and the community in line with her gifts and abilities. The "Proverbs 31 Woman" that almost everyone likes to refer to was hardly restricted in her activities although there is no indication that she neglected those people who were most important.

Christian mothers can have a profound influence on their children. Their example and instruction is invaluable in a day in which so many men and women do not know how to fulfill their roles as men and women. I know how much I benefited from the prayers and the Bible stories that were read to me by my mother and how much my own children have benefited from the consistent spiritual care of my wife and their mother. Godly Christian mothers teach their boys what to look for in a wife that will do them good all the days of their lives, and they teach their girls what it means to be Christian women who serve the Lord Jesus. While both men and women are equal in the sight of God, the Bible clearly teaches that the sexes are to complement one another; they are not to compete and certainly not to carry on as if there were no inherent differences between them whatsoever.

There is one other thing I wanted to mention in this post: churches need to be sensitive to a number of issues surrounding the subject of motherhood before they make too much of a fuss about it. I know what you are thinking: how can you make too much of a fuss about motherhood? Well, we need to remember that not everyone will marry and have children. Churches often have single women of all ages and also women who cannot have children for one reason or another. The well-intentioned practice of giving a flower to all the mothers in a congregation may be very difficult and painful to those who do not fit into the traditional category. This is not to say that motherhood should not be celebrated, it should; but we need to be aware of the variety of people who make up the church and of the equality that is theirs in Christ and therefore careful not to exalt one group over another. Any time the family becomes the focus of attention we must not forget that there are many happy as well as sad memories attached to family life among those who comprise the body of Christ. And we must remember that what is most important is that we are part of the family of God that will gather round the throne of God and worship him forever. This is something that all Christians can celebrate on Mother's Day, and on every other day of the year!


Dan S. said...

Great insights as always, Kirk.

One question on the last paragraph. So how then do we honor mothers on Mother's Day? What do you do at Pilgrim Baptist? I only ask this because we have been struggling with the exact same issues you brought up - trying to be sensitive to those for which Mother's Day evokes feelings of sadness, yet also desiring to recognize and honor mothers.

Kirk M. Wellum said...

Dan, I think the best thing to do is to let children celebrate their own mothers without necessarily turning it into a Christian holy day. There is really no reason why a big fuss needs to be made about Mother's Day or Father's Day. They are family days that should be celebrated within families just like birthdays and anniversaries. Brief mention can be made of the day but beyond that we are diverting attention from the real reason why we are gathering together.

My two cents worth anyway!