Pillars of society: Reclaiming traditional motherhood in modern times | Eastern North Carolina Now

By Rev. Mark H. Creech
Christian Action League
May 10, 2024

Philosopher, journalist, novelist, and diplomat, the late Michael Novak said nearly 50 years ago, “We live in curious times. Choosing to have a family used to be routine. But so many, so varied and so aggressive are anti-family sentiments in our society today that choosing to have a family has become an act of courage. To love family life… is to be marked today as a heretic.” Novak’s statement is no longer a curious matter but a deeply entrenched reality.

The pinnacle of God’s creative endeavors was the creation of humankind. The framework God established for humanity to naturally flourish was a permanent union between husband and wife. The father’s role is crucial for sowing the seed and perpetuating humanity, while the mother nurtures the seed, births, and tenderly cares for the child.

While the role of fathers is incredibly significant, the mother’s role remains foundational to the structure of society. She is akin to a load-bearing pillar in a building. If the pillar is weak, the structure is at risk. Should the pillar fail, the entire edifice will collapse.

“Bad Moms” is a 2016 comedy film directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. The story centers on Amy Mitchell, a mother portrayed by Mila Kunis, who feels overworked, underappreciated, and as though she’s missing out on life. Accompanying her are two other stressed-out mothers, played by Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell. Together, they decide to rebel against their conventional responsibilities, embarking on a riotous journey of self-indulgence and supposed self-discovery.

If Aristotle’s poetics is true that “art imitates life,” then the movie, “Bad Moms” is not so funny. Instead, it suggests we’re living in a sad and tragic day for the institution of motherhood.

Several of America’s most esteemed Presidents underscored the vital role of mothers to the nation. George Washington, revered as the father of our country, credited all his success to the moral and intellectual education imparted by his mother, whom he regarded as the most beautiful woman he ever saw. Abraham Lincoln famously declared, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Ronald Reagan frequently spoke about the spiritual and moral guidance he received from his mother, emphasizing that everything happens for a purpose and is part of God’s plan. Barack Obama also celebrated the foundational role of mothers in families and communities, lauding their generous love, patient counsel, and lifelong support.

However, it was Theodore Roosevelt who perhaps most poignantly captured the essence of motherhood’s importance, stating, “The mother is the one supreme asset of national life; she is more important by far than the successful statesman, businessman, artist, or scientist.”

Could it be said that in many respects the hope of this nation lies in a revival of traditional motherhood?

Opinions on family roles are more than diverse these days. Some would argue that focusing solely on traditional roles doesn’t capture the complexities of today’s economic and social realities, which often require various family structures such as dual-income households and single-parent families. Recognizing the evolving roles of all caregivers – including dads and non-parental guardians – is argued to be crucial for meeting the broader needs of a modern nation. Moreover, debates around this subject typically intersect with even broader issues of gender roles, economic opportunities, and social support systems. Advocates for these more expansive viewpoints would argue the strength of society lies in policies and cultural attitudes that support varied and so-called inclusive forms of parenthood and family structures, ensuring access to essential resources like childcare, healthcare, education, and equal recognition.

However, it seems truer that support for these kinds of changes has actually moved us further away from a time when family life was widely seen as successful, to today, when family dynamics are seriously struggling, and even on the skids.

Although motherhood is constantly under substantial pressure to adapt to contemporary changes, the fact remains that the essence of the role necessarily remains constant. Motherhood is timeless. It transcends time’s boundaries not only because it is biologically essential for human continuation but also because of the profound influence mothers have on social structures, individual development, and cultural legacies.

Without great mothers, there can be no great country. This is not an exaggeration of the importance of mothers. Great mothers lay the psychological and moral foundations upon which future leaders are built, nurturing the qualities that define successful societies. It is through their everyday acts of instruction, love, dedication, and sacrifice that the values central to a nation’s character are passed down through the generations, proving indispensable to national prosperity and cohesion.

What makes a great mother?  George Sweeting, the former chancellor of Moody Bible Institute, suggests that Mary, the mother of Jesus, set the standard for the role of mother.

She was chosen by God to be the mother of the Son of God, notably because of her sexual purity, contends Sweeting. She was marked by her virginity. Scripture clearly states that before the birth of Christ, she and Joseph, her betrothed husband, had never been together sexually (Luke 1:34-37).

This is not to say a woman who has committed sexual immorality is thenceforth disqualified from being a good mother. However, sexual impurity, has led to the birth of countless children who had to grow up in impoverished circumstances, and millions of which tragically died at the hands of the abortionist’s knife.

God designed sexual relations to fortify the union between married couples – a man and a woman – and to enrich them with the unparalleled gift of children. Bearing children is the most sacred of life’s privileges, and therefore, it requires treating it with the utmost care and reverence. This sacred duty demands sexual activity be reserved for marriage only. The issue of abortion would not only be significantly reduced but nearly ended if society adhered to the divine principles of marriage and purity.

Second, Sweeting says Mary exemplified submission. When an angel revealed she would give birth to the Messiah, her response was one of humble acceptance: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:38).

Despite the potential personal costs, including the risk of being rejected by her betrothed husband, Joseph, for suspected adultery, and facing tremendous societal shame for her pregnancy, Mary’s commitment was one of faith. Her readiness to embrace the Lord’s plan, regardless of the implications for her own life, underscores her profound submission to God’s will.

Mary’s example highlights the desperate need for modern women and mothers, who seemingly are in the worst of circumstances, to have faith, courage, and resilience.

Additionally, Sweeting says Mary was well-acquainted with the Scriptures. Her life’s worldview was based on the Bible. In Luke 1:46-49, Mary expressed her joy and gratitude to God through a song of praise often referred to as the “Magnificat.” It is a remarkably beautiful passage of praise and adoration by Mary offered to God and based on passages from I Samuel, the Psalms, Micah, and Exodus.

There is no specific statistic readily available that shows how many women today have a good working knowledge of what’s in the Bible, but it’s probably safe to say the number is infinitesimal.

Finally, Mary was an industrious woman, argues Sweeting. Mary wasn’t afraid of hard work.

In Proverbs 31:10-31, the Bible describes the inestimable value of an industrious woman. This Scripture extols the virtues of a woman who is diligent in managing her household, contributing to her family’s welfare, and performing acts of kindness and charity toward her neighbors.

Allow me to add one more quality, which is key to finding the necessary grace and empowerment for the four previously mentioned qualities. A mother needs to have the Lord in her heart.

A mother burdened by the guilt of sin will find herself handicapped from inculcating what is most important in her children’s lives. She must experience life with a clear conscience and practice the freedom that comes from salvation through Jesus Christ. This spiritual liberation and the Spirit of God entered into her heart allows her to lead her children toward a life filled with purpose, meaning, and success with God – ultimately to entry into God’s kingdom. A wise mother earnestly seeks this not only for herself but also for her entire family.

Most anyone honest and thoughtful will acknowledge that a revival of traditional motherhood in America would be profoundly affirmative for the country. Yet, how might we get back to it?

We need a movement toward this end. Perhaps a few suggestions might inspire and promote this needed cultural shift.

Churches, specially formed non-profits, and women’s groups, that accept the Bible’s teaching on family could consider developing educational materials and campaigns that emphasize the value and superior benefits of traditional motherhood. This might involve workshops, seminars, and conferences that provide training and resources that focus on homemaking and child-rearing from a strong Christian worldview.
Public policy initiatives that support stay-at-home Moms could prove helpful. This might include lobbying for proposed legislative measures that would provide tax benefits, subsidies, and other financial supports to help make it economically feasible for a mother to remain at home if she chooses. It could also include advocacy for workplace flexibility, allowing women in the workforce to maintain necessary careers and do so in a manner that assists in their primary role as caregivers for their children. This might comprise part-time work, telecommuting options, or flexible hours that accommodate the needs of families.
Building communities that support and network for stay-at-home mothers. Homeschooling has had much success building these kinds of communities so that parents can teach their children at home rather than send them to public schools. Motherhood communities could offer emotional support, practical help, and a sense of belonging, which would be vital for sustaining choices to practice traditional motherhood.
Raising attention through the media, especially social media and social media influencers, which focus on the positives regarding traditional motherhood could significantly help shift cultural perceptions and values.
Organize local festivals or family days that celebrate traditional family values with activities for children and sessions for parents. Such events help to normalize and reinforce the value of traditional motherhood within the community. Invite people to be a part of these special events through the media and friendly word-of-mouth contacts.
Think of the positively charged impact of restoring much of America’s lost greatness through reviving biblical motherhood. However, starting a movement of this nature would require a long-term outlook and commitment. Success in such an endeavor would be dependent on sustained efforts to gradually redirect culturally misguided attitudes and practices. Participants would have to take the long view, recognizing that meaningful change typically unfolds after generations rather than a short time.

Nevertheless, the adage is as true as ever: “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

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