The feminist movement in America has caused women great harm and that harm has had a direct and negative impact upon the home. Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes, “In contrast to the wise woman, the foolish woman is not content to be a keeper at home. She is not satisfied with where God has put her. One of the things the feminist movement has done so successfully is to stir up discontent in women with being homemakers and to convince them that other pursuits can increase their sense of self-worth.”1 One great lesson that the church can learn from the feminist movement is that women are important. However, what the feminist movement can learn from the church is that God has made that clear long before the feminist movement was organized. God declared that truth in His Word – the Bible. The feminist movement shot forward in response to the demeaning views of women in society. Through the years, the church has addressed the issues of women in society as well as within the church. However, the roles of women in the church often remain blurred.
Some people are overzealous in their attempt to guard against the feminist movement to the point that women are almost excluded from any roles in the church. Others are considered more liberal in their approach and open up all positions and roles to women – even the office of elder. Although most conservative evangelical churches understand the proper roles for women in the church, one area that continues to remain unclear is the purpose and calling of mothers – especially young mothers. Are mothers needed in the life of the church? Are young mothers profitable to the church? What is God’s design and calling for young mothers within His church? I firmly believe as we examine the Word of God, we see that God has called all of His children to serve in the church – even mothers of young children.
As Paul describes the church as a body with many differing parts that all have purpose and importance, we must see that women are part of that distinctive body (1 Corinthians 12). Not only women, but mothers – even young mothers. It is true that God’s primary design is to care for their families, instruct their children, and help their husband as he leads, provides, and serves within the church. While it is a noble thing to avoid neglect in these areas, it is likewise essential for mothers to avoid neglect in the life of the church. To neglect the family responsibilities is sinful, it is also sinful for young mothers to neglect the church.
While we all have seasons of life that we pass through as we age and mature in the faith, God has a desire for men and women to be used for His glory through His church. We would reject the attitude of a man who would say, “I can’t serve in the life of the church because I’m in a busy season of life in my career development.” Why would we reject this type of attitude? Because when God called us to Himself, He called us to His church. God has saved us through His Son and gifted us for service in and through His church. Therefore, no matter what season of life we are in – God has a calling on our lives that transcends our “seasons.” To neglect His calling is a tragic mistake on our part. In the case with the man who is busy with his career – we would caution him regarding the sin of idolatry and covetousness in his neglect of the church. However, as a man he is indeed called to work and provide for his family. So it becomes clear that balance and a proper priority is necessary. The same thing is true regarding motherhood.
Susan Hunt, in her book, By Design, writes, “When women execute their helper design, they are the heartbeat of the church.”2 Susan is not arguing for young mothers to neglect their families or husbands, but she is making the distinct point that women are needed in the life of the church. I am privileged to serve a church where young mothers and grandmothers alike take responsibilities to serve people. From something as small as a nursery ministry to our annual VBS ministry designed to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ – women of all ages work hard for God’s glory. What I see in our church (that is by far perfect) is women serving in mentoring ministries and evangelism through our PM Sports ministry (and other outlets). Could we do better in many of these areas? Yes! However, what I am greatly encouraged about as pastor is the fact that women (young and old) are taking their spiritual gifts seriously and refusing to neglect the church. If Christ died to redeem His bride, we should make sure that that our lives are focused to serve Him through the church as He has designed. This includes young mothers.
When Adoniram Judson left for Burma, he took his wife along with him. When he served there to evangelize the people, learn the language, and translate the Bible – he had his wife alongside him – until she died. His wife Ann was there in the 108 degree temperature among the threat of many diseases such as cholera and malaria. It was the rugged terrain, temperatures, and disease that cost him his wife and 7 of his 13 children. The same thing can be said about Jim Elliot. When he left for Ecuador, he took his wife with him. The cost was extreme. The cause was the gospel – a worthy cause indeed.
The fact is – ministry is messy and the calling to bear the cross of Christ is a hard road. The texture of the cross of Jesus Christ is not smooth and comfortable. The calling to serve and spend our lives through the church is not an easy task. It requires balance and wisdom. It requires of young mothers to juggle nap times, homeschool schedules (if that is your calling), sports schedules, birthday parties, homework, and the many other responsibilities of the young mother around the house such as dishes, diapers, laundry, cleaning toilets, and the vacuum cleaner. Not that all of these tasks are designated for women, but the point is – women (especially young mothers) must exercise much management skill in their daily lives. In all of the decisions and management of schedules – the priority of assembly and service through the local church must have its proper priority.
In Titus 2:4-5, the Bible explains that the older women of the church are to “train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” The Greek word is oikourgous, which is translated “working at home” in the ESV. It literally means “workers at home.” Women are to place a high priority upon their home and this is clear from Titus 2 and Proverbs 31. However, women are not to use their home as an escape from the life of the church. Women serving in the church is clearly God’s plan from the very beginning (Acts; Romans 16).
Some areas of service for the local church to engage an army of women would include the following:
- Mercy Ministry
- Teaching and Mentoring Ministry
- Ministry to Orphans
- Ministry to Senior Citizens
- Ministry to Widows
- Ministry to Single Mothers
- Audio and Video Ministry
- Music Ministry
- Youth Ministry
- Jail Ministry
- Sports Ministry
- Missions (local and foreign)
- Counseling Ministry
- Prayer Ministry
- Writing Ministry (study material, blogs, books)
- Homeschool Ministry
- Disaster Relief Ministry
- Benevolence Ministry
What is required of biblical motherhood?
- A serious commitment to the nurture and instruction of her children. To neglect this calling for business or other self-centered pursuits is a trap of our culture.
- A loving commitment and faithful submission to her husband. The recognition of biblical headship and a willingness to submit is key in marriage.
- A biblical submission to pastoral leadership within the church. A wife who refuses to submit to pastoral leadership is highly unlikely to submit to her husband.
- A wartime position regarding the lost people of her family and neighborhood. A refusal to evangelize is a refusal to the basic calling of a Christian woman.
- A refusal to neglect the bride of Jesus Christ – the church for which He died. To neglect the bride of Christ is to reject Christ.
- A joyful desire to fulfill her calling and giftedness within the church during all seasons of life. A refusal to serve through the church demonstrates a rebellious spirit.
- A rejection of materialism and the trap of keeping up with the Jones’. A woman who is focused on designer clothing, fancy homes, and extravagant living is unlikely to have a heart for the poor and a desire to surrender large amounts of money to missions.
- A passionate pursuit of holiness rather than being swept away with the pleasures and sin of this culture. A mother who is not holy is sure to raise children who are not holy.
The biblical mother must realize that the calling of the mother to make her priority her home is not a calling to abandon the church of Jesus Christ. To raise children above God is a dangerous position. To raise mentoring ministry in the home to a point of excluding yourself from the functionality and life of the church is the result of an “out of balance” view of Christian motherhood. To use your giftedness in a way that is excluded from the church and outside of the vision of the pastoral staff demonstrates a rouge attitude that does not have the fragrance and beauty of biblical motherhood. Submission, dedication, commitment, passion, and hard work characterize the attitude and life of a biblical mother. It is my prayer that God will raise up an army of young mothers that will understand their calling to bear the cross of Jesus Christ in all seasons and work hard for God’s glory. Mothers – the church is for you too!
Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes, “I am praying that God will orchestrate a counter-revolution in our day—a quiet revolution of women who are willing to pattern their lives, not after the world, but after the Word of God. I am convinced that the influence of an army of godly women will be incalculable—in our homes, our churches, and our culture. Will you be one of those women?”3
Pastor Josh Buice
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1. Biblical Womanhood in the Home, Crossway, 2002, 91, 92.
2. By Design, Crossway, 1994, 162.
3. Biblical Portrait of Womanhood – http://www.truewoman.com/?id=370