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Editorial Reviews

  1. What we get wrong about motherhood
  2. Browse By Tag
  3. A Woman's High Calling
  4. Motherhood: Not A Mom’s Greatest Calling • Fathom Mag

Before the late eighteenth century, manufacturing happened primarily on homesteads. And who owned homesteads?

What we get wrong about motherhood

Wealthy, primarily white, people. Clearly, ethnicity, class, and gender are all mixed up in the question about wives working at home and fathers working away from home earning paychecks. For example, in the United States when black women spent their days caring for white children , even people who claimed to believe the Bible did not tell those caretakers and employees that the true vocation of all women was to be in their own homes caring for their own kids.

So, with the racial dynamic as a backdrop, how has the Industrial Revolution affected family work?

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When most Americans lived in an agrarian society, mothers and fathers worked side by side with their children gardening, raising animals, and making their own clothing. And that work happened close to home. With industrialization, however, factories took much of the work—and the income it brought—out of the home. This dynamic split the family, and according to Alice P. Mathews in Marriage Made in Eden , the divorce rate skyrocketed. Enter an assumed Christian-cultural ideal, packaged with the Titus 2 label. His emphasis was less about limiting a sphere where women could spend their days and more about how they did so—by working hard—because Cretans seemed to have a cultural vice of sloth.

And in recent history, most people read Titus 2: In fact many of the homes in the first-century Roman Empire were like storefront businesses, with a counter and shop in the front and domestic space in the back. Seeing it that way is reading an industrialized culture back into a pre-factory world. And he wanted these women to work hard rather than doing the equivalent of lying around popping chocolates. In post-Industrial Revolution America, when significant income earning left the household, families had to determine how best to care for children.

So hard decisions needed to be made for those with the luxury to choose: Now, in the US, seventy-five percent of mothers with children seventeen or younger are employed. And if our ability to perform disappears, whether by losing a child or having a child who turns away from God, our identity will disappear also. Or even more likely, we will develop pride and arrogance when our children turn out to be amazing lovers of God, because we have done our duty. What about the single woman whose husband never arrives on the scene — was she deemed unworthy to be a mother?

A Woman's High Calling

What hope can we offer those women? Our hope lies in the return of Jesus to our world. And our work lies in telling others about that hope — that Jesus is coming back, and he can redeem the brokenness of our hearts and heal us. For many women, the way we live out that calling in our daily lives is to love the little ones that God has given us — to be excellent mothers who point their children to Jesus.

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When we understand that our main calling is to make disciples, we can stop trying to raise children who make us look good as mothers — well-behaved, religious, straight-A students — and start raising children who are passionate about the kingdom of God. And at the same time, we can also live out our calling by teaching other believers, running an ethical business, or advocating for biblical justice. The way we follow God changes with the seasons of our lives.

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That is the kind of woman I want to be — one whose biggest passion is the glory and pursuit of God in all I do, whether mothering, working, or creating. Because remaining in Jesus and loving others is her highest calling. And how God tells individual women to uniquely live that out is part of the amazing diversity of the family of God.

Believing and embracing this allows us to stop judging other women — and ourselves — based on our status as mothers, and celebrate the ways God moves others to follow him. I would love to hear yours! How do you view the purpose of women in light of the Gospel? Whitney is a tea-drinking, extroverted, travel-addicted book nerd who currently lives in Cambodia with her husband and son. It is the book we are studying in a women's study at my church. This study guide helps to put the book to practical use.

Motherhood: Not A Mom’s Greatest Calling • Fathom Mag

It is filled with exercises that are easy to follow and to do. It will stretch you and help you to grow.