More perspectives on life with a young baby

A while ago I wrote 42: How to help your wife when there is a new baby, Dave Bish has commented and written a good post himself: the blue fish project: Loving my wife… when she's a new mother.

In that he writes:

… if I've met Jesus – then the effect should be transformational, and
that should help me fulfil my primary humanward calling, to love my
wife, through love, kindness, patience etc. Which isn't to say I
shouldn't be verbally bringing her to see and treasure Christ, but that
firstly I should adorn that gospel with my life. Preaching the gospel
without words, one could say.

Good points. However, I think there is more and in other directions. As is often the case when a complementarian writes there can be assumptions about the direction in which the gospel needs to be communicated. Let me point out two other ways that the gospel is communicated in parenthood without words.

  • Until you have seen the change in a woman when she is happily breast feeding her child there are depths of love you have not yet seen (remembering that this may not always be visible especially if she is struggling with difficult after effects of giving birth, post natal depression,  lack of sleep, a baby that does not want to feed properly, a Mark Driscoll sermon etc etc). Until you have seen this you cannot properly understand Isaiah 49:15 or Isaiah 66:13.
  • Until you have seen the contented and trusting way a baby will doze while breast feeding there are depths of trust you have not seen. That affects your understanding of John 12:36 and John 14:1 as just two examples.
  • Some women have described childbirth and nurturing their baby in very spiritual terms which indicate that the whole way of being a mother can seem to transport you into God's presence. This can be sometimes be seen by others.
  • We have probably all seen on TV harrowing images of mothers sacrificing their lives, their health to try to save their child (maybe in getting them to a refugee camp, in putting the child's welfare first etc). I think this can reveal something of the love of Jesus that took him to the cross to save us.

These are just a few examples of ways that the gospel is communicated in ways that complementarians often seem to miss (because their understanding of gender roles blinds them).

However, there is another danger which it is important to note. In A Call To Men (which I quote from in 42: A Call To Men) Jonathan includes this quote from a friend of his called Peggy:

I flinched a bit when you said: “The role of mother is virtually untouchable in our society, especially in a Christian context.” For so many Christian women, being a mother is the only thing that they are really empowered — overtly and covertly — to do. While that may not be the whole (actually, I’m confident it is not!) issue here, it is a part of it. If it is untouchable, the brother have to bear some of the responsibility for that, IMO.

He then wrote:

Peggy had in no uncertain terms nailed it on the head.  In subjugating
and oppressing women, in limiting them to certain exclusive roles, MEN
have in essence driven women to a place of defending these territories,
at the expense of relationship.  We are in essence creating a culture that deeply effects our own marriages, families, and social structures.

The big danger in both DaveB's post and my response is that we end up implying that women are only fully human when they are a mother and it is only through motherhood that they can be completely fulfilled (or indeed share the gospel). That is not the case.

So while I wanted to show that it is not just the role of the father to share the gospel without words in the family. While it is good to celebrate sharing the gospel through motherhood we must not pretend that is the only way for a woman to do so. So I want to emphasise that women do share the gospel without words in many different roles and ways

4 thoughts on “More perspectives on life with a young baby

  1. Teri

    Interesting. We have a 10 month old. I’m an avid breastfeeder. I do not work outside the home right now, though I’m trained as a science teacher. I feel a calling to motherhood and full-time motherhood. That’s why I’m here. Though, I agree, it’s not the only way women should feel compelled to fulfill their role. It’s mine for now. But certainly not mine or anyone elses’ call forever.
    I have also keenly been aware of a strange perfectionism among women in this role of mom-at-home with kids. I reject it whole heartedly. However, there is this culture of needing to forfeit EVERTHING, for the child, as though that’s admirable.
    Women need to preserve their own mental and physical health. That means taking a break. That means giving their husbands/partners time to take over while they do other things. That means it’s not all about the mothering. We have roles outside of mothering that are equally important. We shouldn’t neglect that. I think it is dangerous when we loose sight of the forest for the trees in parenting and building a family. The adults need to nurture themselves too. It’s strange in our culture now, we idolize kids in a way. We need to find balance, in all things. And the roles we take on.
    Anyway, interesting post.
    Cheers.

    Reply
  2. dave bish

    Definitely more to say, and I agree with your observations. My wife is ‘preaching the gospel’ to me as she plays her role as a mother too, and I’m seeing God’s fingerprints in all kinds of surprising places.

    Reply
  3. julie

    Just curious, were you implying in the last bit that women can only share the gosepel without words? Not sure what you were meaning there. Not trying to cause trouble either!

    Reply

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